Saturday, August 22, 2009

Private Thoughts and Public Labels: From Potatoes to Gender

Houston lost a daughter. Austin gained a Longhorn. Mom still has the hedgehog; you saw that one coming didn't you?

On the road from Austin home to Houston, I passed (again) the sign for Old Potato Road, and had the same thought: is the potato old or is it the road?

Its all about the label, isn't it?

Just after Old Potato Road, NPR had a story about the controversy over Castor Semena, the South African track runner who improved a little too much, too fast sparking a flurry of rather tacky speculation about her gender; although why an improvement of 8 seconds in a year should translate into a gender identity issue is beyond me: only men can improve by leaps and bounds? Or: we are stunned; stunned, shocked, and appalled to discover that she was in fact, a man, all along even though we did not contemplate that when she was slower

But she looks muscular, has narrow hips and a deep voice. Exactly what is a woman supposed to look like?

Anyway, when classes start next week, I suppose we all have the ideal label--Castor Semena--for discussing the complexities of gender identification. Teachable Moment alert.

Juxtapose thoughts about Castor Semena with the news about the swimsuit model killed by the reality star and stuffed into a suitcase. Turns out she could only be identified by the serial number on her breast implants. What is a woman supposed to look like? Too many thoughts for me.

Cue Tammy Wynette: sometimes its hard to be a woman

...especially driving through a Texas night having said goodbye to a daughter.

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