Monday, February 16, 2009

Draft of Philosophical Structure (akin to an intro paragraph)

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”.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Preliminary outline of key concepts

•Our infinite world is organized and simplified with schemas. This is necessary and useful for communication social structure, yet can be limiting. Schemas are necessary to lighten the intellectual/ emotional load of infinite possibilities. Inherent in this simplification, is the discount of many natural variances

• Social realities become confused with universal truths. In regards to sex/gender, there are assumed to exist a set of universal truths- which match our social truths/ realities

•Schemas limit the individual’s ability to express their autonomy because humans are more diverse than the systems that they live in.

•Pathologizing variance. Statistically expected (or “natural”) social and biological diversity is marginalized in order to uphold our schemas (ideologies).

= the loss of Individual Autonomy: the ability to be recognized by ones peers for their true self. In order to be an autonomous individual, the recognition of our peers is required. a matter of community recognition.

•Limitations lead to exclusions, the repression of genuine expression… harmful stigmas. They also function to uphold the power of the privileged class- who have the power to perpetuate systems of inequality.

•Example of APA. The mental health of our society is given priority above the health of the individual. Natural (statistically expected) variations in biological sex and gender identity are directed to towards assimilation into the dominant categories, sometimes at the expense (and exclusion) of the mental health of the unique individual. The model says: the individual will be healthy when they assimilate and are accepted. Critical critique: why pathologize and treat the individual rather than the system?

Diagnosis: Enabling vs. Restrictive. •Realizing autonomy (by reaching it) in an individual (most likely non-conforming way) OR            •becoming recognized within an existing (conforming)  to a socially accepted identity which is not considered a pathological disorder- one without negative stigmas.

•Social realities vs. scientific fact.

 •Expressions and biological makeup[s be rewarded with the many prizes of a high social status, and what expressions or biological facts will be punished with a low social status

•The binary two sex categorization is a social decision and not a scientific fact

• The GIDs defining features, the wide-spread of individuals (variance) who may not fit the models, and how variance is pathologized as with disorder.

• intersexed conditions. Statistics, social stigmas, “corrective” surgeries on newborns.