Breaking the Gender Binary with Rob Smith | Rob Smith | TEDxCMU

Clippings from news sources involving fashion freedom and other gender equality issues.
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Breaking the Gender Binary with Rob Smith | Rob Smith | TEDxCMU

Post by Stevej180 »

If you like TEDx talks - and there are a lot of very informative ones on the subject of gender expression - then this will interest you. The key figure is a guy in a skirt who looks great:

https://youtu.be/s8jeoUoZYMo
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Re: Breaking the Gender Binary with Rob Smith | Rob Smith | TEDxCMU

Post by STEVIE »

Hi SteveJ

Thanks for sharing that and much common sense in there.
My key take was "authentic".
Be true to your own good self and the clothes will fall naturally in place,
He is also correct that our greatest hope lies in the kids, for an awful lot more than fashion too.
Steve.
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Re: Breaking the Gender Binary with Rob Smith | Rob Smith | TEDxCMU

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I partly agree with him that people should be able to dress as they want, but there is an internal contradiction in his point. On the one hand he says he wants to break the gender binary while, on the other hand, he is still associating clothing with gender. To my mind, you can't have it both ways. You can:

1. Make it a fashion argument - clothing doesn't have a gender and so there is no such thing as men's or women's clothes or boys' or girls' clothes.

OR

2. Make it a gender expression argument, accept clothes express gender and therefore someone's clothes say something about whether they wish to be identified or perceived as male/female or masculine/feminine.

You can't have it both ways and claim to be adopting a logical position.

Personally, I don't want to break the gender binary for a number of reasons; if anything, I would like to reinforce it, but with some scope for tolerance. Let it be the norm that males are masculine and females are feminine. Let clothes continue to highlight and even emphasise these distinctions - viva la difference. However, let us also accommodate those who, for whatever reason, fall between these poles and do so without adverse judgment. At the same time, let's address the appalling inequalities of sartorial options that males suffer - boys as well as grown men.
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Re: Breaking the Gender Binary with Rob Smith | Rob Smith | TEDxCMU

Post by crfriend »

Stu wrote:
Tue Oct 05, 2021 9:59 am
You can't have it both ways and claim to be adopting a logical position.
Agreed on this point. One or the other, not both if you want to make logical sense.
Personally, I don't want to break the gender binary for a number of reasons; if anything, I would like to reinforce it, but with some scope for tolerance.
I'm going to respectfully disagree with this one, at least with the way things stand at the moment. The "gender binary" was broken by women many years ago and the result has shoved men into the extreme corner of machismo, which is toxic. When the hateful term "toxic masculinity" is brought up it's not "masculinity" that's being slagged off on it's machismo which is toxic -- and that's the only corner men are allowed to occupy in the modern world. Women now occupy pretty much the full scope of the human experience; men a miniscule fragment of that. That's what needs to change; it needs to be reset to where it belongs and return the notion of being a man to being able to express emotions beyond rage and hate and allow them to laugh and love and, when the need arises, cry. To be able to accept that they are as fragile as their partners and that to ask for help with something is not a sign of weakness or "not being 'a man'". And, yes, that quite naturally includes what they clothe themselves in.

So, the "binary" doesn't need breaking"; it's already broken. It needs to be reset to something resembling sanity.
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Re: Breaking the Gender Binary with Rob Smith | Rob Smith | TEDxCMU

Post by pelmut »

Stu wrote:
Tue Oct 05, 2021 9:59 am
On the one hand he says he wants to break the gender binary while, on the other hand, he is still associating clothing with gender. To my mind, you can't have it both ways.
Gender isn't binary and isn't determined by sex, so "breaking the gender binary" is just facing up to reality.  Once that is understood, associating or dissociating clothing with something that doesn't exist becomes a rather pointless exercise.
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Re: Breaking the Gender Binary with Rob Smith | Rob Smith | TEDxCMU

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pelmut wrote:
Tue Oct 05, 2021 11:36 am
Gender isn't binary and isn't determined by sex, so "breaking the gender binary" is just facing up to reality. Once that is understood, associating or dissociating clothing with something that doesn't exist becomes a rather pointless exercise.
It depends what you mean by "gender". If you mean femininity and masculinity, then that isn't a simple binary to two absolute positions, but rather a gradation. Some men are more masculine or less masculine than others and the same applies to femininity. While there is a cultural dimension to gender (e.g. why don't men carry handbags? It's a cultural taboo to do so), attempts made by some to disassociate biological sex (which is binary) from gender is an attempt to deny reality - i.e. there is a link between biology and masculinity/femininity. This is why boys are more inclined to lay with trucks and girls with dolls, and why male and female speech behaviours differ; these behaviours are evolutionary in origin.
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Re: Breaking the Gender Binary with Rob Smith | Rob Smith | TEDxCMU

Post by pelmut »

Stu wrote:
Tue Oct 05, 2021 12:47 pm
- i.e. there is a link between biology and masculinity/femininity. This is why boys are more inclined to lay with trucks and girls with dolls, and why male and female speech behaviours differ; these behaviours are evolutionary in origin.
There may be a statistical tendency but there is no firm link and some of these supposed 'links' are cultural in origin.  A girl who identifies with her lorry-driving mother is more likely to want a toy lorry, a boy who identifies with his house-husband father is more likely to want a doll.  Because those circumstances occur less frequently, the statistics take less account of them and the effect is attributed to an evolutionary link with sex which may not exist.

Speech patterns are learned behaviour, not evolutionary.
Last edited by pelmut on Thu Oct 07, 2021 3:47 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Breaking the Gender Binary with Rob Smith | Rob Smith | TEDxCMU

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pelmut wrote:
Tue Oct 05, 2021 2:03 pm
Speech patterns are learned behaviour, not evolutionary.
Sorry, but my PhD is in linguistics and I teach this precise subject at my university; I have also been involved in research relating to it. The evidence we have on the evolution of human speech shows much of it innate rather than learned. This was initially proposed by Chomsky decades ago as part of his theory of universal grammar and subsequent studies have tended to confirm it. Females naturally engage in cooperative linguistic strategies while males use competitive strategies (Prof. John L Locke has found this). Females' speech tends to converge with interlocutors while male speech tends to diverge - a behaviour observed in vocal calls by non-human primates (Candiotti et al, 2012). In humans, the marked differences are evident regardless of the cultural or familial backgrounds of the speakers.

There are other differences, too. I can refer you to more actual studies if you want, but Prof. Deborah Tannen perfectly demonstrates this phenomenon with children - and again it is seen across cultures: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUxnBZxsfoU
Last edited by Stu on Tue Oct 05, 2021 6:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Breaking the Gender Binary with Rob Smith | Rob Smith | TEDxCMU

Post by Ralph »

Stu wrote:
Tue Oct 05, 2021 9:59 am
I partly agree with him that people should be able to dress as they want, but there is an internal contradiction in his point. On the one hand he says he wants to break the gender binary while, on the other hand, he is still associating clothing with gender. To my mind, you can't have it both ways.
Oh, so much this. It has always seemed to me that LGBTQ (but mostly T, as well as crossdressing) culture revolves around assumptions about what behaviour and expression are inherently male and female. I have also long suspected that many young people who end up going for full transition with hormones and surgery do so on the believe that as a [their birth sex] they cannot [engage in behaviours considered exclusively for the opposite sex]. I too almost went down that road for exactly that reason. I'm clearly not a man because my clothing preferences and certain behaviours prove that I am actually female inside, right? But the fact that many more of my behaviours are stereotypical caveman gave me pause, and I'm grateful that sociologists or gender researchers or whoever came up with the concept of "gender nonconforming" before I made a huge mistake.

Oh, and I simply must share this:
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Re: Breaking the Gender Binary with Rob Smith | Rob Smith | TEDxCMU

Post by Stu »

Ralph - I am not sure I understand your argument or how it relates to what I said, but here's a simple and very relevant question. Why do you wear skirts. Is it:

(a) You think males should enjoy a greater range of sartorial choices (without impinging on their masculinity)?

OR

(b) You see skirts as an act of gender expression and they are a great way to liberate/express your feminine persona?

If your motivation is (a) - then you want skirts to cease to be garments that automatically express gender. If your motivation is (b) - then it is essential for you that the link between femininity and skirts is retained, otherwise they lose their point.

Pick one. These two positions cannot be logically reconciled.
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Re: Breaking the Gender Binary with Rob Smith | Rob Smith | TEDxCMU

Post by Coder »

Stu wrote:
Tue Oct 05, 2021 6:09 pm
(a) You think males should enjoy a greater range of sartorial choices (without impinging on their masculinity)?

OR

(b) You see skirts as an act of gender expression and they are a great way to liberate/express your feminine persona?
a is my choice

That being said, I can see how some would say you could have it both ways with a caveat - if a male chooses to don a masculine skirt (dark colors, kilt-like, etc…) - vs a “feminine” pink frilly skirt. Perhaps men can wear skirts but it’s the style that indicates whether or not the persona is feminine or not. BUT that then says things about “pink” or “frilly” being feminine - landing you squarely in b territory, just expanding masculine wear to skirts in type but not style.
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Re: Breaking the Gender Binary with Rob Smith | Rob Smith | TEDxCMU

Post by Ralph »

Stu wrote:
Tue Oct 05, 2021 6:09 pm
Ralph - I am not sure I understand your argument or how it relates to what I said,
I thought I was agreeing with you, but I obviously did a very poor job of expressing myself!
Stu wrote:
Tue Oct 05, 2021 6:09 pm
but here's a simple and very relevant question. Why do you wear skirts.
Definitely "a" for me - I wish skirts (and dresses, and ballet flats, and tights) were gender-free. Not just in theory, not just in small communities, but in practise across all swaths of society. When I can go shopping in a nice sundress and stand next to Johnny Reb in his confederate flag shirt reading "Guns For Life" and not get so much as a surprised glance, I'll know we have finally separated clothes from gender. Even better, Johnny Reb can feel free to wear a "Guns For Life" sundress out to pick up more beer.
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Re: Breaking the Gender Binary with Rob Smith | Rob Smith | TEDxCMU

Post by Stu »

Coder wrote:
Tue Oct 05, 2021 7:35 pm

a is my choice
And mine. I agree that we will have to re-think what signifiers denote masculinity and femininity.


Ralph wrote:
Tue Oct 05, 2021 8:13 pm

I thought I was agreeing with you, but I obviously did a very poor job of expressing myself!

Fair enough. :-)
Ralph wrote:
Tue Oct 05, 2021 8:13 pm

Definitely "a" for me - I wish skirts (and dresses, and ballet flats, and tights) were gender-free. Not just in theory, not just in small communities, but in practise across all swaths of society. When I can go shopping in a nice sundress and stand next to Johnny Reb in his confederate flag shirt reading "Guns For Life" and not get so much as a surprised glance, I'll know we have finally separated clothes from gender. Even better, Johnny Reb can feel free to wear a "Guns For Life" sundress out to pick up more beer.
Unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet - but we live in hope.
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Re: Breaking the Gender Binary with Rob Smith | Rob Smith | TEDxCMU

Post by Sinned »

Neither for me. I don't believe that me wearing a skirt would expand the clothing choices for males. Their minds, and to a lesser extent those of the female persuasion, are too closed and they are confined to a little box containing their clothing choices.

As for b I don't think my wearing a skirt expresses anything about my gender. If you tried to analyse my behaviours, clothing, mannerisms and so on then you'd get very a very mixed definition of my gender, such as it is.

My reasons for wearing a skirt have nothing to do with trying to expand choices for men, gender, sexuality or anything like that. I enjoy skirts for their comfort and because I can. My wife once asked me if I got hard when wearing a skirt an I replied negatively because my skirts has nothing to do with sex or sexual stimulation. Sorry to dispel your a or b hypothesis but mine is definitely a c.
I believe in offering every assistance short of actual help but then mainly just want to be left to be myself in all my difference and uniqueness.
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Re: Breaking the Gender Binary with Rob Smith | Rob Smith | TEDxCMU

Post by Stevej180 »

Stu wrote:
Tue Oct 05, 2021 9:59 am
I partly agree with him that people should be able to dress as they want, but there is an internal contradiction in his point. On the one hand he says he wants to break the gender binary while, on the other hand, he is still associating clothing with gender. To my mind, you can't have it both ways.
I know lots of others have agreed with this point, but I’m going to disagree :-)

If I wear a skirt, but my top half is regular men’s clothing, I feel as though I am breaking the gender binary of ‘either/or’ by wearing ‘both’. And I am breaking that binary precisely because skirts are still associated with femininity/females.
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