The problem of gender boxes

I was reading today an article on Every Day Feminism, explaining why feminism must be trans-inclusive  I was interested in the arguments, because I do see a conflict between feminism – believing that there is no such thing as “female tasks” or “female abilities” and a movement that says that gender roles are very fixed, and if you want to move outside of one, then you need to move to the other role.

I am disappointed that this discussion has turned in to a “twitter war”.  I think it’s a terrible distraction from the misogyny and the patriarchy.  Rather than campaigning against male violence, we’re campaigning against each other.  So I wanted to understand their point of view.

The crux of their argument on this particular element is this:

The problem is not that the gender binary exists, but rather that gender is assigned non-consensually, and that anyone who steps outside of the culturally-defined boundaries are marginalized and experience systemic oppression and violence. 

And that is where I do have to disagree.  The problem IS that a gender binary exists.  The problem is that one gender (female) is discriminated against.  The problem is that if you are born female, you are more likely to face male violence, sexual assault, lower pay, exclusion from the job market, exclusion from politics.

The idea that if we step outside the boundaries we are punished is, at it’s core, victim-blaming.  Even if we behave perfectly – always dress modestly, never walk down a dark street unaccompanied, never drink, we still experience oppression and violence.  The problem of violence is not triggered by us acting up.  It is male violence, and the blame needs to sit with the patriarchy and perpetrators of violence.

It doesn’t matter whether I display “feminine” traits or not.  It doesn’t matter whether I prefer high heels or trainers, whether I like pink toys or all-the-other-colour toys.  I am put in a box because of my gender.  I don’t want to escape in to another box that is restrictive in different ways.  I want to remove the boxes.


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