On pants and pronouns

My pronouns are now per and pers. And that’s what I am going to call you and you and you over there too. Because I don’t care what is in your pants unless I have personal interest (rare and unlikely) or unless I am working as a physician. Per and pers are short for person. Generic. Nongendered because I don’t care. I suppose we could use Pee and Pees for People, which would amuse small children and immature adults (which includes me).

As a physician I need to know if someone is XX, XY, XO, XYY, or any of the other variations because it affects health. I need to know if the XX is of childbearing age or before that or after that. I need to know if the testes are undescended or have been removed because of prostate cancer. But otherwise I don’t need to know and I don’t care what is in your pants.

Get over gender. Everyone can wear kilts or carhartts or makeup or glitter or boots or toe cleavage sandals (ok, the five inch heels are really bad for your feet) and I don’t care. The first time I met my future husband was in a contra dance line where the people coming up the line were upset or rattled. I wondered why and there he was, wearing his mother’s wrap around lavender flowered skirt and dancing the “male” part. Now the parts are often called “lead” and “follow” because the callers don’t care what is in the dancer’s pants either.

When I saw my future husband in a wrap around lavender skirt, it was not love at first sight. What I thought was, “Well, that is not your routine Beltway Bandit. Bet he’s not an attorney.” This was Washington, DC in 1985 or 6 and the place was crawling with attorneys. I was correct. He is not an attorney. I thought, well, at least he’d be interesting to talk to and I found the consternation in the contra dance line amusing.

I did not talk to him that night. The next time I ran into him was at a square dance at the Washington Cathedral Nunnery. (You now may be wondering if this is true. It is.) He was wearing pants. After the square ended, I said, “You look different from a week ago.” He laughed. “The woman I am here with hates it when I wear skirts,” and he promptly invited me out. Ok.

Marge Piercy published Woman on the Edge of Time back in 1976. The pronouns in one of the two futures were per and pers. I am fine with that and I am not fine with having every single person pick their own pronouns. If we are going to pick our own pronouns, I am going to be “Mother Superior”, because I think it is stupid. Make it generic and non-gendered and I have no issue with generic. I don’t care what is in people’s pants or shirts or whatever, nor do I care what gender they are born nor their present identification nor their future plans. Except, as I said, if I am romantically interested or if I am working as a physician.

And since I love words and wordplay, my reply to the next query about my pronouns will be in a very sexy voice. “My pronouns are puuuurrrr and puuurrrrrs.”

fossil snail

Fossil snail. I found this on one of the Olympic Peninsula beaches. It’s gender is also pretty mysterious, at least to me. I think it’s too late for DNA testing.

pig

This is a pig. It’s a pig in my house. I don’t remember where I acquired it.

I can’t tell what gender this pig is. I can’t tell and I don’t care and honestly, I am tired of gender. Don’t care.

So how about a language change. Instead of he/she has the balls/ovaries to get it done, I am going to say he/she has the genitals to get it done.

Because, see, I don’t care which kind of genitals they got, as long as they can get it done.

So there, gender warriors, I got the genitals to change my language.

Peace out.

The introverted thinker on the playground

My daughter is an introverted thinker. Sometimes this is extremely entertaining.

When she was in first grade she came home part way through the year and said, “I want to get my hair cut like a boy.” “Short?” I said. “Yes,” she said. I didn’t think about it too much but made an appointment. I thought it was because she has that fine tangly hair that is really difficult to comb.

On the way to the salon, my intuition kicked in and I realized that something was up. She was in that deep abstraction mode, thinking.
I said, “Why do you want to get your hair cut like a boy?”
Her reply, “The boys chase the girls on the playground.”
Hmmmm.
“Do they chase you?”
“No.”
“Why not?”
“They are not sure if I am a boy or a girl.”
“You don’t want them to be sure?”
“No.”
“Why not?”
“There is another class that gets to recess before us. They get the tire swing. They have a club that is all boys. They won’t let us use the tire swing.”
“You are going to fool them. Okay.” I sat back to see how she would proceed with whatever plan she had regarding the tire swing.

She had her hair cut very short. The next morning she chose hand-me-downs from her brother. A rugby shirt, a navy blue sweatshirt, flannel lined thick jeans and his old hiking boots. She had never worn any of them before and her usual preference was pink. I took her to school. She went into her class and just went to stand by some other children, not saying anything at all. They commented on her haircut.

I went to the principal and described my daughter’s plan, mostly because I thought it was quite brilliant. He said, “Oh, we have to do something about this.” I said, “I wasn’t trying to get anyone to interfere.” He said, “No, but we have a playground policy. They are allowed to have clubs, but they are not allowed to exclude anyone. In other words, no ‘boys only’ clubs. We will hold an assembly to remind them.”

So for a seven year old introverted thinker on the playground, a problem required careful thought and a plan, which she then carried out. I liked the approach of challenging gender. As far as I could tell it did not occur to her to ask for help. I do wonder at times what other plans she is implementing.

She did get to use the tire swing. Then she went back to wearing pink.

questions for equality

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: book. My second entry for the prompt today.

Skimming the reader’s guide at the back of a book today, I read one question and halt. Here:

“You’ve managed such an extraordinarily successful writing career along with being a full-time father. What has it been like to juggle the two?”

Yes, what has it been like? Because I changed the gender. I can’t imagine this question being posted to a male author. The layers and the sexism in this question are spectacular.

First of all, what is a full-time mother? Does it mean one who is “home” with the kids? Not working “outside” the house. Maybe we should call it at work with the kids if it’s full-time. If she is a writer is that work but it’s not work if she is a housewife? Is she a “full-time” mother with a writing hobby unless it’s successful and then she’s a “full-time” mother with a successful career? How are they defining success?

What is a full-time father? Does it mean the same thing?

Are there part-time mothers? Is a mother who goes to work outside the house a part-time mother? I work. My husband was the househusband. We also had some daycare. Was he a full-time father? Was he a slacker because he took care of the house and the kids and played golf? Our son was six months old when I started my family practice residency. Was I a part-time mother?

The question feels to me like more of the same gender discrimination and devaluation of both genders. A woman who is a “full-time” mother AND a successful writer, wow, that is made noble. But I have never heard a man called a “full-time” father or any questions of a successful man about how he juggled his fatherhood and his career.

It remains infuriating.

The book is Anna Quindlan’s every last one, Random House, 2011 and the Random House Reader’s Circle asks the questions.

Well, gentle readers? Are you a full-time or a part-time parent? Why? Was your father a full or a part time father and was your mother full or part time? And do they mean the same thing?



quit

I’ve quit

again
stop start

stop
quit

I don’t think I’ll go back
it wastes the days
makes me so sick
takes so little for me to overdo

I resent lost time
and suffering

my body doesn’t want it
and tells me so
ferociously

alcohol you say?

that too

but I was talking about men

 

The photograph is my mother’s father’s mother. I have one of the originals. The back is stamped: Battle Creek, Michigan. So she was having a “rest cure” at Dr. Kellogg’s famous health retreat.