On Gender Identity and How To Be Cool

All right. Gender identity. Let’s rap.

So, there seems to be a lot of confusion out there about sex, gender, gender identity, etc., so I figured I would offer a quick primer for anyone in need of clarification. I’ll start out by saying that there’s a certain fluidity to all of this, and one person’s experience does not encompass all people’s experiences, and a general rule of thumb is just to take people at their word when they say they are this or that.

Example:

“I’m trans.” “Oh, okay, cool.”
“I’m non-binary.” “Oh, okay, cool.”
“My pronouns are “they/them.” “Oh, okay, cool.”
“I am a giraffe.” “I mean, you don’t look much like one, but you would probably know better than me, so okay, cool.”

See? Super easy.

But let’s get a little more in-depth here.

So, at some point in our illustrious history, it was decided that when it came to humans, there were only two boxes that could be checked. One was “male” and one was “female.” Which box you ticked depended solely on what body parts you had, and this was further expanded with the idea that said body parts also determined your interests, personality, mannerisms, and what kind of body wash scents you were allowed to enjoy.

For example:

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A scenario entirely unconnected to current events

Firefighters: So, we’ve been making some progress on putting out the fire, but as you can see, there’s still a lot of work left to do.

People: Oh, yeah, it looks so much better! Okay, you can stop now.

Firefighters: But…there’s…still fire?

People: Nah, I think we’re heading in the right direction. Just stop what you’re doing and we’re sure it’ll be fine. We’re going to go back inside now, k?

Firefighters: The building is on FIRE.

People: Yeah, but we’re tired of standing out here safely away from something that could kill us, so we think we’d rather just go back inside and get our lives back to normal.

Firefighters: THE BUILDING IS ON FIRE. You can’t go back to your normal lives when the whole place is burning down around you. And if it keeps burning, other buildings might catch on fire, too, and burn down the whole city.

People: This is America, dammit, and that means we have the right to a life of freedom in a burning building if that is what we choose! USA! USA! USA!

Firefighters: ….

In which there is a new cat, new digs, and general fawning over Jodie Whittaker

So…yeah. It’s been a while.

To all those impatiently tapping their feet, looking at their watches, and saying, “What kind of time do you call this, then?” I can only offer the excuse that I’ve been buried under piles of crazed and lovable children, struggling to complete my MFA, and spending the rest of the time sleeping.

The good news, however, is that I’ve actually managed to complete my MFA with a Hermione-worthy GPA (insert smugness and general academic fatigue here), and my tenure as a teacher of preschoolers is wrapping up in favor of shifting gears to writing, editing, teaching, and (hopefully) recovering somewhat from my eternal and unceasing state of exhaustion.

In any case, because so very much has happened since my last update sometime in the Mesozoic Era, I offer you updates now in the form of a handy list:
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Sugar and spice and a nice, satisfying scream of frustration and rage

Today, on Things That Make Me Want To Scream:

  1. Little girls are encouraged to like certain toys and certain colors, behave a certain way, and enjoy certain activities.
  2. Little boys are encouraged to like certain toys and certain colors, behave a certain way, and enjoy certain activities.
  3. Little girls who stray too far in the “boyish” direction receive a small to medium amount of disapproval, and are lavishly praised when they do anything more traditionally feminine.
  4. Little boys who stray too far in the “girlish” direction receive a great heaping crap-mountain of disapproval, and are told again and again to “act like a man” or not “be such a girl.” (Being a girl in this case = being weak, silly, emotional, shameful, etc.)
  5. Unsurprisingly, assaulting children with a massive barrage of operant conditioning (positive reinforcement for behaving “correctly,” negative reinforcement for behaving “incorrectly”) leads them to feel pressured to fall in line, and to accept that “this is what a girl is,” and “this is what a boy is.”
  6. Idiot People then look at this result and say, “See? Boys and girls are so DIFFERENT. They just naturally gravitate towards different interests.”

annie-scream

This has been today’s edition of Things That Make Me Want To Scream. Thank you for your attention, and have a pleasant day.

On the American Dream

ColbertAmerica

So, in America, we have something we like to call “the American dream.” It’s the idea that if you work hard enough, you can drag yourself out of even the lowest gutter and become rich, successful, and happy, all while a chorus line of anthropomorphic apple pies wave little American flags and sing the national anthem while fireworks explode behind them (or something like that).

And hey, that’s a beautiful dream to have, but it’s also probably one of the most damaging aspects of our society. Continue reading