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[personal profile] mac_stone
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.

Date: 2010-02-01 01:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah. I really hope I've never done this to you. I think I tend to err on the side of worrying I have way too much straight pivilege (I'm in a stable het relationship, I look conventionally feminine, etc.), but I have had similarly angry reactions to people I know (straight girls who think they can claim stuff because they once kissed a girl on a dare in front of a group of guys tend to really get me growling), and it's really not cool. Anyway, if I do act in a boneheaded way, I hope you won't hesitate to let me know.

Date: 2010-02-01 02:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You've never done this to me, Julia, so put those worries down, okay?

The thing I was most worried about, in letting myself vent? I worried about hurting friends who absolutely don't do this, who do self-identify as queer or bi, and do work hard to understand their own privilege inside their het relationships. The people I know in that situation work damned hard, and have a whole bunch of stuff of their own around appropriation, privilege, and boundaries -- and I know a bunch of very wonderful people who fit that description.

Date: 2010-02-01 02:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Definitely didn't mean to make you feel guilty there. I understand venting, and I certainly don't begrudge you that. Just, if you ever notice I'm being a bit of an ass (this happens to even the best people on occasion, and I'm no exception), and you're uncertain about whether to say anything about it, I'd always rather know than not.

Date: 2010-02-01 02:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
No worries. :) And I'll tell ya, if it's ever an issue. Thanks!

Date: 2010-02-01 02:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
If there was a "like" button on LJ, I'd be thumbing it right now.

Date: 2010-02-01 02:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
xo right back atcha. Thanks. I keep fighting my own impulses to go back and edit myself to be much more gentle and conciliatory.

Date: 2010-02-01 02:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It is, I think, a fairly universal terror among those who think - this gnawing feeling that maybe you're overreacting, maybe you should soft-pedal it, maybe this emotional reaction is invalid.

But there has to be a line drawn somewhere, particularly at the complex nexus of privilege, and fighting for that line with words worthy of the concept you're conveying is a strong, vital thing to do.

Date: 2010-02-01 03:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Vent away, I hope I am not one of those people, and (hehehehe) one of these days we must have a little talk!

Date: 2010-02-01 03:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
No, darlin', you're not. And you know where to find me, for that talk. :)

Date: 2010-02-01 02:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
it requires late night, alcohol and mournful head-scratching... and at least Skype!

Date: 2010-02-01 08:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well then - we're looking at the possibility of Fourth Street, again, for this year...(But that's going to depend almost entirely on how well the freelancing is going, too.)

Date: 2010-02-01 04:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sorry that this is happening so much to you Mac, and feel free to hit me with a clue by four if I'm ever pulling anything like that off.

Date: 2010-02-01 04:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I promise if I ever hear you call yourself a dyke, or tell a dyke joke, I'll mention that it's not cool.


Date: 2010-02-01 11:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well said.

Thank you.

Date: 2010-02-01 05:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I wish I understood better why anyone on earth would behave in such a way. I'm completely with Popeye here, "I yam what I yam"

Date: 2010-02-01 07:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Heh, and I get to hang out with you at Norwescon, in April!

Date: 2010-02-01 08:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks for (indirectly) reminding me about Norwescon. I just realized it's during my spring break this year, and it's only in SeaTac, so I could conceivably make it. Haven't decided for sure whether I'm going. I am a complete noob when it comes to conventions, so I don't know if Norwescon would be too overwhelming for it to be my first SF/F convention.

Date: 2010-02-01 09:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Norwescon might actually be a really GOOD choice for a first SF convention, and you'll have people you kinda/sorta know, there -- which, in my experience, is what makes cons really fun and memorable. [ profile] medievalist, [ profile] ohdawno, I'm not sure, but it wouldn't surprise me if [ profile] plunderpuss shows up, and myself, for instance, will all be around. *G*

Date: 2010-02-01 09:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's actually a pretty good First Con Alan. Mac's first con, and my first con were both World cons (mine in the 1980s, Mac's in 2006. It can be overwhelming.

Norwescon looks like a better option.

Date: 2010-02-01 10:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

However, I think of it as "I get to hang out with Mac" ;-)

Date: 2010-02-02 12:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
OY! {{{{Dawno}}}}}}

Date: 2010-02-04 02:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*snugs* well, just because. If I ever do anything out of line regarding this, please let me know. I do not think I have, but if I did cross the line, I would expect you to tell me. Knowing of course that I would still love you none the less.


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