My imagination runs wild when I walk the pups in the woods mid-coffee. This morning I imagined my book made a big splash and I was interviewed by a faceless journalist for yet another news organization, not so much about the writing and my equisite craft, but because I wrote a gender neutral book. Let’s call the interviewer “Smith.”
Smith: Why did you choose to write an entire novel without any gender identification whatsoever? Is this some kind of protest? Political stance?
Me: Initially I wrote this interactive novel with the intended audience to be sales professionals, with a specific focus on the insurance industry. I know first hand how women and men are treated differently in the corporate sales world, not necessarily consciously, but there is a difference, and I didn’t want to feed that in my work.
Smith: Initially? Did that change?
Me: Yes, as the book grew, I realized the audience could be much much broader, and I felt it was even more imperative that gender stay out of these professional roles and relationships entirely. Readers are going to insert their assumptions anyway, I don’t have to be responsible for that. Ironically, the more I inserted sex scenes, the more I wanted the characters to have no gender identification.
Smith: Why is that? How?
Me: Deep down I know gender doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t. In the book, “Come As You Are,” by the therapist Emily Nagoski, it’s explained over and over again how we humans have the same sex organs, just arranged differently. My father, who was the country doctor in town and taught Human Growth and Development at my school, would repeat over and over, “Normal is not necessarily Average,” and vice versa. An example I offer here; it is normal for a child to be born a hermaphrodite but it’s not average. It’s an important distinction I urge people to seriously consider. I mean, really take those two statements and dive deep. I would hope most people would come up from that thinking understanding that gender does not matter. So much would change for the better the more we as a culture recognize that.
Smith: What do you mean by that?
Me: First of all, gender inequality could cease to exist if there were no gender assumptions to begin with. Secondly, I think if people could allow themselves to get better educated, and allow their children to get better educated in the biological department of sex education, people would be more open and honest and understanding about gender.
Smith: So this is a political stance you’re making with the book.
Me: Does it have to be?
And at that point we were back on the deck, removing little burrs and sticky seeds from the pups fur. My 90’s soup-bowl-sized coffee cup was drained. And as I took my tall mud boots off leaving me only clothed by a coffee-stained pink robe I’ve had since 2003, I realized there is so much more work to do.