Dean Clough

February 6, 2023

Portico Darwin: Construction Zone


<4 Minute Read
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Let's dive right in to Monday with me touching two of the third rails in modern America:  gender and race.  Heck, I even delve into sexuality for good measure.

To illustrate, I'll use a term du jour:  construct.  But not the verb, the noun:

Disclaimer:  please top reading this right now if you are easily offended and/or doubt my support for just about anyone that is not a jerk.  That includes LGBT people and people of color and women and shorter people and taller people and redheads (!) and even people with brown eyes.

With that out of the way, let's look at two of the most sensitive topics out there - gender and race - and see if they are constructs.

Gender is Not a Construct
Folks, this one is science.  Gender is not a construct, but is instead biology and boils down to this:

  • Two X Chromosomes = Male
  • One X, One Y Chromosome = Female

Are there abnormalities?  Of course, but not in any large number.  And that's not what I'm talking about here. 

What I am talking about is that virtually every person is born or becomes a man or a woman.  So, it is for that reason I personally will not use the "they" pronoun.  For anyone, and it's not disrespectful.  That is because you are today a he or a she, a him or her.  I am just not clear on why the science of gender is somehow seen as hurtful or exclusionary to anyone.  In fact, what could be more inclusionary?

Sexuality?  Also not a construct, but humans rightly express theirs in many ways.  In my mind, that is consistent with there being only two genders in our species.  To me it is:  what does the person in question want? 

For example, a person born a man that lives and presents as a woman.  Isn't it correct to refer to her as a she, because that would seem to be what this individual wants?  I can't imagine how that's disrespectful - "he" would be disrespectful, and "they" doesn't make sense - there is no "they" gender.  Yes, it's nuanced. 

Further, a transexual - one that has had a sex change procedure - has clearly made an essentially permanent decision, and should expect and deserves to be called what they are after the surgery:  a he or a she.  Yes, there's even more nuance here, but I think we all can handle it.

And a gay man or woman is still a he or a she, and I'll go further out on a limb and say most homo- and bisexuals still consider themselves either male or female.

What about those that call themselves queer?  <Old Man Speak On> Frankly, I don't really care what you call yourself, who or what you love or don't love, what you wear, or how many tattoos or ear gauges you get.  </Old Man Speak Off>  I also respect - big time - your desire to not play by the rules and to chart your own course.  It is your character that matters to me, little else.  And yes, I will stipulate I do not understand those that don't want to be either gender.

But aren't you still a man or a woman, and if we respect everyone, why is that not good enough?  In other words, do we really need a third gender if people can express their sexuality as they see fit?   Especially, you know, because of the . . . science?

Lastly, and speaking of science:  let's leave pre-pubescent children out of this.  A 6 year old boy that wants to wear dresses and play with dolls?  I think this child and others like them need to be supported and encouraged to be what they feel.  But hormones?  Teaching them about homo-, hetero-, and bisexuality?  Starting treatment and even beginning the sex change process?  No, not until puberty, because we cannot possibly expect a 7 or 8 year old child to understand their own sexuality or that of others.   Nor should they have to - they're children.

Race Is a Construct
This is easy if you give it any thought.  And unlike the gender and sexuality stuff, what I say here is unlikely to inflame anyone.  Probably.

A simple example will illustrate.  Let's say a 100% African man, a person with very dark skin (most would say "black"), were to marry a 100% Swedish woman, a person with very light skin (most would say "white").  Actually, I bet that happens more than occasionally, and wow, I hope we're all at a point where we celebrate love among people, whomever they may be.  But I digress.

So they marry, and have a baby.  Is the baby white, like the mother?  Or black, like the father?   That baby is a mix of both races, and may look white, black, or some combo.  And then what happens if that baby grows up and marries a 100% Asian woman from China?  What race would their baby be?  Couldn't that baby later choose to identify as white, black, or Asian?  How could any choice be "wrong"?  Is race not a construct?

If you're still not convinced, consider two concepts related to race, class and nationality.

Today, class matters more than just about anything, including race.  A generationally rich white kid from Atherton has a heck of a lot more in common with a generationally rich black kid from Atlanta than he/she does with a generationally poor white kid from Albany.  Yet we still think of "the whites" and "the blacks".

And nationality?  One's passport signifies . . . what, exactly?  To me, it's more of an agreement over a shared history, a form of governance, and cultural norms, versus bloodlines or some kind of cosmic endowment. 

Don't get me wrong - heritage and tradition are great.  At least for what they are:  constructs.

A Reasonable Balance
How's this?   

  1. Respect all others until they prove unworthy
  2. There is a real, scientific difference between us, as men and women - so let's not create (construct!) fake ones

Here's a new visual to help you imagine such a world.

Now, if I can just pull my foot off of this third rail . . . this might help.


The famed artist and favored cousin Charles Clough shocked me with news of an interest I had no idea we shared.

Apropos your convertibles, I was watching YouTubes of the Ferrari Testarosa 250 and D-jag, and then 2022 supercars in Monaco - car porn - too cool!

If you haven't watched the supercars thing yet, get over your resistance to porn and start getting excited. 

But wait - Charlie was not quite done with cars.  This archival footage he sent along from Ford is top-notch eye candy of their glory years on the F1 circuit.

1967 US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen

That's not one, but two, must-watch car videos from one of America's greatest living artists.  You're welcome!

And, it's also ripped from today's headlines. 

Ford Returns To Formula 1; Strategic Partner To Oracle Red Bull Racing For 2026 Season And Beyond

Formula 1 is really booming in the U.S., so Ford's timing is spot-on.

Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.


There are many options for today - think of all of the songs about men, women and race.  But instead, I'm going with a simply incredible song about sexuality, in this case, female sexuality. 

Here is k.d. lang with a song that happens to be called just that.  What an amazingly powerful track.

About Dean Clough

Plans To Enjoy Life.