liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
[personal profile] liv
[personal profile] jimhines, all round good egg, is doing a second series of his Invisible guest blogs where he invites people from marginalized identities to talk about (lack of) representation in speculative fiction. I have to admit I had a bit of an emotional reaction to seeing a Jewish one. Sort of a meta thing, almost, like I never expected to see anyone like me represented in essays about how there isn't much representation of people like me. And of course Harbowy's experience is not exactly mine, but I think there are probably more similarities than with a Jewish person from New York.

When I wrote my own take on representation, it was with great trepidation; I was afraid I might be a horrible racist derailer for even talking about stuff like that. And in fact I got loads of supportive and thinky comments comments, which was lovely, but it also made me pause. Was I just an example of one of those white people who get lots of kudos and appreciation when we talk about race, whereas POC would be much more likely to receive hostility?

I think I'm just always going to be that bit uncomfortable in discussions of race, because it always feels like there's two sides, privileged and oppressed, and I don't fit well into either. But everybody who's privileged says they're not really privileged, because everybody has some hardships in their life and people don't want to accept that society is loaded in their favour, so maybe I'm just doing that. And equally many people who are marginalized have internalized stuff going on and don't think their oppression counts and don't see the systematic underpinnings of what might just seem like random personal bad luck.

It's kind of risky to bring this into the same discussion, but it feels somewhat connected to my feelings about where I fit into issues that affect gender and sexual minorities. Like, I care about various aspects of GSM rights, but I often feel like I care about them as an ally at best, and sort of forget that I need this too. I mean, I basically move through the world as a relatively high status woman, and I'm married to a relatively high status man; homophobia has very limited practical effects in my day-to-day life. I don't have to deal with immigration issues or violence or having my gender invalidated. I'm still bi, though. (And I'm in a similar position to Garwood in that my opposite sex relationship doesn't exactly match heteronormative expectations around things like living together and having children.)

I mean, I saw a comment on Twitter to the effect that every single Queer person worries that they're not Queer enough. And I sort of smiled in recognition, but I think it's not that I have anxiety about whether I "count", it's that I don't want to take up resources and energy meant for people who have much more urgent problems than me. I'm also really bad at noticing biphobia whatsoever. I don't feel in the least excluded when people say "gay rights" or "homophobia" instead of QUILTBAG/LGBT+/GSM rights or homo/bi/transphobia. Mentally when I see people talking about lesbians I usually assume they also mean people like me, even though I've never identified as a lesbian, unless they explicitly talk about separatists or otherwise contrast lesbians to other Queer women. Equally when I see heterosexist assumptions I might be annoyed, but many of the assumptions do in fact apply to me, so I'm not personally affected. I sort of assume the categories include me, even though there's a lot of evidence out there that they actually don't, there are plenty of well-meaning activists and organizations who genuinely forget that bi people exist and the language they use reflects and contributes to that.

And aside from being bi, which has a fairly clear status, there are more subtle things. There was some really interesting discussion on my post about talking about kinks you're not into, about who belongs under the Queer umbrella. And that discussion has dissipated into access locked and offline places, which is as it should be since some people would suffer real consequences if they talked about their gender and sexual identities in public, and some people feel that they're basically straight white guys and shouldn't take up space needed for discussion of people more directly impacted by this stuff. But I wanted to link to it, partly because [livejournal.com profile] siderea has some really fascinating stuff about gay history and the tension between the "gay lifestyle" and "born this way" narratives. And partly cos if people are comfortable continuing the discussion here I would appreciate more thoughts as I'm working through this.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-12 04:30 pm (UTC)
elisem: (Default)
From: [personal profile] elisem
Am still reading through links and thinking, but want to thank you right now for writing this, because I so very much needed to read it right now.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-12 04:57 pm (UTC)
pseudomonas: teeny dragon in a teacup (teadragon)
From: [personal profile] pseudomonas
Am glad to have just discovered http://www.kosherimaginaryanimals.com/ (mentioned in your first link). Copy is on its way.
Edited Date: 2015-03-12 05:02 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-12 05:49 pm (UTC)
pseudomonas: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pseudomonas

I think I'm its target audience.

ETA: it was a bit of a dud. Good idea, mediocre execution.

Edited Date: 2015-03-15 07:59 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-12 11:54 pm (UTC)
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
From: [personal profile] seekingferret
It is great. My favorite part is the very, very serious discussion of the halachic status of the vegetable lamb of Tartary.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-12 06:29 pm (UTC)
sfred: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sfred
Thank you for writing this.

I have no direct connection to the Jewishness discussions but am very interested and grateful that you're writing about it.

Until I got involved in bi community, I defaulted to assuming that "lesbian" and "gay" included me; now I'm a bit more wary of it but it depends on context.

The "born this way"/"lifestyle choice" stuff is really _really_ interesting to me - as a bi, non-binary trans, poly, queer person as well as philosophically. I was talking to my not-really-godmother the other day about her journey from default-homophobia to thinking homophobia is awful, and a lot of what she said was based around homosexuality being an intrinsic, God-given part of a person. I sort of threw a spanner in the works a bit, I think, when I introduced the Kinsey scale, and said that I think some people are just absolutely straight and some are just absolutely gay, and some are bi, but some are mid-to-low Kinsey and choose to identify and behave as straight and some are mid-to-high Kinsey and choose to identify and behave as gay. I certainly know several lesbians who are clear that their attractions are bi but they have deliberately chosen lesbian identity, behaviour and community, and similarly a few straight women with bi attraction but straight identity, for a variety of reasons.

I don't want to undo any of the acceptance that's created by "born this way" narratives, and I think they're true for lots of people - and I'm wary of the possibility of people who have chosen being seen as less authentic. (My not-really-godmother did get it when I explained.)

Very similar stuff applies to stuff about gender identity. The cis mainstream, if it accepts trans at all, seems to do so on the grounds that being "trapped in the wrong body" is awful, so the dominant trans narrative is binary and includes knowing as a child and being absolutely sure as an adult. I read a thing recently that described this as "lies we tell cis people", even for binary trans people. With trans, the "born this way" narrative is often the only way past the gatekeepers of medical assistance with transition, so it is the story everyone tells, so it's seen as the only authentic one and so it's required to get past the gatekeepers...
When I went to look for that piece in my bookmarks I found this one too, about being non-binary and feeling "not trans enough".
It took me some hard work in counselling (and some hard stares from my counsellor) to feel like I could use "trans" about myself at all.

I think my tangents are wriggling round in circles a bit now, but the point is something about how a thing can be a choice and still an authentic part of one's ideantity.
And another point about being in what looks like an in-between group being an authentic thing in itself and picking a side not being an option for everybody.
And another point that I've forgotten since I started saying what the points were, so I'll leave it at that.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-12 06:30 pm (UTC)
sfred: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sfred
(and an apology for a ridiculously long comment.)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-13 11:06 am (UTC)
electricant: (Default)
From: [personal profile] electricant
It's very much true of being Jewish, actually; I am Jewish by birth, not just in Jewish law but in the eyes of racists who have a problem with the fact that I'm Jewish, and would still despise me no matter what my religious beliefs were. I'm also Jewish by choice because I am immersed in Jewish religion and culture. I'm ethnically Jewish, so I don't have the typical genetics of most people in my society, and I do have the consequences of most of my ancestors experiencing the world as Jews. I'm also not very "typically" Jewish in appearance, at least as people expect Jews to look, so I don't get most of the automatic assumptions when I first meet people, I have the option to make decisions about passing.

I'm ethnically, genetically, and medically Jewish (there are two medical conditions that run in my family and that I've had to see specialists for that are found predominantly or exclusively in the Ashkenazi Jewish population). I'm culturally Jewish in that I was raised with a Jewish identity, celebrating Jewish festivals, eating Jewish foods, etc. I'm Jewish by choice, in that I'm an active member of my local Jewish community, attend shul regularly, and organise community events. But I'm not halachically Jewish. So to half my family and most of the Australian Jewish community, that means I'm not Jewish at all.

If I am Jewish, then it seems reasonable to think I've been that way since birth. But lots of people would not consider me Jewish at all, so would think it a nonsense to claim I was born that way.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-13 08:08 pm (UTC)
sfred: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sfred
Not annoying at all!

My godmotherish is in her mid-eighties and really striving to be inclusive and do right by people (and follow her instincts on that) while surrounded by people who just think "practicing" homosexuality is wrong: I admire her enormously.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-13 01:38 am (UTC)
starlady: Raven on a MacBook (Default)
From: [personal profile] starlady
I sometimes feel similarly about being ace--I am assumed to be straight by the majority of non-friends I interact with, do ace people really need to be included in QUILTBAG rights campaigns when LGBT people face far worse problems, etc, etc. but then when organizations do explicitly include ace people I always feel gratitude. And I sometimes feel guilty claiming the "queer" label for myself, but I sure as hell ain't straight.

I've also felt similarly about the "born this way" versus "lifestyle" narratives. For me, the characteristics that led me to identify as ace have always been a part of me, so I guess it was innate. But actively choosing to identify as ace instantly made me much happier in my self, so the "chosen lifestyle" narrative makes a lot of sense to me too.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-13 07:37 am (UTC)
sfred: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sfred
Your last paragraph mirrors my experience with polyamory and with trans. Thanks for expressing it so well!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-13 10:55 am (UTC)
electricant: (Default)
From: [personal profile] electricant
I think I actively avoid fiction featuring Jewish and GSM characters, because my own experiences of those identities are so very complicated and borderline. I generally struggle to identify with Jewish and GSM characters because they tend to be, if not more stereotypical, then at least more well-defined in those identities than I am myself.

One of the things I have struggled with over the years is not having my identity as a Jew and my gender/sexuality be recognised and acknowledged by my family, my community, and by society at large. The fact that I have known these things to be core aspects of myself from my earliest memories means that not having them recognised has been extremely painful for me. I do feel like these particular aspects myself are things that I was born into, but even now a lot of people would deny that this is so. It hurts when people refuse to acknowledge that I was born this way, when I strongly feel that this is the case.

At the same time, I do also acknowledge that no one should have to resort to the "born this way" narrative in order to have their identity recognised. I want all people to be recognised as who they feel themselves to be now, chosen or otherwise, regardless of whether or not they were born that way. I support people's right to choose to identify however they wish and have that choice respected, if they feel like they have the capacity to do so.

So sometimes I worry that my need to be recognised as having been born this way is somehow running counter to my beliefs and that I should let go of that need and try to live by my stated principles instead. It shouldn't matter if people were born a particular way or not, so why does it matter if I was born this way and why does it matter if people are willing or able to acknowledge that that's how I feel? I don't know, but it feels like something that is true and important for me, and it does hurt to not have it seen and accepted.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-14 08:09 am (UTC)
azurelunatic: part of a triangle filled with alternately black and red hearts, increasingly smaller in a sierpinski triangle pattern (hearts)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic
One of the things which I have long believed about Queer identities is: one of the things that people who could not be other than Different (and who they are) do is, they make it safe for other people who could choose to hide (but shouldn't have to hide, in a just world). And in their turn, they make it safe for a widening range of diverse and complex and beautiful identities.

Every time I bring the sarcasm at a co-worker who thinks that 50/50 is the only way to be bisexual; every time I claim plural and/or gender-anonymous pronouns; every time I point out the existence of ethical non-monogamy; every time I don't hide my religious jewelry; every time I point out that the anti-harassment policy doesn't protect that guy who is fairly open about being intersex and sometimes expresses the flip side of his gender identity by wearing a dress, and it should protect him: those are hits I can take to protect people who may be more vulnerable than me, or just more tired, or who never would have thought it was possible to be non-default really truly, and it was just them being weird, but for those who went before.

If I can spare one teenager the "but I like guys a lot, so I can't be a lesbian..." angst, it will have been worth it.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-16 04:20 pm (UTC)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic

The magic phrase "gender expression" generally protects him, which is why I argue for it every time I see it missing in its rightful place next to "gender identity" as a protected class. The summary of the argument tends to go like: "Yes, nice HR person, I want to believe that we would stick up for someone getting flak because of gender stuff without it being specifically in the policy, but I have run into enough places where it isn't, and someone who is experiencing bad stuff won't know they will be helped if those words aren't there."

I knew that guy in Arizona, which is not always interested in progress. California does a lot better in some ways, but still has work to be done.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-17 09:34 am (UTC)
cjwatson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cjwatson
It's not a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, as far as I can see, because it's not "for the purpose of reassigning the person's sex". That said, I'm not a legal expert by any stretch of the imagination and it might be covered in some other statute or in case law.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-17 10:34 am (UTC)
cjwatson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cjwatson
Well, re-reading, it logically ought to come under the protected characteristic of sex instead. However, the language is awfully binary: "a reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic is a reference to a man or to a woman". 26(3) under harassment seems as though it ought to apply, but it's not as cast-iron as it should be.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-14 08:17 pm (UTC)
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
From: [personal profile] silveradept
I have read. I think it's a great article, and that the tension you mention regarding stepping on marginalized voices or being "not X enough" is interfering with any further comment, other than I feel unqualified to comment more.

Soundbite

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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