To be honest – I think really what Diane Abbott was doing yesterday was trying to frame a political discussion about family, mental health, employment and finance in a new and provocative way. It worked because I’m writing something and many other people did too.
Political matters really cannot be examined or talked about without considering gender, because we’re talking about people, we’re talking about relationships and gender is at the heart of all these considerations whether we like it or not and whether we are concious of it or not.
For me gender is about journey – and we’ve all travelled and are travelling one. What are the messages I’ve received about my body and myself in my life that lead me to work the way I work or think the way I think? We’ve had some brilliant movements throughout history and different cultures that have questioned and deconstructed and exposed the ‘rules’ about gender.
I continue to be astounded at how much people want to cling on to the ‘rules’ how much they fear life without the ‘rules’ and what possible breakdown may occur if they are changed, dismissed or developed too much.
I really find that there is very little about our social interactions, decision making patterns and priorities that are related to the body parts observed and recorded at birth – gender is put upon us and our bodies, it is constructed, mandated, endorsed and manipulated in all kinds of directions.
Gender is about the male/female ‘rules’ and journey we have all made.
Some bad contemporary views of feminism mistakenly focus only on women- when really contemporary feminism should be promoting the deconstruction of gender and flourishment for all. Shaking off prescriptions and looking after each other, whilst listening all the time to the journey that has been made.
Neautralising or equalising gender is not possible in many respects because of the ‘rules’ and the journeys.
We have a gender crisis on our hands – with polarising gendering being perpetuated by advertising, TV, music industries and online stereotypes and enabling. We continue to gender our children, we gender each other in relationships, we gender education, we gender the workplace and we gender advertising and politics. It is often done so consciously in order to make money and in order to keep power relations at play to try and maintain order. It is also done unconciously, when we are not thinking through the impact of our messages on the images and symbolism of men and women for actual men and women.
I want to talk about masculinity and men and their journeys and ‘rules’. I want to talk about femininity and women in the same way – I want to become more concious of my journey, of the ‘rules’ I was given and of my partner’s, colleagues, children, friends and neighbours too. It is only this that will help overcome a crisis – we’re stuck in a dualism that says either embrace the ‘rules’ or throw them out – and that feels like an ultimatuum.
Let’s do both – let’s expose the ‘rules’ let’s deconstruct and discuss them – let’s throw some of them out, let’s understand how some of them work for us and let us be more conscious and less fearful about the journeys we’ve taken and the journey’s we’d like to take.