The Worst Filing System Known To Humans
Reload the Canons!
This series of articles is an attempt to play through The Canon of videogames: your Metroids, your Marios, your Zeldas, your Pokemons, that kind of thing.
Except I'm not playing the original games. Instead, I'm playing only remakes, remixes, and weird fan projects. This is the canon of games as seen through the eyes of fans, and I'm going to treat fan games as what they are: legitimate works of art in their own right that deserve our analysis and respect.
Saturday, January 14, 2012
I'm pansexual. Sometimes I also identify as genderqueer, just because, you know, what the hell why not, right? And sometimes this makes life rather difficult.
But not how you think.
See, the real problem isn't bullies or beatings or trying to figure out what my gender identity is (there's a reason I settled on pan and genderqueer: it gives me the freest range of expression from moment to moment of any identity, allowing me to be very fluid). No, the real problem is the stereotypes. See, people stereotype minorities quite a bit, if you hadn't noticed, and we're constantly having to battle against those stereotypes. And this battle is particularly hard for me. Because, you see, I'm stereotypical as hell.
There's a lot of stereotypes about bisexuals and pansexuals, for example, that pertain to promiscuity. This comes partly from the idea of the party bisexual--people are bisexual largely for attention, often (in the case of women) attention from straight men. In this version of the stereotype, bisexuals are really just easy, not necessarily attracted to the opposite sex. It also probably comes in part from a common mind glitch that argues one can only be bisexual if one is dating someone of each sex. 1 In this version, bisexuals don't actually even exist because your sexual orientation is determined by who you are dating. If you are dating someone, you are a sexuality that corresponds to attraction to that person. If you look at other people and feel attracted to them while in a relationship... well... again, you're just hiding your intrinsically slutty nature behind a more acceptable label. Because, after all, people in real relationships are never attracted to people outside the relationship.
This set of stereotypes also, you may have already noticed, intersects with a general antipathy toward polyamory. Polyamory is, at best, often associated over here in America with mormonism and, at worst, is totally written off as a perverse, deviant, and dirty lifestyle. So, the idea that someone could show attraction to multiple people is rather inconceivable.
The result of this is that certain forms of bisexual expression become forms of political expression as well. That's a bit of a weird, Ivory Tower style statement, so let me try to unpack it a little.
There's not a lot of room for someone that openly identifies as pansexual or bisexal to come out as basically naturally poly as well. To out myself publicly as an example, this puts me in a bit of a bind. See, even though I don't practice polyamory per se (my lovely girlfriend would be a bit irate, I think) I still express my affection for people in a very physical way, and I do tend to become very emotionally close with friends in ways that can be--and have been--interpreted as romantic. Here's where the conflict becomes political as well as personal. I want to put forth a semi-respectable face 2 because I'm aware of the political nature of anything that I do which might reinforce stereotypes about my fellow pan and bi people. At the same time I don't particularly want to police my actions constantly. This is essentially the second closet. There are closets within closets here, and just coming out as bi or pan, in and of itself, is but the first step. Is it enough to come out verbally and say that I'm pansexual, or will I only be satisfied with being able to express myself fully, despite my awareness that it might reinforce harmful stereotypes that other pansexuals are trying to combat?
It's the same bind that plagues bisexuals who realize that, whoops, they're actually straight or gay after all. This is problematic because it reinforces the obnoxious stereotype common in both the gay and straight communities that bisexuals simply don't exist. I've already talked a bit about where that comes from, but it's worth pointing out that, yes, the gay community is just as prone to this stereotype as the rest of the world. Bisexuals, in this model, are just in a confused transition phase before they figure out what they really are. If you're someone conscious of how obnoxious those stereotypes are, it's a little awkward, I imagine, to suddenly find yourself unexpectedly exemplifying the common image, especially if you've personally argued against the idea in the past.
This is obviously not a problem on the scale of actual assaults against queer folk or the loss of work, political or social respect, and so on that comes with being openly queer. Really, let me stress that this is a totally minor issue compared with what I know other people go through, and I'm aware that it probably sounds quite whiny compared to, you know, real person problems. That's totally fair. However, it strikes me as a problem worth considering. Our identities are unavoidably political, and it might be impossible to completely shed the tendency of people to choose individuals to represent whole, diverse groups. I hesitate even to bring the topic up, though, simply because I don't have any easy answers, or even suggested answers. It's a problem I'm still sorting out for myself, and I welcome any input in the comments. How do you navigate stereotypes in your life?
My personal quandary might be particularly politically relevant simply because one of the arguments against gay marriage is that if gays start marrying then the evil, evil polygamy will be quick to follow.
Perhaps the most honest reply, to this thought as to all the others described here, simply has to be, "Well, yes. And there's nothing wrong with that."
Hello to all the new readers from last article. Normal, media-related posting shall resume Tuesday. Hope you're enjoying your stay! As always, feel free to leave comments, complaints, or, best of all, your own interpretations, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org . And, if you like what you've read here, share it on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Reddit, Equestria Daily, Xanga, Netscape, or whatever else you crazy kids are using to surf the blogoblag these days.
1 Because all single people are fundamentally asexual, you see.
2 Stop laughing you ghastly creature, I can be respectable when I want to! I'm just covered in lichen right now because I'm wading through the Bog of Eternal Letter of Recommendation Requests!