valeriekeefe (valeriekeefe) wrote,
  • Mood: determined

Something I've Been Waiting to Say to Cathy Brennan

But I didn't have context enough to shorten the argument, and it felt like inside baseball... but now that she's posting on my blog:

Cathy replying why she doesn't think closeted gayhoods are significant, unless the person in question is cis.

Anyway, moving on, now there's sufficient context from the piece she commented on and her current reply, so I'll say what I've been wanting to say for some time:

Cathy, I'm going to tell you a story, one which you already know the kicker to, but it's of a young lesbian. When she was a kid, she didn't really please her parents, didn't hang out with the other kids very much, because the other kids seemed pretty alien to her. Part of that was her intelligence, she was a pretty smart kid, which made her precocious, something every adult, every popular kid, pretty much hated. They wanted her to sit down and shut up and let them get on with their concerns... suffice it to say she was that girl that everyone hated through most of school, but that was fine by her. She didn't like them either. She stuck to her own interests, tried very much to build a little wall of thought around her life, since that was where she was strongest.

As a result she became pretty good at rationalizing...

It didn't matter that she was bad with her hands, be it woodworking or sewing or cursive script. She was smart and the future was going to open itself to smart people like her... And besides, she could always bury herself in books or video games or golf. She loved golf, very existential, and after all, a body is just a body, right? What matters most is a person and the integrity with which they move through the world, and trying to fit someone else's stereotype about how she should look, trying to be muscular, would've just been giving in to sexist stereotypes. And the crushes she had on strong women, (especially ones in media, since they would never tell anyone, never expose her, and it didn't feel wrong to fantasize about someone who didn't exist) were normal... the constant daydreaming about the bright pagan girl, short with black hair and spectacles, kinda like she wished she could pull off, in her religion class, the desire to be recognized for how she felt, the constant heartache clawing at her chest that she was just beginning to find the words for was normal, in fact, it meant she wasn't even more of a freak, wasn't gay or anything...

After all, boys are supposed to like girls.

And it was much safer for her to be a boy. Nobody would hate her for being a weirdo, and nobody would say she was ugly, in fact, she would be considered somewhat handsome (by everybody but her) and it meant that the cracking of her voice wasn't something to be upset about, and at any rate, she couldn't really think much about her body since that one time some boy groped her breasts in front of like two-hundred people, and instead of rise to her defense, like she'd been taught to do if that had ever happened to anyone else, anyone who bothered to react, even though she told her assaulter to stop while speaking into a live microphone, (she was deejaying the campus 'radio' at the time) just laughed.

Anyway, I won't spoil it for you and go into elaborate detail about the person she tried to bury for years, how it slowly destroyed her ability to function, like some emotional scurvy. I won't bore you with an evocative retelling of how she wept when a woman kissed her for the first time at twenty-six and how remarkable it was for her that she was grateful that nobody ever kissed her and meant it while thinking she was a boy, that the last quarter century of abuse and self-hate was worth the first week of being, and being with, a girlfriend who understood her.

I won't pick up the story with the bad ending it could've had, where that girl decided to run through the pain, to let decades of her life whither, and finally, when the fear of dying still living the lie that they'd been living for decades they found the courage to try to capture a measure of authenticity from a lifetime of fear. I won't because that's not only too painful to think of, but because that story's heroine is much braver than the one in the story I just told you. I'm not going to treat that woman with anything less than the utmost respect and emotional support and understanding. But that's what makes me the kind of lesbian I am, as you say, different, from the kind of lesbian you are.

I understand that while the fiction of a trans man deciding that being male is less othering than being a lesbian exists, it exists mainly for trans women, not men. I understand how gayness is lived even if it goes unspoken, that women are socialized as women, complete with masculocentrism and contempt for the combination of amasculinity and assertiveness, even if they are not explicitly declared to be women.

More importantly, though, I recognize that lesbian sisterhood saves lives.


So what level of understanding and sisterhood will come of this? None, just a cissexist and misogynistic repetition of the applicable Nicene Creed... still, it needed saying:

Gayhoods and girlhoods are significant...

... even the erased ones.

(As always, I do not allow anonymous comments. You'll have to give me a name you use elsewhere on the internets)
Tags: cissexism, dyke-bashing masquerading as feminism, misogyny
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