Not content to let heterosexuals monopolize the market on positioning one sexuality as superior to all others, some bisexuals, pansexuals, and other sexually “fluid” people have gotten in on the game. All over the internet, you can find:
“I’m bisexual/pansexual/fluid/whatever. I fall in love with the person, not their genitals.”
NEWSFLASH: No one falls in love with what’s between people’s legs, or any other body part for that matter. Body parts don’t even really fit in with the way “love” is used in the English language, so the concept makes no sense. In trying to perpetuate this ridiculously false distinction between themselves and people who aren’t open to having relationships with anyone and everyone, with the glaringly obvious implication that there is something undesireable about being discriminating with regard to the bodies one wants to date/have sex with, it is clear to see that these people think that being bisexual/pansexual/whatever-other-multisexual-terms-there-are is somehow ideal, more natural, or superior to heterosexuality and homosexuality.
Another grab for dominance in the sexuality arena comes from those who “believe,” or, in some cases, insist, that “sexuality is fluid.” For some reason, they feel the need to take the fact that the type of person/people they want to fuck changes every other week and extrapolate it to the rest of the human population.
Google hits for “my sexuality is fluid”: 26
Google hits for “sexuality is fluid”: 6,610,000
Some people’s sexuality might be subject to change. That doesn’t mean that this is true for everyone.
Some part of the unilateral insistence that sexuality in general is fluid is the acceptance of the Kinsey Scale and its implications (and, perhaps to a lesser extent, other sexuality models such as the Klein Grid) as The Gospel Truth. Of course, Kinsey’s actual research and methodology aren’t referenced nearly as often as the scale. This helps to obscure the fact that his definition of sexuality is markedly different from that used in everyday language, which would force people to recognize that his sexuality model is at best misleading and, at worst, completely inappropriate, as a basis for the conceptualization of “sexuality” as “fluid,” at least, without further qualification of the meaning of “sexuality.”
To “identify” has taken on a special meaning in the GLBTLOLWTFBBQ and feminist communities. Let me illustrate with a short dramatization:
Person Who Is Obviously Not X: “I am X.”
Sane Person: “No you aren’t.”
Person Who Is Obviously Not X: “How dare you?!? I identify as X! Who are you to question my identity!”
“Identifying” has become a means for people to lay claim to/appropriate groups they are not a part of, with the added bonus that anyone who dares to question the “identity” is villified as closed-minded/transphobic/hateful/etc. We are expected to buy into the nonsense that claiming, wishing for, seeing oneself as, wanting to be seen/treated as, thinking that one should have been, etc., is the same/on a level with actual being, or that there is no “being,” and the category being appropriated is something that anyone can choose or not choose.
Two examples of this behavior are bisexual women who “identify” as lesbians, and “mtfs”/”trans women” (in quotations because it is, of course, impossible for a male to “transition” into femalehood or womanhood) who “identify” as women.
Some women are not yet aware of their true sexuality and some just flat out lie, but I can scarcely imagine why any woman who openly admits to bisexual behavior or desires would “identify” as a lesbian, so I googled it, and, not surprisingly, came up with nonsense. In many cases, part of the philosophy behind “identifying,” whether conscious or not, is that words can mean whatever the hell we want them to, and that is clearly illustrated here:
“If you define a lesbian as a woman who emotionally, sexually, and spiritually centers her life around women, then I am a lesbian.”
Sorry, but a lack of sexual/romantic interest in/relationships with men is part of it, too. Hell, by this definition, any straight woman who has mostly women in her life is a “lesbian.”
This example is just sad:
“I remember talking one time with a bisexual friend about how I wished I could identify as a lesbian because that word sounded so powerful. Lesbian women sounded so sure of who they were. I wished I was that sure.”
“Others, for political and social reasons, may wish to identify with the lesbian & gay communities. “
Ok…pretending you’re something you’re not and appropriating lesbianism…exactly whose politics does this further?
Assuming this is a real question, the personal confusion here is pathetic:
“So basically I am only attracted to women and have only ever been with women but for the past year have been dating a guy. I still feel as though I’m lesbian though and I really think it’s only this particular guy.”
She’s only attracted to women, yet she’s dating a guy. Is she not attracted to the guy she’s dating?
I won’t even get into posting examples of the “mtf” and “trans woman” appropriation of womanhood (not to mention lesbianism, intersexuality, motherhood, and more!) because you can find that it has exploded in “queer,” GLBWHATEVER, and even feminist blogs/communities all over the internet like a sewer pipe stuffed with dynamite.
The sad part is when people who really are what they claim to be bend their knees to the specious “identites” of others by “identifying” themselves. Anyone who is really a woman, or lesbian, or whatever else, and “identifies” as such is only supporting the appropriation of her identity (true identity, not the bullshit “you-are-whatever-you-say-you-are” identity) by fakes, wannabes, and privileged/ignorant morons who have spent too much time swallowing postmodern, linguistic nihilism to recognize the importance (or even the possibility) of accuracy, truth, and the political necessity of certain group identifications.
I do not “identify” as a woman. I am one.
I do not “identify” as a lesbian. I am one.
This is another topic to file under “Avoiding Patriarchal Language.” Language constructs reality, and imprecise, incorrect, and negative language helps to construct nightmares.
No healthy, consensual relationship involves domination. Domination/submission is the language for master/slave (and other abusive) relationships; it is not, in general, proper language for the characterization of relationships that butches and their partners are in.
It seems to me that what people often mean when they characterize butches as “dominant” is closer to something like “taking the lead” or “initiating.” It is obvious that these relatively neutral ways of behaving have nothing to do with the harmful behavior of dominating.
A blunt summary of the concluding point of the previous post is that gender does not exist except as a tool of oppression and a cultural fiction.
Proper conceptualizations of any given phenomenon must eschew patriarchal language. To my absolute horror, I have read people try to paint butchness as a “gender identity,” usually some type of transgender. Aside from the fact that (in the U.S., at least) butchness does not have the cultural stamp of approval that is the fundamental component of any gender, and is thus not a gender at all, the term “transgender” is problematic from a feminist perspective because it defines people in terms of the patriarchy’s (fictional, harmful) categories. It reifies gender with the claim that those so labeled transcend/cross/etc. it(depending on the sense of “trans-” implied). While it is sometimes useful to describe using patriarchal terms in order to underscore opposition to the default or expected patriarchal order, there can be nothing healthy about a personal identity or a definition expressed or conceptualized in patriarchal terms. Besides, the patriarchally-brainwashed point out that butches aren’t like “regular women” every chance they get – they don’t need the help.
Perhaps more horrifying is the use of “butch/ftm,” as if there is some sort of connection between the two. This sometimes rests on the idea that both butches and ftms exist on the same “spectrum.” Spectrum of what, though? Some say masculinity, but, masculinity being nothing more than a patriarchal wet dream, no such spectrum exists.
This is a topic that leaves me sputtering and slapping my forehead so, I scarcely know where to begin to express myself coherently.
Let me begin with a perspective. I actually think of this as “the truth,” but I refer to it as a perspective to put the reader into my shoes.
I’ve already discussed masculinity and femininity. They are fictions. They are tools of oppression, perpetrated through the generations by various means: shaming, ostracization, violence, etc. They are examples of what are called “gender roles,” social roles, stereotypes and expectations arbitrarily assigned to people based on genitalia and secondary sex characteristics. Clearly, they are bad things.
Holding onto that state of mind, imagine my shock, confusion, and irritation as I behold the following sequence of events:
The “roles” in “gender roles” is mostly omitted. People now speak of “gender,” or, sometimes “gender identity.” People talk about “choosing” and “finding” their gender identity. They talk about “gender” as if it’s a personal characteristic. They speak of it as if it were something positive. They don’t want to disrupt or destroy the system of gender; they want to play with it, respect it, champion it as a form of diversity, and so forth and so on.
Did I miss something? When did gender become something positive? When did something that is more or less forced on us become a legitimate part of one’s identity? How does one choose something that is by definition chosen for us?
Thinking the meaning of “gender” changed when my back was turned, I did a little research on this topic. I checked dozens of dictionaries, paper and online. I checked all sorts of websites: websites for “gender” clinics, psychiatry websites, “queer” forums, personal websites that described someone’s “personal gender.” Most of them were too vague to be of help, using the terms without explanation, either explicit or implicit. Maddeningly, several wasted my time with what we call a “recursive definition” in computer science, using the word being defined in the definition. Some defined “gender identity” in terms of “gender,” although the two seemed to be used interchangeably in many other places.
Most recently, I have come across several books and blogs written by and/or about transsexuals and/or the transgendered, and, occasionally, extrapolated to everyone, and they seem to confirm that “gender” has not changed so much after all; they write of it as a kind of social role. What is utterly bizarre, however, is that they and many others seem to think that one or more “genders” is a part of who they and others are, and/or are freely chosen. That they conceive of “gender” as something positive, or at least neutral, is unambiguous. The message coming out loud and clear is that (most of them) want no part of being forced into patriarchal gender, but there is some other “gender” system, it has more than two components, hell, practically infinitely many components, and everybody can have whatever “gender” they want to have, and if only everyone would follow this system, it could help to put an end to genders being forced on people.
My short response to this is, what the hell? The longer response is hey, you know that saying about the master’s tools? Just as some people think they can somehow drag two specific genders, masculinity and femininity, out of the patriarchal sandbox and play nice with them as they choose, others (and there is certainly overlap) think they can take the the whole dull hack saw of gender itself out of the butcher’s shop and neatly organize their lives with it without severing any veins.
Now, I know that the dumb and dull masses (here I cannot truly speak for populations outside of the U.S.) are content to spend their lives grazing on patriarchal fictions, sheep happily fenced in by more or less rigid gender roles. Perhaps foolishly, though, I thought that the various sorts of “queer” people would have more of a feminist consciousness than to be duped into the same old lie: that Gender Is Good, Gender Is Natural. At least some of them know that “genders” are culturally and historically contingent, as I often see mention of “two-spirits” and this culture’s x and that civilization’s y, yet they continue to speak of some sort of personal gender, as if it were something that exists outside of society. Even some of those who eschew claiming a gender seem to think it’s like choosing not to wear a belt or get a tattoo, as opposed to a significant act of bravery of political ramifications, that, nevertheless, is not completely within their power to live out, to the extent that most (if not all) societies will continue to gender them whether they accept it or not.
Gender is a cultural phenomenon; there are no individual genders. It is a system created on a foundation of sexual difference, so it makes no sense to say that “anyone can be x gender;” if anyone can be x, then x is not sex-specific, and thus isn’t a gender! If we’re talking about personal characteristics that are not sex-specific…wouldn’t the proper term for that be “personality”?
Gender is not something to play with. It’s something to be destroyed.
Something that I did not touch on in the previous post’s denunciation of the descriptive and/or definitive use of “masculine” in relation to butches (and everyone else) was the possibility of the reclamation of the word. I do not think the term “masculine” can be legitimately reclaimed by anyone for the same reason I do not think it can be claimed by anyone: namely, because what it denotes does not truly exist.
The proper, fundamental definition of masculinity (as well as femininity) is: A particular set of personal characteristics + an unfounded sexist perspective on who can/does/ought to display/claim/embody them. Insofar as one accepts that there is no reason to believe that only/mainly men/boys can/are/ought to be the displayers/claimers/embodiers, and that this attitude, conscious or not, is an integral part of what masculinity is, then it is clear from this analysis alone that masculinity is a fictional concept.
However, even if we try to separate the characteristics that masculinity denotes from the sexist connection to men/boys, we run into trouble. First of all, just what would we be separating? Without the underlying concept of “like a man,” how do we know what masculinity consists of? Not only does masculinity lack a neat and tidy list of what it does and does not denote; whatever semblance of a list there is remains hopelessly culturally-contingent.
Even if we ignore this difficulty, or qualify our use of “masculinity” as a set of characteristics that are generally recognized as such by, perhaps, most or some people in a given time and place, the fact remains that we are, curiously, naming a random assortment of personal characteristics. What possible reason for this could one have? Would we take other random sets of characteristics, perhaps something like introversion, manual dexterity, poor reading skills, a fondness for animals, and color-blindedness, and name them something-inity?
This analysis illustrates the inherently patriarchal nature of the term “masculine” by showing us that sexism is the glue that ties the various contents of masculinity together: without the unifying concept of “this is what men should be/are,” masculinity is just a rag tag bunch of possible personality components that anyone can have some or all of. In summary, although it would be theoretically possible to separate the characteristics from the sexism, the sexism is the only reason to conceptually group the characteristics together, and so the entire concept crumbles; thus masculinity is inseparable from sexism. It is to be rejected in its entirety, as it cannot be accepted in part.