"Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke. That's their natural and first weapon." ~ Gloria Steinem

Thursday, February 3, 2011

On Queerness And Wearing Men's Clothes

I'm wearing, quite literally, boyfriend jeans. As in, jeans that belong to my boyfriend. He's a good 11.5" taller than I, which means the inseam on these things is unbelievably long, and despite subjective appearances, he's only skinny for his height, which means that a belt is absolutely a requirement. But, they are comfortable as hell.

And I sure do love some butch in my outfits sometimes.

Here's the thing: queer, as I see it, can be both innate and constructed, all at the same time. From what my little sister has told me, if I said anything about queerness around a lot of the people she knew in college (she went to a small women's college in California), I probably would be laughed down, or accused of appropriation or something. When Little Sister returned to school for senior year in a relationship with a cismale, she was told she wasn't "queer enough" to discuss queerness; her boyfriend was referred to as "the bioman"; she was presumed to be heteronormative simply by virtue of being in a relationship that was, in terms of outward appearance, heterosexual.

Now, I don't presume to assign any labels to my sister's relationship, which is now a marriage, but it seems to me that a group of self-identified queers claiming to understand my sister's relationship better than she herself did seems terribly condescending and presumptuous. Haven't queers, and LGBT folk, fought so long for the right to define themselves on their own terms, without being forcibly assigned identities based on nothing more than guesswork--or cultural precedent?

Anyway, my point is, we all have a little queer in us--or so goes my opinion. Maybe I'm appropriating; I don't think I am. How the fuck do you know whether I'm "queer enough" or not, anyway? You don't even know me--not really. Who does? Being in a biologically heterosexual relationship and queerness are not mutually exclusive.

I had a discussion with Strange Bearded Thing (this is my new term for the Boyfriend) last night about my defensiveness; see, I'm used to people disagreeing with me. I'm used to saying things and having them questioned, or having myself questioned, or whatever; this is a standard experience for anyone female-coded in this society, of course. Used to be, my response to this was to back down--to doubt myself. I also began meticulously constructing my arguments before opening my mouth, in order to have everything all laid out, in anticipation of resistance. Bolstered by thoroughly thought-out thoughts, backing down gave way to bristling, to defensiveness.

So, my point is, I might be defensive about my claim to queerness; this is to explain why.

Back to queerness, and how it can be both innate and constructed. It's not really that difficult; just think about it for a minute. I guess all I'm saying is that when I do something to my external appearance that communicates culturally-understood queerness, that's a construction of queerness. I could do this regardless of whether or not I felt I was innately queer, but I think the desire to externally code oneself as queer kind of makes one queer, y'know? Even if you're heterosexual/heteronormative to the max, messing with your gender presentation is a queer action.

And I'm not heterosexual to the max; I just happened to fall in love with a cismale.

Incidentally, I love this Autostraddle Boyshorts 101 article.

No comments:

Post a Comment