So my position on gender is this: gender is a quality that is profoundly open to influence by education, social training, history, culture and biology. That means that yes, everyone’s relationship to their gender is unique, but no, I don’t think we can simply discard what we rather pejoratively term stereotypical gender difference because it’s a significant part of anyone’s gender construction. My preference would be, then, to attempt a sophisticated image of gender, not as a flat collection of adjectives and preferences, but as a form of architecture – a complex, three-dimensional structure.
Let’s look at it in a different way. I recognise this analogy won’t work for half the world, but here in the UK we often have days in Winter that are more like Spring, and we often have days in Summer that are more like Winter. Despite this no one has decided to abandon the seasons as useful climactic distinctions (and you don’t hear many people saying ‘I hate the way the seasons are so stereotyped!’). Instead it’s considered perfectly reasonable to compare any given day in summer to the abstract concept of a perfect summer’s day. The seasons become an imagistic yardstick against which we can make appropriate measurements.