I have had some thoughts on LGBTQ issues lately, so I decided to I write them down here, in this article. For the anime fans of the blog, do try reading this piece; I flourished my writing with anime examples 😉
I saw this screenshot the other day on my facebook wall from an LGBTQ page and everyone was squeeling about its awesomeness. What’s not great with seeing the person for its character rather than its sex/gender, right? The problem begins when the quote is twisted and expanded on sexual preference.
I’ve come across a graphic about how being pansexual is about gender-blind love. Such a statement reeks of superiority and what’s more, it dismisses trans identities. It’s not the same saying you are attracted to all genders to saying that you don’t care about gender, a quite important identity, at all. That’s just a blatant dismissal of experiences and an attempt to ‘sell’ a sexual identity as progressive at the expense of others. What about gays and lesbians? When you say “love shouldn’t be based on such a trivial thing as gender” what you’re actually saying is that anyone but pansexuals ‘makes wrong choices’, that they’re lying about how they feel highly uncomfortable by having sex with the opposite gender, that they’re delusional and that the way you experience attraction is the right one for everyone -really?
This claim is most probably based on queer theory whose key-concept is that gender is performance. Julia Serano tackles this nicely -go read the whole excerpt, if possible:
It is a crass oversimplification that is as ridiculous as saying all gender is genitals, all gender is chromosomes, or all gender is socialization. In reality gender is all of these things and more. […] Sure, I can perform gender if I want. I can curtsy or throw like a girl or bat my eyelashes. But performance doesn’t explain why some behaviors and ways of being come more naturally to me than others. It offers no insight into the countless restless nights I spent as a pre-teen wrestling with the inexplicable feeling that I should be female. It doesn’t capture the very real physical and emotional changes I experienced when I hormonally shifted from testosterone to estrogen. Performance doesn’t begin to address the fact that, during my transition, I acted the same — wore the same t-shirts, jeans and sneakers that I always had — yet once people started reading me as female they began treating me very differently. When we talk about my gender as though it were a performance, it seems to me that we let the audience — with all of their interpretations, prejudices and assumptions — completely off the hook.
To understand this better we can make the comparison with phrases like “I see no color” or “I don’t mind what you do in your bed (but…)”. The thing is that one must be blind to not see another’s skin color or gender (though this isn’t necessarily clear). In the case of sexual orientation what two people do in their bed is, of course, no one’s business, yet a relationship isn’t only sex; it’s also holding hands, kissing, mentioning your partner at casual conversations. All these are visible on the street or at the office. People who let these phrases slip out of their mouth might not be ill-intented; they are ignorant nevertheless.
Alluka Zoldyck is an example that demonstrates my point. She is dressed in girl clothes at the present and Killua calls her his sister. The rest of the Zoldycks use male pronouns for her and at some points they don’t even recognize her as a family member or, even worse, as a human being. Killua, though, is one of the protagonists whose narrative is sympathetic to us. Who is to be taken seriously, he or the insane members of an assassin clan? Yet many bloggers and fans refer to Alluka as ‘he’ because it’s ‘too confusing/complicated’ or they ‘don’t care’. This portrayal gets even greater value when one looks back on Togashi’s previous work, Yu Yu Hakusho, and see the totally opposite treatment of a similar character. Granted well-crafted trans characters don’t come by very often, even though the talk is about a fictional character, it’s of importance to certain people who not only get represented in media rarely but are also bullied in much the same way in real life.
Since I brought up the elitism of the person behind that pansexual graph, I want to talk about the same phenomenon among some polyamorous people. Sure, monogamy as a romanticized entity has its limitations -this ’till death do us apart’ part and how someone is our ‘other half’- but polyamorous relationships aren’t necessarily the answer. Opening up a relationship doesn’t automatically fix any issues that exist. I’m willing to admit that the monogamous lifestyle is something we were raised up in, so how we experience jealousy and attraction might be conditioned. But you can’t pressure people to suddenly feel compersion. Even if we ignore the fact that a sexual and romantic relationship between two people is difficult enough, advertising their preferences as solution is annoying, to say the least.
A person I was talking to for awhile was polyamorous. Almost every time that we ended a conversation, especially when it came to relationship talk, he ended it by proding me to “take a look at polyamory”. I have taken a look. I’m not oblivious of the basics. I understand that there are couples that can’t fulfill all the sexual needs of the people involved and that, as long as everything are safe and consensual, I don’t have any reason to be against it. That’d be so if I were to be in such a situation. This doesn’t mean I’d be comfortable with threesomes or having my partner love somebody else more than me. There are many forms of polyamory but not all would suit me. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, so why should I change?
Lastly, another issue that has troubled me lately is the radical part of the lgbtq community. To be more precise, it so happened that my facebook featured articles of Julie Bindel, content that in my opinion totally misses the point because it’s based religiously on the motto ‘The personal is political’. She wrote an article about lesbians ‘misbehaving’ by enjoying strippers and another one where she rants about same-sex marriage being a ‘betrayal’ of the Stonewall manifesto. The personal isn’t always political, because ‘sometimes a pipe is just a pipe’ and not a phallic symbol that hints in you being stuck at the oral stage or wanting a penis desperately.
If you think your sexuality and/or gender identity are a goal by themselves and give you the badge of a rebel, good for you. Don’t expect, though, that others have the obligation to feel the same way. Lesbians and gays are human beings with everything that comes with it: seeking instant gratification in strippers and desiring recognition of their union from the state. Marriage, especially, is a big thing since it entails rights for health care and adoption. Plus, it’s as silly to say that same sex marriage is reproduction of patriarchy as much it is to ask who’s the ‘man’ in a gay/lesbian couple. Switching off our interpretation scheme might be useful at times.
That’s all from me for now. Let me know your thoughts below!