Imagine Engendering Harmony

What a strange news day. Something happened right under our noses that changes everything. Germany became the first nation that does not require a gender assignment at birth.

Often I have investigated, emotionally and intellectually, the reasons for the strict gender assignments forced upon us at birth. When I became a mother in 1971, I just took it for granted that I would dress my child in pink or blue. That’s what everyone did. I always adhered to that practice until the children’s hair had grown into an appropriately masculine or feminine shape. As my son left toddlerhood, I began to dress him in the “boy” colors of oranges, browns, bright blues, and since it was the ’70s, avocado y harvest gold, naturalmente. His sister came along nearly five years later. He helped me pick out her clothes, with the result that her wardrobe was as trendy as our tiny clothing budget would allow. So, I sewed for both the children until they left elementary school, remedying some deficiencies in that way so that their clothing closely conformed to that of their peers. Otherwise, I made no conscious decision to influence the direction

Everybody was supposed to look pretty much the same in school in the 50s and 60s. I graduated the year before high schools got rid of their uniform-like dress codes with the measuring tapes with which school staff shamed teenage girls.

I remember being mocked for my clothing in grammar school. My mother expressed her passive-aggression by dressing us in goofy clothes on purpose. Nothing much bothered me when I was a kid, except for being asked to wear something I considered ugly. Sure enough, whatever I was wearing that I didn’t like subjected me to derision. I don’t know what drove my standard of beauty. It just didn’t sit right in my tummy and it hurt me twice.

One pair of brown oxfords drove me to explain through my tears that the shoes reminded me of sedans. Just think of all the pain it will save us if we can just grow up to be who we are on the inside instead of what someone else tells us to be. Look at how much of the health care system could be freed of the costs of someone struggling to maintain the appearance of their predestined gender assignment? Look how many lives would be saved if we could just stop dividing ourselves up into artificial groups.

Pretend to Be Your Own Boyfriend

What would it look like if you dated you? What would it be like if you just screwed up your courage and finally married yourself? Would you make yourself so happy? Would you spend all your days cooking in your underwear? It could be bliss. Other people are the worst.

Embracing the notion that love and other people can often suck, photographer Penelope Koliopoulou began a project in which she posed as both halves of a couple. That series, called Self Portraits, is kinda a bummer — but it’s intriguing, humorous, and affectionate as well.

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