Question the social framework, not only yourself

Written by Nakamura

This small writing will be about what people usually refers to as “gender identity”. While keeping in mind the importance of being comfortable with one’s own identity, I will underline the necessity of questioning the socially-imposed framework to achieve a full and radiant sexual revolution and explain why referring to gender can be seen as playing into the hands of patriarchy.

This is probably a place where, fortunately, there is no need to spend pages to explain concepts such as sex and gender identity. I will not at all talk about sex, as it is a physical characteristic. It is however worth taking some time to insist on the social dimension of gender. Gender is a social construct[1], whose characteristics are determined (or not) by individuals with respect to the society they live in. Societies can be matriarchal or patriarchal; boys can easily wear pink clothes or tainted hair in Dhaka while this would be seen as girly in Europe. In other more concrete words, you will start question your gender identity only after your family, friends, teachers will have repeatedly asked you why you are not like all the other girls/boys. Such introspection is rarely wanted or decided but is a reaction to attacks from the patriarchal system. Some, a majority, will react by conforming to the norms and some will try to ignore attacks and will eventually find peace in spending time with people from their communities that also defy the system. However, those communities remain small-scaled and few allies exist outside of them. Hence, the real issue here can be formulated as follow: How can we collectively contribute to change the social framework?

The social framework is completely built up on beliefs inherited from the past. Building two clearly distinct gender types has clearly favored the dominance of men upon women. Thus, gender-fluidity may sound appealing to some of us who want to take distance to this binarity or don’t recognized themselves into these two alternatives. I accept myself -or others- having different genders, including outside the original boy/girl duo, and then lead the path to defining humankind with a broader gender perspective[2]. However, only two genders are properly defined and named and referring to gender (even if it is to mention gender-fluidity) will always include social concepts of femininity and masculinity[3]. Gender-fluidity is a dangerous treacherous term for a half-completed revolution since it is most of the time linked to masculinity/femininity. Similarly, those who claim that universe has male and female expressions assessing that masculine is mind/intellectual and that feminine is sense/expressive, that they feel someday female (maybe they feel like wearing makeup and tip) and some other day male (Gym makes my biceps look nice), are unintentionally playing into the hands of patriarchy by perpetuating the use of concepts created by patriarchy to maintain oppression on women and that are making many of us suffer.

If we are not happy with the rules, we should consider breaking them rather than trying to adapt them.  This is then not anymore about finding who you are, based on what society or LGBT+ community is reflecting off your personality; this is not anymore about referring to gender but this is now about being yourself irrespective of others and irrespective of social concepts. Transgender, gender-fluid, third gender, etc. are concepts that are transitionally necessary because they allow us to build powerful communities but we should be thinking about the tipping point at which they will start to be more toxic than beneficial. If reached, communities should start emancipating from past frameworks, reject sexist terms to achieve the sexual revolution. In patriarchy, individuals that do not fit into gender roles are stigmatized to ensure that they remain inoffensive for the establishment. I claim it is worth considering that building our differences using a sexist foundation will not lower the stigmatization but, on the contrary, will legitimize the concept of gender.   Question the social framework, not only yourself. I don’t doubt that being able to identify a gender group can bring some relief to some people, as it can help them to find a positive identity and a community of fellows. Yet, the social framework we live in, based on gender, is oppression and has to be deconstructed. Maybe, if a friend asks or administrators from a Facebook group request you to tell about your gender, you can just answer that you don’t believe in the relevance of such a toxic framework.

[1] Even if some people are convinced that gender is essential in the sense that gender is not a social construct – surprisingly more favorable to men – but immutable characteristics intrinsic to humankind.

[2] On the responsibility of everyone’s actions to fashion humankind see Existentialism is a Humanism, Jean-Paul Sartre. For instance “Or if, to take a more personal case, I decide to marry and to have children, even though this decision proceeds simply from my situation, from my passion or my desire, I am thereby committing not only myself, but humanity as a whole, to the practice of monogamy. I am thus responsible for myself and for all men, and I am creating a certain image of man as I would have him to be. In fashioning myself I fashion man.” (

[3] See for example the first sentence of the “gender” Wikipedia page : “Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, masculinity and femininity.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.