Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Addendum: The language of love

There are women. Women are adult female human beings. Most are born anatomically and neurologically female. A relative few are born neurologically female but anatomically male—a congenital disorder—and so must take corrective steps in order to be as fully female as possible in body as they are in their brain. Once they have done so, they are simply women.

There are also trans women. And even transwomen. I can't explain about them because I don't really understand. That's no matter, however, because they are more than willing to explain about themselves. It's their quotidian reality, and they are rarely quiet about it.

I read on the one hand that there is nothing wrong with their bodies, just the way they are. And yet I also read that they have, somehow, always been female. Not just neurologically, apparently, but completely female. And thus their having been reared as male was a mistake. And yet there is nothing wrong with their bodies. And yet usually they take hormones. I find this confusing.

I admit that I'm a bit old fashioned. For me, words have meanings apart from how I might feel about them. Using words in standard ways allows us to communicate with one another. But some people feel words and their meanings are not something to respect but rather something to manipulate, even to destroy.

In his novel 1984, George Orwell posited something similar. The totalitarian government in the book has invented Newspeak, a sharply reduced form of the English language, which was known as Oldspeak. "Ministry of Truth" (meaning propaganda) is Newspeak. So is "war is peace." The idea behind Newspeak is that when you control language, you control thought. If you can't express a concept with language, how can you actually think it?

An important Newspeak word is doublethink, which means holding two contraditory thoughts in one's head at the same time. "Female penis" is not a phrase that occurred in 1984, but it certainly has an Orwellian ring to it.

Those who do not think of themselves simply as women spend a great deal of time and energy trying to explain the unexplainable. "Female penis" is only the tip of the iceberg. Some conflate sex and gender. Others denigrate sex and promote gender as being more important, saying that what's between your legs doesn't count. They are women by their own assertion. They are women because they claim to be.

Those who use Oldspeak, also known as English, are called "transphobic." A transphobe can, of course, be someone who fears or hates transsexual or transgender people. In the language of Newspeak, however, a transphobe is someone who does not accept the party line or the "new reality." A transphobe is someone who calls a spade a spade and refuses to bend or even break the language to accommodate the wishes of some people for black to be white and hate to be love.

I feel sorry for heterosexual men and lesbian women in the future. I never, ever condone violence, but really, it's going to get difficult. Someone is going to have to figure out how to ask, delicately, that all-important question: "Are you the kind of woman with a vagina or the kind with a penis?" Because really, lesbian women and straight men don't care about any "cotton ceiling." They're attracted to adult females with the parts they expect. And there's nothing wrong or bigoted or transphobic about that.

There are male-assigned-at-birth people who want to be seen as female. There are MAAB people who take hormones but retain their male sex organs, wholly or partially. There are MAAB people who don't like the gender roles people tend to expect from them. None of this bothers me. It's their lives.

What bothers me is when people try to pretend reality doesn't exist, that it can be changed by how we speak of it. What bothers me is the twisting of language until saying anything clearly becomes difficult. What bothers me is the assertion that your sex, excuse me, gender, is whatever you claim it to be, and that some governments go along with this. What bothers me is the unfounded assertion that certain rights are owed and that anyone who questions those so-called rights is benighted rather than simply talking sense.