I’m Not Your Bro, Bro

28 Apr

I wrote this for a kink-related forum thread a few months ago. I might phrase some stuff differently now, and I think I’ve made a little progress since, but I like this as a piece of writing, so I decided not to change it.


Disclaimer: I’m not ignoring the fact that a lot of people have it worse off than me, nor am I trying to claim that it’s somehow terrible to have privilege. I’m just reflecting on an aspect of privilege that kinda sucks. With that out of the way:

I can’t stand how my identity is co-opted by the rest of our culture.

I’m a heterosexual, white, culturally-upper-class (lower middle class family income, but I go to the U of C, so who am I kidding?), dominant, cisgendered man. I fit allll the stereotypes. This means I have a ton of privilege, which I don’t deny at all. But it also means that my identity can’t just be my identity, it becomes a direct part of the kyriarchy whether I want it to or not.

I want to be loud and proud about my dominant heterosexual cisgendered manliness. But I can’t, because all of society is already doing it for me. This post on Asexual Curiosities has it exactly right.

I’m constantly working this annoying balancing act between being myself, and avoiding reinforcing the kyriarchy as much as possible. I almost envy the people who get to be transgressive just by authentically being who they are. I’m sure it sucks to have everything you do be interpreted as a political act, but it also kinda sucks to have nothing you do be so interpreted.

Last year, I went to “Genderfuck”, which is a party based on screwing with gender presentation. I wore a dress and makeup, and I really enjoyed it, but not for any of the reasons someone else might. I don’t really like the way I look in a dress. Frankly, I’d wear jeans and black t-shirts my whole life if I could. But it was weirdly freeing to have a concrete thing to point to and say, “This. This is what I think of your goddamn gender norms, society.”

But, of course, even that has a limited impact. I’m a socially privileged person, so it gets written off as a weird thing that I do for fun, because I’m “being confident in my masculinity.” No, I’m not somehow fucking masculine (in the sense you mean it, at least) in a dress. My magic manly powers don’t protect me from the evil femininity I might otherwise get from dresses and makeup. I am being feminine today because I don’t give a flying fuck what you think of my gender presentation. It’s bad enough that my preferred presentation fits nicely into your transphobic, misogynistic narrative, can’t you at least let me be transgressive when I’m trying to be?

This even bleeds over into the ways in which I actually am transgressive. I recently tried to explain poly at a party, and I got a freaking fistbump for it…

Yes, because being poly means that I’m especially good at objectifying women and tricking them into sleeping with me. Thanks for the support, man. If I were a woman, at least I’d get called a slut for it, which frankly might have squicked me out less.

It’s the same with gender in the kink community. Yes, I’m a man, and yes, I’m a dom. No, you don’t get to assume the latter from the former. I hate that I can’t fully flaunt my domliness, because it would reinforce gender roles way too much for my comfort level. I think that’s honestly part of why I love kink so much. During a scene (and mayyyybe in certain safe social spaces) I can be my domly, male self without worrying about the political implications of everything I do. But the fact that people who accept society’s gender roles uncritically (of which there are many in the kink community) see me as an ally squicks me the fuck out.

I am not really sure what my ultimate point is. Half of it is just that I’ve wanted to rant about this for a while, and I guess maybe the other half is that I’m looking for advice? How do I balance politics and identity? How do we get to a point where we can reclaim things like cisgendered masculinity? Do I just need to shut up and get over it?


One Response to “I’m Not Your Bro, Bro”

  1. slightlymetaphysical May 2, 2011 at 2:28 am #

    I completely know where you’re coming from. I’ve always thought that transgressiveness in general, queer feminism, isn’t going to work unless we let straight guys have access to it. At the point when gender individualism is useful and sellable on the market of ideas, that’s the point at which it will truly spread.

    It’s partly because that sexist and heterosexist way of thinking of things has a habit of accepting and then warping that which it cannot change. So polyamory is understood as ‘cheating’ and ‘harems’ and kink becomes something inherently gendered, supporting all the assumptions of the observer. Even homosexuality, with ‘male’ and ‘female’ roles, doesn’t get to not be heteronormative.

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