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Archive for October, 2009

Coming Out Day was the other day (I forget which day, but this will be a retroactive post in its spirit, ITS SPIRIT OK). So here is my coming out: I am queer and pansexual and I think I am polyamorous. I will theoretically have relationships with anyone who has the inclination to have one with me. This, I am sure of. The polyamory part is new to me. It’s kinda like I’ve just woken up wearing a hat: a large, flowery hat that I cannot remove, and because people will tend to notice this kind of thing, I have to come up with a name for the hat and buy a hat box to keep it in. I am also a woman, but because my sex-‘n’-gender are readily socially intelligible to the average schmuck, I don’t think that counts as coming out.

So pansexuality. I don’t use that word very often because it is scary to me. Every time I use it aloud I adopt a defensive posture, ready to shout ‘well YOUR FACE IS A BOGUS POSTMODERN CONSTRUCT’. Because saying ‘bisexual’, which was my word du jour until very recently, is scary enough. Slutty, greedy. (Both true, yay!! Oops. I mean, WHAT A SHAME.) Fickle, naïve, fake, poseur, really gay, really straight, trendy. (Not true).  But saying ‘pansexual’ is scarier because most people cock their heads sideways and go to the place in their minds where there are images of orgies with happy cartoon squirrels blocking out peoples’ naughty parts. Pansexual is scary because it does not, as far as I can tell, imply attraction that adheres to a binary construction of sex-‘n’-gender. It implies potential attraction to people who are neither male nor female, or both, or one and then the other.

I am fine with this, deep inside my identity place. Men are good. Women are good, Genderqueer people are good. Bigendered people are good. Everyone is pretty fucking good.  I do not see a WRONG WAY GO BACK sign anywhere here. Do you see a fuss here? There is no fuss, except other people’s fuss. Other people’s fuss sucks. I don’t use ‘bisexual’ any more because it DID fuss me inside, it fussed me because it was inaccurate. It also fussed me because it makes me think of binarily gendered toilet doors and a small group of people standing outside looking excluded and sad. I didn’t want use a word that was those toilet doors, especially when it wasn’t even the most correct word. I am not those toilet doors, damn it. I’m going to stop saying ‘toilet doors’ now.

So that is my attraction-gradient: queer and pansexual. Usually now I just use ‘queer’, but ‘pansexual’ is the smoothly engineered term. The aerodynamic one that I would use more if my defensive posture didn’t hurt my lower back.

Polyamory is my new hat. I have two partners and I’m not sure that there is anything else for it but to call a hat a hat. Or to call having two partners ‘polyamory’. There’s just a hat, okay? It’s new and I’m scared of it. I’m scared of having to explain why I’m wearing this hat. I’m scared of having to explain that it’s not even the average kind of polyamory hat, because one of my partners is asexual. I’m scared that I won’t be able to fit through doorways with my hat on (not really but youknowwhatImean).  I feel as if this label has been thrust upon me. Though I have known since forever that I am a greedy enough slutbag* to potentially want multiple partners, it has never been in the forefront of my consciousness enough to demand its own checky box. I am uncomfy and I don’t know whether I like this word enough to keep it and pet it and call it George. (I think I just changed my mind in one paragraph. Keep your expectations of coherency low and you won’t be disappointed.)

So that is my coming out. I asked someone once if I could refer to myself as Neutral Greedy McSlutbag, but they said no.

*Slutbag here used in an affectionate and reclaimed manner to refer to myself. SLUTBAGS UNITE!

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Here is part of a rebuttal of my anti-gay marriage post, by a guy I know only as ‘Dan’:

And, yes, the gay marriage movement ignores the rights of transexuals and polygamists. That’s because gays are not transexual and gays are not polygamists. Eleanor’s really going to oppose expanding rights to a group of people just because that group of people isn’t also fighting for the rights of a completely different set of people? Then we also shouldn’t pass gay marriage because gay marriage advocates aren’t fighting to pass UHC, or gun control legislation, or any of my other pet causes. Eleanor’s inappropriately mixing causes here.

This makes me spit fucking chips.

Hey, guess what? There’s no such thing as ‘inappropriately mixing causes’. The gay people you’re fighting for ARE TRANS* PEOPLE. They are also women, poly people, people of colour, disabled people, neurodiverse people. The gay marriage movement fights for causes that predominantly concern wealthy, white, middle class men, a group that constitute a tiny minority of the privileged upper crust. Being gay, fighting for gay marriage, does not give you license to ignore issues affecting gay people that do not affect you personally. You might not be a person with a serious mental illness who has to negotiate the medical and justice establishments refusing to acknowledge your basic humanity, but SOME OTHER GAY PEOPLE ARE. They have to worry about being oppressed for being gay, AND being oppressed for being a undocumented immigrant or a person with a disability.

Acknowledging the everyday concerns of your fellow gay people is called ‘intersectionality’, and mastering it is the only way that any social justice movement has a snowflake’s chance on my tongue of achieving any kind of truly liberated society. Gay people are not just gay people exactly like you, and ignoring the importance of other oppressions that they experience is racist, sexist, transphobic, ableist, all of the above. As someone primarily identifying as a feminist, this is something I should be thinking about every day, and as someone who advocates queer rights, the same thing applies. It’s not okay for feminism to pay attention only to privileged women, and it’s not okay for the gay rights movement to pay attention only to privileged gay people.

We should be trying to mix our causes MORE, not less. THAT is what bourgeois means: not a promotion of the ‘ordinary’ or ‘base’, but the privilege to ignore issues that do not affect you personally. People’s lives do not reflect a neatly segmented pie of different oppressions, and this is one of the huge problems with privileged anti-oppression academia and activism: we deny the lived experience of people who experience multiple oppressions. I include myself in this, because, as an aspiring member of government and academia, I am complicit, through my involvement, with perpetuating this enormous fucking problem. We should be listening to the voices of people who are oppressed in different and multiple ways, and implementing their suggestions within our ‘different’ movements. Heard of ‘safety in numbers’? This is what we should be trying to achieve.

But people who refuse to ‘mix their causes’, and it is usually the privileged among us who do this, delay, obscruct, kill off this objective. We fixate on our own pet issues to the detriment of the humanity of others. I cannot be a feminist who does not listen to women of colour or fat women or disabled women or women who are sex workers. Their problems are MY PROBLEMS. By ignoring them we foster their fully deserved resentment and hatred toward us. When I hear someone say something that is racist, and I do not try to counter it, I am being racist. Is that not completely fucking obvious? I get shat off massively when the male left ignores feminist issues, and I’m sure gay rights activists feel the same way when it’s gay rights that falls by the wayside when we all cluster under the leftist umbrella.

This is a shitty excuse for an Intersectionality 101 post, but if it made you angry or confused, do some research, for the love of humanity. I am not attacking here; I am defending. Read about intersectionality.

We are not completely different sets of people.

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O hai guys.

I have been really busy being unconscionably lazy, but I have a very serious question that has been bugging the shit out of me for some time. It’s a language limitation question, and it is of a Personal Nature. I am so open to suggestions about this issue, you have no idea. I am like a sweet wrapper after an overexcited six year old has carefully torn it into a long, single strip, tied the ends together, and got all his other sugar-hopped pals to jump through it. I am a giant ear, waiting to receive your ingenious solutions to my irritating terminology gripe.

So here’s the thing. There is a person. Most of my readers, all 25 of you, know this person. For those of you who don’t, she is taller than the average circus freak, likes to cut up the dead into chunks, and her head currently has a pleasingly shaven texture. We love eachother very, very much. If she wanted to convert to ascetic mysticism, move to Yemen, and live in a bark hut, eking out a living by catching local birds and weaving their entrails into baskets, I would whip out my viscera crochet hook and go with her. She is asexual; I am not. I am in a sexual relationship with someone else, whom I can handily and accurately describe as my boyfriend. She’s not my ‘friend’, because that word does not cover the commitment, intimacy, and occasional pirate wenchitude involved in our relationship. ‘Girlfriend’, ‘spouse’, and ‘partner’ all have misleadingly sexual connotations.

What I want is a word that doesn’t have to involve an extended conversation about our personal histories when I describe our relationship to other people. These conversations usually result in me (and her) feeling a combination of ignored, scrutinised, disbelieved, laughed at, infantilised, objectified, or slightly violated. I need a word for what we are, or even a phrase, I’m not shooting for the Moon here, that describes transparently the state of the union. We love eachother, we are in a relationship. We want to ‘build a life together’ (this is the point where I officially abandon any effort to sound less like a Centrelink pamphlet) that involves all the things that long-term partnerships usually do, without the bonking. I have/will have other partner/s that I will probably sleep with. She is not ‘single’, and I am not in an ‘exclusive relationship’ with her or my boyfriend. Ideally it would also involve some implied imperatives: saying ‘this is my girlfriend’ usually also means ‘do not mack on her while I am around’ and, even in polyamorous situations, ‘the other one of us will probably be involved in any relationship you wish to pursue with her’. We do not sleep together, but we are together.

This is generally compounded by my stick insect mortician partner’s asexuality, which most people characterise as nonexistent, pathological, or SO INTERESTING OMG that it magically obliterates her/our privacy. Or there’s the occasional person who paradoxically finds it a massive turn on. Unfortunately for their various projected issues, she is just a normal person who doesn’t want to have sex with you.

So there is the situation. I don’t want to resort to ‘co-pilot’ or ‘life partner’, please Jesus God no, and not many people grok ‘hemiasexual queeromantic marriagelike cuddlefest’ upon first hearing. Are there any words that connote anything similar to what we’re doing here, or am I grasping at asexual lesbotronic domestic partnership straws? Currently I’m using ‘hemiasexual queeromantic partner’ for her on facebonk, and ‘sexual heteromantic partner’ for my other squee-ee-eeze. Are you smrter than I am with words? Give me other options.

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