“Gender-critical” is not gender-critical

Wrote a comment in someone else’s blog then realized it’s probably important enough for a post of its own.

There are some radfems and their allies who define themselves as “gender-critical” or even “gender abolitionist”. I think the self-definition is simply false, at least using universally accepted definitions, so I always put the terms in quotes.

They are only “critical” of “gender” in an uncommon definition. a definition that they have basically made up. They are actually supportive of gender in its WHO definition. They will deny this, but look at the facts.

WHO: “Gender” refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women. http://apps.who.int/gender/whatisgender/en/

Now, “gender critical” people say that males should be in the men’s bathrooms and females should be in the women’s bathrooms. Is going into a bathroom “behaviour”? Yes. So they assign appropriate behaviour to males and females – thus, they support gender!

Next, many of them will claim that males and fdemals should use “biologically appropriate” pronouns. But this is, again, behaviour. So, again. gender! (The original meaning of the word, too).

How about “only females can be feminists”? Obviously gender! (Disclaimer: I am not female and do not claim to be a feminist).

There is a *part* of gender, a *part* of “roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women”, that actually involves hierarchical oppression of women by men. What “gender critical” authors do is define “gender” as just that part, while keeping the sex-linked behaviour distinction that is not oppressive (or even protective of females, in ways they recognize) out of the term “gender”. But this is not the academic definition of their term, it is their very own invention.

Real gender abolition would mean a total destruction of all difference in “roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes” that would be in any way assigned to biological sex. And they are fighting *against* such gender abolition by insisting on the distinctions they like – even while claiming to want to abolish gender.

Whether gender abolition is a realistic aim, and to what degree it is a desirable aim, is an interesting discussion, involving reproduction, social resilience to adverse factors, the need for protection of females in certain situations (including protection from male violence – yes, sex-specific protection can be good, but it still is undeniably a part of gender) and what not.

But gender abolition is certainly not happening tomorrow. So the question then is how to accommodate maximum individual liberty in a world that is, as a given, gendered – and way too gendered for all of our liking, too.

Freedom of activity choice and of self-identification – including change, and unlinked from reproductive characteristics – appears to be one way of doing it. What do the “gender criticals” propose instead? Pretty much the same regarding activities, but with an insistence on “correct labels”, because they help their beloved class analysis.

News flash: real people don’t exist for the sake of somebody’s class analysis. News flash two: just because you call something “sex class”, it does not cease to be gender, and in fact identifying as a part of a “sex class” is by definition a part of “gender”.

P.S. I hope to be adding a series of posts soon, where I describe my current view on how the current gender setup arose and also discuss the thorny issue of religion, sexual identity (including orientation), and gender identity. My positions in the secular world and in the religious world might not seem to align so I need to get through that apparent difference before I can blog about the religious side here. (But first things first –  I defend the right of every person to choice of religion and abhor any attempt to default people into religion, including the one I follow, which happens to be Anglicanism. The Church of England must be disestablished forthwith, as the Church of Ireland, which I am a member of, thankfully is, otherwise I don’t think I would have joined with a clear conscience).


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