In class we started to discuss Wilchin's question (one of many): Why do a gender at all? However, we didn't get very far in our answer. I noticed that many of us were focusing on potential individual actions, and kept getting stuck on the fact that any of our actions, no matter how unique or transgressive, would inevitably be read through the “slits” of the gender binary. This seemed to mean that none of our actions could lead to the option to not do a gender at all.
Thinking about this topic later, I was struck by a huge misunderstanding in my approach to the question. I think the foundation of not “doing” a gender has nothing at all to do with individual actions, and everything to do with observation. To not “do” a gender, I don't have to change my way of behaving-- in fact, I could change my way of walking, my way of speaking, my way of dressing and it wouldn't make the slightest difference. To not do gender, and to allow others to not do gender, I have to change my way of seeing.
The issue of gender is fundamentally an issue of the observer. If none of us observed gender, it wouldn't exist. I look at the pink, dresses, dolls and lipstick and see symbols. After learning to instantaneously recognize and interpret these symbols, it's nearly impossible for me to step back and see only a color, a piece of fabric, a toy and a red paste. Trying to unsee gender is like looking at a typed page and trying to see abstract art instead of language. I'm not even sure that I can.