Honestly, you know (as if you didn’t already) that gender binaries have gone too freaking far when we have a discussion at the Scarleteen boards where a young female user is informed by another young lesbian user — the former having suggested as much herself — that she couldn’t be straight, but instead must be queer, because she likes pretty, skinny, longhaired emo boys.
When I have to sit and explain that if a man identifies as a man — no matter how he chooses to present — and doesn’t feel HE is cross-dressing himself nor ID’s as a cross-dresser or as trans, he’s not a transvestite (which, FYI, is often defined by youth these days as simply a “feminine,” cisgendered man), and figuring you must be queer or gay because you’re attracted to him, rather than the Brawny man, is pretty messed up…well, bleh.
I mean, sure, I know I was a teen when cisgendered guys — who, stright, gay or otherwise, were all identifying very expressly as male, nor could figure why the way they liked to present even made that a question — wearing eyeliner was all the rage, but from all I can gather, it’s no more or less so, now. Their pop icons are wearing it just like ours were (though they often appear to be usuing much more powder to set their liner, and are awfully handy with the concealer): their emo boys aren’t that different from our punk and new wave guys. The majority? Not hardly, but most of those male-identified pretty dandies then and these boys now tended to argue pretty hard — especially with freaked-out parents — that they were not trying to be women or trying to dress like women: they were expressing themselves, as men. When even with our queer-minded, identifying-as-so-different youth are still coming to gender thinking it’s anyone’s place to decide someone else’s gender identity, things clearly aren’t as improved as we seem to want to think they are.
I do my homework: I’ve seen plenty of sound data that’s made clear that this youth generation overall has some pretty traditional ideas about gender — which often make very lousy bedfellows with a lot of queer theory — but this is just plain SILLY. If our queer youth community starts doing exactly what the status quo and traditionalists do (and I’ve seen this sort of thing more than this once) in terms of second-party gender assignment — he wore a skirt, therefore, he’s not really a guy, nor am I really attracted to men; she wears her hair short, therefore she’s not really a girl, so it’s not like I’m really attracted to women — we are in some SERIOUS trouble, people. And it’s not like it’s the fault of the thirteen-year-old in question for being so confused and so garbled in this: it’s the systems we have set up that are so freaking flawed, as well as the flaws in the systems — based on the existing flawed systems — we have set up to try and make life less uncomfortable for those stuck in them to blame here. Nothing like a barely-teen from Florida to illustrate all of this mess so concretely.
This disgruntled yawp was broadcast to you from the intersection of Queer Theory and Straight Culture, where there’s a 20-car pileup. And apparently some sort of time warp: this conversation feels like one already had in every fifth living room of a Stones or Bowie fan circe 1970.