With V-Day (the International Day of the Vagina) almost upon us (Feb 14th) and the arrival in Barcelona once more of The Vagina Monologues, and with them - one would hope - a distinct heightening in gender-consciousness, I thought it might be nice to try and introduce you all to a word you won’t have heard before. That word is 'spectrogenous' and the reason you won’t have heard it is that I only recently came up with it. That’s all very well, you might be thinking, but what the hell does it mean? An intelligent question and one that does you much credit my knowledge-hungry friends.
Spectrogenous, simply put, is a new gender term, encompassing and unifying what I think are the so-far separate physical, mental and emotional characteristics assigned (some might say arbitrarily) to what we have commonly been brought up to believe signify the ‘male’ and ‘female’ gender-types.
For me, what currently constitutes the accepted definition of male and female has much less to do with natural traits than it does the cultural imposition of individual roles and functions in society. In the modern western world, where these roles and functions have anyway mutated some way beyond the limited parameters of such narrow gender-typing, the words ‘male’ and ‘female’ should, at best, be no more than biological descriptions; to be male meaning having testicles and a penis; to be female meaning having ovaries and a vagina.
Gender however is more than biology, isn’t it? Human relationships are no longer governed solely by the need to reproduce and keep the farm going. Thus our reasons for choosing to be intimate with another person now have everything to do with our desires, our personal sets of aesthetics and, hopefully, mutual appreciation, rather than just what happens to be practical, whatever the Pope might think about it.
Concepts such as individual rights and equality have had a huge cultural impact; biological functions aside (and by that all I mean is fertilising eggs and giving birth), men and women are the same, each equally as capable as the other. Our interests, not our genitals, define what we do and what we choose to become good at – or at least they should. Take it from someone who knows; a couple of balls in a wrinkly scrotum are no guarantee of a natural grasp of mechanics.
Nor, we are learning slowly, does biological gender have anything to do with sexual orientation. It never did; but then it’s not surprising what a few centuries of hyper-religious moral brain-bashing - coupled with paranoid, brutal chauvinism - can do. The changing face of society in tandem with the idea that we now get together for love not logic has happily allowed this truth to resurface. Of course, we still compartmentalise, and words such as ‘heterosexual’ and ‘homosexual’ are just as limiting as ‘male’ and ‘female’ in their purely conceptual sense.
What should it matter who you go to bed with? Why limit yourself to saying ‘I like men’ or ‘I like women’? Obviously, we all have what we think of as defined tastes… but what are those tastes defined by? Natural inclination? Rigorous nurturing? In terms of sexual pleasure, we’re probably all bi-sexual anyway; we’ve just been taught not to be because somebody somewhere along the line decided that such predilections were not compatible with a ‘decent’ society, whatever that might be; either that or the threat of any sort of multi-functionality in a mono-functional world desperate to pigeonhole individuals in immutable lifelong singular roles is simply too much to bear.
From now on, refuse to be tyrannised by restrictive terminology. To be a real man or a real woman, to be gay or straight… these terms are meaningless, unless what you mean is to maintain social division. All fixed labels are limitations, so it is strange we all seem so intent on applying them to ourselves. Who needs dictatorships when we’re already so willing to enslave ourselves to semantic absolutism?
Male or female? Forget it! Say non-specific genitals to the whole thing. Be spectrogenous… and proud of it!