Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Broken Pedestals

My parents are kind of awesome. Not always, I mean, they are human and have flaws, but as far as humans in general go, they are fairly awesome ones.

My mom is a pilates instructor/stage manager and my dad is a musician/nurse/midwife-in-training/chef. they are fairly liberal types, who raised me pro-choice and anti-war. I went to my first peace rally in first grade. My parents book collection included anthologies on anti-racism, rape activism and civil rights. They taught me that when something is wrong, you fight to fix it, even if its bigger than you.

I thought they taught me to be who I am. (Turns out I was wrong about that, apparently I have always been like this)

In the last few years, I have been noticing that my opinions, my arguments, my perspectives, fall distinctly to the left of my parents. I found myself having to debunk basic myths about sexism, racism, homophobia, and these days transphobia with them. I haven't even tried ableism, classism, or fat-phobia, yet. I simply don't have the energy.

It started when I came out to them. My mother always claims to be creating a safe space for me to just be myself in, but as soon as that self crossed her comfort lines it became a problem. My dad was worse, in that he couldn't even joke about it with me except to sweep it under the rug or pretend it didn't exist.

It has come to a head recently, specifically surrounding my partner and hir gender identity. We decided as a couple to tell my parents that we were working towards a potential transition for hir. My mother not only refused to change pronouns (which is fine for the most part as my spouse does not currently have a preference from people who know hir as a male) but accused me of being "obsessed" with my spouse's transition because I do use female pronouns. My father only had one thing to say: "As long as he's a tripod, he's a man." And more recently, my dad sent me this video: "8 Miles Wide" (NSFW also your hilarious earworm for the day. you're welcome.) The chorus? "My vagina is 8 miles wide..." So I jokingly asked my dad if his vagina was indeed 8 miles wide. He couldn't even joke about having a vagina.

That was pretty shattering. i thought I was applying principles that they instilled in me. principles of respect, and acceptance. It was, and still is, shocking to me that my parents, the people who raised me to be an activist, would be unable to move past this essentialist block of genitalia defining your gender. It is especially shocking that the man who I credit for teaching me the principles that lead to my feminism buys into the societal desire to perform masculinity and even joking about having a vagina means he needs to assert that hes a MAN! Really! He has man parts and everything!

Ignorance really is bliss...

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:01 PM

    It is exceedingly important for at least one parent to teach their children not to be who they are, but to be who they feel they are supposed to be. In that respect, you are blessed...