birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

"Gender is fake!"

Gender was a thing that seemed so simple once, as if it’s just a male or female existence, but there have been radical changes in our public consciousness, particularly through trans people and people who identify as non-binary. (Note: I am a cisgendered female and my personal pronouns are she/her/hers.)

So I’m now thinking about gender being some kind of spectrum, but maybe not a linear one, and I’m also thinking about the gender roles getting all mixed up because that’s what freedom is -- freedom to express yourself, to do the work you want to do, and to just be yourself.

As one of my comrades, who uses they/their/theirs, says, “Gender is fake! It’s all a construct.” My socialist friends are really bringing me up to a better level of understanding of diversity. Sometimes I may mess up a pronoun but then I apologize and try to do better next time. I’ve been around a lot of trans people in the last couple of years, and I’m really happy about it -- happy for one that they are living like they want and need to, and happy for us all that society is becoming more open instead of brutally rigid. And it still has a long ways to go.

There are definitely differences between the sexes that the social sciences can show us, but I am pretty comfortable with questioning gender as it relates to power and freedom. And, the societal rules around gender are getting updated in trans people’s’ struggles. Gender is a simplification, a classification attached to our identities, and in this complex world gender is also a way of organizing people under the patriarchy. It’s one more way for a dominant culture to tell you what you are and who you are. The traditional ideas about gender support the patriarchy, which oppresses everyone, including the men who serve as its foot soldiers. And some of them are literally foot soldiers.

I am not sure where or when I started thinking about all this. It feels like something I just understand to be true, but I’m sure this is part of my radical politics. My mom being a single mom, being independent, had a lot to do with how I came to understand women and what they do. I would see her doing lots of different things that may ordinarily get divided between a mom and a dad. And likewise when I spent time with my dad. Also, my grandmother, was not a typical housewife. She helped run the family farm in a big way. And she always been tough and opinionated, not rolling over or deferring to others. The women in my family are practical and somewhat utilitarian, which is sort of a bypass to cut across the gender controls.

I guess I’m happy to be a female, just because that’s what I happen to be, and I haven’t wanted to be a male, but just rather to not be constrained by a lame definition of womanhood. I resisted girly stuff growing up, preferring red or blue items instead of pink or purple. I liked Barbies and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I liked wearing boy’s skateboard shoes, and I had an antique-wild-rose-wallpapered bedroom with pink carpet and lace-trimmed curtains.

Sometimes I think the genders are just so boring when the women only do the women stuff and the men do the men stuff. We don’t have to just have women things and men things. All this stuff, the materialism, the identity politics of pink hunting knives, keeps us subscribing to categories that can trap us.

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