In simple webspeak, THIS:
There's no question that sex-role conditioning in our male-dominated society is one of the primary means by which women's oppression is perpetrated. Gender systems (which sex roles express), however, are not intrinsically oppressive. What is oppressive in our society is the linking of biological sex (female or male) to gender identity (woman or man), gender or sex role (feminine or masculine), sexual object choice (opposite), and sexual identity (heterosexual). Barbara Ponse calls these correlations “the principle of consistency.” It is this system, and the denial of any other construction of gender, on which sexism is founded. The problem is the correlations, not the specific components.
What's oppressive about gender, defined sex roles, in our society is that they are limited to two, rigidly correlated with biological sex, and obsolete, in a complex industrial society, as an expression of who does what work. The sex-role oppression that feminism means to criticize is rooted in the social restriction, the male=aggressive=breadwinner and female=passive= housewife model of heterosexuality; traditional heterosexual sex-roles are but symptoms of that restriction. Gender per se is not the problem, and I think it impossible, as well as pointless, to try to rid ourselves of it.
— Lyndall MacCowan in Re-collecting history, renaming lives: Femme stigma and the feminist seventies and eighties; from 'The Persistent Desire' (ed. Joan Nestle; Alyson Publications 1992).
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