Why don’t we take a moment to catch our breath on this frantic sprint to dehumanize half the human race? This is not some lame attempt at both siderism. I’m simply asking everyone who’s angry to ask sincerely, “How likely is it that I’ll win this war using the tactics I’m using?”
What accounts for the growing number of young people who don’t identify as either male or female? My friends and I floated various theories in a recent conversation. Some thought there are too many freaky deaky chemicals in the water supply, and it’s messing with our hormones. Some thought it’s nothing new, and that people simply feel more free to accept and announce what they’ve always felt inside. Some think it’s the result of cultural pressure, and calling oneself “non-binary” or “asexual” or “gender fluid” are merely the newest way of irritating one’s parents and asserting one’s individuality, like growing hair long in the early 60’s, or wearing pants backwards in the 80’s.
And some, including me, thought it’s not only a combination of the above, but also sometimes a sign of good psychological health. Let me explain.
Some of the folks I see calling themselves neither male nor female present in such an aggressively counter-cultural way, they appear to set themselves irredeemably apart from anyone who values ordinary, bedrock principles like fidelity or monogamy. But under the strident “I’m not like you” exterior, most aren’t looking for anarchy or even libertinism. Many of them are saying something true and valuable. They are saying: “I reject the idea that you have to chose between being a girly girl or a macho man. I hate the notion that I have to sign on to spending my time obsessing over either makeup or sports. I don’t see myself primarily as always passive or as always aggressive. I reject both silly, simpering, bubbleheaded femininity and slavering, swaggering, manhandling masculinity.”
In other words, they’re not rejecting masculinity or femininity, so much as they are rejecting what 2017 is telling them it means to be male or female. 2017, in case you haven’t noticed, doesn’t know its ass from its elbow. So if people are opting out of a binary system that’s pure caricature, then opting out is the right thing to do. Certainly, it goes too far to say, “I’m not male or female,” but at very least, it’s a sign that folks are embracing the idea that who we are is more than just an assemblage of clothing and hobbies. They are rejecting constrictive, reductive, dehumanizing stereotypes, and that’s a good thing.
Okay! So this conversation came back to me this morning, as I listened to the talking heads on the news chatting about the Roy Moore election. Now that our president has openly endorsed Moore, the GOP has decided to go ahead and fund his campaign after all.
This move has left a good many voters in the lurch. A lot of folks who call themselves “republican” have lost their damn minds — but a lot haven’t. They hoped (because man is, at heart, irrationally optimistic) that the party of God, family, responsibility, and values would somehow find their way to saying, “Maybe let’s not rush to elect a likely sexual predator.”
A lot of voters, like me, are basically conservative. We reject abortion. We think marriage should be between one man and one woman. We only reluctantly accept divorce as a necessary evil. We think immigration should be approached with care and caution. We think gun ownership should be protected. We believe freedom of religion exists outside the walls of actual church buildings. We think America is special, and has something to offer the rest of the world.
But we reject the caricature of American conservatism, which says that you have a moral obligation to anyone who yammers about being “pro-life” when he wants a vote, but who has no qualms about crushing single mothers and their kids, the poor, the disabled, and the uninsured.
We reject the caricature of American conservatism that says marriage is holy and sacred when you’re selling cake, but if you’re a politician, then you can swing your dick wherever you like.
We reject the caricature of American conservatism that says it’s a crime against nature to have too much melanin in your skin or too much of an accent in your voice.
We reject the caricature of American conservatism that says the Bill of Rights is mainly about not getting in the way of evil men with an arsenal and a grievance.
We reject the caricature of American conservatism that believes in a young, flat earth populated by Muslim lizard people masquerading as secret Kenyans who hate Christmas.
We reject the caricature of American conservatism that says anything America does is good, right, and just, and we can teach the rest of the world to be like us by alienating our allies and nuking everyone else.
Oh, and we reject Nazis and rapists, that kind of thing.
Since I reject all of these things, does that make me a liberal or a progressive? Not unless you’re insane.
But listen. Progressives are suffering their own descent into grotesque caricature. My progressive friends don’t have any friends in the white house right now, but they’re also not thrilled when they think of the backlash that’s likely to come next.
Remember, Americans love that pendulum swing. The moment Donald Trump is gone, a reactive voting populace will ram through some equal but opposite horror, who’ll undo all Trump’s bad deeds and replace them with a whole new set of equally bad deeds, but different ones. Read your history. This is what happens when a country allows something terrible to happen. It makes amends by lurching toward something even more terrible, but opposite.
When there’s a natural calamity — say, an earthquake or a tidal wave — there are the initial casualties, and then thousands more are left homeless in the aftermath. This is what’s happened politically. Trump vs. Clinton was an earthquake setting off a volcano, or a tidal wave triggering a mudslide, or Mothra vs.King Ghidorah, or whatever. There was no good guy to root for, but there sure were a lot of innocent bystanders left with nowhere to go after the monsters moved along.
So that’s me. I’m homeless. I’m a non-binary voter. I’m politiqueer, or something. I reject all the petty caricatures. I care about the Ten Commandments, and that’s why I reject Roy Moore. I care about women, and that’s why I reject [Margaret Sanger’s reanimated corpse, or whoever the dems will put up next].
You can’t make me say I’m on one grotesque side or the other grotesque side, and you can’t make me say that if I’m not one, I must be the other. As currently presented, neither one of them is anything worth being. There’s more to me than an assemblage of cruelty, extremism, and reflexive ideological posturing. Show me something good, and maybe I’ll vote for it. I’m a citizen of the United States of America, and I reject all the monsters.
Images: Destoroyah: Bandai Namco Entertainment America, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48781603
Gigan: Bandai Namco Entertainment Europe [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
ballot: Pixabay https://pixabay.com/en/elections-vote-sheet-paper-pen-536656/
I didn’t watch the Super Bowl. I didn’t even watch the Puppy Bowl, which is what the kids were watching. I sat in the kitchen and ate so much hot spinach artichoke dip that I didn’t even have room for the main dish, which was bacon. Bacon, do you hear me?
Okay, I had a few pieces. But I didn’t have room!
Anyway, I guess I missed the main point of the Super Bowl, which was the commercials. Sounds like I didn’t miss much. I know that they’re often trashy and offensive, and everyone says they were also stupid and annoying this year. And . . . violent? Here’s what DoubleX Factor’s Marjorie Valbrun had to say:
Aside from being sexist, several ads . . . seemed surprisingly violent, including those focused on men. I had not watched a Super Bowl game in several years, so perhaps the level of violence is not that unusual to regular watchers. But they still seemed aggressively physical. . . Do the commercials really have to be just as physical as the game to hold our attention?
I have a really hard time seeing the problem with aggressively physical commercials aired during a game which is about trying to kill each other. I guess the bloggers just bored with being outraged about sexism, which I can understand — it must be exhausting, especially for poor, frail females! Tee hee.
In case you are not familiar with the Double X Blog, it’s from the liberal but contrarianSlate magazine, and has the montrsously inaccurate tagline, “What women really think.” This is kind of like a bag of salt having the tagline, “What slugs really want.” Nevertheless, I read the dreadful thing to keep in touch with the kind of women who (and this really happened once) see me coming down with the sidewalk with my kids and say, “Eek!” and run away.
Most of the writers are run-of-the-mill, perpetually outraged feminists. Amanda Marcotte stands out for her near-epileptic, flecks-of-spittle style of journalism, which recently and notably led her to blame pro-lifers for the grisly horrors committed by Kermit Gosnell. Even her fellow bloggers took her to task for that bizarre accusation. I can’t even worry too much about the damage she can do with that point of view, because you’d have to be so far down nutso creek to take her seriously, there’s no turning back.
Okay, fine, so back to the Super Bowl: the women didn’t like the violence, they didn’t like the sexism, they didn’t like the stupidity. But then the blogger had this to say:
It felt as if advertisers went for cheap laughs this year at the expense of imagination or wit. I almost expected the Marx Brothers to show up.
No, no, no.
Humorless feminist, you have gone too far. The Marx Brothers signify a dearth of imagination and wit? What is this, backwards day?
I desperately hope she simply has never seen a Marx Brothers movie, and only knows that they’re those black-and-white guys in the window of Poster Barn at the mall. And this is a crying shame. If you look up “imagination and wit” in the dictionary, you will see a picture of Harpo Marx giving his leg to a blonde debutante. If you Google “imagination and wit, ” you will hear Groucho telling Margaret Dumont, “Those are my principles! And if you don’t like them . . . well, I have others.” And if it’s sexism you like, here’s Groucho as Captain Spaulding, the African Explorer: “We took some pictures of the native girls, but they weren’t developed yet. But we’re going back again in a couple of weeks!”
We’re doing our part to innoculate our kids against creeping radical feminism: we’re having a Marx Brothers festival. So far we’ve seen A Night at the Opera, Duck Soup,Horse Feathers, and even A Night in Casablanca, which was much funnier than I remembered.
Well, Marjorie Valbrun, why don’t you bore a hole in yourself and let the sap run out. Normal humans: what’s your favorite Marx Brothers line?
No one asked for it, but today I’m reprinting something from my old blog. It has special meaning for me, because it marks the day that an entire branch of my extended family stopped speaking to me.
In the “I’m Too Late For a Dentist Appointment To Key Your Car Right Now, But I’ll Get You Later” department, we have this bumper sticker:
which has been cropping up all over our area.
I live near a college town, which makes me, by definition, fatter, slower, less hip, and more endarkened than 60% of the population. Bumper stickers abound: mostly of the “I heart peace/let’s behead Bush” variety.
The cars so intelligently adorned seem to congregate outside a store called “The Hemporium.” I always enjoy passing by this place, because it has a huge banner over the door, proclaiming: “Come in and educate yourself!” irresistibly bringing to mind the Lilo and Stitch alien Pleakley,
an Earth enthusiast who devotes himself to the preservation of the mosquito food chain.
Anyway, as a claustrophobic, misanthropic, misogynistic, pediphobic, clutter-hating mother of twenty-seven who lives in a self-storage unit, I’m all for coexisting. I’ve even been known to . . . are you ready for this? . . . tolerate people who aren’t exactly like me. Mainly because everyone I know has managed, through twelve step programs and extensive plastic surgery, to avoid being exactly like me.
If by “coexist” you mean “don’t kill people who don’t agree with you,” I am all for that (although I’m not sure who worries that this message is going unheard in rural Southern New Hampshire). Or if there are people who do need to hear this message . . . you really think a bumper sticker will change their minds? Do me a favor and go nag yourselves, if you know what I mean.
I guess it wouldn’t be so grating if it just spelled out its little one-word sermon in regular letters, although I realize the message would lost some of its putative punch that way. I see what they’re trying to do by using symbols as letters: they’re trying to say that all of these ideas–Christianity, Judaism, Peace (which is separate from Christianity, dontcha know), Yin Yangitude, etc.– all fit together into one large, overarching shelter called “coexistence.”
It’s terribly fashionable to take important, very specific ideas and paste them into a collage demonstrating Everythingness. They’re trying to say, “Can’t we all just get along?” without sounding like a punchline.
Well, this is worse than using a picture of child’s face as a mouse pad, which is unseemly. This is worse than using the American flag as boxer shorts or dish towels, which is disrespectful. By using meaningful symbols as mere letters in a word, this bumper sticker subsumes the significant and specific into a suffocating mass of indiscriminate acceptance.
Don’t use the cross as a T, okay? And don’t use the star of David as an X. They’re not, like, logos for “Jesus Brand” and “Judaism, Inc.” Don’t tell me “it’s just a design” or “we were going for the visual impact — don’t read too much into it.” You should be glad someone’s paying attention to your message.
I don’t think it’s blasphemous; I just think it’s dangerously careless. Are you sure you want to just swallow down that soup without checking out the ingredients first? A few of those symbols look awfully prickly.
And fish that cross out for me! I need it.