Mansplaining.

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I’m single right now.  Single enough that I sometimes frequent online dating apps, despite the peril and the ridiculousness involved.

I’m also queer.

This is the term I use to self identify my sexual orientation.  Key word being “self” identify.

Recently, I’ve been hoping to meet another woman or anyone who doesn’t identify as a cisgender man.  I haven’t met anyone.  There are fewer people online who are also not straight, and so today I switched my profile to show me everyone (men and women).

I messaged briefly with this guy, he seemed interesting and apparently we were a 92% match.  That was BEFORE the train wreck of mansplaining that derailed the conversation.

Dude: What’s the difference between bisexual and queer?

Me: It’s just another word for not straight. I’d be open to dating any gender, including trans folks, so bisexual doesn’t seem to quite fit and I just like that way of self identifying.  It seems to fit.

Dude: Isn’t that pansexual?

Me: (silently thinking is this actually happening?)  Yes, that’s true. pansexual, but I identify more with queer. I just looked it up on Wikipedia and it gives a decent explanation of it:

Because of the context in which it was reclaimed, queer has sociopolitical connotations and is often preferred by those who are activists—namely, by those who strongly reject traditional gender identities; reject distinct sexual identities such as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or straight; or see themselves as oppressed by the homonormativity of the politics of the broader “gay” or “LGBT” community. In this usage, queer retains its historical connotation of “outside the bounds of normal society” and can be construed as “breaking the rules for sex and gender”. It can be preferred because of its ambiguity, which allows queer-identifying people to avoid the sometimes rigid boundaries that are associated with labels such as “gay”, “lesbian”, or even “transgender

….so… I like it for those reasons.

Dude:  I get that but, assuming the purpose is to indicate who you’re (sexually) attracted to, selecting “queer” seems unnecessarily vague. Especially given that queer could meant that you’re gay, bisexual, pansexual or everything in between.

Me:  That’s what it means..and that’s okay.

Dude: silence

What the actual f#@k just happened?  This complete stranger,who I’d known for about 5 minutes online, decided that my sexual orientation was “unnecessarily vague” and that he knew a better word (pansexual) for me to use to define myself more clearly.

This is a terrible example of mansplaining and oppression rolled into one.

In my experience, folks choose words to define themselves based on how they feel and how they want to express themselves.  The words marginalized groups use to define themselves are important, and often have historical or political significance.  Nobody has the right to tell someone else that their identity is incorrect or inconvenient.

This is the type of binary thinking which problematically excludes so many people.  People don’t just exist in boxes: gay or straight, man or woman, black or white, disabled or able bodied and so on.  There are beautiful spectrums of folks in this world, people who identify all along those spectrums and don’t identify with binary concepts.  Self identification doesn’t exist for the convenience of others.

When it comes from outside it’s a label and labels are for jars, not people.  When it comes from inside, self identification can be liberating and empowering.

Please, ask questions from a place of curiosity if you do not understand a word or concept.  Better yet, educate yourself first.  That’s what google is there for!  But don’t assume that you know a better, more accurate or clearer word for someone to use to define their own lived experience.  It’s not cool, it’s oppressive and it is certainly not attractive.

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