Our German translator JLH, never one to shrink from controversy, wades into the culture wars with his new essay.
Pardon me — is this my bathroom?
All right, people, let’s get serious. Some of us know what’s important, and we cannot be diverted by so-called “common sense”. For instance, the illiterate claim that “only women can have babies”. Please! Has no one ever read Brave New World? A little bit of education can go a long way.
The world is changing and we have to change with it. Parents used to find it titillating to tell their children about “the birds and the bees”, and imply somehow that this was an analogy for male-female sexual congress leading to progeneration and the continuation of the human race. And they reinforced this dogma by pointing out the physical differences between those they insisted on calling “girls” and “boys”, forcing their interpretation of reality on these poor defenseless, mindless mites who had only their elders’ word and the feeble evidence of their own eyes to support it. Fortunately there are now public school teachers who offer wise guidance to these slaves of tradition.
How great, really, is the difference between biological males and females? Each one eats, digests and eliminates in the same way. Each body reacts to exercise or physical stress by producing sweat and lactose.
We are on a path to something better than ourselves. The ACLU — its scientific branch I think — has informed us that men can menstruate. If it’s all the same to everyone else, I have known a few women who suffered through their “monthlies”, and I’d rather not. Same for being pregnant and giving birth. Ouch!
On the other hand, it’s OK with me if someone discovers how to implant a prostate in a willing female subject. I am not so body-proud that I would resent someone else experiencing night-time with regular trips to the bathroom. It is clear that we are only at the beginning of new paths in the understanding of gender.
People who blindly object to parents or teachers explaining to children that they may have been living in the wrong body for their five or six years are denying that sex change is as important as climate change, and we all know what to think of that. It is no more important to kill the use of coal and petroleum than to finally admit that there are as many genders as there are those who can identify them.
There has been such a furor over the use of bathrooms. Just because someone stands 6 feet 4 inches and weighs 250 pounds, that does not mean that
hethey cannot identify as a woman, or a girl as the case may be. They would be a wonderful goalie for the USA women’s soccer team. And has anyone considered that removing artificial boundaries between so-called “men’s” and “women’s” locker rooms might lead to a dramatic decline in “peeping” and render the use of spy cameras obsolete?
Clearly we are just at the beginning of a new understanding of gender — perhaps even of sex. It may even be possible in the future to have oneself cloned as a person with the carefully matched opposite sexual equipment of oneself, so that one could experience oneself as a sexual partner. It would give the term “self love” an entirely new meaning. And the old cliché “You’re dating yourself” would become a double-entendre.
What is next in this exciting age of progress, discovery and innovation? In the 1960s the founders of the “free love” movement thought they had created a new standard for relationships. More recently, we have heard predictions that human sexual activity may require no more than the willing participation of whatever gender preference and an obliging android.
Quo vadis? We must follow the scientific path. It is not enough just to brew human beings in vats a là Huxley. We can delve deep into our history — indeed our pre-history, and discover the truly natural. Creatures that have no hope of destroying the planet, because they are busy trying to survive. How liberating would it be to be a protozoan! Only one cell to worry about, no gender — ergo, no sex. When one protozoan meets another, they don’t first notice gender, because there isn’t one. It’s just “Hi. How are you?” and they go their separate ways. An indifferent democracy of one-celled citizens! If they take in some nourishment along the way, they don’t worry about how it tastes. And when they excrete, they do not seek the correct bathroom, because there isn’t one. I suppose if they were human, they might live in LA or San Francisco.
(That was a mean thing to say — California Dreaming…)
Where was I? Ah, yes, quo vadis humanity? Science must liberate us — not in the simplistic way of Brave New World, but far more radically.
What do we want? One-cell status! When do we want it? Now!