Monday, March 25, 2013

Musings: It's not me, it's them.

It seems like the gender binary is oftentimes not even between man/woman but rather between man/not-man. "But you're not a man!" Yeah, no shit.

Another thing that gives me whiplash is that my entire life was people telling me how to be the right kind of girl. Dress this way! Act this way! Finally I threw the whole thing off, thinking that since I'm *not* doing those things I'd immediately get ushered into the not-girl category, like had been threatened me my whole life. NOPE. Suddenly everyone's a "feminist". [I purposely place in "scare quotes".] Girls can do X too! X being anything I happen to be doing at the time.

There's no winning when playing by everyone else's rules, because their rules are rigged in their favor. Always. The single greatest eye-opener for me was when I was not binding, just wearing plainclothes (somewhat gender-neutral) and I was ushered by a helpful lady into the men's room. There are plenty of times when that doesn't happen even when I'm presenting masculine-to-the-max. It suddenly clicked, not just in my brain, but in the core of my beliefs, a very liberating realization:

It's not me. It's them.*

I don't have to feel like it's something I've said or done. I don't have to feel insecure. I don't have to question what I'm wearing or how I'm acting. I'm going to do what makes me comfortable in my own skin, or even (gasp!) most fun at that moment. If they don't get it, I'll smile and pat them on the head and tell them that one day they'll learn.

*with the problem, that is

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"I'm just not attracted to X"

I've noticed quite a lot of "I'm just not attracted to X" in my years, where X happens to be a member of society that is explicitly propped up as "revolting" by the media and the general public. X includes trans people, black people, fat people, etc. "I'm not racist, I just can't" I've heard. And you know what? I'm not debating whether someone "can", or whether someone "should", as if anyone has an obligation to prove their possibilities by forcing them into realities.

But I do expect people to be mature enough to know when they've been instructed "thou shalt not" from birth, that they're not experiencing a unique unbiased independent pure natural totally-has-nothing-to-do-with-society attraction. Not in a society that has been flooding their minds from birth with these anti-X messages. I also expect people to understand that, even if it feels like their sexuality is operating outside of society, that their own messages which contribute to the "X is revolting", even if not explicitly saying as much, are going to be added to that arsenal by society as a weapon against the next X person.

So again: I don't expect anyone to run off and force themselves into sexual experiments or whatnot. That's not what this is about. This is about being willing to introspectively critique one's own place in society, and how deep that external influence can actually go.

Edit to Add:

What I say: “Personal preferences don’t exist in a vacuum.”

What people read: “Personal preferences don’t exist.”


Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Problem with Armchair Diagnosing Mental Illness

I have occasionally run into people who are preoccupied with narcissism/sociopathy. They insist that they can spot the tell-tale signs a mile away, and that the only acceptable response is to turn the diagnosed into a pariah.

I have several problems with this. For one, it reinforces the concept of sane privilege, which sets people who struggle with mental health as inferior to those with a mental health status accepted by society as "normal". It also introduces the idea that laypersons should be armchair diagnosing other members of society with mental illness, under the guise of self-preservation. Perhaps there could be a point on the side of such people if mental illness actually were associated with increased rates of abusive behavior, but the facts simply don't support such an assertion.

The end result of this sort of false correlation is a mental illness stigma on those who would seek help. This not only discourages people from getting help who need it, lest they be labeled as a dangerous person; it also diverts mental health resources away from those who don't fit our stereotypes of someone who needs help, when "needs help" is actually code for "is dangerous".