I was conversing with a friend who points out a rather interesting argument: the moment you “put yourself into ‘minority’ issues” (quotations mine) like alternative sexuality, people “automatically” (quotations mine again) assume that you have an alternative sexuality. It becomes a piece-of-string thing, that maybe you (in this case, me) are, “in fact,” gay.
For someone whose college running joke has been “I’m in love with amoebas,” this assertion can go a lot of ways. So could this rejoinder, but that’s just me. After all, I’m a guy who takes Being-in-the-World to its practical extreme.
“Class,” when used in the economic sense, is monolithic. While there is a very broad continuum for wealth and its connotations (sophistication, taste, fashion sense, and so on), there are only two things you should be concerned with. It’s either you’re rich, or you’re poor.
“Culture,” as a word, is fundamentally ambiguous; it can mean so many different things. The very notion of “difference,” to me, is rooted on the many different components of different culture where we, as different people, differ in so many different ways.
Bottom line: class is stratified, culture is flux. Gender is not a class issue; rather, it is a cultural issue that has implications on class. To treat a cultural issue, you need to see it from a cultural standpoint. Not in terms of stratifications, but in terms of divergences.
This is going to sound offensive: “paglaladlad” is not an affirmation of liberation. There is nothing liberating about gender roles, and the affirmation of gender roles. Liberation and emancipation comes with transcending the limitations of gender as a perspective, and viewing society beyond gender roles. Gender is a lot like Wikipedia: it is a portal to understanding the consequences of the class structure that defines the situation of everyone in a capitalist society. This is why I take a very nonchalant, if not insensitive, view of “gender.”
I’m not saying that gender is a non-issue. If it weren’t, there would not be an advocacy for it. If it weren’t, there would not have been movements for it. Yet we must remember that society is further fractured and divided along other different lines. Discrimination is never a superficial phenomenon rooted only on something like race or gender or religious views. I hope I do not sound “reductionist” here, but it is true that the economics of things will come into play.
Let me put things this way. A woman, a lesbian, or someone gay is excluded from participating in production, i.e. work. Do we protest the injustice on the basis of their sexual preference? I don’t think so: we should protest the injustice on the basis of the injustice itself. The moment I protest injustices on the basis of differences, then I am, in effect, being unjust to other people who are excluded from society where gender is not a concern.
Who speaks for the disabled? Who fights for the rights of those committed to mental institutions? Who will stand up, see a child sleeping on a cardboard box on the sidewalk on a dewy Saturday morning, and say, “This is injustice!” Do we even engender those injustices? Do we ask questions about sexual preference in the face of injustice?
At the end of it all, what we really need is freedom for all. In a society that demands freedom, equity, fairness, and justice, it is an oppressive class structure that fractures our society the most.