Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My Gender Workbook

A few years ago, I went to a lecture by Kate Bornstein, professional gender outlaw. If calling it a transformative experience (no pun intended) is an overstatement, then it's not a very big overstatement. Listening to Kate's stories and ideas made me feel like whatever I was, maybe it wasn't so strange and terrible after all. And if this smart, funny person standing before us was as queer as it gets, then maybe my little asexy self was going to be all right. I wish that everyone I know could have seen her speak too; I don't think it was possible to leave without harnessing a better self-image.
Pretty powerful stuff, which was why I was so psyched to check out her book My Gender Workbook.
And isn't it cute with its pink comp book cover? However, even though it isn't a hard read, and it isn't boring, somehow I found it impossible to get through. Like any good workbook, it has exercises. LOTS of exercises. Here's an example:
Name something in your life that's being done for you by another person. It could be mothering, income-providing, teaching, or housekeeping. It could be sexual fulfillment. Anything at all that someone's doing for you that you're not doing for yourself right now.
Now go spend the next month of your life learning how to do that for yourself and doing it.
Apparently, breaking down gender barriers is not a one-semester course, but a life's mission. I defy you to try to learn any of the aforementioned tasks in one month, except maybe housekeeping. I didn't want to do all the exercises, so I tried to skim past some of them. Kate was clever in that when you don't do the exercises, the rest of the book makes no sense. Suddenly I was looking at a chart of sex and gender that looked like one of those family trees from the Bible.

I think it behooves all of us to learn more about gender. Especially as asexuals, because like it or not, we are transgressing gender roles. Nice to know what it is you're transgressing, right? But maybe I just don't have time for the finer points of gender deviance. Is that terribly lazy?


DJ Danjerous said...

Holla! Great post and great point. I've been thinking about this stuff a lot recently, and I'd love to borrow that book sometime....

Ily said...

Hi, thanks so much! It's back at the Sunset library... :-)