Marks and Remarks
Food for the Mind and Eye

No. 0004, January 22, 2015

DEPT. OF GENDER STUDIES

Degenderification




      Once upon a time all people fell unambiguously into one or the other of two categories: men or women. Things were simple then. Men were the big, strong, aggressive, ugly ones. Women were relatively slight, not as strong and goodlooking when in their nymphhood. They were burdened by critically necessary child bearing and rearing chores. Men's chores were to drag home the dinner and to protect the vulnerable women and children. Old (i.e. past child bearing age) women became witches dispensing practical wisdom. Men rarely reached the age of wisdom. Life was tough and hazardous.

      Well, for most of the human race that's all water under the bridge now. As social organization evolved satisfying our daily needs no longer required brute strength. Heavy lifting was relegated, at first to beasts of burden and slaves, later to machines. So big strong men lost much of their utility. (They compensated for this to some extent by fighting bloody wars.) And as the human race continued to grow exponentially in numbers, child bearing and rearing lost its criticality allowing women to seriously consider alternative life scenarios.

      In other words, common humanity trumped gender (the sexually determined set of physical and emotional characteristics) as the source of our most relevant human qualities. Actualizing our full human potential is becoming independent of our gender. Gender has never been an absolute thing. People may fall anywhere along the masculine/feminine spectrum both physically and emotionally although a large majority tends to cluster near the two opposite poles (successful propagation of the species requires this). In the bad old days any kind of deviation from the strictly bipolar division of labor had low chances of survival so it was self-extinguishing. Later it continued to be suppressed, even to this very day, by established tradition.

      Evolution of a civilized, technically advanced, leisured society naturally entails a blurring of gender and a decrease of its significance with respect to division of labor and social roles. This is vehemently opposed by certain radical groups of benighted barbarians who for thousands of years enjoyed absolute dominance over women (as an affirmation of their masculinity) and consider it their divine right. But their cause is on the wrong side of history.

      Civilization with its accompanying degenderification raises the question of the function of sex in the society. Now that the future of the human race no longer critically depends on high birth rate, the utility of sex shifts towards a means of social interaction and a form of entertainment. Possibilities abound. It's a jungle out there, but fundamentals still apply: "to make love" is not synonymous with "to love". And even though sex can be an expression of love facts on the ground suggest that is not the norm.

      In any case, unless ISIS and Boku Haram prevail, degenderification (but not desexualization) remains the present trend and the foreseeable future.



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