Gender light has finally dawned for the gender-oppressed in Vienna, Austria. According to an AFP story at Brietbart.com the city of Vienna has finally launched an initiative to raise awareness about gender equality. In the process, thousands of oppressed and marginalized women will now be able to cross the streets and use exits in safety and confidence. Co-incidentally, hundreds of thousands of males will now be able to take seats on subways, trams, and buses which were formerly designated for elderly, pregnant, or child-toting women.
Vienna’s “Gender Mainstreaming Project” is supposed “to give both genders the same exposure and ensure an equal distribution of chances, opportunities, and duties by changing the gender of figures pictured on familiar signs,” a spokesperson for the Wiener Rathaus (Vienna City Hall) stated. “Because it clashes with fixed visual habits, the campaign compels people to think, look, and act different,” said Sonja Wehsely, city councilor in charge of women’s affairs. Under the new guidelines now being implemented across the city, signs that formerly used male characters will have their female equivalent, while the opposite will also be true.
Marvelous improvement in quality of life for the women of Vienna is just around the corner. Uncounted hundreds of thousands of females have been stranded on street corners, discouraged from crossing at safe moments, because the sign that signaled them to do so was an ideograph of a man. Now many thousands of female lives will now be saved, as women no longer get run over by trams, busses, and garbage trucks in Vienna’s streets. Gutters that used to run red with female blood can now be cleaned. The city’s landfills will no longer be gorged with the crushed and broken bodies of female pedestrians who gauged incorrectly when best to cross the street.
The public decency department of the Wiener* Polizei (Viennese Police Department) will add several thousand new staff, to manage the expected rise in disorderly conduct events in the use of public restrooms. Both sexes are expected to react testily to the presence of the opposite sex in public toilets formerly marked for one sex or the other.
“Yes, it will be dicey for a while,” said Alosius Schlagobersfürgehirne, Direktor des Wiener WC und Pissoir** Amt (Viennese Water Closet and Public Pisser Authority). “But, these times of civic turmoil advance us toward the day when all can relive themselves in the company of anyone without a care. Surely that goal is worth the effort!” he exclaimed.
The reactions from Vienna’s men was mixed. “Well, it’s certainly going to be an improvement to have women crossing the streets with us,” said one middle-aged Wiener.* “It will improve the appearance of the crowds in the middle of the streets to see female figures there who are not dashing for their lives or being crushed by streetcars because of their pedestrian indecisiveness.” Other men hailed the new availability of seats on public transportation formerly reserved for pregnant and elderly women.
Some members of Vienna’s gay community were less sanguine. “Undoubtedly, the presence of women in the middle of the streets and in the pissoirs is going to change the social dynamics,” said a local tourist guide who specializes in GLBT clientele. “Many GLBT citizens will have to learn a whole new protocol for social interaction in those places,” he explained.
On the other hand, Dominetta Donnerblixenmachen, Dominatrix of the City of Vienna’s GLBT Affairs Office, sees the new gender mainstream project as merely the first step toward mainstreaming all the genders, not just the merely biological ones.
“The new signage is an advance, of course,” she said. “But, there is nothing in the current ideographs to signal anything beyond body parts.” Donnerblixenmachen has already set up a task force to design ideographs which represent gay, lesbian, transsexual, and bisexual persons. “When we have a fair consensus in our communities, we’ll present them to the Viennese City Council for inclusion in all the usual places — public transportation and toilets, street crossings, and boarding stations for trains.”
Donnerblixenmachen displayed the current front runner for more gender-inclusive signage, an ideograph with a female form sporting a moustache, and a male ideograph with breasts and voluptuous lips. “It’s a more organic approach to communication,” Donnerblixenmachen explained. “This design was put forth by the La Cage Aux Folles Coalition for Sexual Sanity. Presently it has the support of about 57 percent of the GLBT community we have surveyed.”
On the other hand, Donnerblixenmachen explained, “others are campaigning for a less organic approach.” She displayed an alternate signage, similar to the one Vienna is already deploying, except that an abstract symbol for “male” is imposed on a female ideograph, and vice versa. “If the Rathaus imagines that the current signage will get people to thinking, they will think all the harder with this more purely spiritual signage.”
One segment of Vienna’s population will be exempt from gender mainstreaming. AFP reports that a roadworks sign picturing a woman in a skirt digging into a pile of dirt and used on a campaign poster for the gender mainstream project will not see the light of day because of “traffic regulations.” Project activists are busy researching just what this means, with a view to ensuring that all genders have equal access to the ditch-digging sectors of the economy.
Meanwhile, the local chapter of PETA continues to wage an unremitting campaign against “the anthropocentric chauvinism” of the gender mainstreaming project. “Why have symbols of humans at all? Even if the city uses signs for dozens of genders that are conceivable, they’re still human!” says Fifi Hundeundkatzeundvögelundsoweiter. “Species justice requires that we use only abstract symbols for all the genders.” The local chapter of PETA has taken up a campaign to replace all the ideographs in the city that presently depict humans with signs that suggest all genders in purely symbolic form.
Will Vienna’s cutting edge gender mainstreaming project spread beyong the Wienerwald? History suggests it may. A century ago, a psychiatrist named Sigmund Freud attempted to catalog the features of Vienna’s pscho-sexual aberrations. In an understandable ego-centric error, he supposed he was observing a general pattern of human psychology, rather than the idiosyncracies of a post-empire mass neurosis confined mostly to Vienna within the Guertel. But, in a surprise still affecting the West, Freud’s error became established as the premier psychological model of Western Europe and the Americas. Today entire university schools of psychiatry suppose all humanity is substantially identical to the navel-gazing neurotics of fin de siecle Vienna.
With a precedent like that, can gender mainstreaming for the rest of the West be far behind?
*The German name of Vienna is “Wien,” pronounced “veen,” as German W’s have the same consonantal sound as the American or British letter “v.” Thus, in German, “Wiener” [pronounced “veener”] is not a hot dog, but a male resident of Wien (i.e. Vienna). A female resident of Vienna is a Wienerin.
**Pissoir is a mild French vulgarism used throughout Europe to label public latrines for men, though it would appear they may now be used by women in Vienna.