Big question: What is power?

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines power as “the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events” (incidentally, the example phrase the dictionary provides is “the idea that men should have power over women”). However, I think this definition is incomplete. Power is not only the ability to control the external, but also ability to establish the internal. Reading David Colapinto’s “As Nature Made Him,” I was struck by the actions Brenda undertook to make her self-perceived male gender harmonize with how the world saw her. I think most of Brenda’s childhood behavioral issues were a product of her fruitlessly attempting to establish her power. Wittingly or not, Dr. Money, Brenda’s parents, and most everyone around her took away her power by forcing her to be a girl. I think this is perhaps why some parents choose to raise their children as “genderless”—they do not want society taking away their children’s power to establish who they are by imposing upon them preconceived notion of what gender is.

Colapinto, John. As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl. New York: HarperCollins, 2000. Print.


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