Sticks and Stones may break…
In the second stanza of her poem “The Women Who Hate Me” Dorothy Allison writes…
God on their right shoulder
righteousness on their left,
the women who hate me never use words
like hate speak instead of nature
of the spirit not housed in the flesh
as if my body, a temple of sin,
didn’t mirror their own.
Their measured careful words echo
earlier coarser stuff say
What do you think you’re doing?
Who do you think you are?
no good to anybody, never did diddlyshit anyway.
You figured out yet who you an’t gonna be?
Words, labels, sticks, stones…
Labels of course lead to stigma – a word that means branding and shame. And stigma leads to discrimination. And separation and hate – labels are a violent language.
So why within the LGBTQ (uvwxy and z…) do we spend so much time with labels. In toodling around the internet I discovered a blog which attempted to define just a few of the labels used within the lesbian community. They included –
High Maintenance Femme
(why no Mommy? oops I digress)
Old School Butch
Hasbian (seems so cynical why not ‘willbeagain’ I mean what would you rather be?!)
and the labels were defined and I guess designed to be helpful. But to whom? It boggles my mind how one who is marginalized and stigmatized by the community at large. A.K.A. anyone who is LGBTQ can turn around and label, marginalize and stigmatize one another.
I guess you behave in accordance with what you know. Pass it on.
I once had a friend refer to me as a “lipstick lesbian” which frankly offended me as I was wearing lip gloss at the time (specifically my MAC Cosmetics Viva Glam) but what would she know? The granola dyke never got out of her Birkenstocks long enough to look at a fashion magazine, much less retire her high waisted jeans.
And on another ocassion I can recall watching some beautiful young lesbians dancing at a concert, when I said “they look like they’re having fun”. Out growled something about “oh yeah, I saw the baby dykes”. Her remarks struck me as demeaning and demoralizing. Frankly they looked like baby femmes to me, not a flannel shirt was in the crowd, no one sported a wallet on a chain.
There is humor that stereotypes and there is humor about stereotypes. I am attempting the later but I am not as cute as Sarah Silverman so perhaps I won’t get away with it.
Let’s start the human pride movement – one where we each embrace our similarities instead of label our differences.