With all the discrimination coming at us, from so many different angles, I thought I’d take a look at some of the most damning discrimination we face. That within our own community.
A stereotype is defined as a ‘widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.
But where do stereotypes come from? Within ourselves. When a group of people do the same thing enough times, it becomes the acceptable norm for that group. At some point, the majority of lesbians had to wear flannel, cargo shorts, and Birkenstocks. That was what was acceptable in our community at that point in time.
Just as the media creates stereotypes in the African American community by celebrating the ones that commit crimes, we’ve perpetuated our own stereotypes.
To all of my lesbian readers, I’m sure you know what the butch-femme continuum is, but to those of you that don’t, here’s a link, and my Clif Notes version:
Now, the Butch-Femme Continuum is nothing more than a scale used to categorize the lesbian community. I myself, am a Soft Butch. Meaning I look and dress like a guy, but I’m not a tough, truck-driver type of woman. There are other qualities that follow that, but basically, you’re a femme if you look like a girl, and a butch if you look like a guy.
We categorize ourselves. We create these stereotypes and expectations that we force our own community to live by. How can we be upset at others for creating stereotypes when we do it to ourselves? They’re simply taking what we perpetuate and giving it publicity.
As if it’s not hard enough already for teens to come out of the closet, lesbian teens also have to figure out that not only are they homosexual, but they now have to figure out what category the lesbian community will place them in. We talk about carrying our ‘butch card’ and all this other…bullshit, honestly…and then get pissed off when a heterosexual makes a comment about lesbians and faux hawks.
And that’s just half of it. We not only perpetuate stereotypes, but we discriminate within our own community. If you are a homosexual, take a moment to think about something. How do you feel about bisexuals? Or the transgender community? Are they just freaks whom we need to distance ourselves from in our effort for equality? Are they just confused individuals? If you can’t embrace everyone the same, then what makes you deserve ‘equality’? Why do we deserve same-sex marriage when transgender teens are killing themselves over the cruel punishment they face in society over something they had no choice in?
Bisexuals are no more confused than I am when I’m trying to figure out what pasta I want from Olive Garden. Transgenders don’t need to accept the body they’re given because some unseen deity screwed up when handing out crotches.
And attraction has nothing to do with stereotypes. I dress in men’s clothing and have short hair and strut instead of prance because that’s what makes me feel comfortable. Not because that gives me a higher score on some imaginary scale or because I need to fulfill a stereotype to make me fit in. I have the things I’m attracted in, and over the years, I’ve dated women of all shapes and sizes. When asked what my ‘type’ is, I can honestly say I don’t have one. Eyes and smile get me first. Everything else just adds to it.
All our lives we categorize everything around us. And we learn it at a young age. Mom and dad tell us to pick up our toys, and give us a place to put those toys. A place for everything and everything in its place. We carry that with us through our lives. It’s easier to handle things when we can put them in a category, and tuck them away into a compartment in our mind of how things are supposed to be.
I say we upset that balance. We upset that categorizing that has come to rule so many aspects of our lives. Stop labeling, stop categorizing, and you’ll see there’s nothing left to stereotype. Because when it all comes down to the end, we are human, and if you line enough of us up, you’ll see the only real difference between us is what’s inside.
So the next time you participate in a march for equality, ask yourself, are you really marching for everyone’s equality? Or just your own? Stop stereotyping, and just be.