Wednesday, June 15, 2005

If you’re a feminist will you have lesbian babies?

Much like any day that ends in Y I had a coffee date with a sassy gal-pal; in this case it was Margo, an alum from one of my favorite literature classes a few semesters back. We got to talking about the last time we’d met up and how she’d found it hysterical that I referred to gay men as “my peoples”. She told me she’d shopped this concept around to some of her other friends, and much to her surprise people found “my peoples” offensive. They argued that anyone could be “my peoples” and to classify people as such was close-minded, I was thereby cutting myself off from everyone else. Surely anyone you got along with could be considered “my peoples”, not based on something as arbitrary as sexuality.
At first I felt bad about it, I certainly hadn’t intended any offense by it, I’d only meant to use it to accompany a clever observation I had made about gay men. Until, upon my request, she told me the demographic of who she’d poled: Predominately straight men. Of course straight men have no concept of what I’m referring to because society was constructed, maintained and operated with them alone in mind. They get all of the perks and then have it naturalized for them so they never even have to see how those perks are constructions. Not wanting to insult her friends I kept my feelings to myself.
Yes, I do refer to gay men as my peoples. It’s true that I find most gay men obnoxious, rude and repulsive, but they are still my people because as a gay man I can appreciate they’re struggles and experiences in society. Yes, I do refer to all queers as my peoples because as a fellow queer I can appreciate the obstacles they face on a day-to-day basis. And yes, I do refer to feminists as my peoples, because nothing excites me more than finding out someone I already liked identifies as a feminist.
Of course I am not saying I necessarily get along with anyone I ‘arbitrarily’ identify as my peoples; most of my friends are not gay men, queer persons or self-identified-feminists. In fact, a large percentage of the time I’m not terribly impressed that I’m associated with the gay-male community anyway. And certainly all labels are problematized by various intersections with other markers of marginalization such as: class, race, ability and other forms of oppression I can’t fathom, but choose to – at the very least – acknowledge. However, that does not stop my desire to create a community for my fellow marginalized-humyn [ha!] where we can gain strength from our mutual distaste at how society is constructed to our disadvantage.
So what do you think? Is ‘My Peoples’ part of the problem or the solution?
PS – the title of this post comes from a question asked of my sister’s teacher, when she told the class she was a feminist.


Blogger suz said...

i will never call myself a feminist. i use the term egalitarian, because "feminist" always conjurs up images of angry lesbians looking to corner men into the little hole of society that women once occupied.
as for the "my people" thing- definately not offensive. 'my people' say that all the time!! ;)

8:09 AM  
Blogger Gwen said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with saying "my peoples" and I'd question the security issues of anyone who claimed to be offended by it.

I like to call myself a feminist because it does conjure up an image of an angry woman. And I'm angry, dammit. And if people can't deal with that, it's best that they know about it right off the bat so they can stay out of my way.

10:45 AM  
Anonymous dryvrgrl said...

I like "My Peoples". I have a friend Joe and he has an awesome kid named Pheobe. Pheobe used to get on the street car in Toronto and loudly exclaim "My People". Pheobe went to school in the area with the million dollar houses and the uptight nanny's, but Dad-Joe would streetcar her down there every morning after he had her sleep over the night before. Pheobe identifies (at age 6) with the people on the streetcar, playing their game, going to put in their time, be part of their show. The freaks and fags lookin' for a place to belong, a people to belong to. Joe told me when she'd get to school, she'd greet her classmates the same way "My Peoples". I like Pheobe, I think she's a 6 year old femminist.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Rob Danger said...

Personally, it's always been my goal in life to some how transform into an angry-lesbian-feminist. I think I prefer the term feminist to egalitarian simply because I think egalitarian implies that women are no longer oppressed, and I don't believe that to be true, women are simply oppressed in new, and sometimes still old, ways. The idea of the supermom for instance, women can do everything! They can hold down a job, take care of their children and still be home in time to cook hubby a health-conscious meal! Yay for liberation!
But it's everyone's choice to identify as they see fit, and if egalitarian works for you then rock it!
I think often times six-year-olds have a better grasp on reality than a lot of adults I know! Yay to baby-feminists!

4:40 PM  
Blogger The Accidental Boyfriend said...

I certainly don't think there's anything arbitrary about sexuality, and since gay men are always trying to con themselves into thinking myths like a "gay community" actually exist, I don't see how referring to said fictional community as "your peoples" can do any harm. Besides, I'd rather have you say "my peoples" than "those people."

Great blog. Smart and funny. I officially almost hate you now.

5:10 PM  

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