martin firrell

gender isn't working

june 2017

mass think-in at lloyd's

52 images
ballot paper
report

The activism of the 1960s led to greater social and sexual equality including the availability of oral contraception to all women, and the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales with the passing of the Sexual Offences Act 1967.

Whilst these were important liberalising steps, they did little to challenge the gender role system identified by both the women's movement and gay liberationists as the root cause of their oppression.

´╗┐To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, Martin Firrell Company invited 200 senior leaders in business, culture and policy to a Gender Think-In, designed to re-examine the phenomenon of gender oppression.

The event was supported by the renowned human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, and the team at Lloyd's, the world's oldest insurance market.

The Think-In was held on 29 June 2017 at the iconic Lloyd's building in the City of London and followed the consciousness-raising pattern of the think-ins pioneered by the Gay Liberation Front in the early 1970s.

Public artist Martin Firrell outlined an alternative approach to the problem of gender intended to benefit the majority of people regardless of their gender expression or sexual orientation.

He called this alternative approach 'gender tender' meaning that society would regard gender as something intensely personal and private.

It would be unthinkable to make demands on anyone to explain or defend their gender presentation and it would be illegal to require anyone to conform to any gender stereotype.

Social pressure would act in reverse making sacrosanct the individual's right to declare no gender at all - if they so chose - rather than being required to fit into a strict binary system as is currently the case.

Participants at the think-in were invited to complete ballot papers describing their own personal experiences of gender and their response to the idea of a 'gender tender' future.

A report, published by Martin Firrell Company, outlines the published findings and ramifications of this thought experiment. 'Gender Isn't Working' includes an afterword by Peter Tatchell and he describes the findings as 'provocative and timely'.