Jan. 31st, 2010

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I was just recently reminded of these links about mansplaining.

Justine Larbalestier has a recent post about mansplaining, where she mentions "whitesplaining", as well. She goes on to observe:

"Just as a general rule if you ever find yourself in a position where you are explaining to someone who has lived experience on the subject at hand when you don’t, then perhaps you might want to, you know, shut up. Also listen. Examples run the gamut from telling someone whose name is Linda that their name means “beautiful” cause you just learned that in Spanish (you know, typically, people know what their own names mean) through to explaining Judaism to someone who is actually Jewish."
 
And I was struck in a way that wouldn't have happened even a couple of years ago, because I can't even begin to count all the times just in the last year or so that I've been in a room with people (male and female, by the way) who identify as straight, or self-identify as queer but have pretty much exclusively straight relationships, or self-identify as bi, but...y'know...pretty much only wanna fuck like they're straight, and always have--who nonetheless want to hold forth about queerness, being queer, queer lifestyles and issues and the inherent difficulties, complexities, and social navigation pitfalls of being gay or lesbian. They want a sort of otherness status from calling themselves a queer, or a fag, or a dyke, but they seem to want it magically. They want that status without actually living the life. And some of the people I've noticed doing this are perfectly lovely people. And inevitably, they're people who are convinced they've actually paid dues, regardless of any evidence to the contrary.

Conversely, many of the people I know who are actually pretty queer but are now in het marriages,  often with kids? They express feeling guilty for the inherent privilege garnered by those more socially-acceptable relationships. So if that's you, you're not who I'm venting about, okay?

I'm venting about my quite-apparently mostly-straight friends who want to hold forth to anyone who will listen about queer topics, and because I know a lot of writers, especially with regard to the issues surrounding queerness when it comes to writing queer characters. Perhaps you don't realize you've just spent a half-hour holding forth about being queer and how tricky it is, to me.

To me. An out dyke for better than 20 years. A woman who has been assaulted, harassed, fired from jobs, and otherwise paid in pain and actual blood for being who I am, for over 20 years, now. Then you want to giggle about the "cute boy" you have a crush on. 

My anger level about that stuff? It's gotten a lot worse in recent years. I'm not quite sure why. And exponentially worse just in the last year. Like bad. Stuff like that used to completely roll off my back, and I swear to dog I never even noticed? Suddenly I've got this sort of white-hot anger response around it all. I don't like it. I'm working on it. But I'm really angry about that stuff, especially so, lately.

I'm not sure what to do about that, and I just don't know how to negotiate this particular topic with people I love and respect. And I do believe that I have a responsibility for my own reactions, emotions, and I'm responsible to figure out my own emotional baggage around all this, you know?

I'm more than aware that sexuality is fluid. I'm certainly politically savvy enough about all the we're-all-queer-together, kumbaya, "our similarities are more important than our differences" stuff. And honestly, I'm interested in people's different experiences. But you know what? Don't call yourself a dyke if you're not. Just don't.

Don't tell dyke jokes to me, if you have an biologically-attached and functioning penis. We're just not that close. And you're not dyke enough to tell those jokes.

And don't fucking hold forth to me about the difficulties and social penalties inherent in self-identifying as a dyke (or a fag -- because, curiously, I notice that more often than not the people who do this really, really want to use privileged language as if they were long-time insiders) if you've never actually even been in an acknowledged sexual/romantic relationship with a same-sex partner, okay? It's really obnoxious. Beyond being obnoxious, you're either talking out your ass and you know it, or you're a walking-talking example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

So if you're one of my friends that I love and respect, and sometime in the next year or so we're all together in a bar or at a con somewhere, and from across the room, I suddenly hurl something hard at your head? That's very likely why. It doesn't mean I don't love and respect you, in general. It doesn't mean I'm not interested in your experience. It doesn't mean that we can't actually have a conversation about queerness, or straightness, or the price of grass-fed beef.

It just means I'm really, really pissed right now that you'd pretend to my experience to the point of forgetting that I'm even in the fucking room, and I really don't give a goddamn what your damage is that you feel like you need to do that.

And I promise that, in return,  I'll try very hard to deal with my own recent anger-management issues around this subject.
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 I got to go for a long walk with a terrific puppy, today -- a [livejournal.com profile] plunderpuss sort of puppy -- which made for an utterly marvelous afternoon. And! I have been offered visitation dog-walking privileges.

Color me very, very happy about this turn of events. *G*

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