Wow. So I haven’t done this in a while. It’s been over six months since my last blog post in which I reviewed my trip to our nation’s capital. Unfortunately, my life got a little chaotic and I just never finished the rest of my review. Seeing as how that was way back in January, I think I’m just going to cut my losses and move on to something else. Nevertheless, my absence has been a long one so I apologize to anyone who actually gave a crap (I’m looking at you, Adele). In the last six months, my relationship of two years and eight months ended, I got accepted into graduate school at CUNY Brooklyn College, completed my third Poetry Month 30/30 in four years and have started recording with my bandmate, Dylan. Since January, there has been a lot that I’ve wanted to talk about: race issues, the riots in Baltimore, friendships, romantic relationships, Caitlyn Jenner, etc. While I’m sure I’ll write about one of those eventually, today, I’m gonna go in a different direction: sexism/homophobia.
As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I’m a Latino from Gravesend, Brooklyn, New York who mostly grew up in the ‘90s and ‘00s. As such, I was raised in a very macho/hyper-masculine environment where the tougher you were, the stronger you were, the more women you had sex with, the more you were an authoritarian, the cooler you were or you were more of a man. Because of that, for most of my life, I’ve heard and used two ordinary and completely normal things as major insults: homosexuality and being a woman/girl.
I sincerely can’t remember a time when I hadn’t heard words like “homo,” “faggot,” “queer,” “marica” (Spanish for “faggot”), “lady,” “little girl,” “bitch,” weren’t used as jabs at friends or enemies. I’ve done it, I’ve had it done to me, and I’ve even heard females do it. I have regularly heard women tell guys to “stop acting like such a little girl” or something along those lines. However, I don’t recall ever hearing a gay/bi person tell someone to “stop being such a faggot,” other than in a playful way to another gay/bi person.
If you look at the history of many countries and cultures around the world and how they treat women and those who are not heterosexual, it’s no surprise as to why they were used as insults. Here in the great ol’ U.S. of A., women were given the right to vote until 1919/1920 (passed in 1919, ratified in 1920), women get paid less to do the same job as men, and gay marriage is still illegal in over 10 of our states with most states only making same-sex marriage permissible within the last decade. These are two groups of people who have been treated as being inferior (I don’t wanna imagine how challenging it might be to be a gay black woman of any faith other than Christian).
Okay, so we know how women and non-heterosexual people have been treated in the past. It’s 2015 and we should be over this nonsense, right? Well, luckily, we’ve made great strides over the last few years and more women are being treated as equals and more individuals are viewing women as equals and acknowledging the discrimination and double standards that society has imposed on women. Things that were once deemed completely normal and accepted (such as harassing a woman on the street, pressuring women to wear makeup or adhere to a certain image, demeaning women who explore their sexuality as freely as men have been allowed to do) are now being ostracized by the greater majority.
Now, if you ask me, I very adamantly believe that using womanhood and sexuality as insults is a massive demonstration of insecurity by those who use them (particularly when used by straight men). I think people who use being a woman or being gay as a shot at somebody, are afraid of ever being called one of those groups or being thought of or being identified as one those groups. For a long time, I fell into that group.
Once, not too long ago, someone called me a girl or something like that and I got offended and insulted them in return. My girlfriend-at-the-time asked me “why do you care?” to which I responded with “because I’m not a girl.” She asked me what was wrong with being a girl. I told her nothing. She asked me why it bothered me then. At the time, I said “because I’m not a girl. There’s nothing wrong with being a girl, but I’m not one, and I don’t like being called something that I’m not.”
On some level, I think I meant that. However, when I think about it now, I ask myself, why did I get bothered? I know some of you might be thinking that I was offended because I secretly view women or gay people to be inferior to straight men, but you’d be wrong. I stand firm that I don’t and never have thought there was anything wrong with being a woman of being anything other than heterosexual. Shit, there have been times where I’ve envied women and questioned my sexuality. I’m secure enough in my sexuality and masculinity that I can say that without giving a flying fuck. Yet, I used to be offended. Why? The answer is so simple, so simple it’s dumb.
I was offended because I accepted those words as insults.
“Huh? What are you talking about?”
Words only mean what we want them to mean and they only have whatever effect we let them. While I didn’t and don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a woman or being gay or bi or transgender or whatever else, I accepted that those are insults and viewed those words in that context as such, allowing myself to be offended by something that I don’t actually find offensive at all. Even this past week, whenever I’ve been called a “lady” or a “faggot,” I would respond with just saying “whatever” or “fuck off” or something like that as to not defend something that need not be defended. But even that is the wrong approach. So, from now on, when someone calls me a “little girl” or “queer,” I’m just going to say “umm, okay?” or better yet, “okay, and you’re a shoe. What do I mean? I don’t know, I thought we were just calling each other random things.”
Whether you’re gay or bi or trans or asexual or however else you wanna identity yourself, you’re a person, not an insult. And women are awesome (when they’re not driving me insane or breaking my heart) because if nothing else, they give birth to us. That’s like an automatic trump card. “You’re a woman! You’re weak! I make more money than you!” “I GIVE LIFE! GOML!” Pft. Game. Just sayin.