My first rumination can be found at Ruminations Part I – “Your eyes are completely healed”
My second at Ruminations Part 2 – Numbers lead to informed decisions
Rumination Part 3-1 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 1
Rumination Part 3-2 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 2
Rumination Part 3-3 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 3 – I Take a “Writing the Other” class
Rumination Part 3-4 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 4 – Is your character POC or POM?
Ruminations Part 4 is Ruminations Part 4 – I can’t talk to women anymore
A friend is writing a story with a host of LGBTQPOC (what am i missing? these things are so fluid i must be missing someone. i learned today about hobosexuals. those are people who enter relationships just to have a place to stay) characters. Several of these ruminations stem from my wanting to understand her work.
But I can’t tell one character from the other. Sometimes the name gives it away, sometimes not. One of the major problems for me is that the reader is told a character’s LGBTQPOCism, not shown, and I don’t mean shown via a love or sex scene. Identity markers can be revealed through dialogue, setting, by other characters’ responses and reactions, et cetera (as noted in Ruminations Part 4 – I can’t talk to women anymore).
But such character and story issues deal with craft. I’m not invested enough as a reader to care about the characters’ LGBTQPOCness. It hasn’t been demonstrated as a relevant story element so why is it in the story? Nothing I’ve read of my friend’s work so far directly requires LGBTQPOCishness, and as I wrote in Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 1, if something can be edited out of a story without affecting the story, get rid of it!
You need better readers
No, you need to write better.
A reader’s inability to care about some story element is a weakness in the writing. People who’d never pick up my The Augmented Man give it high marks and start their reviews with “Military thrillers are not my go-to genre, but…,” hence such weaknesses are in the writing, not the reader. An interesting story told well will capture a reader regardless of that reader’s genre tastes.
I’m X. I’m a gay male.
A fellow I knew introduced himself with “I’m (name). I’m a gay male.”
Stating he was gay was the second piece of information he offered about himself. To him (it seems), his sexual identity was a public identifier.
Somehow I can’t imagine myself saying something like “Go down the hall and look for X, he’s the gay guy.” I can imagine myself saying something like “Look for a guy, mid-thirties, blond beard, glasses, really close cropped hair.” More likely I’d say something ilke “Go down the hall and keep saying ‘Is X here?’ until you find him.” I’d choose the latter method because it’s more efficient.
I’ve heard others making similar statements about themselves; elevating some aspect of themselves to the single most important piece of their identity.
Such behavior fascinates me.
Imagine someone announcing to someone they’ve just met some aspect of themselves as being paramount, the core of their existence, to the exclusion of all other aspects of their being. It’s like some bizarre Twelve-Step meeting; “Hi, I’m Joseph. I love Bach.” “Hi, I’m Joseph. I love mathematics.” “Hi, I’m Joseph. I’m boring and dull.”
Which is why I never succeeded at Twelve-Step meetings except to research them; they make one single aspect of one’s self the thing you most want to be identified by or as. I appreciate the need to do it in specific situations (working Twelve-Step being one, with “working” being operative).
It saddens me someone limits themself to a single item identifier.
It saddens me that someone wants others to place such limits on them.
It’s fascinating you feel it necessary to share that piece of information before all others.
It’s fascinating you believe that’s something I want to know or care about.
I mean, why are you telling me this?
I wonder if people making such announcements ever introspect enough to ask themselves, “Why do I feel it necessary to share this part of myself before all others?”
I’ve known people who, upon introduction, announce their ethnicity. Usually people without obvious racial markers do this. It reminds me of the joke about “You know the good thing about being black and gay? You don’t have to tell your mother you’re black.” The same is true for any racial group, I guess.
I wonder if my lack of interest in such things is due to my being visually impaired – fuck that shit, I was goddam blind – most of my life. I couldn’t really see people so ethnic and racial markers became irrelevant to me.
Ask me sometime how visually impaired people quickly learn all sorts of things about a person they’re meeting. You may be careful what you do around such after you learn.
LGBTQ seems to be in vogue. I never feel a need to announce my ethnic background or sexual orientation unless relevant to some conversation. God forbid someone ask about my beliefs. People have asked me about aspects of myself. Happy to share when asked, not interested in blathering when no one’s interested.
And remember, I’m boring and dull. No one’s ever interested.
People tell me my penchant to let other people talk (and talk and talk and talk) fascinates them.
“Happy to let others talk. It’s how I learn about them.”
I rarely ask people what they do. But if offered, I’ll ask for more information. Because people fascinate me. What made this person go into that field? How come that person listens to this kind of music.
Some people announce their preferred pronouns. I once interviewed someone and during the screening process, during the tech tests, during the interview, in my writeup, front to back, I referred to the person as one gender. I had this individual vet the interview, the post, everything, before I published anything.
After everything was published, they contacted me to let me know I incorrectly stated their gender. Or at least their preferred pronouns.
I thanked them, made the corrections, and vowed to stay as far away from that individual as I could.
What would cause a person to go through that entire process and then announce an error? To make me look foolish?
There are far easier ways. Besides, I do a pretty good job all on my own. I rarely need help.
My guess is they weren’t sure themselves.
But now we get into “You’re not sure because…?”
You some kind of queer, Carrabis?
I wondered, when I was in junior high through high school, if I was gay.
Okay, not gay because back then one was called queer, homo, sally, et cetera.
I wondered these things because several teachers called me queer, homo, et cetera from the front of their classes. Mr. Loizell stands out. He taught gym and something else. He was well-built, muscular, dark-complexion with rich, black hair. He loved going into the weight room and benchpressing while all the other boys oohed and ahhed.
Oh, if I’d known then what I know now…
But me? Never had a gay experience. Wondered about them, never wanted one.
Had lots (and lots and lots) of heterosexual experiences, though. One friend described me as “a fucking machine.”
I’ve always wondered if that outburst of heterosexual activity was an attempt to prove those teachers incorrect.
How come nobody ever goes for the pronoun “It”?
There are lots of cultures which identify more than two genders, Many have three with effeminate males and masculine females in that third gender. Many cultures have five and one culture I studied had seven. These were the cultures who explained my being both Contrary and Sacred Clown (again, if you want to know more, ask in a comment).
The technology I sometimes mention had the ability to determine neurologic gender along a horizontal scale of five elements. It’s important to specify “neurologic” and “horizontal” because more important than what’s between your legs is what’s between your ears, and there’s no hierarchy, no preferred gender, no “this one is better than that one” (a real problem for most western societies).
I got tired of explaining to people (back in the 1990-2000s timeframe when we marketed that technology) that gender wasn’t a binary aspect, that people switched their neurologic gender based on several things.
An independent group evaluated our tech and determined it was 99% accurate determining someone’s gender (it never asked any questions and made its determinations within 3-5s of interacting with someone). We dumbed the tech down to make it 1) determine along a binary and 2) to make it as stupid as humans seemed to be.
I shared my results in a presentation at a web analytics conference (we thought the tech would solve lots of online problems and offered it to the web analytics community. Lots of interest, no takers. We ended up offering it to the lots of other communities – matchmaking, dating, psychological testing, profiling – and made a killing. It’s always a good thing to discover early when you’ve made a mistake). I openly stated the 1% error. Someone in the audience shouted out, “They were gay.”
I finished my presentation, left the conference, and never looked back.
My Preferred Pronouns; was/could be/might have been.
I’m thinking of changing my preferred pronouns. What do you think of hermaditic spongiofore/correlating mangicyte/giocoming heliophore? Maybe philantic gnoctician/subterranean plebecyte/illustrious magnifer?
What do you think? Have some you think more fitting? Let me know!
If you feel an overwhelming need to know my gender, ask.
If I think it’s relevant, maybe I’ll tell you.
It’s wonderful that someone wants me to use their preferred personal pronouns when addressing them. But if I’m confused as to your gender, that’s my issue. If you feel you have to state it, then you’re confused as to your gender.
Because when it comes down to it, why should I care about your gender? If I’m attracted to you and you’re attracted to me, we’ll make things work and plumbing won’t matter.
I mean, what kind of conversations are people having that gender is part of their every day discussions?
I understand the desire to be comfortable with oneself. But there’s a logic flaw in such reasoning; You’re allowed to be comfortable but I’m not? What if I’m not comfortable with designating someone with a penis as “them”? Or someone vaginaed as “woum” (I truly scratched my head over that one. Had I misheard?). I have a penis and I’m not a “them.” Or a “woum.”
Sometimes, when told someone prefers “they/them,” I want to ask, “What do you all do for fun?” or “Doesn’t that get crowded in the shower?” or “Must spend lots of time getting dressed. Do you all wear the same size?”
Sybil could get away with “they/them.” Not sure if anybody else could.
What about 2nd person address? “Excuse me, would thoum have an extra napkin?”
I don’t care what you are until I know who you are, and chances are I won’t care what you are once I understand who you are.
And do note; your insistence on ‘what’ tells me a lot about ‘who’.