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.
An 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 her 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 â€œmixingâ€ of both masculine and feminine traits is desirable â€“ 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.
Androgyny aside, some forms of radical feminism advocate the elimination of males altogether in a manner similar to gendercide; it does not imply the elimination of existing males, instead it implies a universal conviction amongst women to abstain from producing male offspring. In modern society, wherein women have virtually absolute control over reproduction, this is a technical possibility. Thus, some forms of radical feminism may be construed as a type of postgenderism. On the other hand, from a masculist perspective, with advances in reproductive technology such as artificial egg cells and artificial wombs, males may be enabled to reproduce without women, eliminating the reproductive necessity for females, allowing the formation of a mono-gender male-only society. This too could be viewed as a form of postgenderism.
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.
It is also thought 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 disinterested 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 will take on different form.
For example, the act of sex may be "performed" in virtual reality, while one-to-one communication may be enhanced by such potentials as technologically-enabled telepathy. Physicality and gender-specificity as a prerequisite for sexual relations, argue postgenderists, will become less relevant with the advent and maturation of pending technologies.
For those who wish to continue engaging in sexual intercourse, the possibility may exist for sexual reassignment. Surgery that allow transgendered individuals to alter their gender may also be used for those who wish to change their morphology as they see fit and not have to remain fixed to one particular gender.
The possibility also exists that some postgendered individuals will choose not to engage in any kind of sexual activity whatsoever. Posthumans, or the postgendered, may be involved in different activities altogether or have a mind-space that is beyond sex and gender.
Novels with postgenderist themes
- Distress by Greg Egan
- Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
- Raptor by Gary Jennings
- Bitting the Sun by Tanith Lee
- Haraway, Donna. "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
- GalÃ¡ntai, ZoltÃ¡n GalÃ¡ntai. Proposal for the Declaration of Intelligent Beings' Rights. Technical University of Budapest
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