Date: April 19, 2020
“Censorship is never a girl’s friend. It never has been historically.
Let’s be clear about one thing. Girlhood is a construct. Being feminine is a construct. What this means is that girls are required to act a role, or what Shakespeare says is playing a role on the world stage. Such does not mean that “being a girl” is who she is. She is biologically a girl, but being a girl is something different. Yes, she has a vagina and will get breasts. Yes, she can get pregnant and give birth to children, but that is biological, not feminine. I have a penis, but nothing is stopping me for “being a girl.” In fact, some guys are really good at it. In fact, sometimes, in my darkest fantasies, I play the Lolita.
But our society, the director in the chair, has other plans for you being you. I left that stage a long time ago. I fear I failed miserably at being an actor.
We all think we are normal, yet we have no idea what normal is. To be normal is to be unseen. I look normal, a generic white, middle-age man. When men like me look at ourselves, our race is invisible. Being white is being normal. Does that mean the Black man is “crazy?” I will leave that up to Black men to answer.
As a man who was once committed to a psychiatric hospital told me, “I feel safer in here than out there.” As a Black man told me, “Professor, when I am at the white school and I see a police car, I am scared. When I am at the Black school and I see a police car, I feel safe.”
To fully understand this essay, it may be best to read or listen to Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death in which he does a brilliant job deconstructing the play, the performance, the act, we all live daily. The truth is that being normal is being who we really are, who I really am, and that, Becker argues, is more in line with being neurotic than “sane.” I will make this clear to all of you. I am anything but normal, so I ask that you take this challenging walk with me.”