A “Y” For All

A “Y” For All

I’m a girl and it’s wonderful
It fills my life with joy
But sometimes, yes sometimes
I wish I were a boy!
~Lesley Gore

Wouldn’t it be cool if we could swap genders whenever the mood hit us— Instead of simply changing clothes, we could don a penis or swell our breasts in order to really experience how the other half lives.

I’d really like to be a man when I’m running my mini brush hog. Today as I tried to push the damn thing back up the hill after it chewed down a monstrous fen of bittersweet, poison ivy, and locust tree suckers, the machine careened down the ridge like a voracious beast. I got it turned around, but pushing it was only accomplished after grunting, cursing, and literal mopping of my brow. Interestingly, when I finally put the behemoth away, I caught myself strutting, chest out, legs apart, like some little macho Napoleon. Is it possible that cursing and grunting produce testosterone?

Many cultures and spiritual traditions believe that men and women have distinct energies and should celebrate their difference. Yet all of us share both male and female traits and inclinations. For example, men have celebrated cross-dressing for centuries. From male Kabuki actors perfecting their female characterizations, to Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot, men have found countless excuses to don a skirt and eye shadow.

When I am standing by the door, coat on, tapping my foot because my husband Ron is perfecting his coif, I ask myself, “OK, who’s the girl here?”
Ron has often admired the shiny silk of my blouse and murmured how unfair fashion is to relegate male clothing to the plain and rugged.

Of course it wasn’t always like this. There have been exuberant periods of history, as recently as the 1960’s, when men’s clothing was extravagant, colorful, and even sensuous. It used to be men who wore sexy tunics and tights to show off their legs. In fact, men even wore calf “shapers” under their tights to enhance their appeal. (Never mind about the additional codpieces.)

So why can’t men wear cocktail dresses when they feel like it? Any woman, if she chooses to, can wear a tux to an event. But men need a really special occasion. On a recent trip to Mexico, we happened on a small town celebrating a fiesta. While it was mostly carnival rides and tacky souvenir vendors, there was also a community program. The mayor gave a speech and presented some awards. Then a bizarre ritual was enacted. Several pall-bearers brought in a small coffin. The emcee announced the death of the

“Carnival King.” Suddenly about a dozen teenage boys dressed in black cocktail dresses, high heels and makeup burst into the circle, ran to the coffin and began hurling themselves at it, humping it and rolling on the ground and moaning.
I asked one of the locals, a venerable old man leaning on a cane what this meant. He nodded sagely and said, “Ah, those are the widows of the carnival king.”

Before I could say, “Huh?” there was a loud explosion. The boys ran away and the coffin burst into flames. “Does this happen every year?” I asked.

“Oh, yes,” the old man said, as if one would be mad to think otherwise.
When I was a naughty little cabaret performer in the sassy 70’s, one of my signature pieces was called Penis Envy. I would be innocently walking in place on stage, when suddenly, I discovered I had developed my own personal male appendage, an imaginary Mr. Happy that suddenly grew to several feet in length. At first it was fun, wearing it like a shawl and swinging it like a lasso, but eventually it became a burden—the weight of gender identity keeping me from moving ahead.
In the musical Hair, a woman sings:

There is a peculiar notion
That elegant plumage
And long hair are not
Proper for the male
But actually
That is the way things are
In most species.

She then opens her raincoat, revealing herself as a man wearing outrageously flamboyant boxer shorts.

In June Singer’s book, Androgyny, she describes humanity’s epochs by gender. The Matriarchal age, when humanity was in its infancy, was a blissful time where women ruled, men were servants of the Great Mother, and life was simple. I’m guessing at some point the Great Mother, or her representatives, got oppressive. Humanity moved into rebellious adolescence, the Y chromosome prevailed. Like a child who suddenly realizes he is stronger than his mother, men rose up and shoved us into the Patriarchal era.

As we approach a new eon, Singer proposes an age she calls the Age of
Androgyny: equality among the sexes and a blurring of gender roles and taboos.
There are species that can change their sex based on need. Of course most of those needs relate to reproduction. But wouldn’t it be cool if we had the ability to be what we needed/wanted to be at will? Surely many a man has wished he could just have a meltdown darn it, ask for a hug, or just wear pink on occasion. I have certainly longed for enough male hormone to wield a chainsaw or drive the posthole digger into the ground. More than once, I’ve had the urge to pop open a brewskie and chug the whole thing after an hour of lawn mowing.

I admit, at first it might be confusing to folks who hate change and like to live with limitations. And choosing what to wear every day would require a more creative response. But think of the problems solved! No more transgender discrimination, because we’d all be transgendering all the time.

No more controversy over same sex couples, because we could all be whatever we want, whenever we want. We’d no longer have to wait for our first female president because the president would be both. And the whole issue of women’s rights would be moot.

Imagine the upswing in empathy as men begin to truly understand what it’s like to walk a mile in another’s high heels. Women would no longer berate their spouses for bringing home a grocery bag filled with Doritos and jerky (but no eggs) from the supermarket because the minute a man enters the supermarket he is the wife. When a woman didn’t feel like doing the dishes, she could suddenly remember that a big game was on.

Now, all I need is a magic wand. And to decide whether I’m a fairy godmother or a wizard.

This summer, Lavinia is sporting a skort as she works to integrate her masculine and feminine sides. You can integrate your skeleton, nervous system, and more by experiencing her teaching at Asheville Movement Center. [ laviniaplonka.com ]

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