Plots and Thoughts

Sexual Identity and Language With a Purpose

Posted in Strategy by Captain Optimistic on December 2, 2009

Bond takes note of confusion around identification with (and the use of) the word queer:

I just read a comment in which a trans guy explained that he identifies as queer, but only because he’s bi or gay, and that being transsexual in itself is not in any way queer. A bunch of other commenters piped up to agree, explaining that straight transsexuals are not queer, and even that butches are not necessarily queer (because apparently tough rural straight women can classified as butch, because they might read that way to urban eyes — a notion I’d guess would offend such women even more than it offends me). On the other hand, I’ve also heard gay, bi and straight trans people identify strongly as queer by virtue of being trans, and I’ve heard queers of all stripes make painstaking efforts to include queer-identified het transsexuals in our language.

The phrase “in our language” is especially apt.  The way we describe our sexuality encompasses everything from who we are attracted to (if at all) to how we express ourselves sexually, to what we consider acceptable conduct.  A large chunk of our social identity is represented.

Thus those interested in equal rights regardless of sexual identity and orientation might want to consider ways to expand our language to be more inclusive.  What we need is a word to describe anyone who believes that sexual identity and consensual expression never need be labeled or restricted.  True sexual liberty doesn’t need language to tie it down (unless you are into that of course).  But we could really use the power of shared identity to push the gay rights movement forward!  People fight harder and more effectively when their own rights are at stake.  From every possible strategic consideration of the rhetoric of the gay rights movement it is a clear win to find a way to be more inclusive and direct in making this about sexual liberty for all.

And we need that to counter some of the stinging defeats we’ve had (NY and ME), and continue the momentum from the equally ringing victories (WA and DC).

I think the word queer has a lot of lingual baggage, and further I don’t feel right appropriating it when there is such comfort for any group in having a word – a name – to call their own.  We need a completely new word.


Here’s two off the top of my head to start us off:

The first one that came to mind was FreeSexual.  I love the ring of it!  And a quick trip to google turned up others with the same thought.

EqualSexual This one isn’t already used.  I’d define it as someone who refuses to be labeled, and supports sexual equality.

What do you think?

Sexual Choices and Leadership

Posted in Musings, Observations by Captain Optimistic on December 2, 2009

A 13 year old girl committed suicide when she was bullied by her peers and her school over a nude picture of herself.  Her journal had a very sage observation I’d like to share and contemplate:

Hope fretted that there would be further consequences over her actions in the spring. She especially worried that she might lose a chance to run again for FFA student adviser.

“Making mistakes &/or stupid choices doesn’t necessarily make it impossible for you to give advice and lead people in the right direction,” she wrote in her journal. “Do you think people ever told Elvis Presley he couldn’t lead people to be singers & give them advice because he had made some bad choices with drugs & alcohol? … I don’t think so!”

Imagine a world where we didn’t obsess over people’s individual sexual choices.

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When Schools Bully Suicide Victims

Posted in Observations by Captain Optimistic on December 2, 2009

Our national paranoia about sex causes suffering.  Suffering can lead to suicide.  TampaBay via Feministing:  A girl sends a nude picture of herself to a boy she likes.  A girl who felt threatened gets the boy’s phone and shares the text.  Soon her classmates are bullying her.  How does her school respond?

School authorities learned of the nude photo around the end of the school year and suspended Hope for the first week of eighth grade, which started in August. About two weeks after she returned to school, a counselor observed cuts on Hope’s legs and had her sign a “no-harm” contract, in which Hope agreed to tell an adult if she felt inclined to hurt herself, her family says. The next day, Hope hanged herself in her bedroom. She was 13.

Part of the pain of bullying comes from the feelings of isolation, guilt, and worthlessness it engenders.  How would you feel if your school, the very people there to nourish and teach you, punish you?  This was a girl who may have been feeling guilt for having sent the text, pain for being punished by her peers, and instead of stepping in and helping the school chose to further punish and isolate her.

The school bears direct responsibility for her death.  We all bear a responsibility to speak up, always and with strength, against turning sexuality into a thing of shame.  The obsession with slut-shaming and punishing girls for their sexuality has dire consequences.