Here's where the DuBois analogy kicks in. As sure as life is complex, bigotry thrives on ruling with a simple-minded, often cruel hand. A complex, nuanced view of human gender and sexuality is simply too much for many people to live with. Thus the struggle. There's the beloved French saying, vive la difference, an adage of life I've enjoyed pondering since I first discovered sex for 50 cents from a black prostitute in the middle of an avocado grove. On a more sinister level than vive la difference, akin to anti-black bigotry, there's a long, sad history of homophobic violence directed by presumably heterosexual males against "f*ggots" and others declared by bigots to be deviants whose simple existence is seen as justifying a cleansing violence. It makes me recall the motorcycle macho in Hunter Thompson's Hells Angels who intimidates a man to felate him in a bar, then proudly puffs up his chest, telling Thompson, "I guess that proves I'm not a f*ggot."
I was once given a tour of the Philadelphia prison system, and in one of several intake cells I noticed a woman among the dozen men. Since this was an urban Philadelphia jail, all the captives were African American.
"Why's there a woman in there?" I asked.
"Because he/she has a penis," the smug officer told us. "If you have a penis you're a man."
It comes down to how much complexity can a person or an institution deal with in a world where binary thinking is comforting -- and whether or not one is driven by compassion or power accumulation. The motivation behind the 19th century rightwing party known as The Know Nothings might be reduced to the adage that ignorance is bliss, or its obverse from Ecclesiastes 1:18: "For in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow."
I've suspected (and hoped) for sometime that we are entering, for lack of a better term, a Third Reconstruction, the first being the Civil War itself and the post-war period, the second the Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s. As the world has evolved, technologically and otherwise, there's been lots of backlashing, backtracking and the rise of a very successful political right. The time seems ripe for frustration boiling up from the bottom to gather some kind of critical mass and explosive power that makes it clear the tamping down and crushing of social complexity and diversity can no longer be sustained. Bernie Sanders, especially, makes this case; but even Donald Trump works this frustration on the part of working class white people, many with roots in the bigoted classes of yore, a constituency I heard Trump refer to in a speech as "the poorly educated." Regrettably, the right has divided and, thus, conquered the working class by pitting it against itself economically, racially and gender-wise.
The battleground for gender complexity has by some function or default come to be the public bathroom where each of us stand and unzip or plop our pudenda down on a seat to accomplish a biological function at the scatological end of my father's 24-foot-tube, which is part of a marvelous biological process that starts where we feed ourselves nourishment and show affection by kissing each other.
I don't believe in God, Christian or otherwise, though I do highly regard the humble teachings of Jesus Christ and his lessons on forgiveness. If, perchance, we actually were created by a superior being, he or she was certainly a comedian. Why else were our excreting organs so intricately linked with the organs we enjoy so much for erotic and reproductive purposes. This helped people like Sigmund Freud forge successful careers and write many books trying to explain it all. It also explains why bathrooms have suddenly become a battleground.
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I'm a 72-year-old American who served in Vietnam as a naive 19-year-old. From that moment on, I've been studying and re-thinking what US counter-insurgency war means. I live outside of Philadelphia, where I'm a writer, photographer and political (more...)