Topics for this column are determined on the day of publication. So reading the morning papers over coffee has become something of a science. One must be able to sniff out topics like a pig searching for truffles or a Fremen searching for spice (obligatory geek reference; if you don’t get it you probably had a lot of dates in high school).
The New York Times is always a rich, mossy patch, ideal for rooting around in. So when I see an androgynous picture of a … woman? and the captions reads, “Riki Anne Wilchins, author and transgender rights activist…” I know I’ve got to start digging.
Ms. Wilchins doesn’t think she’s a “Ms.” or a “she.” She thinks she’s a s/he and likes a simple M over Ms. and hir over her. The Times, which must have agonized over this far more than we at GFHQ ever could, decided for clarity’s sake to simply call her a her, a she, a Ms., despite the fact that she’s a “post-operative, male to female transsexual.” She has a giant scar on her throat from where they took a couple of inches off her Adam’s apple. Presumably she’s got a worse scar elsewhere. She runs an organization called G-PAC.
Riki doesn’t like to think of herself as a male to female anything. She just thinks of herself as a “Riki-to-Riki” transsexual. “People say I transgress gender,” she tells the Times, “I don’t. I’m just being Riki. It’s the gender system that transgresses all over me.” Man, does this strike a chord. Because I think of myself as a Jonah-to-Jonah fat guy. I’m just being Jonah, but the fast-food system delivers all over me.
Ms. Wilchins believes she is at the vanguard of the next civil-rights movement. As gays become more accepted, she says, cross-dressers are bearing the brunt of the hate and the violence. She borrows from philosophers like Michel Foucault who suggest that gender is really a constrictive social “system” like the pantyhose she wears, and can be taken off just as easily. It’s an old idea that I had to regurgitate on several Political Science finals in college.
This notion is still, in my mind, perhaps the perfect example of how academia prefers clever theories to actual thinking. We’ve covered Foucault before and I don’t want to go back. And the idea of trying to pierce the shroud of mystery that is a transgender activist’s Weltanschauung ain’t exactly what we had in mind for a light Friday of work.
But one does wonder. She says one of her fondest dreams is that one day “a straight married man can decide to wear a dress into work and the worst thing anyone will say is: ‘Nice outfit. Is that report done yet?’ ”
First (sigh), this Nirvana will never arrive. Second, cross-dressers are kidding themselves when they say they’d be happier in that world. Isn’t there some rebellion going on when men wear women’s clothes? Isn’t there some sense that they are doing something…naughty? Sure it is possible that there will be a world where clothes will be interchangeable — the new Star Trek, for instance. But hopefully there will never be a day when femininity is truly interchangeable. Besides, if that day comes, where’s the fun of dressing in women’s clothes? Pierced ears aren’t rebellious if everyone has them.
There was a day, not too long ago, when tank tops, shorts, pants, etc., were considered “male clothing.” But none of the women I know think they are cross-dressing when they wear pants (if they do — saucy girls — they’re keeping it a secret). Women appropriated the clothes but they didn’t stop being feminine. If the day comes that men start wearing lovely halter tops and no one thinks its unusual, it will be because no one will think halter tops are particularly feminine.
Again, my heart goes out to these people who feel uncomfortable as either men or women. Gay men know they are men. Lesbians know they are women. Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, and all that. But these transgender people are simply confused. They will tell you all sorts of stuff about the difference between gender and sex and how one is biological and the other is imposed. But beyond a certain limited point, that becomes, well, bunk. Expectations and notions of gender may evolve, but gender itself is permanent. Sorry.
About three months ago I wrote a column on turning thirty. In an effort to spike up web hits, I suggested that I should spice up my column with such phrases as “XXX Teenage Lesbians in Study Hall” and “Lesbian Love Goats.” My thinking was that the only way to flag down anyone on the information superhighway was to use phrases that catch the attention of search engines.
Well, it didn’t work for the longest time. But now we have been informed that if you type “Lesbian Love Goats” into the search engine Hotbot, lo and behold, the Goldberg File pops up as the only match. I am so proud (and I have cornered the market of alternative life-style goat paramours). The only other GFism that pops up is “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” (3 matches), which must rightly be shared with various Simpsons pages. Still, we search for immortality wherever we can find it.
Earlier this week we pulled back the curtain on the Belgian Hegemony. Few here at GFHQ knew what we were talking about — which is rarely a hindrance. So we were fairly well astonished when reams of supportive e-mail — and evidence — came in bolstering our case that the wee Belgians are really running the show. We are sifting through the copious data and we hope to actually compile a, I believe the term is “researched,” case against the Flemish Menace. Stay tuned.
Yesterday’s column suggested that the Nazis burned down the Reichstag in an attempt to scapegoat the Communists. This theory was prevalent for many years. The reality, as pointed out to me by several readers, was that a Dutch Communist named Marinus van der Lubbe burned down the Reichstag. Interestingly, they all cite John Toland’s Hitler as the source for their proof. The GFHQ library does not have this tome, but it does have Joachim Fest’s far more creatively titled volume, Hitler, which also confirms this point. We apologize for the error. As an historical note, Adolph Hitler didn’t in fact care whether he could prove the Commies torched it or not; he wanted to scapegoat them. His spontaneous response upon hearing the building was in flames was to say, “Now I have them!”
TIME FOR A JONAH POLL
Time magazine is getting big press for its poll asking, “who was the man of the century?” Not wanting to compete, we thought we should come up with our own poll for the conservative of the century. But we don’t like the ghettoizing of conservatives and since so many great conservatives are in the orbit of this magazine in one way or another, we felt the picking of candidates took too much courage for a lazy Friday column.
Besides, as conservatives, we believe in the enduring power of institutions (we also believe in Great Men so expect that poll later). So we thought it would be fun to pick the institution of the century instead.
The question is, what institution deserves the most credit for keeping the American flame of liberty burning in the 20th century? Here are your choices:
The U.S. Armed Forces (including NATO)
The U.S. Supreme Court
Click on the Link beleow to vote.
View Results (link defunct)