Not Your Normal
June 13, 2012
I’m not like the rest of the culture around me. I’m pansexual. I’m a nerd. I’m disabled. I’m autistic. I’m polyamorous. I’m a feminist. I’m kinky. I’m a gamer of all sorts. I’m a writer. I like tea. I’m into steampunk and other retrofuturistic speculative fiction genres. I like beer.
This is about where you might expect me to say, “But I’m just like you.”
I’m not going to, though. I’m not going to because I don’t need to. What needs to happen is that you need to accept that I’m not just like you and you need to respect that. I’m not your kind of normal, but I’m still normal. I’m my normal. I’m my ethical, moral, and just. I’m my own version of a person wrapped around a core of the good social justice arguments and social justice systems that have been shown to be better for everyone.
I’m not just like you, and that’s a good thing.
Let’s discuss what normal is, for a lot of people. Normal is White, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant. That’s what we mean when we say WASP culture. It’s patriarchal. It’s heternormative. It’s vanilla. It’s racially, sexually, and socially phobic of anything approaching difference or diversity. It’s marginalizing to people of color, to trans* people, to women, to non-heteronormative people, to kinky people, to non-monogamous people, and to non-Christian people. If one can consider hegemony perfect, it’s a perfect society. There’s no conflict because there’s a clear dictatorial system with the Man of the Family at the top and a descending pyramid of enforcement below Him. It’s a perfect replication of the WASP presumption of the universe, with God above his choirs of Angels.
Frankly, I want no part in that kind of normal. Let me tell you what my kind of normal is.
My kind of normal is a nice apartment in a clean city. My normal is no disadvantaged poor people and no fabulously wealthy to the point of unnecessary opulence people either. My normal is being surrounded by businesses focused on their customers, environments composed of art and design, and spaces that are safe and respectful to everyone. My normal is friends of all shapes and sizes, of all parts of the gender spectrum, both cis* and trans*, of all sorts of relationship styles, and all sorts of preferences and desires. My normal is sex-positive and inclusive. My normal is dynamic, dramatic, and full of stunning beauty. My normal is is a world where no one is afraid of anyone else and power is shared jointly between everyone. My normal is a world where we’re all educated, where we’re all engaged activists with making the world better, and where our community is the world community. My normal is everything from quiet winter parties to wild summer nights and everything in between. My normal has acknowledged its privileges and offered those privileges to everyone around me. In my normal, in my ideal world, everyone is equally privileged and everyone has the same opportunities and just what they need to be healthy, happy, and safe. In my normal we’re all equal by being at the top of the mountain, not at the bottom. In my normal everyone, everyone, is able to spend their lives how they see fit.
And part of that normal is acknowledging things like sex-positivity, feminism, and the legitimacy of all kinds of alternate lifestyles that are ethical, inclusive, and equal. Part of that normal is fighting racism, classism, sexism, ableism, nationalism, tribalism, and all of the other -isms that create divisions in society. Part of that normal is creating a space where people can go outside in a particularly good set of leathers and be complimented on it without any of this being creepy. Part of this normal is creating a society that reinforces the rules of itself through its members constantly and is so effective at it that no one locks their doors.
I don’t need your normal. I don’t need your fear. I don’t need your patriarchy. I don’t need your exclusivity. I don’t need your hegemony.
I don’t need to be the same as you.
If you want to live in a nice suburban house with a nice white-picket fence and have a nice nuclear family and go to a nice WASPy church, I won’t stop you. The joy of my normal is that if that’s what you want and you negotiate it all with your significant other(s) and everything’s on the up and up, you can do it. I don’t want to take your normal away from you, at least not entirely. Just the problematic parts. The hurtful parts. The bad parts.
But I’m not going to try to be like you to make you accept me. I’m not going to try to emulate your culture and tell you I’m the same but. I’m not going to stand here and sacrifice myself and everything I believe in and everything I love to eek out a modicum of acceptance that’s weighted with distrust.
No, I’m not going to sell myself to you.
You’re going to accept me. You’re going to not just tolerate me but love me. You’re going to open your arms and say, “You are my brother, my friend, maybe even my lover. Your normal is normal, just like anyone else’s.” You’re going to accept this and you’re going to like it. You’re going to love the culture that flows out of this, from high art to good food. You’re going to love the fact that crime will drop and equality will go up and we’ll become a beacon to the world of acceptance, love, and social stability. You’re going to show everyone else that our normal, our collective normal, is strong enough to rise above the vicious habits of the natural order.
Because if you don’t accept my normal, you’re going to wish you had. You’re going to be on the outside of the new community as the people of color, as the trans* people, as the gay and lesbian people, as the bisexual and pansexual and omnisexual and sapiosexual people, as the atheist people, as the queer people, as the educated people, as the poor people, as the progressive people build the new society. The society that’s healthier, better educated, and more equal. The society that is stronger in each individual member.
The society that will thrive and outlive the patriarchy of the current day. The society that will still be with us when we’re colonizing the stars.
I don’t need to be your normal. But, eventually, you’ll need to be mine.
Tagged: ableism, article, cis*, classism, cultural system, cultural systems, culture, equality, feminism, futurism, misogyny, normal, patriarchy, people of color, philosophy, politics, rant, sexism, social change, social philosophy, social system, social systems, society, trans*, WASP, writing