A GUIDE TO GENDER: The Social Justice Advocate’s Handbook
Sam Killermann is an author, who defines himself as a multi-disciplinary artist who is committed to social justice. He is a comedian, creator of the social justice comedy show It’s Pronounced Metrosexual, performed at university campuses. He is a doodler -The Genderbread Person, his version of the model for understanding and teaching gender is used worldwide. He designed the All Gender restroom sign that is at The White House and that you are starting to see more and more.. He is a speaker, check out his 3 TEDxTalks’s. He is a giver; in 2013 he uncopyrighted his work to support those working toward equity.
Section 1: Basic Training
Introduces the concepts of social justice, oppression, intersections of identity and privilege.
Social Justice – On explaining the difference between equity and equality -“Let’s make this definition extremely clear: social justice means removing barriers so that all individuals, regardless of their identities or social group memberships, will have equitable access to social resources; it does not mean that all individuals in a society will possess equal social resources.”
Oppression – The key roadblock to social justice – explores the Cycle of Oppression, covering: Difference, Stereotype, Prejudice, Discrimination, Oppression, Internalized Oppression
The Golden Rule vs. The Platinum Rule – “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you” BUT it’s not what we want but what they want that achieves the idea “do no harm.” How do we know what they want? Ask them! Do unto others what they would have done unto them.
Intersections of Identity- Explores the ideas of the relationship between individuality/snowflake and norms/stereotypes
Checking Privilege – Privilege is granted based on our identity and group membership, we don’t have a choice in it but we do have the choice to “check” our privilege. Privilege checklists are provided.
Section 2: Breaking through the Binary
Gender norms, identity, expression and sex are discussed, looking at nuances for a deeper understanding.
Gender norms – Begins with social norms, adds gender to discuss gender norms and contrasts that gender roles. Acknowledges norms help us to have common language and for many offers an affiliation with the membership of that group. Challenges us to look at the norms and to recognize they are not universal - culturally or individually. Norms can be restrictive and attention should be heeded to use them constructively.
GenderBread Person – A visual representation to use in education. Gender identity, expression, anatomical sex and attraction are examined. The relationship between them is identified as interrelated but not interconnected.
Spectrum vs. ‘Ness – Spectrum has male on one end and female on the other, indicates opposites and a tug of war along the spectrum between them – male--------------female. “Allow me to present to you my “-Ness” model of visualizing gender: Two separate continua, not one spectrum, with a “zero” on one end and a concept on the other, where someone can be a lot of both, or neither of each. “
Gender Identity, Expression, Anatomical Sex, Attraction and More – Here, several sections go into the biology, social constructs, and dissonance extensively. It challenges, stretches, explains, deconstructs and provides exercises throughout. Gender vocabulary is introduced and terms explained. This is a dense section, with an immense amount of information. Discussions here include: issues around bathrooms, medical rights, state laws, mental health diagnosis and more.
That said, labeling someone a misogynist, sexist, bigot, racist, etc. is a weaponized way to use language, and we might be better off reserving those labels for situations with sufficient evidence, discussion, and after offering room to grow (i.e., not after just one comment). Otherwise it will quickly make someone who’s trying to learn (even if stumbling at it) shut down, go on the defensive, or worse. Killermann, Sam (2017-03-08). A Guide to Gender (2nd Edition): The Social Justice Advocate's Handbook (Kindle Locations 2496-2499). Impetus Books. Kindle Edition.
Section 3: Feminism and Gender Equity
Feminism is explored as a foundation to educate and support all genders.
The Well Intentioned Misogynist -Killermann discusses how feminism historically has been seen as divisive / anti-men, how it can be challenging for men to be included in the fight for equality and the work that can be done when inclusion is paramount and checking one’s privilege is the norm “… labeling someone a misogynist, sexist, bigot, racist, etc. is a weaponized way to use language, and we might be better off reserving those labels for situations with sufficient evidence, discussion, and after offering room to grow (i.e., not after just one comment). Otherwise it will quickly make someone who’s trying to learn (even if stumbling at it) shut down, go on the defensive, or worse. “
A Gender-Inclusive Feminist Perspective & Why People Believe Feminist Hate Men – A historical look at feminism, the work it’s done and the challenges it has encountered.
Section 4: Social Justice Competency: Working for Gender Equity
Moving from knowledge to action can be difficult, this section gives practical tools and lessons in order to move from thinking to doing.
Why My Approach to Social Justice is Better than Yours - Does this chapter title bother you? It was intended to! Killermann speaks to how important it is not to speak down to others, but to learn about them as you educate what you know. Inclusiveness and positivity are themes here.
Being Well-Intentioned Isn’t Good Enough & No Such Thing as a Positive Stereotypes- “Intentions don’t matter; outcome matters.” Well intentioned is good, but not good enough. We all will make mistakes even when our intentions are good. Opening up to failure allows us to learn from our mistakes and make the necessary adjustments to heal and do less harm in the future. Recognizing that stereotypes, even when positive can be restrictive and do damage to those individuals who are suppose to possess them but don’t.
Making Forms Gender Inclusive – Shows how forms can be alienating and gives language and examples to remedy forms.
“Partner” and Other Inclusive Language – All Genders vs. both genders, opposite sex, etc. Assigned male or female at birth vs. born male or female. Language IS important and can be tricky. The key is to be aware, and the best advice is to follow the lead of the person in which you are speaking. If you use partner for yourself to be inclusive but the person you are speaking to uses girlfriend, than use their term when referring to their person. Remember, it’s ok to ask what preferred gender pronouns to use when you aren’t sure. Missteps are expected and will aid us in learning as long as we are listening and adjusting.
“Language is a habit. Once you break the old habit, a new one forms, and it becomes little to no work. But the outcome can be big for an individual person you include in a conversation who would have otherwise been excluded, for the person who gets the social justice bug.”
Political Correctness vs. Being Inclusive – “Political correctness is externally driven; being inclusive is internally driven.” The key to being inclusive is empathy. As we practice empathy we can move from being PC to Inclusive.
Responding to Non-Inclusive Language –“ Moving from being a conscious person to a social justice advocate is a shift from mindset to action.” We can be aware without being a social advocate. To move towards advocacy we must learn how to speak in a way that we don’t lose our audience. Don’t bite those who do it incorrectly (or self flagellate) but keep practicing and make your responses your own, so they are sincere and have a better chance at being effective.
Appendix has an extensive GLOSSARY, expanding on vocabulary within this guide.
“Two options for gender is too few. There are billions of people on this earth. We owe ourselves at least that many choices for how to be a person."Courtesy of Karen Clem, Sonoma State University, Graduate School of Counseling, Spring 2017Posted 4/19/2017