Simone de Beauvoir says that nobody is born a woman rather becomes one, Luce Irigaray writes that women are the ‘other’ in this world where men are the ‘subjects’ whereas Butler seeks to redefine feminism and womanhood. Basically, what these women seem to show is that this patriarchal world revolves around the phallus and considers men as the main subjects or essential beings where women are either the ones “without” or “different”. Beauvoir’s idea of the identity of a woman being imposed seems to be hard to digest but at the same time Irigaray completely negates our presence which professes that we are defined by what we lack or against the men.
Had this world been a man’s world (literally), would there be a need for the term GENDER? Is ‘gender’ yet another name for ‘women’? When parents question the doctor about the gender of their child, are they actually asking if it’s a girl? What is the exact definition of being a woman? Can the words ‘gender’, ‘women’ and ‘female’ coincide? Are we segregated biologically into these categories? If yes, how will we define trans-gender, eunuchs and homo-sexuality?
Beside the biological distinction is the societal distinction which seems to give rise to the word “woman”. The word ‘woman’ seems to be derived from the word ‘man’, where someone who ‘woos’ a ‘man’ is a ‘woman’. But, historically speaking, “Woman used to be wifman, a combination of wif, meaning “woman” (whence wife), and man in the meaning “human being”…” which incidentally proves a woman’s presence in relation to a man. Like in the bible, Eve was made from the ribs of Adam; women seem to be the subsidiary part of man.
Do the societal restrictions and psychological conditioning where ‘women’ are nurtured to be demure, sweet, ‘feminine’, graceful and homely? If we agree to Beauvoir’s statement then would the terms ‘woman’ and ‘gender’ lose meaning if there is no distinction made between two sexes since birth?
Many plays and movies like “As You like it” and “She’s the man” show how cross dressing is an easy way to cross these ‘gender’ boundaries. In “As You like It” a male actor plays the role of Rosalind and further cross dresses into a shepherd which makes the concept of gender boundaries ludicrous as these can be easily crossed again and again. The movie “She’s the man” shows how a girl lives in a boy’s hostel and plays football with them and even helps them win the match. This movie clearly blows away the myth of difference in efficiency and stamina between the two sexes.
Homosexual relationships though condemned by 377 yet it is as natural as breathing. Homosexuality has been there since humanity on earth and was accepted by the Egyptians. The technical age saw the invention of ways to change one’s natural sex which further twists these boundaries of ‘gender’.
The movie “Transamerica” shows a homosexual man’s journey through the sex change operation as well as the life of his gay son, he never knew existed. This complex movie does not allow the viewer to categories the characters into the excepted norms of gender and sexuality, rather questions your notions while trying to break free these black and white domains.
Thus, if we still disagree to dissuade from the societal norms then we can even comprehend that women exist because there is a man as black exists because there is white. This other-ing and separating us from the ‘originals’ gives rise to confusion to a woman’s domain because since it is dependent on a man’s world, her life and rules would too be based on what she is not rather than what she is. A woman’s life is therefore merely a lack of everything a man is or has. So, when one’s identity revolves around a deficiency of something she was not made to have only makes one incapable or different. Anything beyond these two sides of “presence” and “absence” are either pushed under the carpet or out rightly rejected as mere abnormalities or even denied a presence. What I am trying to prove is that if blackness is seen as the lack of whiteness then all the positives or capabilities of the black will merely be seen as its negatives and inabilities and there is no space for any grey areas even when, it has been proved time and again that the world is not divided into contrasts. Both racism and gender have a similarity in its intra-differentiation. If racism were to leave the world forever, all complexions would merely be called skin rather than colors which differentiate similar human beings. Like wise, if the term gender and female were to be forgotten and the only difference being sexual, the world would be rid of half the crimes we see.
If all this were true then in the classrooms, roads, buses, trains and planes one would not look at each other as a particular ‘gender’, rather another being. The very idea is exhilarating and unbelievable. I hardly can comprehend what the world would be as my mind too seems to keep pulling me back into the boundaries which do not let my imagination go astray into the utopian universe.