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Postgenderism is a diverse social, political and cultural movement whose adherents affirm the voluntary elimination of gender in the human species through the application of advanced biotechnology and assistive reproductive technologies.
Advocates of postgenderism argue that the presence of gender roles, social stratification, and cogno-physical disparities and differences are generally to the detriment of individuals and society. Given the radical potential for advanced assistive reproductive options, postgenderists believe that sex for reproductive purposes will either become obsolete, or that all post-gendered humans will have the ability, if they so choose, to both carry a pregnancy to term and 'father' a child, which, postgenderists believe, would have the effect of eliminating the need for definite genders in such a society.
Postgenderism as a cultural phenomenon has roots in feminism, masculism, along with the androgyny, metrosexual/technosexual and transgender movements. However, it has been through the application of transhumanist philosophy that postgenderists have conceived the potential for actual morphological changes to the members of the human species and how future humans in a postgender society will reproduce. In this sense, it is an offshoot of transhumanism, posthumanism, and futurism.One of the earliest expressions of postgenderism was Shulamith Firestone's The Dialectic of Sex. It argues,
[The] end goal of feminist revolution must be, unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself: genital differences between human beings would no longer matter culturally. (A reversion to an unobstructed pansexuality Freud's 'polymorphous perversity' - would probably supersede hetero/homo/bi-sexuality.) The reproduction of the species by one sex for the benefit of both would be replaced by (at least the option of) artificial reproduction: children would born to both sexes equally, or independently of. either, however one chooses to look at it; the dependence of the child on the mother (and vice versa) would give way to a greatly shortened dependence on a small group of others in general, and any remaining inferiority to adults in physical strength would be compensated for culturally.
Another important and influential work in this regard was socialist feminist Donna Haraway's essay, "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century," in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York; Routledge, 1991), pp. 149–181. In this work, Haraway is interpreted as arguing that women would only be freed from their biological restraints when their reproductive obligations were dispensed with. This may be viewed as Haraway expressing belief that women will only achieve true liberation once they become postbiological organisms, or postgendered. However, Haraway has publicly stated that their use of the word "post-gender" has been grossly misinterpreted.
Types of postgenderism
Postgenderists are not exclusively advocates of androgyny, although most believe that a “mixing” of both masculine and feminine traits is desirable—essentially the creation of androgynous individuals who exhibit the best of what males and females have to offer in terms of physical and psychological abilities and proclivities. Just what these traits are exactly is a matter of great debate and conjecture.
Postgenderism is not concerned solely with the physical sex or its assumed traits. It is focused on the idea of eliminating or moving beyond gendered identities. In a traditional gender construct one is either a man or woman (regardless of their genitalia), but in postgenderism one is neither a man nor woman nor any other assumed gender role. Thus an individual in society is not reduced to a gender role but is simply an agent of humanity who is to be defined (if at all) by one's actions.
However, not all postgenderists are against the existence of gender roles in some form; some only argue for the deemphasization of gender roles. People in this form of postgender world would be able to identify as a gender if they decided to, but identifying as one would not be mandatory, and gender roles would have little bearing on how people actually act or are treated in society.
In regard to potential assistive reproductive technologies, it is believed that reproduction can continue to happen outside of conventional methods, namely intercourse and artificial insemination. Advances such as human cloning, parthenogenesis and artificial wombs may significantly extend the potential for human reproduction.
Many argue that posthuman space will be more virtual than real. Individuals may consist of uploaded minds living as data patterns on supercomputers or users engaged in completely immersive virtual realities. Postgenderists contend that these types of existences are not gender-specific thus allowing individuals to morph their virtual appearances and sexuality at will.
Postgenderists maintain that a genderless society does not imply the existence of a species uninterested in sex and sexuality. It is thought that sexual relations and interpersonal intimacy can and will exist in a postgendered future, but that those activities may take on different form. Postgenderism, however, is not directly concerned with the physical action of sex or with sexuality.
In July 2012 Gopi Shankar, a Gender activist and a student from The American College in Madurai organized a postgenderist, genderqueer meeting and coined the regional terms for genderqueer people in Tamil. Gopi said apart from male and female, there are more than 25 types of genders and 15 types of sexuality ancient India refers it as Trithiya prakirthi."
Novels with postgenderist themes
- Distress by Greg Egan
- The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
- Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
- Raptor by Gary Jennings
- Biting the Sun by Tanith Lee
- Glasshouse by Charles Stross
- Venus Plus X by Theodore Sturgeon
- Dvorsky, George (2008). "Postgenderism: Beyond the Gender Binary". Retrieved 2008-04-13.
- The Dialectic of Sex, publ. The Women's Press, 1979. Chapter 1
- Carrico, Dale (2008). ""Post-Gender" or Gender Poets?". Retrieved 2008-04-13.
- V Mayilvaganan (July 30, 2012). Gender pride march takes Madurai by storm. timesofindia.indiatimes.com
- "Madurai student pens book on gender variants". The Times of India. 2013-06-04. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
- "Cities / Madurai : Madurai comes out of the closet". The Hindu. 2012-07-30. Retrieved 2012-10-10.
- Haraway, Dona. "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century,". Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York; Routledge, 1991), pp. 149–181.
- Schaub, Joseph Christopher. Presenting the Cyborg's Futurist Past: An Analysis of Dziga Vertov's Kino-Eye. Department of Comparative Literature, University of Maryland
- Galántai, Zoltán. Proposal for the Declaration of Intelligent Beings' Rights. Technical University of Budapest