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May 15 2012

The Genderbread Person

Another hit and run before I hit the hay for another overnight tonight. Gods damn but my work schedule is playing havoc with my head and I can’t brain out the thinky things. Sorry.

Via ItsPronouncedMetrosexual.com, this chart will help you sort out orientation, identity, sex, and expression. You know, if you’re having issues with it, like this guy was. Note that this isn’t the “genderbread man”, even though “man isn’t gendered” or whatever the hell.

Diagram explaining that expression correlates with body, identity with brain, sex with genitals, and orientation with heart

Click to explodify

Hat tip to Tigger_the_Wing for the pointer.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    sivi_volk

    Really? I am disappoint. There’s a fair number of critiques of it out there – here’s one among them:

    http://queereka.com/2012/02/07/the-genderbread-person-a-critique/

    I mean, I can see where it would seem pretty good, but a number of people I follow online think it’s problematic.

  2. 2
    Jason Thibeault

    Oh, I’ll absolutely agree it’s not perfect. But as a primer for someone so completely entrenched in using the wrong words for things like Angra Mainyu on that thread, it’s not horrible.

    I really like the fact that that link points out this is largely only correct in terms of Western scientific culture, and even then, makes a number of assumptions that are unfair. I’m storing that one in my bookmarks for later use and I’ll try to remember to link it as well if ever someone uses the Genderbread Person as a canonical reference for all the possible positions on various scales, understanding that it falls short and is still an oversimplification, even if it’s a hell of a lot more nuanced than the gender binary of Man and Woman.

  3. 3
    John Morales

    sivi_volk, it may have problems, but I draw your attention to the concept of the relativity of wrong.

    I quote from the conclusion of the critique to which you linked:

    As previously noted, Mr. Killermann has called upon his readers and any interested parties to help improve the GP. There are some good suggestions, but I cannot help but think that no matter what he comes up with it will still be problematic–because sex, gender, and sexuality are inherently problematic categories. There will never be clearly delineated categories into which all people will fit. No matter how we draw the continuums or what other categorizations we devise, they will inevitably erase someone’s experiences through exclusion. All that these categories really accomplish is allowing us to talk about people’s experiences by somewhat mutually intelligible means (at least, mutually intelligible to those who are “in the know” about the categories).

    (Not exactly the most savage critique I’ve ever read :) )

  4. 4
    Sivi

    Fair point – I’m basing it more on tumblr, admittedly, and it’s probably not a bad “this is wrong but it’ll help you learn” sort of thing.

  5. 5
    Tigger_the_Wing

    Thank you, Jason!

    As I said on that thread, it isn’t perfect – I even gave an example off the top of my head of one way it excludes some experiences – but since when did we have to improve the status quo by replacing something absolutely horrible with something perfect? A replacement only has to be better than what we had before, yes? And the Genderbread Person is waaaaay better than the Gender Binary; so far ahead it can only be seen with the Hubble Telescope.

    Which is why Angra Mainyu ignored it in favour of his entrenched position.

    It was obvious from his immediate defensive stance when his error was first (politely) pointed out to him by WilloNyx that he was never going to allow any other view than his to carry any weight with him; but the whole exchange was a perfect lesson in privileged cluelessness and, as such, I expect that it helped a whole lot of readers/lurkers understand what the problem is with equating sex and gender in general conversation, let alone in other situations, and have bookmarked the page to show to other people who don’t get it yet.

  6. 6
    Xanthë, Amy of my threads

    I notice Jason, Tigger, and John have all contributed ideas – here’s another, which is that obviously the Gingerbread Person is a gross simplification of the basic ideas, but to some degree that’s the point. There’s no point trying to go for all of the inherent, messy complexity of human variation in a simple info-graphic like this. Yes, it leaves asexuality/demi-/sexuality out of the picture as another ‘axis’ of sexual orientation, if you will. Yes, it conflates and ignores some things. Is it still better than the alternative? Hell, yes.

    In terms of getting across some handle on the basic idea of gender variance (both the inward sense of identity and the external expression of it) as different aspects of a person to their sexual orientation and the morphology of their body, especially to people who would otherwise be unfamiliar with it except through the often demonstrably false and distorted tropes of the mainstream media, this diagram goes a long way to setting discussions on an equitable ground of understanding, which people like the guy in the other thread would benefit from – the subject is complicated, and the intersection of LGBT theory with the norms of law and language doubly so, especially as both of these are in flux as understanding of the issues improves.

    (Jason, if you don’t mind me saying, that thread we’re talking about was a fuck-up from beginning to end. Scalzi’s totally right: the dreaded ‘p’ word sets off a negative Pavlovian response in some people.)

  7. 7
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    You know, if you’re having issues with it, like this guy was.

    Something that’s been nagging me for a long while about derailments.

    When dealing with someone ignorant of implications of their statements, is it the responsibility of the knowledgable parties to prevent escalation?
     
    Otherwise, from the clueless person’s POV it may seem like an pedantic clarification, followed by what seem to be unmotivated insults and belittling. Which can easily lead self-defense to become prime motivation, which to everyone else looks like doubling-down due to confidence in a bad position. And of course, the clumsy defense will set off another cycle of apparent pedantry and irritation from the crowd, and so on.
     
    Even the defense itself is a misstep (to be pointed out) because an ignorant person should only be qualified to describe their own confusion.

    WilloNyx (1st reply, excellent)

    it is erroneous to equate sex and gender. [...] It is generally considered cissexist/cisnormative [...] to consider the two the same.

    Angra Mainyu

    I’d rather focus on Obama’s statement, not the preferred terminology for the proposed legislation. I’ll say ‘same-sex’ marriage if I find no objections to that one.

    WilloNyx (2nd reply)

    As my attempts to politely address your error were ignored, I will no longer be polite. [more good info, but then] First off, and I say this as politely as possible: Fuck you.

    Angra Mainyu then gets increasingly distracted by a focus on personal defense rather than rooting out personal misconceptions.

    Then again, WilloNyx probably recognized cues I hadn’t as Mainyu’s next response included the phrase “your political correctness ideology” which was finally blatant enough to set off my alarm bells that this was a more severe misunderstanding than vocabulary.
     
    Every time I see meltdowns like this, I wonder what could have been done differently, and who’s best qualified to do it. In other threads, people overeager to participate ask too many irrelevant questions and get branded concern trolls; I try to imagine how a deliberate troll and a noob would have reacted to the same conversation differently: in case particular statements unhelpfully lead to identical results.

  8. 8
    michaeld

    I like to think of it as being similar to saying the earth is round like a sphere. This is a big change compared to a flat earth idea but its not really true either. The earth bulges at the equator so its a bit smushed and so on… In the end all analogies tend to be simplistic but they help get some general ideas going for people who don’t know any better to begin with.

  9. 9
    Tigger_the_Wing

    I like to think of it as being similar to saying the earth is round like a sphere. This is a big change compared to a flat earth idea but its not really true either. The earth bulges at the equator so its a bit smushed and so on…

    Exactly like that analogy. The first description of the Earth being flat was 100% wrong; the second, that it is a sphere, is <1% wrong. The first was so wrong as to be largely useless except in very local terms (one doesn't need to know that the Earth is an oblate sphere to navigate to the next village), the second only needs very slight tweaking to be almost perfect (the Earth changes shape very slightly all the time from gravitational forces from the sun and moon) and is good enough in more than 99% of applications.

    The idea that there are only two sexes and two genders that exactly coincide, and that each member of either of the two presents the same as every other member and is only attracted to members from the other, is 100% wrong and only useful in an unknown percentage of cases, but there are some people who so want it to be true universally that they’ll twist laws to exclude people who don’t fit. To GLBTIQ folk, it’s as if the Flat Earthers were in charge. The Genderbread Person, on the other hand, shows that there is a fluidity to all four aspects and that they are independent; gender, sex, presentation and attraction don’t follow a rigid pattern. Could it be tweaked to make it better? Of course; nothing is ever 100% perfect all the time. Libido is a fifth aspect that is missing altogether, for instance. Human beings are way more complex than balls of rock!

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