I’ve been told by a couple of different college teachers lately that over the past couple of years, they’ve lost the freedom to call their students “sir” or “madam” or even “he” or “she,” because you never know when a tall, buff young “man” in a crew cut and wearing a Champion sweatshirt is going to start screaming at you that he’s decided he’s a woman and now he’s going to sue. These folks don’t seem to realize that they’re a linguistic Shariah patrol; they think they’re all for human rights, as though calling someone a harmless word they’ve decided they don’t like is worse than waterboarding.
But insisting that everyone pretend that men and women are the same—and that you can use a slider to fade in and out on the masculine and the feminine as though we were a mixing board—is not a celebration of difference. It is an obliteration of difference.
I’ve got no beef with actual transsexual people, mind you. Back in the 1990s, I was nice and open-minded toward transsexuals before that kind of shit was cool (that’s how punk rock went back then: we were into what everyone else didn’t give a shit about) and those of you who are witch-hunting everyone who doesn’t use the right pronouns would have been witch-hunting the trannies instead.
That being said, the current insistence that we’re all interchangeable takes 100 percent of the fun out of dating. Or at least it does for you kids; I’m going to stick with my fuddy-duddy insistence that I’m a woman, and he’s a man, and that’s the way we (and Dana Carvey) like it, damn it. (Do you little assholes even have sex, or do you go shopping for gender-neutral sex toys together and then repair to your own bunks?) While everyone under the age of 35 is tearing their pubic hairs out over their guilt at ever noticing that there’s any difference between men and women, I’m still quite happy to notice that men and women are very different, and that is exactly what makes life mysterious and wonderful.
I don’t want everyone to turn out to be interchangeable with me. I want to spend a lifetime discovering a strange animal. Getting little glimpses behind the curtain of masculinity—at a creature that really is like me in many ways, but who expresses his humanity in a totally different way. Who looks different, smells different, and indeed, thinks about the world and reacts to it in a different way from mine.
Noticing a fundamental difference between a man and a woman isn’t something to panic over, it’s something to enjoy, to savor and delight in. Ladies—those of you who were born with a goddamn vagina, I mean—are you so self-obsessed that the idea of the opposite sex being opposite somehow belittles you as a woman? The idea that women are human beings is a great one. The idea that all human beings are exactly the same, on the other hand, is borderline retarded, and also very boring.
Man and woman are the spice of life, kids. The world is very grey without this essential and glorious difference. Even when I’ve been treated badly romantically, I would never want them to all turn into taller versions of me. Here’s what you should do if you feel gender-confused: stop listening to college TAs. Learn to live with the plumbing you got. And for god’s sake, quit thinking of men and woman as these stereotypes that you need to fit into. So what if you’re a girl who, for example, likes cars? Or even other girls. It doesn’t mean you were born into the wrong body. You’re still a girl! Like them in a girly way! Instead of hacking everyone up into 31 different genders and then jockeying to see which ones are closer to the top of the progressive stack, pick one of two. Then spend a lifetime being curious about the other one (or your own, if that seems to float your boat; but you may want to keep an open mind). Those other monkeys really are different. And yet they are fundamentally like you. And the two of you are looking for the same thing together.
If you can’t hold that paradox in your head for the length of a slow dance, you don’t need your idiot pronouns respected. You need to quit bothering the rest of us, and go search high and low to find your sense of joy in life. Because human beings as a basic animal—as an abstract concept, as a global citizen looking for its inalienable rights—are pretty damn dull. Men and women, on the other hand, are wonderful roles to play, even if the stage is on fire and covered in rat dung.