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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The fight is now

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“If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps this construct called ‘sex’ is as culturally constructed as gender; indeed, perhaps it was always already gender, with the consequence that the distinction between sex and gender turns out to be no distinction at all.” -Judith Butler, Gender Trouble

I have experienced an immense amount of cognitive dissonance over the last few years on the topics of gender and sexuality. Growing up, I, like many others, was taught that sexuality is a choice, heterosexuality being the norm. And that gender is determined by our sex assigned at birth, male or female, which is an unchangeable signifier that we must support and feel empowered by. My gender identity as a man gives me a set of omnipresent, often hidden, rules that are supposed to be maintained by me and society (e.g., family, friends, school, government). I was taught how to walk, talk, date, and love like man, a straight man. But now, several years later, I’m trying to understand why no one in my environments was challenging the structures of gender and sexuality. That they are constructed, and more importantly, that our socialization, on the basis of gender and sexuality, functions with power that influences our dreams, futures, and most daily interactions.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about how gender and sexuality can be both empowering and oppressing. But more importantly, I’ve thought about their sustainability. Writers like Judith Butler in Gender Trouble and Audre Lorde in Sister Outsider worked tirelessly to bring light to how gender and sexuality were, and continue to be, shaped to support systems of power like neoliberalism and capitalism. What if we critiqued and worked against that power? How do those systems contribute to societal problems marked by our identities? I want to, and we all should want to, fight against the high rates at which trans women are being murdered in this country, the notion that men can be and are emasculated by women, rape culture, and the antiquated idea that sexuality and gender cannot be fluid or change. The list goes on and on, but more often than not, we awkwardly dismiss the pervasive structures of gender and sexuality and the ways that these structures impact our lives.

These conversations are sometimes painful and confusing but if we, and I mean “we” in the most inclusive way, ever expect to reach equity, then we all have to start talking about how our identities, not only gender and sexuality, have been constructed to create and maintain hierarchy and hegemony. Breaking free from the ways in which we are socialized is not a new movement. Folks have been fighting for a better, truly equitable society that deconstructs binarism for a long time. Now, it is our moment to decide if we will be a part of that movement.

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