A Terribly Polite Homophobe

I had an argument on Monday. I really shouldn’t have, but I did anyway. In response to my post on feeling vulnerable, hurt and overwhelmed by homophobia, someone called @JamesMcAdams82 over on Twitter took it upon himself to castigate me for attempting to silence my opponents and to tell me over and over and over again that, while he really does wish the best for me and people like me, he feels that that does not involve equal rights under the law. Except, of course, that he refused to call it that.

I am sometimes amazed at the cognitive dissonance of homophobes. James claimed to respect my dignity and that of my relationships, acknowledged that there is in fact such a thing as innate sexual orientation*, and then said that marriage between two people of the same gender was impossible. By definition. Because.

There are a few things going on here. Before I go into them, though, I want to emphasise that all of this was in response to an article I wrote about feeling utterly overwhelmed and unable to deal with this kind of thing right now. And one of the last paragraphs of that very post was about how because of this I felt hesitant to even bring up the topic at the moment. And then I asked for advice and support and strategies in dealing with this from my readers. Who, by the way, were wonderful**.

I find it difficult to accept that a person sees nothing wrong in reading something like this and responding with more of precisely the kind of thing I just talked about being hurt by. No matter how polite a person is, that is incredibly callous. In fact, well..

Tone doesn’t fix intent

Throughout the conversation that followed, James spoke to me in what I am sure he felt to be even, reasonable and polite tones. He assured me that he sees me as an equal and that he is supportive of my right to dignity. He said that he simply cares about my well-being and that it is his opinion that that is best served by… well, he didn’t state directly. But he did state that marriage is by definition betwen a man and a woman here. So I guess his implication was that my (and your!) well-being is best served by only being allowed to marry a person of, as he put it, ‘the opposite gender’.

(Yes, by the way, people still use phrases like ‘the opposite gender’. Because they honestly believe that there are only two and that they are somehow opposite to each other. How.. quaint.)

I’m sure he thought that by being reasonable and polite, he could avoid offense and we could all be friendly. He was wrong.

If you tell me that I do not merit the same legal rights as you do, it does not matter in the slightest how softly you phrase it. It does not matter how friendly your tone is, how polite and how much you assure me that you are rather in favour of me as a person. You have still told me that you see me as fundamentally inferior to you. Even if you state that that is not what you mean at all. It is what your views mean. You don’t get to have those views and also have my courtesy, my affability, my friendliness or my reasonableness. Because there is a difference between you and me, and it is not simply our opinions. Your opinions directly harm me. You hurt me. You hurt people who I love.

The consequence of your opinions in my life is that I have to deal all the goddamn time with people and social structures that treat me as inferior or as a curiosity. The consequence of my opinions in your life is that I say some unpleasant words to you. It’s a tiny consequence. And it’s one you deserve.

My anger and my upset, by the way, do not invalidate my arguments. My anger and my upset are consequences of the harm that you cause me. Tone does not fix intent.

Let’s get to some of this person’s actual points, though, shall we?

You Can’t Marry Your Mother, Can You?

James’s major argument appeared to centre around the fact that we cannot marry everyone that we love, and that marriage by definition excludes close family members, for example. And, to him, people of the same gender. When I agreed with him that yes, marriage to one’s parent or sibling would be highly inappropriate even if everyone involved is a consenting adult, he seemed to think that I had proved his point.

Let’s talk about fruit. Because it seemed to me that because me and him had agreed that apples were, in fact, very different to oranges, it followed to him that the same was true of pears. To the same extent and in the same way. But, y’know, although pears are softer and a slightly different shape to apples, they’re pretty damn similar. They both have the same kind of peel, very similar flesh and their seeds and stems are in the same places. In fact, I’m pretty darn sure you can replace an apple with a pear in a hell of a lot of recipes***. They may not be completely identical in all respects, but they sure are the same kind of fruit.

Family relationships and romantic relationships are apples and oranges. They can both be some of the most deep, meaningful and committed relationships in a person’s life. I’m lucky enough to have a family that I love dearly. But the way I feel about my family members and the way I feel about people I love romantically? Could not be more different. Very. Very. Different. Apples and oranges.

I don’t know about you, but I take a lot longer hanging up the phone to Ladyfriend as I do with either of my parents. Every so often I come down with a case of mentionitis about Ladyfriend that I’ve never had about any of my cousins, no matter how close we are. My aunts and uncles don’t give me butterflies. I don’t have daydreams about Ikea trips with my family (nightmares, maybe). I don’t want to send them smooshy cards and letters. While I’m always delighted to hear from them, there is a particular kind of goofy grin that only an email or a text from someone I’m twitterpated about will elicit.

And, y’know, there are wonderful things about family relationships that I don’t get anywhere else. These are the people who’ve raised me, who have been constants in my life for as long as I and we have been alive.

Birth-family and romantic relationships can both be wonderful things. I cherish both dearly But they’re apples and oranges.

James, though, seemed to think that because a lot of people aren’t attracted to others regardless of gender, same- and different-gender relationships must be apples and oranges too. They’re not. At the very most, they’re apples and pears- some are squishier than others and they’re sometimes different shapes (but sometimes not and there’s a ton of variety), but they all have the very same kind of peel and flesh and seeds and stems. I’ve been in love with people of all sorts of different genders. It’s never felt all that different.

I can’t, and shouldn’t, be able to marry my mother or uncle or cousin. And that is utterly irrelevant to equal marriage.

But Everyone Does Have The Same Right

I pressed him about how he could simultaneously claim to be in favour of equality and against the right of same-gender couples to marry. His answer was firstly that marriage is, by definition, a relationship between one man and one woman. And that everyone does have the same right- to marry a partner of the opposite (ugh, again with the ‘opposite’…) sex.

It’s funny, really, when you think about it. That people who claim to defend marriage would reduce it to such crassness.

You see, I think that marriage is about a lot of things. It can be about two people deciding to commit to each other for the rest of their lives, and to make each other their family. It can be about people acknowledging and celebrating the love they share. It can be about the public, community declaration of commitment and of support. For some people it’s more practical- it’s about shared health insurance, green cards, tax credits, hospital visitations and shared parental rights and responsibilities. For some it’s about the dignity of being able to stand up and say that, yes, that person is their husband/wife. I’m sure it’s about a hell of a lot more things as well. I’ve never been married, but I gather it’s one hell of a big deal.

What I’ve never thought marriage was or should be about, though, was genitals of a particular configuration coming into contact in specific ways. Which is, at the end of the day, the only thing that differs by necessity between romantic relationships depending on the gender/sex of the people involved****. Or at least, depending on what body shapes they have.

Of all the things that marriage can be defined as, possibly the least relevant of all is.. body shapes and letters on documentation. Those things say nothing about a relationship. And marriage is, above all other things, about relationships.

It’s also kind of funny that a person who wishes to ‘defend’ marriage would do so by not only prioritising body shape and/or letters on documents over all other factors, but by specifically dismissing all of the others. Which is precisely what he did when he said that everyone had the same right to marry a person of the opposite sex.

You see, if we all have the right to marry only a person of the opposite sex, then love and committment are merely incidental. Marriage isn’t about sharing your life with someone, about making them legally and socially family to you, of sticking with them through thick and thin and loving them for your whole damn life. It’s about- you know, I don’t know what the hell it’s about, in that case, because defining an institution of such importance by the presence or absence of penis-in-vagina sex is so utterly crass as to be profoundly insulting to every happily married couple of any orientation- including straight- in the world.

And that is true no matter how nicely you phrase it.

*which is, well, obviously a bit more complicated than that, but…
** Thank you.
*** Which reminds me that I was planning to cook some crumbles this week. Ah, crumble. You delightful dessert and custard-vehicle, you.
**** And of course, even that is a hell of a lot more complicated than he gives it credit for, since neither sex nor gender are binary and they are not necessarily related at all.

A Terribly Polite Homophobe
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When I Can’t Argue Inequality: Homophobia and Vulnerability

I’m an activist. I’m outspoken about my opinions and willing to argue them. I put my views out here on the internet on a regular basis, knowing that at any point anyone could see what I have to say and respond. I do it because I love to discuss, share and persuade. I love to communicate and write and find common ground amidst all of our differences. It’s interesting. It keeps me on my toes and learning every day.

I discovered something today, though.

Geoff’s Shorts posted the other day about about his support for marriage equality. He’s been getting a lot of comments and, as us bloggers are wont to do, popped a message around a few of us asking us to take a look and contribute to the conversation. Since I’m a great big badass queer activist, I figured I’d take a look.

I couldn’t.

That doesn’t happen very often. You can’t hang out around social justice bits of the internet very long without developing a thick skin. And I’d thought that when it came to homophobia, I’d calloused up a long time ago.

I hadn’t. I haven’t.

I started reading comments detailing calm, friendly arguments against marriage equality. Everyone on both sides discussing things nice and rationally. That is, as rationally as you can get when one of the arguments is inherently irrational. I made it about three or four comments in. Then I had to stop.

Maybe callouses come and go. Maybe you need to get them periodically toughened-up. Maybe it’s just that I’m a few days out of a wonderful week with Ladyfriend, feeling a bubbling kind of besotted and missing her badly. Maybe it’s hard because homophobia doesn’t just attack our selves. It attacks our deepest and most intimate relationships. It hits us right where our hearts are, right down where we make ourselves the most vulnerable. Right there in the giddy longing of crushes and sweet joy of love, where we can’t help but feel every damn thing because that’s what love is like. It’s where we are at our most tender. And that’s a wonderful thing.

It’s funny, though. When I hear yet another bishop yammering on about openness to life and fundamental disorderedness, I roll my eyes and continue on. This week or so as they’ve been claiming that people can’t marry someone of the same gender because we can’t consummate our relationships? I giggle. And then I offer to send them some handy diagrams. The WBC picketing yet again? Eh, whatever. But ordinary, thoughtful, well-spoken people detailing why they think that the love I have for some people is inherently inferior than the love I have for others? That one hits me where I live. Y’know how words can sometimes feel like a real punch? How they can stop you in your tracks, leave you dizzy and disoriented and vaguely ill? Yeah. That.

It’s funny, because feminist issues rarely hit me in the same way, although they have a similar potential to mess up my life. I can talk about reproductive rights and workplace inequality and abuse and all of it. Not always calmly, but the worst I’ll get is angry.

I guess that attacking our relationships has always been a way to get to people. Not just queers, of course. All of us. Isn’t jealousy often just a response to feeling like our relationships are threatened? And jealousy can feel overwhelming physical. Primal. Like the deep desire we often have to protect our families and the people in them. You mess with my family, you mess with me. It’s the same thing, I think.

It worries me. I want to talk about the things that are important to me. Love matters to me. I have so many conversations I’d like to have here, not just about queerness or polyness but about everything around those things- how we make relationships, what they mean to us, how we create and live them and what it means to be purposeful and considered in the kinds of relationships we have. And I know that in having those conversations I’m opening up one hell of a vulnerable place.

What do you think? Do you know what I’m getting at here? Do you feel the same, or is there an issue that gets to you in a similar way, to the extent that you have to be careful when and how you can engage with people on it? If it’s something that is close to your activist heart, how do you protect yourself?

When I Can’t Argue Inequality: Homophobia and Vulnerability

She Blinded Me With Linkspam

Literacy Privilege: How I Learned to Check Mine Instead of Making Fun of People’s Grammar on the Internet

Some kinds of checking your privilege are more difficult than others.  Accepting that I get shedloads of unearned advantages because of being white, Western, cis and middle-class, and that I should do something about that? Not a bother. Coming to terms with the fact that my beloved Eats, Shoots and Leaves might be a bit on the problematic side? IT IS KILLING THE KITTENS OF MY BRAIN. But here you have it:

It’s one thing to take an erudite journalist or grandiloquent blogger (don’t know any of those, myself) down a notch, although there are valid arguments against even this; grammatical exactitude can suffocate creativity and clarity, and many prescriptive rules were totally fabricated by Latin-centric snobs. But when a poor newbie on a discussion forum introduces himself with “hi im jonny n i like wachin x facter” and gets linguistically skewered by someone because they personally hate the pants off of Simon Cowell – well, that is a different kind of problem.

It’s like they got right into my brain. Damnit.

Empathy for the Devil

This one is similar in brain-breaking but with far more trigger warnings, for bullying and rape. TW for the following quote as well:

You and I might be appalled by the idea of being a rapist dear reader, but we can’t understand rapists unless we leave open the door to the possibility that they do it because they like it, and feel good about it afterwards. In the original article that triggered a Twitter storm and aroused the writers at Feministe, Alyssa Royce sought to explain why nice guys commit rape, but for whatever reason she sought to exclude the possibility that rapists pass themselves off as nice guys. If we want to empathize with rapists we have to be able to understand, at a visceral level, that they might be enjoying themselves, that it might be the culmination of every wank they’ve had since puberty.

Returning to Mel Greig and Michael Christian, we have to be brutally honest. They might be nice people who got sucked into doing someone else’s dirty work, or they might just enjoy being bullies. We don’t know. Empathy is not sympathy, and if you wish to empathize with the devil, you have to consider the possibility that people do the devil’s work not because they have fallen, but because he has all the good tunes and they like to dance. (emphasis mine)

I Learn So Much from Twitter: Why Marriage Matters

The ever-awesome Dusty Rose over at Tutus and Tiny Hats talks about marriage, practicality and the dodginess of being more-radical-than-thou.

[D]espite Jenn’s insistence that marriage is inherently linked to capitalism,  ”people get married in socialist countries, communist countries, tribal cultures that have no monetary system.”

I think this is a really important distinction. Marriage can definitely be a vehicle for consumerism, but it doesn’t have to be, any more than it has to be a vehicle for sexism. It seems sort of…closed-minded to assume otherwise.

The Space We Need

One of the things it has triggered a lot of thinking about lately is how those of us with fat bodies negotiate our way through the physical spaces of the world.  I got to thinking about just how conscious I am of the space my body takes up, and how I have to negotiate my body in a world that marks me as “abnormal”.  The more I paid attention to it, the more I noticed that almost every aspect of my life is framed around this process of moving my body around in the world.

On a similar (yet more fabulous) note, check out awesome Irish fatshion blogger Haute Proportions! And throw her a ‘like’ over on Facebook while you’re at it.

Surviving the Holidays as Queer People of Colour: Give the Gift of Media

I discovered Saving Face, a film drama-comedy about two lesbian Chinese-American girls navigating family expectations about career and marriage. That film was the closest I had to reflecting the complexities of my identity as a queer person of color who was also an immigrant — another narrative that is also missing from mainstream media.

I remember making my sister watch the film, and noticing afterwards–even though she may not have–how it changed our conversations and relationship for the better. She loved the film so much because she could relate to the immigrant-in-America theme, the plight of the main character, who was torn between following  family tradition and making her own choices. After watching the film, my sister saw my own circumstance in a new light, making her my biggest advocate and ally within my family.

And finally, I rediscovered an oldie-but-essential from Crommunist: You’re Not A Racist, You’re Just Racist

Racism is best understood as the product of ideas, both conscious and unconscious, about other people, and our tendency to try and reduce people to convenient labels (like… oh, I dunno… ‘a racist’). I can certainly understand why people like to use this term, because it allows them to preserve their self-concept of being a good person and scapegoat racist activities as the product of “racists”. Once blame has been assigned in this way, then the speaker can dust her/his hands off and say “it’s not my problem – I’m not a racist.” However, that simply means the problems never get solved, because the only people whose self-concept allows them to brand themselves as being “a racist” are proud of that appellation.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

She Blinded Me With Linkspam

Poverty. Happiness. Nice things. A side of transphobia (of course).

TW for transphobia, classism

A few days ago, a good friend of mine sent out an Amazon wishlist to her online friends and followers. She’s a little bit broke after moving house, and although she can afford the basics of food and rent there’s a few things she wanted that would help her to get through the winter. So she figured she’d ask if anyone could help her out. And was really, really clear that she wasn’t about to make a big deal of things or guilt anyone:

Let me level with you: I’m not in a situation of extreme need, hence why I’m not asking for donations. There’s people out there that need the money way more than I do, and I’m not going to freeze or starve this winter. But truth is, aside from food/bill/rent money, I’m kinda hella broke. My benefits haven’t come through, and I need some stuff for winter. If you feel generous enough to get me something from this Amazon wish list, I’ll be very grateful. And if you could reblog this, that’d be fantastic. Thanks!

The list had things on it like bedding, an electric blanket, a desk to work on. There might have been a thermos in there too. The kind of things that, although not absolutely essential, can make a major difference between just barely getting by and feeling at home. I gather, by the way, that people chipped in for her and she’s going to have a lovely cosy winter with the internet’s housewarming presents. Which is wonderful, ’cause she’s moved Way Up North and it’s chilly up there.

And then she got this anonymous response. By the way, I think that at this stage she’d gotten everything she needed, and this person was looking at some other, more whimsical wishlists she had lying about:

Anonymous asked: so you have money for everything you need except LUXURY items like books and you think its alright as a grown person to ask people on the net to buy you non-necessities? what a spoilt privileged person you must be to think that’s ok. probably because you spent the majority of your life as a man.

So my friend had her response to this. Which seems to me to be about right, and I’m impressed that she only told Anon to fuck off once. Admirable restraint, that. I have a few things that I’d like to unpack in more detail, though.

A portal icon for Portal:Transgender, based on...

The Gender Thing

what a spoilt privileged person you must be to think that’s ok. probably because you spent the majority of your life as a man.

It seems that this person is under the impression that there is no difference between trans women and cis men, or between privilege and passing privilege. I’m going to assume that my readers have at least a basic knowledge of Trans 101- if you don’t, then check out this and then read the hell out of this. The difference between privilege and passing privilege, though, I’ll take a shot at explaining myself with a slightly different analogy.

Let’s say that you have two people- let’s call them Alex and Sam. Alex is straight, and Sam is queer and closeted. Sam isn’t even out to themselves. They live in a pretty homophobic place. Both of them get assumed to be straight. Even though Sam isn’t out in the slightest, the privilege Sam gets is conditional. It’s based on something that is assumed that isn’t actually true. In addition, even if Sam isn’t even out to themselves, they’ll likely on some level be internalising their community’s homophobia in a different and more damaging way than Alex does. For Alex, homophobia is something that happens to other people. For Sam, there’s probably something just a bit discomforting about the whole thing. Something isn’t quite right.

It’s easy to accept this when we talk about queerness and straightness. Being a closeted queer is something that people understand- it’s something that’s gotten into the popular dialogue. We haven’t really caught on to the similar narratives about gender, though. Probably because transness is expected to be a thing that someone Always Knows. Trans people don’t get the same social pass that queers do to actually be uncertain and questioning, and yet affected by transphobia. So where you wouldn’t generally say that a queer person “lived as straight” until they came out, this charming person seems to think it’s okay to make a similar accusation to a trans person.

Which is a long-winded way of saying that going around referring to trans women as having been men for most of their lives is Seriously Fucked Up. Oh, and it’s also a silencing tactic that transphobes have been using against trans women for decades. If a trans woman actually speaks up for herself, takes up space or defends herself, you see, she gets accused of being aggressive and masculine. It’s the oldest- and one of the meaner- tricks in the book.

Sunday morning pleasures
Sunday morning pleasures (Photo credit: The hills are alive)

The Poor People Can’t Have Nice Things Thing

Y’know what’s another mean one? Poor People Can’t Have Nice Things, Ever. People who aren’t financially well-off, you see, are expected to only spend our money on wholesome and socially-approved things. Cheap yet healthy food, for example. Preferably the kind that takes lots of time to prepare in rustic sorts of ways. Tons of misshapen veggies and a load of beans to make into vats of soup is fine. Spending the same money on a giant stack of cheapass pizzas that’ll take a tenth the work to cook and provide more calories? Not fine. Poor people don’t get to relax. When poor people relax, we call that laziness, even if they’ve been out working all day. And poor people are supposed to spend any leftover money on important, long-term goals. Saving what little money you have left is great. Buying something fun? That makes you a Scrounger, and probably someone who Doesn’t Deserve Better. You can’t be a Scrounger. You definitely don’t want to be both Lazy and a Scrounger. Then you’re nothing more than the scum of the earth.

If someone who’s poor- or even just broke- dares to ask for nice things? Well, they must be an Entitled Lazy Scrounger. The worst kind, really. Poor people, you see, don’t get to have hobbies or to relax or spend any of their time doing anything but working their asses off to become respectable middle-class people with nice big incomes. Once you become one of those, you’re allowed to eat pizza and play video games and read books all you like.

Of course! Respectably-off middle class people are expected to have fun. Not poor people. Not broke people.

Poor people are supposed to shut up and start spending their lives sacrificing so that they (or maybe their children) can be respectable middle-class people. Trans people are expected to just shut up, period. And if you dare to- politely, casually, without pressuring anyone- ask for things, you’d better believe that they’ll use who you are against you. After all, if they won’t dig in where it hurts, how else are they supposed to keep you (we/us) quiet?

Poverty. Happiness. Nice things. A side of transphobia (of course).

Elsewhere this week: Julie Bindel and the Trans Health Forum

Over at Gaelick, I wrote a response to Julie Bindel’s latest biphobia:

I’m not sure how bi women’s liberation is in pretending to be lesbians. I’m not sure how we’re supposed to be ‘liberated’ by sublimating many of our desires, re-closeting ourselves and denying ourselves love if it happens to come in her idea of the ‘wrong’ package. Of course, in Bindel’s world being a lesbian or bisexual doesn’t seem to be about love. It’s about patriarchy and politics and tyranny.

TENI held a Trans Health Forum in Dublin this week. I livetweeted (check out my twitter in the sidebar!) and blogged about this over at Feminist Ire:

Trans people don’t just show up from nowhere. We all live in local communities, go to schools and colleges, live in neighbourhoods, go to jobs. Trans kids growing up should know that there are other trans people out there, and so should the cis kids growing up with them. They need to know that they’re not the only one out there. The media have a huge role to play here in providing positive and varied non-stereotyped portrayals of trans people. Trans people are part of our society, and it’s time our society started acting like it.

Also, I’ve been playing around with the look of this place. What do you think?

Enjoy!

Elsewhere this week: Julie Bindel and the Trans Health Forum

Bi Visibility

Bi visibility is always an odd one. We’re constantly on about being erased, and we’re hyper-critical of anyone who is openly bi. We expect perfect behaviour from our role models. Can’t be too stereotypical. Can’t be seen to be sleeping around too much. If they dare be in a monogamous, long-term relationship, they lose either way. Either they’re taking the easy way out from within nice safe het boundaries, or they’re letting the gay side down

Better written late than never, my post for Bi Visibility Day is up on Gaelick. Check it out!

Bi Visibility

Eilis O’Hanlon’s definition of equality

Yesterday I asked Eilis O’Hanlon precisely what equality means to her, in response to her claim that she is “in favour of full equality” for trans people. My query was in response to a rather vile article she published recently. TW on all those links above, btw, for transphobia.

I have yet to receive an answer.

One thing I’m pretty sure that equality doesn’t mean to her, though, include being treated with equal dignity to others. It also doesn’t include not being singled out, mocked, and stereotyped because of one’s membership of a particular group. It doesn’t include having equal access to cultural and legal institutions as others.

So, Eilis. I’m going to ask you again: If equality is not about equal rights, equal access, equal dignity, or the right to not be singled-out and derided because of your membership of a particular group, then what exactly does it mean?

 What, precisely, is left?

Eilis O’Hanlon’s definition of equality

Celebrating civil partnerships?

Today GLEN, the Irish Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, published an album of couples celebrating their civil partnerships throughout the country.

This is lovely!

One thing that isn’t lovely, though? The fact that several of these photos mention the kids of the couples involved. Kids who are deliberately excluded from the protections of their parents’ civil partnerships.

Listen, I get that people celebrate their partnerships with their families. But can we leave out things like “[So-and-so’s] partnership day was even more special for them as they anticipated the imminent arrival of their second child who was born 2 weeks after the big day”? Ireland’s civil partnership legislation specifically and deliberately denies the rights of same-sex couples and their children to be legally considered each others’ family. For an LGBT gay and lesbian equality organisation to wilfully ignore this in celebrating civil partnerships is profoundly insulting to these families.

Which is a pity. ‘Cause queer weddings make me happycry almost as much as rescued kittens, unexpected presents, and the wonder of chocolatey chili.

 

Edited because I posted this and then clicked on a link to this video, which made me almost-cry so much my ears tickled. Despite the fact that I don’t speak a word of Italian*. And now I wonder if I’m the only person in the world whose ears feel ticklish when they almost-cry.

 

*I lie. I can say one word, which is gelato.

Celebrating civil partnerships?

In Defense of Barsexuals and Faux-Mos

Last weekend was Pink Training! Which was wonderful, because I got the chance to give a couple of awesome workshops (Bi Awareness and a bi space) and spend time with some of the fantasticest people in the country. It also meant that I got way too little sleep and DEFINITELY had no peace ‘n’ quiet to do some writing. Am still recovering. May always be still recovering. So here’s a repost, originally published in BoLT Magazine. Enjoy!

I have a confession to make. Despite appearances, and the very title of this article, I am guilty. I’ve done it, you see. I’ve made the snarky comments and given the disparaging looks alongside the rest. The targets of this behaviour? You know, ‘them’. Those expletive deleted straight girls who go around kissing each other to attract guys. Seriously, who do they think they are? They give the rest of us a bad name, right? Aren’t they pretty much the reason why some straight guys seem to think they have a right to elbow in on gay lady couples? Don’t you know how annoying that is? Jeez.

Yeah, I’m sorry.

All this time I’ve been blaming them and you know what? They are not the problem. They’re really, really not. If any of you readers here today are straight (or straightish) women who like to get drunk and kiss girls in bars? And if you think it’s fun that lots of straight/bi guys are into that? Awesome sauce. I wish you much fun and many margaritas.

See, here’s the thing. It’s easy to blame the barsexuals and faux-mos for homophobia and objectification of women. But, seriously? Homophobia and objectification of women are things that have been around a long time. They were there long before Katy Perry, before Madonna kissed Britney, before tAtU. They were even there before Ellen got dumped by whats-her-name who decided she’d been straight all along. They’ve been around since before the ice melted in the world’s first mojito, and nothing the drinker of that mojito did afterward is to blame for their existence.

When talking about straight girls who kiss girls, it’s easy to forget that they’re a lot like, you know, us. Us queer (or queerish!) types. We are all figuring out ways to navigate being women in a society that has some seriously messed-up ideas about female sexuality. Except that straight girls have to do it without one major superpower that queers get. You see, queer chicks and gay ladies have the option to do that navigating relatively free of the pressure to be sexy-to-men. We get to define ourselves, to desire as well as to be desired, and since we’ve gone to the trouble of coming out we might as well just own up to what we’re into, quit stressing about whether it’s socially acceptable, and bloody well have some fun with it. We’ve already been called dykes and queers – so what if someone thinks we’re slutty as well? We get to play with how to do gender and relationships, to write our own scripts in a way that’s really difficult for straight people. Trust me on this one. It’s harder for me when I’m involved with straight cis guys*, and I’m a queerass bi chick who’s been living in gayland all my adult life.

So while straight women get all that awesome straight privilege and can merrily skip down the aisle to have their love blessed by any religion, and legitimised by any state they choose, while their parents cry tears of happiness, those of us of a queerer persuasion do have an edge when it comes to exploring our sexualities**.

You know how annoying it is when straight guys go around assuming that queer chicks are all there for their amusement and gratification? When you’re off having a decidedly one-on-one night out with your ladyfriend and some guy comes up and grabs your ass? Or sits down right next to you and asks if he can join in? Isn’t it nice when you get the hell out of there, go home, close the door behind you and don’t have to deal with that anymore? Straight chicks don’t get to do that. For them, there isn’t that space to be romantic, and be sexual, without any sexist or misogynistic assumptions. Or any risk of male privilege raising its (often unwitting) head.

We live in a world steeped in sexism, in misogyny, in male privilege, and in heteronormative assumptions. In the male gaze. Is it therefore surprising that, in that world, a lot of women explore their desires within that context? And given misogyny, given sexism, given the ubiquity of the male gaze and heteronormativity, why the hell are we blaming the women for the actions of sexist men?

Men don’t take same-sex lady couples seriously because they don’t take women seriously. They think they can elbow into our time and our space because they’re used to thinking they can elbow into women’s time and space. They think all lesbians want is a man because we live in a culture that tells us, time and time again, that sexuality is about men and done to women.

At the end of the day, it’s nothing to do with the straight chicks kissing each other in the bar. They’re just women living in a heteronormative, patriarchal world and having a bit of fun within that context.

And hey, I know more than a couple of queer chicks who started figuring out their sexuality when they were straight chicks kissing other straight chicks in bars. If that doesn’t subvert the paradigms, I don’t know what does.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

* Because trans guys are way more likely to have had to have done a lot of script-writing and figuring-stuff-out of their own. Not because they’re less dudely. Because they’re not less dudely. Duh.

**Assuming, of course, that we live somewhere with a reasonable number of us.

In Defense of Barsexuals and Faux-Mos