Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Straight and Narrow

I'm straight, but I don't advertise it. In fact, I am aggressively private about my love life. I feel like it's no one's business but my own, but unfortunately, this doesn't always translate well with a certain sect of my biological relations. They're conservative Republicans, you see, and although I love them dearly despite their conserviosity, it genuinely pisses me off when I have to explicitly state that I am indeed not a Big Bad Lesbian. Incidentally, this relates to Wittig's The Straight Mind. Wittig states:

"For heterosexual society is the society which not only oppresses lesbians and gay men, it oppresses many different/others, it oppresses all women and many categories of men, all those who are in the position of the dominated."

Hey wow, I am oppressed for being straight! Now, I'm not suggesting that I am oppressed to the same extent as lesbians or bisexual women. I'm simply stating that I'm oppressed because I refuse to subscribe to touchy-feely heterosexual norms. I refuse to enter a relationship unless I am absolutely certain that it would be egalitarian. Basically, I'm oppressed because I don't flaunt my heterosexuality. I'm not attracted to muscular Arnold Schwarzenegger-esque men; I think intellectual nerds in sweater vests are damn sexy. But, that's a different story.

A certain relation once asked me what my major was. When I replied, "English and Women's Studies," I received what only can be described as the stink eye. Rather than asking me what exactly Women's Studies was, he snidely asked me what exactly I'd be doing with those majors. When I replied that I'm definitely going for a Master's and (hopefully!) a Doctorate, I was then lectured on when and when not to have my children. According to this relative, I should definitely wait to reproduce until after my Master's, but because Doctoral degrees take several years, I could have them during that time. Because marriage is the only option for a woman, and as such, I should care more about my biological clock than my education. After all, my linguistic prowess and feminist inquiry will be utterly useless when pitted against The Infant.

And the heteronormative fun doesn't stop there. Because I am a feminist and believe that women are indeed people and NOT doormats, my sexuality is often called into question. As if wanting equal pay for equal work was a bad thing. Never being in a serious relationship has also raised some serious suspicions. Of course, they're too polite to boldly come out and ask me which gender I am sexually attracted to, so as an alternative, they backhandedly make comments and innuendos to get me to 'fess up. Which is a) really fucking irritating and b) none of their goddamned business.

Essentially, this article made me realize that although I have certain privileges that bisexual women and lesbians don't, everyone is affected by heterosexism: "the straight mind cannot conceive of a culture, a society where heterosexuality would not order not only all human relationships but also its very production of concepts and all the processes which escape consciousness."

I can only imagine what a clusterfuck of greatness would result in the end of heteronormativity.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I'm Just Being Honest, Asshole. I'd Expect You to Know the Difference.

I was really hesitant to write about this, mostly because it makes me feel like I'm being condescending. Which, incidentally, I kind of am, but I'm not really trying to's just kind of how it is. See, after my first Women's Studies course (Spring 2008--Women, Suffrage, and Political Participation with Nina Kasniunas, who is epically awesome), I really started growing into and becoming more comfortable with feminism. In fact, I thought it was the absolute bee's knees, as did my two best friends who also took Women's Studies 100 that same semester. During first semester of Freshman year we were like, "Feminism? Piffle! That's for bra-burning crazies." We went under a kind of feminist transformation during the course of Freshman year, and by the end I had decided to take on a second major in Women's Studies.
Okay, so this is the part where I connect my seemingly irrelevant story to our class, via Joreen's BITCH Manifesto: "...Bitches who have not succumbed totally to self-hatred are most comfortable of all only in the company of fellow bitches. "These are her true peers and the only ones with whom she does not have to play some sort of role. Only with other Bitches can a Bitch be truly free."
The thing is, this is really, really true, and in a lot of ways that feels frightening to me. I love my friends from home dearly, but try as I might to get them interested in feminism (I've even loaned out my beloved copies of Jessica Valenti's ""Full-Frontal Feminism" and Inga Muscio's "Cunt") it doesn't seem to be sticking. I usually get this kind of glazed-over look when I start talking about the pay disparity, and when I try and explain what androcentrism and heteronormativity are to my family members, they kind of dismiss it as me trying to sound more intelligent than they are. Granted, I am intelligent, and I can understand why they think I'm just being an ass, but feminism is something that has completely transformed my life and is constantly challenging my own assumptions and how I view the world. It's just so fucking awesome and I want to share it with everyone that I love and care about because re: FUCKING AWESOME.
So back to why this is relevant to the BITCH Manifesto. Around non-(not to be confused with anti-) feminist family and friends, I often feel uncomfortable bringing up why I don't think it's okay that gays and lesbians are denied the right to marry, why pro-choice is actually pro-life because it's pro-people-who-are-already-alive-who-have-every-right-to-do-with-their-bodies-as-they-see-fit, and just what exactly Women's Studies is. I have not and will never deny that I am a feminist, but I feel like I'm forced to play a role when put into certain social (usually surrounded by Republicans) situations. I have never felt this way around my best friends, nor in any of the Women's Studies classes I've taken. Even if I don't agree with someone's views, I never feel as if I'm playing games around self-identified feminists, because like them, I've Just Said No to patriarchal bullshit. It's only around the feminist types that I feel truly free to be myself, and while that's empowering in many ways, it also makes me feel limited in other social situations with people I care about. And honestly, I'm not quite sure what to make of that.