We have a strange idea about sex and gender. In fact, we are often worried about what is ‘too masculine’ or ‘too feminine’ and whether we are in accordance with what society considers desirable and undesirable in terms of sexual behaviour. Consequently, we try not to differ in what the majority promotes: a perfect marriage between a woman and a man, a well-paid job, right habits or the classic escalator model of relationships — dating, getting married, having children. But sometimes our minds just don’t fit into society’s version of ‘normal’, so what happens is that we are bypassed or misunderstood.
In social constructions, TV and social media play a central role because they convey messages using words with a specific meaning, either including or excluding a lot of people’s needs. When groups or perspectives do attain visibility, the manner of the things represented will itself reflect the biases and interests of certain elites who define the public agenda. Television, film, radio and the Internet remain powerful socializing mechanisms with which younger generations engage closely. Although the media, in recent years, have introduced more varied sexual categories and examples, the way in which they do this is still wrong. The fact remains, we grow up knowing exactly what our society needs from us. From the moment we are born we are placed into pre-defined categories.
The American anthropologist George P. Murdock summarized the situation, thus:
‘All societies have faced the problem of reconciling the need of controlling sex with that of giving it adequate expression, and all have solved it by some combination of cultural taboos, permissions, and injunctions. Prohibitory regulations curb the socially more disruptive forms of sexual competition. Permissive regulations allow at least the minimum impulse gratification required for individual well-being. Very commonly, moreover, sex behaviour is specifically enjoined by obligatory regulations where it appears directly to subserve the interests of society’.
However, as time goes on, our personalities evolve, and we build our ‘being’ or identity according to our surroundings. We receive a series of impulses that allow us to rethink our belonging to a certain category; that makes us fluid and at the same time authentic.
Attitude about sexuality in Queer Liberation
Where can we find a way out? Queer Liberation represents a struggle for liberation of all people who don’t fit into mainstream society’s idea of sexuality or gender. It rejects the restrictive male-female binary and seeks instead to create a movement that is inclusive of everyone. There is, in fact, a big difference between your assigned sex, gender identity and gender expression. We are not defined by how our body is but by what our feelings are. Collaboration, respect, inclusion are definitely the key words to help us view sexuality and gender differently.
Meg-John Barker, an activist-academic in sex, gender and relationships and author of Queer: A Graphic History, said that people: ‘often assume that something being biological makes it somehow more “real” than something being social’. But there are plenty of social constructions with biological factors that people understand as being very real and feel very deeply about. Race is one of them; gender, another. Moreover, queer also connotes a political commitment. Since the widespread emergence of biological and social notions linked to sexuality and gender, queer has been used to challenge the deep inequalities that stem from this historical shift in constructions of heterosexuality and homosexuality. Essentially, queer remains a form of activism and theorizing that continues to push and disrupt established boundaries and binaries. In this light, queer is understood as something that is outside the ‘normal’, something fluid and unfixed, something not definable by society. The point of queer theory is to challenge and disrupt binaries, with the hope that doing so will simultaneously dismantle differences and inequality.
Thus, queer theory is a call to transgress conventional understandings of gender and sexuality and to disrupt the line that separates heterosexuality from homosexuality. Instead, queer theorists argue that the heterosexual-homosexual division must be challenged in order to open space for the multiple identities, embodiments, and discourses that fall outside pre-defined binaries.
So, we don’t let others tell us what we are and where we belong. Each of us is different. We’re people not categories. We’re feelings not numbers. We shouldn’t waste our essence.