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gender blending

i've been given the opportunity in the last few days to think about my grandmother and ruminate on my impressions of her. being a quick-witted, smart-mouthed type, i often wonder what she would have become if she had been born in another era, or in another geographical location. born in her own time, but in a large city instead of a small town, i can easily picture her donning a suit and sneaking out to drink and smoke cigars with the guys. since she did live in a small town and likely felt the pressure of expectations, she became a wife and mother, perhaps a little more uneasily than others.

for what she might have turned out like in the modern era, i need only look in the mirror. i consider myself fortunate that i'm free to do bar shots, make off-colour jokes, stay out past my bed time and generally behave as badly as anyone, without fear of ostracism from either family or community.

however, there are sometimes signs i get that things aren't quite as smooth between the genders as we'd like to believe. a particularly good example happened some years back, when i was involved in a conversation and one of the people made the comment that he "wouldn't say this if there were women in the room". even i missed the implication for a beat.

now, i'm not indicating that this person was so obtuse as to have failed to realise that i was (and remain) female, but the comment does indicate that he didn't think of me as being the female in the same way as, say, his girlfriend was. somehow, from associating with men and establishing a comfort level, i'd also managed to establish myself as a member of a third gender.

gender dimorphism is not something that has been unquestioned. castrati, castrated males prized for their singing from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, enjoyed a social place outside the confines of gender (examined melodramatically in the film farinelli). hijras in south asia are intergendered and play a role that is neither male nor female within the society (don't take my word for it.) these examples are both very separate from questions of sexual orientation, which is a whole other issue.

an excellent resource on this is the intersex society of north america (which deals primarily with issues facing those born without a clear gender) or gilbert herdt's excellent historical and sociological study third sex, third gender.

the battle of the sexes is beginning to look a little more complex than most people would imagine.

Comments

pelao said…
and, to boot, the weight and ways of our friend p-orridge...
http://www.genesisp-orridge.com/index.php?section=article&album_id=7&id=98

intriguing post, it started off with your granny and ended up all funny-willy!...will check the links..byers.

as long as you're here, why not read more?

jihadvertising?

i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:



am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

mental health mondays :: pop quiz

those of you who are friends of mine on facebook [that might look a little weird to those of you seeing this post on facebook] may have seen my weekly "sunday quiz time", where i just ask random questions in the name of stimulating conversation. after doing that this week, i ended up taking a very wide variety of quizzes on mental floss, which made me a little smug about my knowledge of geography and a little rattled about my knowledge of the finer points of grammar. [i want to say, in my defense, that the one grammar quiz i found was really f**king hard. is that last sentence grammatically correct? i don't know. i have no confidence in my grammar anymore.]

i got so into answering questions about just about anything that i thought it might be fun to apply that format to mental health mondays. i've already done links to quizzes about various mental disorders and how to tell if you have them [i think it turned out i had all of them], but i wanted to do a special set of…

i agree, smedley [or, smokers totally saved our planet in 1983]

so this conversation happened [via text, so i have evidence and possibly so does the canadian government and the nsa].

dom and i were trying to settle our mutual nerves about tomorrow night's conversion screening, remembering that we've made a fine little film that people should see. which is just about exactly what dom had said when i responded thusly:

me :: i agree smedley. [pauses for a moment] did you get that here?

dom :: no?

me :: the aliens who were looking at earth and then decided it wasn't worth bothering with because people smoked even though it was bad for them?
come to think of it, that might mean that smokers prevented an alien invasion in the seventies.

dom :: what ?!?!?

me :: i've had wine and very little food. [pause] but the alien thing was real. [pause.] well, real on tv.

dom :: please eat something.

of course, i was wrong. the ad in question ran in 1983. this is the part where i would triumphantly embed the ad from youtube, except that the governmen…