Follow your bliss!
Issue date: 12/10/09 Section: Opinions
Over Thanksgiving Break, I had the opportunity to explain queer theory to a middle-aged, straight man.
We had been talking about Adam Lambert, and I shared what people in my queer theory class had said about the incident. "Queer?" he said, brow furrowed. "Isn't that a bad thing? I thought that word was offensive." This set my little feminist heart all atwitter. While I've explained queer theory to a few of my fellow Smithies, there's nothing quite like discussing the evolution of the word "queer" with someone who has had no experience with the queer community. This man was genuinely interested in what I was saying, and I felt like I was putting my education to good use.
Then my sister jumped into the conversation and prompted her boyfriend to share his theory on political correctness. I'm familiar with this theory - which boils down to "people are just too sensitive these days" - and I was incensed that someone was inserting it into my intellectual moment. If I were talking to a group of Smithies, the conversation would never take this turn. Or so I would like to believe. Smith is my liberal sanctuary from my conservative hometown. Smith's the only place where my religious beliefs, sexuality and political disposition don't flag me as the deviant. But let's not fool ourselves. We are not living in a utopia. We should all remember that racism, transphobia, homophobia and misogyny do pop up even here. It's not as blatant as my former neighbor's Confederate flag, but no community is completely free of bigotry. When it comes to discussions of race and gender, there's work to be done here as well.
Though it pains me to leave the Smith bubble, I realize that the most work has to be done outside Smith. I'm probably not going to convince anyone of my high-school classmates that we are living in, to borrow bell hooks' phrase, a white supremacist capitalistic patriarchy. Usually people get upset when I use that phrase, and they stop listening. But I do try to convince people that there's more to feminism than that one woman they saw making a scene because a man held the door open for her. I tell other women that I'm not going to berate them for wearing three-inch heels - I personally love my painful heels.....
....It's an old feminist cliché, but I'd like to be a part of someone's "click! moment" - the moment when that person realizes that something is wrong with the world as it is, and that things have to change.ORIGINAL ARTICLE