In your assigned reading “Abandon Your Tedious Search” by Kate Bornstein (a male-to-female transsexual), the author describes our cultural “ rulebook” for gender and offers up an alternative, which she calls “ gender fluidity.” Her concept of gender fluidity emphasizes the value of each person being able to consciously choose how to “ perform” gender at any given time, and being able to change that gender performance depending on the context, rather than feeling compelled to perform gender in a rigid way based on their own/others’ biologically-based expectations. Please note that although she is a transsexual, her concept of gender fluidity is not about transexualism per se, but applies to all the ways, big and small, that every one of us is positioned/positioning ourselves regarding gender.
For this journal, you will need to read this reading so you can share the author’s basic premise as well as the specific 8 “rules of gender” and concept of “gender fluidity” with your conversation partner.
For your journal assignment, please write down your responses AND your conversation partner’s responses to questions 1-2, and your own reflections on that conversation for question 3 (please label each part of your answer with the number/letter):
1. Discuss the “rules of gender” from the article:
a. How did you learn these societal “rules of gender” (describe at least one SPECIFIC experience from your life that illustrates how)?
b. How do you think these rules of gender have impacted your current identity?
2. Discuss the concept of “gender fluidity” from the article:
a. What do you think/feel about Bornstein’s idea of “gender fluidity?”
b. Now consider a relationship you are currently in (romantic, parent-child, sibling, friend, co-worker, etc.). Describe how this relationship could be positively impacted by the discourse of gender fluidity.
3. What was it like to talk about gender in this way with someone else? Was it comfortable/uncomfortable? Did you agree/have similar experiences or were there differences – and how did that impact the conversation?
4. For the following question, you only need to write about your own experience (you do not have to discuss this with your conversation partner – although if you feel comfortable doing so, it might be an educational/empowering experience).
a. Describe an expectation you have had about your own sexual desires or performance that have left you feeling dissatisfied, unhappy, or uncomfortable with a sexual experience (ANY sexual experience–you choose what counts as sexual).
b.Identify how that expectation relates to your gender identity.
c. How might a more flexible/fluid gender identity allow you to experience those expectations in a less negative way?