I hope you have been enjoying Rika’s Lair, my monthly column dedicated to thoughts and experiences regarding power dynamics in Service-Oriented D/s relationships. Look up “Ms. Rika” in the search box for links to all my articles in KinkWeekly!
This week, I’m going to step outside of power dynamics, just a bit, and muse on an observation that I’ve been mulling over quite a bit. I will warn you that this is a difficult subject, it will likely be a controversial position, and it may trigger some knee-jerk reactions in folks. I ask that you read this with an understanding that I am not passing judgement on anyone who chooses to self-identify their gender. Everyone has the right to be happy in their bodies, and to feel natural in who they are. Please understand, I’m in favor of it…but I do see an issue that I’d like to discuss and would love to get your feedback on. It’s important to also state that I’m discussing gender identification, not sexual orientation.
In my perfect world, gender stereotypes would be eliminated. The notion that “this is what a female does” and “this is what a male does”, or “this is what a female is capable of” and “this is what a male is capable of” would be moot – because everyone could do anything, feel any way, and act however they do. “This is what I do and what I’m capable of, regardless of my sex” makes the most sense to me. This is, to me, the ultimate goal. Your goal may not be the same, I recognize that – but I think this would make a much better world for everyone.
The move towards self-identification makes sense: People have the right to feel comfortable being the person they perceive themselves to be. People are encouraged to step out of the “confines” of their physical self and live and be seen from their minds. I know that’s the best way to live.
However, it strikes me that the very concept of self-gender-identification brings us FURTHER from my ultimate-goal of bias elimination. My goal is to think about people as people – and to value them as people. Yes, they will be male and female (sex), but the notion that there are “feminine” and “masculine” abilities, actions, capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses creates biases and encourages presumption based on gender. I want to eliminate those stereotypes. What I find is that, in many ways, self-identifying as male or female gender – or even identifying as genderless – relies on, and supports, the very prejudices, stereotypes, and biases that would need to elimination to reach my goal!
Consider, if someone says that their biological sex is male, but they identify as a woman, they are stating that they have an image – a definition – of what “a woman” is: How the female gender acts, feels, behaves, thinks, etc. They are stating that they perceive themselves in this imagery. Rather than just saying, “I’m male (sex) and I act, feel, behave, and think like ‘X’, ‘Y’, ‘Z’”, and expect to acceptance that way, they assign ‘X’, ‘Y’, and ‘Z’ to the female gender. They LABEL and DEFINE the gender with their imagery (bias) of that gender!
To me, this is working backwards. Even stating that you have no gender, implies that you know what genders “look like” – and you don’t fit that definition. You must define something to exclude yourself from it.
Look, I recognize that the world sees gender and has biases. I’m not naïve enough to think that we’re anywhere close to eliminating the notions of gender stereotyping – and I can see the value in being able to self-identify as a gender – if for nothing less than highlighting that the traits associated with gender are not associated with sexuality. The world needs a slap in the face – I get that. However, I fear that the longer we define “female” and “male” gender traits, behavior, and capabilities – the longer we promote the imagery associated with genders – the stronger the bias becomes – and the harder it will be to eliminate.
What I’d like to see is a world where people stop making assumption about gender ability, capability, attitude, approach, behavior, dress, etc. and treat each person as an individual with equal opportunity to develop their potential in all areas. I want people to be comfortable and natural in their skin – to dress the way they feel most comfortable – to act the way that’s most natural for them – and be measured on their actions rather than their gender. I want to remove the implications of labels – and I feel the best way to do that, is to stop using the labels entirely.
I welcome your opinion.
Ms. Rika is a lifestyle dominant, educator, and author; living in the suburbs of NYC with her husband/slave. She has written several popular books on her approach to adding Dominant-Centric, Service-Oriented D/s to relationships. You can find her books (in both print and eBook formats) at Lulu.com (http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/msrika), or at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the iStore, Books-A Million, Kobo.com, or anywhere books are sold. Search for “Ms. Rika”. Write to me at Ms_Rika@hotmail.com