18 Jun

Coniuntio Oppositorum

I count myself fortunate indeed to be living in a world of infinite possibilities and for that we have at long last escaped that oppressive environment in which you had to take what you were given. For example, when I was a boy I supposed I would always be a boy. Only recently I have I heard the voice of the liberating gospel of sexual freedom whisper – what do I mean whisper? I mean of course shout – in my ear that I can become a girl if I like. And that I can get government help with the plumbing in order to do so. I also grew up with the shockingly unimancipated and repressive Christian notion that, if I wanted to get married, it would have to be to a woman.

Thank whatever gods there be – the old pagan gods actually – that Christianity is now inoperative, so that today I am free to marry a man and to become a woman. I suppose that’s as it should be really: a man married to a woman.

But I have a few questions. What if, exercising my pagan rights, I marry a man and then he decides to turn into a woman? Would this be grounds for my divorcing him/her? Would we, after the complicated plumbing involved, even still be married?

You might think such arcane issues are intractable and labyrinthine in their personal, moral and social ramifications. But their settlement is easy-peasy compared with something I’ve just been reading about.

In the USA Rachel Dolezal says “I do take exception because it’s a little more complex than me identifying as black or answering a question of, ‘Are you black or white?’”

I will try to get this as clear as I can and set it out in black and white, so to speak.

Ms Dolezal has resigned from her position as a big noise in The National Association for the Advancement of Black People because, while she had formerly always claimed to be black, she was recently exposed – by her parents! – as white.

I find this most disappointing, for clearly western society is not as enlightened and liberated as I had thought. Surely Ms Dolezal had no cause to resign just for telling that little porky about being black when she’s white? I thought we could all be whatever we want to be. Clearly this is not so and the forces of social oppression are not finally defeated.

Unfortunately, the matter is even more complicated. Ms Dolezal now claims she is black and indeed she worked tirelessly for an association which promotes the advancement of black people and denounces racial prejudice against them. But Ms Dolezal has form. Eleven years ago she sued her university because, she claimed, its authorities had shown racial prejudice towards her as a white woman by favouring some black people in her class.

So it appears we don’t have to be black or white; we can be black and white provided, as in the comparable case of sex – what they now call gender – we do these things sequentially.

At this point high imagination fails and I start to get all my metaphors more mixed up than even Ms Dolezal: kettles calling pans black; having your cake and eating it; one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready and go, go go!

O brave new world that hath such people in it…