16 May, 2014

How IDAHOT celebrates heterosexuality and cis-sexuality too

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Category: European Action Day, Homophobia, Opinion, Transphobia
Gubaz Koberidze
8 pm

10178149_10152258488693612_3999436559551293427_n[1]By Raftropia Camassa

Firstly let’s start with what IDAHOT stands for. International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Do we need a special day for homophobia and transphobia? Well, largely around the globe homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism are not only socially or culturally accepted but are de facto persecuted and punishable with sentences up to life imprisonment (e.g. Uganda) or even with the death penalty (e.g. Iran). In other parts of the world, same-sex marriage is legalised (recently in two of the most Western countries France (2013) and the UK (2014), adoption by same-sex couples is legal (such as in the Netherlands since 2001) and third gender or ‘other’ is officially recognised by the State (for example in Nepal which issues citizenship cards with the category third gender/other). Of course, these affirmations do not signify that a ‘critical mass’ has been achieved worldwide, neither that a shift in social mentality has been achieved nor that institutional discrimination has been vanished.

Historically, the socio-legal stratification of people in terms of the sex assigned at birth (and subsequently what has been conceived as the corollary sexual orientation) caused an outrage to women who were forced to remain at the receiving end of a monologic phallocentricism. The feminist task to question sexual and gender norms became the impetus for the more radical ‘queer feminists’ and trans movements who brought attention to the heternormative structure of the either/or; female or male, straight or gay. If we agree with what feminist singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco writes ‘Feminism ain’t about women. No, that’s not who it is for. It’s about a shifting consciousness that’ll bring an end to war’ one can assume that modern day gender politics attain to ending the war between sexes, genders, gender roles and sexual orientations, expressions, manifestations of one’s own sexuality etc.  As sex theorist Gayle Rubin mentions, society maintains a ‘Charmed Circle’ of sexuality and gender (alongside other social totalities, e.g. capitalism, that are part of a wider regulatory apparatus of State control according to Rosemary Hennessy), in which some forms are considered acceptable and others deviant. But how does the deviant not only approve the ‘acceptable’ but is the foundation of it, nourishes and maintains what society perceives as ‘normal’?

Some might rush to say that what’s natural is by definition what’s ‘normal’. But what’s really natural? Is natural a state right after birth, or a stage that one reaches when self-fulfillment is complete (aka the Aristotelian physis)?

If we answer the previous question with self-fulfillment then enrooted in the creation of the ‘Self’ there is a pre-recognition of the existence of an ‘Other’. I cannot exist without the Other, that which is simply not me. I can only understand and comprehend myself as part of a collective of other individuals, and thus I paint my inner fibers of being according to what makes me different from the others in front of me. In order to define myself (entering into categories, my gender and sexual identity I go through a ‘pick-and-choose’ process of socially constructed identities. Therefore, the fact that ‘sexual minority’ categories are spelled out sustains the ‘sexual majority’s’ normative role because heterosexuality, as cis-sexuality, before they are chosen by the subject (or the ‘self’) acknowledge that various forms of sexuality are existent and accepted as existent within a society prior to their rejection. My professor at University, Ralph Sandland, wrote about this mutual reinforcement suggesting that, any formation “of a [gendered or sexual] identity entails a repudiation of potential objects of attachment, but that very repudiation admits of the prior possibility of acceptance”.10369738_10152258502298612_3920933874474969406_n[1]

In simplistic terms, to celebrate homosexuality, bisexuality, pansexuality, polysexuality, asexuality, transgenderism/transsexuality, queer and all what’s labelled as ‘Other’ is an affirmation of the actuality of heteronormativity. This is only to prove, also according to what queer theorist Judith Butler believed, that that’s where heteronormativity fails; it makes exclusions to preserve itself, basically it characterizes the ‘Other’ as transgressions to regularize its integrity. IDAHOT celebrates sexual and gender diversity for all people, it deconstructs the ‘abnormal’ and in turn validates heterosexuality and male/female genders. IDAHOT brings to the forefront all identities that are often socially ostracised in limbo, ones that are subjected to daily scrutiny, discrimination and hate in an effort to keep the norm intact and ultimately restores the equilibrium of sexuality and gender. It constitutes a reminder that to describe people only in respect of their biological sex difference or their romantic/sexual attractions is inaccurate, apart from being a short portrayal of the person in question.

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