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  Gorilla My Dreams
The monkey does drag
by A. Monkey

I didn’t plan it, I swear. I don’t know how these things happen, but the past three books I’ve read have been stories where the author changed their identity, dressed up like someone they weren’t and successfully fooled everyone.

I won’t be a bore, giving titles and authors; I’ll just list the deceptions. Rich East Coast snob woman picks up a dish rag and fits right in with the permanent underclass, taking a bunch of shitty, demeaning service jobs across the USA. White guy goes to 1960s New Orleans, takes a medication that turns his skin black, and travels through the Deep, scary-ass South as a just another down-on-his-luck Negro. New York City lesbian and newspaper columnist lifts some weights, tapes a fake dick to her thigh, and spends 14 months hanging out with guys in strip clubs, bowling alleys and monasteries.

All of them were decent, so-so reads. But they all raised a pretty serious question about some of the most significant elements of human identity – race, gender, class – which none of the authors dug their claws into. That question is this: what does it say about how different men and women are if you can dress up like the one you aren’t and pass yourself off? Same question goes for black/white, snob/slave.

On one hand, the answer affirms the most noble of sensibilities that feminists, civil rights heroes, and anarchists have pushed for: more than the idea we are all equal, we’re all the same. But it also makes a fag, a nigger, and a serf out of me, or at least the equivalent. And no one really talks about that.

I’ve grunted and moved boxes with a female transsexual office manager who had her tits sawn off and took male hormone pills so she could grow a goatee. People didn’t know for months that it was a woman. And I’ve caught myself drooling at the sight of a luscious sashaying ass of what turned out to be a male transvestite.

The only way these deceptions can work is if the differences between men and women are broachable by a matter of a few nips n’ tucks and a costume change. If they are, and they are, then the truth is that the monkey male and female are physically hardly different at all. Somewhere between lions (easier to distinguish) and house cats (harder).

The tough part about this is that many of the female qualities I’ve popped boners for – soft hairless skin, big soft lips, thick and flowing hair, shapely legs and ass – are fairly minor, looking at the big picture; the whole body. Not only this, but do an honest appraisal of, say, a typical Asian man’s body, and you’ll find many of these same qualities or capacities for them.

But women are different in other ways, right? Like their moods, and that stuff. Maybe so, but ever since I started treating them like they were exactly like me, like a guy, they’ve been a lot easier to talk to, understand, get into the sack. There’s no mystery at all about Woman. And the only thing that made me believe there was one was the idea I grew up with: that we’re different.

When the office manager finally told me she was a woman, she laughed out loud at my months of suckertude. I remember her saying, “Don’t you see what a hilarious game you’re playing as a ‘guy’? It’s a pretty thin veneer.” I didn’t agree with her at the time, but she was right. It is.

I’ve told a lot of women that my radical new take on feminism isn’t that we’re equal, it’s that we’re the same. Most of them recoiled at first in horror, and then conceded that yeah, there’s not much difference.

Aside from the gender stuff that’s left me wondering how gay I am, the rest is pure affirmation of our democratic instincts. If you can blend in with the poor but are rich in real life, what is it exactly that distinguishes you from those folks who ain’t got what you got? Same goes for race. Human theater and circumstance, best as I can tell.

The monkey is a columnist for Vanity Fair, and regular contributor to National Geographic and Newsweek. Contact the monkey at monkey4monkeys@yahoo.com.



Idiot Box by Matt Bors
Big Fat Whale by Brian McFadden
Perry Bible Fellowship by Nicholas Gurewitch
Bob the Angry Flower by Stephen Notely

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