emberleo: A circular knotwork phoenix (phoenix)
[personal profile] emberleo
This is slightly edited from a post I made to LiminalNation. All I did was remove the references that made it contextual to LN.

*Deep breath* Okay, here goes, and I hope this isn't oversharing, or stupid, or whatever...

Those of you who have known me for a while have probably picked up that I was raised with a lot of guilt for having privilege - I'm an upper-middle-class, (apparently) heterosexual, cisgendered, white girl in Silicon Valley in a family where higher education is a given and money, while not abundant, was never so lacking as to threaten my needs. My parents were hippies - the kind who were in it to protest abuse of authority. I was raised to be hyper-aware of the politics of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious freedom, and anything else that might warrant a protest, to the point where I ended up kind of shelving it all out of sheer overwhelm.

I was thus strangely blind to gender politics on a personal level. Since I didn't know anyone personally who seemed to think women weren't equal to men, I assumed that anyone who treated me poorly had a reason more personal than just my apparent gender.

So I'm very slow to pick up labels for disadvantaged social identities, not because I'm dodging the disadvantages, but because I'm ashamed to be "appropriating" these important words that other people need so much more than I do, and I find it hard to believe that I belong... well anywhere, really. I don't grok belonging in general, but I particularly don't grok belonging with a group of people I don't actually know personally. Seeing me now, you might be amazed what it took for me to acknowledge that I'm "Pagan", I was so afraid that I'd be hated by the "Real Pagans" if I tried to call myself any such thing. (In retrospect the idea that there are Real Pagans kind of makes me laugh, but that's a whole other kettle of kippers.)

I can't help but think "I can totally get by forever without needing to tell anyone I'm "bisexual" or "genderfluid"" because they're not aspects of my identity that I can't handle having to hide - nor are they the only aspects of my identity I have felt a need to hide. (Don't even get me started as to what the heck terms like "heterosexual" and "bisexual" even mean if I'm genderfluid. I have no idea.)

I hide my sexuality overall, honestly, except where it shows through by reasonable assumption. A person who was one of my closest friends for several years told me I wasn't a real Scorpio because I was "not secretive enough and not sexual enough", to which I replied "How would you know?"

Another friend asked me if I'm ever turned on by working with Fire energy, and then shook his head and declared that he couldn't imagine me all that turned on in any context, and I almost busted up laughing because I was, in fact, turned on at the time, but of course hiding it as always.

You want to know just how habitually I hide my sexuality? My primary partner of 12 years is of the general belief that I'm "just not a very sexual person". That simultaneously makes me laugh that he can't tell, angry that he would say such a thing, and afraid that he might be right, and if so, what the fuck is wrong with me? But I never argue the point with him. And why not?

Because sex is supposed to be private, and showing sexuality of any kind is dangerous.

I recognize that I am ridiculously afraid of rape, and that this is an enculturated fear. I know very, very few people who haven't been sexually assaulted or abused in some way, and I don't just mean women. Yet I've somehow gotten through life generally unscathed, and I have no idea how other than blind luck.

I'm still working on the idea that flirting with somebody when I have no intention of doing anything more is not necessarily cruel, or putting myself in danger, or both. I know I have a right to say "NO", and I'm pretty fuckin' clear when that's what I need to do, because I was emphatically NOT raised with the rules about never complaining or being too "shrill" or other rape culture bullshit about women going along to get along. But I was raised with the idea that men can't help but want sex beyond reason, and may not understand subtle cues that I'm not interested, and maybe that's not their fault. So I, as an empowered woman, should be very clear, and never undermine my own authority by saying "maybe" or "no" when I'm planning to say "yes", or worse, implying "yes", when I mean "no" in any way shape or form. So by default I show only "no", as bluntly as seems necessary, unless I am pretty damned sure I mean "yes".

Yet I don't hide love, no matter how controversial - I'm very open about being poly, in multiple relationships. It's obviously not controversy I'm concerned with. If I'm sure something is part of who I am, I'm willing to fight for it. I'm willing to fight for other people's right to be who they are if it causes no harm to anybody else. I'm just very, very slow to let myself believe I belong with the people I'm willing to fight for - that I'm anything other than a mostly-ignorant, but very sincere "ally".

I've known I'm attracted to more than just cissexual men for over half my life. I only admitted it in private until this year when it finally dawned on me that the word "queer" does, in fact, apply to my sexual orientation, and I wouldn't be appropriating if I used it. And I've still got a bit of a ways to go on that one, which shows in that I didn't say "I realized I am, in fact, queer."

I'm still working on the idea that I would not be imposing on other more "truly" genderqueer, genderfluid, etc. people by claiming my own genderfluidity on a more public scale, that I'm not genderfluid "enough" to warrant telling anyone about it, much less taking on such a social label. And yet I know I've been genderfluid for as long as I can remember. It's just that having been raised in an all-female household for most of my life, I had never had any reason to believe that "woman" was a limiting description. I understood that my obligation was to fight for my right to identify as a "woman" regardless of how I presented.

When I started comparing notes with other people as to what various gender labels meant to them, I realized that my use of language was non-standard even among the liberal, socially progressive end of the political spectrum. But common use is so thoroughly politicized I find the whole thing daunting and terrifying.

So NOW what do I do? Crawl into a hole and hope nobody notices?


(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-24 12:07 am (UTC)
perlandria: Fruit Mucha (Default)
From: [personal profile] perlandria
Huh, maybe it is a scorpio thing, but how can they not see you being turned on? *shrug*

You are a child of hippies, who took their position to fight for people who were not so well placed. If you feel privileged, leverage it for those who are not as safe to stand up and use the word Queer. Fight the idea that only those who can't pass use it. Fight for it to be inclusive. You are what you are. It is ok to be yourself.


(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-24 12:25 am (UTC)
perlandria: Fruit Mucha (Default)
From: [personal profile] perlandria
Am I required to demonstrate I am mostly poly even though I am currently single?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-24 01:31 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] xochiquetzalina
Like, my next hurdle is the idea that, if I claim genderfluidity publicly, I'm obliged to then *demonstrate* (prove?) my genderfluidity publicly to the satisfaction of others.

No. Let me stress this some more: Fuck. NO.

You are maybe the second person in my life who is female-presenting (as in your outward fashion choices and mannerisms) and yet not fully female. The first one, kinda 'sploded from fighting in the Trans and Dianics stuff last year, and still hasn't wanted to step in because as a female-presenting non-gender-binary type, she felt and was attacked for that.

So, no. You don't have to fight for anyone to recognize you as such. Your word is enough. And anyone who says otherwise, can answer to my genderqueer ass. Because that's a bullshit argument on their part and I for one, am sick and tired of the statement that someone isn't ______ enough to join the party they feel they want to join.

That attitude: can go and FDIAF. :D

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-24 03:18 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] xochiquetzalina
Yeah, I get that feeling too.

Also, tracksuits are awesome for that, but not so awesome for color choices. :P

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-25 03:13 am (UTC)
bearfairie: (Bronze Stag)
From: [personal profile] bearfairie
Yeah, what zhe said.

Oh honey, I'm sorry this is being so hard for you right now.

I've been genderqueer-ID'd for awhile now (18 years, I think?). Most folks would not know that about me just by looking at me (yay for drag queeny overly fem presentation - I just think girl clothes are more *fun* most of the time. I still struggled for *years* with the question of whether or not to transition, and finally (mostly) made my peace with having a female-shaped body). The thing about gender-fluidity, is that many of the political folks doing activism around those terms & concepts *want* more folks to realize their own gender fluidity. In other words, welcome to the club. We're all *seriously* happy to have you on our team.

One of the best books I've read on the subject is "Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the rest of us" by Kate Bornstein (who has been one of my personal heroes for... about 18 years come to think of it). Thing is, when the boy/girl boxes are small and restrictive, very few folks actually comfortably and effortlessly fit into them.

I think with the whole "queer" as sexuality label thingy, OR "genderqueer/genderfluid" as gender label thingy, if you start changing who you are/how you present to satisfy other people's ideas of what they think that's supposed to look like, you do yourself AND those communities a disservice. Wanna know what a queer person looks like? Look at me with my little cute business suit on. Look at me with my babydoll minidress and fishnets. Look at me with my flowy blouse and hippy skirt. Ya know? It's actually really healthy and good for those communities to see our own diversity. If we all start wearing the same outfits and doing the same shit, we become little clones of each other and *completely miss the point of the community*, which *should* be that we can come together to be more *our actual selves*. Ya know?

Seriously, I'm with xochiquetzalina - if someone gives you crap for being *exactly who you are* and claiming labels *that fit the truth of who you are*, send 'em to me and I'll... happily help to clear up any misconceptions ;).

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-25 09:43 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] xochiquetzalina
It's more that if I'm supposed to prove my genderfluidity in order to claim such a social label, well then I can't claim such that label, now can I?

This is the same argument that I hear all the time from some social justice groups when talking to marginalized folks and it goes like this: if I say I have experienced X, then it isn't time to follow it up with asking me for gory details, or trying to denying that I have had such an experience. Believe me, that one comes back to haunt me after some of the stuff that happened to me before I moved up here. If I claim that I am, accept that and MOVE ON with the discussion.

If you say you are, then you ARE. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-25 09:40 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] xochiquetzalina
Wanna know what a queer person looks like? Look at me with my little cute business suit on. Look at me with my babydoll minidress and fishnets. Look at me with my flowy blouse and hippy skirt. Ya know?

Yes, let's do that!! XP

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-24 02:01 am (UTC)
bellacrow: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bellacrow
"Like, my next hurdle is the idea that, if I claim genderfluidity publicly, I'm obliged to then *demonstrate* (prove?) my genderfluidity publicly to the satisfaction of others."

Tim Gunn hasnt had sex in 29 years, that doesnt make him not gay.

I havent been in a scene in months, that doesnt make me not kinky.

you dont have to prove anything

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-24 10:25 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] xochiquetzalina
I'm not sure a consortium of gods could make Tim Gunn not gay.

I think Loki would give it a good ol' college try. XP

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-25 09:40 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] xochiquetzalina
Oh, I'm sure Loki does. I think He just likes to the idea for the same reason He likes a lot of His ideas, because He can have them. . . :D

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-24 10:24 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] xochiquetzalina
Tim Gunn hasnt had sex in 29 years, that doesnt make him not gay.

Srsly? Dude, what I wouldn't give to have an actual male body and a penis!!!!! I would totally make it up to him for the amount of years I've been alive and he has had no sex!! *swoonyswoonofmyinnergayman* :D

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-25 02:39 pm (UTC)
brushwolf: Icon created by ScaperDeage on DeviantArt (Default)
From: [personal profile] brushwolf
I dunno. A lot of this sounds like societal pressure - specifically from having a combination of different societal expectations, from mainstream society made for only part of the demographic in red states, to your parents' society, to high school attempts to fumble around and figure out what being an adult is anyway. I don't think there's any right way to do sexuality, but we are really pressured to define ourselves as sexual beings or to define ourselves by our sexuality (which I think is just the human tendency to want easy labels).

I think as a result that it's okay to take time to "get it" as I think the impression we get is that, as with career or faith or other aspects of life, we're supposed to suddenly figure out our gender identity early and permanently, and humans being humans, that can't happen across the board. I'm thinking about how I figured out that I was Queer after college and a period of initial shock and horror that I might even think about guys; about hearing that marriages can be wrecked when someone with a known expectation of heterosexuality figures it out; even about transgender issues. Bari might have more useful perspective than me on this one, but J might be an especially good person to talk to (my understanding is that he was dead sure for the longest time that he was a woman's woman, defender of all womankind, etc).

If that makes sense?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-03-27 04:40 am (UTC)
brushwolf: Icon created by ScaperDeage on DeviantArt (Default)
From: [personal profile] brushwolf
Oh, I think I know that - the whole "well, I didn't know that, and I wouldn't have guessed that, but now that the person tells me, it's perfectly in keeping with everything else I know about them.

If it makes you feel better, I should tell you about how I figured out I was Queer. It took years and there was a lot of really ridiculous stupidity. If you're lying, it's nothing compared to the potential harm I did (largely to myself).


emberleo: A rabbit with antlers eating blackberries (Default)

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