Monday, April 24, 2006

Because I Promised to Be (Mostly) Honest... least on this blog. This weekend, Nubian hosted Blog Against Heteronormativity Day. She defines heteronormativity as
institutions, policies and beliefs that reinforce the rigid categories of male and female. these categories, supposedly, determine our sex, sexuality, sexual desire, gender identity, and gender roles. therefore, there are expected behaviors for males (such as the patriarch of the nuclear family for example), as are there expected behaviors for females (the submissive wife to the patriarch, among other things).
The goal of blogging against heteronormativity is not, as one commenter at her site implied, to cast married, heterosexuals as evil, but
to disrupt those pesky normative ideas that are based on the categories of male and female; to use the internet to question the oppressive institution of heteronormativity because: not all of us identify as male/female...; not all of us are biological heterosexuals...; not all of us are married, and not all of us want to be; not all of us believe that female/male coupling is the norm--some of us don't even believe in the terms "male" and "female"; not all of us believe that what makes a man is his penis, and what makes a woman is her vagina.
I wanted to participate as more than a reader. I wanted to say, to write something. But I didn't. The reason that I gave myself was fear--fear of not knowing enough, of making a fool of myself, of offending someone--all those fears that have held me back for most of my life.

But, I had to acknowledge a different, more honest reason, too. I still privilege heterosexuality. Despite my best intentions and efforts. Oh, not as ignorantly as I did when I was a teenager--when I blithely announced that I "understood" straight and gay, but bisexuality just didn't make sense. And not as overtly as I did in college--when I actually stared the first time I saw a gay couple kiss. It's hard to admit I was that girl who thought she had a right to comment or be amazed or demand explanation.

Now my privileging of heterosexuality is much more subtle. Like when I wonder if something is wrong with me or if I am somehow lacking because I am not married. Or when I was stunned and a bit uncomfortable when I found out one of my favorite bloggers has an open marriage. What did she get married for, I wondered. That's not what marriage is about! I was appalled at myself, but still, I thought it. For one moment, I honestly, selfishly believed that she should do something to counter my judgment, to assuage my discomfort. And that, I think, is part of what heteronormativity is about, the relegation of some people, who won't meekly bundle themselves into the "rigid categories of male and female"/masculine and feminine, to the status of "other," and the insistence that this worrisome "other" defend, explain, comfort, justify.

So, I've probably just made a fool of myself and offended someone. Two things I fear.

But not as much as I fear continuing to lie to myself.

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Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...