But that is precisely what I am about to do.
It may even strike you as absurd, or offensive. But it is the truth--the truth that I've lived through anyway--and I think that feminism and many other -isms won't be fully accurate or balanced without taking into account the fact that we are not the labels that are used to define us. This is acknowledged by much post-modern feminisms, but not without being couched in so much self-referential critique and obsession with the Other, that gender, sexuality, and identity itself becomes a morass of guilt. No matter what one is, what it desires is wrong.
Does it matter who took the picture?
Who is watching it?
I have spoken before in several articles about the abuse I underwent as a young boy on account of a sort of gender policing. I don't want to rehash all of that, except to say that this is when I started to realize that I wasn't at all like the other people that were defined so broadly as "hetero white males." I don't take this as a point of pride anymore, though maybe I did as a teenager. Being different or queer (vs. the established cultural norms, whatever they may be) is something that I'll embrace if it's a part of my truth, but it's not something to embrace in and of itself.
This queerness also has its inherent questionability. Maybe I'm just a "typical dude" after all. I've always been wired to prefer triads or communal sexual structures in and out of the bedroom, a supposedly "typical hetero- male fantasy," although the reality of it, which I've lived more often than not, is nothing like that fantasy. (Except maybe on steak and a blowjob day.) That is what is family to me, and I tend to feel very lonely when I'm without a family or community like that. I spent years fighting against who I was, only half admitting it, being made fun of by (probably jealous) friends, until I finally realized that I had to accept who and what I am and own it one hundred percent, privately and publicly. My wife helped me with that, thank God, because it's an incredibly difficult thing to do.
In other words my queerness would be inherently accepted, as opposed to confusing people. Like, how the fuck can a white heterosexual male be queer, right?
I don't know... but I am. I don't identify with "dude" any more than I identify with being a cow. If we must use labels, then they are like clothes, some of which fit better than others. Some itch, and some give us a rash. I'll wear polyamorous jeans, but a dude hat is right out. The real question is: clearly my sex is male, so why does the male belt never seem to make its way around my waist?
This is precisely the point: we all are given baggage in this culture--full of clothes, apparently--at least if we allow ourselves to carry it and try them on. Many things weren't up to us, but we can at least both acknowledge who we actually are, labels be damned, and stand up behind it proudly and tell those that'd judge us just what they can do with that judgement.
|As a boy, and now.|
Let me get the rest of my side of this out of the way so we can look at the bigger picture.
I was raised in a very open home culture where religion, identity, and gender were more or less for me to define. My nature seems to be somewhat oppositional so it's unlikely that someone trying to force me to do otherwise would produce anything but an even more extreme reaction. (It's a gambit that the under-classes often use to get what they want.)
Gaijin, and that was only to increase as I grew older -- neither at home with men or women. The things men did, and were "expected" to do to get a woman's attention (like being forceful), were really repellent to me.
The fact of the matter is that we're made to feel guilty for being male, (and white and hetero- though for different reasons), as a kneejerk response to the truly valid needs of various minority groups. What gets lost here is that just as all black lesbians aren't the same, all straight white men aren't the same. Some of us even feel completely alienated from the groups that we're supposedly "a member" of, and also have no home in the other minority groups as a result of being a part of the big evil patriarchal oppressor. The same could be said for National identity, as so many Americans become ashamed to be American, and yet still viewed as a part of the "ugly american" myth that has grown even stronger since 1958.
This leads us, in admittedly willy-nilly fashion, to a big question: "Where do we draw the lines between culture and biology, in regard to sex and gender?"
Even if we ignore the scientific findings, proof stares us in the eyes. When looking at gender roles in different cultures we see a myriad of differences and some universal features. The differences represent sociocultural factors and the universal patterns represent biological programming. This kind of simple cross-cultural overview is a direct demonstration of how culture and biology co-create the fabric of a community or a country. (Blog post.)This is a hot-button issue, where people are prone to show their presuppositions before their facts. And likely our presuppositions are often based on our own, admittedly anecdotal, experience. But it's not a rhetorical question. Despite the fact that we often see 10,000 visits per 1 comment, your thoughts are welcome here.