Monday, June 21, 2010

For Lack of a Better...

Intersex (for lack of a better word) by Thea Hillman
Weight: 7.2 oz
Method of Disposal: Re-Selling

I think the first mistake I made with Intersex (for lack of a better word) was that I somehow all together neglected the label memoir above the isbn number on the back of the book, the synopsis on the back describing it as a memoir, and every single thing that SCREAMED memoir. I was not in the mood for a memoir. The second mistake I made was falling asleep with the book in the bathtub. Don’t worry, I made it out alive and the book is still readable even if it is a little less attractive.
Intersex is not a bad, useless, or unnecessary book. It is quite the opposite but, again(see post on Jack), I think I just got to it a little too late. I was already looking for something else by the time I purchased it, brought it home, and began reading it. Intersex is such a broad umbrella term, and I had read almost everything I could get my hands on that is shaded underneath it. I think that because it is such a broad term it is not uncommon for authors to focus almost exclusively on their personal lives to avoid overstepping boundaries or to fall too deeply into “science” and statistics trying to distance themselves from the emotions that can be invoked with their writing. There are also the people that really don’t know what they are talking about, of course. Thea Hillman writes about going through her life, feeling and being treated like an intersex person and also not feeling intersex enough. Something that can happen when you get a bunch of different people together with different lives and situations—things can get a little messy. This book isn’t just about being intersex either. It is about being human, being pro-sex/pro-consent, being connected, activism, and so much more. It really is good. It shows the reader human complexity.
I went to an all-women’s private college where I was president of the LBTQIA club for a couple years, and I remember when the club hosted one of several events about intersex awareness. The flyers posted to advertise were generic INSA flyers with some statistics and nothing flashy. People got upset. They wrote hate words on the flyers hanging in the elevator, and they made jokes about starting a straight club. I guess they decided not to read any of the information on the flyer and were conflating intersex with other ideas they had about gay/lesbian/bisexual people. Whatever was going on—it was absurd. How are you going to hate on people who identify as intersex? What is it, exactly, they have done? We are not only attached to our given gender roles but our absurd ideas on sex are so important to us that we become absolutely illogical—so much so that sometimes we cannot even bring ourselves to read a sentence or two on a flyer. This book is important because of the above and because, in most groups I find myself in, people tell me they do not know what intersex is and/or they do not know how to talk about it in a way that is useful. The book is an easy, fast, and personal read. I recommend giving it a glance. I am re-selling it, but if you feel that it would be more useful in someone else’s hands please let me know. I will give it to you.

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