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Thursday, May 27, 2004

Mars to Venus and Back Again 

I finished the last few pages of Middlesex this morning. It wasn't easy: while I sat reading at the kitchen counter, I was a bit distracted by Sophie and Emma taking turns mounting each other. How appropriate.

Now that I've finished the book, I can heartily recommend it. Jeffrey Eugenides puts a very human face on the issue of intersexuality and the idea that gender is a continuum not restricted to a 0/1 designation. There are a number of nice observations in the book. I especially liked, "...the tilt of his head communicated defiance and even hate. That was when I realized a shocking thing. I couldn't become a man without becoming The Man. Even if I didn't want to."

That's one of the things I've always wondered if FTM transgender people consider before they make the leap. Well, that and the drawbacks of using men's rooms. On the topic Eugenides writes:

...I began to use the men's rooms. This was perhaps the hardest adjustment. I was scandalized by the filth of men's rooms, the rank smells and pig sounds, the grunting and huffing from the stalls. Urine was forever puddled on the floors. Scraps of soiled toilet paper adhered to the commodes. When you entered a stall, more often than not a plumbing emergency greeted you, a brown tide, a soup of dead frogs. To think that a toilet stall had once been a haven for me! That was all over now. I could see at once that men's rooms, unlike the ladies', provided no comfort.

A few years back, while we were at a software conference reception in which the male attendees far outnumbered the female (as is true at this year's TechEd, as noted by Iffy), Joe mused, "Why do women's rooms have sofas?" My immediate off-the-cuff liquor-infused response was, "That's the wrong question. The question is 'Why don't men's rooms have sofas?' and the answer is because they'd piss on it." Joe considered this a minute and then agreed with my assessment – which is certainly rare enough :-)


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