Eris’s Take on Gender in Society

I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and I’ve decided that I need to talk a little more about gender– in specific, its meaning on a more societal, rather than a personal level. This is all speculation and observation. I don’t claim to be a scientific genius. I don’t claim to be a sociologist. I’m just me, just Sam, just Eris, talking about just this– the idea of gender as a whole, and how it influences societies all over the globe.

We all know how I think about gender. I talked about that back in my post on the gender sphere– and my views have evolved little since then.

Over the years after I finally began to understand more about myself, I noticed a pattern in the people around me. It seemed like they were undergoing or about to undergo or on the brink of undergoing the same sort of identity crisis as myself. It seemed to me as if the more friends I made, the more they seemed– almost always by sheer coincidence– to be people with gender issues of their own, whether as deep as a dark little secret or shallow as an outright change in personality and voice.

All of my friends– most of my friends, most of the people I knew and know now, have some sort of gender thing going on in their head, something that makes them even ever so slightly uncomfortable with the way they are, or, in the cases where they are free to act, allows them more leeway in the gender sphere, more give, more malleability.

Their reactions to these internal changes are varied– some have a ‘I don’t give a flip’ kind of attitude, where they just act how they act. Some have a ‘Well I’m not sure if I’ll grow out of it…’ sort of mentality. Some are, through pressures or stubborn belief, convinced that they are immoral because of it, deviant and wrong.

It doesn’t matter– all of them will admit to me that though American society might be making progress, they are certain it will shun them or does shun them.

Maybe that is the case. One of my long-term goals is to make it so that it isn’t the case.

Regardless of any particular societal pressures, even if we were all the same in sexual orientation and gender (what a world that would be!) we would find other things to shun each other for. There is no limit to the cruelty inherent in our natures, and no limit to the kindness either. We are unlimited in our capacity for emotions, ‘good’ and ‘bad’.

There is no way to ‘force’ someone to be the gender you wish, there is no way to ‘force’ someone to change their sexual orientation. We are exactly what we are, no more and no less.

And just what are we? In societal terms, that varies. Some think we are good, some think we are bad. Some think it is a blessing to be other-gendered, others believe it to be a sin (as if original sin isn’t terrible enough).

From The United States’ cultural perspective, we’re odd ones out– and by turns to be pitied or shunned. ‘Poor and confused’. There are dozens of articles on the web which lie silent, bitter testament to the truth of prejudice’s existence– and not just for other-gendered people, but for everyone. No matter who you are it seems as though there is always what I like to think of as ‘The Assumption Zone’. Stereotypes can be applied to almost anyone– and worse, our use of them is, more often than not, completely unintentional.

Returning to the track I was on a bit ago– there is no such thing as deviance which is wrong.

There are appropriate outlets for almost ANY kind of deviance– or there would be if it weren’t in our nature as humans to attempt to label things on a primitive pleasure scale- (This feels Good to me, and it feels Good to you? It must be Right!) or on a primitive punitive scale (This feels Good to me and Bad to you? It must be Right for me to do this to you). The things that feel Good are probably Right. We band together with other people who think the same things feel Good. Then we start ostracizing the people who don’t think the same things feel Good! Isn’t that Right??

Well, no. As a matter of fact, I don’t think that is Right. So that this doesn’t drown in a hail of politics, I’m going to say why.

In my faith, in my heart and in my head, I know that there is no rhyme or reason behind the workings of the universe. I know that there are laws that we can see in the patterns of the world around us, that there are rules that particles constantly find ways to break, that there are cracks or holes in our logic that we always seek to understand– but on a personal level, I think that all of our pretty math comes down to some fairly simple things:

A) There is nothing in this world that is wholly of one thing or another,

and

B) Ethics, while a useful construct of human nature used to keep us from killing one another off (a near universally Good thing strangled by the instinct for self-preservation! What a pity!) is exactly that- a construct of human nature. Like math, like science, like language. It is a part of who we are. It is a part of what we are. Many other animals exhibit language and advanced reasoning, but they don’t walk on two legs or create tools like we do– wait, chimpanzees? What are you saying? They’re covered in hair! They’re not like us either. Nothing is like us. Why are we looking for more things like us? Are we going to kill them off like we do the whales and chimps? Their brains are far too small! Brains are all that’s important. Ants are too mechanical. Ravens too carrion-eaty.

and also

C) Humanity has an infinite capacity for self-importance.

 

——

 

I’ve gotten off track again! Silly me! I was talking about gender in society.

We have an infinite capacity for self-importance, as well as an infinite capacity to denote other things as unimportant. We make priority lists that are, like it or not, based on keeping ourselves alive over other things. Self-preservation comes first!

So when you are different from everyone in your current group, your very real fear of being shunned has a very real impact on whether or not you let certain facts about you come out! Never mind the fact that we ALL have dirty secrets– we all have deep dark things about ourselves that we don’t tell other people. You would think that gender would not have to be one of them! Unfortunately that is not the case. Society will shun those of us who do not fit within its accepted standards. In India they have slightly different accepted standards as compared to the US. They have a ‘third gender’ there, but even in India it is not universally accepted.

Parents, rightfully or not, are often little or worse than help with gender identity- and that is not their fault! It is not something those of us who are other-gendered can share or even DESCRIBE easily, but it could be explained pretty easily like this:

How do YOU know you are a girl or a boy? Is it because you have boobs and girl bits, or because you’re flat and have boy bits? Is it because you have ovaries or testicles? I think those can sometimes be indicators. I do not think that they mean someone is male or female in their hearts. In my honest opinion, the soul is completely genderless (whooaa, that’s heeavyyy). In my ‘perceived’ past lives I know for a fact I’ve been both or neither or either sex. I’ve been crisscrossed so many ways I think it may have even contributed to some of my fluidity in THIS life.

I don’t think that makes it any less real. I know I’m fluid-gendered because I flat-out feel uncomfortable thinking of myself as anything else. I can’t picture myself in life as one or the other, I don’t feel comfortable in my body except but half the time, I don’t feel right as a person, things don’t feel Good. Too often things feel Wrong instead of Right. Things feel Bad.

It’s all in my head though.

It doesn’t make it hurt less, doesn’t make it less real.

Doesn’t make me feel better. It is just how it is. I don’t have any physical proof that I’m fluid gendered. I don’t have anything solid I can hold in my hands to remind me.

Maybe that’s why so many people find it strange. How can you care about something no one can see but you?

If you know something is the truth, KNOW it in your bones, and society tells you that it isn’t true, what do you do? Do you hide, like a little child and hope that someone big will make it right? Do you step up?

Do you cry yourself to sleep at night?

Do you cry yourself to sleep at night? Can you honestly tell me that it’s okay, can you take me aside and look me in the eyes and tell me that it is right, that I must cry my heart out over something I cannot control?

Well let me ask you this, then, hypothetical reader who does not agree with my ideas, or even those of you who sit upon the fence:

What harm does tolerance do?

Name me a time when tolerance hurt somebody. I dare ya. Find it. And not the stupid stuff– like when someone tolerating someone who didn’t deserve it got them killed, or some such nonsense.

Name me a time when tolerance, the ability to understand even when you do not agree, has directly caused harm.

If you can name me that time, I’ll turn in my apple. I’ll plop it back on the high shelf and say there isn’t a fairest and that’s that. If tolerance hurt someone sometime somewhere, maybe I really WILL cry myself to sleep at night.

No one in the whole wide world deserves hate. No one in the whole wide world needs that burden. We are all individuals, we all have feelings, we all see subjects subjectively. That’s my idea, that’s my thought, that’s my take on society, gender, and prejudice. We owe it to one another to give first, second, third and fourth chances. Everyone changes while staying the same, everyone lives and grows and loves together. WE ARE THE SUM OF THE PEOPLE WE KNOW AND THE EXPERIENCES WE SHARE.

Before you look at another person and say ‘I don’t like them’, THINK.

Stop. Think. Take a deep breath. Look at it from their side of things. Breathe out slowly. Count to ten. Above all else, calm down.

Do you still dislike them?

Do you see what I mean?

-Eris

Thought Stream #1

I was thinking earlier- just thinking, understand- about shapeshifting, and my gender and orientation, how I think about sex and sexuality, how I handle my friends and family, the way I have this nymph in my head who won’t leave me alone whenever I try to lay down, she doesn’t let up about anything and everything, it’s exactly like trying to turn myself off and being completely unable to find the switch. I sit in bed and stare at the ceiling and listen to Nymph talk about how she has it so rough, about how everything that goes on is to her detriment, how she doesn’t have enough sex and how she wishes she could find someone to be with and yet there is no one for her except maybe three people, but she doesn’t think about those people because she’s Nymph, and that’s not what Nymphs do, and she tells me that that’s because it’s just the way she is.

I shut her out and don’t listen to her for a while and I find my thoughts drifting to the way I think about people- ME, not her, untainted by her corrupt and self-centered ideals, no, instead I think about how I treat others around me, like my family, how I treat my siblings– my brother and my sister– and how I think about them in general, and there’s a part of me that rebels against that because why should I think about them? They’re just there, they’re there and important, integral and integrated into my life as easily as strands tied into a rope, but it’s my rope, isn’t it, not theirs, they are a part of my life but they don’t own my life and so I think part of me wishes that they didn’t have such a big impact, that they couldn’t easily cut me down with their words, that I wasn’t so vulnerable to what they had to say. Whenever that part gets too loud I stop.

I think.

I say, “Sam, you’re hurting yourself.”

That’s another thing that bothers me. I have a name, but everywhere I go people use pronouns instead. Whether it’s masculine or feminine doesn’t matter so much; I prefer to be known as either Sam, or Eris. I realized earlier that it was awkward whether it was he she or it that people referred to me as, because I am none of those and all of those, and it’s impossible to really tell which I want to be referred to as until I open my mouth and say it, because I’m lazy with my clothes and fairly shy about putting on stuff that identifies me positively as male, female or inbetween. I prefer androgynous clothing, sure, but nymph sometimes says I’d be most comfortable wearing absolutely nothing at all and letting the motion of my body identify me, so that people didn’t look at my clothes and say ‘Oh, skirt, she’ or ‘oh, boxers, he’ or ‘which is that person?’ but instead looked at me and all of me, my body and therefore my current expression, and that ties in with my shapeshifting.

I want to be able to shapeshift so that I can identify as who I am instead of needing to identify as what people assume I am and I know how that sounds, it sounds like I’m just too shy to tell people what I’m all about, but even when I do tell people it’s easy for them to slip up or maybe get angry and shun me which very few people seem to do anyway since I always like to hang out with a tolerant crowd but you know there’s always that fear, I mean no one really wants to have to come out over and over and over again, that’s just something that you have to do in order to survive, isn’t it, and I guess that’d be okay if it wasn’t for the fact that I don’t really enjoy having to come out, I want people to be able to read me the way I can read them, the way I can open them up and read their emotions and thoughts right on their faces, the way I can sort of understand exactly when someone feels a certain way after only a little time getting to know them, people always tell me things about themselves they don’t even need to or don’t want to or don’t understand themselves, because it’s me who’s looking at them, me and Nymph, and we pick people apart subconsciously.

Maybe that’s wrong, maybe it’s totally horribly wrong and we should stop, but it’s automatic, we can’t help it. As a pair, we are blessed and cursed with the ability to read people, and so it feels unfair in any conversation we end up getting into- like really? why do we have that advantage? Why can’t other people read us so well? I try to be transparent, but I’m really terrible at it because I’m so used to acting one way in front of different people, it’s like I have layer after layer of masks on and the more masks I put on the harder it is for people to see exactly who I am, and I hate that feeling, that feeling of hiding, no one wants to have to hide all the time, it’s just necessary. It’s just required, just a thing that needs to be done in order to safeguard yourself, and even if you don’t want people to know everything there is to know about you, isn’t it better to be able to, I don’t know, be able to tell people about yourself without having to actually TELL them? I don’t know, I just don’t, and Nymph doesn’t seem to know either, for all that she’s lived through and done in all of her lifetimes, in all the time she’s been alive and well and all the memories she’s been through and kept and cherished.

Shapeshifting would let me show people how I was feeling, what I was feeling like, I would be able to express the colors of my aura and the colors of my feelings in something like three D expression, if I could shapeshift anywhere other than here it would be easy as pie to tell what I was thinking, I would be comfortable in any of the shapes I picked and I would be able to tell people what was on my mind without feeling like a liar and a thief, a thief of time and meaningful value, a thief of emotion. I don’t know. I always feel like a thief of time, I always feel like a thief of emotion, like some kind of vampire, sucking away at the happy feelings of others without even meaning to, like I live, subsist on the happiness of people other than me, and I guess sometimes I do, sometimes I do that thing where everyone else is more important than I am.

Lately I’ve been breaking away from that, as I should. I am every bit as important as anyone else out there, there’s no reason at all for me to feel like I’m less important, but it happens, and it’s a key part of the depressive phases I go through, that along with my own emotional frustrations and my own dealings with people who repress the way I am (who are actually rarer than the people who accept me).

Well I said I’d talk about gender, and I did a little of that and talked a little about Nymph and also my shapeshifting, so I suppose I’ve accomplished my goal. Just on accident, too.

—-

I have three stories in the works; Green Eyes, a story about one of Nymph’s memories, dramatized and fantastic, Pride, a superhero story set in modernish times, and Slaves of Sand, a spinoff tale from an old, old sci fi story that I started and never finished.

I work on any of these intermittently, but I’ve been so worried about things lately it’s been hard to find the time to write as much as I want to. It may be a while before you see these stories, as a consequence. Sorry!

In any case, rest assured that I’m alive and mostly well. Just had to get this stream of thought up and out of me. If anything I hope the rambling was mildly entertaining.

<3s,

Eris