Thursday, 26 April 2012

Britt Simpson on Lesbianism and Gender.

I follow Britt simpson's blog and this is one of the most insightful things I've seen in a while on Gender by anyone.

Let me make something very clear right now.

When you say it’s more acceptable to be a lesbian than it is to be a gay man, you’re wrong. When you say there’s more stigma associated with being a gay man than with being a lesbian, you’re still wrong. Let’s cite both legal representations and media representations. Then, let’s apply them to real life. First of all, being queer is being queer. It does not matter which sex you were assigned at birth, which gender (if any) you identify as, how well you pass, if you are cis-gendered, if you are trans*, or if your pronouns are chubby bunny. Being queer is being queer. A male-identified individual attracted exclusively to other male-identified individuals is no more queer and no less queer (or, if it makes you feel better, we’ll use the term homosexual) than a female-identified individual who is attracted to other female-identified individuals. I do not care how you present your gender, how you flaunt your sexual orientation, which stereotypes you fit, how much you fuck with gender, where you fit on the gender spectrum, or how many “bitches you get” - having more sex, fitting more stereotypes, or being more “proud” does not make you more gay. Therefore, gay is gay - regardless of gender.

Now, given that gay is gay, let’s look at the facts. Gay marriage is illegal in a majority of the states. There is no law favoring one gender over another. Gay marriage is gay marriage. It is legal, in many states, to be discriminated against in your workplace or even be dismissed based on gender presentation/identity (a transman is no more safe than a transwoman. Someone who does not identify as trans, but does not adhere to stereotypical gender binaries is also unsafe - male or female) and/or sexual orientation. Gay is gay.

Now, it is often argued that gay males are treated worse than their female counterparts. Let’s rethink this. In the media, we see gay men as jokes. We see lesbians as something commodified. Something sexualized. Gay men are made out to be ultra-feminine and are ridiculed for it. Let’s stop for a second and think of who comprises the legal system under which we are “kept in order.” Heterosexual. White. Men. Most of these men are conservative, “good old boys.” Most of these men adhere to gender binaries. Historically, white men have oppressed women, regardless of color and regardless of racist feminists arguing eugenics. Historically, men had extramarital affairs with other men, because this was seen as the pinnacle of power. Historically, women have not been taken seriously. Historically, we are founded upon a patriarchal, heteronormative society. So tell me this, when men are no longer required to be “manly,” to adhere to gender binaries, to maintain an air of tough, unforgiving, strength with no room for emotional literacy, what happens to our patriarchy? Women have never been taken seriously. Historically, laws against sodomy prevented male homosexuals from partaking in sex, but women were left alone, because what we do together isn’t considered sex based upon our western obsession with phallic symbolism and patriarchal structures. Historically, what women do is of no concern to men.

Time to examine the media! This is easy. Fag hags, gay best friends, Ru Paul’s drag race. Logo, the only cable station providing access to variant LGBTQ narratives has decided to become the “new Bravo,” as they put it, canceling all their queer programming except Ru Paul. Will & Grace also thrived in mainstream entertainment. These are campy shows, providing entertainment for the heterosexual world - commodifying an identity and dehumanizing a group. We then had the A-List, a show focused on gay MALE POWER couples. (Are you catching my drift so far with this notion of male power and female inferiority?) Now, if you happen to be privileged enough to have access to premium channels, such as Showtime, you may be familiar with the L Word. This is a show that, while providing variant identities and narratives for queer women, hypersexualizes them, focusing on what they do in bed. This is a show with both queer women and heterosexual males as its primary target audience. The L Word thrived due to its hypersexuality, while The Real L Word, a show with, essentially, the same cast, flat-lined. I’m hedging my bets on the fact that these are real people who refuse to have a show documenting their life, identity, and culture commodified as a sex tape. Aka sex sells, queer identity is nothing. Aside from this small piece (which could hardly be considered a saving grace), what do we have? Lesbians on Jerry Springer, playing up the intersectionalities of low socio-economic statuses, of race, of lack of education. We have dykes riding motorcycles portrayed as the bad guy. This is what we are learning about queer individuals. We are learning it’s okay for females to befriend the gay man, as he is expected to be funny and relate to their femininity. We are learning it’s not okay for men to befriend the gay man, because he is exposing a vulnerability that all men have, because it is imperative to protect the image of what man is. We are casting off gay men as their own gender identity. And we are learning, finally, that the heterosexual female should fear the lesbian. She should speculate the lesbian’s intentions at every slumber party they attended together (even though they slept 20 feet apart in different rooms). We are learning that lesbians are still women as long as they are pretty. If they are pretty, there is hope, they can be hypersexualzied as can all women, who cares what they actually want or do. We are learning gender non-conforming lesbians are outcasts, accepted by neither men or women - like gay men, they have become their own gender, one which does not fit in this society.

Now, let’s apply our voyeuristic tendencies as a society to real life. How do we learn to interact with queer women? How do we learn to act with queer men? When was the last time you heard a woman tell a gay man he just hasn’t fucked the right pussy yet? When was the last time you heard a gay man being told it was just a phase? What parties do you attend where male-identified individuals are objectified and hypersexualized for the pleasure of other guests? When a guy comes out, does he not find allies among his heterosexual female peers? Does he not win a fag hag? When was the last time a cis-gendered, “attractive” lesbian was castigated for “doing gay” in public by a male spectator? What this comes down to is an issue of gender. There exists, in our society, a certain male privilege, one not known to female-identified individuals, GNC individuals, and, in some cases, transmen. Homosexual men receive more reprimand and harsher punishments both legally and socially by other males as they have an image to uphold, a societal institution to reinforce. Homosexual women are sexualized and dismissed. They are commodified for the pleasure of heterosexual men. The next time you watch the L Word, tell yourself your identity has been commodified for your own benefit as you watch “bi-curious” Jenny or see the dilapidation of Tina and Bette’s relationship because Tina just can’t give up the dick. Sure, maybe they get back together, but let it be known to our heteronormative patriarchal society, Tina was willing to risk everything just to satisfy herself on a WHITE heterosexual cock.

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