Wednesday, February 11, 2009


In Queer Theory, Gender Theory, Riki Wilchins talks about "the Western compulsion to create totalitatrian forms of knowledge." (42) I think that means that societies try to define knowledge for us and we are just supposed to accept it for what the dominant culture says it is. 

For example, "this is how you eat- fork, knife, and spoon." For a long time, that was the only "civilized" way to do it. But you know, I think chopsticks are pretty cool and eating with your hands (Malian style) is a lot more efficient, saves potable water, and doesn't release detergent into the environment. So what? There are multiple ways of doing things but certain traditions seem to have a superiority complex. 

Some of the messages I've gotten: "this is what a family looks like." Or, "you are a GIRL and real girls wear this, talk like this, are attracted to this kind of person, and have these characteristics." It's not usually spelled out like that. It sounds more like, "Oh, honey, that's not ladylike." Or, "Dupont women don't do that." Even, "you looks good in that dress," reinforces what society wants me to do. 

We all get little messages about who we're supposed to be and when we don't obey, there are consequences: stares, exclusion, loss of privileges, judgment... Well what about freedom of expression? What if being a boy, for me, looks like make-up and heels? Why not? Where do the totalitarian forms of knowledge come from and why do we listen?

Now, I'm no anarchist and I think social order is healthy for us all. But why on earth would two men loving each other and raising good kids change "social order"? What's the problem? How does that screw with anything? The problem is homophobia. Homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, queerphobia... they all overlap. Our phobia's are a part of our social order and our institutions. But just because something's been around a while doesn't mean it's good. Can't you say the same for racism and religious oppression? Why do these traditional values of prejudice stick around for so long? And who gets to decide what "traditional" means? 

Some people make it sound like breaking with tradition is the worst crime you can commit.But sometimes, not breaking with tradition leads to a worse crime. According to the FBI, 52% of hate crimes in 2007 were motivaed by racism, 17% by religious oppression, 16% by homophobia, and 12% by ethnic hate. Hate is a tradition we have to get rid of. Try something new... maybe chopsticks.

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