For a while now I’ve been slightly puzzled by the convergence of discourse about gender and aesthetic on tumblr. I see a lot of people trying out new vocabularies to describe one or the other or both (and it’s not always clear which), blending gender descriptors with typically aesthetic terms to create new combinations (pastel queer, genderpunk, soft masc/grunge, space tomboy). Some appear to be tongue-in-cheek (seapunk? vaporwave?); some extend the concept of “gender” beyond its typical boundaries (see also: Gender of the Day); some (particularly the memetic phrase “my aesthetic: _____”) explode the concepts in ways that throw their meaning into question.
I don’t exactly have the theoretical background to consider these concepts as ontological/epistemological categories (in what ways is gender separable from aesthetic? how do we think about gender roles as inherently visible/performed?) But it occurs to me that this commingling of gender/aesthetic vocabularies is probably, at least in part, by design. And it hints at a space opening up for new and creative forms of expression.
An alternative to “post-gender” or “gender abolition” — which seem to me potentially harmful philosophies that risk imposing new tyrannies / reinscribing existing binaries / pathologizing transness — these ways of talking suggest a rethinking and recoding of forms of identity expression/performance, of rejecting heteronormativity without violently erasing gender identities or embodied experiences of self. Rigid binary categories instead dissolve into a multiplicity of possibilities: nonstatic, frequently idiosyncratic, based on an embrace of hybridity and playful experimentation. Particularly on tumblr, which has become a space for curating and articulating one’s own personal aesthetic, people are more or less constantly inventing new ways to talk about themselves.
Again, I don’t yet know enough to make claims about what discourses are or are not “emancipatory.” But this seems to point toward a widespread reconceptualization of what gender identity means, into something more individual and fluid.
templehurst said: For your prompt meme, something where Tony is a positive role model.
I’m almost entirely positive that this is not what you intended. Many, many apologies.
Also, I’m going to count this as the fill for the last anon prompt I received, which was this: “A group of people are telling a story, but their accounts differ.” Because that is also a good portion of what this fic turned into, (I think I kept it in the back of my min enough when I wrote this, that I subconsciously answered it as well).
And lastly, I am well aware that this story needs way more depth and nuance than I’m giving it here. If I had unlimited energy this would be a 200k epic. Instead, this is that epic squished down into the tiniest possible box I could fit it in, because I still really wanted to write this.
Steve accepted his morning briefing packet from Maria Hill and flipped through the pages while he drunk his coffee, the morning shift on the helicarrier buzzing around him. Sometimes it felt like he was trapped in some sort of bizarre dream where the entire world had simply gone crazy. The Hulk attempting to level New York, a Skrull invasion, Asgard hovering above Oklahoma, Norman Osborn being handed the keys to SHIELD. Just the sheer number of things that had changed since he’d been gone (dead) felt overwhelming some days. But no, this was actually the world now.
Every day brought new, (and usually unpleasant,) discoveries about things that had happened while he’d been away (dead). Whether those were public knowledge, or any combination of former Directors Fury, Stark, or Osborn’s dirty secrets seeping up through the woodwork. He didn’t know at what point he’d started feeling numb to some of it. Ultron. Venom symbiotes. The Red Skull infiltrating SHIELD and brainwashing agents under everyone’s noses. So many of the people he cared about held prisoner on a Skrull prison ship while aliens had worn their faces and lived their lives. Norman Osborn dressing up villains and calling them Avengers. Jan. Johnny Storm.
He felt so tired.