Review-Journal columnist Steven Kalas, a behavioral health consultant and counselor, every Monday wraps his hands and head around some human foible or the other in his column “Human Matters.”
Today he recounts a conversation — nay, lecture — with/from an unnamed condescending college student about human sexuality.
“It turns out that sex refers to the respective genitals attached to you at birth. These genitals are not your fault. No one, in fact, is to blame. Biology just does this randomly. It’s a genital lottery of sorts,” writes Kalas.
“But gender, on the other hand, is assigned. I was, apparently, assigned the identity of male. My sisters, assigned the identity of female.”
Kalas explains for us folks unexposed to such hair-splitting language that these are words the student has heard in class and read in textbooks.
But many of us have been exposed to the concept of which Kalas relates. It is called newspeak and is explained in George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” The words were pared down to the fewest possible ones in order to control the underlying reasoning. Thus, bad becomes ungood and warm becomes uncold.
Kalas says the student calls himself/herself/itself “nonbinary.” Perhaps, unsexed or ungendered are synonyms?
“I agree that some gender biases are unjust,” Kalas states. “Other gender biases, however, shape meaning. And human beings need meaning the way they need oxygen.”
Haven’t they sucked all the oxygen out of college classrooms?
After explaining to said student in somewhat clinical terms why sex and gender can never be insignificant or irrelevant, Kalas concludes with these astute observations:
“Is there such a thing as psychosexual immaturity? Is there such a thing as sexual psychopathology? Is there such a thing as healthy psychosexuality? These are not moral questions; these are clinical questions. And it’s getting harder and harder to ask them without being charged with injustice and/or ignorance, quid pro quo. But I am not dissuaded.
“My young friend’s eyes are glazed. I should stop.
“I should be patient with him. It’s not his fault he was born during a time that going to college included getting assigned The Right Thoughts.”
Of course, anything else would be a thoughtcrime and the campus thought police would be in hot pursuit.
“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?” Orwell wrote in “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” “In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”
Orwell explained this in his essay “Politics and the English Language,” saying, “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better. The debased language that I have been discussing is in some ways very convenient.”
Or perhaps we’ve just fallen through the looking glass:
‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you CAN make words mean so many different things.’
‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’
(BTW, the online sig for Kalas’ column hasn’t been updated in months and still says the column appears on Sundays in the Living section, which has been called the Life section for quite some time.)