Marrying one’s sofa

It seems the thought that there are persons writing, and enjoying, fiction, and wanting more fiction that reflects their own experiences, and it seems that the fact these persons do not fit certain Lowest Difficulty Setting persons’ idea of real, normal, or worthy-of-consideration people –

– well, it seems that certain persons find this worth excoriating.

ETA: Alex has some things to say on comments and civility, with which I agree in substance.

I’m with Alex Dally MacFarlane, on this one, but regardless, you are all cordially invited to the ceremony of betrothal between me and my armchair, which is presently being solemnised.

Less snarkily: I’m a queer person.

I’m still figuring out what that means for me in terms of gender identification, orientation, attraction. Perhaps I’ll never know what it means. In a culture which defines things and traits as masculine and feminine, am I a male person with a female body, or a female person who does male things and feels deeply uneasy with female social roles?

It is much easier not to think about it, and far, far easier not to talk about it. I’m comfortable with celibacy: who I am, who I’m attracted to, might be a much more pressing matter if I was drawn more strongly towards sexual relationships, or if I felt more strongly towards the sexual characteristics of my own body.

Or perhaps I’m more comfortable with celibacy precisely because it means I don’t have to think about what gender means to me personally, as opposed to what being perceived, and living, as a (butch) female person means for me socially.

(This is, I understand, the thing called coming out. Y’know, it’s kind of terrifying? I’m okay with being out about depression and anxiety, but coming out about this is making me shake.)

Science fiction and fantasy is one of the few places where it is possible to conceive of worlds from the ground up that don’t carry the same historical, cultural baggage of binary gender, of masculine and feminine as socially concrete. I was eighteen or nineteen before I realised it was possible for me, for women, to be attracted to both women and men;* several years older, before I got my head around the idea it could be more complicated than that, that the gender you were socially assigned, the role society pressured you to fill, wasn’t necessarily the same as the one inside your head. That the faces we show to the world are all social roles. All performances.

That we can perform differently. Be, differently.

The idea of gender-as-reified, of biology-as-destiny? I’m getting over it.

I don’t know what queerness means for me. I don’t know what their life experiences mean for other people. I don’t even know if I should be coming out and saying this: will it make trouble for me now? In the future?

Probably. I’ll burn that bridge when I get there.

But I do know that SFF is a genre that can, in its stories, show us different views of ourselves. Different ways, perhaps, to be. Maybe – who knows? – better ones.

Break the binary. Break the mould.

Also, me and my armchair? We’re practically married already.

*I’m still convinced at an emotional level that it is somehow fundamentally wrong to like anyone sexually at all. The benefits of a Catholic education are numerous, so it’s said, but… yeah, that’s not really one of them.

18 thoughts on “Marrying one’s sofa

  1. I’m glad you felt safe to come out. I promise not to try to date your armchair.

  2. (Er, it suddenly strikes me that that particular poem might seem like a contextually inappropriate thing to have linked to. Sorry!)

  3. It is fine! I like poetry. I am always thinking I should read more. I don’t think I’ve read a Sexton poem before. I should perhaps chase some more down in my copious spare time.

  4. *supportive cheering* *supportive hugs*
    Easy to say this as someone pretty much on the lowest difficulty setting of life, but… be who you are. Labels may or may not be part of that. Specific terms may or may not be part of that. Doesn’t matter. The important thing is being true to you.
    Which you know already, but sometimes bears repeating.

  5. Yeah, masculine and feminine are not… necessarily useful concepts for me with regard to myself and the world? But, social pressures try to reify maleness and femaleness, and it is weird, and confusing, to negotiate these spaces of performance and self.

  6. Pingback: M is for Message Fiction: The Post-Binary Gender Fray | The Other Side of the Rain

  7. Pingback: Linkspam: 01/31/14 — The Radish.

  8. Furniture marriage, it’s a slippery slope. :P You have my good thoughts and support.

  9. Here’s where I just state that I am an odd, but obviously old wench. Hell, my modern English poetry class didn’t cover Sexton, yet still I found her works in entry level anthologies, along with those of Adrienne Rich.

  10. It took me a while to come to grips with not having sexual attraction. I tried. I tried to feel it, and when it became too awkward, I tried to explain it, but didn’t have the words to express myself. Then I discovered the very concept of asexuality, and geez, you mean there are other people out there who feel the same way I do? It kind of blew my mind. For a while I fretted over it, worrying if people would treat me as a freak or abnormal (they still sometimes do), but for the most part I’ve made my peace with it and am pretty happy not having sex or feeling the urge to.

    And that’s not even bringing gender identity into it all!

    Thanks for your story, and like many of the others said, much strength to you!

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