Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Gender (and race) and the left.  §

© Adam Jones / CC BY SA 2.0

One of the hypocrisies of the current American left that most rubs me the wrong way is a kind of gender inconsistency that plays identity favorites.

If an adult straight male is being referenced, gender is essential, identical to who he is, and can never be escaped or changed, like a conviction. It will forever be the reason that he is both guilty and dangerous, carrying with it all the evil and sins of his forefathers. His maleness must be referenced early and often as a warning and a rebuke.

If an adult female is being referenced, gender is essential, identical to who she is, and can never be taken away. It will forever be the reason that she is both a saint and a heroine, carrying with it all of the righteous martyrdom of her foremothers. Her femaleness must be referenced early and often as a badge of honor.

If an LBGTQ individual of any age is being referenced, or gender in the abstract is being referenced, gender is completely nonessential, has nothing to do with who someone is, is an anachronism to be forgotten, and really doesn’t matter at all. It should be tossed aside and never spoken of at all.

Or, to put it in more nuanced terms, for male-gender-normative straight people who are also biological males, sex is essential and is seen as fully determining a deeply negatively sanctioned gender. For female-gender-normative people, the sex qua biology is entirely irrelevant it is their gender that is essential and deeply positively sanctioned. For everyone else, neither sex nor gender are essential, and it is the act of their rejection that is positively sanctioned.

In short, sex and gender aren’t the theoretical positions they’re claimed to be, but rather vary in meaning and importance precisely as much as is needed to convict certain identities and canonize others.

Very similar shenanigans are played with race and whiteness vs. blackness vs. all others.

Both gender and race on the left secretly vary in ways that have entirely to do with a particular kind of convenience—whether or not the individual(s) at issue have been “othered” with respect to the left or not. And there is definite, aggressive “othering” on the American left—of biological, gender-normative males and of non-renouncing caucasians. (Yes, you can renounce—for example, Elizabeth Warren’s focus on her Cherokee heritage, rather than on the fact that she obviously has enjoyed the practical benefits of whiteness.)

This all sort of gives away the game in ways that are not benign to anyone, no matter their race or gender. What really matters is a kind of expediency in service of tribalism. This is why so many on the right are quick to claim that the left is “hateful,” much to the left’s bewilderment.