The ‘Friendzone’

When I was 8 years old, a boy I was friends with asked me out. I turned him down.

He was sad, and I was sympathetic, but I’d made my decision.

Fairly run of the mill occurrence. What get’s me about this however, is the way my classmates responded. I mean, they might as well have said “Josie, who the hell do you think you are to reject him like that!”. They kept telling me how I’d “hurt his feelings”, they called me names and, I’ll never forget this, a couple of the girls came up to me and told me to “Just go out with him anyway, it doesn’t matter if you want to or not. Don’t you want him to be happy again?”

Age 8, and I was already being told to prioritize his feelings over my right to say no.

I missed hanging out with him, and I wondered why he couldn’t just be my friend like he was before.

This pretty much set the tone for my friendships with boys from that point onwards.

When I was 13 I befriended a nice, quiet boy. He listened to my ideas and asked me how my day went. Everyone would tease him and I for talking in lessons, loudly asking him whether we were going out, whether we’d kissed. He then promptly stopped being my friend.

When I was in my mid-teens, I was bullied at school. Around that time I was friends with a boy who was into all of the ‘uncool’ stuff I was into like politics and history etc. He made his crush on me known, and I laughed it off. After that, he didn’t speak to me and instead decided to cheer the bullying on.

I thought we were friends, but then again, how many times had I thought that before?

A little while later, I befriended the ‘new kid’, who was just as much of an outcast as I was. We bonded over our unpopularity, our sense of humour and our shared love of Ms Elia’s English lit class. He admitted that he “liked me”, and I told him I was gay. He then tried to guilt-trip me, complaining to me at-length about how nice guy’s like him “never get laid”. I wondered, if he was so nice, why would he say such unkind things?

And that brings me to present day. Sixth form. On the spectrum, just like me. Giggly and sweet, and he was always fun to talk to.

I thought we were friends, but then again, how many times had I thought that before? How many times had I bonded with a guy, felt like he truly understood me, only for him to make advances and react with such cruelty after I turned him down?

Same pattern, only this time decided to troll me on the internet.

When I meet men who talk about the friendzone, who speak so disparagingly of the girls who ‘just don’t give them a chance’, I think of this:

I knew a girl who was electric. Whose voice carried this effortless reassurance. Who had this way of making me both weak-at-the-knees and oddly calm at the same time. And, soon enough, I realized that whatever feelings I had for her were unrequited.

However, my first thought upon this realisation was not: “what a bitch!”, or “Why doesn’t she want a nice girl like me?”. It was instead one of acceptance and wanting to preserve our friendship.

So before you play the victim, before you berate the girl you claim to adore so much, think about how she feels. She thought she made a friend who was interested in her for her sense of humour, for the conversations you share, only to find out that you only wanted her for sex. Wanted her for a relationship. Wanted her as an object of pursuit, a prize.

And honestly, if you really valued her friendship, you wouldn’t feel entitled to any more than that. You would do anything not to lose the trust she had in you.

She didn’t friendzone you, you friendzoned yourself.

‘Call out culture’: the case of ableist language

Feminist Philosophers

Asam Ahmad has written a wonderful article on the increasing prevalence of ‘call out culture’ in progressive circles (especially online ones):

Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and language use by others. People can be called out for statements and actions that are sexist, racist, ableist, and the list goes on. Because call-outs tend to be public, they can enable a particularly armchair and academic brand of activism: one in which the act of calling out is seen as an end in itself.

What makes call-out culture so toxic is not necessarily its frequency so much as the nature and performance of the call-out itself. Especially in online venues like Twitter and Facebook, calling someone out isn’t just a private interaction between two individuals: it’s a public performance where people can demonstrate their wit…

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Bi Erasure and The Diary of a Young Girl

Be Young & Shut Up

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March is Bisexual Health Awareness Month. It’s very possible you didn’t know that! Which is one of the reasons this designated month is so important. Bisexuals are without a doubt the least visible and considered “letter” within LGBTQ, and their specific issues are often even more ignored. This apathy towards bisexual lives contributes to a suite of health problems, including a higher rate of substance use and abuse, higher incidences of mental health issues, and even higher rates of cancer and heart problems. Bisexuals are more able than gays and lesbians to be in socially accepted relationships, but they face the same closeting pressure to suppress their sexual identity and deny a part of themselves. And thanks to heteronormativity, their heterosexual activity is used as an excuse to erase their bisexual identity. To that end, it’s crucial to raise awareness not simply of bisexual health, but of bisexuality itself.

As…

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The Heteronormative test!

Greetings, Dialecticbitches! Are you heteronormative? Find out with this FUN QUIZ!

All you have to do for each question is decide which picture shows a romantic relationship, and which shows a platonic one. Let’s go!

Question 1)

A
A
B
B

Question 2)

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A
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B

Question 3)

A
A
B
B

Question 4)

A
A
B
B

 

If you answered mostly B’s, congratulations, you are not heteronormative!

If you answered mostly A’s, congratulations, you ARE heteronormative! You may now take your job at the daily mail.

Don’t believe me? The following are captions from the daily mail’s gossip pages, judging the affection displayed by each of the pairings:

1) Pic A  Finally some couple time: Rob and Kristen catch up in the back of their chauffeur driven car”

1) Pic B “Kristen Stewart held hands with her live-in gal pal Alicia Cargile outside a bookstore in downtown Los Angeles last Saturday”

‘Live-in Gal Pals’? Who hold hands? Really?!

 

Okay,  2) Pic A “ PDA fest: lovebirds Kendall and Harry… getting very close, confirming they are far more than friends.”

Not exactly a ‘PDA fest’, though, is it. I think the term you were looking for is ‘hostage situation’ :P… to quote Harry’s sister

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LOL. #GemmaIsTheBetterStyles

2) Pic B “Hug it out: The former X Factor star was also spotted giving a friend a hug while sporting his two-tone shorts”

umm… I wouldn’t really describe that as a hug. ‘Tender embrace’ is perhaps more accurate. Or even “PDA fest”, as you so wrongly attributed to the picture before. But potato tomato 😉

 

Moving on, 3) Pic A  “Hush hush: Despite being pictured together, the reported couple are keeping their romance under the radar”

Oh, so apparently all you have to do to be considered a “romance” is get “pictured together”. So if that’s the case, you guys must think this next picture is the ROMANCE OF THE CENTURY…

 

3) Pic B “Cara appeared a bit concerned as she eyed her friend”

Her ‘FRIEND’! asdfghjkl;’!!1 When was the last time you TONGUED one of your friends?

 

4) Pic A “Short romance: Last August, Conor was seen spending time in Hyannis Port with then-girlfriend Taylor Swift”

Yeah, I bet it was a “short romance”, given that it looks like they can’t stand the sight of each other…

 

And 4) Pic B “Ladies who party: Karlie Kloss and Taylor Swift showed off their close friendship during Harry Josh’s pre-Met Ball party in New York City on Saturday night”

You were very quick to get the words “close friendship” in there, weren’t you? Had to explain that one away verrrry quickly. I wonder why that is?

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So why did I collate these picture captions? This is not meant as speculation on the sexuality of any of the above celebrities (although I deliberately chose them in particular as their sexuality is sort of up in the air at the moment (although Cara is widely seen as bisexual, despite never having actually said those words). My intent is not to ‘out’ famous people, instead I want to talk about the mentality behind those picture captions and how in a broader sense they are indicative of the assumptions we all make.

Now you may have noticed that in each of the captions above, the main judgement criteria of the person writing them as to whether the people shown are “loved up” or “BFFs” comes down to one thing. GENDER. Rather than looking at the actual levels of affection displayed between the two (as in my opinion each of the same-sex pairings look more affectionate than the opposite-sex pairings), they automatically conclude that man + woman = banging; woman + woman = THEY’RE SUCH GOOD FRIENDS, RIIIGHT!1!

This is what is commonly referred to as heteronormativity.

So what is heteronormativity? Heteronormativity is assuming that everyone is straight, unless proven otherwise. It’s that people will view a man and a woman next to each other as obviously romantic, whereas if it’s two people of the same sex then it’s often rationalized as them just being friends.

As a point of reference, let’s look back at the sort of captions a (formerly) closeted person used to get before she came out…

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“Cute couple: Ellen and Alexander were spotted arriving back at Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday” (x)

YOU CAN JUST SEE THE LOVE THERE, CAN’T YOU?! 😛

Meanwhile…

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The Daily Mail didn’t report on this picture, however the queer-girl website afterellen.com were quick to refer to this kiss as a “Clever publicity ploy”. It’s refreshing to see that not only can straight publications can make gendered assumptions about relationships, but now gay girls can do it too! YAY! 😦

 

Fortunately, queer celebrities are starting to fight back against this, and thus challenging all of us to question why we think in the narrow and constricting way that we do. For instance, rapper Angel Haze called out the media for referring to their girlfriend as a ‘friend’, saying “we fuck and friends don’t fuck”. Preach.

Lady Gaga has also deftly taken down the heteronormative assumption that her bisexual identity is just a publicity stunt when she told her critics “It’s not a lie that I am bisexual and anyone [who thinks] ‘she just says she’s bisexual for marketing’… this is who I am and who I have always been.”

Hopefully, if celebrities keep challenging the double standard in the way that they are portrayed, and we can in turn become more aware of our own heteronormative assumptions, perhaps one day we will determine whether people are a couple based on the love and affection they show, rather than on their gender.

The Inked Feminist: Body Mods and the Ownership of Self

As a (recently) tattooed girl I can so relate to this 🙂 check out bunnika.wordpress.com x

bunnika's blog

While I was at work the other day, a customer commented to their companion that I have several tattoos. This isn’t something particularly surprising to hear someone note, and I’m not bothered by it on its own merits. Still, there’s something disconcerting about the way a tattooed woman is treated, versus a tattooed man.

First, there is simply the fact that being “brazenly ogled” as my one friend put it is, in and of itself, a different experience for a woman than it is for a man. Women’s bodies are under constant scrutiny that men’s bodies aren’t forced to endure, and thus it gives the exaggerated scrutiny of visible ink a more sinister undertone. If an inch of tattoo peeks out from under our clothing, we’re subjected to judgments of how “unladylike” it is to have a tattoo in such a private area. Yet, this does not stop onlookers from…

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5 Reasons why I Don’t Fucking Care About The Word ‘Manwhore’.

So this happened. This happened a lot.

I decided to call someone out on his use of the word “slut”. I was met with resistance.

Generally, I’m willing to be diplomatic in these situations. I’m willing to open up a conversation about double standards, about a cultural context of men policing women’s sexuality and more generally, about why he feels like somebody else’s private and consensual sexual behaviour is any of his fucking business in the first place.

So we chatted. He’s nice. However, I can’t help but lose my patience when somebody plays this card.

“It has nothing to do with sexism, after all, guys get called ‘manwhores’

I’m sorry but no.

No no no.

Sashay_Away

You honestly cannot compare the two.

Of course men can be shamed for their (real or perceived) sexual behaviour, but it’s never with the same malice as it is for women.

The word “manwhore” never sticks to a man in the same way the “slut” label will stick to a woman. The word manwhore is innocuous. You could compare it to gay people using the word ‘breeder’ as a derogatory term for straight people, or even to black people saying that white people can’t dance. None of that means that there’s a problem of “heterophobia” or “reverse racism”, and similarly the occasional flippant use of the word “manwhore” doesn’t mean that there is a problem of slut-shaming against men.

Furthermore you can’t erase sexism from the conversation, because the “slut” label is not just applied to women who have many sexual partners. It’s also applied to women who wear certain clothes, wear a lot of make up, flirt a lot, hang out with mostly guys… the list is endless. I think most women will have had some experience with the word, irrespective of their sexual behaviour. It seems the only criteria for being called a slut is being female.

“Manwhore” is also not used within a context of male entitlement to women’s bodies, the way “slut” is. It is due to this entitlement that we as a culture feel like we get a say in what women do with their bodies. There are countless examples of slut-shaming out of paternalistic concern about women’s sexual freedom, for instance the media’s reaction to Josie Cunnungham’s decision to have an abortion. The Sun’s pious fearmongering about the sexual freedom of ‘Magaluf Girl’ whilst casually ignoring the men involved. Not to be outdone, it can even be seen within feminist circles. And ultimately, it was seen when a police officer said that women who don’t want to be raped should “avoid dressing like sluts”. That’s where this leads with women.

Slut shaming against men isn’t used in a way that justifies sexual assault. Slut shaming against men doesn’t carry an undertone of anyone can do anything they want to a man’s body without his permission, because he was “asking for it” by being so slutty. The word “manwhore” would rarely be used against male survivors of sexual violence, whereas slut-shaming is widespread against women and trans* women post-sexual assault.

Finally, I don’t fucking care about the word “manwhore” simply because promiscuity doesn’t have the same negative connotations for men. Accusing a man of being promiscuous is more likely seen as a good thing. It’s more likely that he would be labelled a ‘stud’, a ‘playboy’, a ‘ladies’ man’, rather than a “manwhore”.

Of course that doesn’t mean men will always hear it as a compliment, but the comparison is flawed. The word “manwhore” is never going to have the same power over men as “slut” has over women, simply because this “slut/stud” double standard refuses to die. That’s why I don’t fucking care. Peace x

How being a bit of a one direction fan has empowered me. Or something.

I would like to start this post with an apology. My aim in writing this blog is to amplify marginalized voices. One Direction, I acknowledge, with their millions of twitter followers and their every utterance subject to intense scrutiny, are possibly the LEAST MARGINALIZED VOICES on the planet. Yet I wanna talk about my experiences of being a fan and how this has to some degree enabled me to move on from the isolation I felt growing up.

Growing up as a closeted gay girl, you kind of don’t have the boy band posters on your wall. Friends of mine would read magazines and gossip about the boys in McFly or whatever that they had crushes on, and I could never join in. I felt completely alienated from that. For that reason, boy bands became symbolic of everything I felt I was missing out on, and thus I could never enjoy their music. I used to roll my eyes at the girls screaming at their concerts and feel like I was so much better than them. I used to ruthlessly tease a friend of mine who liked Justin Beiber. I would drown out the sounds of the Jonas Brothers by listening to Lady Gaga on my Ipod.

 

And then these idiots came along.

onesie

These 4 northern (+ one Irish) lads who have found fame and decided to run with it are the first boy band I’ve ever allowed myself to like. Suddenly, it wasn’t all about having a crush on them. Even though obviously lots of girls do, with One Direction it’s more about loving the cheesy dance routines and camp music videos and stupid jokes.

cute as a button

Finally letting a boy band into my heart has been cathartic for me and enabled me to deal with those feelings of isolation I used to have from not fancying boys. (Even though I might have some conflicting bicurious feelings about Zayn when dressed as a woman in the video for ‘Best Song Ever’.)

hot damn

HOT DAMN.

Anyways, it seems like they love me too, as the boys have always made an effort to be inclusive to the queer fandom.

happy pride

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who doesn't

Moreover, Harry has even had a bit of a feminist awakening lately, supporting Emma Watson’s He for She campaign which encourages men to break their silence surrounding gender inequality.

feminist harry styles

(Also, he has great hair, and having great hair is really important when you’re a feminist. Trust me, I would know.)

photo (1)#Iwokeuplikethis.


In all seriousness, being a One Direction fan has been empowering for me because it has enabled me to get over my boy band hating which at the end of the day, was just a product of internalized homophobia. I can be queer and love this boy band and at the end of the day, I know that both of those things are okay. One Direction, Dialecticbitch salutes you 🙂