Archives for posts with tag: Identity

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.

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I recently sent an email to somebody who writes professionally, asking for some general advice on writing. 

I have to admit that I kind of regretted doing so when he first responded.  When asking somebody for advice, one opens oneself up to being treated like a stupid, stupid human being.

Puny one, I congratulate you on your great good fortune! You have arrived at the source of all relevant knowledge, and the case being as it is – that you are a clueless little babyperson – it shall behoove us to get started right away.

I shall not bore you with what he actually said. I have no doubt you have been, more than once, in receipt of the same “sit down, junior” vibrations.

Words like “arrogant” and “pretentious” began to float inexplicably to the surface of my mind. So, naturally I proceeded with the conversation as if unfazed. And, meeting no resistance, the pomp swelled to genuinely obnoxious levels. Would it be okay if I called him as asshole?

I was pretty sure he might be an asshole.

But, alas I asked for his advice. It felt rude to walk away without it, just because he was treating me like a nobody – bordering, if we’re being perfectly frank, on unworthiness. Beside that, I gone so far as to admire this person; I was damned if I was going to let him make himself appear unadmirable (and myself a dang fool) without a fight! So I pressed on! I made an embarassingly strong push to appear intelligent, articulate, confident, knowledgeable, creative, et al.. I shipped off a reply to his latest message, and folded my arms and waited.

In his reply, he did two major things. The first was saying something nice to me.

J, that’s what I’m talking about. Those are good answers.

He said they were “good.” He said they were good! I took to the tiny expression of approval as if coming from the drunken, homophobic father I never had. It was embarassingly awesome. But the second thing he said, and the reason I’m really writing this post, was . . .

Then ask yourself this question: “Do I need to write?”

Do I need to write?

Do I need to write?

I love to write. I am excited by writing. I am excited by words in general, actually. Writing is healing. It ignites my intellect. It makes me feel more. Writing connects me to a tradition that dates back, literally, to the dawn of history. It’s using words to do amazing things!

And none of that comes close to answering the question, “do I need to write?” Would I get through my life? Would I . . . succeed? Would I feel like whole person, if I did not write? Some hypothetical questions are easy to digest. This problem is not one of them. Not for me.

The only thing that I feel has put me in the neighborhood of a confident response to my dubious advisor’s query was the memory a meltdown I had a month or so ago.

It was a very typical, identity-crisis sort of meltdown that men of my age and description are so prone to. (I hope.) I found myself overflowing with very pathetic bullshit. I don’t have what it takes. I have nothing to say. I’m not strong enough. I’m not focused enough. I’m not good enough. All about writing. All about the myriad reasons I shouldn’t be a writer and should settle for something else. Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, self-conscious oblivion. And, as you might expect, I reacted to all of these crushing thoughts of by writing more. Depending upon taste, you might say “way” more.

In other words, I reacted to my obsession with nonwriterworthiness by “writing it out.” Almost automatically. Very soon afterwards, I created a blog you might be familiar with. I think that says something.

I don’t know if it says anything definite, but it says something relevant. I will let you know if it says something significant.

And I’ll be thinking about these problems. I’ll be thinking about whether I need to write. I’ll definitely be thinking about whether ******* is an asshole or not.


-J

Tell me, dear people: Do you need to write?