I just caught a passing glimpse of myself in a full-length mirror. Barefoot. Jeans that are torn to shreds at the ends and don't fit particularly well. "Bleeding Heart" t-shirt from Threadless. Little female-symbol ear studs. No bra. I'm listening to Ani DiFranco and I'm reading an article - the article
- by Carol Hanisch.
D'you know, boys and girls and non-aligned, I think I might be queer
Um, yes. I've also, today, been trying to read something that isn't the bloody history of philosophy from Descartes to Kant - aaargh, I do not like this paper, I only did it as a prequisite for the Mind paper (which I adore, so there is that), I really should have done Plato's Republic
instead - and am planning to move on with some swiftness to political theory. At the moment I have three topics that I know I want to read about: Rawls' theory of justice, luck egalitarianism, and feminism in general. As I never stop complaining about, there is no specific politics paper for feminism. There are two arguments for why this is the case. Firstly, it is argued, no other specific political position/ideology/philosophy/whatever-
we're-calling-it-today has a paper of its own.
To which I say, except Marx and Marxism (paper 217). Oh, Marx, they say, he's extraordinarily influential, blah blah, so one humourless male German philosopher is clearly much more influential than, oh, half the world's population raising issues of political importance not only to themselves but to everyone. I happily concede that Marx is extraordinarily inflential. I do not concede that the oppression and the political exploits of my entire gender are less so. Oxford, you fail at convincing self-justification.
The other argument is this: feminism, they say, shouldn't have a paper of its own because it should be covered as part of all the existing topics. There is scope for feminist analysis everywhere, they say. Which is all very well and very noble, but where was my topic on gendered notions of aesthetics, mmm? Why didn't I get a topic on unexamined liberalism and the influence of gender in international relations? Does gender matter when we study the way we conceive our own consciousness? Why don't I know about that? And so on, and so on, etc. It's a very nice idea, and it entirely fails to work.
Going back to political theory, there, at least, I should not complain. My political theory tutor is very definitely made of awesome; he let me read pretty much whatever I wanted, and did, indeed, actively pursue feminist analysis in all topics. Which is why I'm spending some of today reading Elizabeth Anderson on Dworkin and the luck egalitarians. I seem to remember telling mi_guida
about this: if you're on the - or indeed a
- university network, it's on JSTOR, here: "What is the point of equality?
" Fifty-plus pages of her taking Dworkin apart point by point. It's a joy.
(I also need to read a few more things on liberal feminism that, more than just being interesting and a good addition to my own corpus of feminist reading, are also things I can write about in an exam. This is proving particularly difficult. Have read chunks of Susan Moller Okin (urrrgh) and Catharine MacKinnon and am now faintly bored, as a lot of my reading for this topic was done for the compusory heterosexuality essay, which while great fun, isn't something that will ever come up in an Oxford Finals paper. Siiigh. The return to heteronormative liberal feminism, etc., I am bored.)
Speaking of compulsory heterosexuality, I was talking to Maria last night at quite some length - it was a conversation that started out very sensibly, with how are you
and I hope you haven't been carried away by the storm
, and quickly segued into rampant silliness involving hats and pie and square dancing and Embarrassing Crushes of Our Teenage Years, and it was nice, through the silliness, to be very, I don't know, out
. This is something I notice a lot when talking to queer women, just in general conversation; there's this whole wonderful freedom to say
, yes, women are sexually attractive, and to proceed under the assumption that whoever you're speaking to agrees with you on this point. Which is not significant now - obviously, when you start with a sample of women who are queer, this is a conclusion they are all likely to have come to - but it makes me wonder in passing how much I missed out on. Because this sort of conversation - the silly, cheerful, ooh, Katee Sackhoff is pretty
sort of conversation - is the sort of conversation that girls seem to start having when they're about eleven, correct me if I'm wrong. I remember it becoming a feature when I started secondary school, at least; even in a girls' school (or perhaps more so, in a girls' school) people talked about boys.
(Can you hear the teenage syntax there? You can't even talk about this without regressing a little bit.)
And of course, I didn't want to talk about boys, or at least not exclusively, so when I was having this very cheerful conversation yesterday evening, it was silly, yes, but it made me wonder, why have I not been having this sort of conversation for the last ten years of my life? And the answer is obvious and depressing: girls' schools, like everywhere else, are dens of vice and heteronormativity. And even beyond that, I think when I started meeting people who were emphatically not straight, both at school and later, they were emphatically not straight in a way that doesn't resonate with me. I'm not a lesbian, or at least not in my own understanding. I'm not really bisexual either, although I hang on to the term occasionally - because, as I heard a self-professed bisexual explain to me once, it sort of implies that "men are great, because of Y", and "women are great, because of X", and there are specific reasons for attraction to both (and it is both
; there's very much a binary gender paradigm here), and that doesn't ring any bells for me. I'm queer. I like people. Mostly, I like women. (Er, mostly.) But that's entirely contingent, I think; perhaps if I'd lived in a different environment, met different people, I'd have been mostly attracted to men, because I can't in all honesty tell the difference between genders. In any case, a low-key notion of sexuality, I think. "Queer" is usually enough of a term for me; I've heard "omnisexual" and "pansexual" bandied about, which is all very well, but let's face it, they're remarkably silly words. One strikes me as kind of melodramatic, and the other sounds like sexual attraction limited to half-man-half-goat creatures with a taste for the flute. Neither of which I am especially keen to endorse. Hurrah for queer.
Um. Back to history of philosophy from Descartes to Kant, neither of which figure especially highly in the theory of identity politics, siiigh. Tell me what you think, people of the flist. What are your experiences of growing up queer? And is it different, as I think it must be, to come to queerness in adulthood? And what about straight people who don't understand heteronormativity either? Etc., etc. I'm interested to know.