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  • Bob Ginsberg

Thoughts on Gender

     My daughter was born prematurely almost forty years ago in Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. She was only three and a half weeks early, but it was immediately determined that she had hyaline membrane disease. It was explained to us that her lungs were not yet fully developed, causing a lack of oxygen, which could result in her not surviving if not treated immediately. She was placed on a mechanical breathing device and kept in a coma for almost a month, the theory being that this would give her lungs time to heal.

     My wife and I would take turns in twenty-four-hour shifts, so one of us would always be there. Not that there was anything that we could do to help her, other than stare at her in an incubator hooked up to too many tubes, wires, and devices to count. When you spend that much time in the neonatal unit, you tend to get to know the doctors and staff. In the wee hours one morning, after she had been in the unit for about three weeks, I had a revelation. I approached the physician in charge of the neonatal unit and said, “Doc, something just dawned on me after observing all these weeks. There are always twelve or thirteen babies in the unit, but I have never seen more than one boy. I guess the boys are somehow stronger?” He looked at me very seriously and said, “You have it all wrong. The boys never make it to this point.”

     My daughter did eventually make a full recovery thanks to the excellent care that she received, but that statement stayed with me my whole life, as it convinced me which was the stronger sex. Over the years, my being surrounded by strong women only reinforced this belief, of which I had no doubt. I often contemplated whether people were born with such inner strength, or if it was a product of family dynamics, or cultural and societal influences. For example, my wife was the daughter of two Holocaust survivors, and she spent her entire life fighting injustice with a fierce urgency. Her brother exhibits the same drive, but her sister is the total opposite and avoids controversy at all costs. So, at least in this family, inner strength may be a combination of genetics, environment, and an undefined innate drive.

      In the present age of enlightenment regarding gender classifications, I am forced to consider if my theory should be modified. I was never one to judge or make assumptions about another person based upon their gender, race, or social status. What matters to me is what is in one’s heart and mind, as opposed to an assigned classification. That has never changed. Who you are is infinitely more important to me than your gender preferences. I remain woefully ignorant with regards to all the pronouns, probably because I think that labels make no sense. Also, as a writer, I can’t rewire my brain patterns that easily when it comes to calling a singular person they.

     So how do I amend my original theory that the female sex is stronger? Is someone who was born male, but with a female energy, stronger? Or how does someone who does not identify with either sex fit into the equation? To complicate matters, if you believe in reincarnation, who we were in past lives may very well influence our present-day gender proclivities. What I have now come to realize is that the very fact of me thinking of females as stronger is biased and goes against my dislike of labeling human beings. Furthermore, if life is continuum of thought and energy, I suspect that this physical realm is the only dimension where we tend to think in such terms. In a realm that is absent of ego and where love and compassion are the only currency, discussions such as this will seem laughable.


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Apr 14

I am happy you got there in the end. I started to laugh half way through. Not at you but at myself for having similar thoughts years ago. Two things have happened to me in the last nine years that have changed my outlook on the world. I went vegan and I started to take courses to become a minister. When I would go into a vegan restaurant, I would see all types of people. Older people like me, young college types and people with body art. Yet all these people had similar beliefs to me. Compassion. When taking the courses to be ordained, I realized my congregation would be made up of all different types and ages of peopl…

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