Buried Alive

Sociology 101: Innate vs. “I can’t help it…” by pisaquaririse
February 23, 2008, 7:10 pm
Filed under: Grab a shovel, Interconnected!, WhatAboutMEEEE

 (This post has been in draft stage for a while on the computer–needing some sort of catalyst to finish it.  I found Laurelin’s latest strikingly similar–my post being more a microcosm as hers.  So I have linked in suggesting you go read it!)

 My last semester of college, as an elective, I took a general sociology course.  For two days out of one week we talked about gender and what it meant to be a “girl/woman” or “boy/guy/man” (<<notice how they get the in-betweener “guy” stage so the poor dears don’t have to be infantilized/considered weak for TOO long). 

You can’t believe how progressive it was: the males assuring the females “I don’t mind splitting the house chores!” and the females, “I’m going to be a working mommy!”–the class was really on to something.

Then the teacher, brave as she was, brought up the topic of the intersexed.  This sort of stopped conversations, cue: uncomfortable vibe.  She asked the class if, as parents, they bore an intersexed child, how would they handle the gender.

Unsettling quiet. 

One white male in the room who sort of always unnerved me–you could cut his privilege with a butcher knife–snidely looked around the room:  his progeny would never bear such a “defect!”

Then a hand in the front row.  The guy that always bragged his girlfriend was “!!so totally awesome!!” because she “let” him play video games said, thoughtfully:  “I would paint one side of the room blue and the other side pink and see what side the baby crawled to.”

Teacher thinks for a minute.

Still alert portions of the class nod their heads slowly.

Pisaquari dies.




 Kidding,kidding,kidding!  I didn’t die (you wish!).

Nope and to be completely honest I didn’t say anything.  The teacher just two weeks prior had made some unintelligible remarks about “extreme feminists” (ewwwww) not shaving or wearing make up.  So I busied myself in the back row braiding my armpit hairs…

Because, you see, what did this awesome class teach us the first week of the semester? 

We learned: “What is a social construct?”                                                                                    

And why did we learn this? 

Because, as the course was set up, social constructs would be foundationally responsible for all that we’d learn about human behavior, sociologically speaking.

And what the hell happened, you think, during *EVERY* class discussion?  Of course, someone brought up that people can’t help doing X because YandZ are genetic/inherited/have been happening since men were using clubs on their wives/the birth of baby Jesus (right around the time we got prostitution and Earth).

And no, I don’t think the teacher agreed with everything.  The impression I got was that she was non-confrontational. 

(Believe it or not: the moral of this story is not “college students are getting dumber and dumber.”  Though I wouldn’t fight it.)      

I would have been a real pisser had I been all “Actually–there is no scientific proof we come out of the wombs preferring colors due to our genitalia” or something equally offensive because these people had proof: They always liked their assigned whatever for as long as they could remember. And they still do–they *can’t help it*.

Can’t-help-it became synonymous with innate/genetic in the class and I don’t see it so much differently on the internets.  What often feels like an impossible change usually manifests as our perception of our “natural selves” or the way nature has MADE us, separate of our abilities to change.  But what isn’t taken into consideration is how largely those feelings can be/are connected to some very strong social constructs.  And I do mean strong–as in, my increased risk for a certain kind of cancer is seen as big a biological truth as my early attachment to dolls. 

I conjecture, what might be complicating this, is that normally we don’t *feel* our biology or genetics so much.  Of course as we age or, as certain inherited diseases take over, this changes (and even then I would argue our experiences of those are still affected as sifted through social constructs).  What we feel a majority of the time about a majority of our experiences is based in, and relying on, social constructs. 

And my point isn’t that those constructs are always bad or doomed–all it means is that they are subject to change (as so many have) and are game for discussion/modification/obliteration.  It also doesn’t mean I think anyone is a *bad person* or to *blame* for feeling as if they cannot change what is being discussed.  I can imagine much of what happens in our formative years seems quite dormant and innocuous–the subsequent effects manifesting in ways we still have trouble measuring.

But we cannot assume that *feeling* as if we cannot  help something means it is our biological truth.  In fact, as I explained here, I would argue it works the opposite way. 

And if we are going to argue for change or revolution, naming our *feelings* as innate will be a massive undertaking of Square One-ing.  That is, an immobile approach to improvement.   Our feelings are important to evidence where we stand on certain matters, how far we have to go, how far we are willing to go in a certain lifetime, etc….  But they are not evidence of our possibilities or capabilities.

That they keep getting misconstrued as such is both insulting and limiting.

2 Comments so far
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I for one, have long detested ‘pink’.
Would that mean I am transgendered/intersexed? [rhetorical BTW]

Basically we have a lot of socialised constructs being passed off as inherent, and I for one, ain’t buyin’ it.

Comment by stormy

“I for one, have long detested ‘pink’.”

I was ambivalent about it for the longest time (I guess that would make me intersexed too!). Now, as a contrast color I don’t mind it. A bunch of it makes me nauseous.
I find neon pink visually muderous.

“I for one, ain’t buyin’ it.”

Cheers to that!

Comment by pisaquaririse

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