allichaton: (Default)
I posted my last rant, about the treatment of intersex infants, to my family blog, as well as this one. This morning, I got a response from my grandpa that infuriated me.


Dear Allison,

Thank you for your borgs - especially the one about professor Boellstorff and his views on hermaphrodites. My dear, it certainly sounds to both Thelma and I that this man is just pulling your leg a little. Everything you say he said cannot possibly be true! As a simple explanation of that, you know that only a female can ever have the internal oprgans necessary to be a female. Sexual sensations? Yes, maybe some, but probably not the real thing. Conversley, only a male can ever possess the organs and capabbility to be an host-to-God male. The penis (or clitoris) size has very little to do with these procedures. This man would have us believe (if I read you right) that the sex of a newborn baby can be changed at will - RUBBISH!

Certainly, some sex change operations do happen, but they cant change the insides. Also, I'm sure some infants have had their gender operationally enhanced to reflect their TRUE gender, buit what would be the point in changing an obvious male with small penis to an inferetile female? It may even be possible that in some parts of the world these things are done at the whim of a physician, but here in America? I dont think they could get away with it for 5 minutes - too much media and immediate public opinion exist today. Even the attendant nurses would sue the hospital. Some shenanigans may have been pulled a few decades or more ago, but today? I dont think so.

If I were you I would have some very succinct questions for that gentleman.

[snipped stuff irrelevant to the topic]

Love 'ya Papa


MROWWWWWRRRRR. This stuff DOES happen. Today. In 2003, and no amount of denial is going to change it. Open your mind, accept it, and then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

Anyway. Ahem. Here's the response I'm sending him:


Hey, there. :) Glad to hear from you.

[snipped stuff irrelevant to the topic]

As for the blog rant about hermaphrodites...yeah, the information surprised me, too. It's difficult to accept that such things DO happen today. I've attached the article that we read for class, "Hermaphrodites with Attitude", to this email. It talks a lot about the gender assignation practices--and you'll notice it's copyright 1998. It's in PDF format, so you'll need Adobe Reader to read it (if you don't have it, you can download it online for free). Things haven't changed much, if at all, in the past five years.

"Conversley, only a male can ever possess the organs and capabbility to be an host-to-God male."

You're right--it's impossible to change a woman into a true male, or a male into a true woman. The gender assignation surgeries don't give the infants the genitals of the opposite sex--they give them the APPEARANCE. Because, as I said, it's more important that they look normal. 90% of intersex children are determined to be female, because it's "easier to make a hole than build a pole". But for those that are deemed male, and are given a surgically manufactured penis, it doesn't function as a true penis. It *looks* like one, but it doesn't get an erection, and the urethra is located beneath the "penis", so they don't urinate out of it, either. It's there for appearances, so that the child looks "normal", to try to get rid of the "matter out of place".

Also, you appeared to miss the point of these being intersex infants--children whose genetic, hormonal, or physical makeup differ from the commonly accepted norms for "male" or "female". They're given these surgeries in order to make them appear normal, to get rid of the "matter out of place" that crosses our cultural boundaries of what should and shouldn't be. They aren't how they should be, so doctors have to fix it.

What about true hermaphrodites--people born with genital material of both genders? There are people born with a vagina and undescended testes, for example, or reproductive organs that are neither male nor female, but part ovary, part teste, fused together. This is much of my point--that instead of accepting these children as they are, we feel the need to "fix" them, and in result, often emotionally as well as physically harm them for life.


That's as much as I've got right now. I'm pissed, so it's hard for me to see what I might be leaving out that needs to be mentioned. Any comments, suggestions, additions would be very welcomed.
allichaton: (Default)
My anthropology lecture today really pissed me off. Not because of Prof Boellstorff's views--he's a great lecturer and more sensitive to these sorts of things than just about anyone I know--but just because of some of the facts brought up.

We were talking about the article we had to read, "Hermaphrodites with Attitude", which talks about some of the horrible things children born with ambiguous genitals go through, and the crap that doctors pull. Performing operations to assign the baby a gender without getting the permission of the parents. Telling the parents that the baby died, but a twin lived, in cases where they said "it's a boy!"(or whatever), then realized it was anomalous and changed the gender. The article talked about a case where a mother, after having given birth, was kept drugged and sedated for three days every time she asked about her child, while the doctors deliberated over what sex the child should be.

This all relates back to an article we read a few weeks ago, dealing with "matter out of place", and the human reaction to it. The article was about the rules on what animals can and cannot be eaten in Leviticus, but the concept permeates all areas of our culture. We don't see clothes as inherently bad, unless they're laying on the floor. A dish can be left on a counter or in the sink for a day or more without much bother, but put it somewhere it isn't supposed to be--on the bed, say--and you can bet it's going to be snatched up and dealt with right away. It's something that oversteps our culture's defined boundaries, and in doing that, it's dangerous. It threatens our culture's notions of what is and isn't. Cultures throughout history have had varying ways of dealing with "matter out of place", from killing it, to worshipping. In America, we chop their genitals off.

Doctors even have "rulers", that they use to measure the genital length of newborns. If it is less than .8cm, it is termed a clitoris. If it greater than 2.5cm, it is termed a penis. But genitals between .8 and 2.5cm are "unacceptable". Because gods forbid a girl have a large clitoris, or a man have a small penis.

There have been articles published in medical journals where doctors have actually claimed that it is better for a child to undergo these surgeries--which are often incredibly painful and take many, many operations, often not stopping until the child is old enough to resist--than to suffer teasing in the locker room, or to not be able to pee standing up, "in a steady, unfluctuating stream".

I am utterly disgusted.

We are mutilating people's genitals, for the sake of appearances. Never mind the fact that they may never find sex satisfying or, if they're men, will never be able to get an erection in their manufactured penis. Never mind the fact that intersexuality only very rarely causes health problems. They have a normal appearance, and that's what the medical field is concerned with. And for the love of the gods, we are doing this to children. Infants. Newborns. We are doing this behind the backs of the parents, often without permission.

I sat in class today, listening to Prof Boellstorff talk about all this, and I thought, "If Erik and I have children, I am making our doctor sign a fucking written contract that no one brings a scalpel anywhere NEAR my child without my express, written permission." They aren't going to with fuck my kid like that. Maybe I'll have an intersex child, and he or she won't be "normal", but by the gods, he/she will be whole and unaltered, at least until he/she's old enough to make the choice for him/herself. I am not going to do that to my child, and I'll tear the throat out of anyone who tries to.

Gods. Gods gods gods gods. I am so upset about this. I just want to track down all the doctors of have performed clitorectomies and clitoridectomies and chop of their dicks, and let them know what it feels like.

allichaton: (Default)
I am roflmaopimp.

(rolling on the floor, laughing my ass of, peeing in my pants, for those of you who don't know ;))

I've got my powerstrip set up next to the side of my desk. My phone charger is currently plugged into it, the phone is connected to the charger, and sitting on the top of the desk, so the cord connecting them hangs down and forms a loop.

I had to go to the bathroom really bad, so I got out of my chair and made a mad dash for the bathroom. My foot caught in the loop of the charger, so my feet stayed and my body kept moving. I ended up imitating Superman as I flew across the room. :p

I'm fine. I'm uninjured, and laughing my ass off at myself.


Also--got my grade back on my anthro midterm today. 100%! WOOT! Hot DAMN, I knew I did well, but I wasn't expecting THAT!
allichaton: (Default)
Oh man. Anthro2A ROCKED today. We spent about the last half of the class watching an episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation", as an example of incommensurability--when a culture is soooo different from your own that it becomes impossible for cultural translation to take place. The episode was a GREAT example of it. Captain Piccard gets thrown into the wildernees with the captain from the ship of another species, and even with the Universal Translater, they're completely incomprehensible. It sounds like they're just speaking gibberish. And eventually he realizes that it's because they speak entirely in metaphor from their history and mythos. For example, when the alien gives Piccard a dagger to protect himself from a beast that's about to attack them, he says "Shaka, with arms open." He says the same thing that night, when he gives Piccard a burning log, because Piccard can't get his fire started. So, Piccard realizes that "Shaka, with arms open" equates to "Here, take this", or similar--arms open in generosity, etc. And "Treshar, when the walls fell" represents failure, etc. And they end up having a whole conversation, where Piccard ends up realizing that the other captain beamed him down to the planet's surface in an attempt to make friends between the two of them. Man, that was a filking COOL conversation. The other captain keeps saying, "Darmok, on the ocean." So Piccard picks up a stone, says "Darmok", puts in on the ground, and draws a circle in the dust around it, and says, "The ocean." "Darmok at Velar. Velar on the ocean." "Velar on the ocean? Oh, Velar's an island!" "Darmok at Velar. Telmat at Velar." "They came separately?" "The beast at Velar. (some reference to success that I can't remember...:p)." "Victory. They were victorious." "Darmok and Telmat, on the ocean." "They left together...they became friends..." Which is pretty much what the other captain does to Piccard--beams the both of them down to the planet, his ship has some gadget set up that makes it impossible for the crew to beam him back, and the two are forced to battle some weird flickering electromagnet beast together, and in the process, become friends. It was a very, very, very cool episode. :D Even though it did make me late to my HumCore discussion... :p

Man, I am going to LOVE this class. :D

Had my first Interpersonal Relationships class today, too. That seems like it's going to be a really neat class, as well. :) About 16 people, compared to the 400 or so in my other lecture classes... :) Will have more on that as I have more classes--didn't do much but intro to the course stuff today.
allichaton: (Default)
Just got back from my first day of classes. Humanities Core Lecture was...*shrugs* Not much. The director of the program introduced herself and gave information on the course that I'd already heard before, then the first of the lecturers talked for the rest of the class, but it was just basic, introductory stuff to give the background about the works we're going to be reading while he's lecturing.

Anthro 2A was very very cool. :D The professor is really funny and energetic. He started the class off with a demonstration of how a cultures symbols influences a person's impressions. He started out the class in a black suit with a tie, then while he was talking about these study in psychiatry where a class was given a class evaluation form ten minutes into their first class, and then at the end of the quarter, and the two evaluations were pretty much exactly the same, he took off his jacket and his tie and his white shirt, revealing his olive-green "Rage Against the Machine" t-shirt beneath, and put on a leather jacket, and was talking about how our impression of him when he was wearing the suit, versus if he had started class wearing the t-shirt and leather jacket, would have been completely different. The lecture was basically about symbol systems, what symbols are and how they affect our everyday lives, how they are totally arbitrary and differ between cultures, etc. He seems like a very cool guy.

And in the middle of talking about the class rules regarding cell phones, he said "When you'll read the contract, you'll see that if your cell phone goes off in class, I get to take one percentage point off of your final grade." And *right* as he said "grade", someone's cell phone went off...

He laughed and said "Don't worry, I'm not going to do that now; you didn't know. I'll bet someone out there knows the number of someone in the room, and called them just now, because they thought they would get in trouble. That's mean." He's very funny. :)

After anthro, I had my Humanities Core discussion section, which was...very very boring. She just talked about really basic writing stuff--arguments and premises and conclusions, which I KNOW. That's child's play to me, I spent a year in AP English! So, I'm just a little frustrated by the prospects of that class.

But anthro is way cool. Anthro's going to rock. :D


allichaton: (Default)

April 2009



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