Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Running with Scissors

One of the guideposts of raising a child is to not reward bad behavior. Sometimes just attention is the reward when someone's throwing a fit, because the goal is attention, good or bad. Once it a great while, though, you've got to weigh intervention against possible harm, such as a child in full tantrum meltdown who grabs something sharp.

What follows is something like that.

I read this in the Sunday Denver Post:

The Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Supporters Alliance bashed a speech by Jada Pinkett Smith on Feb. 26 at a Harvard University Cultural Rhythms show.

Three days after the speech, BGLTSA co-chair Jordan B. Woods said "some of the content (of Pinkett Smith's speech) was extremely heteronormative, and made BGLTSA members feel uncomfortable." Heteronormative, according to Woods, means they implied that standard sexual relationships are only between males and females.

A snippet of Pinkett Smith's speech: "Women, you can have it all -- a loving man, devoted husband, loving children, a fabulous career. They say you gotta choose. Nah, nah, nah. We are a new generation of women. We got to set a new standard of rules around here. You can do whatever it is you want. All you have to do is want it."

You probably noticed that the person who wrote this (unidentified in the article) dripped enough contempt, sparing me the duty.

Which is good because I wanna snark about the big, white elephant in the room. That big bastard over there in the corner double dipping in the guacamole and crapping on the settee.

Homosexuality is not "normal." Let's pause here before the screaming begins and see what Webster's has to say about normal: "a : according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle b : conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern." No matter which percentage you choose on how much of the population is gay, 3%, 5%, that still leaves a vast majority of folks who are heterosexual. With those kinds of odds, that means heterosexuality is normal.

Again, in attempt to speak over the screaming, let me add further that I don't believe "not normal" is necessarily bad. In America particularly, we like the underdog, the misfit, the rebel - all terms for someone who's not normal. Most of the gay people I know and the ones whose opinions I've read often say they revel in being different, outside of the norm. They consider it a positive element of their identity.

Trying to force this Orwellian/Huxlian monstrosity "heteronormative" into the lexicon will result in little from annoyance to open guffaws, because no one wants it. It doesn't help anyone and only clouds the issue, because it's a lie. It wants to pretend that heterosexuality isn't the only normal there is. Don't we have enough to deal with considering the current administration and its love of Orwellian/Huxlian manipulation of the language? ("Personal Accounts" my ass. "PATRIOT Act" indeed.)

Let your freak flag fly, man, but don't ask me to pretend it's anything else.

Now that I'm all wound up and sloshing around in the verboten topic of the day anyway, allow me to lob another mouse at the elephant.

Most people I know (including me) don't equate the gay rights movement with the civil rights movement. These same people also believe that gay people have the right (and I do mean the right) to be safe from harm and to pursue happiness. They also believe that their orientation shouldn't be a factor in their job, housing, and so on. I don't make a blanket statement on discrimination because sometimes we all face some expected things we can't do; for instance, I can't use the women's sauna or changing room at the gym because I'm a guy - and let's not be coy and ignore the fact that the issue of homosexuality, because it is about sexuality, has some tentacles in that ballpark (to mix and torture a metaphor to death, most humble apologies).

Even gay-friendly Salon.com had an article recently that stated:

To compare these two struggles [gay rights and civil rights] is not to equate them. To say they are the same would be ridiculous. It goes without saying that there are major differences between race and sexual orientation -- and therefore homophobia and racism. [snip] To ignore the parallels would be no less ridiculous. [snip]

Hell yeah!

But, being Salon.com (when it comes gay issues), after it makes this bold statement, hauls off and messes it right up again:

There are two main reasons why this comparison jars with many. The first is blatant homophobia. It is far easier to marginalize the lesbian and gay agenda if you can sever any association between it and other struggles for equality. The second is latent homophobia, which argues that such comparisons trivialize racism, as though the right to love who you want and still keep your job, your home and sometimes your life is a trifling matter.

Well, no.

It's not homophobia, either the wax-on or the wax-off type as defined here, when folks just don't see the equals sign between gay rights and civil rights. It would be homophobia (how I hate that inaccurate, silly word) if someone said, "You shouldn't have a job here because you're gay." (With the possible common sense exceptions like the monitor behind the two-way mirror in a changing room.) It is not homophobia if someone says, "Y'know, I don't want my children's cartoons to explore the concept of homosexuality." Because what's really going on is the parent wants to decide how and when the child is educated concerning ALL sexuality, part of which is homosexuality.

This is where most draw the line: Our kids. In the adult world, nearly all of us agree that what consenting adults want to do with and for each other is their own damn business and no one else's. When kids come into the picture, the rules change.

Now, before anyone thinks this is just about homosexuality, let's trot out another example. I think that polygamy is not a good thing; I don't approve of it. I think it's an archaic form of marriage that no longer (if ever) serves a purpose, other than allowing a guy to legally get some strange once in a while (I've never heard of a woman having a harem of husbands). Our society allows all the strange you want, and the economic reasons for polygamy are non-existent, so I like the fact that it's not recognized in the states. Thus, when and if I have to discuss it with my children, I throw in my opinion that I think polygamy is wrong. For the record, I tell them Veganism is unhealthy, too. (And immoral since the philosophy and premise behind it would condemn most of the world to starvation; Veganism isn't sustainable as a primary diet anywhere but wealthy countries with efficient distribution systems.)

How and when I choose to divulge these adult things to my child is entirely up to me. And that's the way it will remain.

For the record, my wife's and my stance on homosexuality that we will communicate to our children is that it's just how some people are. It's not bad, it's not necessarily good, it just is. We will also say that gay people can have a hard time because of prejudice and that they encounter special problems that heterosexuals won't. It never hurts to be honest. This, of course, does not tow the GLAAD or BGLTSA line, but too damn bad. I won't tell my kids that being gay is a big rainbow Disneyland A-ticket ride. But then I won't tell them that it's inherently evil and wrong either. This will not set well with some, but there you are.

Oh and I wish whichever gay organization attacked the Boy Scouts would leave them the hell alone, just like PETA should leave kids fishing on the local pier alone. Yes, Miss Natalie Merchant, if I'm beating my kid in a grocery store, you can come up, stop me, and sing your sanctimonious little ditty, and I'd deserve it. But, don't force my kid to read "Beeboo Has Two Mommies" or scream at them that meat is murder. It's hard enough to get them to eat right in the first place. Crikey.


Anonymous said...

I knew the day would come when I'd disagree with you enough to comment. So here it is.

I agree that your use of the term "normal" by definition is correct. But don't you think that "normal" also has moral connotations to it? Most would list antonyms like strange, weird, or abnormal. I think more appropriate synonmys would be conventional, standard, regular, etc.

I agree absolutely that parents are the best judges of when their children learn about the birds and bees. And yes, children definitely change the rules. But this recent brouhaha over the Buster show where they visited a family with two moms was overblown, imho. After all, kids see conventional married couples all the time. Does that mean they're exposed to sex? Of course not. Cannot the same be said about gay couples? (Sleemoth)

Yahmdallah said...

I don't think the automatic antonym for "normal" is "abnormal" (Microsoft Word's Thesaurus suggestions aside). Therefore, to say something's not normal is not to automatically say it's bad - which I hope I conveyed in my post, but if I didn't, there you have it. "Normal" can be used as a moral judgment of course, but that's precisely what I'm not doing.

Homosexuality is normal in the sense that for the person who's gay, sexual attraction centers on their same gender, and the concept of having sex with the opposite gender is abnormal - in the true sense of that word.

In the larger context of all sexuality, homosexuality is not normal. Just as being born an albino in any human race is not normal. Is being an albino bad because it's not normal? No, it's just not normal. Well, maybe the exorbitant sunscreen bills aren't good, but otherwise...

Now, as for Buster, yeah sorta. The episode appeared innocuous enough in the descriptions I read, but did it go so far as to qualify the relationship as something other than just roommates? I have to ask because apparently either it didn't air or only aired once or so. And if it did qualify the relationship as something more or outside of just friends or roommates, does that belong in a children's show? Because it forces the question: "Dad, what did they mean?" I don't wanna have to explain any sexuality, including homosexuality, to my 8 year old.

To be honest, I said "cartoon" because that was the latest example, but I was really thinking of a recent movie that sucked in its own right: "Good Boy." Outside of being a bad movie, it went to great lengths - including spelling it out in the credits - that the dog's owners were a gay couple. Here's a movie about a talking dog from outer space, yet we had to make a point that Muffin has two daddies. To me, that's forcing it down my throat, as it were.

Again, to get away from the stained topic of homosexuality, what if that same movie had been set in Utah in the communities that still practice polygamy? Imagine the scene where the one dog's owner shows up, along with his seven wives, one who's still clearly a teenager. Then in the credits it listed them all as Muffin's daddy and mommies. Would you comfortable with that?

If you are, that's fine. I am not. Therefore, I will complain when children's entertain tries to propagandize or evangelize my kids about adult sexuality.