05 February 2012 @ 01:06 am
Woman Up: Opening up a feminist dialogue - attempt #2  
Since my previous attempt didn't entirely crash and burn, I shall continue on with attempt #2.

This one has actually been a subject I've wanted to post about on my own, and this is the perfect opportunity with which to do it.

This post will remain unlocked. You don't have to be on my f-list to comment if you'd like. Anon commenting is also enabled, but comments that are purposely harmful/triggering will be deleted.

Trigger warning for rape and abuse

Human sexuality is an interesting, personal, fluid, and at times, complicated thing - be you heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, genderqueer, or however you define yourself - your sexual identity and orientation is a part of the many things that comprise who you are. As such, no one else can define who you are but yourself.

It's an almost too simple guideline, isn't it? Only you can determine who you are and no one else; it is in fact, no one else's business how you go about navigating your life and your sexual identity and orientation unless you're fucking them. Yet, it seems for a good portion of the human population, this is a concept that's just too difficult to grasp.

For many of us, this is an attitude we have already - and will continue to have - encountered. Be it from family, friends, lovers, and complete strangers, there are folk who just have to let their opinions on others' sexual identity and orientation be heard, even though those opinions are generally worthless and wholly unnecessary.

As I feel compelled to ask, why is that?

With all of these discussion posts, I can share my own viewpoints, but I can only speak from my own personal experiences (which is why I'd love to hear more from you all). But here is something I feel is an absolute truth:

We live in a world where the default sexual orientation is cis heterosexual.

It surrounds us and is prevalent in the media we consume in our everyday lives. It has been ingrained within us since birth to such an extent that all non- cis heterosexual identities and orientations are viewed as less than - deviant. To not be a cis heterosexual has become a political, religious, and social issue: who we are and who we fuck has had an impact on our civil and human rights, when, by all means, this is so fucking absurd that it should be a total non-issue.

Is it any wonder at all, then, that there are such high suicide rates amongst LGBT youth? That so many of us struggle to not only come out, but to come to terms with ourselves?

This brings me back to my first point, which is what spurred me on to even write this post:

No one can define who we are but ourselves.

This is a truth that applies to all aspects of the human condition, but it especially holds meaning for those of us who do not fit the white cis heterosexual male mold upon which our very society panders to.

As a queer cis white woman, I grew up in a middle-class Catholic household. I'd say barring a few exceptions, I had, by all means, an average childhood. There was something about me, however, that I would later come to find was viewed by the majority as abnormal:

I am attracted to women.

I was a small child and I knew very much that I was attracted to women. This attraction was confirmed to me when first seeing Daryl Hannah in Splash; seeing this very adult, beautiful, half naked woman made me feel things. Pleasant things. Tingly things. Out of all the good feelings I felt about this woman, not a single one of them was shame. I was, at that very young age, raised and baptised in the Catholic church; I was a good little girl who went to church every Sunday and said all her prayers. Never, in all of my beliefs, did I feel that my attraction to this woman was wrong.

As my childhood (and cinema) progressed, these feelings were further confirmed to me through the wonderful, tingle-inducing sights of Kate Capshaw in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Kim Basinger in Batman. It would be Batman from which I had what could be considered my first sexual thoughts; I didn't quite understand how any of it worked, but all I knew was that I enjoyed imagining Vicki Vale in her underwear (Batman was there, too, in his suit, as I found him infinitely more appealing than Bruce Wayne).

Why all the tmi? Because. I was this very small child with a strong attraction to the same sex, and I never felt wrong, guilty, or ashamed of it. This was further cemented for me, when, at the age of six, I had my first kiss from a girl my age of whom I was very fond. That kiss felt good, and above all, it felt right.

Not much longer after that, I discovered the likes of Joel Hodgson and Keanu Reeves. I realized then, at that point, that men were just as nice as women. Very nice, in fact.

Time went on and none of what I had felt wavered. It wasn't until adolescence and stories such as those of Brandon Teena, Matthew Shepard, and the coming out of Ellen DeGeneres gained media attention and sparked very fevered debate over LGBT rights and recognition. Along with that, gay indie cinema really began to pick up (The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love being the most pivotal and important to me). I was learning things about myself that I never gave much thought to - never did I feel at odds with myself over it. But now, it was apparent to me that who I was and what I felt was suddenly a very big deal.

I had never defined myself until that point. But as I got further into my teens and I became more and more aware of myself and my surroundings (ah, years of being a baby feminist) did I really begin to give it thought:

What am I?

That was a question that could be asked of me, but only I could answer. It would be my father to actually take notice of this, and much to my relief, he simply allowed me to determine that for myself. Just as simply, I was able to tell him that I was decidedly not heterosexual; I had my attractions to both sexes and that was that.

Shortly after, I came out to my mother. Just as most mothers dream up the perfect husbands for their daughters, my mother decided that I'd be well-matched to someone like Winona Ryder.

So far, so good. After all the anxiety, depression, and body image issues I was wrestling with, being able to come to definitive terms with my sexuality was not only a relief, but it was considerably easier to work through in the face of my other issues. For as ugly and hostile as the outside world could be to me over being queer, it meant everything that I could find acceptance in my own home. Even more than that, I found peace with myself.

It's not been an easy journey, however.

I have faced opposition toward my queerness, and from nearly all sides.

My father still frets that I'll become the victim of a hate-crime, whereas my mother still hopes that I'll end up marrying a man some day. My brother still refuses to accept who I am; he gets driven to anger if I even dare discuss it, as because I have my attractions to men, that means to him (and I quote), "you just want dick." He's even let his girlfriends weigh in on the subject of my sexuality, because apparently their opinions matter as much as his do (for the record, they've felt that I'm clearly heterosexual).

I've had my sexuality taken as a joke from some men as truly, it seems, women who are attracted to women are strictly for the benefit of the male gaze. Likewise, when not being told to "die of AIDS", I've been threatened with corrective rape. Apparently I, like all women everywhere, must be sexually available to all men at all times.

I've faced such attitudes within the LGBT community, as well, which I find the saddest of all. I can't show an interest in either sex without being told "make up your mind" or to "pick a side" and I've had women outright reject or judge me for having been involved with men.

I can't win for losing at times, it seems.

However, I have finally learned that no matter where I go, what I do, or who I meet, I know who I am and I must live my life. I and I alone have the final word.

But, if I'm being honest - and I very much am trying to be - I have been just as guilty of attempting to police others, too. I have known a woman who had been involved with another woman for years, but she was adamant about her heterosexuality. I have also known lesbians who have only had relationships with men and I've known queer men who, though very attracted to men, had only dated women. Admittedly, yes, my mind boggled at all of this.

But then, at the end of day, how is anyone else's sexual identity and orientation any of my business?

The answer? It's not.

No voice speaks louder than your own and no one else has the right to silence you.

I have just as much right to define someone's sexual identity and orientation as much as they have the right to define mine - which is to say, none at all.

When comes down to it, for those of us who fall somewhere within the LGBT spectrum, we all desire the same civil and human rights as the societal default of cis heterosexuals are entitled.

Whether questioning the sex we were assigned at birth, grappling to come to terms with our queerness, or striving to live our lives as openly and boldly as we deserve to, no one is entitled to the right to decide who we are for us, nor the right to define us except for ourselves.

I have been in love with a man only once in my life, but I have been in love multiple times with women. I have dated men and I have been just as much as ease with them as I am with women. I am sexually, physically, and romantically attracted to both sexes.

I once wrestled with how to exactly define myself. Am I bisexual? Am I a lesbian?

I then realized that I am whatever the hell I define myself to be; no one else but me.

And who I am feels damned good.

se sentent: satisfied