Archives for category: Gender

I’m hoping there’s somebody who can explain this to me.

On the one hand, it makes sense that the person responsible for giving birth to the holiest figure in a faith system would also fall in among the holiest figures in that system. So it jives that Mary, being the mother of Jesus (ישוע, if you prefer) is a figure central to Christian practice – particularly, it seems to me, within Catholicism.

But . . . why is it that one seems never to hear her name without “virgin” attached?

Yes, I am familiar with the narrative. I understand that, according to the Gospels, Mary conceived and gave birth to Jesus as a virgin. And yes, I paid attention in science class enough to know that conception typically involves some kind of intercourse (or, at the very least, aggressive sexting). I get why a so-called “Virgin Mother” is super impressive, just as I get why so many italicized words might both confuse and annoy you.

But if you’re talking about the person who gave birth the first and only physical incarnation of the omnipotent God, who healed the sick and preached against corruption and hypocrisy, who sacrificed himself as a means of absolving mankind from sin, rose from the grave a couple of days later, and will one day return again to effect the final judgment of God and usher in the Messianic age . . . the virgin part kind of loses its grandeur, doesn’t it? Clearly not.

So my question is why.

In the very first chapter of Genesis, God tells us to “be fruitful and multiply.” 

This is probably why I haven’t yet met a denomination within Christianity (or, indeed, Judaism or Islam) that opposes reproduction. The Torah (as well as much of the modern religious community) is chock full of begetting! The more conservative ideologies today are definitely against aborting a pregnancy, and often against preventing pregnancy through the use of contraceptive measures.

So it’s clear that babies = good.

(It seems like a mockingly stupid thing to say, but I don’t mean any disrespect. This is somewhat of a mystery to me, and I think it’s important to establish these basics.)

The reverence given to Mary’s virginal status sends a message to me, therefore, that women having sex presents an essential flaw in an otherwise desirable process. The reasoning sounds to me something like . . .

We want to have babies, sure, but if only there were a way around this pesky sex thing.

I guess one could make the case that Mary’s virginity is only deemed holy in its connection with Yeshua’s conception and birth.

That, to my mind, still places virginity in a weirdly prominent position. But at least it does a little bit to take it out of Mary’s identity.

That is, of course, you introduce a concept like this.  The TL;DR version of that page is that some denominations view Mary as a kind of “ever-virgin.” This, despite scriptural references to Jesus’ siblings.  And, whether you subscribe to the “perpetual virginity” idea or not, it still stands that, if Mary’s virginity is not her most dominant characteristic, it is at least the one we are reminded of first in discussing her.  (“Virgin Mary,” “Blessed Virgin Mary,” “The Virgin Mother” . . .)

So. If you are able, please explain to me why it is that many Christians tend to idolize (read into that word choice what you will) such a particular version of Jesus’s mother – a passive, sexless birth-giver.

What does that say about the Christian idea of a “perfect woman”?

What does that say about Christian ideas about God, for that matter? Do we suppose Jesus to be more divine because he didn’t result from sex? If that was a concern, why did God need to take human form or be born at all?

I’m sorry. I shouldn’t even start going on this train of thought because I’m going to do nothing but make myself sound crazy and make a lot of conservatives within the Christian community angry with me.

I just dun get it, is all.

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P.S. I thought about making an “Immaculate Conception” reference in the title of this post.  I didn’t for two reasons:

  1. People who know what the Immaculate Conception actually refers to might write me off as an idiot and not worth reading.
  2. People who don’t know what the Immaculate Comception actually refers to would be no better off for my using the expression.
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Here is my obligatory apology for having not blogged in such a long time. I don’t have any excuse for this. Did you miss me?

I’ve rejected gender. How are you?

My friend Jerry once (harmlessly – so harmlessly) complained to me about somebody who had used his knife without permission. “You don’t touch a man’s knife!” he said. He considered this act an insult to himself. To his manhood. This person had taken his knife and that’s something you don’t do (dammit!).

But.  I don’t have a knife. So . . .

I took a course on interpersonal communication once, where differences in gender featured prominently. “Men talk like such-and-such.”  “Women express themselves like blahdy-blah.” That kind of thing. And I learned a lot from the course – most surprisingly that I’m a woman.

Is this unique to my life?  This can’t be unique to my life.  No!  Look.  Has this kind of thing happened to you, too?  (This example is man-centered because I have a penis, not because I think this doesn’t happen to women.)

PERSON:
Men love camping!
All men love camping!
All real men love camping.
As the old rhyme goes, “Has a penis;
fuckin’ loves to camp.

ME:
I do not love camping.
I feel as though this makes me less manly.

PERSON:
Don’t be silly! Your dislike of camping
in no way diminishes your manhood.
Also, this presents no kind of gaping sword-wound
to the torso of Logical Thought.

It has!  Hasn’t it?!

Let’s put it another way:

Seems legit.

Seems legit.

Now I hate math just as much as the next guy.  But I think something . . . something has gone awry.  Somebody has broken into the tomb of Emperor NotBeingIdiots and ransacked it.  Stolen the gold.  Upturned beautiful, priceless artworks.  Peed on the walls.  Covered the place in misspelled graffiti.  The police aren’t ready to make an arrest, it seems, but I think i have found the culprit.  That masterful burglar – We Are Making It the Fuck Up.

See, what we have done is made these two categories and said, “Ah-HA!  These two shall encompass all of humanity!”  And, in our excitement, we immediately began quickly shoveling attributes under the banner of either “feminine,” or “masculine.”

Now, with time, and the gradual removal of heads from asses, has come a sort of collective, “huh . . .”  People have begun pointing our how wrong society’s assessment of gender is. 

You don’t have to wear make up to be feminine and beautiful!”

“You don’t have to play sports to be a ‘real man’!”

“Girls can cut their hair short!”

“‘Men can wear pink!”

I don’t think anybody remotely intelligent is denying these things anymore.  (Maybe I should say I hope  nobody is.)  I certainly don’t think they’re false.  I just also don’t think they’re . . . well, true

Let’s imagine, for a moment, a conversation between two zoologists.

DR. PRIMADOCTA:
I say, my fine colleague. Have you ever seen
an animal as magnificent as the emerald-tusked
gardener walrus?

DR. ZOODOCDOS:
Verily, I cannot pretend to have ever seen one.
The beast’s fondness (and exceptional ability) for
growing tulips is incredible.  And naturally,
those tusks are unlike any tha–

DR. P:
Pardon me, my good doctor, but did you say tulips?
Surely, you are referring to Odobenus horticulturalis’
chrysanthemums. They are beyond compare.

DR. Z
You’re an asshole.

 Who’s right, here? 

Neither of them,” you’d be inclined to say.  And you’d be right!  So right.  This is a matter of opinion!  Neither of their opinions is right.  Neither is wrong.  You might have another opinion entirely.  “The walrus’ calla lilies are clearly its flora optima.

Well said.  Well said.

Except for, um, well, a tiny little detail that, uh, I kind . . . made the emerald-tusked gardener walrus right the hell up.  Conjured him from my little brain.  Its attributes are irrelevant, in a Debbie-downer kind of way, because you will never ever find one.  Ever.

And that’s how I’ve come to see gender.  There is no “right” or “wrong” of gender because gender is, really, something people made up.  A bazillion years ago.  Before science was anywhere near its state today.  Before science was a thing.  Like myth, gender was invented to make sense of the world.  And, like myth, gender makes sense of the world in a way that makes no fucking sense.

Not even penises or vaginas are “masculine” or “feminine”!  Not really.  Look at transwomen and -men.  Look at people born with ambiguous genitalia.  When you get right down to it, the only manly thing is a y-chromosome.  The only womanly thing is . . . no y-chromosome.  And even then . . .

Now, I’m not a scientist or a sociologist.  You may be convinced by this point in the post that I am an absolute idiot.  Or a cynic.  But I hope you can see the point I’m trying to make.  And I hope that if, like me, you are feeling like not as much of your identity is tied up in gender as you thought, you have the freedom in your life to express that.  For my part, I’ve started thinking of myself as neither masculine nor feminine.  I’ve begun to think of myself as “ze” and “hir,” instead of “he” and “him.”

It just makes the most sense to me.