Re: virus: Androgynetics (watch out, I'm prolific lately, if

Zloduska (
Sat, 01 May 1999 13:54:24 -0500

KMO wrote:

>Don't you have enough Virion's contacting you off-list already? Now you
>tell us that you surf "Sex and Gender" sites as well?

Funnily enough, I happen to be surfing the links from a particular Fetish site at the time, when look what I ran into! And you thought I was being cerebral.

>The word "meme" is, of course, itself a meme, and not one I embrace
>wholeheartedly. 0) There are dangers in borrowing the glory
>of the most rigorous branch of biology for an upstart idea that is so
>far innocent of mathematics. 1) And most of the 'discoveries' in
>memetics so far are old news on Madison Avenue; many of them would be no
>surprise to Cicero. 2) A cynical person might see
>memetics as a power play on the part of certain biologists, who would
>like to substitute their own reductionist metaphors for the
>language of the humanities. 3) At the least, if we are going to talk
>about the genetics of ideas, we should also talk about their
>morphogenesis: their development, their inner structures, their organic

>KMO's reaction?
>0) While the structure of this and the next sentence seem to indicate
>that the criticisms start here, this "first" one is completely vacuous.

Agreed. I don't think we have to validate ourselves, or see any reason why memetics should not be taken very seriously.

>2) A cynical person might see the human (particularly male) tendency to
>become aroused by images of naked bodies even when the observer knows
>that they are only images as God's (or the Blind Watchmaker's) gift to
>advertisers. A cynical person can degrade and dismiss any notion. So

This is a complete tangent, but do you know what that reminded me of? Last night I was in Chicago and saw a billboard that said in large print, "Inner Beauty". Can you guess what was painted on it? Slender and half-naked beautiful women in their underwear. It was an advertisement for Maidenform(tm) bras. Gah.

>3) The "organic wholeness" thing is new to me, but I'm pretty sure
>people are working to develop memetics from the other angles listed.

My response to #3 is this: Isn't that what we are already doing right here on this list?! I mean, duh.

>Gender \Gen"der\, n. [OF. genre, gendre (with excrescent d.), F. genre,
>fr. L. genus, generis, birth,
> descent, race, kind, gender, fr. the root of genere, gignere, to
>beget, in pass., to be born, akin to E. kin.
> See Kin, and cf. Generate, Genre, Gentle, Genus.] 1. Kind; sort.
>[Obs.] ``One gender of herbs.''
> --Shak.
> 2. Sex, male or female. [Obs. or Colloq.]

I disagree with the dictionary. As soon as you start referring to abstract qualities with the terms "kind" and "sort" you are in trouble. I think there should be a new verb added: "to gender", which means "to judge". Isn't the concept of "race" also worthy of debate?

> Gender is a grammatical distinction and applies to words only.
>Sex is natural distinction and applies to living objects. --R. Morris.

I prefer this definition.

> Note: Adjectives and pronouns are said to vary in gender when
>the form is varied according to the gender of the words to which they refer.

Yeah, imagine how hard it must be to talk about a transsexual in a foreign language. You can't avoid having to refer to something in the 'masculine' or 'feminine' form.

>If one presupposes that there is a distinction to be made, then I'd go
>along with the notion that sex is biological and gender is
>sociological/psychological. I don't slice it any thinner than that. If
>someone else wants to, I'll play along, but I can't promise that I'll
>remember the distinction 6 months from now.

I have a difficult time defining gender myself, but I'll get to that later on.

Okay, here is my ideal society. I propose it be Gender-Free and homogenous. While we're at it, we should just eliminate concepts of "sex" all together and allow everyone to boink everyone freely, thus ridding ourselves of silly labels like "heterosexual" and "homosexual", not to mention sexism and homophobia.

Life would be so much richer and less complicated. It would solve an important personal issue: Shopping malls traumatize me; it's a wonder I have any clothes at all since I hate shopping for them so much. It's too bad I couldn't adorn myself with the many reflective or vinyl discs that I spend all my money on instead, although I imagine it would be quite a pain to wake up every morning and spend time silly-puttying about 36 cd colorful cds and 2 lps into a mosaic pattern to cover my nudity, but then insulation and ventilation would still remain a problem. But I digress. As it is now, clothing stores are ridiculous. Either there is an aisle separating two clear-cut sections, or different overpriced and 'trendy' stores. Not to mention that mostly everything offered is crap, and female clothes in general are more expensive, less durable, far less comfortable, and made to be worn only about thrice and then discarded. We might as well cover ourselves with yellow post-it notes; it would be far less revealing. Mens clothes are more practical, but usually a boring selection of jeans and striped shirts. Now, my wardrobe is a mixture of both, and then some. A fair amount of clothes were purchased as 'mens' clothing, but are perfectly acceptable to wear in our culture, as many women also prefer to dress in similar clothers. However, if I man were to venture into the serpentine womens' section and browse for clothing, he would be stared at and/or ridiculed. What's up with that?

In my make-believe Ubersexual Utopia, I would be able to walk into any clothing store in the country and find something to wear. There would be no "mens" department and "womens" department, but a single, nameless one. All the clothes would have similar sizes and prices. I don't mean to abolish all _styles_ of dress, no. There would not be only unisex fashion. The conventional skirt/blouse slacks/shirt and all other kinds of dress would remain. However, if a guy was shopping for an outfit, he could easily grab a sequined skirt off a rack, and then a button-down, collared pinstripe shirt hanging nearby, try it on and not get a sideways glance. Conversely, a woman could purchase suspenders with her cocktail dress. Why is mainstream fashion sensibility so naff and rigid? Furthermore, all of those hair salons and awful cosmetic counters and stores would have an equal amount of male customers buying lipstick and mascara. Why is it that makeup and seductive clothing is only seen as attractive on women? Why are you considered a freak of the opposite is true? Except of course on special occasions of tradition when people are allowed to act outside of social norms, such as parties, Halloween, costume balls, and the such. Why the double standard? More men should suffer through prancing around in high heels, if that is their pleasure.

Discarding my daydream, and moving onto my personal experience of "gender" which you may or may not care to read, but which I will ramble on about anyways..Well, how about one of my famous personal asides(tm) in which I get carried away?

Alright. I would consider myself an "androgyne". [Definition #3. "A person who rejects gender roles entirely. "] I'm quite fixated on gender, and I'm utterly, utterly confused. I cannot express what a confused individual I am. This is perhaps why I gravitate toward wanting to eliminate those distinctions of sex and gender roles, and tend to agree with the views of the website I provided the link for. I'm an advocate of Gray Areas. I float between identifying with 'male' and 'female', and choose not to imprison myself in one fixed and confining label. Perhaps 50% of each. I feel the same way about sexual orientation; I'm neither hetero- nor homo-whatever, although a little bit of both.

I think I summed it up best when I recently wrote to someone, "In many girls there is masculinity, and in many boys there is a great amount of femininity." You know, yin full of yang, with yang in my yin and all. By just *being*, I contradict all empty didactic standards of "girl" and "boy" and nothing else. I am feminine. I am also masculine. I have very long hair. I rarely wear a dress or skirt. I'm compassionate, but intimidating. I loathe soap operas and the color pink, and despise the ritual of "hair-styling" and blowdrying. I can't stand perfume and "women's magazines", and don't crush on movie stars. I like to read; I don't care for Math. I hate discussions of sports, cars, and politics. Although aggressive, I hate violence. You get the point. Why make useless distinctions like "The <X> gender should be doing this, while the other does only that."?

Then again, if my Genderless Utopia did exist, perhaps I would be left without anything to rebel over, thus neutralizing my stimulus in the first place. To put it delicately, I am obsessed with drag queens and cross-dressers. I have no idea why a man can simply slap on some eyeliner and nail polish and I go insane, or why slightly effeminate men drive me crazy; one cannot explain these things. By nature I'm attracted to all things gender-bending and subversive, but if the 'abnormal' became the norm, I think it would be for the good of everyone. There is a certain allure to being 'weird' and underground, but it would also save many so-called weirdos from persecution. I don't feel sexually oppressed, but we all know many who are. Then again, I'm sure 'female dominatrix' is still something you wouldn't put on a job application under "List Hobbies". Heh. I don't know, if society were liberated from the fetters of culturally-imposed gender, perhaps said "perversions" might lose their appeal, otherwise I would go utterly berserk at the veritable carnival of temptation.

>I realize that's a pretty superficial answer to your question, Kristy,
>and if you'd like to probe deeper... oh.... this is going to the list,
>isn't it? If you would like to ask some clarificatory questions, I'll be
>happy to answer them.

On to "clarificatory questions". I wasn't asking for a scientific and objective approach to your view of gender, I meant a personal and intimate one. I'm not saying spill your guts to a large group of strangers as I am wont to do, I meant your subjective experience. Do you *feel* like a "man"? Are you happy acting out a traditional masculine role, or do you also wish that my ultimate genderless bazaar existed so that you could break out of that repressive mold of manhood? What do you think a "woman" is, overall?

I realize these are not easy questions, but I doubt questions of any real significance could be simple to answer.

>BTW, Kristy, what are you wearing?

Tapestry and pastel horizontal stripes. No lie.

Thank you all for viewing, and tune in next week when I discuss Aberration and Seafood Dishes.