This is the most important post I will make this year, so read up!
**Genderfuck:** The act of acquiring sexual dimorphic traits that are not of one’s own gender for the express purpose of parody. Ex. Women wearing fake moustaches; Men with breasts, et al.
I was recently introduced to the (formal) idea of genderfuck. Flipside got me thinking about it even more. This summer I did my research. Genderfuck offers a paradigm that explains and guides vast smears of my sexuality.
I am sort of genderfucky myself. Those of you who have known me for a while know that I had very long hair until sometime late high school. I was always teased or taken for a girl until sometime at the end of middle school, when I could grow a beard. Even then if someone only saw me from behind, I got “Excuse me, Miss” for a couple of more years. What fewer of you know is that this had been happening since I was 3 months old.
Also, apparently sometime in 2nd grade I would come home crying all the time because I was being teased about looking like a girl. My parents, who always let us choose what we wanted to look like, could no longer handle it. They said that if I couldn’t toughen up, my choice was gone. They would forcefully cut my hair. Ever obstinate, I stopped crying. I do not recall this series of events.
Genderfucked is what I want my partner to be. Famously, earlier this summer my cousin called me “a fucking fetishist.” Kinks often establish themselves early. For instance, part of my reading this summer took me to “Intermediate Types among Primitive Folk”. Intermediate Types being early 20th century parlance for LGBT and Primitive Types being ancient peoples (Greek, Asian, American, etc.) The following passage is both the hottest thing in the world to me and how I would like to get married.
“There appears to have been a curious custom in Sparta connected with the ordinary marriage by capture which may be mentioned here as suggesting some wavering so to speak at that time of the line between male and female The bridegroom says Mueller brought the young virgin having carried her off from the chorus of maidens or elsewhere to the bride’s maid who cut short her hair and left her lying in a man’s dress and shoes without a light on a bed of rushes until the bridegroom returning from the public supper carried the bride to the nuptial couch and unloosed her girdle. Whatever may have been the exact meaning of this custom it almost suggests that marriage by capture of women was preceded by marriage by capture of youths [young men].”
I am often accused of having a perverse and distasteful thing for lesbians. But that couldn’t be father from the truth. From a Game-of-Life Theory standpoint why would I waste time lusting after people who will never love me back? I want what I have requited, heavily. Yes, I have been known to say that I have an attraction to the ‘Dyke Aesthetic’, whatever that means. But I postulate that this is because the canonical lesbian is genderfuck, not that I want to be with lesbians.
NAME MAGIC COUNTER:
Naturally, in all this thinking, I was fearful. What if ‘genderfuck’ is simply name-magic to make myself feel better about prior events? Am I in danger of falling in love with a label and not a person? After some further thought and discussion, I don’t think so.
First off, I was pointed to the framework of genderfuck being more of an ‘Anti-Label’ than a true descriptor. It is what you call someone who fundamentally rejects imposed norms and gender binaries (labels) and is willing to take a personal stand against them. But the (at least) partial use of humour takes the immediate threat out of such opposition. Genderfuck is about more than simply cross-dressing. It is cross-dressing sans the intent to deceive.
Secondly and personally, as a kink genderfuck is legitimized away from ‘label’ criticisms. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone; it doesn’t even have to make sense to me. It is my deep seeded, emotionally charged compulsion. Some people, for instance, have Centaur fetishes. I count my lucky stars that mine actually exists. And therefore, it is not unreasonable to ask that my sex partners indulge my fantasy in return for me partaking in theirs to have a healthy relationship.
So even though I may be crazy, at least I am still rational. We may proceed.
In my review of what genderfuck really is, I ran across “Queer At Last? Straight Intellectuals and the Desire for Transgression” by Annette Schlichter in GLQ. Did someone write a journal article about me before we even met?! Ms Schlichter’s paper had two main take away points.
(1) The term ‘queer’ is so general that it is possible to be a queer straight. Queer merely means different. Thus it is possible to reject heteronormativity while remaining heterosexual in practice.
(2) However, queer straights, as demonstrated by self-identified people in the literature, as a rule go through a transformation process whereby they ‘realize themselves to be queer.’ This transgression makes them not truly queer. This is because, by analogy, the queer straight is in the same position of any one who is a member of an oppressive majority, though they may support a minority. For instance, a white person who historically supported blacks does not suddenly become black. Nor does a man who is a feminist become a woman. Unfortunately, they still stand on the shoulders of implicit, systematic privilege.
Well, point (1) seems to apply, if I could be convinced to call myself heterosexual. But point (2) means that there will be problems calling myself a queer straight.
But given my history, I am still queer. I never went through the type of transformation that Ms Schlichter deftly outlines. I was raised queer so there never was a need for a metamorphic period. Yes, this may be a function of my freaky parents having their freaky children. An exception even in the queer world. Pretty much every homo I have ever talked to *knew* (often from quite early ages) that they were other-sexual. Same with me, no alterations to identity required. At worst, I have the sort of parents that little fag kids across the country spend the days dreaming they had instead of their own ignorant and biased set.
In fact, I see my experience as being a source of major long-term criticism for “Queer at Last.” The straight-who-becomes-queer may be a myth. But as more and more non-traditional families are started, more folk like me will pop up. I won’t be alone in not really being homosexual but not heteronormative either. My type will never replace ‘normal’ but maybe it will stop being wrong.
But Ms Schlichter does give us the ability to answer a persistent question I receive. “Why don’t you just find some long-haired straight girl who probably longs to be a tomboy and have her cut her hair?” It is for this transformation reason described. She isn’t queer when I meet her, so I am not interested. If she picks up on this (and this has happened) she may cut her hair thinking to get close to me. But even though I didn’t enact the transformation she still didn’t transgress. And even if she had transgressed, she still took full advantage of her heternormative privilege. She would be a facsimile of what I am really interested in. The aesthetic does not give her the values nor the experiences.
*I forgot to mention this above.* Gays and lesbians and straights will talk about those one or two special members of the sex that they are not typically attracted to who really do it for them. By analogy, the same is certainly true for me. There are a couple of ‘normal’ people out there who completely turn my crank. But this is the exception, not the rule.
Additionally, if the attraction is strong enough I try to establish some basis for deviance in them that probably doesn’t exist. Story time: my middle school teacher (Ms Smit), my mother, and I were eating at a restaurant. At the time, one of my friends was dating a girl (Meenon) from the other middle school in the district. My mother and mentor informed me the the girl in question was a complete babe/goddess. I didn’t see it nor understand it because her visage was fairly standard. I have since come to understand that she solidly beats me in some aspects of deviance, though it wasn’t initially apparent.
On the other hand, if my first experience with someone was at a burn-event, competitive art competition, gay club, LARP, or basically anything else that has one putting on costumes and running around naked in rain (happens more often than you’d think), then I understand if you have to play the normative card outside of such events to get by. I know initially that you are something other than you seem. Personally, I feel that I have been trending to a more respectable look to work in my more conservative field. However, after I open my mouth it is all pretty much over.
Time to go play dress-up, wanna come?