Blog Post 3

Dangerous things can happen when more nuanced and “different” identities are made invisible in order to gain acceptance or respect. So many equality movements have perpetuated this notion over the years; the notion that deep down, everyone is the same and individual differences don’t matter. Too many times I have seen an image of several identical skeletons in a row, each with a label like “gay”, “straight”, “white”, or “black”, or a patronizing question such as “can you tell who the gay one is?” Current equality movements purport the word Human as one that cannot possibly mean individual or different or inherently varied. And the thing is, is that this idea is an easy one to internalize. It’s easy to humanize the Other when told or made to realize that hey, they’re just like us. And that can be a powerful first step, but to end it there at deindividuation is, well, dehumanizing.

I was very struck by Liz Rosenfield’s “My Kind of Cruising” for this very reason. She discussed how anonymity in certain spaces can give way to exploring behavior that may not “fit” one’s sexual orientation, which I find to be a rather important factor of anonymity in general. However, Rosenfield took this discussion too far by suggesting that sexual orientation and gender identities should be “left at the door”, because bodies are simply bodies and that everyone should just physically mesh together. I do understand her sentiment, however it is an ideology of someone I would consider to be among the ranks of a “baby feminist”–someone just starting out who doesn’t quite know how things like intersectionality and reality work. I say this because if identities truly could be left at the door, oppressions such as homophobia, transphobia, racism, and ableism would not exist. And not only that, but to ignore identities also ignores the differences in experience faced by every single person, be those differences vast like socioeconomic status or gender, or ones not nearly as politicized such as birth order and height.

I suggest that statements like “I am not x, y, or z, I am human” actually perpetuate otherness, because it implies that we must ignore differences rather than accept and accommodate them. This, to me, is the difference between equality and justice; equality states that everyone is the same, while justice not only acknowledges but embraces differences. The former has the positions of the oppressors and the status quo in mind, while the latter serves to uplift the oppressed.

 

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Blog Post 2

My aunt once told my mom, “When you’re fat, you’re invisible;” a truth that I have lived for almost all of my life. Jessica Hoffman’s article Who’s That Wavin’ That Flag? and Terre Thaemlitz’s Trans-Portation solidify this point to me by stating that to pass is not just a way to be seen as belonging to a particular group, but to pass can also mean to not be seen at all–especially when passing is more visual than mental (ie: a visibly fat body vs believing in the trans “born in the wrong body” narrative). A lot of times, to pass means to assimilate oneself into the status quo, through any number of means: such as subscribing to homonormativity, putting down other marginalized groups to make oneself look better, as well as knowing that to not pass deems oneself as morally inferior to those that do.

I bring up fatness in terms of passing because of my own experiences with passing in this sense; I had long since learned to pass as a “good fat”, before I had ever questioned my gender or sexuality. To be a “good fat”, and pass as human in a society that views fat people as subhuman, one must acknowledge that their larger size makes them a bad person, as well as that they must be constantly striving to be thinner, otherwise they are a “bad fat” and in the eyes of the most fatphobic, probably don’t deserve to live. Unfortunately, transphobia, homophobia, and general queerphobia have a similar effect on people. To be transgender and not seeking/already have medical assistance to transition means that one may not even be a “real trans.” To truly be gay, one must be striving for a single monogamous, long term partner, with the intention to settle down and act like any other “normal” couple. And to be non-straight but non-gay as well is often met with phrases like, “You have to be one or the other,” or “What else is there?” because society largely ignores identities such as bisexuality, pansexuality, and asexuality. Nikki Lee Diamond’s Behind These Mascaraed Eyes shows a real life example of how being marginalized can cause one to be perceived as subhuman; in her article, Diamond details specifically how she was constantly harassed and threatened for being openly transgender, and how only once she literally saved the life of another person, was she seen as and treated as human.

Continuing with the notion that there is something inherently wrong with those who do not or who are not trying to pass, I want to reference Priya Kandaswamy’s Innocent Victims and Brave New Laws: an article discussing the movement to support battered women and how it transformed from a movement striving to empower abuse survivors to one almost founded upon victim blaming. Through the years, as this movement gained traction, it also began to support mostly only middle class white woman who had been abused by their husbands, and while these people certainly should not be ignored, the notion of what a “real” and “innocent” victim came into play. Like fat people not dieting or trans people not transitioning, domestic abuse victims who are anything other than white middle class women are seen in our society to somehow having deserved their abuse, namely because of whatever axis they are marginalized on (ie: a latina woman “deserves” abuse by her husband because the stereotypes around latinas suggest that she may have “had it coming”, or an asexual was “asking for it” by being a “prude”). These rationalizations and justifications for not only abuse, but all oppression as well, only serve to reinforce the status quo through the processes of victim-blaming and shaming people into conformity.

When I was growing up, and still to this day, my dad has always told me to “be a chameleon,” to blend in and be normal, so that I can reach opportunities and such that I may not have access to as someone who doesn’t pass as “normal”–all at the expense of my individuality, of course. But I stand with Dean Spade and Nico Dacumos in my argument that I will not let shame bring me down, and I will continue to be all of me at once, in every space, every day.

 

^^^^Because inside every fat person is a beautiful thin person, just trying so hard to get out and be free!!! ~~ as in, the only way to pass as human and deserving of worth as a fat person is by subscribing to this narrative and striving to achieve it. And the same goes for any other marginalized group. There’s a Normal person inside their marginalized and different body, just trying to be free and normal, and if they weren’t different, then they wouldn’t be marginalized!

 

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^^^^This basically sums it all up.

Blog Post 1

Literature and Media are two very diverse, very complex categories; and while one would think that the topic of Queer narrows down the field of material a bit, queer in fact further complicates the discussion. I say this because of the history of queer, and the history of the word “homosexual”–a word that, like all others, was invented. Siobhan Somerville points out this invention in the article “Scientific Racism and the Invention of the Homosexual Body”. Before the coining of the word homosexual, “gay” behavior was never seen as anything other than that: a behavior. It was still a taboo act in many cultures and societies, but was not necessarily considered a flaw of the individual until the late 1800’s, which really, is not that long ago.

As such, when homosexuality became seen as more than a behavior, so did the opinion that gayness had a biological cause, and that those who were homosexual were inherently different on the inside. At this time, homosexuality was seen to be an “inversion” of what one’s sexual role should be; that a woman who is attracted to women has the sexual role of a man. (Personally, I wonder how much of this contributed to the conflation of homosexuality and being transgender, as well as the false notion that all trans folk are both binary trans and straight.) The inversion of one’s sexual role of course, pins heterosexuality as the default, and that any variations thereupon are wrong or unnatural or even queer. This idea of homosexuality, surprisingly, culminated around the same time that the US government deemed racial segregation to be constitutional; it wasn’t just heterosexuality that was the default, but whiteness too.

Homophobia and racism both exist in and as institutions in the United States. An institution, as defined by Geoffrey M. Hodgson in the article “What are Institutions?”, is something far less tangible than one would think. An institution in this sense is a system of norms and rules that, through language and social interactions, shape, enable, and constrain behavior. And through necessity of enforcement, to defy an institution’s rules has consequences: ridicule, a range of severity in social outcast, and even death, to name a few. So then if, among other things, a person is best advised to be white and heterosexual, it follows that there are consequences to not being these things. And because of the way the notion of homosexuality is constructed, the inversion of one’s sexual role, their queerness, is visible to the outside world. In the introduction of NoBody Passes, Mattilda Sycamore expands this visible overstepping of norms into the overwhelming, inter-marginalized institution of homonormativity. This institution, borne of oppression, functions as a way to “fix” the unfixable queers. To be homonormative is to come as close as possible, as a gay person, to being a straight person. To be a “good” gay is to be in a monogamous relationship that mirrors the hetero dominant/masculine-submissive/feminine dynamic, as well as of course policing the behaviors of other gays and queers. From this Oppressive Institution of the Oppressed, comes the need of the marginalized to fit into the status quo, to not be seen as different, and to be more “normal” than normal people ever could.

 

Also, I couldn’t decide on a single image that summed this all up, so here’s a few:

^^^^^This just in, all gay cisgender people are actually transgender. And all gay transgender people aren’t actually trans at all.

 

 

^^^^Because disobeying the institution is BAD.

 

^^^^^Because there has to be some biological proof that gays are different…. right?