*Here’s the call:
Dispatcher: 911 what is your emergency?
Caller: I think we have a heart attack victim.
Dispatcher: OK please tell me the age and sex of the victim.
Caller: I can’t.
Dispatcher: You can’t tell me the age and sex of the victim?
Caller: About 40 years old, I guess, but I don’t know the sex.
Dispatcher: You don’t know the sex?
Caller: They’re androgynous.
Dispatcher: I’m sorry, they’re what?
Caller: They’re androgynous.
Dispatcher: OK, so you don’t know the sex of the victim. It would help if you did, but we’ll work around it.
Let me be clear. I bear no animosity towards anyone who wishes to appear androgynous. Until several psychology classes, I had no idea of even the existence of androgyny. I have tested at least once as having an androgynous personality. (It must be all of the poetry.) For the record, I favor androgyny as a psychological predisposition. Regarding androgyny, (so much like many great concepts and hot spices) the fallacy is that if a little bit is good, then a lot of it is better, and that mentality has taken hold.
Androgyny is defined as “the combination of masculine and feminine characteristics into an ambiguous form. Androgyny may be expressed with regard to biological sex, gender identity, gender expression or sexual identity.” Why ambiguity? I honestly do not know. Let’s consider the most important point in my view, psychological androgyny. Testing psychologically as androgynous is considered the “new normal” if you will, a very desirable characteristic, along with an autotelic personality. The “ideal person” is psychologically androgynous with an autotelic personality, at least, according to some who are considered “experts.”
There is one inconvenient truth, however, with anyone testing psychologically androgynous. Simply testing as psychologically androgynous does not guarantee that you will use female or male characteristics at the proper time, only that you possess those traits. Certain situations are addressed in a better manner if approached from a female viewpoint, while others with a male viewpoint. Possession of male or female characteristics in a test of psychological androgyny does not guarantee that the individual will choose the correct trait to address the matter at hand, only that they possess that trait. While application of androgyny is an ideal characteristic, there is no guarantee that a person with an androgynous personality will choose the best characterization for any situation.
To some point, gender is a societal construct, while male or female is the inconvenient truth of a biological determination.“
To some point, gender is a societal construct, while male or female is the inconvenient truth of a biological determination. A rather astute observation by Allan C. Carlson from 1995, regarding what certain people think of androgyny: “Proponents of androgyny deny that there is any meaningful biological base to male and female sex roles. Rather, it is social conditioning that determines human behavior.” While I do not deny social conditioning, the biological differences are easily noticed in almost every society throughout history, with very few exceptions. Why were those roles assigned? Were those roles recklessly, thoughtlessly assigned, or were they simply the result of human behavior, of obvious differences between males and females? Does anyone believe that in contact sports, males and females are equal? And getting rid of contact sports is not the answer.
A certain number of individuals have always disagreed with history, or looked at history with disdain, and “that men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.” Thank you Aldous Huxley.
The fact is that males develop more muscle mass. In undeveloped societies where heavy lifting is still an important aspect of regular life, the roles of males and females are fairly distinct, for obvious reasons. So in present day (at least in some societies) your gender is for you to decide, and this lesson is being taught to very young people. This is akin to explaining existentialism to fourth graders; they are not mentally developed enough to understand its meaning.
In terms of gender identity, androgynous individuals may refer to themselves as non-binary, gender queer, or gender neutral, because they want to be androgynous, not necessarily because they are androgynous, at least, not the ideal androgyny, psychologically androgynous. From limited experience, it appears that the androgynous person wears clothes that don’t fit them well, and get an “androgynous” haircut, and, viola, they’re androgynous, or are they? Perhaps they’re people who are just confused, and consider looking androgynous as being psychologically androgynous.
I have no objection to anyone wearing whatever they want, America is a free country. To me, sporting an “androgynous haircut” is just looking like someone trying to be someone they aren’t. Perhaps the “androgynous haircut” is an indicator that they’re gay, not that there would be anything wrong with that. Perhaps they look androgynous because they don’t want to be sexually harassed? Wouldn’t the androgynous be attracted to other androgynous folks, giving a new meaning to sexual harassment, and if so, I’m not sure we can describe it as “sexual” harassment, more like “androgynous harassment.” Golly, this world is getting complicated.
A twenty-minute explanation to a health care professional will be summed up to a question resembling: Ok, how do you pee?”
Sensitivity versus Reality
We (at least some of the more permissive of the U.S. population) have allowed, even encouraged people to “create” their own reality. If you don’t approve of the biological gender you were given at birth (actually well before birth, but that’s another story) you still have the option to become whatever sex, excuse me, gender you choose to be. You could even be gay, not that there would be anything wrong with that. While your sex is your biological designation, gender is the perception of yourself in society. Or what you think you are. Or what you would rather be. Or something that you were born with but no longer like. Step right up, choose your reality. Not happy with your reality? Try another, and do your best to ignore the inconvenient truth as you go.
The oft-used phrase “reinvent yourself” has taken a turn into fantasy. The fantasy faces an inconvenient truth when they seek medical care, where medically-trained personnel are familiar with two sexes, and complex explanations of psychologically-determined gender tend to fall on ears that consider males having certain physical characteristics and females having another. When does sensitivity overrule reality? While anyone can believe what they want, they are still physically, biologically, a male of a female, with a few rare exceptions; that is just the inconvenient truth of the matter. A twenty-minute explanation to a health care professional will be summed up to a question resembling: “Ok, how do you pee?”
Androgyny is the “new cool” except that artists like David Bowie and Annie Lennox did it decades ago. When he did androgyny, David Bowie was, by his own admission, so cranked up on drugs he barely knew what planet he was on, and at least Annie Lennox could afford to have her suits tailored.
I recently responded to an inquiry about someone I didn’t know, but they said they were going to raise their newborn child in a gender-neutral home. I chuckled at this notion. Mostly, gender-neutral is the emasculation of men, who are not to show any masculine characteristics. In the case of a newborn, the gender difference, excuse me, the anatomical difference means there are certain things females can do for an infant that males cannot, but I don’t intend to demean women in this essay. This gender neutrality means in all of the gender neutral households, the mommies will now be changing the oil in the car, rotating the tires, and tearing into the engine to replace that bad oxygen sensor while daddies make soup with sandwiches and do the laundry, to which I have no objection. I’ll show her where the wrenches are in the toolbox, and honey, make sure you wipe them off before you put them back, I hate oily wrenches, especially when the grease gets under my fingernails.
The gender-neutral household children will be wearing pants mostly, because skirts and dresses are feminine. The children can have gender-neutral names like Pat, Chris, Sam, Billie, Taylor, Sully, or any of the new, modern gender-neutral names. I’m hoping we don’t eventually end up with a bunch of gender-neutral Marines or Special Forces. I am also hoping that young people raised in these gender-neutral environments do not reach an age where masculine and feminine characteristics begin revealing themselves and find the whole thing profoundly confusing as they were raised without the notions and inconvenient truths of nature. While nature is cruel, it is also profound. I hope they realize the profundity of nature sometime along the way while being inculcated by the inconvenient truth dodgers.
Jeffrey Neil Jackson is an
Educator & Literary Mercenary