Do YOU agree?
There really is no straight yes or no answer in sociology. You basically could answer every question in this subject with “that depends” or “I think its subjective” or “how long is a piece of string??”
I only say this because I am trying to answer a very difficult question “Is gender in trouble?” and I think I am going in circles…
There is no way to answer such a question! I gave it a lot of thought but in the end have only my written discussion or ‘workings out’ before I realised I was going in a loop.
So is gender in trouble? Sex isn’t, as there will always be a clear cut biological differentiation as long as there are people. Gender will constantly be questioned, as it is just as much a sliding signifier as it is a distinction (if not more than).
A traditional/modern/fundamentalist society would have enforced the gender barriers with the promise of strict reprisal at any possible transgressions. Take for example, pre-industrial revolution Britain, or pre-economic boom America, or even Nazi occupied Germany: The one factor they all share is an institutionalised approach to gender identity, a hegemonic concept that biological male/female and cultural man/woman are the same, and it is pointless, futile even to challenge or question this at all. This perception (or misconception) is seen to be rather impervious to scepticism due to the passive satisfaction it provides “That’s just the way things are, we are destined to live like this.”
However, when the control is removed and/or post structuralism/modernism is introduced or encouraged we see that this hegemony is in fact a total fallacy. The simple matter of the fact is that gender can contribute to identity as much as people want it to, or people can stray as far from the classic ‘gender traits’ as they please.
The irony behind this proven fact is that in our current society the media (in particular) promotes a new idea of exaggerated gender; even faced with the ability to totally recreate our identities the majority or people will either conform to the hyper masculine archetype, or the hyper feminine archetype. This means that we have un-intentionally come full circle in a sense, as the gender/sex perception is still in place (only this time it is regulated by a more subconscious institution). Exaggerating gender may have been fashionable or desirable at first (especially when we consider the correlation between more freedom and promiscuity), but this origin has been forgotten to some extent- all you need to do is look at the generation who are born just after this ideological upset; look at children in high school (see how they dress and how they act) and you see a generation who once again do not question their gender identity. It is because of this that many scholars believe we remain a ‘modern’ society.
Once again I try to answer the question is gender in trouble. My reply would ultimately be why would gender be in trouble if there is change? As gender is a cultural imagination anyway. What constitutes trouble in the first place? From a modern perspective gender may be in some trouble due to the liberal view people share in western society, but judging how people are nowadays perhaps modernists have nothing to worry about… It really is an impossible question as you cannot simply provide a yes or no answer to a sociological matter, especially one as diverse and ever changing as gender and identity. Gender may be in trouble when we become confused about the subversion we can sometimes face, but extremes and ambiguity like this are rare phenomena in the mainstream.
It’s late (or should I say early!), I’ve had too much coffee and not enough sleep… Time to call it and throw in the towel, I won’t beat this question… …For now
Gotta get up early to work on the CUEAFS plan of action, that’s right I’m in the journalism team and I will be working on a weekly newsletter on top of everything else… I am running out of free time (not that I had any anyway), and food…
Chevelle helps 🙂