To be perfectly honest, I never felt comfortable exclusively towing any one popular ideology. In my adulthood, I’ve been critical of everything from the “girl power” movement to gay marriage. The latter, I was especially critical of – I felt that rather than dismantling the structures that oppressed women and gays/lesbians, the LGB community was fighting way too hard for a place within that oppressive structure. Indeed, the LGB community poured all of its efforts into conforming to a hetero-normative, patriarchal institution, rather than seeking to destroy it.
I’m something of a writer. Many years ago, before gays were allowed to legally marry, when that idea was just a gleam in a bunch of homos’ eyes, I gave a reading on the subject. I opened my piece with, “I don’t give a fuck about gay marriage.” The crowd gasped. This was not what they were expecting from the butch dyke who stood before them. But I didn’t care, and I went on to illustrate why — among my grievances was that marriage is a patriarchal simulacra built around subordination. (I made it sound far less dully academic, I can assure you.) Afterwards, a man approached me and asked, “Were you worried about the married couples in the audience?”
“No,” I said. “Why?”
“You might have hurt their feelings,” he replied.
He was laughing, he was cool with what I’d said, but was looking out for the others.
God bless him, and god bless the U.S.A. – here is a country where we don’t give a flying fuck about the poor, the sick, the starving, but goddamn do we value people’s precious feelings! You can shoot a kid while he’s holding a bag of candy and be acquitted of murder, but if you hurt someone’s feelings? You hurt a white person’s feelings? You hurt a white male’s feelings? By god! We will not STAND for that!
A basketball player can rape women until the sun comes up, but if he dares use a homophobic slur – FIRE HIM! A wealthy white man can run slums, rip off and harass poor people of color, but if he utters a racist slur – FIRE HIM! I’m not advocating for the use of pejoratives, on the contrary, I’m trying to illustrate how utterly fucking ridiculous it is that we ignore true, tangible injustices and get all bent out of shape about “feelings.” (Truthfully, people who use racial/misogynist/homophobic slurs tend to be bad people because of their ACTIONS not their words.) Words are fucking meaningless. And yet we go after the words instead of the deeds, as though erasing the words will erase the reality.
It’s much easier to police language, to put certain lines of inquiry “off limits” than it is to change, or challenge, the dominant paradigm. It’s much easier to say, “Yeah, my daughter who likes trucks must be male” than to question the oppressive system that says she can’t like trucks AND be female. It’s much easier to say, “Yeah, dude-bro is a lady because he says he is,” than it is to push back and say, “Wait a motherfucking second – what does this mean for women?” It’s much easier to cry, “you’re hurting my feelings – stop it!” than it is to reconfigure the very structures that allow your feelings to be systemically hurt.
Instead, we’re choosing the lazy route: conform to fit an existing, harmful framework. Spare people’s feelings rather than challenge their delusions.
As a woman, I’ve implicitly understood that the world does not, will not, cater to my feelings. As a woman, I’ve implicitly understood that the world will purposefully hurt my feelings. I have never fought on behalf of language policing – language has never been mine, and all of the language that exists has been designed to marginalize me and my sisters. The language-police/feeling-police phenomenon is distinctly male. “Pronouns as violence” is a laughably male conceit – especially to women who have been called “bitch” since they were in their early adolescence.
In terms of language, the language of modern, accurate, science and biology is perhaps the only language that’s ever been beneficial to women and now that’s being trampled by “men who feel like women” and “queer theory.”
Many commenters on this blog (males, mostly) have asked, “Well, you’re a lesbian. Isn’t lesbian just a feeling/conceit?” Yeah, I suppose it is. Frankly, I’m not bothered by the “born this way” vs. “choice” controversy surrounding gay issues. I’ll continue loving women regardless of what conclusions anyone draws. One can theorize on homosexuality all they like, makes no difference to me. However, my femaleness is not subjective. I was born female and that’s a scientific fact. I have the biological parts and the socio/psychological baggage to prove it.
So if “liberal” means “anything goes,” here is where I part ways with liberalism. I’m not going to be bullied into believing the sky is yellow and up is down; I ain’t gonna follow all y’all off the gender-religion cliff.