Sunday, June 14, 2009

I am a gay, black, non-girly man

Or so Facebook tells me, in a variety of online quizzes. Well, specifically, that I'm gay, black and non-girly.

This isn't a diatribe against Facebook quizzes, though one certainly is allowed to roll one's eyes at quizzes that, based on whether you like fried chicken or not, or if you're "flamboyant" or not, determine your race and sexual identity. Oh, and the girly ... really, there are people who wear mascara to the gym? Really?

Rather, my weariness is to the larger world that insists on clear-cut boundaries.

I think of the scene in Tom Sawyer when the woman tosses a ball of yarn at Tom. He pulls his legs together, this "outs" him as a boy. I don't think this test would work today, do you?

I often watch the first 10 minutes of "The View." It seems to be a fairly reliable guide to what folks are talking about around the water cooler.

This week, they talked about Thomas Beatie, the man who just gave birth to his second child.

Whoopi was definitive in her opinion, which she presented as fact, that since Beatie has a vagina, he is a woman.

Oh, Whoopi.

A day or so later, Elizabeth Hasselbeck explained that merely by wanting to have a baby, Beatie revealed himself to be a woman, because she's never known a man who wanted to bear a child.

Really, Elizabeth? Really? Because I've known scads who admitted that they were quite envious that I could carry a baby in my own body, birth it into life, and then provide its only nourishment from my own body.

There is a New Yorker cartoon that shows a bull, looking up at a moon with a cow jumping over it, saying to his calf, "Son, your mother is a remarkable woman." I've had the privilege of knowing many men who feel that way about any woman who has given birth.

Whoopi, Elizabeth ... you're wrong. And Facebook Quiz writers, you're wrong. It's not cut and dried. Sexuality, gender ... and yes, even race. Look at all the people who will argue about whether Barack Obama is white or black.

We are, all of us, such mutts. Race and sex. Spreading your legs to catch a ball doesn't identify you as female anymore.

Neither does spreading your legs to give birth.

1 comment:

kim said...

Many years ago I read an article about a scientific experiment to see if the placenta is made by the mother or the fetus. What they did was implant an embryo on the big artery that goes along the bowel in a MALE chimpanzee. The fetus produced its own placenta and began growing normally. the scientists freaked out and aborted it at about two thirds of normal gestation because it was growing normally and they didn't want to deal with the implications. Omni magazine asked a number of male celebrities if they would want to carry a child if there was no negative social stigma attached, and many of them said, "Absolutely yes!"
I still have that article somewhere.

and, yes, you are right -- if a person thinks he is male, he is male. If she thinks she is female, she is female. Life is too complicated to decide that kind of stuff for anyone but ourselves....