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Archive for the ‘gender’ Category

Straight as an arrow?

Posted by Týr on September 14, 2007

My friend Topdrop was stuck in a Santa Cruz hospital until yesterday, so I decided to call him yesterday to give him a change from the boredom and ennui that is endemic to hospitals.

After he was telling me that he went to a gay bar and was happy to see “lots of cute guys”, I asked him how things like the gay bar trip and having a (FTM – that’s important too him) boyfriend work with his identifying as straight. The way I understood it, (and Topdrop, please tell me if this interpretation is incorrect) he is only attracted to feminine people, be they male, female, or other, and therefore identifies as straight.

This was a completely new definition of heterosexuality for me. It seems that he, in judging his attraction to other people, completely ignores their own identity and self-image. This definition seems to completely ignore the “hetero” part in heterosexual. Does Topdrop have a different definition of “straight” than everyone else I’ve met? Because that’s what it looks like to me. I also asked him why he doesn’t identify as bisexual or pansexual, since a partner’s actual gender identity does not appear very important to him. His answer was essentially an expansion of his reasoning that he’s straight: he is not attracted to masculine people, even if they’re women.

If you ask me, this meets the (Wikipedia) definition of pansexuality, since he doesn’t seem to care about his partner’s gender. It seems like a completely unique way of defining one’s sexuality. It never dawned on me, and it still doesn’t, to equate heterosexuality with a feminine appearance and nothing else.

Straight, to me, means heterosexual, which means that you’re attracted to the opposite sex essentially exclusively. I myself, am a straight male. I just realized that I feel silly to say “I identify as straight” instead of “I am straight”, since it was never really was a question in my mind. (I feel like I should start using the term cis-male but I’d be using the term ironically.) The only men I can say that I’ve ever been attracted to are Blaise, a transman, and sometimes a friend I shall call Dancer, whose appearance can best be described as ‘pretty boy’. The former is unlikely to ever amount to anything since he is a smoker and I find that abhorrent, the latter is not actual attraction since his girlfriend (who I shall term The Scot) is really the driving force behind this because she wants to see us make out.

Topdrop’s meaning of the word “straight is one I have no come across yet. I don’t mean to impinge upon his identity of himself, but his just seems wrong. It looks like it’s based on a wrong definition of the word “straight”. Does this mean that I could legitimately refer to him as something other than straight when talking to other people, assuming they have the same understanding of “straight”? Do I have to adopt his definition when talking to him? Am I completely off base here?

I must continue discussing this with him, because this type of mindset is just so utterly fascinating and new to me. Truth be told, his is a lovely mind to converse with about most anything. But this specifically, since it’s so very fascinating to me.

More on this after I talk to him again.


Posted in gender, kink, labels, language, sexuality | 4 Comments »

I dub thee…

Posted by Týr on September 4, 2007

So at Floating World 10 days (or so) ago, I decided to take part in the Labels Panel, partly because my good friend Eileen was moderating the panel, but mostly because I am actually interested in language and how it’s used. I would have to say my greatest intellectual interest in this is what names and pronouns to use for my transgender friends when referring to their pre-transition times. But I digress…

One of the things that struck me about how vehemently this one trans-man (I forget his name) opposed labels for being too confining. Now I never really had any gender identity issues that I’ve had to deal with. Likewise, being heterosexual spared me from any teasing/abuse I may have received (though frankly I doubt it would have happened at my school). Still, whenever I feel like I have to describe myself for whatever reason, such as my Tale of Týr page, I too find labels horribly retarded. How do you distill who you are, whether in a couple of words or in a treatise? I find this incredibly annoying and difficult, and I have no problem describing myself as a heterosexual male. Not ever having had to use it myself, I feel like the term “gender-queer” is more a definition by exclusion than an actual definition. I seriously couldn’t imagine having define myself by playing Botticelli let alone envisioning how to deal with a problem like choosing which bathroom feels more comfortable. (Personally, I believe that bathrooms in places where one doesn’t assume that men just spray everywhere (which seems to be any public bathroom, such as concerts, stadia, etc) should be unisex, but that isn’t really relevant to this entry). But I digress… so now I move on.

Sure, labels suck. I know that I would leave out a Metric Fuckton if I tried to use 5 words to describe myself: heterosexual, toppish-switch, engineer, German, metal-head. I just thought of something purely for the sake of my own curiosity: while I could indeed easily list another 15 words to describe me, I was wondering which five words you, beautiful reader, would use to describe me. Please don’t use any of the words I used. Whether you want to bar words that other people have used is up to you.

So, if labels are acknowledged by all to suck, why do we continue to confine ourselves to the narrow definitions that all labels have? The simple reason is that otherwise no communication would happen. All communication inherently contains some uncertainty, thanks to different nuances in precise definition and, to use Maymay’s terminology, the fact that speech has no checksum. Labels simply have the same drawbacks inherent to speech itself. Yes, it’s a shame that when using labels you feel like you need a seemingly endless array of them if you want to get remotely close to actually defining yourself.

The thing is, if we simply chose not to, we’d just be staring at each other nicely talking about the weather. And that shit happens way too much already.

Posted in floating world, gender, labels, language | 7 Comments »