Sunday, 21 December 2008

The Queerness of Everything

I wrote back in August about meeting the universe halfway and my unexpected discovery of the application of Queer Theory to science, technology and innovation.

Since I grew up as the child of someone who was very preoccupied with being normal (whatever that was) and nowadays I try to earn a living encouraging clients to subvert hierarchies, change the rules, and turn (selected bits of) the world upside down (in a responsible manner), this speaks to me on several levels.

It's probably the beginning of an answer to the question "What do you do?" I hate it when people ask me that question, because I find it very difficult to answer honestly.

This morning, somebody by the name of Sarah Dopp showed up in my RSS feed, talking about gender and menus.

There’s a longstanding argument that “male” and “female” are a biologically-defined and relevant way to split our population in half. But if you’ve ever met a feminine man or a masculine woman, you know that these categories are way too rough to mean anything more than a stereotype sometimes.

It goes deeper than that... you may have noticed this in cities and among young people — there’s also a growing presence of folks whose genders you just can’t identify. Some of them, if you ask them respectfully, will tell you they feel like both genders. Or neither gender. Or a gender that needs a new name. They might answer to both “he” and “she,” or they might prefer something different. They’re in-between, and that’s where they belong.

Just for a minute, try to imagine yourself in the shoes of someone who has spent a lifetime feeling just as uncomfortable in the men’s locker room as in the women’s locker room — for whatever reason. Imagine having to dress in clothing that just feels wrong to you, everyday, because you know it means you’ll be treated better than you would if you wore what you like. I

magine walking through the world knowing that everyone’s first assumptions about how you see yourself, who you love, and what feels right for you are completely wrong. Now imagine signing up for a cool website, and then being required to select an option from a drop-down menu that doesn’t include anything that represents you.

If you don't know what this means, don't worry. I don't either. But it's a comforting un-knowing that I'm going to sit with over Christmas.


Mel said...

Oh.....but I think I do know.....

And I think it's well stated....albeit hard to envision. The feeling/experience of 'aloneness' and 'never quite fitting'...

Though, ya know--I do believe there's a taste of that in each of our lives.

Magnify it by a gazillion.....

Donn Coppens said...

Very interesting. All vertebrates are default Females and need to mutate to become Males..which pretty much explains all of the calamity that exists in a world run by men.

I know someone who deals with this and it does make it painfully obvious that a few chemicals can create a world of difference. A very fine line indeed.

Very interesting.