To the maximum extent possible, I avoid feminist screeds, on the sensible basis that at some point the writer thereof is going to complain about how she's routinely oppressed in her daily life, and inevitably two questions will emerge: "If you're so oppressed, how come I can still hear you?" and "You're blaming this on me because — why, exactly?" The odds of getting plausible answers to either of these ranges from infinitesimal down to absolute zero.

There exists something called "sexual market value," and it works just about the way you think it would: some are hot, some are not. And the reason some are not is good old toxic masculinity: feminism being at heart Marxism with boobs, there are calls to disrupt or redefine the marketplace so that the difference between hot and not becomes easier to handwave away, and, more important, those who have been arbitrarily classified as "not" get Lake Wobegonned into a new arena where everyone is, if not a 10, certainly at least an eight and a half. Beauty is, after all, a form of currency, and therefore it must be redistributed. The voice coming from behind the eye of the beholder chokes off a laugh.

I will willingly concede that our standards of beauty are somewhat arbitrary; the fact that the single largest submarket for smut is known generally as "tranny porn" should tell you that the graph of desire is seldom precisely linear. On social media we occasionally encounter a youngish woman named Bailey Jay, and truth be told, I thought she looked better before she got that second boob job. There is a trope in circulation to the effect that if you won't date trans women, you have some sort of phobia, which, viewed in the light of my own experience, becomes risible; of the two trans women I know best, one is my niece, about whom there are a different set of taboos, and besides she's only nineteen, and the other, fortyish, definitely prefers to date women. Nowhere among those considerations is the word "penis"; the term "chicks with dicks" has been outlawed as being insufficiently feminist, but its breezy informality has a cheerful charm that we're not allowed to experience anymore.

(Tangentially, there was an episode of Ally McBeal some years back with Lisa Edelman appearing as a trans woman who requested the services of the law firm; the senior partner hit on her, because that's what he does, they started dating, and nothing was said about her nonstandard hardware until a slow dance, very, very close. This is, I think, the only scene in the entire episode that David E. Kelley got right.)

Nonstandard hardware, in fact, may be the Next Big Thing. As a bored (and boring) adolescent, I posited a future in which genitalia, and perhaps other organs, were hot-swappable: you could switch without having to shut down and reboot. Novelist Francis W. Porretto has a series of stories in which a small percentage of proper biological females somehow emerge from the womb with boyparts. Everybody and her sister today has some sort of piercing, which I find offputting, especially the little chrome boogers that reside below one's nostrils. But hey: this isn't my call. And already trans women are reporting being bothered by guys who only wanted them for their dongs. (Yes, there's the surgical option, but this is wicked expensive, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield marks it with a red X.) I have no idea what follows — triple boobs, anyone? — but I have to figure that the ultimate, we've already seen previewed, in Spike Jonze's Her, in which Joaquin Phoenix falls hard for the voice of Scarlett Johansson, and her total lack of physical substance doesn't thwart his desire in the least.

The Vent

  11 August 2019

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