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.

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