Poetry and Gender
Discusses gender identity and awesome poetry and awesome poetry in question mentions homophobic slurs.
So I spent my weekend rediscovering slam poetry and attending a bunch of awesome women’s week workshops at my uni (which I will tell you all about at some point). One of these workshops revolved around gender identity and it was an eye opener. We talked about a lot of things, namely how we identified, our own experiences with gender and what a genderless society would be like.
Feminism has had a woeful past of being exclusionary of anyone who doesn’t fit the criteria of a straight, white, cis, able bodied woman. These issues are being talked about more and more which is a great thing and I firmly believe that intersectionality is the only way forward. In particular there is a reoccurring debate on the subject of gender and it’s place in feminism.
Feminism is a movement centred around the liberation of women, but what does the word ‘women’ mean? Some wrongly assume that identifying as a woman is intrinsically linked to your assigned sex from birth depending on your sexual organs and secondary sexual traits, when in fact gender is so much more complex than that. The gender binary does not exist, instead similar to sexuality there is a spectrum in which we fall to varying degrees of identification.
I’ve known that gender isn’t binary for a long time, but I had never really considered where I myself fell on that spectrum. With this discussion I found myself questioning how I’d always identified as a woman. I’m comfortable in my body and I’m incredibly privileged in that respect, but I sometimes feel tightly linked to the ‘idea’ of feminine traits and at other times masculine. What the discussion I attended really highlighted was that due to the limits of our society, with education on sexuality being woefully scarce let alone the idea of complex gender identities; was how labels are sometimes important.
As I mentioned earlier we examined the idea of a ‘genderless’ society, a utopia if you will where gender isn’t a thing, but our individual expression is. Unfortunately we don’t live in a utopia and just like I feel more connected to who I am by identifying as bi sexual (or poly sexual, I am still figuring this one out) I can understand why gender identification is so crucial in our culture. By identifying ourselves we can find ourselves and in a lot of ways it means we can campaign. Which is ironic in the sense that we must conform to an oppressive society to fight for rights we are entitled to, but that is a conversation for a different day, in a different world.
So here’s the conclusion I know you’ve all been waiting for me to get to after a ramble about gender. What is gender’s place in feminism? Now I firmly believe feminism is a women’s movement for the liberation and empowerment of women, but more recently I think it’s also for anyone who has experienced gender based oppression. It’s time to start widening our scope and understanding that anyone with a complex gender identity experiences horrifying oppression which needs to be addressed. Feminism has plenty of room for new voices, we are a movement to end gender based oppression, not just against women, but against anyone with a complex gender identity.
Anyway I’m going to leave you with a poem called ‘swingset’ by the wonderful Andrea Gibson. A person who I deeply admire and has reduced me to a quivering mess of metaphor and ‘omgwhycan’tIwritelikeyou!’ moments. Okay maybe I have a huge writers crush on them, *coughs*, if you listen to their poetry I’m sure you’ll understand…
Click here for ‘Swingset’.
(yes I linked it twice because poetry is always better the second time around.)
Want more Andrea?
image credit: http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2012/03/the-genderbread-person-v2-0/