Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Dyke: "Are you really?" (My) dyke identity, (my) body, straight male privilege and erasing queerness

I keep my hair Rachel-Maddow-short1, I walk like a dyke2, Ariel tells me I interact with people like a dyke3. Thing is, I'm also short and average-sized with a pronounced hourglass shape, and I'm frequently described as cute. Unless I'm wearing my pride scarf so as to display all six colors for the world to see, I still get straight men questioning my orientation in hopeful and/or suspicious tones. Common questions of this sort include "have you ever considered coming over to the other side?" (one guy attached "the non-gay side?" to the end of this one, much to my amusement), "have you always been gay?", and "how do you really know you're gay?" 4 (This is somewhat complicated by my occasional presence alongside Ariel in the local kink community, as she points out -- i.e. these men presumably think like so: "Infodyke expresses interest in sex by virtue of her presence here => Infodyke wants sex with meeeeeee!")

It's obnoxious and hurtful to have folks with social privilege over you constantly demanding that you prove your identity (as anyone who suffers from femme invisibility or other sorts of "passing privilege" can attest to, probably having had more experience with it than I). If you're like me, it also nudges you toward articulating and affirming said identity.

So here I am. I'm a short and curvy dyke with a fucking awesome rack. I don't walk softly or carefully on the balls of my feet. I will not smile for you (especially not with teeth). I swear like a sailor. Sometimes I wear minidresses and leggings and knee-high lace-up boots. Sometimes I wear t-shirts and old jeans and walking shoes. I don't like or wear makeup. I knit, and you do not get to demand a scarf from me. I'm not afraid to tell you in no uncertain terms that I refuse to be addressed as "your" anything, or "girl", or "cutie", and I will not make exceptions for you. And above all, you are not going to be the man who makes me overhaul my entire self.

Deal with it.

1 allowing for three to six months' growth because the only stylist I trust with it isn't cheap, and she's also in my hometown, which I only visit four times a year at most
2 Ariel's impression of me is pretty much "BARREL BARREL BARREL! I WILL BARREL! AND SWING MY ARMS!"
3 e.g. avoiding eye contact with men and making more of an effort to choose my words and phrasing carefully with women.
4 There have been so many of them that we quickly collected enough for a rough draft of Stupid Straight Man Bingo.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Ariel: The accusation of "political correctness"

You know how many times I've heard the phrase, "Oh my God, stop being so PC!"? A lot. A lot a lot. It's beginning to annoy the fuck out of me. There are several reasons for this. Let's break out the list, shall we?
1) People usually use it to suggest that I'm dancing around the truth to avoid hurting peoples' feelings. So, whenever someone says to me, "Stop being so PC!" what they're really saying is that by purposely using, say, non-transphobic language, I'm lying. That transphobia (or whatever) is really *awesome* and that I should be courageous and/or grow some balls. As if it were courageous to marginalize other people. GRRRR.
2) Last time I checked, women and girls were socialized to be nice, inclusive, and non-threatening. Will you all make up your fucking minds? I suppose, then, that women should be all those things to white, non-fat, middle- or upper-class, Christian, cis-gendered men. Who I sincerely doubt need my protection.
3) The term itself is a misnomer. "Politically correct"? Really? Have you fuckers ever watched CSPAN? If there is a correct way to do politics, it has more to do with bashing POC on welfare (because, you know, they're obviously just lazy) and women who dare to have sex than being inclusive. Also, it's not like anyone deserves a gold star for not being a douchehound.
4) The people who tend to think being PC is a bad thing are usually the ones who are already protected by their own privilege, and don't need other people to self-edit to feel safe and valued. So where do they get off saying I should be more offensive and stupid? How does it affect them, except to make them more equal with others?

So, yes. Unless you're a serious masochist, don't you fucking dare accuse me of being PC.

Also, hi! I'm Ariel! I'll be adding to the general WTF around here. Pleasure to meet you!

The Dyke: The "good girl" meme

Sometimes I talk to people online. Much of the time they're straight men who come across my profile on a kink personals site. Most of them don't read enough of my profile to realize I really mean it when I say I'm gay and unavailable. These get thoroughly mocked and then blocked. On the other hand, some of them are interesting and polite enough to be worth talking to for a while, and as with any conversation between a dyke and a straight man, as the length of the conversation goes to infinity, the probability that they will say something that irks me approaches one.

This time, somebody invoked the "good girl" meme. (I say "meme" because it's something I've often encountered as a disciplining tool in some form. I don't know if it's been articulated as a meme in the academic sense, and Google is failing me on this point.) Specifically, he invoked it (albeit jokingly) in support of this odd idea he had that I should tell him my bra size.

The good girl meme makes me angry. In my experience, it's used to discipline non-gender-conforming women and girls and as a result devalue queer femininity and gender fluidity. Especially coming from straight men, it often carries the implication of a certain flavor of availability to... you guessed it, straight men. For me personally, it recalls childhood feuds with female relatives who thought I should be more "ladylike" -- i.e. buy gardening sandals from the women's section; wear form-fitting sweaters as opposed to the baggy hoodies I favored; date boys; simultaneously hang out with and and distrust girls; eat less than I actually wanted to; shave my legs and pits; wear makeup.

Fuck that shit.

(P.S.: Hi! I'm Information Dyke! Pleasure to meet you, and I'll be one of your friendly bloggers 'round these parts!)