Friday, October 26, 2012

Wisconsin 101: Little old men fishing‏

I went running (what I like to call "running," as it makes me sound athletic, but is really a very slow plodding accompanied by the thought, "I hate this I hate this Ihatethis," and also by the thought, "But I like to eat, so keep moving") the other day during lunch. It is a fun way to explore downtown Milwaukee, although I have discovered that the slightest breeze off the lake becomes an icy-cold hurricane once it is funneled through the streets. 

I think I told you that I talked to a Chinese student who had been in town for two days. "Are those skyscrapers?" he asked as he pointed to Milwaukee's pretty but not high skyline. Nope. A ten-storey building is not a skyscraper. But it is tall enough to concentrate the wind and turn it into something more powerful than a delightful zephyr.

I went down the river and to the lakefront, along the Summerfest grounds, where, incidentally, I found some good spots outside the grounds where I could probably hear the bands for free. Not that Summerfest is expensive. Perhaps the greater advantage to being off the grounds would be that I would be distanced from the stupid drunk and vomiting people who think that a music festival means drinking as much beer as possible in as little time as possible.

I digress.

I went along the river and then along the channel under the big bridge toward the red lighthouse. There were men fishing. Yes, men. I didn't see any women fishing, so lay off with your accusations that I am gender stereotyping and not using inclusive language.

By the way, may I say something about the gender stuff? 

It's sex.

Male and female are sexes, not genders. Gender is what your verb is in Spanish. La or el. People have sex, at least when they are not exhausted, and verbs have gender. Write that down if you need to.

There were men fishing. One man had four poles attached to the rail. I stopped to ask how it was going. He stood back from the poles, next to his car. He was an older man with two St Christopher medals around his neck. I think they were St Christopher. Maybe not. He was listening to a transistor radio, which I didn't even think existed any more. 

Me: Are you catching anything?

Fisherman: Oh, not so much, hey? Just one perch so far.

Me: Perch? That's an expensive fish.

Fisherman: Yah, that's why I fish for it.

Me: Can you eat the fish you catch here?

Fisherman (surprised): Of course!

Then a conversation about how our gardens didn't grow this summer and it's probably because of the drought. I learned tomatoes need a lot more water than I thought. Everything needs more water than I thought.

Me: Well, I need to get back to work. Nice talking to you.

Fisherman: You have a nice day, dear.


Ariel said...

Hi! Long time reader, first time commenter.

Male and female are sexes. Man and woman are a little more complicated--usually a man is a person with male sex organs and a masculine identity, thus his gender is "man". But there are plenty of people in the world who identify with different genders than the ones prescribed to them at birth because of their genitalia.

I think it's completely valid for the concept of gender to be so frequently discussed and questioned. People that I care about struggle with the different implications of sex and gender, and so I care about those issues also.

I love your incisive thoughts on your life and I hope this comment gives you something new to think about!


A Young Feminist Liberal from Oregon


Class factotum said...

Hi Ariel! Of course, you are absolutely right. Biology is sex and social (or self - I am not sure of the proper terminology) identity is gender.

I just get annoyed when people use "gender" when "sex" is obviously the proper word. You may not know the baby's gender, but you for sure can know the baby's sex, so when couples (of whom only the woman can get pregnant, so saying, "We're pregnant!" is completely inaccurate, unless it is a lesbian couple where both parties are indeed pregnant) say they don't want to know the baby's gender, I want to say, "Well, you probably won't know that for at least a few years after the baby is born."

Class factotum said...

PS And you know what? It is completely possible that there were some women fishing, but they looked the way I expect men to look.

Ariel said...

Yes! Awesome! I am pregnant right now and everyone has been misusing gender when they mean sex, even the doctors and ultrasound technicians! Like, if an ultrasound could tell the gender of a child then there would be a lot less confusion for some folks later on in life!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing. I love your observations on life and you make me laugh.

Jen on the Edge said...

Running is running is running is running, regardless of speed or the thoughts going through your brain.