Monday, September 21, 2009

When Gender Must Matter

Times have changes since women bound their feet, wore corsets, weren't allowed to vote or own property and were the property of their fathers or husbands.

In addition to far more gender equality than ever before in the history of history, there has been a lot of gender blurring in the last fifty years.

From male nurses to female fire fighters; stay-home daddies and company CEO moms. From rocket science to body building there really aren't any fields that women haven't explored, adopted and excelled.

But it would be foolish to pretend that gender doesn't cause some differences. The gender you are born as forever impacts who you are and even what you are capable of.

While some people choose to "change" their gender, and this is becoming a more widely accepted practice, there are some areas this causes problems.

When it comes to the athletic arena, some women ARE stronger, faster and more skilled then SOME men. However, as a genetic rule males are born with larger denser bones, more muscle and greater strength and speed.

As a professional athlete, you are bound to certain dimensions of your gender. There a profound differences in the physical appearance of most men vs. women. While very athletic women have more muscle definition that seems closer to that of some men, it still looks different and is shaped differently.

It's not just the broadness of the shoulders, but the placement of the collar bones and the curvature of the shoulders. It's not just the shape of the hips and thighs, the placement of their belly button above or below their waist line, but also the proportions of those muscles to the muscles in the rest of their bodies and increased fat cells storage as well as the location of natural fat deposits.

Women can have washboard abs, but for the most part they don't have the V shaped torsos that men have. And when female breast fat deposits give way to leanness, their pecks generally don't resemble a mans.

The shape of a forehead, the height of cheekbones and the construction of the neck are usually quite (if subtly) different in men than in women. Men also have thicker skin, broader hands and feet and typically deeper voices with a masculine pitch.

Mannerisms, posture and presentation are distinct and noticeable between the genders too. At rest and at work, the way a person moves and carries their body lends to impressions of what gender they are biologically.

These elusive but present collection of features and characteristics allow a person, even at a distance, to pick the men from a crowd of females and vice verse.

There are some women who at a glance more resemble men. There are men who can be mistaken for women. But this is often because they are deliberately trying to be mistaken for the other gender or because of genetic features they have due to a heavy dose of the opposite gender hormone at some time in their infancy or later in life.

Rare medical conditions with gender can happen. A person can be born with both sexual genitalia or parts of each. For many careers and lifestyle choices gender blurring may not be too controversial. But there are times and places when this may be particularly relevant: Like when it gives someone an unfair advantage over everyone else of normal genders that they are competing with.

Semenya is an 18 year old competitive runner from Africa. The gender of this person is pretty important when they are blowing past the competition and setting new records.

If Semenya is a female, she's earned and deserves the praise, glory and trophies. If Semenya is a male, there has been a serious breech of honor and sportsmanship and the titles and awards need to be given to the real winner(s).

If it turns out that Semenya IS genetically somewhere between male and female, there might need to be new rules written clarifying who is allowed to compete. Regardless of the outcome of genetic testing for this particular case, it wouldn't be a bad idea for new wording to be added to all professional athletic rules that are gender specific.

There seems to be a lot of run around with the gender testing for Semenya. Instead of growing longer hair and wearing more feminine clothing as they are apparently having her do, in response to all the questions being raised about her natural gender, a blood test and a pelvic exam by a qualified doctor should do the trick. It shouldn't take more than a few hours for the gender question to be answered.

Why is it taking so long? How hard can it be to tell if Semenya has ovaries or testicles, a uterus or a prostate?

One last question. IF Semenya IS a female as "she" claims to be, then why is "she" dressed like the male runners?

And isn't a just a tiny bit funny that SeMENya has the term for male in "her" name?

Follow up Article:

Semenya Gender Test Results

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Burning Man and Frigid Woman

It turns out there might be some biological reason for why men are hot blooded and women tend to run cool.

(I'll post the rest of this when it's finished.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Being One Handed Is Hard

I have never had a disability.

Unless you consider starting sixth grade at a middle school in a new wealthier school district than you actually live, the same year you get glasses, braces and your skin strikes oil. Not to mention living with old-fashioned religious grandparents who have never let you try Twinkies or watch television. Ever.

Since I doubt I get any real disability credit for that, I'm going to revert back to my first statement.

I have never had a disability.

Today though while new windows for my house were being installed we encountered a nest of wasps behind one of the decorative shutters. I grabbed my garden hose, put it on center sprayer and let'er rip.

That's when a sharp stabbing pain shot through my wrist.

One of the little bastards got me.

Bad new: I'm allergic to little stingy bugs.
Good news: I had a swig of Benadryl left in my medicine cabinet.

When the angry little pests flew off, I threw down the hose and dashed into the house to toss whatever was left in the (hopefully not expired!) container down my throat and made a mental note to get more. Today.

Even with the medication my wrist swelled up a bit and from my finger tips to a third of the way down my forearm started to stiffen and ache.

I honestly can't remember the last time a wasp got me. I contend with a lot of insect-life in my home and yard. One could actually say I invite it by planting so many enticing flowering plants.

Either way I spent the rest of the day (and now into the night) trying to not move, bend, flex or otherwise use my left hand. Thank god it wasn't my right one!

While doing the typical mundane tasks I normally do without thought (like dressing and undressing, carrying things, etc.) I found myself as inconvenienced as if my wrist were sprained or broken.

Or possibly missing.

It got me to thinking about what life must be life for someone who is missing whole body parts or has serious disabilities.

Now this might be a prime time to include a link or a video clip of a woman born without arms or legs who heroically lives a fully functioning life and has a healthy normal child to raise as well. Or a book about a man who has climbed serious mountains while being completely blind. Or a news article about a person who lost a leg in a tragic accident and has gone on to win national marathons with a prosthetic leg.

But I won't.

Instead I'm going to touch on a much more controversial topic.

And that would be, if or when is it appropriate to discontinue a pregnancy with a child who's life quality will be severely compromised due to being expected to be born with a severe disability.

When I was young, naive and deeply religious the answer was easy. Never.

Every life is unique and valuable and they and the people around them will benefit from the challenges that God chose to give them.

As I've gotten older, wiser (or at least hopefully less naive)and have moved away from religion, the answer is not so black and white.

A book called "Rethinking Life and Death" by Peter Singer played a large part in throwing my previous opinions out the window.

I had to admit that on a case-by-case basis there were many surprising situations that could not be easily categorize someone as being "alive" or "dead" or "deserving" to live or die. Add the amazing technological advancements in medicine and the varied shades of gray were staggering.

Are staggering.

Considering how a normal existence can be so challenging that many people choose to end their own lives, it makes you wonder if it's even fair to bring a new person into the world severely less than adequate.

Let's face it, things go wrong sometimes when a living thing is being made. Sometimes the end result doesn't even seem human. I refuse to believe that a God "chose" this for a person and their family. It's just science. And science screws up royally sometimes.

Before you get all "godly" and preachy, really think about life would be like being deformed. Or mentally incompetent. Or being a human vegetable.

Would you really want to live like that? Wouldn't you want someone to have prevented you from all the pain, anguish and sorrow of having been born like that?

Once you are alive and living, certainly many things can and do go wrong. Accidents and diseases disfigure and maim people every day.
But if you could prevent that, wouldn't you?

And if you happen to believe that there are "spirits" that a God wants to live on this earth and you prevent them from being born in a half-life body, wouldn't God just give them another shot at another body? Possibly with an entire body and a whole mind?

Obviously there would need to be some serious thought put into what is considered a "severe" enough disability to end a life, and I doubt very much that anyone would put being one handed on the list for the chopping block. But, it does make you stop and think.

Now where's my Benadryl?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"Green" Revolution Father and Noble Prize Winner Dies

Norman Borlaug dies at 95

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11th Remembered

Eight years ago today America was changed.

In some way we were all affected: From the increased security at airports, the increased caution regarding people of certain faiths or of certain ancestral heritage, and the crack downs on various freedoms we took for granted, to the general sense of safety on American shores.

For the people who were lost, and those who lost loved ones the memories of today are even more prominent. An empty chair at the dinner table. A Christmas stocking that doesn't need to be hung. A voice that was forever silenced.

While the tragedy is not at the forefront of most American's minds anymore, we cannot skip today on our calendars and as with Memorial Day, we need to find a way to come to terms with still honoring those who have died, but not causing the day to be one centered around grief and anger.

I didn't vote for Obama. And frankly there has been very little that he's done (that I'm aware of) that I approve of. But I do agree with the idea of using today as a day to do random acts of kindness and community service.

We can all use more love. The world needs more kindness. Each individual person and the choices they make every day can be that amazing change.

Eight years ago today America was changed. We cannot undo what happened. But today we can make that change be one of kindness to strangers. Love to our fellow human beings. Service to humanity. We can make today a day that people can remember with a smile and not just a tear.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

09/09/09 Just Another Day or Mathmatically Significant?

Whether there is anything significant about today or not, one thing is certain:

The combination of repeating single digit dates will not come around for another century. (01/01/2101)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Happiness: Pass It On

Recent studies show what many of us figured a long time ago.

A cheerful attitude it contagious. If you hang out with happy people, you are happier too.

A positive attitude can be passed from person to person just like the cold or flu virus.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Saddly Too Common Tragedy

This should NOT be happening. Any time. For ANY reason. Ever.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Police Vehicle Profiling

The police do tend to pull over the same kinds of cars and the same kinds of people,
but I think it's not racially based nor is it a coincidence.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Something Worth Singing About

Midst all the young emerging music artists who croon about romantic love and betrayal, a young man has tackled with his music something more profound.

Going in a direction all his own, he's garnering a LOT of attention and respect from big name artists who recognize the value of Brett Dennen's message of peace and tolerance.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Learning To Stop

You could say that life is about learning to stop.

To stop caring what other people think or say about you.

To stop always putting your own wants and desires first.

To stop always putting your own wants and desires last.

To stop eating when you're no longer hungry.

To stop denying yourself simple pleasures and luxuries.

To stop bad habits and vices that are detrimental to your health and happiness.

To stop thinking that hurting yourself is ever justified or a good option.

To stop putting off what won't get done until you do it.

To stop trying to find the "perfect" person, that doesn't exist.

To stop trying to BE the perfect person, since it's impossible.

To stop pretending you aren't capable of doing more and being more.

To stop seeing colors, races, classes and cultures instead of flesh & blood, happy & hurting people.

To stop ignoring the people you'll miss the most when they're gone.

To stop grumbling about your problems and start focusing on your blessings.

To stop letting fear keep you from your dreams.

To stop letting other people shape your opinions and instead get the correct data to make up your own mind.

To stop letting your childhood and events in your past prevent you from having a happy and fulfilling future.

To stop blaming someone else for your own failures.

To stop throwing your time and abilities away acting like you'll live forever, and make every day really count.

To stop passing judgment on others, but expecting them to extend you forgiveness and mercy.

To stop letting people into your life who bring you down, hurt and miss-use you.

To stop blaming or crediting a "god" with everything that happens in life and realize that good and bad things happen sometimes for no rhyme or reason.

To stop fighting the aging process and accept getting older and wiser gracefully, with dignity and humor.

To stop ignoring injustices happening around you and do something to prevent them.

To stop trying to be better than everyone else and just be the very best you can be.

To stop letting other people's bad behaviors and irresponsible choices give you an excuse to act without honor.

To stop glorifying the past or longing for the future and actually live in the present.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Needed But Not Nagged

Everyone needs to be needed. But I'm reasonably sure it's safe to say that no one likes to be nagged.

While "nagging" is something mostly women get blamed for, both genders are guilty of it.