Friday, September 11, 2009

in the end, we're all just taller children

We've hit a point in culture at large--virtual in specific, but any culture--where we're overlabeling, I think. And as it's long since invaded several of my online communities, it's starting to seriously irritate me. Like people who hold these values are walking around me in circles, spitting porcupine quills dipped in habanero pepper oil.

Far be it from me to single out anyone in for, I'm gonna.

First, feel free to completely ignore GeoPunk's FAQ page; what you're looking for is on the right-hand side. The wide widget bar that starts out Hello I Am. And what GeoPunk defines as, among other things?

* android - just online, or do they actually have non-organic parts?
* avian - Really?
* gender pirate - Okay, I kind of like this one...but I don't understand it. What do you do, ride around in an eyepatch and a feather boa, stealing the gender of passersby and screaming "ARRRRR" as you charge off into the crowd?
* goblinkin - PLEASE tell me you're kidding.
* homoflexible - Wouldn't that be bisexual for the rest of the world?
* otherkin - So in addition to being android, avian and goblinkin, GeoPunk is also otherkin?? And people wonder why I get cranky when I meet otherkins in world.
* puppy - You can be a bird and a dog? Does that mean you try to catch yourself when you're not looking?
* saurian - So wait, now you're a feathered puppy-eared dinosaur?? Oh, come ON, now!
* shapeshifter - That's the first thing I've read that makes absolute sense.

Now, apparently, that widget is part of a much longer list that's even scarier. The Yay Genderform! lists way way way more terms:

* pseudohermaphrodite - you're not really a hermaphrodite, you just look like one??
* merm - Short for mermaid? Please short for mermaid?
* gender refusnik - What, no gender beatnik?
* other-gendered - What, if every other term on their list just don't quite apply?
* pregender -'re still in the womb?
* spivak - Spivak, splat and stone are three terms that I can't even begin to parse.
* effanineffable - Got me.
* clockable - To me, clockable translates to can take a punch really well. Same with unclockable--which would be something akin to nigh invulnerable, right? What the hell do these words mean?

Is it just me? I mean, there's description, identification, labeling--it's always helpful to tell your fellow whatever on the grid what you like, even what you are if the other party's confused--but there comes a point. Doesn't there?

We have a world that has humans, demons, clockwork constructs, faerie realms full of just about everything, men, women, hermaphrodites, and fur versions of all the above, nagas, mermaids, mermen, centaurs, feral animals, trees, and that's not counting a lot of what moves around in and out of Grendel's...or Necronom...

...and trust me, I'm not objecting to this, but seriously--when you're walking up to people and you're telling them you're an android avian puppy saurian, who's a shy, gender-fluid sadomasochist, and you're also a treehugging gender-neutral transhumanist hippie?

Trust me. Most people wouldn't admire your honesty, or personal understanding; they'd be busy nodding slowly and backing away.

Far away.

Far far away.

...well. Unless they were an introverted macho fey gender-neutral boyychick into fabulous kinky alien masochist switches, or something...

Then both of you can live in deep confusion for the rest of your lives, I guess.

Man. Shapeshifting isn't as hard as these people are making things.


HeadBurro Antfarm said...

Do they have one for people who only do gender for gender but not for sex but at the same time are filtatious and says norks! a lot?

Just asking, like... it's for a friend of mine, you see...

Emilly Orr said...

Well, they list heteroplatonic, homoplatonic as well as peopleplatonic and polysnuggler--I like that one, it's quirky--and peopleemotional as well as hetero- and homo-romantic...

Don't think they've got one for saying "Norks!" a lot. :p

Rhianon Jameson said...

I can remember a simpler world in which there were two genders (well, three if you count "neuter"); everybody had one (or, in rare cases, both or neither); it stayed the same, rather than varying according to whim or the phase of the moon; and folks got to decide if they were sexually attracted to other folks of the opposite gender, the same gender, both, or neither. Really, one can do a lot with those choices.

I saw a story on the Aetherwebs the other day (so I take it with a large grain of salt, but still...) involving pond scum sitting in a British jail after a conviction for attempted rape. But our lad wants gender reassignment surgery, and convinced an idiot judge that keeping him locked up with the boys would violate his human rights so they isolated, I'm just kidding. Of course, they locked him up with the girls, who, I'm guessing, don't have human rights. Excellent thinking.

Emilly Orr said...

Jail gets really tricky, even if one isn't confused about one's gender. Two separate men of my acquaintance have gone into Denver jails, out gay men--who were then promptly "identified for their own safety" with bright orange jumpsuits. (Is it worth mentioning that bright orange was, at that point, the color of extremely violent offenders?)

There are also plenty of cases of transgender prisoners who were not housed in the appropriate gendered wing, and more than a few have been denied hormones.

This takes us all the way to poor miss Caster Semenya, who looks close enough to male that, when she won the 800m qualifier, and got a gold medal from it, there were instant protestations that she was competing in the wrong sex's event.

As the story continues to spin out, leaks from the testing facility may be saying she's got a very rare ailment, androgyn insensitivity ailment--in which case, she has the external appearance of a female, with internal body structure of an undeveloped male.

Whether that's true or not, the whole case has attacked the foundations of what we perceive as gender, with some calling for the revoking of the medal on false pretenses, to others calling for seperate "gender-conflicted" sports events, to still more saying it's not her fault, she never knew, neither did her family, and she should retain the medal.

Which is all well and good until you bring it into world, where apparently hermaphroditic horned scaled furry flying dragon/puppy bi-curious gender-neutral otherkin might be perfectly happy...

The brain (mine, at least) reels.

Sphynx Soleil said...

I likes me my "genderfsk" tag. I reject everyone else's assumption of what I should be like with my gender and replace it with my own. LOL!

It IS a rather exhaustive list over there, but they're probably still exploring. Even if they're breaking your brain in the process. *shrugs* The "Intersex Roadshow" blog that was linked, btw, is one I recommend reading. The writer of the IS-R blog is cool to chat with, as well. :)

Edward Pearse, Duke of Argylle said...

I didn't see "wanker" on the list (and no I don't mean that in the masturbatory definition).

Emilly Orr said...

I think they were meant to be "positive" terms only.

Though I suppose "wanker" is positive for someone, somewhere...

Anonymous said...

Did you confuse the internet for a school playground and yourself for a six year old? In which case very aposite post title. Or did you have a particular reason for taking the piss out of geopunk?

Also full marks for a comment thread that managed to be completely transphobic within three comments. Classy readers you have here. Nice of you to so clearly correct them... oh wait... you just mentioned how tricky it all is and dragged in Semenya and said how she looks like a guy. Nice. How about attacking the foundations of your own privilege and prejudice instead?

I'd have posted under an actual name but I don't particularly want anyone who comments here to know who I am since I tend to avoid people who actively hate me just for existing. That's what kind of impression y'all have made on me.

Emilly Orr said...

I'm morbidly amused that, in the quest for understanding--which, if you bothered to read through the comments, has generated some thought-provoking points of view--you spontaneously decide I and my readers are fervently anti-trans anything and are laughing blind elitists who still think any gender variance is "icky"

Way to close your own mind, there.

There are reasons I won't go into here, on why you're wrong in your perceptions, but: trust me. You're very wrong. More to the point, you're picking out only the highlights of conversations you want to read in the worst light possible, and slamming me, and by extension, my readers, for your own internalized prejudices.

And you tie it all up by being afraid to post your own name--when you can clearly, and easily, set up an account with any desired name and never bother to use it again.

Way to completely and totally miss every point of the post. Kudos to you.

Emilly Orr said...

And another thing, Anonymous--you're new here, so you don't know, but all of my post titles on this blog are song titles.

This song in particular: Elizabeth and the Catapult's Taller Children.

Anonymous said...

Oh I did read all the comments. They weren't thought provoking particularly. In fact the ones regarding gender say nothing I haven't read or heard more times than it's bothering to mention. I didn't say anyone was fervently anti trans anything. I said there was unchallenged and uncritical transphobia in comments here, whether they are deliberate or through ignorance is a different matter. Not to mention if you google Semenya and read around some more politically aware sources you'll find that there are aspects of the attacks on her for looking "too" masculine that also play into sexist and racist beauty standards. Not the same thing at all. Acusing me of internalised prejudice for calling out transphobic comments? Since you don't know me you are either claiming powers of divination or are just trying to deflect, either way, no.

You say I am picking the worst highlights? Well, yes, that's what I am doing. The worst highlights of this page are indeed some unchallenged transphobia. That was my point.

I don't think I mentioned fear. I just have absolutely no interest in anyone here knowing who I am and I don't feel like making a temporary account.

HeadBurro Antfarm said...

Hey! I'm not transphobic - in fact the only person my comment had a humorous pop at was myself.

Luminis said...

Wow. I'm an intersex person who spends a fair bit of time in SL, and I have to say, thanks for your expression of empathy. Erm.

Apparently the irony with which GeoPunk chose to use piles of labels flew over your head. So you had to mock them personally. Believe it or not, apparently you and GeoPunk shared some common impulse to goggle at the myriad ways people choose to selfidentify. But while GeoPunk poked playful fun at the specificity by throwing down a lot of labels to express the fluidity of the self, you prefer a personal attack on someone you don't know. And then continue to mock terms you've never encountered, like pseudohermaphrodite, in ways that just add to the pile of folks calling people like me, born different in the bits, freaks.

This was just meanspirited and left me tired. I'm sure you'll tell me I have no sense of humor. Of course, that's exactly what you've displayed in reading GeoPunk's Genderform long list as sans irony. And you'll probably say I don't know you from beans, so why am I commenting on your blog--you're really a complex person who has sophisticated opinions, a good heart, etc. Irony! Imagine how GeoPunk must feel.

And Rhianon, your comment in particular nauseates me. The simpler world you posit is a reactionary fantasy, and recognizing that intersex people exist and that people gender transition is called accepting reality. That you jump immediately into some transphobic rant about MTF rapists trampling the rights of "Real Women" is appalling.

I'm sorry; I tried to comment in an all-smiles manner to honor Sphynx, who has cited me as a resource for learning more. But I felt kicked in the teeth by this post, and I don't smile when that happens. If you want to have an open-minded conversation about the complexity of sex and gender, that's another matter.

Rhianon Jameson said...

Y'know, I was going to leave this alone, but really, you need a thicker skin, M. Luminis. Or a steelier stomach, if you are that easily nauseated. If you had trouble identifying what you call a "reactionary fantasy" as a joke, you are in sore need of a humor transplant. And if you think that disapproving of having a person with male genitalia, already convicted of attempted rape, placed with women, is a "transphobic rant," then you, sir or madam, are a freakin' insensitive lout.

Luminis said...

Rhianon, for many decades of virulent racism in the U.S., every time somebody raised the issue of ending discrimination, a shrill cry would be raised that animalistic black men were raping white women, whose safety and virtue must be protected. "Everyone knew" this was a dangerous problem, and everyone had heard about some African American man in a nearby town who had committed a brutal rape and been lynched. In fact, looking through the historical record you'll see that most lynching victims were not even accused of rape, but of crimes like "incendiarism" (i.e. standing up for equal treatment). But the sexual panic was a very effective tool for keeping African Americans down.

Emily's post had nothing to do with violence, or even directly wih transgender. She poked fun at multiplying gender identities. You made the illogical leap that implicitly reads, "If we allow sex/gender diversity, violently perverted men will be able to put on dresses and rape women. I heard a rumor that it's happening."

As for the thickness of my skin, I do my very best to keep a callous from developing over my soul, despite living in a world where I'm subject to mockery and attack just for being honest about who I am and not hiding my intersex status or trying to genderconform.

I just hope to live in a world where people don't mock the marginalized or blame the victim. Sorry that seems humorless to you.

Anonymous said...

Rhianon, it was impossible to tell it was a joke because plenty of people say exactly the same thing and mean it. Sometimes right to our faces. Usually they don't bother to try and justify it by the flimsy cover of saying "oh but it's about a bad person so it's ok to say it". So excuse me if I don't give you the benefit of the doubt. It's never ok to be hateful. If you want to aspire to the moral high ground then how you talk about the worst of people still counts.

Emilly Orr said...

Rather than address anyone individually, at this point--both because I'd start throwing things, and because it really can't be gone into in the space of a single comment, or even group of comments: I've made another blog post here. Do have fun.