richard pierce

richard pierce

6 October 2018

Of Gender and of Soul

I've just finished reading I Love Dick by Chris Kraus, and it's raised some interesting questions for me, or realisations, which I just need to write about. And if I, in this, don't adhere to the current uses of the words gender, sex, etc, please forgive me.

My brief review, just penned and uploaded via my smartphone:

Weird, wonderful, confusing, illuminating. This is as much a novel as a reading list, as much a transcribed piece of performance art as an art catalogue, and as much a cry from the heart as a call to arms. The message throughout is that patriarchalism is not dead, and that the striving for equality will never end and never be easy. Does love transcend gender politics or subvert them, or does it demand the surrender of the self by one party or the other but never both? Read and ponder.

But there's more, much more, to it than that, to where it's led my mind. It confirms to me what I've thought for a long time, which is that it's not the nature of our physicality (or our gender, if you prefer) which determines what we feel and how we react to the actions of others, but our soul, or, if you prefer a somewhat less spiritual word, our essence, or to become even more secular, our thoughts. I suppose people might say I'm writing about personality traits rather than gender or soul, but I think this goes deeper than that.

Thus, when people encounter us physically, they immediately think of us as a man or a woman, categorise us into the expectations that come with that perception, and expect us to act according to those expectations. Men = hard, women = soft I suppose is the crassest and simplest of ways to characterise those expectations. And that's how the patriarchy expects us to behave and be categorised, with no exceptions, and that's how people have been educated for far too long, and that's why evil people still rule this planet, and why most of us, of whatever faith or none, laugh at the expression the meek shall inherit the earth.

Whenever I describe myself as a zeta male, it's because I haven't been able to come up with some other rational description, and because, I guess, this again fits in with that patriarchal compartmentalising of people according to their gender. And this is where I'm coming back to I Love Dick, the main focus of which is how women have been silenced in the worlds of art and literature. I don't think it's physical women who have been silenced, not physical men who have had the upper hand. I think it's female souls which have been silenced, and male souls which have shouted the loudest.

To get personal, I am avowedly heterosexual, but this zeta maleness I keep talk about is actually the fact that I have a female soul, a soul which would rather fight using words rather than swords, a soul which would rather love and be loved than hate and be hated, which would rather be compassionate than ruthless. And those with male souls, and whatever bodies those souls might inhabit, are those who seek to oppress those of us who are peace makers, love makers, natural empathisers and consolers, unilateral disarmamentists. This is not to say we female souls can't be competitive, but it's a competitiveness which doesn't have deadly edges. This is not to say that we female souls can't be mean and horrible and thoughtless, because all humans can be like that.

But this is to say that having a female soul goes deeper than personality, deeper than what we've got between our legs, means more than the purely physical in a world increasingly guided by the physical, by the need for instant gratification, by the greed of the rich male souls that rule and have ever ruled, the male souls which unendingly and unerringly damage and torture the female soul from run-of-the-mill households to world politics. Just witness Trump and Kavanaugh, May and Johnson, Brexit and MAGA, and endless incidents of domestic violence, physical and emotional.

The female voice is still crying out to be heard, and it is indeed a cry from the heart as well as a call to arms.