gender norms

Discuss how your clothes do or don’t reflect your gender: 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 26

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: Discuss how your clothes do or don’t reflect your gender

Honestly, thinking about writing my way through this issue again just seems exhausting right now. Clothes are important, and they are a big aspect of gender presentation for lots of people. But they don’t define a person’s gender. There’s a weird tension with clothes, because they feel so important to so many people, because wearing clothes that “match” your gender can feel so freeing and validating, because it is a major tactic for dealing with dysphoria, etc. But at the same time, many of the same people who find clothes personally important really do just wish that society didn’t insist on gendering clothes so damn much. Anyone should feel comfortable wearing a skirt if they want, and anyone should feel ok wearing a three-piece suit or whatever, too.

The question of whether my clothes match my gender almost doesn’t make any sense to me any more. I know what it means, obviously, but I don’t know what it would mean for my clothes to match my gender, given the amorphous character of my gender.

I gotta get me some amorphous clothes, I guess?

But really, though, I touched on this issue a bit in an earlier genderqueer challenge post. What I’ve been focusing on when I shop for clothes or put together outfits these days is whether or not they seem to reflect me back to myself. I’ve been working on reclaiming the aspects of my aesthetic and style that don’t fit into the norms of white genderqueer androgyny (more on that here and here. Setting gender aside (if that’s even possible) is the only way I can deal with dressing myself without constantly second-guessing whether people will think my presentation ‘matches’ whatever they think my gender is or means.

Ugh. I dunno. I’d love to hear other enbies’ persepectives on this one though!


Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

Questions from the search terms: “genderfuckery meaning”

For some reason, I’ve been feeling more of an urge to respond to these lately. I think I am just not coming up with ideas elsewhere, and I still want to write *something*?
Anyway, from my search terms: genderfuckery meaning

So, what is genderfuckery?

Wiktionary‘s actually a good definition of what it means to genderfuck:

“To subvert traditional notions of gender identity and gender roles”

‘Genderfuckery’ can be used to describe any act of genderfucking, or in other words, fucking with (or messing with) gender.

Genderfucking is similar in concept to gender bending, though it is more likely to be used in more extreme contexts. People who genderfuck are probably less interested in bending the limits and meanings of gender, and more interested in straight up breaking them, and putting the pieces back together in different ways.

In practice, genderfuckery might look like:

– Someone doing things or wearing things that seem at odds with their gender (or with the gender they are perceived to have)
– Someone presenting in a way that makes it difficult or impossible for strangers to identify their gender

Or sometimes it can be more personal. For me, learning to re-embrace feminine clothing styles sometimes has been an important personal journey; though it actually often has the impact of making my gender seem less complicated to some observers (it seems to match more with what their perception of my body implies my gender should be, or something), for me it a personal act of resistance against the pressure I feel to constantly perform my genderqueerness in a safe and (relatively) understandable way. People are more willing to accept androgynous presentations from non-binary people, and more likely to consider my gender to be fake or something I am making up if the things I do don’t fit into this androgynous idea of what it means to be non-binary.

But, in fact, that is exactly what makes my refusal to adhere to the nascent norms of non-binary gender a form of genderfuckery. I refuse to be boxed in by what other people want my gender to mean, or to look like.

So, um, yeah. That’s what genderfuckery means to me :P

The real reason I love gender fuckery

Well, the 30-week genderqueer challenge is working for me! This post is inspired by last week’s prompt/post!

Really, the reason I love gender fuckery (and especially the reason why it’s so important to me sexually, sometimes) is as a means to an end.

I want for my body to just be my body, as it is. I want to be able to just be, without the pressure of all of the meanings and value that other people insist on putting on it, and on forcibly making me acknowledge those meanings and values (this is what sexual harassment usually is – not just objectifying a person, but actively making sure they know you are doing it, and trying to elicit a response from them, thus forcing them to participate. It’s disgusting.)

I hate that because I live in a world where this shit is so pervasive that it is is sometimes hard for me to see my own body without seeing it through the lens of cisheteropatriarchy. I hate how hard it is for me to be free of that.

What I really want it to see myself and my body on my own terms. But before I can do that, I need to fuck up the existing scripts I have for understanding my own body.

I need to take what I have been taught – both explicitly and implicitly – about my value and about what having certain body parts (or not) means about who I am as a person and how I am valued by others, and I need to twist it around, and shake it up and tear it to pieces and put it back together again, in every way I can think to. I need to pull the pieces apart and put them back together in impossible, unrecognizable configurations. I need to make new shapes out of the old meanings, over and over and over, until it all stops meaning anything at all, like a word repeated until it is nothing but a series of arbitrary sounds.

I need to fuck with gender, so that gender will stop fucking with me.

What’s your favorite ways of upsetting gender roles / genderbending / genderfucking? 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 3

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s question: What’s your favorite ways of upsetting gender roles / genderbending / genderfucking?

The short answer to this is probably “ALL OF THE WAYS!”

I honestly do get a kick out of fucking with people’s ideas of gender and what it means and what gender I am, and what that means, and everything else. But that’s not much of an answer, I guess. So I’ll just give you what jumps to mind immediately:

First, I know that my favourite public moments of gender fuckery are usually the ones when I notice children trying to figure out my gender. For some reason, I put a lot of stock in the fact that children often find me impossible to place within their own sense of the gender binary – I’ve even overheard young siblings disagreeing with each other about my gender. There is something endlessly fascinating about watching them watch me and try to pick up something sort of information that will solve the dilemma for them. But I like it even more when they actually ask. I only wish I could actually engage with them on the question more often, but the adults they are with usually get overly embarrassed on my behalf and try to tell them they’re rude.

I get something kinda similar from moments when adults do something along the lines of calling me “sir… I mean ma’am, sorry” or vice versa. It suggests to me that my efforts to signal my gender effectively are actually working, though I understand that most people don’t know how to read the messages I’m sending, so I take confusion as the best possible evidence that I’m doing it right (in the sense of “how I want to do it”, not in the sense of “this is the sort of response all non-binary people should aim for in their gender presentation” – I see you, femme enbies, masc enbies, and those of you whose bodies get you misgendered against your will no matter what you do, and I love you all!)

The second that that this prompt brings up for me is the way gender (and gender fuckery, specifically) plays a role for me in sex. It’s a thing I’ve never been able to articulate properly, even though I have directly written about it before, but there is a thing where it seems like I can tell when someone who is having sex with me is just interacting with my body as an archetypically “female” one, rather than as my particular, individual, agender/genderqueer body. Even setting aside the cissexism of categorizing bodies this way, if I feel like someone’s interest in my body is directly linked to its “femaleness”, I just can’t.

Maybe it’s that, at some point, if that’s someone’s understanding of my body, then they’ve forgotten about the person inhabiting that body, and are interacting with my parts but not with me (which is just the easiest route to triggering a dissociative episode I can think of!) But also, I do get a kick out of the idea of having kinds of sex that are incomprehensible to hetero-normo folks. Like, my partner(s) and I will fuck however we like, and we will use whatever words to describe the things we are doing that we like, and we will decide what it all means, thank-you-very-much.

…I realize this is part 3 of 30 on this challenge, and I’ve already had two responses that have been semi-coherent at best. This is proving more of a challenge that I thought it would be, and I am hoping that when I am done, I will find that many of these things have percolated themselves into more cogent shapes and I will have more regular-type posts for you on these issues! Onward!

Also, though, seriously, I’d love it if all of y’all told me about your favourite ways of fucking with gender – you don’t have to be genderqueer to answer this question!


Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

March 2016 Carnival of Aces Roundup

Here is the roundup of posts for this month’s Carnival of Aces, on the topic of gender norms and asexuality! I loved being the host this month, and I have enjoyed reading all of your submissions so much; there has been much squeeing with joy, so thank you all who contributed! Without further ado, here are this month’s submissions, in the order I received them:

Passive vs. Active Femininity: Does Asexuality Affect It? | the notes which do not fit
Sara examines the ways in which her femininity is often the result of passive conformity to female norms rather than an active gender expression, and considers whether her approach to femme-ness is related to her asexuality.

(a)Gender and (a)Sexuality: Chickens and Eggs | darkmetineknight
Maris considers the ways in which kyr dysphoria contributes to kyr sex-repulsion, and vice versa, and the way these things feed back into kyr agender and asexual identity, concluding that they are so deeply related they can’t possibly be pulled apart.

Female Stereotypes and Asexuality | aroacelennie
Lennie writes about how, despite their agender identity, other people often try to frame the aro and ace aspects of their identity through common female archetypes.

When Dudes Talk Gender & Asexuality | The Ace Theist
Coyote unpacks some of the oversimplifications and other problems with the ways some asexual guys talk about the tensions between their gender and their asexuality.

Gender and Asexuality | quizzicalsloth
Amber explores potential explanations for asexual people’s tendency to not feel a strong connection to binary genders, from a personal perspective, and considers how gender plays a role in their experiences of platonic and aesthetic attractions, and relationships.

Do gender roles serve any purpose for asexuals? | It’s An Ace Thing
Dee questions the purposes gender norms serve, and concludes that many gender norms simply don’t serve asexual people.

Genderqueer and demisexual: two sides of the same coin for me | Valprehension
I wrote about the ways in which my genderqueerness and my demisexuality are inextricably tangled up with each other, and fundamental to my overall identity and sense of self.

Sexism at work | A3
The author of A3 relates their experiences of sexism (and heterosexism) in the workplace, as an agender aro ace who is not out about those aspects of their identity, and who is perceived as a woman.

Gender, Or Why I’m Glad I’m Aro/Ace | Grey Is My Favourite Colour
Mara explains why they’re glad to be aro/ace, because of the potential complications of parsing gendered attractions (and sexual/romantic orientations) as a non-binary person.

The Healer Role | Prismatic Entanglements
Elizabeth considers her tendency to take on healer roles in video games, and considers how this role relates to her identity as a cisgender woman, and the ways in which this tendency is reflected (and not) in her asexual activism.

By nature of being asexual, I’m defying gender norms | From Fandom to Family
luvtheheaven unpacks some of the interactions between gender norms, (especially heteronormativity) and asexuality, and how those norms can make it difficult to come to an asexual identity, and even more difficult to get others to understand it.

Gender Norms and Asexuality | Aro Ace Gin
Gin considers the ways in which her asexuality has impacted her relationship to her gender as a cis woman.

Asexual E-Dating Diaries #1 | la pamplemouse
The author of la pamplemouse talks about her early attempts at online dating as an asexual cis woman.

Non-Binary Gender Norms and (A)Sexuality: Yeah, No | Queer As Cat
Vesper talks about why they just don’t see any connection between gender norms and sexuality for them, given that there are no gender norms that apply to their gender (maverique) in the first place, and much more!

On Gender and Asexuality | conasultingamadman
Bonnie explains how embracing her asexuality helped her understand her relationship to both femininity and androgyny, describes her journey toward a panromantic identity, and considers her feelings around others’ perceptions of her as a cis het white girl.

My Gender Aesthetics are All Kinds of Ace | The City of Cuova
S. Knaus unpacks the ways in which their asexuality has freed them up to explore their personal gender aesthetics without regard for whether they are attractive to others, and many other things.

Asexuality and Gender Presentation | [A] Life of Experiences
Jeremy writes about his experience in trying to subtly play with his gender presentation, how his asexual identity helped him find the confidence to do so, and both his struggles and enjoyment in pushing back against being seen as just another straight dude.

Obscure lines: agender and asexual comes together | golden weasel
golden weasel writes about the ways in which their agender-ness and asexuality are inter-related.

What Are You? A Question of Mixed Race, Gender, And Asexuality | Halfthoughts
The author of Halfthoughts explores the relationships and parallels among their Hapa/mixed race, asexual, and non-binary identities.

Gender in Space | Becoming a Person
elainexe explores her general lack of any strong gender identity, and her attempts to understand what gender is, linking some of her observations back to her asexuality.

No | Aros and Aces
Roses considers a wade range of influences – from Purity Culture to Megan Trainor – on their developing identity, and the ways in which coing to an aro ace agender identity has freed them from a lot of the baggage they were handed growing up.

Genderqueer and demisexual: two sides of the same coin for me

This is my submission to this month’s Carnival of Aces (which I am hosting!) I have been wanting to write this post for years now, so I’m glad I’ve given myself the kick in the pants I needed to actually do it!

For a long time now, it’s been intuitively clear to me that my experience of gender, and particularly my feelings about the gender binary, and my place in it (i.e. the fact that I don’t have one really), is deeply linked to my experience of sexual attraction, and the fact that I am demisexual. In particular, I guess it is linked to the fact that I am demisexual and queer – I suppose much of what I am going to say will not totally apply to exclusively homo- or hetero- oriented demisexuals.

So: the way I experience sexual attraction is not primarily based on any physical attributes of the people I am attracted to (although I have interesting thoughts about how, once I develop a sexual attraction to someone, it does psychologically attach itself to their physical beings – this goes on the unending list of things I will maybe write about one day). Attraction is, for me, based on emotional connectivity and intimacy (plus some amount of randomness/magic).

I’ve also written before about how it can be confusing, and even upsetting, to me to be on the receiving end of advances from other people based on their experience of primary sexual attraction for me. I don’t know what to do with it, it is extremely intimidating and just plain weird to me. I just don’t get it.

And I know that I started leaning into a more masculine-androgynous presentation, the freedom that I felt in that came in large part from the way it freed me from the traditional hetero-male gaze and the uncomfortable attentions that come with that. Because ultimately, masculine-androgynous isn’t truly (or at least for sure isn’t *always*) a good expression of my actual experience of my gender.

As I’ve more recently realized, I am genderfluid, and not just that, my fluidity and the gender I inhabit at any given time is highly context-dependent. Most of the time, and in many contexts, I am functionally asexual, because in many contexts, I am surrounded by people for whom I don’t and will never experience sexual attraction (i.e. contexts not conducive to the development of emotional intimacy, such as most working relationships, and all random day-to-day one-off interpersonal encounters). And most of the time, I am agender. I am not expressing gender, I am not experiencing myself as having a gender, binary or otherwise. I just am, and it’s fine.

In other contexts, I am more likely to feel actively genderqueer. There isn’t any really hard-and-fast rule for when I will feel one way or the other, but my gut nevertheless feels like this is connected to my experience of my sexuality. I wish I knew how to explain the difference between feeling agender and feeling genderqueer, but I don’t know if I can. I know that when I am genderqueer, I have a gender (though not one that fits into the binary), and when I am agender, I don’t. But I also know that the feeling of having a gender isn’t even universal to people who identify as having one, so that’s probably not helpful.

A lot of this may come down to my connection with my physical self, (a.k.a. my body). I have never been strongly connected to my actual body. I am one of those people who never knows where their limbs are, and I often forget to take care of my body because I am so caught up in my head. The less emotionally safe I feel, the less connected I tend to be to my body, in part because of past traumas, and the fact that dissociation is one of my major coping mechanisms/what happens when I get triggered around those traumas, but also I get the sense that my disconnection from my body pre-dates any such trauma, and is just this weirdly ingrained part of who I am.

…And this is where I always lose the plot. I have a very visceral sense that there is a direct connection between my confusions around sexual attraction growing up and my sense of alienation from/parallel confusion with gender norms – they feel like the same thing to me, to be honest. But getting to precisely *how* they are same is a loop I can’t quite close with words.

I just can’t play the sex game the way allosexual people do. And I can’t play the gender game the way cisgender people do, even the non-conforming ones, somehow. And that inability is an expression of the same part of my inner self, which I can feel and which makes total sense to me, but that I don’t know how to describe.

It’s in how I perceive the world. It’s in how different parts of the world perceive me. It’s in how I react to these perceptions. And it’s in every other interaction I have.

I am genderqueer. And I am demisexual. And both of those statements are just ways of saying “I am me”.

Call for Submissions! March 2016 Carnival of Aces: Gender norms and asexuality

Hello all! I am so excited be your host for this month’s Carnival of Aces!

For those that don’t know, a blogging carnival is an online event where a host blog suggests a theme, and people submit pieces based around that theme.

The Carnival of Aces is a monthly blogging carnival that was started all the way back in 2011, and is currently run by the awesome ace resource The Asexual Agenda. For more information check out the Carnival of Aces Masterpost.

Last month’s Carnival was hosted by It’s an Ace Thing, on the theme of platonic attraction. Check out the post roundup!

For this month, I’ve chosen the theme of gender norms and asexuality. The relationship between gender norms and asexuality is interesting to me because of just how much traditional ideas of gender are directly tied to traditional (i.e. compulsory and hetero) ideas of sexuality.

There’s a bunch of ways you could go with this theme, and here are some possible ideas to get your writerly thoughts going, grouped into two rough categories:

  1. Personal experiences of gender and asexuality
    How has your asexuality (or demi or gray-sexuality) affected your feelings about your gender? Has your gender presentation ever caused problems for you related to your asexuality (e.g. unwanted attention or expectations of your behaviour)? Alternatively, does your gender identity have any impact on your feelings about your asexuality? Does your understanding of your gender inform your understanding of your asexuality, or vice versa?
  2. Attraction(s), gender, and asexuality

    • For anyone in the community: does gender play a role in your experience of platonic and/or aesthetic attraction? How do gender norms impact your platonic relationships? Tell me about how that works!
    • For romantic aces (and demis and gray-as): does gender play a role in your experience of romantic attraction? How, and why (or why not)? How do gender norms play out in your romantic relationships?
    • For demis and gray-as who have experienced sexual attraction: does gender play a role for you in that? Where does gender come into play for attraction based on an emotional connection rather than physical traits?

Or maybe the topic of gender norms and asexuality has inspired you to think about something completely different and you want to write about that! I am excited to see what all of you have to say about this topic.

Posts can be submitted to me in various ways:
email: valprehension@gmail.com
twitter: @valprehension
Or you can can post a link in the comments here if you want!

If you want to submit anonymously (or if you want to submit with credit but don’t want to host the post on your own blog/tumblr/whatever), send me an email, and I can put your post up here as a guest post!