One way that power maintains itself is by co-opting and absorbing anything that gets people thinking clearly.
But when you are an Other, you can begin to "see the forest for the trees." The Other experiences rejection, lives on the margins (in some shape or form). This allows the other to see what insiders can't or won't yet see, the outlines of the thing they are within. All insiders are complicit in and benefit from the perpetuation of norms to some degree.
The powerful want a well-oiled machine, but something about the Other is unacceptable or too difficult: a wrench in the works. The Other does not "fit." A strategy of the powerful is exile to the margins, shaming, and even murder.
But sometimes the Other who is in exile survives and begins to form words. Very convincing words. Perhaps even culture and a way of life. People living close to the margins are able to notice the Other and hear the words and the words ring true. They begin to question norms and "the natural order."
At this precise point, the powerful deploy a tried-and-true technique. The technique is branding. All the signifiers of the Other's language and culture are turned into a brand for consumption. Because consumption is a mindless state and the powerful need unthinking people running on automatic.
Do you remember when the Palestinian keffiyeh (those black and white scarves) had suddenly become mass-produced and sold at chains like H&M and Urban Outfitters? Young people in the midwest drinking pumpkin spice lattes were suddenly wearing the keffiyeh, completely ignorant to its cultural roots or significations. Mass production has the same effect on signifiers as repeating a word over and over somehow erases its meaning (semantic satiation).
This all makes me think that nonconformity to sex stereotypes must be something very threatening to "the natural order."
Corporations, public and private institutions, celebrities, and politicians, all seem to be having a panic attack to align themselves with the belief in a gendered soul–something completely intangible and mythological, yet irreducibly innate and hallowed. "Gender identity" is clearly a religious belief, but how is the religion serving the most powerful? Why is it so urgent that we all profess our faith and why are the consequences so dire when we disagree (getting fired, deplatformed, and blacklisted)? Since when have we ever seen a liberation movement so fully embraced by the most powerful? This panic reveals something about the effectiveness of resisting sex stereotypes, such that the powerful, with sweat on their brow, demand that we repeat a patent absurdity: that men are quite literally women.
Sex stereotypes are enforced and gay people are made straight, and this is branded as "progressive." And, of course, women are kept very busy dealing with the gaslighting and psychological terrorism of losing the connection between their female bodies and their word for themselves (a disaggregation central to the entire enterprise).
In getting us to repeat a big lie, the powerful are studying their own influence. Who will comply and who won't? It is essential that the mantra be completely absurd, a blunt instrument. And it is a matter of course that they would practice this on women before they do it to men.
Corporate America data mines for new, niche markets and constructs or repurposes identities through branding, leading the way for other western nations and the world to do the same. Eventually, all identities will be subject to this deconstruction and reconstruction at will; it is already underway. Anyone who would object will be called an "essentialist" and, in typical doublespeak fashion, be told they are reinforcing "hegemony." Meanwhile, cultural production will look more and more homogenous as corporate monopolies continue to whittle humans down to their most basic functions as consumers and workers.
I'm thinking of this image from r/aboringdystopia.
I mean, why is it so hard to just be the sex you are and express yourself in ways non-stereotypical for your sex? I mean, really? It must be so hard to simply defy sex stereotypes that it's easier to claim an immutable gendered soul. So, why is it so hard?