Monday, July 20, 2015

Currants, Currents

I. Currants

A side-benefit of having artist friends is that sometimes they make you into art. 
Laura watercolored this postcard of me, after I fed her tuna noodle casserole last night. (My downstairs neighbors are out of town, and we were painting on their deck).

I like how she's depicted how plump I've become: I look like a juicy berry!

I was painting red currants I'd brought home from a restaurant. v

Laura is a gardener as well as an artist, and she told me this is a "raceme" of currants; that is, a cluster of fruit on a single stem. (As opposed to their relative the gooseberry, which has one fruit per stem.)

II. Currents

Speaking of the arrangement of reproductive organs . . . I'd written a couple days ago about my fears that trans/genderism might be reinforcing a false association:

Girls like pink.
I like pink.
Therefore I'm a girl.

That it can look that way is a concern of mine.  It reminds me uncomfortably of people accusing lesbians of really just wanting to be men.

But omg, I am not au courant in gender theory:
I had no idea that a raceme of radical feminists have taken that concern of mine to extremes and claim that gender reassignment is mutilation and, therefore, trans women are mutilated men.

--from the New Yorker article, "What Is a Woman? The dispute between radical feminism and transgenderism."

OMG, no! I want to say clearly that I do NOT (not, not, not!) subscribe to that view. 

I do want society to get it that a woman can, say, dress in a top hat, white tie, and tails, or a man wear a Hello Kitty tutu and totally love being their sex & gender. 

But if some people can't get that, that's not the fault of the trans community! (I fear I maybe implied that it was.)

To me, the question of gender identity is somewhat like wearing a hijab:
what's most important isn't whether or not a woman chooses to cover her head; 
what's most important, I'd say, is that she––we, you and I––can freely choose to wear or not to wear a hijab, and that we not take that choice away from one another, even if we dislike the outcome.

I found something like this view in an interview with "Judith Butler on gender and the trans experience". Butler (who I've never read before) says:

"Whether one wants to be free to live out a “hard-wired” sense of sex or a more fluid sense of gender is less important than the right to be free to live it out, without discrimination, harassment, injury, pathologization or criminalization – and with full institutional and community support. 
That is most important in my view."
I'd like to quote Voltaire again and say that whether or not "I disapprove of what you say, ... I will defend to the death your right to say it."

(Though don't hold me to that "death" thing.)

But it turns out he didn't say it.

I'm always wary of quotes you find on refrigerator magnets––half the time they're misattributed––so I googled it.

Sure enough, this line wasn't said by Voltaire, it was said about Voltaire––by biographer
Beatrice Evelyn Hall, according to this article. (Closer than some wrong citations, anyway.) (Oooh, the article cites a whole book of such flubs: What they Didn’t Say – A Book of Misquotations, edited by Elizabeth Knowles.)

The article goes on to say, "If you want to quote Voltaire on free speech, here’s something that he did write once, in his 1763 Treatise on Toleration
 “The supposed right of intolerance is absurd and barbaric. It is the right of the tiger; nay, it is far worse, for tigers do but tear in order to have food, while we rend each other for paragraphs.”

Paragraphs or headscarves or gender... As Voltaire also didn't say,
"What a fuss about an omelette."


Zhoen said...

We need a proper term for "other" that isn't at all excluding. Not male, not female, both male and female, maybe something from another language. How about simply "Exotic?" I think more people would consider themselves thus than a few people would find at all comfortable. We should all be that, unless it is vitally appropriate. And in the meantime, dress however we like, in whatever colors. We really don't only have two boxes to put all humans in.

Maybe fewer people would want surgery if the dangly bits didn't matter so much. Some would, because for them, they are wrong. If someone is willing to go through surgery to get them off, I figure they mean it.

Love your watercolor, gorgeous.

Fresca said...

ZHOEN: This:
"Maybe fewer people would want surgery if the dangly bits didn't matter so much. Some would, because for them, they are wrong. If someone is willing to go through surgery to get them off, I figure they mean it."

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for clearing up the who-said-what. I always thought Voltaire was responsible for “I’ll defend,” etc. The Treatise on Tolerance became a best-seller after the attack on the Charlie Hebdo office.

Judith Butler’s observation is so clear thinking. The freer the culture, the greater the variety of possible lives for its participants.

Fresca said...

MICHAEL: I love the who-said-what thing.

Yeah, freedom is a good deal.
It's a waste of human potential to cut off possibilities:
When I'm re– or oppressed, for instance, a ton of my life force is drained away into suffering and/or resisting.

Similarly, a lot of human energy is spent (wasted) on damming possibilities.