Jewish World Review July 20, 2001 / 28 Tamuz, 5761

Greg Crosby

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Gender nonspecific -- I HAD the craziest dream. It was a nightmare, actually. I dreamt that all the women in the world turned into men and all the men turned into women -- but here’s the really scary part -- they didn’t turn COMPLETELY into the opposite sex, only partially. It was like a melding of both sexes. Like a screwy experiment-gone-wrong conducted by a mad scientist (think Colin Clive in “Frankenstein” or Ernest Thesiger in “The Bride of Frankenstein”). “Igor, we’re going to transplant the female brain into the man and the male brain into the woman! All right, strap them down to the tables and attach the electro-magnetic oscillation conductor. Ready? Pull the switch!”

Now here’s the scariest part of the whole thing -- I woke up and realized that it wasn’t a dream at all, it is really happening -- every day and all around me. Little by little the traditional traits we have come to associate with one sex or the other are disappearing. Men are becoming more feminized and women are becoming more masculine.

Our language reflects society’s desire to do away with the male/female distinctions. For two or three decades now, it has been politically incorrect to use descriptive nouns like “chairman,” “fireman,” or “mailman.” Gender neutral labels such as “chairperson,” “fire-fighter,” and “mail-carrier” have taken their place. Airline stewards and stewardesses have long ago become “flight attendants.” Women in show business do not wish to be “actresses” or “comediennes” anymore, they want to be referred to as “actors” and “comedians,” just like their male counterparts. Likewise, in restaurants we no longer find “waitresses,” just male and female waiters.

The term “feminist” is a misnomer since the women’s liberation movement has attempted to make women more masculine, not more feminine. Women are dressing like men, talking like men, and walking like men. They’ve been wearing sneakers for so long now that they have forgotten how to walk in high heals. They’ve been wearing pants for so long now, that they have forgotten what it means to “sit like a lady.”

Girls are encouraged to get into competitive sports much more than in the past. The ideal female body has changed from the soft curvaceous Marilyn Monroe archetype to a hard-bodied sinewy model with muscles more developed than most of their fathers ever had. In business, women have proven that they can be as competitive as men. They can be just as tough and ruthless as men -- maybe more so. They curse just like a man in meetings and are capable of telling off-color jokes without blushing.

Men wearing ponytails and earrings are so commonplace as to be almost unnoticeable. Men are, by and large, spending much more time on their cosmetic appearance than ever before. They pluck their eyebrows, dye their hair, and use oils and lotions on their skin. Male body hair, once acknowledged as a normal, even a desirable masculine trait for an adult male, is now considered ugly and unwanted. Men are shaving their underarms, forearms, legs, back hair and even pubic hair. Many men are getting face-lifts and tummy-tucks.

What used to be acceptable male pastimes; smoking, drinking, hunting, and going to war, are clearly out of favor in today’s world. Now a guy slips on his cute little shorts and jogs down to the local Starbucks for a Cafe Latte. Male-dominated dark, wood-paneled, red-boothed restaurants serving up hearty meat dishes and stiff drinks have given way to bright, noisy high-ceilinged bistros specializing in rice bowls, spinach salads and white wine spritzers.

Everyday clothing has gotten to be pretty much the same for both sexes. Most everybody dresses in the identical way -- jeans, T-shirts or tank tops, baseball caps (if they wear a hat at all), and big sneakers. And everybody wears sweats.

Men haven’t yet started wearing lipstick and eye shadow in any great numbers (rock musicians don’t count). Women haven’t yet started wearing mustaches and beards. I have every confidence that these things, too, shall come to pass before too long.

JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. You may contact him by clicking here.

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