Monthly Archives: September 2017

The Boy in a Dress

Let me get this absolutely straight:

a) There is NO deterministic connection between human biological characteristics and the expression of self-identity in social contexts.

b) By this I mean: my biology and my dress are not foundationally connected. My sex organs and chromosomes do NOT determine what I can or cannot wear in terms of clothing.

c) Dress is a communicative channel, used as one aspect of personal identity ‘signalling’ found between individuals and the social-order at large.

d) The meaning of any communicative function (‘signal’) is in the person who encodes/transmits the message, and the persons who decodes/receives it — NOT in the message itself.

e) The normative aspects of dress and fashion are formed from tradition and the exigencies of culture (which in turn derive from the economic mode of society), NOT any biological process.

f) Culture, tradition, and the normative rules that develop within these domains, change as societies evolve.

What this all means, essentially, is that you can wear what the hell you like. You don’t have to wear trousers because you’re a boy, or a dress because you’re a girl. There is no ‘natural law’ that says so. This applies as much to children as to adults, and only the wishes of adults can determine what children are compelled to wear. Since these wishes are part of cultural inheritance, they change as society changes — hence any furore about a child wearing a dress at school is purely concened with the resistance of some adults to social change, and their angst over their OWN sense of identity in a dynamic world.

I hope this contributes to silencing some of the absolute reactionary DRIVEL I’ve seen written on the subject recently.

Just an opinion

People often say that they have a right to an opinion. This is correct. But you have no absolute right to express it, especially when there are considerations attached:

a) Is the opinion informed? Where is your evidence and from what source? Is your source credible? (e.g. it can’t simply be ‘everyone says so’ or ‘the Pope (substitute any religious personage or book) says so’, or ‘My friends say so’, or ‘I formed this group and now I’m an expert’…)

b) Why are you expressing an opinion? To cause hurt or harm? To correct an error? (see (a) above) To unload? To troll a conversation? Because you dislike the person speaking?

c) Does expressing an opinion add anything to the cause or issue that is being discussed?
d) Is your opinion rational? Or is it emotional? It isn’t a bad thing to express one’s emotions, but then be honest about it — don’t dress it up as if it were thought-through argument.

e) Are you clear about your terminology? For example, do the words ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ mean the same thing? Does everyone use the term your way? If not, you’ll end up talking at cross-purposes.

f) There is a difference between ‘an argument’ (noun, meaning a rational process of thought that forms a defensible position) and ‘arguing’ (verb, meaning to have a go at someone because you want to vent your anger)

g) Did you really read the question? I mean, did you understand what was said or just jump to a conclusion?

i) The meaning is in the person NOT in the words. Words can mean whatever the utterer wants (otherwise, such activities as poetry would be impossible).