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Wot’s It All About, B, H, and D? (4a)

May 25, 2016

Oh, Toto, I don’t think we’re in Casablanca anymore. There’s always complications. I’ll begin with some thoughts about gender. It’s complicated.

Before Bernie started campaigning and I began to think (out loud) with contrasting alternatives, I assumed that Hillary would be the Dem candidate, and I was happy enough with that (but foresaw ugliness). Having gloriously elected our first black president, we would have our chance to gloriously elect our first woman president. I supported Hillary against any Republican imaginable after Lincoln (with the possible exception of trust-busting Teddy Roosevelt, although his strenuous take on masculinity would be a problem).

I was thinking that, in addition to shattering the glass ceiling, we would get the kind of wave Dem victory that would sweep away the R majorities in the Senate and even, maybe, the House. Because, well-nigh every woman in America would come out to vote for liberation.

And indeed, this opportunity to elect our first woman president has complicated the Dem primaries. It looks to me as though the demographics of Hillary’s lead for the nomination show four groups keeping her in the running against a strong reform candidate: the party establishment; Dems who are sufficiently well off that they do not seek reform, including reform of their party; black voters defending Obama (especially in the more conservative South); and women (especially women over 45) for whom electing our first woman president is the overriding issue—she’s a well-qualified Dem and after decades of being used and abused our time has come. (I don’t mean that every individual voter fits into one of these groups, or that voters in these groups have only one reason for supporting Clinton.)

But that last is complicated, because making an issue of it, and one that trumps the importance of every other issue, seems sexist, itself. So it’s hard to directly assert it as an issue; instead it’s necessary to falsely associate Bernie with actual sexist behavior on the part of some Bernie-supporting men.

But I think that in this matter the big issue is the sexism that is pervasive in our culture; and within that issue, which should be front and center, we have the opportunity to strike a blow against sexism by electing a woman to the presidency.

A blow against a major psycho-pathology of American democracy (to hark back to the subject of this novel).

Hillary herself campaigned, early, as a politician who was especially qualified because of her point of view and experiences as a woman, including being a grandmother. She touted her work on behalf of women and children as an attractive part of her resume. I consider that to be a legitimate and important point, just as was Obama’s color v. racism. Political support by gender or color need not be a prejudiced or discriminatory act. Both can be reasonably, objectively, thought-through, for what such a candidate brings to good governance within our national, sexist and racist, politics. If Hillary is the nominee, I want her to speak out as a compassionate and knowledgeable woman-person as strongly as Bernie speaks as a compassionate and knowledgeable democratic socialist-person.

In yo face, Drumpf! I want her to show the courage of her convictions. That would be plainly and forcefully honest. More people would like her more for it. And the nation would benefit.

But the fact that we didn’t elect a clearly insensitive, incompetent, ignorant Palin reasonably suggests, I believe, that a woman candidate can be seriously flawed, and that neither gender nor color should be the deciding issue unless the candidate is highly qualified and there truly is no other issue that is comparable in urgent significance.

Criticism of Hillary, and support of her opponent, also can be, but need not be, acts of prejudice or discrimination. Her opponent might make a better president, re. the wellbeing of the nation (including women) and the world.

In 2008 I believed that Obama was better qualified and insightful on the urgent issues; today I believe the same of Bernie. In 2008 the decision was easier, because with either candidate we struck a blow (and don’t think it hasn’t been felt). Today, to my thinking, Bernie is better on a large number of very urgent issues, and Hillary, in spite of her qualifications, is deeply flawed by her alliance with Big Money, itself an extraordinarily urgent issue, related, for instance, to her hawkish foreign policy and the prospects of her being able to do what must be done to the fossil fuel aristocracy. And it’s related, larger yet, to the needed change in our national and international money-crazed psyche. It’s complicated.

But suppose that I grant her competence and the major importance of electing a woman to the American presidency—making a woman the most powerful individual on earth. That’s glass sky shattering. Then shouldn’t all women, and men of understanding, be supporting Hillary?

But Bernie happened on the way to the Forum, and then something even less expected: large numbers of younger (and some older) women looked at their lives and supported Bernie. How could they?

Therein lies (so to speak) another major aspect of the sexist psycho-pathological complication that runs throughout our culture: the male chauvinist, ownership class, equation of gender and sexuality. What a convenient (for some) fuk-up that has been.

Everybody knows (although many must deny) that the artificial equation of sexuality and gender, and thus the arbitrary separation of humanity, by the owners of power and people, into a superior gender on top v. an inferior gender on the bottom, is a weapon of subjugation and control.

What if we take away that weapon, by admitting that the relationship between gender and sexuality isn’t an equation? (Not to mention, for now, recognizing more than two genders, and that gender is not an all-pervasive category in personal life, and should not be, in society. Let it go.)

For instance, throughout this novel the narrator (oui, c’est moi) consistently refers to itself with a masculine pronoun. But am I really an either/or? Am I really, as I identified myself at the beginning of my narration, just an “old man who thinks out loud”? Ain’t I a woman? Or at least a being, old, less and less genderful (not to mention sexable—and yet, perhaps moreso in the more penetrating way that we all can share?) than I once thought I was. And whatever I am, what of it? What to make of it?

Alors, qui, est-ce moi?

Of course I ain’t a woman, for the most part, as it seems (although once, in a small Midwestern city, I was pulled over by a cop—need I add male?—but I can complicate that, too; let’s say an acting, out, male—unjustifiably, because he—and he would insist upon that pronoun—saw a blond ponytail driving a red pick-up and he just had to get a closer look). He was so obvious, so disappointed.

But that was a tiny episode. I was never in danger. The moment he saw that I was a (white) man it was all cool, mostly. The point is that we turn gender into a sexual stereotype, and a massively destructive one. Rather, regarding reproduction and early nurturance, I’m male. Re. raising children, roles that used to be strictly dualistic are becoming more shared and unitary. Re. sexual pleasure, qui sais? Qu’est-ce que ça fait? Re. recognition and treatment by society at large, I’m a (white) man (of means), with the privileges and benefits that are accorded within the prejudices and discriminatory actions that enact our ownership stereotype.

When I was a kid, learning the gender ropes in a gender-rigged culture, “everybody knew” that I was either male or female. Everybody was. The aberrations were unthinkable, barely imaginable, tolerable only if they remained invisible, somewhere else. Divinely designed, a girl was appointed and waiting for every boy, so that they could marry, fulfill their sexuality in God’s eyes, and have heirs (preferably boys). That way, work could get done and everybody (white) would prosper. Order would be maintained—both God’s and Man’s. “On this, you can rely” (lyrics).  But how fukted up was that? “A fight for love and glory.” Rick, Victor, Captain Louis, and Ilsa, “with unforeseen complications.” Who woulda guessed?

My dad taught me that real men, sexually potent men, breathe with their chests (implying that women breathe with their bellies). I can see him demonstrating the man’s way. Sexual overtones and undertones, while presenting it as gender difference, and differentiation.

It’s “a strange fascination” (trailer above); but luckily, everything changes, including societies (and even “men”—no exception to the rule). The Way of the ‘40s-‘80s was not the Everlasting Way. That kind of orderliness did not really jibe with experience, and a generation has come along that is free enough in it’s feeling and thinking (and let’s give appropriate thanks to feminism for that, even though some feminists now mightily resist ongoing liberation—it’s moving rapidly) to see and affirm an even larger reality.

For them, electing the first woman, if she thinks and acts the way they see Hillary thinking and acting, is not the first priority, and in fact does not jibe with actual gender liberation, the breaking down of the gender/sexuality stereotype and the empowerment of all persons. They, themselves, are already breaking it down and empowering themselves. For them it’s all much more complicated, with their own down-to-earth urgency and priorities.

“A kiss is still a kiss” and “the world will always welcome lovers,” one would guess; but the image has expanded on our screens.

It’s “a fundamental story”: everything floats.

Yet the world does not abandon us. Breathe with it.

[& btw, dear reader, please keep in mind that these are but pages of a novel, and I’m still thinking. Pages one & two & three of this episode. On the next pages the complications are all the more complicated, by transgender, color, class, and who knows what all.]

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