The social system of gender has been limiting our potential as people and completely ruining lives for countless generations. In our modern era, we should be able to cast off these old chains and get rid of this oppressive system for good, but instead, gender is winning—it is being held up as a most important and sacred part of humanity that must be respected at all costs. We, the gender rebels, declare that the sacred part of a human is her personality and her self; not the stereotypes that are attributed to her by the gender system. As gender rebels, we resolve to unite against gender and rid humanity of this oppression once and for all, so that people may be free to express themselves and pursue happiness and satisfaction in all areas of their lives.
Gender is the system of classification that imposes strict rules and limitations on people based solely on their reproductive function. These rules come in two forms—masculinity, which prescribes socially-dictated appropriate behaviour and dress for males, and femininity, which prescribes socially-dictated appropriate behaviour and dress for females. Masculinity and femininity are social constructs which place males and females in a hierarchy with males in the dominant role and females in the subordinate role.
The gender role of masculinity is based on dominance and aggression, and is required of all males in our culture. Masculinity includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- The personal characteristics of dominance such as aggression, chivalry, and lack of empathy and the embodiment of personhood such as independence, self-reliance, and strength.
- The dominant social roles such as breadwinner and authority figure in family, political and religious spheres.
- Keeping exclusively to the clothing and appearance that has been culturally designated for men. Usually clothing considered appropriate for men is comfortable, practical and dignified; however, men find their clothing options limited when their sense of self-expression includes items that resemble clothing culturally designated for women, in which case they are not allowed to wear what they prefer.
- Limitations on what interests and hobbies men may have. Activities considered socially appropriate for men tend to be active, competitive, logical, analytical, scientific, or violent, such as sports, computers, science, machines, fighting, superheroes, and combat tactics.
The gender role of femininity is based on submission to men and objectification. Femininity includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- The characteristics of submission, such as obedience, passivity, compassion, kindness and the characteristics of objectification such as physical beauty and willingness to self-sacrifice.
- The subordinate social roles such as housekeeper, maid, wife, caretaker, prostitute, and types of wage labor that are undervalued and thus, low-paid.
- The clothing and appearance that is culturally designated for females which is designed to mark their subordinate status, and is dictated by the wishes of the men from their culture. Depending on her location, female clothing and appearance might mark her as an object of beauty and lust for men through the use of tight and revealing clothing, makeup, uncomfortable and impractical clothes and footwear, as well as bright, flashy colours; in other areas female attire might cover her up and hide her from the male gaze, which still marks her as an object of lust for men, but in a way that avoids attracting attention. In either case, the woman is marked as man’s polar opposite and by providing this contrast, she reminds him of his masculinity and thus, his dominance as well as her subservience.
- Limitations on what interests and hobbies women may have. Activities considered socially appropriate for women tend to be passive, frivolous, or nurturing, such as the endless pursuit of physical beauty including makeup and fashion, gossip and “chit-chat,” caring for others and maintaining emotional relationships. Women are confined to hobbies that do not threaten men’s dominant status. If they venture into masculine realms such as science, computers or sports, they are routinely objectified and thus, reminded of their second-class status, forcing many to withdraw from their pursuit of higher knowledge and employment in these fields.
These two contrasting roles of masculinity and femininity work together to form the system of patriarchy in which males have power over females. Gender serves to demarcate the reproductive class and the non-reproductive class, and establishes the social inferiority of the former by giving the latter a series of social advantages. Masculinity is constructed to keep men in the dominant position so they can benefit from the exploitation of females; femininity is constructed to keep females in a subordinate position, fostering dependence on men, so that our reproductive functions (giving birth and raising children) can be exploited by males. Thus, all females experience gender as a system of oppression that relegates us to the role of sex object and baby incubator, and prevents us from living up to our true potential.
The Gender Rebel is the person who breaks the rules of gender. Refusal to comply with the rules may take any of the following forms:
- Refusal to play out or submit to the role that has been prescribed to them based on their sex, such as women who do not become domestic servants and sex objects for men; and men who refuse to dominate and control others, and instead strive to maintain equality in their relationships.
- Expressing personality traits inconsistent with the prescribed gender role, such as females who are aggressive or self-reliant and males who are compassionate and nurturing.
- Refusal to present the appearance and clothing that has been culturally prescribed for them
- Pursuing hobbies and interests that are not normally socially acceptable for someone of their sex, such as females interested in sports, non-traditional occupations, mathematics and science; and males interested in fashion, beauty or care-taking.
The acceptance and enforcement of gender norms is harmful to both men and women. Women are dehumanized through the sexual objectification intrinsic to the feminine gender role, and this sexual objectification leads to abuse and even death at the hands of men. Men are taught that they must live up to their masculine role or they are a failure, and are punished by other men for failing.
The punishments for not conforming to one’s gender role start in childhood and continue throughout our lives. Little girls are taught they must be pretty and pleasing and quiet and little boys are taught they must be strong and active and assertive; and when children try to express their personalities as they are, those aspects deemed aberrant by the cultural narrative are discouraged or forbidden. Boys are punished for playing with dolls or wearing princess outfits; girls are forced into dresses that feel uncomfortable on them and told they cannot play roughly and get dirty. Sometimes these children are brought to doctors in an attempt to “cure” their gender-nonconformity. The “cure” for gender-nonconformity may include the prescription of drugs which delay puberty and cause sterility, the prescription of cross-sex hormones to grow the secondary sex characteristics of the opposite sex, and surgery to remove healthy body parts, all in an attempt to make the person appear as a gender-conforming member of the opposite sex.
Gender rebels who do not conform to the rules of gender by appearing as a member of the opposite sex are unfairly punished for their nonconformity continuing into adulthood. Adults who do not conform are less likely to be accepted in the workplace and will sometimes be passed over in hiring or fired from jobs because they will not comply with their sex role. Women who attempt to work in male-dominated careers are often sexually harassed by men who are asserting their dominance over their female coworkers. Gender rebels of all ages are subject to verbal and physical violence from people who wish to terrorize them into conforming, often resulting in severe distress and illness. These punishments for gender nonconformity are unjust and must be abolished.
We, the gender rebels, are committed to gender nonconformity and acceptance of all forms of respectful self-expression, we support others who do the same, and we openly question and encourage questioning of oppressive gender norms.
We resolve to create a world in which:
- There are no expectations that humans must take on certain traits, mannerisms or roles based on their reproductive anatomy;
- There is no such thing as “curing” people who perform their gender role incorrectly because there are no gender roles to perform;
- The full range of human personality can be expressed by persons of either sex;
- Men and women are fully equal and no one may dominate another or reduce another to an object for sexual or reproductive use;
- Children are not punished for playing with the wrong toys because there is no such thing as assigning certain toys to children based on their sex;
- Clothing and appearance are divorced from sex role expectations; men and women can express themselves with any clothing and appearance they find comfortable.
We will make it understood that the feminist movement has always sought to emancipate women from limiting gender roles and in doing so, to abolish the system of gender. Abolishing gender does not mean abolishing human personality or self-expression; it means abolishing the social rules and freeing humans to express their personalities regardless of sex.
We will also make it understood that the practice of adding more gender categories to the list of possible genders does not free us from gender; in fact, it reinforces it. When nonconforming females must label themselves with gender categories other than “woman,” this reinforces the belief that females who are not feminine are not real women, and therefore reinforces the harmful social construct of femininity and essentialist ideas about who women are. Similarly, the tendency among males to assign alternate gender labels on men who do not perform masculinity properly reinforces the social construct of masculinity, which limits men and oppresses women.
We solemnly make the following vows:
- We will openly question traditional gender norms, thereby challenging people’s conception of gender;
- We will break the rules of gender in our own lives, regardless of the consequences;
- We will not allow the enforcement of gender roles on the people around us;
- We will make gender-nonconformity safer for the next generation by proudly proclaiming our non-compliance;
- We will disrupt the system of gender and the patriarchal system it upholds, for the benefit of all.