Posts tagged identity
Posts tagged identity
Most people who complain about “why do we all need labels!? Can’t we just be PEOPLE?!” have likely never felt the flood of relief that there is a WORD FOR WHAT YOU ARE after spending years wondering if you were broken, what was wrong with you, feeling ridiculously isolated and having other people complain about things you can’t change about yourself. If there’s a word for it, that makes it a real thing.
Knowing that I am real, that I am not alone, has done so much more for me than this idea that homogenizing everyone by refusing to recognize our differences is supposed to. I felt invisible and/or mocked for most of my life by people who thought we should all just be “people.” Why in the world would anyone think that could be a good thing for me now?
“Why does everyone need a label, GAWD!?” is code for “I haven’t given my self and who I am much thought, and the fact that you have, and have had to, upsets me. So stop it and be more like me, dammit!”
Plus, a lot of the time if you haven’t felt ‘labelled’ it’s a privilege. Labels don’t exist actively for anything society considers ‘normal’ (white ablebodied heterosexual cis Christian men)… active labels are a mark of ‘otherness’. When people start to embrace that ‘otherness’, and reclaim their labels, the line between ‘normal’ and ‘other’ begins to blur and ‘normal’ begins to slowly lose its power. That’s why people who have had the privilege of living without labels, people who have lived as the yardstick that the rest of society is held up against, say “Aren’t we all just people?” They aren’t saying that because they actually believe it; they’re saying it because this intrusion of ‘otherness’ into their space threatens their privilege. They just don’t want to stop being the yardstick.
That’s what I think anyway.
I think I need to clarify some of my thoughts on what I find wrong with “political lesbianism” while talking about choices.
Basically, I don’t care if someone chose to be queer or not. Choosing it does not make it illegitimate and appealing to “nature” as a reason why orientation is legitimate creates another hierarchy of identity. It allows us to police who is “truly” queer and who is not based on certain narratives of self-discovery and self-knowledge, and in the end enforces a normative story of how queer identity must function. It also ignore the potential for ways of expressing sexuality that fall outside of even the dominant paradigm that creates categories of straight and queer in the first place. These categories are the products of specific cultural contexts and power dynamics. They are not universal. I don’t care if you chose to be queer or if you feel that it is a natural part of your being. As long as you are not hurting anyone else or using your choices to attack others within the community, you do whatever you like with your body.
No, the choice itself is not the problem that I have with political lesbianism.
The problem I have with political lesbianism is that it is framed in a coercive way, making the choices of the people participating in its community a policing yardstick for determining someones dedication to certain limited “radical” ideals. Its policing the sexual choices of a marginalized group and insisting on a normative ideal of sexual behavior as a prerequisite for proper consciousness. Basically, the idea that women with a “correct political consciousness” MUST choose lesbianism or they are betraying the ideals of the movement is just another form of sexist bullshit. Its telling (cis) women that they don’t know their own minds unless they fuck in a specific way. That shit is sexist. Its like slut shaming dressed in feminist jargon.
If you use your choice to be queer as a way of pressuring other people to follow your lead, you are also edging on predatory if not outright jumping over that line.