And THIS is how you do satire

The views I am about to express are not very fashionable. They are certainly not politically correct. But I believe what I am about to say must be expressed to protect the institution of marriage.

Too often in the media, currency is given to the theory that everyone should be allowed to marry regardless of gender, outlook and whether the two people are creating a suitable family environment in which to bring up children.

Well, it is time to ask some hard questions about this attitude. The only way we will save marriage is to reclaim the institution for the mainstream. Marriage is for normal people who want to raise children in a healthy and secure environment. This is why we should ban religious fundamentalists from marrying.

Read the rest of There’s a fundamental wrong in letting some people marry. It’s the best done satire I’ve read in a while.

Via Ragnell.

Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it's not there

Today’s PiA post comes from the Girl Wonder forums. It is, in part, a reaction to my privilege list, which the poster in question was linked to among other posts.

I have lived my life bullied and dismissed and marginalized and aloof; if there’s a “white male heterosexual privilege”, no one ever told me how to cash it in.

[From Untitled post comment on page 3 by Patrick Gerard]

Gerard’s statement clearly illustrates that privilege isn’t a binary thing. A person does not either have privilege or not, but rather that we all simultaneously benefit from privilege and are the victims of it because of our various circumstances. Gerard here benefits from privileges such as being white, male, and heterosexual (you can add to that ones like being cisgendered and able-bodied), but one of the ways in which he is non-privileged is class. He is neither rich nor middle-class, but rather makes it known that he has never been able to get above the poverty line.

He clearly has seen the discrimination he has faced because of power imbalances such as the one in his class status. In this way I think he’s like most of us: it’s much easier to see the imbalance when we’re the ones getting the short end of the stick. I think it seems so obvious because we’re the ones who are hurt, we’re the ones who are having to overcome hurdles others don’t, and we’re the ones who see others dismiss us without a thought.

And, you know what? That’s exactly what his post did to me. I mean, he may have done it on the Girl Wonder forums and not on this blog, but he basically dismissed the real experiences of myself and many, many others like me (not just women, but all varieties of anti-oppression workers) by calling concepts that I tried very hard to carefully and non-offensively explain “delusional”. I have another comment waiting in moderation that won’t be published because it breaks the golden rule of politeness, not to mention condescension. So, yeah, it really frigging hurts to be dismissed when all it would take is an extra two minutes of thought on how your criticism is worded to change your argument from being a high-class flame to being a critical one that may open up discussion and broaden the knowledge of both parties. You’d better believe that I remember almost all of these instances — everything from, “this chick needs some dick” to long rebuttals which engage with certain points while using turns of phrase that diminish me as an equal member in the discussion — because, well, being dismissed really hurts.

But instances where I benefit from privilege are much harder for me to remember, mostly because I count these things as normal. I am not excluded, therefore I am not hurt or unsatisfied. I will never, say, have a problem going to a public restroom if they are gender segregated. “But,” you may be thinking, “that’s not benefiting from privilege, that’s just using common sense. I mean, you wouldn’t want to share a bathroom with a man, right?” Therein lies the rub: it’s common sense to you and me because we’re cisgendered — meaning our gender identity (our belief that we are male or female) is the same as our expressed sex. What about a transwoman who looks too feminine to go into the man’s washroom without fear of having violence done to her, but looks too masculine to go into the women’s washroom without fear of having security called on her? Such incidents happen, but cisgendered people like you or I take it for granted that we’ll never be barred access or otherwise given trouble for using the bathroom of the gender we identify with.

And that’s just one example of how I, personally, benefit from something in society being made to fit my situation that is exclusive and hurtful to another kind of person. Going back to the original example of Patrick Gerard’s post, Gerard hasn’t ever “cash[ed] in” on privilege because that’s not how privilege works. Cashing in implies that the benefits are waiting there for the right people to take them, but the reality is that privilege is being the beneficiary of unseen benefits that are obscured because they are portrayed as common sense and/or just the way things are done.

Do we have the right to express our opinion anywhere, anytime?

If I tell myself, “this will be a short PiA post” will that make it true? Anyway, this post is halfway between real life and internet, as it happened to me while I was playing Final Fantasy XI last night. I don’t have the chatlog, though if I hadn’t been tired and cranky I probably would have screencapped it. Definitely should have. Oh well, live and learn.

Now, before I got back into this game I specifically looked for a queer-friendly linkshell because I wanted to be as far removed from the casual bigotry of “that’s so gay!” and “get into the kitchen and synth me some pie!” comments. Everything was going really well until one of our members shared a story about how, on her show, Tyra had on some parents who are allowing their child to live as the male he clearly feels himself to be. The woman who shared it thought that it was heartwarming, as did I.

One member, however, didn’t agree and called it “creepy”. But the more he was called on his opinion, the worse it got. First he used the “tomboy” excuse. I and another member told him that it was sexist and, furthermore, that gender identity and gender roles were two separate things. Then he pulled out the question, “Was the kid ugly?” and continued to protest that, because kids were cruel, that it was a completely relevant and appropriate question. At which point I basically told him that a queer-friendly linkshell was not the appropriate forum to express his uninformed opinions about subjects he admittedly has no knowledge about.

He continued by asserting that the transgendered child in question probably was emotionally damaged rather than trans. Another person told him that being transgendered did not make one emotionally damaged, and I tried to counter yet another assertion that there was “nothing wrong” with saying that the whole thing was creepy by asking him to consider how any transpeople on the LJ chat channel might feel hearing that he found them to be “creepy”. At which point one of the pearlsack holders shut us down with an “agree to disagree” line (which pisses me off because, as a moderator, he is one of the people responsible for maintaining the space, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish).

The player in question felt that he was perfectly entitled to air his opinions — nevermind that they weren’t grounded in reality, that they were offensive to those on the linkshell who are against transphobia, and hurtful to any trans-members even if they weren’t on the shell at that time — without regard to whether or not they were appropriate for the space he was in. Even though that space is specifically there so that we can have someplace in which to escape from the bigotry in the greater game community. Privilege is not having to understand why opinions you share should have a factual basis, and furthermore that the opinions you choose to share should be appropriate to the space you’re in.

This player was allowed to get away with disrespecting the fundamental rules of our chat space. His belief that his opinion is valid no matter where and when he shares it overshadowed any questions of appropriateness, and he felt no need to consider how his words made others feel. In the end, because of the mod’s words, even after I tried to get him to make the connection, he probably walked away from the encounter feeling that he was perfectly right in what he had said — after all, by saying that we should “agree to disagree” the moderator in question validated the player’s actions by framing them as having equal weight to what I, and the others protesting his actions, were saying.

Report on Violence Involving Sexual Minorities in Japan

I was recently made aware of a report from the Institute for Global Health by Anthony S. DiStefano documenting violence involving sexual minorities in Japan in 2003-2004. The report, entitled Report on Violence Involving Sexual Minorities in Japan, is available in both English and Japanese.

This study aimed to determine whether lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons in Japan experience violence: 1) directed against them because of their sexual orientation or gender identity (i.e., bashing); 2) occurring within intimate partner dyads; 3) by or against family members; and 4) toward the self. Additional goals were to identify the perceived health impacts of such violence, describe how these issues are defined and understood within the Japanese context, characterize the socio-cultural environment that influences the occurrence of violence, and identify specific areas of inquiry that future studies can examine in further depth.

Via the feminist LJ.

Feminist SF Carnival: 4th Edition

Welcome to the Fourth Edition of the Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans! We’ve got quite a collection here this time, a whole host of topics organized by medium: Comic Books and Novels, Film and Television, and (my favourite) Video Games!

Comic Books and Novels

Feminist Superheroes
Transexual Fury: Summer Camp Special!

Starting this edition off with a bang are two posts talking about comic books in general. First, reappropriate‘s Jenn entertains us with her post, Meme: the Comic Book version.

Peachblossom of A Libertine‘s post, Feminist Superhero Books, talks about how the issue of feminism in comic books was tackled in the book, Wonder Women: Feminisms and Superheroes, by Lillian s. Robinson.

This one is a bit old, but it’s too good to leave unremarked on. Elkins of Notes from the Tundra examines the very real problem of girl on girl hostility in fandom and the world at large with her post Paranoia in Online Fandom: CMC, Girls’ Aggression, and Overanalyzing the Texts.

My assumption about this paranoia and the behavior that it engenders always used to be that it was simply a side-effect of the nature of CMC itself. The other week, however, while I was at the beach, I read a book someone had recommended to me on the subject of girls’ particular modes of aggression–Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, by Rachel Simmons–and it was really shocking to me just how well many of the things that this book described were things that I strongly associate with online fandom dynamics. That in turn has made me wonder to what extent much of the “paranoiac” behavior that I’ve been seeing in on-line fandom might be an artifact not only of CMC, but also of the predominantly female demographics of the fandom circles in which I’ve travelled.

Ampersand of Alas, a Blog connects this phenomenon to the feminist blogsphere at large in his post, How Girls Express Aggression and Online Fandom Dynamics.

In another instance of relating comics and feminism (this time with a superhero twist), this one Charlie Anders of othermag comments on a talented artist who is using comics as a medium to explore the anti-trans policy of Michfest, a popular women’s festival. The post, Superheroines team up to fight the real enemy, is worth a read, but don’t forget to check out the comic itself as well. It should be noted, however, that since the publishing of the comic, the festival that is alluded to has changed its policy and is now inclusive of all women.

Can I be like you when I grow up?Moving away from independent comics and into the world of The Big Two, Kalinara of Pretty, Fizzy Paradise says that she can’t find it in her heart to hate someone who brought such a touching moment of female solidarity in Darn You Geoff Johns.

In the wake of both the wedding between the X-Men’s Storm and Black Panther, as well as the Black Panel at Comic Con, it’s no surprise that bloggers are still talking about issues surrounding gender and race in comics. Starting us off is Ragnell of Written World and her post, It’s still bothering me…, where she writes about her disappointment in the way that the more popular Storm has taken a back seat to Black Panther. She continues her analysis of this issue over at Newsarama by discussing the implications of the cover art in her post, Amateur Art Appreciation: The Groom

Tackling the issue head on in her livejournal, I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, spiralsheep discusses sexism towards black women in comics in her post, In which our heroine asks, “What would T’Challa do?” , she has this to say:

But when a writer takes an achievement, a genuine victory, away from one character and gives it to another then there’d better be a good reason, when a writer takes away a female character’s self-determination and gives it to the men around her there’d better be a good reason, and when a writer turns a black victim of white crime into a black perpetrator of crime against a white person then there’d better be a !%@%! good reason.

The eponymous blogger Tlönista has written, Rebels from the waist down, a post on the portrayal of women in her favourite dystopian novels:

It gets scary-depressing when you read the feminist blogs and take in a piece on Joe Francis one day and teen virginity pledges the next and realize that the pressures on women in 1984 and Brave New World still exist simultaneously here, so that resisting one is giving into the other.

And what better way to end a section on comic books than with everybody’s favourite hero? Yes, that’s right, Planet Karen has a very special strip about Mars.

Film and Television

Fembots and the men who love them
Fembots (and the men who love them)

Over at Real Men Are Not, Luke dissects an essay on “Fembots” in his post, We’ll Pick You Up: Fembots and the Idiot at Enterprise [eta – broken link removed].

I don’t care if you say that fembots are some male-created extension in science of an already patriarchal culture but don’t tell me that that’s really the “perfect male fantasy”? Talk about something original and actually news-worthy.

Superwomen, not Fembots, are the subject of Ide Cyan’s post over at Feminist SF – The Blog!. In My Super Ex-Girlfriend [Caution! Spoilers in link.] she explores the movie of the same name from a feminist perspective.

The use of oversensitivity to sexual harrassment in the workplace as a running joke is particularly odious and tiresome. In the mouth of the protagonist’s Black, female boss, it adds to the caricature of women in positions of power as unreasonable and unjust towards the poor hapless (White) males.

Earthsea?And We Shall March laments yet another bastardization of Leguin’s Earthsea series in the post, And Then Ghibli Screwed Earthsea.

What sci-fi carnival would be complete without some Trekkie-loving? First we a post on the original series of Star Trek: heavenscalyx of The Calyx of the Heavens touches on (among other things) the treatment of Marla McGiver in, Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan! But TOS isn’t the only of the Star Trek series deserving of attention! On the Hathor Legacy, a blog devoted to the portrayal of women in the media, Revena discusses the fluid gender expression of the character in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Jadzia’s Gender.

Kirylin of Kirylin’s Voice muses on Traits of a strong female character, looking at shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer in contrast with shows of her youth, like G. I. Joe:

Thinking about Elisa; Gloria and Vanessa; Lady Jaye, Scarlett, and Cover Girl; R.C.; Tea and Alexisa… it makes me wonder what defines a “strong” female character.

And to wrap things up with this section, another post from Charlie Anders at othermag: So much for the feminist take on Doctor Who [Caution! Spoilers in link.], which discusses the relationship between the Doctor and his companion.

Video Games

Beyond Good and Evil
Feminist Video Games: Beyond Good and Evil?

Jeff of our very own kicks off this section by questioning why “feminist video games” didn’t pull up any matches in his post, Feminist Video Games?

Of course, there’s the larger question of what would make a game good from a feminist perspective. In addition to being good from a gameplay perspective, I’d say such a game would include female characters who are full agents in the game world, and who are treated as subjects rather than objects. I think a variation of the Mo Movie Measure applies as well, in that female characters should interact with other female characters in ways that aren’t centered around men.

And, speaking of feminism and games, you know it’s going to spark some controversy when Sony announces that it’s going to release a pink console. Ariel of New Game Plus discusses the politics of pink PS2s and PSPs in her post, Feminists and Pink Game Consoles.

In a more personal expression of feminism and video games, Brinstar of Acid for Blood asks her readers to help her live like a pro-gamer for a weekend in Send Me to Stockholm.

So why do I want to go to Stockholm to learn how to play FPS games with a professional Quake 4 clan? Because it sounds fun. I’d totally blog about it, too. And there would be pictures.

In a less personal post, Brinstar looks at the gender differences in the survivors of a new video game in her post, No Weapons for Women in Dead Rising. While all of the men players have encountered thus far will take a weapon to defend themselves, most women are offered a hand and ushered off to safety. Although I doubt anywhere is truly “safe” when zombies are involved.

And on an unrelated subject, in response to an e-mail I received, I call for readers’ opinions on the where they think the responsibilities of privileged groups lie when choosing avatars in roleplaying games. My post, Race and Video Game Avatars, is on Official Blog and is reproduced over at Alas, A blog, so be sure to check out the discussion at both sites.

Final Words

This concludes the Fourth Edition of the Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans. Ragnell is hurting for hosts, so please e-mail her here and volunteer!

Dividing to include, including to divide?

So, as y’all should know by now, I currently live in Japan, but I consider my home area to be the Washington and British Columbia areas. My mom lives there and she recently e-mailed me a news article about the formation of GLBT Month in Jefferson County. The reason she did this was because of one letter to the editor that angered her very much.

In a nutshell, Connie Rosenquist, the letter writer, is angry over Jefferson County’s decision to have a GLBT Month. My mother said that most of the responses to the original article were positive, but this negative one pushed her buttons for a reason she couldn’t name. I read it and knew immediately what it was; it was the same attitude that opponents of this proclamation in the original article expressed. An attitude that oppression activists are intimately familiar with.

I’m talking about privilege.

In this case, the ability to believe that one’s privileged state is the “default” and therefore see any attempt at equality as the non-privileged groups to get “special” rights, or to see them as trying to shut you out of “your” community. I’ve taken this on from the perspective of helping potential allies, but now I want to examine exactly why these attitudes are actually harmful to the expressed goals of equality, neutrality, and inclusion.

I. The Myth of Cultural Neutrality

“While I do agree we don’t want discrimination, I don’t believe it exists in the county,” he said, pausing as a handful of people present who opposed the proclamation applauded.

“I don’t believe government should be taking a position on any lifestyle,” Rodgers said.

[From Gay pride proclamation stirs controversy by By Kasia Pierzga]

The position that conservatives like Rodgers and Rosenquist are coming from is founded on the notion that society, as it is right now, is neutral. For those of us who fight oppression, this assumption is obviously fallacious — if one could major in fighting oppression, the idea that we live in a neutral society would be debunked in Privilege 101. But, for the majority of people, this idea remains unquestioned until they find that rights that matter to them come into question. And even then, the connection might not be made unless they happen upon an article, discussion, or class and the idea is not only brought up but done so in a way that resonates with them.

In other words, I’m surprised that any of us actually interact with notions of privilege and what it means in our respective societies given what we have stacked against us. I mean, who wants to think about how our society is crappy and that all of us, in our own special ways, contribute to the crappiness? I sure don’t! But I know if I don’t, not only will I suffer, but everyone else will, too. And, well, what’s worse than thinking about a crappy society is realizing that I’m willfully participating in hurting other people.

Not A Position On A LifestyleBringing this back to privilege and the myth of a neutral culture. One of the main ideas behind the concept of privilege is that our privileged state is seen as a “default” or “neutral” state in society. In regards to feminism, the main principle is that of “male normativity” — or seeing men, and the masculine sphere, as the default human state. For racial activism, the main state is “assumption: white” — meaning that white people are seen as the default human state, and white culture is seen as the default culture. In this case, the privileged state being battled is that of heteronormativity.

When Rodgers says that he doesn’t believe that the government should be taking a position on any lifestyle, he is clearly not counting heterosexuality as a “lifestyle.” For him, and those who hold the same beliefs, heterosexuality isn’t a lifestyle, it is simply a given in life. They are heterosexual, therefore everyone must be. The people who live outside of a traditional heterosexual lifestyle can’t be doing it it because it’s their default human state, but because they choose to live a different way.

But, I mean, the government is not staying out of people’s relationships. From the foundation of the United States of America, to the laws and regulations of America’s parent countries, and even looking at the way that the institution of marriage has developed and been practiced in nations throughout history, the government has always had a stake in this area. The whole point of marriage is so that the state can confer all sorts of applicable rights to the married persons.

Not only that, but the government is clearly not even neutral on the subject of queer relationships, but there is a strong minority force, lead by Bush, is all too involved in taking a position on the “lifestyle”. To be fair, Rodgers himself may be against this, too, but the point is that attacks like the repeated attempts to amend the constitution to ban same-sex marriage is a pretty clear case against the idea that our culture is neutral ground when it comes to heterosexual rights versus queer rights. Unless I missed the part where the senate voted on whether or not we should ban different-sex marriages.

II. Leveling the Playing Field

In her letter, Rosenquist calls the proclamation “unnecessarily offending and dividing.” Although she does not outright state it, I think it’s safe to infer from what she does say that one reason she believes this is because having a GLBT Month seems to confer “special” rights to a group of people. But that works from the assumption that heterosexuality isn’t already privileged over non-heterosexuality. The purpose of the proclamation is not to one up heterosexuality, but rather to level the playing field.

What do I mean by that? Isn’t the playing field already level? Well, not exactly. In fact, there are several different fronts on which heteronormativity gives heterosexuality a one up on other forms of sexual expression. To name a few:

Socalized Heterosexuality:
From the moment we are born until the moment we die, we are continually socialized. Girls become women while being constantly asked about boyfriends, husbands, and male crushes. Boys become men men while being constantly asked about girlfriends, wives, and female crushes. When we are taught in schools, it’s with teaching materials that reinforce “man + woman = couple.”

This doesn’t stop at grade school, but continues even into adult education. For example, in my Japanese class we watch videos that deal with a love triangle where two men like a woman they work with. The pictures our book uses sometimes depicts men and women out on dates. And, of course, in our class discussions everyone assumes everyone else is heterosexual — the women have to make example sentences about boyfriends, the men have to make example sentences about girlfriends.

HeteronormativityHeterosexual Messages in Popular Culture:
Like the picture on the left, the assumption that all people are heterosexual is an unquestioned part of much of our popular culture. When you hear “romantic comedy” you think of a female lead who is lead through a serious of hilarious mishaps until she finds true love with her male counterpart. Action movies that have the obligatory love/lust sidestory will almost always have it set up as being the male lead getting it on with a female support character (or female lead, if the movie has that). Comics are… well, the insane amount of press that the new Batwoman is getting because she’s a lesbian (here, here, and here, to name a few) should be self evident.

And I’d say that this medium is where the queer community has made it’s largest strides in terms of combatting heteronormativity. Shows like Will and Grace, Queer as Folk, and The L Word — whether you like them or hate them — have been slowly creeping into popular culture. Sometimes even mainstream shows, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, will have queer characters. Better yet, there is some tentative evidence to suggest that this promotes tolerance, yay!

But, while we have come a long way, it’s clear (to me, at least) that we still have a long way to go. Which brings me to my last example of heteronormativity in our daily lives.

Legislated Heteronormativity:
When I was talking about heteronormativity in Section 1, this is where I was focusing my efforts. Rodgers may have a point when he said that the government doesn’t have any business legislating sexuality, but making that case in terms of GLBT Month ignores the fact that the government has been in the business of legislating sexuality since before it was the American government.

Marriage laws, tax laws, inheritance laws, and up until recently sodomy laws — these are just a few ways in which the government has legislated our sexuality. And, guess what? For the most part they privilege heterosexual couples by lawfully legitimizing their union (a must have if your partner gets sick or dies) and even giving them monetary incentive in terms of tax breaks and, not as directly, cheaper insurance due to joint plans offered to people who have a legal marriage.

III. It’s Either Us, or Them

I’m going to go one step farther now and posit that the “neutrality” argument is a less overt way of claiming that any attempt to include the queer community in the American community is tantamount to pushing homosexuality on them. If the premise of a neutral culture were correct, then this argument would make a certain amount of sense because one set of values would get more attention than another. Even then, however, the either/or idea — that including one group means excluding the other — is a fallacious argument.

In her letter, Rosenquist employs a certain amount of the “can’t we all just get along?” rhetoric. When she calls the proclamation “unnecessarily offending and dividing,” it is apparently in the spirit of cooperation. That all of us — whether we be heterosexual or queer, conservative or progressive — can live together in a community. That’s a principle we can all get behind, right? Right?

But what kind of a community does she want us all to live in? I can’t answer that to the fullest extent, but I can extrapolate based on her letter. First of all, she believes that a community should make efforts to not offend its members or unnecessarily divide them. So far so good. But, when we get into what that seems to mean to her, things start getting hairy.

See, she feels that since the group is “self-defined by sexual practices,” GLBT Month will therefore not focus enough on the contributions of the nominees. The first problem with that argument is immediately apparent to anyone who knows what the “T” in “GLBT” stands for. That would be transgender. Until now, they have been largely excluded from the conversation — both by the Rosenquist and myself — because… well, because of a lot of reasons.

God Hates FagsOn Rosenquist’s end, I would wager that it’s because she is largely unaware of “trans issues” (I use the term very loosely), as most Americans are. For me, well, because I’m addressing the attitudes of the opponents. And also this post is long enough focusing mostly on issues of sexual orientation without getting into the diverse way that the “T” in “GBLT” interacts with the queer community. But, it’s important here because it is the most obvious way in which the queer community can be seen to be much, much more than a declaration of what genders we are attracted to.

Which brings me to my second problem with her oversimplification. It erases the fact that the reason we all have banded together is because we have been ignored, attacked, killed, deprived of our rights…. well, let’s get simple here, oppressed throughout history. Our sexual preferences may be one common thread between us, but it is not what I would call the “self-defining” feature of the queer rights movement. “The right not to be discriminated against, harassed, killed, or otherwise abused and excluded because of our sexual orientation, gender expression, sexual practices, etc.” would probably be closer to a self-defining feature, really.

And speaking of sexual practices, here’s another point I’d like to address. In her letter, she says:

Jefferson County has multitudes of ways to honor deserving people for actual contributions – and which spare us details of their sexual practices.

Reading this again, I am struck by the strong implication that queer-identified people haven’t made “actual contributions.” But in the interest of time and space, I’ll gloss over that and focus on one of the most telling parts of her piece. The part where she says that Jefferson County needs to honor people in ways that “spare us the details of their sexual practices.” Which, if we go back to her inclusive community idea, pretty strongly argues for the fact that the place queer people have in her community is, at best, that of eternal silence. Because anything else — even if it’s just talking about a same-sex partner in the same way that people talk about their different-sex partners — amounts to TMI.

And, lastly, let’s examine the part where she says:

A truly “welcoming” community also welcomes the more conservative.

Don’t forget that all of this is in response to the government trying to be inclusive of the queer movement by giving us one month out of the year in which we are honored for our struggles and other contributions that our members have made for the community. But, apparently doing this means that Rosenquist and conservatives like her are unwelcome.

“Unwelcome, how,” you ask? Do the queers go out and beat conservatives for daring to flaunt their heterosexuality? Do we try to pass laws that criminalize their unnatural different-sex-only attractions? Do we tell them that they’re welcome in our community only if they “spare us the details of their sexual practices”?

No, no. We make them feel unwelcome because we are, by our very existence, “unnecessarily offending and dividing.” We offend them because we challenge their heretofore unchallenged idea of heteronormativity. We are divisive because we’re different. But what they don’t get — perhaps don’t want to get — is that we can’t stop being who we are.

And if that makes them feel unwelcome… well, I don’t know what to else to say.

A Declaration of Ambiguity

As I find myself being more and more vague when talking about dating, I realize that nobody knows what my sexual orientation is. Maybe I’m becoming more aware from getting closer to my queer friends, or finally feeling comfortable enough to talk about sex when I talk to other women (of all persuasions).

Well, it’s about time I outed myself in honor of Blog Against Heteronormity Day because heteronormity is what made me default to straight. Well, this is my first public admittance: I don’t consider myself a heterosexual.

It feels good to say that. So what am I?

I’m not bisexual. I’m not sure why the term bisexual makes me so uncomfortable. Maybe because it only seems one step off of a binary, positioning my self in the middle of a system as if my interests can be broken down into percentages. Or maybe it is left over from my teen years when I was torn between hating raunch culture and wanting to participate in it. (I didn’t realize at the time I was so saturated in the gazing male narrative that I saw the world very much from a male perspective, but that’s a future blog post.) I wanted guys to think I was hot, sexy but I wanted approval, too, and too few girls met both qualifications.

When I was in the tenth grade, I had a crush on a girl in my class. I told my boyfriend and he thought it was cool. When I broke up with this guy, I admitted I had liked this girl to two of the boys who courted me my junior year. The first, the nerdy senior boy from this post started saying things like, “Since you’re bisexual…” in front of other people. I freaked out because that wasn’t his label to give me. The second boy, a pot smoker who was my age but had been held back, was actively pursuing me (by my interpretations) through cuddling, calling, and flirty IMs. We went to the Sadie Hawkens dance with a group and I dropped him off last so we could talk about whether or not we were dating. He told me he didn’t want to date me because he wasn’t into bi girls.

“I’m not bi,” I said. He ignored me, his mind was made up. Bi girls seemed so objectified, and that wasn’t for me.

Am I a lesbian? Nah, that’s not me. I’m not a pansexual, either, although I’ve had crushes on transpeople. The term pansexual, all-sexual, suggests that I like sex, that I’m into sex. And I’m not.

Not into sex? I must be asexual! No, I’ve ruled out that one, too. Although I’m currently celibate, I would like to enjoy sex someday. I just think it will come later. And when it does happen, I don’t want to feel like I’m not supposed to enjoy it because of my identity. Right now I want to keep sex out of dating, but don’t want to label myself something that will rule out options. (Although I love being single, I also don’t want to feel I can’t pursue someone because I’ve labeled myself something usually associated with being a non-dater.) I’m not going to find empowerment through sex, but I may learn to enjoy it someday when I’m fully riveting with everything else that excites me: learning, creating, loving. Writing, theorizing, having conversations that bring people somewhere new.

I do like the word queer. Maybe someday I’ll be comfortable using it to describe myself. Right now, I don’t know if I’m queer enough. Sometimes, I feel like I’m nothing. Is it privilege of living as a perceived heterosexual to identify myself as no orientation? I don’t think so, since the models of sex and relationships I’ve had growing up have made me feel inadequate for not being more interested in sex.

But I’m not nothing. I’m ambiguous. Fluid, undeclared. Well, I’m declaring it a sexual orientation, my sexual orientation. And it’s one that won’t leave me stagnate, will grow with me. One that opens options for me, rather than closing them.

It feels wonderful to talk about this, to be open. To have an identity.

Today is Blog Against Heteronormativity Day

Blog Against Heteronormativity Day badgeToday is “Blog Against Heteronormativity Day” (April 22).

Instigated and hosted by Nubian at Blac(k)ademic, this blogging event aims to raise awareness about heteronormativity.

If you’re participating, or if you just want to show your support, you can pick up a full-sized version of this ice cream badge at Blac(k)ademic and stick it on your blog or website.

For further details, see Blac(k)ademic, “blogging against heteronormativity“.

To my fellow sisters-in-arms:

Stop it. Stop invalidating me because of my reproductive choices. Stop telling me what is and is not worthy of discussion. Stop calling me names because I have a different sexual expression than you. Stop discriminating against our sisters just because they don’t have the same naughty bits as you. Stop telling women that they should not be allowed to choose their life’s path. And, for the love of little green apples, stop trying to make the only valid path in life the one you want to take.

That’s what the patriarchy does, not us. Get it?

So, stop it. Just fucking STOP IT.