Subject: bad examples.
Date: Thu 25 Mar 1999 - 15:30:28 GMT
Social pressure for normative gendering is not about you.
I know that will come as a shock to many people, because when you feel the
power of gender stigma on your back, its easy to assume that it's about you --
the far out queer, the raging queen, the bulldagger, the transsexual.
It's not about you, though. You are one of the people who broke though the
stigma, who refused to bend to social pressure, one of the people they
couldn't crack and force into normativity. You are a lost cause, beyond the
pale, broken though to independence.
If it's not about you, then why do they attack you? They attack you because
you are the bad example, the black sheep, the "Don't Do This" picture. You
are the image that must be besmirched so that people who don't feel as
strongly as you do won't follow your lead. You are the possibility that must
be disgraced and shamed so people who are on the line of being claimed by
normativity won't follow your lead.
They don't want to kill you, they really don't. But they sure as hell want as
few people as possible following you into queerness. If you are strong enough
to break though, more power to you, but no way in hell are we letting you take
our kids with you.
Ann Landers says that gay commitment ceremonies are for adults only, no place
for kids. Why? Because kids should only be shown normative models until they
are cooked into being as normative as possible. They shouldn't be exposed to
possibilities of queerness until they show that their is no other option.
Is she doing this to punish gay people? No, even though it feels that way.
She is suggesting this to protect "the innocent" who should have every chance
of following the straight and narrow. It's not about the gays, its about the
people who might feel its OK to follow them if they are not stigmatized and
"We don't think homosexual behavior -- gender transgressive behavior -- should
mean that someone is hurt, but it should be kept invisible. We don't argue
with their nature, we are against their behavior, especially the behavior
which is visible to our children."
In other words, we don't want to hurt you, but we don't want you to be able to
recruit, at all, and that means making sure that your message stays hidden
and/or stigmatized. It's not about you, it's about the people you could
influence to break the rules. To us, our children are our future, and their
protection is more important than your comfort. Maybe you should just figure
out a way to be comfortable without being visible, eh?
The truth is simple: If there is less stigma on behavior seen as
transgressive, there will be more transgressive behavior. More people will
think its OK to act in queer (non-heterosexist) ways.
Gender pressure is not about hurting one transsexual here, one male in frilly
panties there. It's not about you.
It's about the social pressure to keep norms which we see as traditional,
valuable and beneficial in place for people who are being socialized.
It's my belief that as long as we see gender pressure as being about punishing
and hurting queers, we miss the point. Most people really don't want to hurt
any other human, but they do want to keep pressure for following social norms
on, for their children and grandchildren. If they could do that without
silencing queers, that would be fine, but they don't know how to do that.
Abusing you is not the goal. The goal is to "protect children" by helping
them be as normal as possible by stigmatizing and silencing the possibilities
of behavior that transgresses heterosexist norms. You are just a causality in
the culture war -- sorry, no hard feelings.
It's not about you. It's about the future people see themselves creating when
they have kids, and how your message might pollute that future in unnecessary
Understanding that, I think, is the first step in actually talking about how
transgressive gender behaviors, including same sex relationships and
transgender behavior, and then other kinds of sexual behavior, from
bisexuality to polyamory, can be part of a healthy, growing and stable
culture. And that's the discussion we all care about.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2a23 : Wed 21 Jul 1999 - 18:22:40 BST