I got really pissed off last week – so pissed off I couldn’t write about it – when I read about how Mt. Holyoke, a formerly female-only college, cancelled their production of The Vagina Monologues for fear it would alienate women-indentifying males who have penises. It’s not that The Vagina Monologues is all that amazing – I mean, in 2015 it’s a bit outmoded for a whole host of reasons, the least of which being “doesn’t talk enough about dicks” – but it’s the principle of the thing, it’s the terrifying realization that women cannot talk about their truths if their truths inconvenience/upset/upend males’ delusions about their lady-ness.
In a world that reviles women, art – writing, painting, sculpture, all that shit – has been one of the few conduits available to female persons in which they may – subversively and not so subversively — express their realities. Interestingly enough, the very trans movement that is so obsessed with “right to EXPRESSION” also has a really vested interest in censoring art made by females about the female experience. But this should come as no surprise, when we consider that men have historically had conniption fits when women talk about their lives, even when they are talking through an artistic medium. (I mean, think about what a major meltdown the male literary critics had when confessional poets like Anne Sexton wrote about menstruation and masturbation – women were not supposed to talk about such “delicate matters” because it made men feel uncomfortable.)
Could The Vagina Monologues have been more inclusive? Yes. Everything could be more “inclusive” – nothing written or produced will ever be able to account for every special snowflake’s super unique experience. It’s simply not possible.
I saw The Vagina Monologues – I found a lot of it schlocky, some of it compelling, and in no way did the play address every particular of my own lived experience. And so fucking what? That wasn’t the point of the piece.
But Mt. Holyoke didn’t pull the plug on The Vagina Monologues because it was a bit sentimental at times, or because it was a tad dated. Instead, they cancelled it because women must not talk about their vaginas unless their vagina talk confirms a male person’s delusion that penis is female and that a vagina is nothing more than an oddly shaped penis or vice-a-versa.
But alas, many, many people have lauded Mt. Holyoke’s decision to cancel The Vagina Monologues – because, you know, women’s biological, social, and historical hurt men’s feelings.
One tireless champion of males’ feelings has been, ironically enough, the website Everydayfeminism.com. Seriously, check that shit out. They love the men. And they love special, highly complex, super-specific expression and identities and – oh, yeah – they fucking HATE women, lesbians in particular.
Recently, Everydayfeminism published an article on Homonormativity. This was one of those “hey folks, lemme school you in nonsensical rhetoric so you fully take into account everyone’s fetishes, kinks, and severe psychological disorders” articles that has become de riguer on websites like Jezebel, Autostraddle, Buzzfeed, and, and, and – basically everywhere.
Written by heterosexual twenty-somethings – both male and female – these sites exist to erase the notion that females are real, actual human beings and to deride lesbians for not sucking dick. These sites also purport to be “feminist,” and in doing so employ the crazy-making double-speak “make you feel like you’re losing your fucking mind” patented technology employed by males to make women feel guilty and confused since, well, the beginning of time.
The article is entitled “Homonormativity 101: How it’s hurting our movement.” My first question, upon reading the title was, “What movement? Whose movement? Is there a movement?”
See the thing about a movement is that it has to center around something. The thing about a movement is that those in the movement are bound by a shared, common goal. So I’m not sure what the “movement” is; I cannot seem to find a unifying aspect to the “movement” publications like Everydayfeminism are referring to, unless, of course the movement is about not hurting anyone’s feelings ever (especially men’s), ensuring women-only spaces are destroyed, and convincing gender non-conforming lesbians that they are actually male. Is that the movement? Have I got it? If not, will someone please define it for me, because I’m really fucking lost.
Needless to say, whatever the “movement” is, it ain’t mine.
So the writer of the article about Homonormativity, a straight woman, waxes patronizingly about how queer people aren’t visible enough in the mainstream, and about how stupid gays fought so tirelessly for stupid marriage and what did that effort ever do for straight males who think they’re ladies? What did marriage equality do for gender-queer polyamorous agnostic furries? What did marriage equality do for straight women who like to call themselves “queer”?
And I want to dedicate a bit of this article to the derision of gay marriage, so often espoused by trans/queer activists, but first I want to talk about the issue of “visibility” that this writer, and so many of her ilk, whine and cry about.
First off, yes, visibility is important for every single marginalized group. Accurate portrayals of marginalized people can help promote positive social change for said groups. Women know this. Women artists and writers know this. Female intellectuals have written extensively on this very topic. Visibility is important.
I remember, in the early nineties, how starved I was to see representation of lesbians in films and books. I suffered through the hellishly boring pages of Well of Loneliness (sorry, it’s boring) just so I could see someone “kind of like me” in text. When I saw Go Fish! in the theaters, as a teen, I had to drive ALL THE WAY INTO THE SCARY CITY to see it, and I sat there in the dark with tears streaming down my face, not because I was moved but because I thought, “I hate these people. I don’t want my life to be like this.” So I know what it feels like to want to be seen, represented in the media. I know how it feels to be misrepresented, and I know what it feels like to be invisible.
So when I read an article where a straight woman throws around some bullshit term like “homonormativity” and bemoans the fact that we don’t see enough demisexual agender adult babies on CBS, I roll my eyes really, really hard:
From the television shows Modern Family and The New Normal to TV personalities Anderson Cooper and Neil Patrick Harris, the voices that are given space and visibility tend to be those of a particular class, of a particular gender expression, and of a particular race.
She does not mention that they all also happen to be men.
While I was openly ranting about this piece, my wife wryly observed, “I see Laverne Cox and Janet Mock more than I see my own mother.”
And she’s correct. We see these woman-identifying men incessantly, yet where am I represented? Where are women who look like me and who aren’t “transitioning”? Where are my elder lesbian sisters being represented? Where are we being seen? Where are our voices being heard? I mean, outside of these anonymous blogs? The assertion that dykes – females who form romantic attachments to other females — actually exist, that female reality exists and not as some hypothetical notion, not as some accumulation of “feminine” ephemera, not some hunch – all of these assertions have been rendered hate speech. We now live in a society where it is hateful for women at a “women’s college” (quotes now warranted) to put on a play about vaginas. Think about that for a minute. And think about who benefits from that form of censorship. (Hint: not women.)
The writer then goes on, as so many queer/trans “activists” do, to deride the gay movements focus on marriage equality, and I have a few thoughts on this.
I know there are many people – many friends of mine, in fact – who feel that marriage equality is pretty unimportant in the grand scheme of gay liberation. Many people whose opinions matter to me (unlike the opinions of straight people who write for Everydayfeminism.com) feel the push for marriage equality was a superficial attempt at “normalizing” homosexuality/enabling gay and lesbian people to conform to heteronormative standards.
Frankly, I didn’t give a flying fuck about marriage equality – I mean, I had lots of dear friends who desperately wanted to get married, and I wanted that for them, but as far as I, as a woman and lesbian, was concerned, the issue wasn’t all that important. Marriage has, historically, been a pretty atrocious institution for women.
While it’s nice that gays and lesbians can get married, I’m not naïve enough to believe that right is in any way progressive. And I do not believe it does anything to advance women’s liberation (it doesn’t).
Ultimately, though, on an individual level, marriage has some tremendous benefits. There’s the financial/tax-breaky stuff (which, admittedly, I don’t fully understand because that shit bores me to death), and then there’s the – to me, at least – more important benefits like if I lapse into a coma, my partner, the person who knows me best, is able to make decisions about my life instead of, say, my dad who, though well intentioned, probably couldn’t tell you with any degree of certainty, what I do for a living.
And though marriage itself, as an institution, is tremendously flawed, before marriage equality there were a lot of truly heartbreaking situations faced by lesbian and gay couples whose relationships were not legally recognized.
Think of marriage what you will, but I resent it when straight people (even if they’re straight men who call themselves lesbians) try to tell me how I should frame this “victory.” I resent when a heterosexual – regardless of how he or she “identifies” – tries to lecture me on privilege, tries to tell me or my lesbian sisters that we are “cis” and therefore “advantaged” over men who wish their dicks were vaginas, or advantaged over twenty-year-old navel gazers who are mistakenly outraged that their every quirk is not ubiquitously manifest in popular culture.
[Marriage Equality] also describes the assumption that queer people want to be a part of the dominant, mainstream, heterosexual culture, and the way in which our society rewards those who do so, identifying them as most worthy and deserving of visibility and rights.
Then DON’T GET FUCKING MARRIED. If getting married threatens your sense of “specialness,” don’t do it. If you are polyamorous and are not comfortable with the monogamy that seems implicit in marriage, don’t’ get married. Some things aren’t about your precious gender expression, or the particulars of your sex life — in the same way some plays about vaginas are not meant to be about penises.
And guess what, straight lady? When my wife and I go out in public, there’s no mistaking that we are not a part of the dominant, mainstream, heterosexual culture. And frankly, in 2015, as feminists and as dykes, neither she nor I have ever felt more marginalized, more alienated by popular culture, by the LGBTQ “movement.”
Straight Lady then goes on to say: Marriage as an issue sets up the requirement that all relationships should mimic this heteronormative standard of sexuality and family structure. It promotes the idea that all people want to emulate straight monogamous couples.
I suppose that, in theory, yes, Straight Lady is right on this. And I suppose that yes this is part of what friends of mine take issue with when it comes to the institution of marriage, but once more, no one is forcing this upon anyone. And if you want to get married, the degree to which you “mimic this heteronormative standard of sexuality and family structure” or “emulate straight monogamous couples” is ENTIRELY UP TO YOU. Did you know that you’re actually allowed to live your life as you want to live it without imposing your philosophies and behaviors upon other people? Did you know that as an adult person in the western world you are, generally speaking, allowed to make your own choices? Did you know that if a conservative baker doesn’t want to make your gay wedding cake there are other bakers that can make a cake for you? Did you know that it’s not the responsibility of everyone you meet to validate your every unique thought and feeling?
The fact of the matter is that the trans/queer movement is – just like the “Homonormative” article — nothing more than heterosexual people “schooling” gays and lesbians; it is a humorless “movement” steeped in narcissism and comprised of straight men and women that works to take language away from women and girls in order to render them silent. It is a movement founded by and for exhibitionists who derive great pleasure in exposing their every peculiar thought and fetish. It is a movement that, on its rhetorical surface, deplores conformity and convention, but in fact mandates conformity, and reinforces aggressively conservative, profoundly archaic male-centered sexual and political conventions – gender being one, albeit the most pronounced, of those conventions.
So, yes, perhaps there is nothing ironic about all the woman/lesbian hating that goes on at Everydayfeminism.com because everyday feminism, as it is now known, is about men and for men. There is nothing about everyday feminism – the kind that is touted on television, on Twitter, and on websites like Jezebel, et al — that challenges the patriarchy, or empowers women. Everyday feminism ensures that women are always available to men – whether as sexual partners or fanciful, fetishized identities. Everyday feminism ensures that female writers and artists never create anything that challenges males deeply held beliefs about what it means to be a woman, or if such things are created, everyday feminism will see to it that they never see the light of day. Everyday feminism blames females for male violence – arguing that our ability to know our own bodies, or to know the danger of male persons (much less name that danger) is a form of bigotry. Everyday feminism tells women and girls that the First and Second Wave Feminists were evil, prejudiced bitches (never mind the actual, tangible social change those women brought about). Everyday feminism tells gender non-conforming dykes that they might as well be men, and that those who don’t want to transition should definitely consider dick as an option – especially if the dick belongs to a dude who calls himself a woman. So yes, Everydayfeminism.com is an incredibly apt name for what that publication is – misogynist rhetoric wrapped up flimsily in a package labeled “feminism.”