Gender and Identity with Allison Moon
Allison Moon from http://www.LesbianWerewolves.com joins Cathy Vartuli from http://www.TheIntimacyDojo.com and about gender and identity.
Cathy: Hey, everyone. This is Cathy Vartuli from http://TheIntimacyDojo.com here with Allison Moon from http://LesbianWerewolves.com.
So you teach some classes approach. Can you share a little bit for people that — a lot of people think everything is very binary, and you’re either male or female and you should be more to attract someone. And to me it feels like I’m stuck in a box. It doesn’t fit for me. So I’d love to hear some of your — can you share some of your tips?
Allison: Sure. Well, it’s a huge conversation. Gender is a huge conversation, and it’s a thing that a lot of people take for granted obviously in our society. There’s nothing wrong with that really. It’s just the ability to explore. So understanding that gender, as we’re examining it now, is actually a social construct, right? There are biological bases in the differences between sexes, but that doesn’t actually translate necessarily into how humans live their lives and contract with one another in a gendered way.
So when we talk about like gender roles, it’s everything from who you’re supposed to sleep with; like if you’re a woman you’re supposed to sleep with men; if you’re a man you’re supposed to sleep with women according to the gender roles. In the ’50s it was very clear. In the ’60s we have this very Mad Men look as to how the genders were really delineated to such a degree that even wearing pants for women is a new thing; and if you’re a guy, wearing skirts is still a no-no, like these really ridiculous arbitrary things.
Cathy: It’s just a piece of clothing. Why does it matter whether I have legs or not?
Allison: Exactly, it’s very arbitrary, but these become so ingrained in our society that people are killed over these things. People start to ascribe value to these codes. I think that where women have done a good job around feminism and on getting a place where we’re allowed to wear pants, we’re allowed to have jobs. These are things that are apparently new developments in our culture.
Cathy: Clothing, yeah.
Allison: All these things, like we had to fight for this. Men are at this point now, I think, where they are starting to realize that there’s a little bit more up for grabs around gender as well; and what I’m starting to see, but it’s very difficult because of the deification of masculinity in our culture means that there is this unreachable standard for men everywhere, which means that the idea of a stay-at-home dad is still weird; the idea of gay men are still hard for people to get around.
Cathy: Well, and being vulnerable. If you’re a guy, it’s like you have to push away a big part of yourself.
Allison: Oh, yeah. I’ve never met a man who feels comfortable in his gender because of these weird rules of like no emotions. You can’t even tell your kid that you love them. That kind of stuff is so weird and so antiquated.
So when you look at it from this level of how everybody is affected by gender roles in our culture, no matter who you are, no matter how heterosexual or whatever, we’re all soaking in gender. So if you start to deconstruct that, there’s a lot of room for exploration around that, and so what we’re seeing right now in the social justice movements around LGBT communities or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender communities is that the T, the transgender communities are starting to explore what this binary is and how it breaks down for people who don’t necessarily fit in any box.
So the idea that I can look the way that I look and you can look the way that you look and we’re still both women, that’s where the conversation is right now. It doesn’t make me less of a woman because I have short hair or you less of a woman because you’re not wearing a lot of makeup. These are completely bizarre things, but we still treat them as if they’re codified in stone.
Cathy: Yeah. Freedom is such a beautiful thing. Why can’t we express ourselves? It terrifies people. There are a lot of people that are very upset about this topic.
Allison: Sure, because it forces people to question their own sense of self. And whenever you see like these studies of like homophobic bashings, people who actually are homophobes, they do these studies and they’re like, “Well, you know, we found you actually get turned on by the same sex, so maybe you should put a mirror up there.”
I mean it’s so true now. It’s so obvious it has to be hilarious. When a new politician comes out as being the homophobic, we’re just waiting for it to come out that is through a sex scandal with him, right? That’s because there’s this mirror that people feel uncomfortable with. I think the gender stuff, we see a lot. Men who tend to feel not very strong in their masculinity tend to be the ones who get mad at other men for not being gender conforming, and it’s really sad. It’s not easy for everybody especially in certain places in the country to be the expressed person that you want to be.
And luckily, in these online communities, there are people starting to find each other on the web even if they aren’t geographically close to each other, but just talking about everything from “I like to dress up in women’s clothes sometimes” to “I actually feel like I’ve always been a woman but I’ve had to be pretend that I’m a man and I joined the Green Berets to try and run from my true self.”
Cathy: There’s a whole range.
Allison: There are people out there who explore it all in different ways, and it’s really important, I think, for people to at least give themselves the permission to have an inquiry.
Cathy: Yeah. People can choose what’s right for them, but a lot of us were brought up in a certain viewpoint that’s kind of like a fish in the water. You don’t know there’s anything else. You’ve never questioned it. And so we at least look at it and choose what’s right for us. We’re not just assuming and going blindly along and maybe pushing away a big part of us that could be our creativity or our joy.
Allison: Oh, absolutely. And I think, again, so many people are living lives in which they are just going through the motions, and being very unfulfilled. For a lot of us, this dissatisfaction just might be this inner sense that something is off.
But if you don’t engage in an inquiry, you’ll never be able to have that belief that like, “Oh, my God, I’ve always wanted to be a sculptor.” I mean like not even talking about gender identity. There’s just so much that we don’t explore for ourselves, and we don’t give ourselves permission to even inside our own minds indulge in things. We’re afraid of creating thought crimes, which is the right way to kill yourself before you’ve even lived.
Cathy: It takes so much energy to constantly police your thoughts and push them away. I love it when a guy feels vulnerable enough to share and say, “Hey, can you give me some support?” That creates intimacy. So even if you’re not considering dressing up in your wife’s clothing, it’s just like expressing the sides of yourself that you might have thought weren’t masculine enough. Just letting that out is really powerful.
Allison: I mean like at a very rule level, and this is something that’s in pretty much every major religion, every major tenet, human beings are made up of both masculine and feminine qualities, like whatever that is. But no human being is all one thing, and if you were you’d be so imbalanced as to be immobile. I mean the most amazing powerful people I’ve ever met have a really strong connection with both sides of themselves, that tender side that they can show love and compassion to their friends and family and that strong side that they can take charge and be an individual when they need to be an individual.
But if you don’t know when to bring those both out, if you’re only ever reaching for one thing, there’s a whole side of your personality that is going to start to atrophy, and sometimes people will act out and that’s when it becomes the “You’re living the life that I want to live and now I hate you for that.”
Cathy: Right. Well, I’ve suppressed myself for so long. How dare you have that expression?
Allison: Right, absolutely. I mean for me, it does help to have that viewpoint when I have to engage with people who might have some problems because it allows me to have sympathy for their situation. They might be shouting horrible things at me because they don’t think I have the right to get married to my female lover, but it makes me understand that they don’t necessarily understand what love really is. And if that can come out from that place of compassion and that place of forgiveness, it helps me live my life more comfortably too knowing that I’m not the one who is wrong. They are having some confrontation for themselves.
Cathy: Yeah, that compassion is really beautiful. Thank you very much.
Allison: You’re welcome.
Cathy: If you want to learn more about Allison’s classes or what she offers, go to http://LesbianWerewolves.com.
Cathy: Leave comments below and come back for we’re going to do a video on what is a lesbian werewolf.
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