Sunday, June 27, 2010

Stay awhile, and listen

In an otherwise superb post on gender policing and masculine behavior, the proprietor of Danny's Corner tosses in something not so respectful of women's (or anyone's) autonomy:

Want a man to perform a sex act that he would normally not do? Tell him to man up and don't be scared to slap and choke her if she says she wants him to.

The problem Renee addresses here is real, and his point that men as well as women can feel pressured by gender policing into unwanted sex acts is well taken. But seriously, "if she says she wants him to?" How much respect can you have for your partner if you seriously think in those terms? How intelligent can you think they are if you privilege your understanding of them over their own? What hope is there for honest communication if you toss aside what your partner is telling you point blank?

Underlying the whole sentiment is an incredulity that anyone could find such sexually enjoyable; if they claim they want it, they are either lying to please their partner or in the grip of a false consciousness brought about by endemic sexism. One would have hoped that the visibility of other queer sexualities would lead people to conceive of sexualities that exist outside the norm, but that unfortunately doesn't seem to be the case.

I sincerely doubt that Danny would disregard someone's testimony about his or her sexual desires if they fell into a normative rubric. Most progressives may have laudably incorporated those in the GLBT community into that rubric, but the perils of the framework persist. Straights will have their testimony about their experiences believed; queers just might, if their audience is sufficiently informed and kind; but if you're not on the radar, your words are viewed with suspicion, and must be vetted by the normative gatekeepers to determine its truth.

And people tell me vanilla privilege doesn't exist.

Look, I've no desire to start up another round of the Oppression Olympics. Lord knows I've experienced frustration when people haven't believed me when I'm talking about my own sexuality. But the fact that at least some people are inclined to believe me when I tell them I like boys, girls, and everything inbetween instead of relentlessly psychoanalyzing me and trying to figure out whether I have an ulterior motive for saying so makes the world just a bit easier for this queer. When they haven't been inclined to believe me- when homophobes start citing daddy issues or biphobes tell me bisexuals don't really exist, is when my life starts to get complicated. Can't we extend this courtesy to all sexual minorities?

1 comment:

  1. Small point--the post you referenced appears to be a guest post, making your criticism no less valid, but misdirected.

    Your argument, also, was a little hard to follow. I'd suggest switching the order of the first two paragraphs following the quote.

    That aside, what you have to say is important. Sexuality is a spectrum--not just in terms of the people that sexuality is acted out with, but in the actions themselves. Failing to recognize that spectrum too frequently leads to dehumanizing a frightening number of people. "Oh, no one's really like that!" is as terrifying a generalization as "All ____ people are like that!"