After the Twistolution, ‘hamburger’ will have more meaning than ‘woman’. Burger and onion rings at Phil’s Ice House, North Austin. May 2007.
Yesterday I asked yew-all what the word ‘woman’ means. Thanks to those of you who answered; it was sporting of you, considering that I had just posted a curmudgeonly amendment to the Comment-o-festo consisting of “I have not solicited your commentary, so shut the fuck up.” And considering that whenever I ask a dumb question like that, I mean only to be a smart-ass later.
The responses included some XX stuff, and some stuff about reproductive organs. A few of the de Beauvoirians said ‘woman’ is ‘the Other’. Some folks who have been reading too much I Blame the Patriarchy said ‘the sex class’. A couple of hippies dreamily opined, “A woman is whatever she wants to be.” A sweet thought, hippies. But not in this world. I’ll take a hit off that doob, though.
Several of you clever young onions hit upon what I consider to be the point of the exercise, which is that ‘woman’ is a load of crap; defining it is impossible except in terms of patriarchy, which means that sex is virtually indistinguishable from gender, socially, philosophically, and scientifically.
As I learned from the scholarly journal Newsweek, there’s no blood test for it. Furthermore, as I understand it, all sorts of ‘conditions’ — congenital adrenal hyperplasia, androgen insensitivity syndrome, mosaicism — blur the line, so ‘woman’ is essentially meaningless, biologically. So much for XX.
Physiologically there are, in some people, organs specialized for reproduction, but in ‘man’ there are organs specialized for reproduction, too, and unless ‘man’ is also ‘woman’ — ha! Man = woman! Have you ever seen anything so absurd! — you can’t really go by that. And there are all sorts of ‘conditions’ blurring the line again — intersexuality, ‘micropenis’, Klinefelter’s syndrome. One might focus on the difference between the organs, perhaps classifying as ‘woman’ one who possesses fully-developed and functional specialized egg-production and fetus-incubation apparatus. Of course, this definition lets me out, and Tidy, and our mom too.
I can be scientifically classified, neither biologically nor physiologically, as a ‘woman’, but check this out: last Sunday, three soccer moms at Phil’s Ice House , while waiting in line for the can marked with a dress-shaped stick figure, were startled when I busted through the gauntlet to the door marked with a human-shaped stick figure .
Their surprise, confusion and — if I may say so — awe illustrated that in praxis ‘woman’ has nothing to do with inherited physical traits, whether on a cellular or an anatomical level. I assert this because a soccer mom in the bathroom line at Phil’s Ice House cannot deduce, from information obtained by a quick once-over, the exact number of my X chromosomes (hell, I don’t even know the exact number of my X chromosomes). Furthermore, unless she has X-ray eyes (yes, all mothers claim this superpower, but in reality it’s extremely rare) she cannot know whether I’ve got a uterus.
Yet something about me had communicated to them, instantaneously and comprehensively, that I was not qualified to urinate where dudes urinate. I’d transgressed a vitally fundamental line of social demarcation when I elected to use the ‘wrong’ john. Was the soccer-mommal perception of this breach in the patriarchal matrix gender-based? Nah. With my hairy legs, antifemininity, and stone butch sidekick I am obviously queer as a steer, and unnaturally skirtless though we are, lesbians are still required to use the john with the skirt on the door. Nope, the palpable discomfort in the bathroom line was sex-based. They knew, receiving the vibes I subconsciously exude as a result of 48 years of male-dominated socialization, that I’m no dude. In other words, my behavior was inconsistent with my status, not my uterus.
Sex, though advertised as ‘fact’, cannot in fact be fact, since it cannot be defined or quantified or observed. Since it is not a fact, it must be a fiction. Therefore, ‘woman’ is nothing but a narrative intended to sell the idea that male abuse of the sex class is congruent with essential biological truths.
Here is what 500 years of dudely Western European painters have to say about ‘women.’ Notice that they’re all saying pretty much the same fucking thing: a ‘woman’ is a tilt-headed 18-year-old honky cipher with giant, wide-set doe eyes and a teeny weeny pink mouth.
After the Twistolution, when the world is populated by taqueaux for whom the idea of reproduction as we know it will seem vulgar and barbaric, ‘woman’ will exude the same cultural resonance as ‘slave’.
Of course it is probable that our dysfunctional world order will destroy H. sapiens before the Twistolution can take place. In that case, cockroaches will inhereit the earth. Interestingly, female cockroaches have two X chromosomes, but males have only an X. No Y. No Z. Just … a void.
1. Phil’s Ice House: burgers, foot-longs, and a giant outdoor structure, surrounded by mulch and infested with small children, called a ‘playscape’.
2. If Stingray and I ever get our wine bar off the ground, the cans are going to be labeled “People Who Sprinkle When They Tinkle” and “Everybody Else.”