“Labels and Street Signs: Navigating Gender & Orientation in the Global Village and Cyber-ghettos”
It’s trendy to answer the question “who/what are you?” with a smirk and “I hate labels.” I like my labels. Go to the pantry and rip the labels off every can you find. Dinner will be always be a surprise. Is wanting to know what’s inside just blind prejudice? When did blindness become lack of prejudice?
Love & DNA
Monique Wittig is an important lesbian theorist and philosopher credited with starting the French feminist movement. (She also got kicked out of the French Academy for mocking Freud – which makes her uber-sexy in my book.) Assume the lesbians mentioned are both biological and chromosomal female without physical or psychological sex ambiguity. (A big assumption that’s only possible for a hypothetical abstract situation.) All variations aside, Wittig’s argument is that lesbians are not “women” because women are an invention of society to partner with men. Women exist as a better half, helpmate or sex object. ( Every sentence with an object has a subject. If a “woman” is a sex object then the subject is… ? You got it. “The Man.”) Women are mothers, wives, sisters, etc. They are salt to men’s pepper. Yin/yang. Book ends. What happens when the tool refuses to be used? When one book end becomes a windmill? When the salt shaker fills itself with dried flowers and runs off to live in a condiment-free commune? The shape of the thing hasn’t changed but its purpose, its use has. It is something completely new.
Lesbian in this context is a gender identity, a reinvention, a reject of the “straight world”. She is out of order. Not broken but breaking the old to be something new. Or something very old. She is an iconoclast.
By refusing to live inside the social contract, she is a rebel without a gender. Without a gender definition. She is free to redefine herself. As lesbians have been doing for a long time. Just what and who a lesbian is, is contextual. She doesn’t exist outside of her culture or era. Are the women who lived in Boston Marriages in the past century, lesbians? Was Sappho? What (if anything) do I have in common with them? I claim them as foremothers. Lesbian becomes almost an ethnicity.
As a gender Lesbian is truncated. There are so many sub-genders suitcased in there. Butch, femme, lipstick lesbian, Bull dyke, boi, stone butch, soft butch, androgyne, political lesbian, gay woman, WSW.
– from the Seattle Public Health web site
Check the can. Does it say what percentage of your tuna sandwich may contain dolphin? Not all tuna is dolphin safe. Not every lesbian is penis-free. She may have one of her own (or someone else’s). Or a drawer full. Remember contents may vary.
Opposite gender lover(s) – heterosexuality
Both – bisexuality
Neither – celibacy
But people aren’t that simple. If gender identity is multiple (add up the variations by individual and then factor in the genderfluid folk) then how do these dozens of possible genders converge to make potential orientations?
What is gender? What is gender identity? Me: Lesbian*. My personal asterisk includes at least one man. Why not call myself bisexual? It would be more orderly but less honest.
For example: I don’t believe in “reformed homosexuals”. Those who found Jesus or went for the cure and are suddenly heterosexual. Is not having gay sex what makes someone straight? Changing what you do doesn’t change what you are. If I understand this gay cure correctly then all heterosexual men must want to suck cock some just resist the urge better than others. Right?
“When people are structurally divided, they do not share space with one another, they do not communicate with one another; this canon does breed intolerance,” Dr. Danah Boyd said. “People are already divided and we can’t expect technology to automatically integrate them and create cultural harmony.”
I’ve slept with 4 men in the last forty years. One of them was my child’s father who I married at 15. Another was an orgy impulse who lasted just long enough to get it in before I was like “Really? Yeah, I don’t think so.”
My son argues that I’ve had sex with over 200 women. The argument goes something like this:
Me: “Seriously? I was thinking more around 100.”
Him: “Are you forgetting the ’80s?”
We do agree that I lost count a decade or so ago. More than once I’ve flirted with an attractive stranger only to discover we dated. Okay to forget the names of one night stands or party girls I swapped spit (and orgasms) with at an event – but a relationship? That just makes lesbians (asterisk or not) look bad.
I’m a dyke in wheelchair. I have four wheels, a motor and try not to run down pedestrians. Why not call myself a car? Because you aren’t, Blanche. You aren’t.