Pop Stuff: All Of The Above
Is being able to check ‘agender’Â when it is not a descriptor withÂ equal permissions, just oneÂ more othering?
A generation ago, whenÂ we were far less wokeÂ to sex and gender, theyÂ were used interchangeably.Â Our chromosomes determineÂ whether we are assigned male,Â female or intersex at birth butÂ societal mores define whatÂ makes a woman or a man,Â throwing human beings intoÂ the pink or blue box, the trousersÂ or skirt, the boardroom orÂ bedroom. The determinantsÂ are as capricious as those whoÂ make the rules””look back toÂ the 16th century and men woreÂ heels, wigs and make-up. Today,Â social structures have allowedÂ us to find acceptanceÂ in boxes beyond Adam andÂ Eve. In Los Angeles you canÂ be a trans woman on a femaleÂ sports team and in Mumbai,Â while you’d be shunned fromÂ the rental market as a polyamorousÂ lesbian, there is finallyÂ room to be a female CEO whoÂ wears pants to work. MovingÂ like molasses, this is progress.
The very recent past has seenÂ an embrace of shifts in the wayÂ we look at gender and sexuality.Â Children’s books envisioningÂ ”˜alternative’ familial structuresÂ such as same sex parentsÂ are a sure sign that governmentsÂ of countries opposingÂ same sex unions simply haveÂ not caught up to a future that noÂ longer hides. For newer battlesÂ there is the optimism that if theyÂ are not won today, they will beÂ tomorrow. Support for transgenderÂ military service in theÂ U.S. has flown in the face ofÂ the Trump administration,theÂ mayor of Bhubaneswar in easternÂ India opened the country’sÂ first public gender-neutral bathroomÂ this year and couples areÂ beginning to raise their kids asÂ ”˜theybies’ ignoring the concept ofÂ he or she until the child exhibitsÂ a preference. Seem challenging?Â Visit www.raisingzoomer.com.
In the most telltale sign that aÂ post-gender world is in the collectiveÂ consciousness, millennialÂ celebrities are refuting genderÂ constructs en masse. So muchÂ so that last year, then ‘It’ coupleÂ Zayn Malik and Gigi Hadid describedÂ themselves, in a glossyÂ cover story, as beyond gender.Â In spite of warranted mockeryÂ for what felt more like a clothesÂ swapping magazine shoot thanÂ a deep dive into identity. this wasÂ a sign that gender fluidity wasÂ jumping the hoops from taboo toÂ trendy to mainstream fueled byÂ the activists on the ground andÂ heralded by the celebrities on theÂ front page. In tandem norms forÂ sexual preferences have expanded.Â LGBT rights have grown toÂ include LGBTQ, then LGBTQIAÂ and in the hope of leaving no oneÂ behind LGBTTQQIAAP: lesbian,Â gay, bisexual, transgender,Â transsexual, queer, questioning,Â intersex, asexual, ally, pansexual.
Does this mean progress looksÂ like an acronym longer than theÂ alphabet? To fight for inclusion,Â boxes have to keep multiplying,Â gaining ground brick by brick.Â Is being able to check ‘agender’Â when it is not a descriptor withÂ equal permissions, just oneÂ more othering? Perhaps, but it’sÂ a necessary step forward. TheÂ goal though is for people notÂ to have to explain themselves,Â the finest expression of ”˜TakeÂ Me As I Am.’ The beacons: David Bowie who nonchalantlyÂ claimed his bisexuality, GraceÂ Jones who embodies masculineÂ femininity, Prince exuding maleÂ virility in frills, quietly resistedÂ categorization. And today, artistsÂ like Tilda Swinton who says thatÂ she is ”˜probably a woman’ andÂ Janelle Monae who espouses thatÂ ”˜love has no sexual orientation’Â challenge convention by fightingÂ classification, not electing one.Â Ultimate progress will meanÂ expanding boxes for gender andÂ sexual orientation is moot. TheÂ hope is that we’ll be ‘Post-Labels.’
The author is a film producerÂ and journalist, andÂ a former hedge fund COO.Â Twitter: @soleilnathwani