''Identical'' Opposite Sexe

File Name: 0011.FEM

Ä Area: FEMINISM ÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ
  Msg#: 738                                          Date: 06-28-98  00:50
  From: Donna.                                       Read: Yes    Replied: No 
    To: All                                          Mark:                     
  Subj: "Identical" Opposite Sexe
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From: "Donna." 
Reply-To: "Donna." 


WARNING: Frank and open talk about life between the sexes is sprinkled
throughout this post.  If honest and clinical discussion of things sexual
offends thee, do NOT read beyond this point.

>  RS> Who, with an ounce of morality, could say anything 
>  RS> different?
> 
>  GB> I don't have an ounce of morality, yet I still disagree with you. I
>  GB> read what you had to say, and, although I agree with the principles, I
>  GB> don't think it matters.  From a completely analytical point of view, I
>  GB> can honestly say that I think that the two sexes are perfectly capable
>  GB> of being different, yet equal. Equal doesn't necessarily mean
>  GB> identical. 

Ya know, I've always been confused by this argument, both by the fact that
it ever comes up at all and by not knowing what is =meant= when it's
brought up.  

IMO, only idiots and knee-jerks ever imagine that equal implies
identicality.  Since there's at least two of us in agreement that "Equal
doesn't necessarily mean identical", let's not get caught up in that other
diversion, 'k? 

What I'd like to explore, though, is what that argument MEANS in terms of
gender issues.  No two human beings are identical; even identical twins
are often not precisely identical from top to bottom, and the few who seem
to be so are so rare that they beg the question of our ability to properly
analyze them at the cellular level.

Beyond that, I can't possibly be identical to any man, cuz by definition
my baggy skin down below forms a vagina and vulva while his forms
testicles; my penis is smaller and called a clitoris; I have mammary
glands and he does not; I have slightly more estrogen than testosterone or
other androgens (actually, I happen to know that I have an excessive
amount of estrogen) and he (assuming he's an average male, or even close) 
has slightly more testosterone and other androgens than estrogen; I pass
along my DNA with an ovum which was part of me when I was born, while he
passes along his DNA with a spermatozoa which he generated on the fly, as
it were.  In terms of the procreative act, I'm Slot A while he's Tab B. 

So, that puts the physical in its place.  Now let's look at the
mental/emotional. 

Out of the box, so to speak, I came with a natural propensity for
mathematics, science, and technology.  I was not socially guided toward
math; if anything, I was pushed away from it for many years.  Although
many other girls I grew up with assumed they'd marry and have children, I
never had such dreams.  Never cared for dolls except to test them
aerodynamically, or to demonstrate Archimedes' Principle.  Although I
started dating late (I was in my 20's before even being interested in
dating), I had such a healthy libido that I had no trouble understanding
the ability to separate sex from love; indeed, the bane of my early dating
experience were man after man after man who pressured me to marry him. (In
fact, between the constant barrage of marriage proposals, often after only
one or two dates, and the utter selfishness of my sexual partners, after
about 20-25 years I figured celibacy would waste less of my time.)

Never in my life have I wanted to be a man, although I must admit that
having had several transgender and transsexual friends over the years has
caused my scientific mind to spend time considering what it might be like
to want that.  (My reaction is always, "ick".  No offense, guys; your
plumbing is great for temporary jobs, but for day-to-day operations I
simply prefer my own.) My attitude toward penis envy is best summed up by
that ubiquitous cartoon of the little girl competing with the little boy,
in which he thinks he finally "wins" by whipping out what he has but she
doesn't ... until she whips out what SHE has and tells him, "I don't need
one of those.  With one of these, I can have =as many of those= as I
want". I am pleased with my female shape, and try to hide it only when fed
up with numerous the salivating males who think that my brain is contained
in my breasts, my buttocks, or my legs; IOW, any dampening of my inherent
femininity and womanly charms is guided by negative attention on the part
of others, NOT by any desire or preference on my part. 

I am unabashedly, if boringly, heterosexual.  Even tried to be interested
in women at one point (cf earlier reference to celibacy, cuz with my
libido, doing without wasn't loads of fun), but just couldn't get with the
program. 

And yet, with all that ... in RL =most= people I meet in professional and
platonic social settings often don't take much notice of my gender beyond
our initial meeting.  The others in RL, and many people I meet on the net,
over the years have often accused me of trying to be "identical" to men,
of trying to "be" a man, and, sometimes, even trying to castrate men.

To which my response is pretty much always, say what?!?  Does not compute. 
Is utterly illogical.  I yam what I yam, and although my environment does
influence me in innumerable small ways, if nothing else then my history of
self-identifying as feminist before it was "in", while it was "in", and
even after it became "passe'" stands as evidence that my basic principles
do not waiver under dint of social pressure.

The closest I ever came to feeling that I understood this argument was
after I delivered my birthdaughter, and a male friend of mine told me that
he was so glad to see me acting "like a woman" for a change, that he
always used to worry about me "trying to be a man".  And yet, it's pretty
obvious from this context that, when this guy said I was "trying to be a
man" he was really making a statement about himself rather than about me:
that he was incapable of accepting me as a woman until/unless I performed
behaviors HE associated with women.  Which not only doesn't tell me
anything about MY role as a woman beyond this one person's imagination, is
also really whack cuz every single gender role ever imagined by societies
during the world's recorded history has flip-flopped male/female roles,
some by community and some by time period.

(For example, in many Middle Eastern countries, only men may exhibit
emotions by crying in public, while in North America it's the women who
are socially permitted to cry in public.  Also, in the so-called "Western" 
hemisphere, when kings put more stock in mysticism than in science, a
socially acceptable job for a male was artisian or writer, while science
was reserved for females and for men who could afford to "do nothing" all
day; however, when governments began valuing science we were told that
women handled the "emotional" aspect of artistry while men were
scientific. Additionally, before the professionalization of medicine in
North America, the healing arts were considered women's work (as part of
their "nurturing" duties to the community), but after professionalization
of medicine women in many areas were legally prohibited from practicing
medicine, and we were barred from being educated for fear that using our
gray matter would somehow adversely affect our babymakers .... and the worm
has turned yet again, as in the second half of the 20th century
scientifically-minded women often find fewer barriers in medicine, even as
doctors as opposed to nurses, than in any other scientific field. 
Meanwhile, a century ago, when stargazing was seen to be compatible with
women's "romantic nature", many astronomers were women, and yet more
recently astronomy is connected to physics, called "hard" science, and is
assumed to be the territory of men.  Do I really need to go on?) 

Whenever I read studies which presume to identify the mental, emotional,
or spiritual aspects "maleness" v. "femaleness", I look carefully at the
raw data.  Only in the studies with the smallest sample sizes (read: 
statistically insignificant) can researchers draw clear and distinct
divisions between the sexes.  When the sample sizes grow, a la the work of
John Gray or Deborah Tannen, the most cohesive consistency they can
achieve is approximately 1/3.  Only approximately 1/3 of all females and
approximately 1/3 of all males actually conform to pretty much any method
of differentiating males and females once the biological aspects of
procreation are removed from the picture.  That leaves some 2/3 of us,
male and female alike, who don't fit within those neat little boxes,
=regardless of the way those boxes are defined=.

Which only makes me more confused than ever: how can I be accused of
trying to be "identical" to men when men aren't some monolithic glob of
characteristics?  WHICH men am I supposed to be trying to achieve
identicalness with when I assert my legal and social right to be taken as
seriously as every man in my community is accorded by virtue of his
plumbing?

Alas, whenever this "equality means identical" argument pops up I'm always
left with the feeling that some high school student, in working a math
problem involving train schedules, is trying to insert an aardvark into
the equation.  Not that I have anything against aardvarks, but unless
they're lying on the tracks they have as little to do with train schedules
as, say, red herrings. 


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