Today I feel less like death which is nice. Isolating myself to avoid giving my friends The Lurgy is all noble and shit, but after six weeks of Dr Wheel being away and the YoT having left home and all, it's also a recipe for feeling more sorry for myself than is really necessary, and possibly going to bed stupidly early because there's nothing better to do, and dreaming about zombies. I was also stupidly sad that my zombie dream ended just as I picked up a sweet crossbow and started firing it out the window. LET ME HAVE MY FUN, SUBCONSCIOUS!
So in the first chapter of this book I've been reading about sexual fluidity, there's a passage that had me nodding along:
"The writer Minnie Bruce Pratt, reflecting on the confusion she experienced when she first discovered her capacity for same-sex sexuality, recalled being aware that such an abrupt change seemed impossible and incongruous:
"I didn’t feel “different,” but was I? (From whom?) Had I changed? (From what?) Was I heterosexual in adolescence only to become lesbian in my late twenties? Was I lesbian always but coerced into heterosexuality? Was I a less authentic lesbian than my friends who had “always known” that they were sexually and affectionally attracted to other women? What kind of woman was a lesbian woman?"
Pratt perfectly captures the conundrum created by sexual fluidity. Because our culture believes that all individuals are, unequivocally, one sexual type or the other (such that a lesbian must have “always known” of her essential lesbian nature), women with more complex and variable patterns of sexual experience are inherently suspect. No wonder Pratt felt “inauthentic” when comparing herself with the cultural prototype of lesbianism as uniformly stable, early-developing, and exclusive."
Swap 'twenties' for 'forties' and 'lesbian' for 'something that has yet to be identified and labelled in any understandable way' and that's pretty much the root of my confusion. I suspect my own authenticity because I don't fit any of the traditional societal labels. What is the label for someone who's considered themselves heterosexual for 40-odd years, but has occasionally been full-on attracted to another woman but brushed it off as girl-crushes, and mostly isn't attracted to women but sometimes is attracted to individual women? Bisexual doesn't fit IMO, because I think the attraction to women would have to be more consistent for that. But society doesn't give us a lot of choices, and for me, who doesn't fit any of the available ones, it feels a lot like well maybe this isn't a real thing.
Because having a label for something is what makes it real, especially in academia. Oh wait, putting it on the internet is what makes it real, right?
Perhaps the source of my confusion is somewhat clearer now.
Back in Ye Olden Tymes, everyone was heterosexual. Yes, I know that's not actually true, but in small town Dargaville it was assumed, being one of those wonderful meccas of heterocentrism combined with homophobia that NZ prides itself on. Certainly all the ladies I had 'crushes' on (all two of them) were. And so was I. Everyone was, yay! In that environment, there's no cause to question, much easier to just go with the flow (especially if you're an expat English kid who doesn't really fit anyway and thus is desperate to conform so people will like you).
Nowadays, there is no assuming anything about other people's sexuality. I don't actually know what the sexuality of most of my friends is (I mean, unless I'm trying to have sex with them, it doesn't really matter, right?) but when it does come up, assuming someone is heterosexual is a social faux pas, and you're more than likely to be wrong. So the environment these days is much more conducive to questioning these things, because I don't need to conform in order to be accepted any more.
What a relief! What a catalyst for confusing thoughts!
Which is why I'm finding this book to be helpful, because it's presenting the notion that maybe just because I don't fit any of the current set of labels, and I haven't *always known*, this doesn't mean that my understanding is wrong, inauthentic or suspect.
Yes, I am terrified of insulting my gay and bisexual friends by claiming a label that even I don't feel is quite right for me, and thus being inauthentic. This is probably more scary for me than the realisation that I'm capable of being attracted to women was, to be honest.
So for the time being, I'm sticking with 'mostly heterosexual but sexually fluid and capable of being attracted to certain women'. Or, depending on who asks, 'none of your goddamn business.'
My navel, it goes deep.
Meanwhile, grist (who is my brother, for those who are new) sent me this last night:
clicky to embiggen
It's the Tesla coil he's been building. More here. Next step: set it to music. I think it lends itself to metal, personally.