Sex. Politics. Politics. Sex. 3


What would be a sane, pragmatic and holistic approach to gender equality in society? I would argue that we have three fundamental aspects of the gender-sex-equality-identity-relationship-reproduction complex (for short: the gender-political complex). Yes, these things are intrinsically linked to one another and can be treated as one single gender-political complex. This post is about how future utopia can relate to the gender-political complex.

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“Radicalism and critical studies in all of its forms, the political left, look at identity freedom. Conservatism and the political right look at reproductive functionality.”

Three Dimensions

Let’s start with the arithmetics. The gender-political complex has at least three dimensions, possibly more. If you can’t count to three, you’re out. And if you can’t keep one, two, three apart – you’re out. Whatever gender politics you conceive of that does not at least include these three dimensions is inherently oppressive. The dimensions are:

    • Identity freedom
    • Game evolution
    • Reproductive functionality

No political system or ideology in the world today looks at more than one of these three dimensions. Radicalism and critical studies in all of its forms, the political left, look at identity freedom. Conservatism and the political right look at reproductive functionality. No-one, except perhaps the creme of the emerging men’s movement, looks at what I call game evolution. What are these dimensions and why are they being overlooked? And why is it oppressive to overlook them? Let’s zoom in on them one by one.

Identity freedom

Identity freedom is our freedom to express and develop sexual and gendered identities without formal or informal stigma. To be homosexual, to be asexual, trans-sexual, trans-gender, boy-girl, girl-boy, superfeminine, androgynous, hermaphroditic, being plain normal, supermasculine, pedophile, being attracted to pets, being into S&M, being a prostitute, bad-boy, nerd, being a 40-year old virgin, being attracted to inanimate objects, necrophilia, having incestuous emotions, being polygamous, polyamorous, being traditional heterosexual core-family – well, you get the picture.

The point of identity freedom is not that all sexual acts are equal. All sensible people would agree that anything abusive or harmful should be illegal (as, by definition is the case with rape and sex between adults and children. As we know, the pedophile movement marched alongside the gay movement in the seventies but was left behind, for good reason too as their demands were unreasonable, but unfortunately we never got a rational and open discussion about what to do about all the people who had these strong sexual urges they never asked for). And we all know that sometimes sexual acts mean more to us than at other times and sometimes they are more wholesome than at other times. Some sexual acts are more ethically OK and more valuable than others. And some sexual acts are indeed deeply unethical.

“It seeks to make open what was locked in, to let out what was suffocated, to cross out the taboos, the rid of the shame, to emancipate human beings in all of our gory, messy, beautiful, vulnerable purity.”

The point is to accept – really and fully accept – all people, regardless of their sexuality and gender identity! The point is that identity freedom is a dimension of the gender-political complex that seeks to expand the non-stigmatized realm. It seeks to make open what was locked in, to let out what was suffocated, to cross out the taboos, the rid of the shame, to emancipate human beings in all of our gory, messy, beautiful, vulnerable purity. It shouldn’t cost me anything to be a woman. Or a man. Or anything else.

Game Evolution

Game evolution or Game Change is about how much and how deeply people really get to enjoy, develop and productively express their genders and sexualities. As we know, not everyone can get punani or whatever it is we’re after, all of the time. Some people are seen as attractive, interesting, stimulating, status-inducing and whatnot – whereas others end up on the short end of the stick – being viewed as lacking of vitality, beauty, being ugly, boring, plain, sexually uninteresting. But how many get to be losers, and how many get to be relative winners? How many people get psychologically thrashed by unhappy love-lives and sexual frustration and the tragedy of rejection? How many people get the opportunity to get properly laid, to be positively appreciated and confirmed in their sexual identities? How many people get to have lots of fun in the subtle complexities of meeting lovers, a partner? How many people get to have positive body-images and honestly enjoy their bodies? And how many people get to really open their hearts and feel truly in love during their lives? And in how cruel and cynical ways do we have to compete to achieve this? Do we have to slander one another and break down the self-confidence of our friends? Or are we granted the opportunity to co-operate for mutual benefit?

“Do we have to slander one another and break down the self-confidence of our friends? Or are we granted the opportunity to co-operate for mutual benefit?”

The many subtle games of everyday life can be developed to produce more winners, to increase how much there is to gain for the winners, to produce fewer losers, to soften the fall for losers, to increase the number of chances you get, and to make the whole game more transparent and fair – make competition more fruitful and less cruel. To evolve the sexual and gendered games of everyday life we need to both increase people’s awareness of these games, their ability to play them successfully (to express vitality and attract one another and be better sexual partners) and to expand the reach of our acceptance and taste.

No-one can force anyone to like somebody. If I am a nerdish guy or a trans-sexual I can’t call the “gender equality court” to raise charges against a woman who I fancy but who does not find me exciting enough. I have no right to demand that people like me. But there is room for development: people’s tastes can develop, and people can – through their own personal development – learn to appreciate wider ranges of human attributes. This holds true also of sexuality. So game evolution happens in two ways: by development of our skills, and by development of our personality.

Reproductive functionality

Reproductive functionality is the third dimension of the gender-political complex. It is the ability within our society to self-organize into stable, loving families. These families can of course look in many different ways, the most common one still being the hetero-sexual core family unit. The family remains the main institution of primary socialization (that is, socialization into the basics of cultural and social life) and is the chief determinant of people’s mental health and happiness. Close long-term relationships taken together with sex-life explain more than all other social factors put together when it comes to subjective happiness and the psychological productivity of a human being. This core unit is also determinant of the occurrence of deviance and criminality, of violence and mental illness. It is within this realm that our psycho-sexual personality structures emerge and develop in the first place. The stability and love within family settings are based on the ability to uphold long-term productive relationships where a certain degree of polarity and complementarity exists. This can of course be the polarity between masculine and feminine, but it can take many forms.

I’ll go with some classical examples from hetero-sexual relationships because that is all I would know much about: That a husband can retain the deep respect, attraction and admiration of his wife and vice versa, that there is openness and a deep sense of trust, that you deeply feel that you will always be together, that you feel that everyday life works out smoothly, that each of the partners feel strong and independent unto themselves, that an interplay can be upheld between psychologically and socially independent partners, that the burdens of work are fairly and somewhat equally shared, that there is sexual variation with both deep emotion and animal instincts, that children have a deep and unique connection to both (or all) parental figures.

“Do we have to slander one another and break down the self-confidence of our friends? Or are we granted the opportunity to co-operate for mutual benefit?”

This dimension of the gender-political complex suggests the development of quite different skills and qualities than does game evolution. It also suggests that we must actively support the practical, cultural forms of family formation in all of its guises. Above all the development of clear expectations, supportive structures and social intelligence reinforce this dimension.

How It All Connects – The Tragedy

The point so far is that all of these three dimensions are immensely important. But here’s where the tragedy comes in, the reason we have to deal with so much suffering when it comes to gender and sexuality: the three dimensions are partly in opposition to one another!

* We can’t be 100 % free to choose our sexual and gender identity because there’s a game out there where people have real preferences and if we don’t take them into account we will end up being losers and our hearts will break. So we end up forming identities based on the preferences of others. And we can’t be 100 % free to form gender and sexual identities because we need to fit them into functional reproductive frames if we want to have a meaningful long-lasting relationships upon which we can build family life (which is why traditional society has always been opposed to sexual freedom and gender equality – it threatened the reproductive unit upon which society was built). Darn.

* We can’t play the games of love and seduction to make everyone a winner because people have different sexual identities and interests in building families, so we have to exclude people who don’t match up or fit in.

* We can’t have stable, loving families always and forever all of us, because we have desires and gendered freedoms and because there’s a game out there where any partner can be out-competed by someone else.

NOTE. This is not so say that alternative sexual relations outside of the hetero norm are in themselves in the way of family creation. Rather, it is to say that freedom can be pitched against stability, that free expression and exciting transgression can be pitched against reliability and sustainability.

Whoa, that really is a mess. No wonder things look the way they do.

What Then? – Utopia

It is only when you can see tragedy staring you in the face that you can see Utopia. Seeing the tragedy we are facing – that so many people are condemned to be judged and stigmatized, to be sexual losers and to have miserable family lives – that we can begin to recognize what political development is necessary. Tomorrow’s society must be one that has an active and conscious development of all of these three dimensions. Nothing else will do. We must create a society and culture that sees the oppositions of these three dimensions and attempts to find the best possible solutions for improving all three dimensions.

Because not only are they in opposition to one another – they also create one another. Greater sexual freedom can allow a saner game of love, a saner game of love can create more stable and honest family formations, and this can in turn form a basis for greater gender-sexual freedom.

“Seen in this uncompromising light we must also recognize the deeply oppressive nature of the gender equality discourse of our day and the politics that follow: it defends only identity freedom, and only for certain groups (homosexuals and women).”

Seen in this uncompromising light we must also recognize the deeply oppressive nature of the gender equality discourse of our day and the politics that follow: it defends only identity freedom, and only for certain groups (usually homosexuals and women). Doing so it casts us into denying the dynamics of the game, leaving so many men and women rejected and lonely, and threatening the dynamics of the family – eroding it quickly. Besides, the identity freedom gained is little more than lip service, because it is still limited by the undeveloped love games of our culture and age.

For at-least-three-dimensional gender freedom and equality!
We must have much more sex in politics, and much more politics in sex.

-

CocoRosie, ‘By Your Side’


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