[this was a response to Tyler's very provocative comment on the SLAM dunk; it got way too long so I decided to post it as a blog on its own]
The comma thing is weird. This will date me, but when I was in school, the word "too" was always blanketed by commas. As in, "I think he should stay out of my business, too." and "I was going to get the green one, too, and then I decided not to." Interesting.
So here is my thought on this conversation. It's been a long time since I threw down the mantle of feminism, but I'll put it back on for a second.
When I was in first or second year women's studies I read an article (hypothetical) on a couple who had a baby and decided to raise her androgynously. So they dressed "it" in gender neutral clothing, "it" played with all sorts of toys, and so forth. No one was allowed to change its diaper except the parents and so no one outside of those two knew if it was a girl or boy. At first, the children at school were freaked out by this genderless being, but as time went on and they saw that the child wasn't bound by gender expectations, they gradually wanted to wear the same ambiguous overalls and become as "it."
The thing with the story, though, is that isn't necessarily how it would turn out, much as my twenty year old self wanted it to.
See, as much as we pretend that the differences between us as male/female don't matter or are constructs of society, I'm not sure that we're finding out that is true. Hormones, body shape and size, brain functions - these things are all affected by our biological sex. Now, let me venture a little off the path to say that it is my personal opinion that our strict definitions of male/female are too restrictive, I see it more like a continuum of sex...like some people are totally male and totally female and some fall somewhere in between.
I firmly believe, though, that if a person is a whatever - a writer, a lawyer, a politician, a firefighter - the way they do their job (hobby, whatever) is coloured by their biological sex.
So you make a good argument, for sure, when you say why distinguish his sex, why not just say Nick Hornby is a great writer, but to me, doing that wouldn't be the right thought; it wouldn't express what I want to say, which is that in my opinion, Nick Hornby is the greatest male writer.
Maybe writing does erase our difference sometimes. Sometimes, maybe it highlights them. I guess it depends on how the writer wants to be perceived, and how the reader perceives the writing.
So if all of this is the most trivial stuff you've heard in a long time, Ty, I apologize. It's been a long time since I've been in school, and a long time since I've thought about all of this. Also, I know that as soon as I decide this is how I feel I usually change my mind to the complete opposite. That's why I wrote two versions of my honours thesis; I couldn't decide from day to day which way I felt.
Final point. Having a baby enforced for me the biological divide between male and female. I believe we are more the same than we are different, but we are still different.
(gosh, I feel like I'm in school, this is totally fun)
(also, I feel like I totally may have missed the point of what you were saying)