The label "queer", when used by heteroromantic and/or aromantic asexuals, greys, and demis

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How do you feel about heteronormative aces using the label "queer" for themselves?

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14% 14% 
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8% 8% 
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14% 14% 
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3% 3% 
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Total Votes : 36

The label "queer", when used by heteroromantic and/or aromantic asexuals, greys, and demis

Post by Aisling on Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:03 pm

The poll is multiple-choice-allowing, never-ending, and permits vote changes and cancellations.

Okay, folks, this is a situation that has bugged me to no end: "Queer."

This term was used quite a long time as a derogatory, vicious slur against people who
a) have relationships with people visibly the same body-presented sex as themselves (homosexuals/romantics and/or polysexuals/romantics)
b) cross-dress or undergo medical sex change procedures and treatments (transsexual and/or any of the cross-dressing subcultures)
c) have traits or behaviours that, intentionally or unintentionally, differ from the societal standard for how somebody with their body type should look or act (transgender, genderfluid, and/or genderqueer, etc.)

In all of theses cases, the heteronormative boundaries of society are being transgressed. Somebody is displaying a physical or social behaviour or appearance that is actively in opposition to the social standards
a) that Man and Woman are the only genders,
b)that a person should display with their clothing, actions, and body the sex they were assigned at birth and the social gender role they fill,
and
c) that non-platonic relationships should only occur between a cisman and a ciswoman.

The people who were historically subjected to this slur were, over time, able to reclaim it and use it as a declaration of identity. Yes, it still gets used with unkind effect by bigoted individuals... but the people subjected to it are now able as individuals and as a group to face down the slur and react to it as though it is a simple statement of a familiar and long-acknowledged fact, not an offensive term. It takes the power to give offense out of the hands of the offender, and it puts the power to retain personal dignity back into the hands of the one who is harassed.

So... what about asexuals? Yes, there are aces who fit very firmly in one of the above "definitively queer" categories. There is no question that a homoromantic ace can use the label 'queer' without it being offensive. Why not? Well, if this ace is seen in public with their Significant Other, then whether or not any sexual interactions have occurred between them, they are publicly engaging in behaviour that is in transgression of the heteronormative social standard... and they could be harassed for it. They clearly have the right to use the reclaimed label for themselves.

On the other hand, suppose an heteroromantic ace is with their Significant Other, or an aromantic ace is out in public with anybody at all. In this situation, no behaviour is being displayed that transgresses the heteronormative social standard. This ace is not subject to the possibility of being harassed for their actions. In theory, the term "queer" would never be used by a stranger as a slur against the ace.

"Queer" and "Straight" are accepted as polarized opposites nowadays, and for the longest time, "straight" has simply meant "cissexual and heterosexual", and even potentially "transsexual who passes very well, and is heterosexual".
Now some groups in the GSM community are pushing for it to be the norm that "straight" is inclusive of anybody whose outward behaviour is not in transgression of the heteronormative social standard, i.e. anybody who isn't seen "canoodling around with folk of the same body-presented sex" and who at least appears to be cissexual and subscribing to the social standards for their binary-gender roles.

By this definition, the degree to which a person might be potentially harassed and oppressed becomes the degree of their right to claim "queer" as an identity or not.

Where does this leave bi- and other polysexual/romantic individuals, if they are only ever seen with a "binary opposite sex" Significant Other, and if nothing about their dress, body, or behaviour indicates anything other than "straight"?
Until such a time as they publicly behave non-binarily or associate with a same-sex person... do they have the right to self-qualify as "queer?"

Does qualifying yourself as ace and/or aromantic automatically qualify you to call yourself Queer? What about if you identify as grey- or demi- sexual/romantic? Is there a line in there somewhere, that once you cross it into outwardly verisexual and veriromantic behaviours, you stop being Queer and become Straight, like a demi- or other grey getting into a hetero-apparent relationship?

How about nonsexuals, nonromantics, semi- sexuals/romantics? Their labels are there because they have a weaker drive for sex or romance... but not necessarily less attraction. Do they get to use the Queer label, too, even if they are dating a person on the gender-binary opposite from them?

Yes, asexuality and nonsexuality can both be pathologized by the medical community... but when you are just walking around the shopping mall, they don't directly put you at risk to be beaten to a pulp in the parking lot. If a hate-crime is perpetrated on your person... it's almost incomprehensible that it would be because of your lack of libido or attraction to people in general. If anything, it would be because the attackers assume you are homosexual, and just not dating anybody in any visible way.

At what point does it become unfair for a person to claim queerness for themselves, and it becomes appropriation of a term they don't have a right to use?

At what point does it become unfair identity-policing for members of LGBT to chew out people who aren't LGBT... but who may or may not be on the ace spectrum?

Is it ever okay or right or permissible for one minority group to tell an even-smaller minority group that they aren't allowed to call themselves something?
Is it ever okay or right or permissible for one minority group to use a term for themselves that another group considers their own, and offensive to be used by others?
Can you own a label?
Can you enforce compliance of appropriate labeling without comprehensively fracturing all alliance between communities?

I know many folk here already know parts of my views on this matter, but I will personally refrain from voting or responding to my own questions until a few other people have posted.
Please know that I take this topic very seriously, and that the answers given may have bearing on whether or not I keep the current on-site dictionary definitions for Queer and Straight.
Thank you.



Last edited by Tegid on Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: The label "queer", when used by heteroromantic and/or aromantic asexuals, greys, and demis

Post by mel on Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:36 pm

Tegid wrote:The poll is multiple-choice-allowing, never-ending, and permits vote changes and cancellations.

Okay, folks, this is a situation that has bugged me to no end: "Queer."

This term was used quite a long time as a derogatory, vicious slur against people who
a) have relationships with people visibly the same body-presented sex as themselves (homosexuals/romantics and/or polysexuals/romantics)
b) cross-dress or undergo medical sex change procedures and treatments (transsexual and/or any of the cross-dressing subcultures)
c) have traits or behaviours that, intentionally or unintentionally, differ from the societal standard for how somebody with their body type should look or act (transgender, genderfluid, and/or genderqueer, etc.)

In all of theses cases, the heteronormative boundaries of society are being transgressed. Somebody is displaying a physical or social behaviour or appearance that is actively in opposition to the social standards
a) that Man and Woman are the only genders,
b)that a person should display with their clothing, actions, and body the sex they were assigned at birth and the social gender role they fill,
and
c) that non-platonic relationships should only occur between a cisman and a ciswoman.

The people who were historically subjected to this slur were, over time, able to reclaim it and use it as a declaration of identity. Yes, it still gets used with unkind effect by bigoted individuals... but the people subjected to it are now able as individuals and as a group to face down the slur and react to it as though it is a simple statement of a familiar and long-acknowledged fact, not an offensive term. It takes the power to give offense out of the hands of the offender, and it puts the power to retain personal dignity back into the hands of the one who is harassed.

At some point, it also arguably crossed into usage as an umbrella term for GSMs. Whether this was the intention or a quirk of usage remains up for debate. I'll set this aside for now and possibly come back to it later, just wanted to mark that possibility here.

Tegid wrote:So... what about asexuals? Yes, there are aces who fit very firmly in one of the above "definitively queer" categories. There is no question that a homoromantic ace can use the label 'queer' without it being offensive. Why not? Well, if this ace is seen in public with their Significant Other, then whether or not any sexual interactions have occurred between them, they are publicly engaging in behaviour that is in transgression of the heteronormative social standard... and they could be harassed for it. They clearly have the right to use the reclaimed label for themselves.

On the other hand, suppose an heteroromantic ace is with their Significant Other, or an aromantic ace is out in public with anybody at all. In this situation, no behaviour is being displayed that transgresses the heteronormative social standard. This ace is not subject to the possibility of being harassed for their actions. In theory, the term "queer" would never be used by a stranger as a slur against the ace.

I'm responding here to your second paragraph only, the first is more or less self-evident. While you may be right that the behavior of simply being out in public with somebody does not transgress the heteronormative social standard, that doesn't mean that these aces, by virtue of being ace, aren't being pegged as and harassed for noncompliance with heteronormative standards for sexual conduct. Many hetero!aces who present as women do not meet social standards for sexual availability, hetero!aces who present as men do not conform to extremely rigid standards of heteronormative sexual aggression which are necessary to be classified as "real men".

There are, quite simply, a large number of hetero!aces who cannot "pass" (at least when they are not in a relationship) as heteronormative. I imagine the same is true for some aromantic aces (in fact, I know an aromantic ace that is constantly read as being gay because of their close relationship to another person that appears to present as the same gender, regardless of the fact that the relationship is neither sexual nor romantic).

With all of this said, for reasons I should make clear a bit further down the post, I am very uncomfortable with defining "straightness" or "queerness" in terms of social perception of behavior anyway. This brings us into frightfully hazy territory.

Tegid wrote:"Queer" and "Straight" are accepted as polarized opposites nowadays, and for the longest time, "straight" has simply meant "cissexual and heterosexual", and even potentially "transsexual who passes very well, and is heterosexual".
Now some groups in the GSM community are pushing for it to be the norm that "straight" is inclusive of anybody whose outward behaviour is not in transgression of the heteronormative social standard, i.e. anybody who isn't seen "canoodling around with folk of the same body-presented sex" and who at least appears to be cissexual and subscribing to the social standards for their binary-gender roles.

By this definition, the degree to which a person might be potentially harassed and oppressed becomes the degree of their right to claim "queer" as an identity or not.

Where does this leave bi- and other polysexual/romantic individuals, if they are only ever seen with a "binary opposite sex" Significant Other, and if nothing about their dress, body, or behaviour indicates anything other than "straight"?
Until such a time as they publicly behave non-binarily or associate with a same-sex person... do they have the right to self-qualify as "queer?"

By this definition, while grocery shopping alone, if their dress or behavior does not indicate otherwise, an openly gay man or lesbian is not queer. I mean, how do we determine how OFTEN a person needs to be "seen canoodling around with folk fo the same body-presented sex" in order to magically qualify as behaviorally "queer enough"? I mean, this would leave single homosexuals out in the cold as well, unless they frequently leave the house wearing their rainbow trousers. At this point, it isn't just bi- and other polysexual/romantic individuals, but literally anyone in the "definitively queer" spectrum who can ever for any reason pass as heteronormative in any context. Furthermore, it would make cisgendered heterosexuals who, by virtue of their dress or appearance cannot pass as what they identify, queer. This seems like a monstrously backwards situation

Tegid wrote:Does qualifying yourself as ace and/or aromantic automatically qualify you to call yourself Queer? What about if you identify as grey- or demi- sexual/romantic? Is there a line in there somewhere, that once you cross it into outwardly verisexual and veriromantic behaviours, you stop being Queer and become Straight, like a demi- or other grey getting into a hetero-apparent relationship?

How about nonsexuals, nonromantics, semi- sexuals/romantics? Their labels are there because they have a weaker drive for sex or romance... but not necessarily less attraction. Do they get to use the Queer label, too, even if they are dating a person on the gender-binary opposite from them?

With all of what I've said, I DO NOT think that being ace and/or aromantic or by extension any of the other things you mentioned get the specific right to call themselves "Queer". It's a reclaimed term with specific meaning and despite that I do think that ace-spectrum identities are definitively non-normative (i.e. not "STRAIGHT") and despite that queer as a slur has been used against asexuals, even some heteroromantic, cis-* asexuals, we're still straddling a very fine line here (it has, after all, been used as a slur against heterosexual cismen as well, when doing something the surrounding male group has decided is unacceptable) and not everyone who has been called queer has the right to call themselves queer either.

What I do think, however, is that LGBT* spaces should whenever possible be inclusive of all GSMs, only becoming more exclusive when necessary to protect the safety of the space (for instance, by having specific sub-groups for people consisting of strategically chosen specific orientation/identity group to discuss issues that pertain exclusively to that group). In part, this is because there are many aspects of the social side of "the ace experience" that are held in common with other GSMs, the lack of visibility in the media, difficulties in coming to terms with your own identity, lack of social acceptance of your identity, feeling "broken" or "wrong" for not experiencing the world in the same way that "normal" people do, right up until the moment that you find that you aren't alone, fear of being pathologized.

Trigger Warning: Spoiler Tag Contains Discussion of Rape
Spoiler:
Fear of corrective rape, and something that I think is glossed over but present in many communities and especially prevalent in the ace community, but something I'll term for lack of a better one, "self-coerced consent" to sexual relationships and interactions, out of feelings of social pressure and obligation, identity confusion, or "corrective" consent, where one agrees to a sexual relationship or interaction in the hopes that it will fix their brokenness.

These are very real concerns for some, if not all, people on the ace spectrum, and I feel like most people wouldn't bother to identify as asexual if it wasn't born out of a very real experience of alienation from the dominant sexual culture. It's that feeling of alienation that ace-spectrum individual share with other GSMs at large, and which can foster a productive and healthy relationship between the communities so long as boundaries are respected when they are necessary. I feel as if one of those boundaries may be denouncing ace-spectrum claims to the use of "Queer" so long as that comes with an acknowledgement that asexuals, regardless of romantic orientation, have access to GSM spaces and resources.

Tegid wrote:Yes, asexuality and nonsexuality can both be pathologized by the medical community... but when you are just walking around the shopping mall, they don't directly put you at risk to be beaten to a pulp in the parking lot. If a hate-crime is perpetrated on your person... it's almost incomprehensible that it would be because of your lack of libido or attraction to people in general. If anything, it would be because the attackers assume you are homosexual, and just not dating anybody in any visible way.

Well, when a gay person is just walking around the shopping mall (alone) their homosexuality doesn't directly put them at risk unless it's obvious by their presentation, i.e. it's because the attackers assume that you are homosexual, not directly because of your attraction to people of the same sex. The only difference in these two cases is that in the case of the homosexual who is assumed to be homosexual, the assumption is correct. I realize this may be nitpicky, but even an "out" gay person can appear normative when single or when not with their SO, or even when with them but not appearing romantically involved. This should not restrict their access to the use of the "queer" label specifically.

Tegid wrote:At what point does it become unfair for a person to claim queerness for themselves, and it becomes appropriation of a term they don't have a right to use?

When they were not part of the original group(s) whom that slur targeted. You cannot use a reclaimed term that was not used against you.

Tegid wrote:At what point does it become unfair identity-policing for members of LGBT to chew out people who aren't LGBT... but who may or may not be on the ace spectrum?

When those people on the ace spectrum are simply trying to gain appropriate recognition as GSMs, and/or when they begin to foist the label "straight" on aces who have not chosen that label for themselves. "not-queer" is not the same as "straight".

Tegid wrote:Is it ever okay or right or permissible for one minority group to tell an even-smaller minority group that they aren't allowed to call themselves something?

Yes, though I doubt this is what you mean to ask, but as a for-instance, it would be totally fine for black americans to tell a smaller minority group that they are not allowed to reclaim the "n" word.

Tegid wrote:Is it ever okay or right or permissible for one minority group to use a term for themselves that another group considers their own, and offensive to be used by others?

Maybe, though I can't think of an example at the moment, not everything that a group thinks they are entitled to is something they are actually entitled to.

Tegid wrote:Can you own a label?

No, but that doesn't mean that you have to be happy about some other group using a label that has a specific meaning where you don't believe it applies. If you were using it first and there are good reasons, the other group should out of deference and respect, keep from using it unless they can justify their use on an individual basis in a broadly acceptable fashion.

Tegid wrote:Can you enforce compliance of appropriate labeling without comprehensively fracturing all alliance between communities?

Probably only by making other, reasonable concessions, by recognizing where the desire to use the label inappropriately comes from and attempting to fix the root of that problem.

Tegid wrote:I know many folk here already know parts of my views on this matter, but I will personally refrain from voting or responding to my own questions until a few other people have posted.
Please know that I take this topic very seriously, and that the answers given may have bearing on whether or not I keep the current on-site dictionary definitions for Queer and Straight.
Thank you.


Thank you! This was a great jumping-off point for my views on the subject.
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Re: The label "queer", when used by heteroromantic and/or aromantic asexuals, greys, and demis

Post by Aisling on Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:45 pm

Thanks back to you!

Excellent response, and I've added another option to the poll, currently at the bottom, of "I see all GSM as qualifying as queer, and all non-GSM as straight", to accommodate what you mentioned as a potentially-becoming umbrella term.

(Still going to refrain from a longer reply, until we have more posts. I'm not ignoring your post.)
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Re: The label "queer", when used by heteroromantic and/or aromantic asexuals, greys, and demis

Post by mel on Sat Sep 10, 2011 12:30 pm

Tegid wrote:Thanks back to you!

Excellent response, and I've added another option to the poll, currently at the bottom, of "I see all GSM as qualifying as queer, and all non-GSM as straight", to accommodate what you mentioned as a potentially-becoming umbrella term.

(Still going to refrain from a longer reply, until we have more posts. I'm not ignoring your post.)

Technically, my position is that all GSM are not-Straight unless that's how they choose to identify but not all GSM are Queer. I guess I'm positing a "space between" where "Queer" as a reclaimed term should not be used by people against whom it was not originally targeted, while "Straight" refers specifically to cisgendered, cissexual, heterosexuals. I think seeing this as a "you must be one or the other" situation is what's causing all this fuss. Forcing "straight" on aces who feel deeply alienated by the dominant heteronormative sexual culture is definitely policing, these aces see not-Straight as "Queer" because there is no widely accepted "third option", then the LGBT community gets angry because people are trying to reclaim a term that was never used against them, and turns that anger into more policing, causing more upset in the ace community who has never divided itself based on romantic orientation and can't imagine why people would only care about half of "us".

By positing that hetero-aces are neither straight nor queer, but are GSMs who DO deserve access to GSM spaces regardless of romantic orientation, we should be able to find a happy balance.
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Re: The label "queer", when used by heteroromantic and/or aromantic asexuals, greys, and demis

Post by Aisling on Sat Sep 10, 2011 12:34 pm

Smile

Mel's most recent post
QFT and eloquence


This is by far the most diplomatic and... well... gentle answer I've ever seen on this debate.

Extrapolation of the question: would it be productive to make a third term, one that isn't instantly judgment-laden, for the in-between category?
For once, I'm not leaping at the bit to invent one; I see myself personally as qualifying for straight, which places me psychologically in the majority... a position from which I don't feel or claim any right to induce labels on the minority.


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Re: The label "queer", when used by heteroromantic and/or aromantic asexuals, greys, and demis

Post by Boo on Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:06 pm

hmm. so it's really really super nice to read non-angry words about this, and discussion is really great. but...i feel so uncomfortable about hetro-romantic aces claiming queer. i identified as queer before i did asexual, mostly because i had no idea what that was. and i've had queer used as an insult for me, so i don't really feel like the word is at the stage where people who are hetro-something, but outside of normative sexuality, should use it?

i don't know i need to write more and figure out what i am thinking.
BUT FEELINGS BLURR AND I NEEDED TO SAY THINGS BEFORE I FORGOT.
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Re: The label "queer", when used by heteroromantic and/or aromantic asexuals, greys, and demis

Post by Aisling on Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:10 pm

Hey, it's okay. This is designed to be a safe space. Say what you need to express, y'know? Smile
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Re: The label "queer", when used by heteroromantic and/or aromantic asexuals, greys, and demis

Post by Great Thief Yatagarasu on Tue Apr 03, 2012 6:23 pm

This term was used quite a long time as a derogatory, vicious slur against ponies who
a) have relationships with ponies visibly the same body-presented sex as themselves (homosexuals/romantics and/or polysexuals/romantics)
b) cross-dress or undergo medical sex change procedures and treatments (transsexual and/or any of the cross-dressing subcultures)
c) have traits or behaviours that, intentionally or unintentionally, differ from the societal standard for how somepony with their body type should look or act (transgender, genderfluid, and/or genderqueer, etc.)

I'm highlighting that last one, because "traits or behaviours" is such an objective term that it can apply to people who AREN'T genderqueer, trans or genderfluid. As a tomboyish woman, I could count as queer if I use that definition, since, while it's still unintentional, I differ from the norms set for women. I dare to do boy things, and I find it interesting that this means people would have seen me as being queer.

I hesitate to call myself queer because I know people will get offended if I do - but my sexuality is so ambiguous that I think queer is actually a good word for it. I'm mostly straight, but not quite - I've very rarely had romantic attraction towards other girls, but not enough for me to consider myself bi. Would "queer" only fit me, then, if I decide to go for a lesbian relationship? I mean, personality wise, I'm pretty masculine - I've always been a "geek" and "one of the lads", to the point where some people are surprised that I'm not a lesbian. So I dunno - it kinda fits, but I know I'd offend a lot of people if I were to start calling myself queer.

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Re: The label "queer", when used by heteroromantic and/or aromantic asexuals, greys, and demis

Post by Corinius on Thu Nov 08, 2012 1:29 am

I currently do not identify myself as Queer; I think that my current observable behavior is close enough to the ‘norm’ of society that it wouldn’t apply as a slur to me, and therefore I shouldn’t use it to identify myself. However....

As I said in my introduction, I identified myself as Queer for almost two years; using it as a catch-all for everything outside the gender binary/cisgendered heterosexuality. I now use the phrase GSM for this purpose, allowing Queer to take on a slightly more specific definition. During those two years, I was never called out for using Queer to identify myself—though this is probably more due to people being supportive and understanding that I was questioning/defining my orientation and found the term helpful in describing myself, than them not taking offense.

I’ve found myself attracted (sexually and romantically) to people identifying as male and as female, though more often females than males (this could just be due to my having about four times as many close friendships with females than males). But I have yet to pursue a romantic or sexual relationship with a male (of the two I’ve been attracted to: one was straight, the other was in a serious relationship that has become a marriage). The relationship with the straight male was (until he was in a committed relationship) what I define as a platonic friendship (non-sexual and non-romantic). We’d comfortably sleep/cuddle together, hold hands, chaste pecks on the cheek, etc. Once I do pursue a romantic or sexual relationship with a male, I may refer to myself as Queer again (meeting my set criteria for it), but more likely I’ll use GSM and Demisexual.

Because of how prolific Queer has become (reclaimed the cuss out of that slur!), I think it is has become a bit of an umbrella term. Conversely, maybe it originally was an umbrella term, and has only ceased being such as more and more specific identifiers are established. I'd like to see a word (or phrase, but preferably a word for the conciseness like Queer has) that is specifically an umbrella for everything outside the gender binary/cisgendered heterosexuality, and intended to always be such with no other associations to become as prolific, so that Queer and any other identifying term (besides the specifically umbrella one) can become as specific (or general) as desired.

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Re: The label "queer", when used by heteroromantic and/or aromantic asexuals, greys, and demis

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