the gender-wars being as they are, fluctuating between no gender, multi gender and such, still has a long way to go to eradicate the traditional meaning of words and their powerful damage.
i saw a nan goldin show once, somewhere during my design-is-everything-the-rest-is-fashion phase, ‘the ballad of sexual dependency’. layered between those images struggling for respect and recognition there was another aspect that became quite evident to me; the struggle for authenticity.
as usual i was paying more attention to the crowd and when i happened to comment on one woman’s awkward gait; my friend acidly replied, ‘it’s probably ‘cause she hasn’t been one for long.’
the democratisation of words, phrases and their altered meanings is the way language evolves. i’ve heard grown men calling each other ‘sister’ or ‘girl’; ‘guys’ being appropriated to no gender or age in particular; yet i hear new words and terms each day, perhaps developed with the purpose of further classifying ourselves in terms of sexuality as if it will bring a clarity to our identity. this all seems futile to me unless you have the power to change etymology or the sex of the word (as some languages have nouns which are gender defined by article and concord).
diane arbus in winter; it feels like a sympathy for monsters, the powerful portraiture gratefully numbed into monochrome. it was a tiresome date, i shouldn’t have dragged you there, perhaps we should’ve gone to a movie instead. the queue for the catalogue was so long and when you said,’let’s go’ i knew; it was cold outside but your tongue was warm in my mouth.
sanctioning words that convey inclusivity have brought me to the use of ambiguous terms like ‘non-heterosexual’, acronyms like ‘LGBTQ’ and neologisms such as ‘genderqueer’ but as much as i appreciate that language is alive and changes, i have difficulty in accepting it failing in its function of communication for the sake of social insecurities. a conversation with a person barely a decade removed becomes daunting in the light of the gender vocabulary revolution (the man on the bus is frowning as he reads about the brutal attack in the evening paper, as if the victim was his neighbour’s son)
i wonder about the difference between pan-gender-normativity and temporal physics while i’m talking to my mother on the phone. she always starts out on a caring note with a lot of how is’s and don’t worry’s but it soon turns to why haven’t’s and can’t you’s. she is still my mother.
as a grown man i’ve often been referred to as ‘bitch’ and occasionally as ‘whore’ both of which are traditionally female terms (but may still have a certain validity in my case). acceptance of who and what you are doesn’t come from being called it. though it stings, my offence from such and such may perhaps be a result of some transgressive history or idealism but it only succeeds in isolating me even more. mainstream insults like ‘fag’ has so much greater power currently than ‘harlot’. perhaps the prudes will change that soon.
there are too many words, terms. we hang on them for a definition although we already know they are only an impotent string of letters. people who want to hurt others will be sure to find a word for it.
insufficient knowledge of the correct terminology by which a person would like to be addressed can be hurtful but it isn’t always the intention. i suppose it all points to the insane notion of every individual’s right not to feel offended; being called by the wrongful pronoun or by some socio- ethno- cultural description which the individual no longer identifies with. stereotyped is the new disenfranchised to some but i am not surprised at the amount of confusion and incomprehension that results from our dependency on political correctness.