What follows is an educational anecdote from my friend Sandy.
Tonight on the way home from school, Bayard and I witnessed a very large white man out in the street yelling at a taxi driver who had apparently just rear-ended his car, although there didn't appear to be any real damage. I couldn't actually see inside the taxi, but if you've ever been in NYC, you know who was likely driving the taxi.
The big guy in the street was screaming, "You fucking pussy! You fucking step out of that taxi you fucking pussy!" He screamed it many times.
As we walked by, I said to Bayard, "Hmm, it sounds like someone's really mad." Pause. "Did you hear what that guy was yelling?" Bayard nodded quietly, "He said the "F" word." "Right," I said, "And he said 'pussy.' Do you know what that means?"
Bayard said no, he didn't.
I said, "Well. You know how boys have penises and girls have vaginas? Pussy is another name for vagina. And when a man says it Really Loudly like that to another man, in an angry voice, he's putting down the other man, he's telling that other man he's a woman." [Yes, I know that the vagina is not the instrumental equivalent of the penis, but I'm not ready to explain orgasms to an eight-year old.]
Bayard looked up at me. "Bayard," I asked, "Do you think there's anything wrong with being a woman?" Bayard looked sort of blank, "No mom." Which under the circumstances was an extremely wise and correct choice on Bayard's part.
I said, "It's kind of sad that angry man was calling that other man a vagina. He's calling that man a female sexual organ! I don't think that's a put-down."
And Bayard replied confidently, "Really, mom. If it wasn't for vaginas, none of us would be here."
Regime change begins at home.