2017-03-09 – Today I want to piss everyone off. But I’m going to start slowly, so bear with me.
The thing that’s got my dander up is the way that everyone thinks they are independent thinkers. Everyone’s an iconoclast. No one adheres to social norms. Flouting society’s rules IS the norm.
I once had a co-worker who is very prim and proper. He’s very polite. He calls people sir and ma’am. He wears wingtips—to the beach. He answers every email with a thank you—even spam. He pulls out chairs for the ladies. He opens doors.
When I first met him, I got a sense that he was a Republican. But he denied it. He said he was an independent. I later learned that his politics are to the right Jefferson Davis. But it was important to him for people to think that he was a thoughtful voter, that he evaluated every candidate thoroughly and carefully, and that he sprinkled his votes between the two parties. That’s what he wanted you to think. He wanted you to think we was an independent thinker, not a slave to convention.
A ton of people are like that.
I got to thinking that this rejection of social constructs is very similar to what’s going on in the LGBT community.
Now, I have no quibble with the idea that gender is a social construct. When you say, for example, that women wear one type of clothing and men wear another, there is nothing biological about that. Biologically, both men and women walk around nude. Wearing clothing is a social convention. So assigning one style to men and another style to women is 100% social. Gender identification in occupations and status are pretty much the same. Nothing biological to it.
So in an era that led my former co-worker to reject the binary choices of Republican and Democrat to proclaim himself a capital-I Independent, it’s not surprising that people are demanding the same nonbinary choice in gender.
No the terminology of gender identification is interesting. In the political arena, I am a Democrat. I have always been a Democrat. There is no special term for me. But if you would graft gender terminology onto politics, I would be a cis-Democrat. A neo-con would be a trans-Republican. And so on.
Race is also different. Although we all recognize a number of seemingly distinct races, mixing has been going on for centuries. We once used terms for people who were the product of mixed-race unions, but those terms are out of fashion. You have to be one race or another. Barack Obama was black in spite of having a white mom. White-black mixes are simply called black. No one is transracial. A light-skinned black person may try to “pass,” but that is considered a deception. And remember Rachel Dolezal, the white woman working for the NAACP who identifies as black. What an outrage!
We reject labels for ourselves and try to appear to be freethinkers—even though everyone is doing it. Yet we embrace labels to attach to everyone else. Because, isn’t it obvious?
Did I piss you off? I’m afraid I might not have. It would have made me feel so independent to piss you off. Maybe next time.