December 29, 2005

Two Random Thoughts

Earlier today, an old friend of my parents called looking for them while they were not here. It has been quite some time since I last saw this guy, and neither of us recognized the other's voice. When he finally realized who I was, he exclaimed that I sounded nothing like myself. He said that I "sounded like a Yankee." I smiled and told him laughingly that I was sorry.


It is rare for me to be surprised by anything on regular television programming. Most of the writing is so tragically predictable. When a season finale is so shocking that I actually stop breathing for a few moments, it's good. The ending of the fourth season of Alias practically knocked me off my feet. It's kind of ironic, though. Alias has so many twists I knew something was coming, but I never would have predicted what happened.

Posted by Randy at 11:11 PM | TrackBack

December 25, 2005

Happy Holidays

From the bottom of my liberal politically-correct heart, I wish everyone out there a happy holiday season. I hope everyone has a safe and merry Christmas and a joyful New Year's Eve/Day. If anyone celebrates any other holidays, I hope that those are joyous occasions as well.

Posted by Randy at 01:57 PM | TrackBack

December 09, 2005

On Sex and Gender

I've been thinking quite a bit about gender this semester. The first real discussion I had concerning the topic was this summer in DC. It has been simmering in the back of my mind almost this entire semester, and it has forced itself back to the front of my mind due to the discussion of feminist theory and queer theory in the Literary Criticism class.

In this class, we were shown the movie Orlando, in which the main character lives for four hundred years and changes from a male to a female halfway through. Watching this movie, I realized that I absolutely had to decide and express my feelings on the issue of gender.

To begin with, though, I need to address the issue of sex. What makes a man a man, and what makes a woman a woman? How does one make the distinction?

The usual response to this question is completely biological. What body parts does a person have? If the person in question has the specific male parts of the body, he is a male. If the person has the specific female parts of the body, she is a female. This seems like the best definition that can be offered of the sexes. It even includes genetics.

However, genetics can not provide an iron-clad definition. The sex of a child is not determined immediately upon conception. Additionally, how does one classify a hermaphrodite? They do exist, after all.

With that acknowledged, let's just continue to use the defintion of male and female that examines genetic code. It isn't perfect, but it may be the best definition we have. Genetics is also what influence levels of hormones, etc., that influence behavior.

It is from this behavior that the ideas of "gender" and "gender roles" have developed. Presumably, observation of human behavior has led to the conclusion (among some) that the female sex should embrace certain roles while the male sex should embrace others. This, supposedly, allows each sex to reach its maximum potential and, in turn, happiness.

The big problem I have, though, is determining how much of human behavior is truly natural and how much is a result of societal pressure on both sexes. Do young girls want dolls and baby-like toys because their maternal instinct is already revealing itself, or do they want them because these things are given to them almost since birth and then heavily marketed towards them? Do young boys want action figures and cars and toy guns because of their supposed aggressive nature, or is that desire the result of the assumption of society that young boys are going to want those things?

This vaguely resembles the question about the chicken and the egg. Like with that issue, I do not believe the truth belongs to either extreme. I believe that most girls do want to nurture a family, but I strongly doubt that desire manifests itself before even grade school. The media propagation of that role causes it be both accepted and expected, and it causes the supposed desire to be amplified almost to the point of ridicule. The same thing happens to boys.

Those who fit into the expected roles for men are praised by society. The heroic males in films and in real life represent what society as a whole expects men to be. He must be "masculine," which means he must be strong, muscular, brave, quick-thinking, virile, strong-willed, etc. Those who do not fit these categories traditionally fall into villainous roles.

The traditional females were treated similarly by society until recently, and it now appears almost to despise the traditional role of women. In my eyes, this attitude is as ridiculously wrong as the attitude toward men.

I had a sister. As we were growing up, I was told that I was not allowed to hit a girl. Naturally, I asked why I could not hit girls but they were allowed to hit me. The answer, of course, was because they are girls. The natural implication is that women are weaker physically than men, and, as long as one only speaks generally, this is true. When one begins to examine specifics, however, this stereotype quickly unravels. I've known quite a few females my age that were much stronger than myself. As such, I rejected the idea of not hitting a female because I rejected its reasoning. For the record, though, my personal belief of avoiding violence as much as possible kept me from hitting girls anyway.

I believe that it was this early and obvious discontinuity between what I was being told and what I was seeing that eventually led me to my current belief about gender. Specifically, I do not believe in it. I don't believe that the terms "male" and "female" have any meaning outside of the purely biological. The psychological and sociological meanings behind gender are entirely man-made.

This belief that there is no "male" or "female" in reality outside of the biological sense directly relates to my own beliefs regarding homosexual relationships. I don't see two men or two women. I see two people. In this regard, it is the same as a heterosexual relationship.

I'm not expecting many people who read this to agree with me. I am, in fact, expecting a lot of disagreement and possibly some confusion. Let me assure you, though, that this all makes perfect sense inside my head.

Posted by Randy at 07:29 PM | TrackBack

December 05, 2005

Season of Lights

I will concede the fact that I am generally annoyed by most things Christmas-related. I believe this is because Christmas is overdone, for lack of a better word. I quickly tire of all the sales and decorations and lights and music and etc.

Despite all that, I think this display of lights is quite possibly the coolest Christmas display ever. Be sure that your sound is turned on.

Posted by Randy at 01:48 AM | TrackBack