This film/ essay will use the examples of gender and sex in society, to explore questions of personal autonomy and its interplay with the cultural projection of variance as a dysfunction.
The concept of freedom is a constant topic of passionate debate in many circles, from judiciary judgments of the law, to individual family politics. There is a specific kind of agency that, it seems to me, is akin to our common interpretation of “freedom”, and perhaps holds an even stronger relevance to debates of human rights to personal expression. Autonomy is the ability to act freely without the presence of coercive entities. Community recognition is a necessary element to legitimize ones expression. While the concept of freedom demands the ability to act without physical restraint, autonomy demands the ability to act without coercive moral influences. In a specific instance when we might legally have the freedom to express ourselves in a particular manner, our actions or expressions however might become socially coerced through the powers of our social groups, and the normative rules that they enforce, which would effectively influence our agency for autonomy. But unlike freedom, autonomy can be discouraged (into oblivion) when/if the expression of an attribute crosses cultural normative rules rather than legal ones. In order for us to act as autonomous agents, which I see as a necessity of basic human rights, we must be given the ability to act without coercion. This essay/ film will explore various ways in which some of our most basic forms of expression can be compromised by acts of coercion that intend to suppress the natural presence of human variation (expressions as well as biological realities). Our scientific emphasis on categorization and simplification of the natural world has led us into binary views of what I see as infinitely complex concepts. These schemas become second nature in social settings. We internalize the simplified organizations of human possibility. Expressions that fit any given dichotomy will be encouraged, while variant expressions are attacked with active efforts of suppression. We enforce ideas as rules, and even internalize the rules within ourselves. This film/essay will focus on specific examples of divergent gender and sex identities and social expressions that challenge the normative binary framework which has defined our concepts of “man” and “woman”.