Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: labels

The limits of labels

I wanted to do a post on labels, so I looked up ‘No Labels’ to se ewhat they were up to these days. Unfortunately, they’re deciding to be assholes as usual. Basically, they are a bunch of rich people who want to rule America. So, per yooz, but without being principled enough to choose a political party. Because they would not suceeed in that party. So they took their balls to make another party. In other words, they are exceedingly egotistical people who think it should be all about them.

If you are a power-hungry asshole, just SAY you’re a power-hungry asshole. I do think that only having two political parties is bullshit. Most of my life, I’ve voted for the lesser of two evils, and it’s not great. It gives too much power to those two groups and disenfranchises many people. The solution is not to tave a bunch of gazillionaires declare themselves as de facto rulers of the land. that’s way too much like an oligarchy.

That is not the point of this post, though! I’m talking about personal labels. Back when I realized I was bi (thirty years ago), the common refrain in the queer community was to rebuff the ‘its a choice’ or ‘it’s a lifestyle’ phrasing when it came to being queer. And I get it. Straight people didn’t waake up one day and think, “Hey, I’ve decided i’m going to be straight today.” So, yeah, I was born this way to quote Lady Gaga. But. And this is the important part. I would have chosen to be this way if I had a choice in the matter. I ilke being attracted to people of all genders. Or no gender like me. I’m greedy. Why limit myself to just one? It’s broaden my horizons, and while I do see gender, it’s not the most important factor in my attraction to someone.

I didn’t like the ‘I can’t help being queer’ mentality because there was always a tinge of…negativity to it? Not negativity, exactly,  but….

Look. Let me put it this way. When I was in my later twenties, women started asking me if I had children/was plainning on having them/wanted them. I was young and naive, and I said no. Just no. Not “hell fucking no!” or “No, I don’t want them.” Just no.

I thought it was a decision that only affected me, but I was so wrong. Everyone had something to say about it, which boggled my mind. For whatever reason, the content of my womb was fair game to other women. I hadn’t got the memo, so I was gobsmacked with the outsized reactions I recieved.

Then, because I was feeling like an outcast, I looked for a book that might have stories from other women* about not wanting children. This was before the internet was as ubiquitous as it is now, so I was looking for an actual anthology. As in a book. I found one, and I was elated to get it. Imagine my disappointment when I realized that almost all the stories (and I mean all but one or two) were by women who wanted children, but chose not to have them for one reason or the other. Or who decided to not have children because of medical issues in their family.

All of them bent over backwards to say how much they loved children and how they were so disappointed not to be able to have them. More than one made sure to mention how they were aunts or had other children in their lives.

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Free to be me?

I’ve been talking about gender a lot lately. Why? Because I don’t get it. I say this with zero snark. Every time I hear people talk about gender, I feel like I’m listening to a foreign language. Follow the way my brain works. I’m going to be as honest as I can be here. Which means that it might be uncomfortable to read.

Other people say that they feel their gender deep in their soul. That being a man or woman (in this case, the binary) is a core part of their identity. People who are nonbinary also feel this deep in their souls. I have heard so many people talk about their gender and how important it is to them.

Whenever I think about my gender, I try to concentrate on what it is, and I get–nothing. I know I’m NOT a man, but as for woman or nonbinary, I mostly just shrug and say, eh, maybe? I’ve used this analogy several times. Being called a woman is like wearing an ill-fitting raincoat. It’s going to keep the rain out, mostly, and it fits, mostly. But it’s uncomfortable, and I’m going to take it off as soon as I can with a sigh of relief.

I don’t mind if other people call me a woman or want to connect on that level (we women, we’re sisters, etc.), but it’s becasue I’ve had similar expenciees. I am coded as a woman and I look very much like a woman is expected to look. I have hair down to my hips and I’m very curvy. VERY booby. And I love my body (now). I’ve never hated my curves, even when I hated my body in general.

I’m very comfortable in my body now. In a large part because it saved me from dying. Twice. Literally. But even at my most “I loathe my body” time of my life, I never hated the boobs, pussy, hips, or ass. Well, mourned the lack of ass, but that’s different than hating my body in general. Also, I can thank Taiji for giving me an ass! Ian has confirmed (very diffidently) that I do have one now.

Other people calling me she doesn’t bother me. Being called sir on the phone (which ALWAYS happens because I have a double alto voice. About as low as possible for someone who is AFAB) does not bother me. I used to be called sir when viewed from behind because I wore a black trench coat and had very short hair (this was on campus for college), and that did not bother me, either.

To be clear, I am not a guy. But I don’t care if someone calls me sir. It doesn’t bother me, even though I don’t identify with it. I am fine (sort of) being called she/her, but I would rather not be. And I will not call myself that. Though I have by mistake.

If I had my druthers, I would just ignore gender. It doesn’t matter at all to me except as to how others treat me. That’s the biggest thing about gender for me–it causes people to view me through a certain lens. Because I’m AFAB and LOOK like a woman, that’s how I get treated.

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I don’t care…much

Back in my twenties, there was a big discussion in the community* about emphasizing that sexual orientation was not a choice. “After all,” they said. “Straight people don’t choose to be straight.” which, true. But. And this is where my brain gets weird. I’m bisexual, for lack of a better word. Which in theory means I DO choose who I want to date/fuck. And, I prefer sex with penetration, but relationships with people without the hardware. This was back in the day of binaries, remember. I had a more simplistic idea of things.

Anyway, I do think it’s a choice to an extent or a preference. I like people of all genders, but back in the day, I prefered sex with men. I haven’t been with someone in a decade, so I’m not sure where I would stand on the subject these days. I will say that the last person  I was eying on Bumble was a woman. Bumble is sadly limited, though, gender-wise.

I have the same feeling with gender identity. I don’t have a strong affinity for any. Yes, I know I’m not a man, but other than that, I feel mostly meh about it. I can’t fully understand peolpe who are rigidly set on their gender, but I respect it. I mean, if someone says their gender is important to them, then I accept that as true. I don’t have to feel something to believe that other people feel that way.

I do wonder if there was no sexism, would I feel the same way? I think if there wasn’t abject sexism in our country, I would be fine with being a woman. Again, I don’t have much affinity for it, but I don’t have animosity, either. I just don’t…care. Much. I think I would be more comfortable with ‘woman’ if it wasn’t so laden with bullshit and impossible expectations.

Story of my life, really. I wouldn’t care so much if not for the gross implications. “A woman is what you want it to be”. Except if you don’t like ANYTHING earmarked as traditionally feminine. This is where I get stuck with people who feel a deep affinity to their gender. I don’t know how to ask without it sounding snarky, condescending, or nasty: Why do you care about your gender? I certainly would not ask someone who is trans because that would be beyond insensitivity.

I really don’t get it, though. It’s not genitalia. But then people with misaligned genitalia can feel body dysphoria. I get both those statements, but not together. And, granted, it’s usually one or the other, but it can be both. That’s what I don’t get. I don’t have to get it, I know, but I would like to when it comes to me.

I like my body. I fucking LOVE my body now. It took a licking and kept on ticking. I like my boobs and my pussy, my thigh-length hair, and all my curves. I love the soft folds of my flesh, and I love that I look the way I do.

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Compassion and reciprocity

For most of my life, I have been resigned to being ignored. I live in the in-between because I am not one of the two dominant groups in any category. I am Asian–not black or white. I am bi–not gay or straight. More recently, I am areligious–not a believer or an atheist. And, sigh, finally, I am agender, not man nor woman. Oh, and also not cis or trans. By the way, I have never related to cis–even when I reluctantly accepted the label ‘woman’.

I am resigned to the fact that I don’t fit anywhere. I will also say that while I’m a creative person, I don’t live that lifestyle. I don’t drink or do drugs, and  Idon’t want to be around people who do. There are times, though, that I just snap (internally) at a situation in which I normally would try to be compassionate. Why? Because I feel as if I’m always asked to be the one with empathy and I don’t get the same courtesy in response. Nobody gives a shit about Asian people, for example. It never comes up when racism is talked about. It’s currently Asian-Pacific Islander month, and no one gives a shit about that.

As a result, I have a slight chip on my shoulder when I hear calls for empathy. Where is my empathy, I ask? I have eaten a lot of shit on identity issues because I don’t want to make waves/others have it worse/I don’t care THAT much. But, the cumulative effect is wearying.

I try to be respectful of other people, and it bothers me when I don’t get that respect in return. Like when gender/pronoun issues are brought up. The current way of thinking is to offer pronouns and encourage others to do the same. Which I’m fine with. It crosses the line for me when it’s required. Some people are questioning and others of us don’t want pronouns. I don’t like any of them. My Taiji teacher asked if I wanted to use a neopronoun. Nope. Don’t like those, either. I don’t want any, which makes things much more difficult. I acknowledge that. The way we speak English is predicated on pronouns. I accept that and am resigned to the fact that people will use some really awkward sentences for me if they need to avoid pronouns. Someone on the Ask A Manager website explained that those of us who identified as agender and did not want to use pronouns knew that people were going to make awkward statements. That was a tradeoff we were willing to take. Which I agree is true.

But, here’s the thing for me. I try to be empathetic most of the time. I think about others and how they might be feeling. I don’t feel I get the same respect in return, so I’m not happy about being asked to do even more. I recognize that’s a me-thing, but at some point, there has to be reciprocity. If someone is asking me to be thoughtful of their identity, then they need to be respcetful of mine as well.

I’m tired of feeling it’s a one-way street. That I have to be endlessly understanding whereas I don’t deserve it in response. I know that’s partly my upbringing and partly my training as an emotional support person, but I do have a breaking point.

I have said for quite some time that you can be both a minority and an asshole. They are not mutually exclusive. And while I respect people’s identities, that does not mean that they are good people. I think there needs to be a line drawn somewhere. I’m not sure where or how, but we have to have a discussion about respecting people’s identities but acknowledging that they can still be assholes.

For example. Caitlin Jenner. I respect that  she is a woman. However, she is a shitty woman who wants to deny other women their rights. That’s shitty.

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