This place matters

This place matters

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Back to basics

Sorry, all, for my protracted absences. As it turns out writing all day for work and then writing all night for school leaves little time for other writing activities. But also, it's kind of great. I'm dreading the end of the semester, not because I've got a mountain of work to do between now and then, though I do, but because I am loving the hell out of this semester. My professor and my classmates are so awesome that logging on to Blackboard and discussing assigned readings feels less like work and more like being part of the most awesome book club ever. I hate that it has to end. I hate that I've only got one more semester after this. (I hate that a year from now I'll be paying off loans on a degree that brings with it no increase at all in earning potential).
But that's not what I'm here to talk about today. I'm here to talk about the things we learned in kindergarten. You may be familiar with Robert Fulghum's essay "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," where he talks about the fact that the secrets to happiness and healing are all stuff we learned as munchkins - play fair, share everything, clean up your own mess, don't take things that don't belong to you. But I think Fulghum left some stuff off the list.

Other people's genitals are their own business
When arguing that transgender people don't have a right to exist in society (and make no mistake, every argument about transgender issues goes back to whether transgender people have a right to exist in society), many people argue that we all learned in kindergarten that boys have a penis and girls have a vagina.
You know what else we learned in kindergarten? That other people's genitals are their own business. In every argument about transgender people being allowed to use public bathrooms, someone says that people should use the toilet that corresponds with their genitalia. Dude, other people's genitalia are not your business. 
But bathrooms aren't the only place genitals come up. I saw an article online recently about a cross-dressing cop. Article didn't say a thing about that cop's genitalia, but you better believe every entry in the comments section did. This cop is mentally ill because everyone knows that boys have a penis and girls have a vagina. Lop off your penis if you must, commentators said, but you were born a man and you'll always be a man. Every other comment seemed to invoke "the surgery." As I've mentioned before, there is no "the surgery." The process of medical transition is long and expensive, usually involves multiple surgeries, and there are a great many trans people who opt not to go down that road at all. Which is beside the point because other people's genitals, whether surgically altered or not, are none of anyone else's business. My genitals aren't your business, your genitals aren't my business. People have a right not to have their genitals discussed, debated, or speculated upon because our genitals are our own business. 

We don't call names
Here's a fun game: go to YouTube, pick the most innocuous and uncontroversial video you can find, and scan the comments to see how long it takes for someone to call somebody else a "snowflake" or a "libtard" or an SJW. Generally the name-calling starts right around comment number three. Now we liberals are calling conservatives "snowflakes" because apparently we're rubber and they're glue, and it's all a pointless, infantile waste of time. In kindergarten we learned that when we're upset, we talk about our feelings. We learned that calling people names is rude and inappropriate and counter-productive. The fact that pundits on all sides have given up on substantive debate and instead flocked to insults and epithets doesn't mean we have to, because we don't call names.

Keep your hands to yourself
Twitter, Facebook, board rooms, men's rooms, everywhere they're talking about how unsafe a time it is to be a man. It's unfair, is what it is, how men can be strung up for an innocent grope of the behind, a brush against a breast when she hasn't explicitly said no.
Those endangered unsafe men might do well to heed a lesson they learned in childhood. We don't touch people without their permission. We don't touch people who do not want to be touched. Only a few people are allowed to look at or touch your private parts, and you always have the right to speak up and tell others when someone touches you in a way you do not like. We do not mistreat people who complain about inappropriate touching, and we certainly don't yell at, bully, threaten, or demean them. We listen to people when they say they've been touched inappropriately, and we always tell a person in authority (even if we're not sure they're telling the truth).

Don't play with guns
They are not toys. They kill. 


1 comment:

actonbell said...

I found my way here randomly--and must wanted to say that I grok this post :) Happy Sunday.

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