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A Deeper Look at Gender Issues: Understanding the Complexities, Overcoming Dilemmas and Envisioning Positive Change

Nowadays, “gender trouble” is always there.

There is still the label of “leftover women”, nameless rural women, common workplace ceilings, disciplined female bodies, and childbearing that is often used as a shackle rather than an independent right… These gender dilemmas are all manifestations of the imbalance of power and social structure. .

Patriarchy, feminism, sexual minorities…these concepts are not simply imported from the Western world. We should put them in a realistic context and observe and feel them in daily life.

01. What are we talking about when we talk about gender?

I am an independent sex and gender studies scholar. I have been doing self-media communication on gender issues in recent years. I have a podcast called “Don’t Be Willful”, and the slogan of the program is “Look at everything from a gender perspective.” This sentence represents my observation and analysis perspective on gender issues, and to a certain extent, it reflects the style of this series of content you will hear.

“Looking at everything from a gender perspective” does not mean only looking at things from a gender perspective, or in the words of some netizens, “everything must be related to gender”, but rather that gender itself is omnipresent.

For many people, gender may be a topic in daily life, involving relationships between men and women, love, marriage, conflicts between husband and wife, etc. But it is not limited to these. Gender relations carry all issues related to the development of human relations, especially the most tense ones, such as equality, violence, democracy, self, power, rights, legality, desire, injury, Violation, respect, colonization, resistance , etc.

You can think about the more well-known gender incidents in the past two years, from the mother of eight children to the abuse case of Mou Linhan, to the Lisa Crazy Horse show. Discussions of gender relations must be public.

So when we are discussing the “gender” of an event, it is not some forced and rigid move, nor is it an insignificant embellishment for the so-called “political correctness”, but rather that we have been ignored and ignored for a long time before approaching something. the truth. Gender is one of the key dimensions through which people view the world and organize relationships, because patriarchy is the most basic structural underpinning of our current society.

In addition to being an axis for understanding the world, gender is also a key driver of the production and reshaping of knowledge. What kind of knowledge is sought after, promoted, and given priority in resources, and what kind of knowledge is ignored, marginalized, or even exiled outside the territory of “modern science”? There is a history and relationship of gender power at the bottom of these. , can also be explained from a feminist perspective.

For example, finance, which aims at manipulating and maximizing wealth, has been developed into a “knowledge” that people are flocking to. However, the obstetric knowledge and medical remedies extracted by women in pre-modern cultures were suppressed with the great witch hunt in the early days of capitalism. for witchcraft and superstition.

What is the relationship between gender temperament and gender structure and nature and war? Why do we always plunder, occupy, and expand instead of helping each other and coexisting? Why do we always create hierarchies instead of living together as equals? These are also grand questions of “gender”.

02. Gender studies has had the greatest impact on me, It is the development of a perspective

Perhaps this is why, from my undergraduate degree to my Ph.D., every time I stood at the crossroads of choosing a major or research field, and when faced with some other tempting directions, I still chose gender studies in the end.

I was also pleased to discover that this interdisciplinary, cross-field, and cross-academic paradigm research direction, precisely because of its “unorthodox” nature, can break the limitations and stereotypes of perspectives within many specific disciplines, and connect many things that originally seemed to exist independently or even Closed-to-the-view categories such as psychoanalysis, capitalism, ecological conservation, and even space migration have all given rise to highly illuminating feminist perspectives.

As the theoretical axis of gender studies, feminism itself is an ideological system with self-criticism and self-renewal activity, so there are continuous internal struggles, debates, criticisms, and mutual learning and mutual generation.

Therefore, the biggest impact of gender studies on me is actually the cultivation of a perspective – this perspective must be open and in-depth at the same time. I must be vigilant about positions and sides, and I cannot be lazy in adopting relativism and think that “everything is right.” , “all make sense”, but to think as fully as possible about the texture and levels of a phenomenon.

Gender issues especially require this kind of perspective, because the concept of “gender” is actually a complex, and every gender issue has huge malleability and intersectionality, often leading to discussions that go beyond gender.

To give a simple example, in the past two years, the online trend among women against the “love brain” is almost a crusade. This conceptual dynamic developed on the archetypal discourses such as “women are independent and self-reliant” and “career-oriented women” has a negative impact on many women. Women are not necessarily supportive and nurturing, but may form a certain kind of exclusion and expulsion.

Behind this phenomenon, of course, there are elements such as the oppressive discipline of femininity by the patriarchal structure, the connivance of toxic masculinity, and the power and exploitation in heterosexual intimate relationships. Looking further, you will find that this is a set of rational The appropriation of economic man’s calculation logic in love and the extreme rejection of the “love brain” correspond to the personal value crisis of young people under the combined effects of economic decline and neoliberalism——

There is no bottom line, no way out, you can only rely on yourself to work hard and keep chasing upwards (that is, not falling into the bottom). Such “independent self-improvement” has become a self-imposed mandatory order that does not allow the luxury of “passion” to exist, especially For women.

After this level, there are also psychological and philosophical issues such as human individual development and overall existence, such as what is subject, what is love, what is desire, why do we feel “lack” and “deficiency”, and what? How to be happy and complete in the face of desires and needs?

Gender theory is not the complete answer to the “love brain” phenomenon, but at the same time, these latter seemingly universal issues that transcend gender must be considered from a gender perspective in order to provide a female subject with truly valuable inspiration, inspiration and development. strength.

In any case, scolding women for being “love-brained” is not a commendable practice in my opinion. Instead, it may add another layer of shame and discipline to women’s bodies and minds, making women’s desires and needs more underground. , making it more difficult for women to develop their subjectivity.

However, when I criticize like this, does it mean that I stand on the opposite side of the discourse of “women being independent and self-reliant”? Of course not.

03. Is gender a problem? Still no trouble?

You see, gender issues are so troublesome, so we need to treat them with corresponding diligence, sensitivity, sharpness, and tolerance. In the content of “Gender is Not Trouble”, I hope to convey to you my understanding of gender.

This program focuses on current gender phenomena and public opinion, starting from hot gender topics, analyzing and discussing the gender relations and gender order behind these topics.

Unlike some content that focuses on Western feminism, our new program emphasizes the local context of gender discussions and gender phenomena that are closely related to many people. It is also different from a set of feminist theory courses. This program will talk about theory, but only as a tool to explain the phenomenon. Specific examples and characters are the protagonists.

This set of audio content is named “Gender Trouble”, which is obviously a reference to the title of the book “Gender Trouble” by the postmodernist thinker Judith Butler, and is also a literal pun.

In the show, I will spend four chapters explaining the “troublesome” aspects of gender. The four chapters are “Gender Dilemma”, “Gender Mystery”, “Gender Battle” and “Gender Search”.

In the first chapter, “The Dilemma of Gender,” I will explain some of the modern local gender phenomena, reveal the underlying gender discrimination, and lay the realistic premise for gender inequality for the unfolding of subsequent chapters.

In short, I will first use facts and analysis to establish that gender discrimination really exists, and women suffer huge unfairness and losses because of it. This is reflected in all aspects of women’s lives, such as marriage and childbirth, land rights, education, and employment. Career advancement, and physical autonomy.

Some people may be surprised, why spend so much space talking about an established fact? The problem is that for many people, sexism is not an established fact. In the current Internet environment, comments like this are everywhere: women’s status is already too high; only women have gender dividends. Even if such comments are completely contrary to the facts, they still have a huge emotional basis and can arouse the heartfelt resonance of countless people.

Therefore, why these people think this way and what the facts are, becomes a question that needs to be solved first. Moreover, these negative expressions on topics such as gender equality and women’s rights are part of a larger structure that maintains gender injustice, which is itself a gender phenomenon that interests me. At the end of the first chapter, I will explore how these “gender dilemmas” are hidden and covered up, and thus truly become dilemmas.

So where is the way to break through the dilemma? Who else has been a trailblazer? This is a question I will answer in Chapter Three.

Before that, in Chapter 2, “The Mystery of Gender,” I need to prepare some tools for understanding. I will explain the historical formation of current gender power relations and their shaping of “gender” – that is, how did the patriarchy responsible for our current gender order, including the gender issues in Chapter 1, come about? What are the limitations of our current understanding and concepts of “gender”? To what extent are the gender differences that are considered the basis of sexism real? What does being transgender teach us about gender and challenging the gender binary?

In Chapter Three, “The Battle of the Sexes,” we come to the modern history of the fight against gender injustice. “Gender issues” are not a new phenomenon. They have existed since the emergence of patriarchy, but public awareness of them has continued to increase with the long-term women’s movement. I will introduce the long-standing efforts of feminists to fight for gender equality rights and attempts to dismantle patriarchy. This ongoing battle against the patriarchal order is also a plan and hope for the gender issues discussed in the first chapter.

But what exactly is it about feminism that makes it so difficult in our society? What kind of prejudices and misunderstandings do people have about feminism? Why do some people turn their backs on feminism? I will also face these problems, and finally, from the perspective of ordinary women from the experience of heroes and heroines, I will talk about those “eye-opening” moments when women’s consciousness awakens.

In the final chapter, “The Search for Gender,” I want to explore the future of gender. To achieve a new world that is more kind and equal to women (and all genders), we need a bit of a “radical” imagination about gender.

This means re-examining all currently taken-for-granted relationships and routines and considering some “disruptive” options. What new possibilities are there for gender relations? Will fatherhood end? What might a world led by women look like? Would it be better? How can men who pursue gender equality get rid of the shackles of patriarchy and become better versions of themselves?

While I try to answer, or imagine, these questions, I invite everyone to join me in looking at “gender” boldly and looking for gender possibilities that are more suitable for all of us.

04. One piece of the complex map of gender

The overall structure of the program “Gender Is Not Trouble” is also a puzzle piece in a complex map of gender topics. This troublesome topic calls on us to continue to study, think, and discuss it, because the current development is really poor, making us, regardless of gender, feel painful. And pain is an important driver of change. We all know we can’t go on like this.

In fact, the atmosphere on gender issues has undergone a turning point change again in the past few years. After years of silence and sluggishness, the flame of collective female consciousness has been rekindled. Every year, gender-related incidents occur that attract widespread public attention. From Wu Yifan to “One Page” host Fan Xin to screenwriter Shi Hang, the characters involved in 2023 are so public and influential that we might not have imagined that the confrontation would be successful a few years ago. possibility.

At the same time, gender murders against women have repeatedly made the news. Because of jealousy, possessiveness, and control, the husband of his wife killed his wife. People are outraged by this, and are quickly drowned in the hot discussion of the next incident. Even if there is still resistance and resistance, people are at least beginning to understand that the gender topic is not just about the love between men and women, but a “serious” topic with a public nature, and the level of seriousness is even related to life and death.

Gender discussions have become more fervent, but also more cautious. Corresponding to this process, more women have completed their awakening, and more men have changed their ideas.

The Douban annual book list announced at the end of 2023 shows us that feminist books are gaining momentum. Publishing institutions have greatly promoted Chinese translation and introduction projects of feminist works, and local documentary works about women’s life experiences are also constantly producing excellent works. When everyone faces the existential gender reality with a more sensitive gender awareness and better learning reserves, the pain becomes more sobering and more infuriating.

As written in the article “Inventory of Gender Events in 2023” published by Interface Culture, “The changes in the social climate are visible to the naked eye, but the pace of social progress may not be synchronized with it. This reality brings an unspeakable sense of anxiety, which makes this year Discussions on gender issues in the public arena are full of explosive atmosphere.”

So can we bear this kind of pain? How do we deal with this pain? Are we alone in facing these great injustices? Apart from confrontation and anger, how can we still maintain ourselves and still maintain our lives in this inevitable battle?

This is also the final meaning of the name “Gender is Not Trouble”: we are not afraid of trouble, and we will not give up because of trouble, because we are not alone. In this set of content, I hope to convey not only knowledge and information, but also a belief.

In 1979, the famous American poet Adrienne Rich said in a speech to graduates of Smith College: “I believe that every woman’s soul is filled with memories of those who have fought and resisted for themselves before us. Ghosts of female ancestors surround us.”

It remains the same today. No matter how complex the reality we live in, how serious the gender issues are, and how troublesome the gender dilemma is, we are not alone. In addition to each other, we also have seniors and sisters from the past, whose bravery and perseverance have won us a lot.

So I hope that this set of content can provide some channels to connect the past and the present, to fill in a little bit of the current information gap of feminism, so that more people can see that the situation of women here and now is not isolated, and therefore, we still have hope. .

In addition to faith, we also need courage, the courage to face gender dilemmas, the courage to fight for gender justice. After seeing clearly what restricts and suppresses us, we must admit that “it is not me who is wrong, it is the external order” and then make different choices. courage.

Finally, I hope this set of content can be a newly opened gender map for you. I want to present an era perspective of the current gender culture, and also explore a gender future worth looking forward to. But this will be a never-finished job.

There are still too many uncharted waters on this gender map that must be filled in by you and more people – many years from now, when people look back, they may find that we are now in a new era of enlightenment, and gender studies and feminism still have I hope to bring us out of an ignorant and chaotic patriarchal order, so that everyone can become a better version of themselves and have a better life.

To get closer to a better future that we truly deserve, you first need the courage to launch radical imagination. This faith and courage will eventually lead us, at least some of us, to sail through the wind and waves to the other side.

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