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Dangers of postmodernism: gender definitions

If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you know that I'm a #postmodernism, feminism and human rights advocate. For me, postmodernism is one of the most fascinating and relatable theories that exist today, especially in the literature. However, postmodernism as a concept that changes the structure of modern era traditions, norms and values can have disadvantages. In the case of gender definitions which we know about today, postmodernism criteria are affecting such meta-narrative chaotically. The idea of writing this article comes from the Ulta Beauty podcast in which transgender women discuss what girlhood from their own perspective is. Don't get me wrong. I don't have a problem with transgenderism or any concept regarding LGBTQ+. My problem is when womanhood and girlhood are defined and treated as an accessory and that biological males define it for the rest of the world. This can go for any biological male in any form they prefer to be. The idea that society cherishes such concepts of being a girl and woman as if we, as women, are not in a place to define it ourselves is basically anti-feminism and patriarchal. This is where we should draw a line.

In this post, I will discuss the gender as a social construct and a meta-narrative and how postmodernism redefines such concept and resulted in a chaos. Let's go!

From Lucile Hadžihalilović's fantasy film: 'Innocence' (2004) based on Frank Wedekind's symbolist short story

Gender as a meta-narrative

As I explained in my main article on postmodern literation and transgression, #metanarrative concerns narratives of historical meaning, experience or facts and offer a grand story that is self-legitimizing. Simply put, narratives supposed to guide our gender, culture, race, socioeconomic status, sex, education, etc. Now what does #gender meta-narrative mean? David R. Maines in his article explains that a gender narrative examines how the intersectionality of one's identities influences one's perception and performance of gender within society. He explains that gender narratives are #fluid as we continue to have new experiences, interact with new people, and identify ourselves differently. This idea of gender clearly demonstrates why there are many forms of gender identities and proves the concept of homosexuality.

So, if we say gender is a social construct, then this means the meta-personalities of males and females derived from the frequency of voluntary behaviors that members of these groups collectively choose to act out. So, gender is only fluid when such behaviors are always progressively changing and redefining the previous constitutional definitions and norms. Simple example is when someone says 'that's not very manly' or 'she's very lady-like', they are using their collective perceptual memories of observed or learned behaviors to form these views. Such stereotypical definitions can never represent a snapshot of what Tajfel call it collective behaviors of all men and women to be able to accurately determine what typical or normal behavior looks like.

In this regard, R Su et al., discuss that psychological field of individual differences indicates that there are specific personality differences between males and females that translate to differences in behavior. In this article, they explain the concept of ‘men are more interested in things and that women are more interested in people’ and demonstrate that women tend to also measure higher than men based on 5-Factor model of personality. including agreeableness and neuroticism.

5-Factor model of personality chart summary

However, as McConnell-Ginet explains in her article, this is all but a myth, as ‘natural gender’ differences in personality based on the societal and cultural factors. For example, this concept increase as countries become more egalitarian. Hence, the gender narratives are defined and injected in collective mind through education, religion, media, and finally, as well as a person’s new experiences, interact with new people, and identify oneself differently.

Womanhood and gender definitions: case of Dylan Mulvaney

As I was surfing #YouTube shorts, I arrived at some videos criticizing a transgender woman name #Dylan. There were a lot of men and women discussing how wrong she is. So, I searched more to know why they’re so critical and some hateful against this person. I found the answer in Dylan’s first video on #TikTok sharing her journey of transitioning into a ‘girl’. In the very first video she is sitting by her laptop and saying how her first day of girlhood looked like. Here's the exact word:

"Day 1 of being a girl and I have already cried three times. I wrote a scathing email that I did not send. I ordered dresses that I couldn't afford and then um when someone asked me how I was I said I'm fine but I wasn't fine."

This very first video is fundamentally against the whole feminism movement. Is primarily against girlhood and womanhood. Is profoundly wrong!

If you search definition of girlhood in Cambridge dictionary, this is what you get:

/ˈɡɝːl.hʊd/ the period when a person is a girl, and not yet a woman, or the state of being a girl

In girlhood studies, scholars examine social and cultural elements of girlhood and move away from an adult-centered focus. (source) Those working in this field have studied it primarily in relation to other fields that include sociology, psychology, education, history, literary studies, media studies, and communication studies. (source) Such studies seek to work directly with girls themselves in order to analyze their lives and understand the large societal forces at play within them. They also explore the connection the field has with women's studies, boyhood studies, and masculinity studies. (source)

Reading such diverse research from a multidimensional perspective helps you understand that girlhood just like any other state of human behavior and growth is not a simple direct line from A to B. Human behavior and growth is a complex phenomenon that researchers after years of study still have no proper answer to it. It means one simply cannot take some basic stereotypical facts and assign it to a specific gender.

I would also like to add that girlhood has a direct connection with age, some may say that a girl is under the age of 18 who is a minor which back in the history as Catherine Driscoll discusses the nineteenth-century era, girls were traditionally defined as younger than the age of consent. Additionally, Claudia Mitchell and Jacqueline Reid-Walsh discuss girlhood beginning from birth to late twenties. So, girlhood is often designated by age and consists of imitating observed and learned adult behavior. In the case of Dylan, none of these would match his age criteria. And this, my dear readers, is the fault of the postmodernist dangerous fluidity of concepts and definitions.

It worth to mention that we’re not taking about sex here as a biological factor but gender as a socially defined identity. What is negative in case of gender definitions in a postmodern era is when people like try to redefine gender as a social construct but end up showing being a woman is basically what the stereotypical ‘toxic masculine’ patriarchal definition of woman and her behavior is: A pathetic mentally unstable financially unreliable individual who can be no one but a woman! And jokes on patriarchal norms, we are now nominating biological male dress and act as patriarchal 'definition of women' as women of the year: (forget about letting them compete in women sports and benefiting from their bioloical advantages)

  • Lia Thomas nominated for NCAA’s ‘Women of the Year’ award

  • Caitlyn Jenner won American GLAMOUR's Women of the Year awards 2015 and 2022

  • Forbes Women Summit Invites Biological Man Trans-Activist to Speak at Women’s Conference 2022

  • USA TODAY’s Women of the Year nominated Rachel Levine

  • TIME’s Women of the Year named MJ Rodriguez as one of the women of the year

And the list goes on. To conclude, I may say that it does seem that womanhood is just another cosplaying concept for the transgender community, discarding years of post-feminism's attempt at suppressing masculine metanarrative of womanhood.

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