Monday, January 22, 2018

SGO Notation

sex, gender, and orientation - 
paralleling the trio of mind, body, and heart (or soul)

This is something I've been sitting on for a long time. I should have shared it a while back when it was still fresh, but I thought it needed more work. Still, the harder I try to invent a comprehensive system of notation, the more I come to the conclusion that nothing can ever capture the full range of human diversity (as social media sites that keep expanding their sex, gender, and/or orientation fields are learning) so well as a blank field. But I like organizing concepts, and finding patterns, and a blank field is just too open-ended to enable any kind of systematic categorization. So I'm just going to show you what I've got, because (if you'll excuse my self-aggrandizing behavior), I really think it's pretty clever. I don't think it will ever actually catch on, but it can still be fun to play with, and maybe it will open some people's eyes to just how wonderfully diverse human gender and sexuality is.

So, I've been talking about sex, gender, and orientation for years. After reading the original Kinsey reports, I was inspired to imitate Kinsey's work on deconstructing the sexual orientation binary (i.e., his discovery that most people exist on a spectrum between gay and straight, rather than sitting at one or the other extreme), but applied instead to the gender binary. In 2014, I introduced my gender scale, which allowed for a broad spectrum of gender identity/presentation between girly girl and macho man, while also acknowledging the existence of transgender individuals whose sex doesn't match their gender.

In 2016, further inspired by the increasing visibility of transgender individuals in popular culture and media, I began to consider the limitations of our language describing sexual orientation, in relation to non-cisgendered individuals. To help illustrate my point (about the often confusing diversity of sexual pairings in a post-cissexual world), I expanded upon the symbolic notation used previously in my gender scale, to allow for the inclusion of both sex (determined by symbol) and gender (determined by color) simultaneously. There was just one thing left missing - a way to depict a person's sexual orientation.

Enter SGO Notation (which I hinted at here, and am only now following up on), a form of visual shorthand. Using a little magnet symbol (to symbolize attraction), a person can illustrate their sex, gender, and who they're attracted to fairly simply (at least to the extent that their identity isn't too complicated). As I alluded to before, this notation isn't comprehensive, but it's far more inclusive than anything else I've seen, and there is certainly room for you to get creative with it. How does it work? Here's the standard format:

The character on the left describes your sex and gender. Your sex is determined by the symbol used - because it describes your body. Most people will use either a male or female symbol, but you could hypothetically put anything here, even Prince's symbol, if you like.

How the symbol is colored in determines your gender. Blue is for masculine, pink is for feminine, and purple is androgynous. You could color it half blue and half pink, or use stripes or a gradient - whatever you want, provided it's not counter-intuitive (or at least comes with an explanation). You could use a different color altogether (green, for example) to denote a third gender or something else entirely. You could leave it blank or color it grey to indicate that you are agendered. It's up to you.

The next symbol in SGO Notation is the magnet. This is pretty much universal (although you can modify it to indicate asexuality, or to distinguish romantic versus sexual attraction), and indicates who or what you are attracted to. The magnet is intentionally pointed left (towards your symbol), because it indicates what draws you in. There is no assumption that who you are attracted to will necessarily be attracted to you, too (i.e., that the attraction will be mutual).

On the other side of the magnet you can put whatever it is you are attracted to. This is where you can get creative (or, keep it as simple as you like). It doesn't have to be a single symbol. It doesn't even have to be an anatomical symbol - you could put a toaster symbol there, if you're sexually attracted to toasters (hey, the point is to be inclusive, not judgmental). You could even replace your symbol with a symbol of a dog, to indicate that you're a canine furry. (You can see this is where the system "breaks down" - there's just too much diversity for it to be comprehensive. But I tried). It's all about expressing who you are, so that others can determine if they're your type (and vice versa). I can envision this being a sort of badge you would put on a social media profile. Or, maybe it's a little TMI. In any case, it could be a fun little quiz to take, or something to produce for yourself privately, to feel like you have a concrete identity, no matter how unique you might be.

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