I’ve admitted previously that I’m not a very good lesbian. I don’t watch Orange Is The New Black, I’m not sure what comes after LGBT in our acronym and I don’t drive a Subaru Outback.
For the most part, my lesbian-slacker status isn’t an issue. Most of my friends are straight, so they don’t notice the lack of energy or effort I put into my alternative lifestyle. But that doesn’t mean no one notices. Being online with a blog using the pseudonym Lesbiana opens me up to scrutiny from those who are more proficient in their lesbianity. So it happens that on occasion I’ll get feedback from someone who’s more than happy to call attention to my flaws.
This time the criticism comes not on Pucker Up Buttercup, but on a blog that is way gayer than mine could ever hope to be. It all started on Fiverr.com where I saw a Gig promising to promote my blog on a bigger, more widely read LGBT oriented blog, Equality Speaks. Figuring a little more site traffic couldn’t hurt, I purchased the Gig and sent the promoter a link to The Ten Stupid Things Straight Men Say When I Tell Them I’m A Lesbian. It’s fluff, it’s fun, it’s lighthearted and, I think, a decent representation of the overall context of my blog.
The posting on the other blog did just what it was supposed to and I saw my visitor hits take a big jump. And on the promoter’s site, I could see that hundreds of people viewed the post and I got more reblogs than I’d ever had. But there was at least one person who didn’t like my take on typical straight guy reactions to lesbianism, and she posted a comment to let the promoter know of the LGBT blogging crimes I’d committed …
“The 10 Things Straight Things Men Say thing you posted a kind of transmisogynist (assumes all straight men have penises and all lesbians have vaginas) and uses an ableist slur. I just wanted to let you know.”
I’m continually surprised that we selected Ellen Degeneres as our leader when so many lesbians seem to have no sense of humor. And yes, much like the aforementioned penises and vaginas, I’m assuming the writer of the message is a lesbian. Were she not, it seems more likely she’d have jumped all over my stereotypical portrayal of straight men rather than finding offensive content where there was none.
Now, onto my transmisogyny! I had to Google it because I’d never heard the term and wasn’t sure what it meant. Wiki told me that it’s “a central concept in transfeminism and is commonly seen in the intersectional feminist theory.” So I naturally Googled it again because I had no idea what Wiki was trying to say.
According to everydayfeminism.com, it’s the confluence of transphobia and misogyny and “the negative attitudes, expressed through cultural hate, individual and state violence, and discrimination directed toward transwomen and trans and gender non-conforming people on the feminine end of the gender spectrum.” I’m the first to admit that when referring to lesbians, I’m thinking of people with vaginas and if I’m talking about men, I generally mean people with penises. So sue me! Um a simple person, and fairly lazy, so under most circumstances, I take the easiest, most-direct route. And if that means simply dividing people into Camp Penis and Team Vagina, then color me guilty.
But neglecting to remind readers that some of the straight men and lesbians in my little essay might have non-standard genitals is a “negative attitude expressed through cultural hate, etc.”?? No, no, no, nope, nuh-uh, no way. I will not own that. And I think it’s unfair and hypocritical to make assumptions about me while blasting me for making assumptions about other people.
I had no idea what I wrote that she determined was an ableist slur because, much like transmisogyny I’d never heard of ableist slurs. So back to Google I went and after a bit of research, my first thought was, “0h for fuck sake! Seriously?” Ableist slurs include phrases such as crippled, harelip and mongoloid… obviously inappropriate things I wouldn’t say and weren’t included in my 10 Things post.
But ableist slurs also include such favorites as crazy, idiot, lunatic, psycho, stupid, and wacko. While I would never refer to a developmentally delayed person as an idiot, I reserve the right to use that word to describe drivers who cut me off in traffic; and I’d be at a loss as to how to describe evangelical hate-mongers if I couldn’t use the term “religious wackos .”
Look, I know sometimes there’s a fine line between what’s funny and what’s not. It depends on the timing, the context and even who’s telling the joke. For instance, Sarah Silverman telling a rape joke? Acceptable. Daniel Tosh doing the same? Not even a little bit.
Considering the number of things that are unfunny by almost any standard, it’s not necessary to point an accusing finger at things that are clearly intended to amuse and entertain. Humor isn’t the enemy. But imagining insults and finding intolerance where none exists might be. Laughter is healing and in the world in which we currently live, we need all the healing we can get.