If gender was an energy that powered a 5th dimensional grid, one of action guided by a compass and 4 poles rather than two it would malfunction when forced to divide in two. If gender was a direction rather than a box it would no longer feel constraining. If gender was a vast unobstructed landscape that had been cordoned off and laden with obstruction it would be trying to get free. If gender was the path to freedom and it had been bound in chains, it would seem like a trap. If gender was an entity constantly running between two poles, while at the same time trying to get out of boxes, and avoid those trying to destroy it then it would look like a trans vs radfem battle.
If gender had an essence what would that essence be. Could it be anything once it separated from notions of biological sex. What would its framework be built on. There are many questions. In a sense the idea of two biological sexed create a structure for gender to exist in, as a thing that runs from male to female or masculine to feminine, but even this structure itself and all words used to define gender reference back to sex. It has not always been this way, other concepts have been used to describe energies in terms of polarities. North american indian tribes would describe earth and sky in terms of spirit essence, and they would claim men are sky and women are earth, two spirit combines them both. These were the words to describe a sense of essences, and they did so without referencing them as originating from sex, instead they saw them as part of nature and humans also part of nature. The terms yin and yang together with the spirit element of yuan have also been used to describe how different ratios of elements exist in the sexes in china. In India concepts of doshas existing as constitutional types in people that combined the elements of earth, wind, fire, water and space were thought to determine traits and physical constitution. The three doshas Vata, Pitta, and Kapha are derived from the five elements. Vita combined air and space, making people lighter and more cerebral. Pitta combined fire and water making people more active and driven. Kapha combined earth and water, making people more heavy and calm. It was said keeping the doshas balanced is good for health, very much like the concept of keeping one’s yin and yang balanced. Its clear that concepts of things that make up the self dont always have to exist as two opposing polarities or be linked to reproductive sex.
In the west there are many theories around gender, these cover how it evolved or how it was constructed. Its clear there is an unnatural structure of gender in this society, just as there is an unnatural structure around sexuality. Its easy to see how sexuality could continue to exist without the boxes and labels used to constrain it, because most of us experience the pull of attraction and have a sense of sexual motivation. If attraction to females was no longer labelled as anything, it would still exist without a label. Going back a few hundred years in the west, what we think of now as attraction was referred to as lust and look down upon, more so in women. Clothing was modest and designed to reduce lust and sex was to be carried out in a way that lead to conception in marriage. The higher up the social class ladder a person was, the more control of their sexuality in both thought and deed mattered. It was not ok to masturbate, to lust after anyone or sit and think about sex, many middle class women suffered from anxiety related conditions that arose from suppressing sexual desire. The vibrator was invented as a medical device to use on women in doctors surgeries as a treatment for hysteria, meanwhile peasant women were seen as filled with unnatural lustfulness and sin. If you went to a woman in those time to ask her what it meant to be heterosexual or attracted to men, she would not be able to tell you or would be horrified to speak about those things. Sex acts like oral sex and anal penetration have been banned in some US states, even within marriage and having sex while menstruating and less able to conceive is seen as immoral by some religions. The message was clear, sex is for procreation and not pleasure. The act of reproduction itself has always been controlled, and this was done via narrowing down the act of sex and then only allowing it in marriage. It could be said the core reason for controlling sexuality was control of reproduction, by making sure people have reproductive sex and making sure they get married first. That way most of the population reproduces workers, and they do it in a setup where resources are controlled, usually making everyone survive on low income while the system steals their creative ability via work.
So if gender had an essence and an energy of its own, like sexuality does it would have to be tied to human creative ability and how humans interact with their environment, to build civilization itself. It would need a pole for synthesis: the origin of ideas and thoughts, inspiration, planning etc(an undifferentiated pole). It would need a pole for co operation allowing different approaches to come together (an androgyny pole). It would need a interaction pole (expressive pole) and an action pole (instrumental pole). Synthesis to create an idea, then one could either express that idea to others via art or words to inspire others to action or they could go direct and build the thing they thought of. They may need to create a team who will work together to build one’s idea at the co operation pole. To complete a project one needs to be able to move freely from pole to pole, unobstructed and not be chained to a pole of action or being forced to pivot between two.
So if the essence of gender is the sum of all human creativity and is responsible for the creation of everything that cannot be created by sex, the point of controlling gender would be to control the creative output of humans. Gender is controlled by forcing it into a binary based around bodies that reproduce in a certain way. This method is a good way to control gender because it means maximum work output can be extracted out of everyone. Allocating different tasks to the reproductive sexes allows for structuring around reproductive roles, and it also allows people to be grouped by body ability for tasks over personal interest in tasks. This way the system can ensure to extract as much time and labour as it can from everyone. To do this you must create a triangular gender system by removing one pole of the gender square, and this was what they did right up until that triangle was flattened into a spectrum. I can assure you this will make sense in time, so stick with me.
At one pole you have instrumentality, males are allocated this script and at the other end you have expressivity and females are allocated this script. The androgyny pole as i mentioned before is the co operation pole, and this was where they put marriage and the basis of male and female interaction. They wanted instrumental and expressive to join together in two people, not in one person and they wanted it to do so under their decision. The 4th pole is the pole of synthesis and this is to be removed from the masses who dont get to have a say in how things are run. Instead they are given one of two scripts and told to come together to co operate in projects set by those who occupy the synthases pole (those in power) rather than their own ideas(or preferences). The control of humans via a binary gender scripted system will result in most of the population running around doing what is asked, with a few at the top making the structural decisions about society. The only other alternative is destruction because everyone’s synthesis base is beaten out of them. They are to become specialized, based on sex. Every single person who inherits the instrumental or expressive script are only living from someone elses ideas. Its refined instrumentality and expressiveness, and its only able to come together and co operate at the androgyny pole if everyone follows these scripts fully. They are like a jigsaw and fit the way they were sculpted by those who made the decisions, so when shaped by sex role scripts the natural connection process is modified. So when movements made changes to the sex role scripts, they no longer fitted together at the androgyny pole, marriage collapsed etc as did other dynamics that were script dependant. The constructed triangle collapsed into a spectrum that ran from instrumental to expressive, everyone moved on to developing bits of each in themselves. The sense there was more gender then just two arrived, but even that is a small slice of what is.
Why would a collective human gender grid with 4 points exist? In my view its because it takes many different angles of views to construct a society, it only takes two angles to reproduce physically, two directions (egg and sperm) and it takes many others to build a society (synthesis, action, interaction, co operation) and while its possible for all people to be able to navigate around them all, its hard to have everyone carry out all the tasks all at once. For this reason people need to develop orientations around these bases, and its possible these orientations intersect with how we experience our bodies in some way. This diversity does not automatically result in a power hierarchy, not unless there is a set of people forcing the rest to build a society that favours some extracting resources from others.
To get freedom of sexual orientation a lot of other factors had to change, like laws that banned sexual acts more likely between people with similar anatomies had to be repealed. The idea one could not have sex if it were not for procreation had to go, as did the idea sex could only take place in marriage. Same sex sexuality rights by default changed the way all sexuality was seen and conducted. It upset the apple cart for right ring moralistic society because it made it harder to control heterosexuals who now were seen as having a sexual orientation, rather than just doing the natural procreative act. Today we have a concept of sexuality flowing in many directions, other than same sex vs opposite sex. A lot of people think the pill set women free, but really it never did because there was never a need for all sex to be reduced down to the one act that causes conception.
To get freedom in the dimension of gender will require shifts in how our skills, abilities and resulting creativity is exploited, because this is the core reason why we have a system that marks out who everyone is and what they are expected to do because of it. Its a system where who you physically are is translated into what you will do because of it. The system will allow some new gender freedom while remaining intact, just as long as those identities are still somehow based around the already existing system of reproductive sex and the sex role scripts of masculinity and femininity. But to live truly unbound and without boxes, free from expectations based on anatomy for good, then the very structure of gender control itself must be destroyed.
To achieve destruction one needs to know for sure what keeps the system in place, and i will have a good guess its related to class hierarchy and control of production and reproduction. Think of it like this: Heterosexuality, homosexuality, as terms vs Androsexuality, Gynsexuality, Polysexuality, Pansexuality. The first set reference the person at the seat of the attraction, the second set reference the person one is attracted to. The first set can form an hierarchy, and the second set can’t and this is why things are referenced as they are. This is to remind people which direction of sexuality is appropriate based on their reproductive sex, and because everyone of the same reproductive sex varies so much in how they look it becomes important to create a uniformed look to become the seat of attraction. Controlling what people look like based on reproductive sex is needed to stop the construct of heterosexuality falling apart, more so in a society that also expects the primary sexual parts to remain covered. A side effect of creating this uniformed norms is some people dont fit them and as result appear less appealing. When sex norms go and it gets to the point where there is no single common pattern of look for either sex, it becomes clear there is no single anchor for sexuality that would justify the boxes. It just happens that to meet the two box binary expectation of how one should look, one has to spend quite a bit of money and once again follow someone else’s creative template, a template they will constantly change to sell more goods. One of the first obstacles one has to overcome when choosing not to wear the clothes allocated to their reproductive sex is not being able to follow the trend cycles of one’s peers. Along with not wanting to part with ones acquired clothing once the trends pass, because finding what one wants to fit their body is rare for gender non conforming people, and its something many others are happy to throw in the bin when the fashion changes. If we dont conform to either of the two trend cycles (mens or womens) then its harder to extract cash from us, and making extra trend cycles for a minority is harder. In a sense imposing fashion on us all by default restricts our self expression, regardless of if those trends are gendered or not, if they are it adds another layer. Gender controls could have resulted from years of hierarchy based around sex and social class, its not possible to get rid of the controls until some other inequalities have been removed. Until humans are not creatively exploited, control of human creativity wont end and there will always be a push to suppress originality.
Just as fighting for gay rights never freed human sexuality fully, fighting for rights of certain genders or directions in gender wont free us either. Identity may only be the tip of the iceberg.