Will Our Young Lead Us To A Gender Free Future?

At one point he turned to me and said,

"Really David if we all are truly equal why do we have to make distinctions on gender? Doesn't that concept literally become irrelevant? Just think everyone will be liberated from the current gender requirements and totally free to explore every aspect of themselves. Now, David, that is freedom."

With that stimulating and challenging conversation, I began to seek other young people to see if this remarkable young man was a brave lone soul in his vision or if indeed this was a concept that has some base of support among other young people. Much to my amazement, this is being examined and debated by a significant number of our young.

Quite simply the vision is of a world without gender or labeled sexuality.

People can be exactly who they want to be at any particular moment. They are just people. They can dress how they want, explore every aspect of their personalities and have intimacy with whom they want at any time in their lives. No one is labeled, stereotypes are thrown out the window, judgement of others quickly disappears, the roles that are currently demanded by gender identity are ended and shame of such exploration is non-existent.

If I have been listening carefully enough (and I have much to still learn), wearing a skirt to a meeting would not be because I want to dress as a particular gender. It is simply because I feel comfortable in it or even feel sexy. Parents would be parents and not mother and father. Tasks at home would not be based on gender stereotypes but on what logically makes sense between the couples. Sexuality could be fluid and filled with exploration.

Honestly, my examination of this concept still feels imperfect. What I do understand is that I am loving receiving this new knowledge from the young and maybe hanging around long enough to see this become a reality.

The world is never boring as long as you open yourself to it.

Comments

  1. MaryM says

    This article is based on the assumption that gender and gender roles are somehow a bad thing and need to be overcome.

    That is not always true.

    There is nothing intrinsically wrong with binary gender roles.

  2. Henry Holland says

    No is the simple answer. I loved this comment I read the other day:

    “For a generation that doesn’t like labels, these people [he meant college aged kids] sure have a lot more of them than we did”.

    Exactly. LGBTQIA anyone?

  3. MaryM says

    You are not allowed to have an opinion on gender because you are Cis, and therefore you are a transmisogynist of privilege exploiting your position on the exclusionary gender binary.

    Bigot!!!!

  4. mike/ says

    thank you for the video, David. when i listen to him speak it comes across as poetry.

    ‘gender free’ may prove to be as elusive as 100% equality for all with no restrictions or bias, but is it as important as the struggle to get to it?

    the ‘learning’ aspect would be most important to me. when i was still teaching, i always told my kids that ‘you stop learning when you’re dead.’ even 9-year olds understood it!

  5. Javier says

    Naw. God created humans male and female. Even most transgender people, who are tiny minority, definitely identity as male or female. Sex and gender differences are a great thing and enhance life. The created order is not going anywhere.

  6. jeo says

    Rather than this being some sort of profound conversation, it comes across as something more appropriate for a mental-masturbation liberal arts undergrad class.

  7. Paul R says

    Some gay men are among those most beholden to gender roles. I bought a couple sarongs in Thailand and Cambodia a few years ago, and everyone in my group (about 10 gay guys I’d never met) kept asking who I was going to give them to. When I said I’d probably just wear them myself, they were shocked. (Though to be honest, I don’t even know where they are at the moment.) Part of the reason it’s hard to imagine living outside a major city.

  8. northalabama says

    i loved the post, but disagree with the premise of a genderless society. the realization gender shouldn’t be used as a weapon of bigotry (ever) is enlightened, and everyone should feel free to express themselves across traditional gender roles without repercussion.

    let’s face it, though – there are differences across gender, there always will be, and that’s great! it would be boring if everyone were exactly alike.

  9. Raybob says

    @Northalabama: Go down to Olde Towne Coffee Shoppe and you’ll hear conversations to the contrary. You hear them all over the place at the FlyingMonkey Arts Center …

  10. Will says

    Henry, while true, the point is that pewople still use labels so we’re adding more to reflect the diversity of people out there. People of the past used fewer labels, trying to forcefully fit people into boxes they could not fit in.

  11. Tom K. says

    Mr. Mixner:

    As a 22 year old, allow me to answer your question:

    No.

    PS

    Gay men are men. Lesbians are women. We all have genders. Please examine whatever internalized homophobia is driving you to think otherwise.

  12. says

    Of course they are free to subvert gender, and I would applaud that, but gender is not so easily escaped, as any astute reader of Butler should know.

    And no, it’s not new: those of us who teach mental-masturbation liberal arts classes have seen it for at least 15 years. Genderqueer or genderf**k….

    Attention to the issue does, however, make space for people who feel oppressed by the gender system. For a few years now, our student group has begun meetings with people introducing themselves and stating their preferred pronouns. Assumptions about gender can be as or more damaging than assumptions about sexual orientation.

  13. Henry Holland says

    Will, I get that, but it’s gotten to the point that as a man who loves men both sexually and romantically and have zero interest in women in either area, I am being boxed in by certain people with groups which have nothing to do with sexuality, but gender.

    Hell, every day I show up to work I’m transgressing a gender stereotype because I’ve been a secretary or administrative assistant or whatever the hell it’s called now for 29 years. I know for a fact I’ve been fired from jobs because a new boss wants some pretty 21-year old blonde woman as his secretary, I know for a fact that my resume gets tossed without a look simply because I’m a man.

    Oh well. For every time I’ve been fired, some woman who isn’t even remotely as good as I am gets the job simply because she has a vagina. It cuts both ways.

    Then there’s this from Mixner’s piece:

    “Sexuality could be fluid and filled with exploration”

    It’s called being bisexual.

    And I’d rather have my eyes gouged out with a spork than be labelled “cis”. In fact, I loathe the term “gay” but my preferred “queer” is never going to fly either.

  14. says

    Well, I’ve been very encouraged by the way many of today’s youth are throwing away the preconceived notions of gender that has limited greater culture’s understandings for far too long. We’re seeing more and more people come out at a younger age, and we’re seeing their non-gay friends *embracing* their peers for who they are, not “in spite of what they are.” I’m meeting more and more young folks who are freely and proudly exploring what gender means, to them, and it’s utterly heartening. Understanding the difference between Sex and Gender, and best of all – not putting a premium one a baseless societal concept surrounding *either*.

  15. Jude says

    Are male and female body parts different? Sure (in most cases). The point is we have a long way to go to free up the choices people are able to make in society: men wanting to wear a dress? women wanting to be an astronaut first and a woman second? men wanting to stay home and raise the kids w/o flack? a woman wanting to be president? boys who want their toenails painted w/o their dad going ballistic? I have faith in the youngest generations to get us out of our anal puritan ways of life. :)

  16. Jude says

    @HENRY HOLLAND Well if we make more progress in gender equality, more women will get the top jobs and be in a position to hire you b/c they like the penis b/w your legs

  17. Jude says

    @HENRY HOLLAND Well if we make more progress in gender equality, more women will get the top jobs and be in a position to hire you b/c they like the penis b/w your legs

  18. jamal49 says

    David, honey, it’s OK. Take a deep breath. You don’t need to try and “hip” yourself so you can converse with your new-found “younger” friends. Gender, at least biological gender, is a constant. However, the mental and spiritual perception of gender is another thing entirely. Check out some of Gnostic Gospels (the ones that the orthodox christian church suppressed) and Gnostic writings in general. They were discussing the irrelevancy of gender long before it ever showed up on your coffee klatch radar.

  19. Mike says

    Wow. David Mixner’s participation on Towleroad has turned out to bea real disappointment. I was really looking forward to his posts. He has a long history in politics and was one of the major gay backers of Bill Clinton’s campaign in 1992. So I thought he would share his political insights and analyze current political battles. Instead, we got one sort of shallow post about Oregon, which was like a corporate press release and now this bizarre post about how “young people” want to abolish gender. He bases this off of a brief conversation he had with one person. He doesn’t seem to get that 99.9% of the population accepts gender as a part of life and doesn’t see it as arbitrary or unrelated to biological sex.

    David, either write about the area in which you are an expert or please go away.

  20. says

    “Will our young lead us to a gender-free future?”

    The answer to that question is “no”. The query is, of course, based on the Queer Theory concept of gender as a social construct. That theory always was a crock of sh*t! Gender will always be with us, and it will always play an important part in our lives. There will never come a time when men and women, regardless of sexual orientation, mate with no regard to gender whatsoever; it’s an absurd pipe dream! I for one have no desire to erase gender from existence. Just as is the case with skin color, gender is not the problem. It’s the prejudices people have about it.

  21. Science says

    “Check out some of Gnostic Gospels (the ones that the orthodox christian church suppressed) and Gnostic writings in general.”

    Yeah, let’s connect one kind of mumbo-jumbo (well-meaning, but naive) with another kind of mumbo-jumbo (obscurantist and patently false).

  22. northalabama says

    “@Northalabama: Go down to Olde Towne Coffee Shoppe and you’ll hear conversations to the contrary. You hear them all over the place at the FlyingMonkey Arts Center …”

    raybob – while i enjoy the debate, discussion, and the multitude of opinions expressed, no need for me to hang out at businesses to form my own opinions.

  23. Zell says

    This is exactly the type of discussion (“Will our young lead us to a gender-free future”) that will send people running in the opposite direction of trans equality because it’s exactly what they’re afraid of. So no, not only will our young NOT lead us there, but the very act of asking this question is counterproductive.

  24. ratbastard says

    I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. Are there people who really think gender is a social construct? This is a sad and bizarre post by Mr. Mixner. He’s yanking our chain,right? Running it up the flagpole and to see wh salutes? Data mining?

  25. emjayay says

    The reactions of a lot of commenters here are pretty surprising. Of course, gender is not entirely a social construction, despite what some theorists were going on about some years ago. Little girls and little boys with parents working really hard to be nonsexist mostly exhibit behaviours and interests that are often, well stereotypical.

    But a superficial look at the cultural history of even the past century or two so in the West shows thousands of ways that dress, behaviour, attitudes, interests, etc. of men and women, even only looking at straight men and women, has become more and more similar. Obviously, there is a lot of social construction to all of that.

    Or look at conservative Middle Eastern societies, where men and women might as well be separate species. On the same continuum they are today many centuries behind where women (and men) in the West were at the founding of the US, living more in the gender world we were in about a thousand years ago. Or more.

    Extrapolating into the future, assuming things keep going in the same direction they have for the past 200 years of course things will become more genderless in all kinds of ways.

  26. FFS says

    I’m cool with people choosing to subvert normative behavior and expectations to show that our concepts of gender are comprised more by artifice than biology. I don’t think too much about those things in my daily life, but then I don’t give too much thought to whether something that interests me or that I enjoy doing would be considered “feminine” behavior for a men, either.

    That said, I think a coffee clatch comprised of men who’ve had limited experience with the yolk of gender oppression might find that selling a “genderless society” to women (both life-long and trans*) who’ve suffered and struggled and had to fight to overcome the institutionalized obstacles in their life. You’d be erasing one of the intrinsic parts of them that’s actually one of the major wellsprings of their own strength and character.

  27. Just_a_guy says

    “That said, I think a coffee clatch comprised of men who’ve had limited experience with the yolk of gender oppression might find that selling a “genderless society” to women (both life-long and trans*) who’ve suffered and struggled and had to fight to overcome the institutionalized obstacles in their life. You’d be erasing one of the intrinsic parts of them that’s actually one of the major wellsprings of their own strength and character.”

    Bingo.

    Even so, the focus AGAINST relaxation with regard to gender issues amongst many gay men confuses me. I assign a lot of internalized self-loathing to many above comments that just want men to be men, whatever THAT means.

    Reconstructing MALENESS in healthier and more vibrant (and frankly more flexible and sexier) forms is the real project needed here, no?

    And yet, I GET the perhaps bizarre need we sometimes feel as gay or bisexual (and sometimes straight) men to ASSERT our maleness. To me, that need has sometimes felt triggered frankly by straight male friends who don’t understand gay men (or who THINK they do, and assign gay men feminine characteristics). I’m talking about the straight guys who, upon learning you are gay, do things like opening doors for you. No!! Wtf. Please, no. And the strangest thing is that some of these exact same straight guys READ to the casual observer WAY more femme than many (even most?) gay men.

    I dunno…I think that this gender uneasiness is a MALE thing. By uneasiness, I don’t mean genuine gender confusion or transgender issues. I do mean some innate-feeling need to wonder some, and to also feel uneasiness about wondering, ha. And to, y’know what, maybe beat our own chests in our maleness a little. And then to immediately wonder what the heck THAT was about.

    Look, as men, we have for centuries defined ourselves over and against women–way too often in a way that has been unfair to women. I don’t think it’s unusual that a major reckoning each if us feels in our lives at points is…so what IS my manhood about. And, hmm, haha, how do women think about these things?

    And wherever each of us falls on the Kinsey scale, the butchness scale, or the gender confusion scale–three very different & I suspect remarkably independent scales–this sort of occasional wondering seems understandable, no?

  28. Rick says

    Just more of the same hypocritical BS from the “gender-non-conformists” who are doing enormous damage to the gay movement.

    Perpetrated by the same effeminate gay men who WORSHIP hyper-masculine males and lust desperately after them.

    Tell me, Mr. Mixner, in this “gender-free” world of yours, are you going to be open to marrying a woman and eating her pu$$y night after night? After all, not do do so would be to let gender get in the way of how you see an individual, right? I mean, millions of men eat pu$$y every day, so for you to refrain from it because you think it is “gross” or “disgusting” could not be anything but irrational differentiation based on gender, could it?

    This gender-non-conformist crap is so utterly full of intellectual holes and so transparently a (futile) attempt on the part of effeminate, masculinely-deficient gay men to try to gain acceptance despite their failed masculinity that it is not even worth taking seriously…..which is why mainstream society does not take it seriously and never will…..

    And the longer gay men continue to adhere to it, the longer they will continue to be miserable themselves, personally, and to be treated with hostility by society, as they should be….

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