Last month, I posted a list of things that well-meaning-but-misguided people tend to say to childless lesbians. On my Facebook page, a few readers mentioned that people say equally irritating and/or idiotic things to lesbians who have kids. Here are some of their least favorites:
Seriously, people. Let me give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you're beside yourself with joy and curiosity about a child or a pregnancy that is not your own. It is very, very rude to ask someone you barely know about the biological details of how his or her children came to be, or to offer your unsolicited, pop-pseudo-psychological opinion about how the family arrangement is likely to affect the child.
Q: But what if I really want to know?
A: That's what the Internet is for.
Q: But I'm a total supporter of gay rights! So it's okay if I ask, right?
Q: What if the person I want to ask is a friend or family member?
A: Possibly fine. But this varies based on the person. Some folks will talk your ear off about IVF; others will want to smack you for asking. If the person is a friend, you probably already know the deets or would feel comfortable saying something like, "Hey, I had a few questions about the biological aspects of your pregnancy. Would it be okay if I asked you about it? If not, I certainly understand."
Q: Oh, good! I can ask my lesbian co-worker how she got pregnant!
A: NO. When I say "friend," I'm talking about someone with whom you hang out socially, on a voluntary basis. Just seeing someone at work functions, PTA meetings, or the post office doesn't count.
Q: Oh, good--so I can tell my lesbian daughter that her son needs a male influence?
A: NO. The aforementioned ban on unsolicited, pop-pseudo-psychological opinions about someone's child-rearing decisions applies to friends and family members as well.
Any queer parents out there want to add something I missed? Drop me a line or post a comment below!
I mentioned this on my Facebook page recently, and it continues to chap my proverbial hide.
The New York Times ran this story about how one butch went to a (male) tailor and asked him to make a men's suit for her. Last year. Yeah, you read that right: when Tomboy Tailors, Saint Harridan, Androgyny, and other companies were already on the scene. (I profiled some of them back in January and April.)
Worse yet, the Times's story implies that this tailor had some amaaaazing new idea. The story begins with, "Breakthrough ideas often come from the least expected sources." The idea that a mainstream male tailor would make some suits for butch women is not a "breakthrough;" he was merely introduced to a market that he didn't know already existed.
I don't fault the tailor--his quotes don't make it sound like he thinks he's a pioneer--but "discovery" is the thrust of the Times's story. Here's a quote:
In a coffee shop near his home the other day, he [the tailor] seemed still struck by the world that opened to him after that initial email. "The whole thing is really strange, and sometimes I can't — " he said, his voice evaporating into the wonder of it all. He was not even sure how to identify Ms. Tutera [the Handsome Butch], gender-wise. Was she transgender or just mannish? Sometimes it was hard to know such things.
In other words, Regular Person discovers Weird Queer Market.
While the story pays lip service to the fact that queer-owned companies with this mission already existed, this bit of info comes several paragraphs into the article, after the article's framework is well in place.
I'm happy to see any butch coverage in the media (see here and here for previous posts on the subject), but the Times article was one more reminder that butch visibility--and queer equality generally--still has a long way to go.
We've all heard that feminism is the "radical notion that women are people." But if so, then why wouldn't nearly everyone call themselves feminists? It's odd to me that if you ask people in their 20s, "Do you think men and women should be treated equally," most of them will say yes. But if you ask instead, "Are you a feminist?" many will claim that they are not. Is this because so much of the media paints feminists as unsexy, man-hating, unpleasant harridans? As extremists? As--godforbid--lesbians? Or is it because so many people naively think that we've already achieved gender equality? That there's really nothing left to fight for?
Within the queer community, I've sometimes heard feminism referred to as "old school," or heard it criticized as "embracing a gender binary." And I've even known butches who don't identify as feminists because it associates them with being female, which they (by which I mean this handful of people, not all, or even most, butches) do not want.
So, as I've been pondering all of this, I became very curious about your thoughts on this, dear readers. Do you identify as a feminist? If so, why? If not, why not? (And if you laugh at this, you juuust might be a closet feminist.)