Professing * Reflecting

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"Partners expected" (a cranky rant)

Why is it that a seemingly politically progressive and sensitive person puts things like this in emails to groups of people, some of whom are known to be single: "Let's have dinner on Tuesday. Partners welcome and in fact expected" and "OK, let's meet, with partners, at 8"? Argggghhhh! This person KNOWS that I am (happily) single. That I am casually dating a couple of people. That I do NOT have a significant other or anyone I would think to bring to a dinner with colleagues.

"Partners expected" ?!?!??! Is there no better pithy little vicious statement of heteronormativity? Ironically, this person is someone who is VERY conscientious (in a simplistic and almost comical way) about gendered language and has been known to scold me for using "you guys," which I only use is an effort to avoid the class biases I encounter when I use my usual "ya'll" outside of the South. Well, let me tell you something, using "partner" instead of "girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband/spouse" does NOTHING to correct the heteronormative directive that everyone MUST BE COUPLED. Okay. . .so you agree with the fact that your "partner" can be of any gender and your relationship can be a legal union or not. But your expectation that everyone around you is or should be or wants to be coupled is H-E-T-E-R-O-N-O-R-M-A-T-I-V-E. As well as F-U-C-K-I-N-G O-F-F-E-N-S-I-V-E.

I can't even talk about it without worrying that I am coming across as a bitter shrew. I am not bitter about not being in a relationship. I am not longing to be in a relationship. And this does not mean that I am broken. I am weary of not being able to pick up the phone to talk to my family, to turn on the television, to watch a film, to open a magazine, to go to the doctor without in some way dealing with the assumption that a woman my age should be in a committed relationship AND that there is something wrong with her if she does not have that or if she is not actively seeking that. I am dating a couple of good-looking, smart, funny, fun men. I am having [gasp] casual sexual relationships with [gasp] both of them. FUCKING DEAL WITH ME. Or don't. Just don't expect me to be something I am not.

Phew. I am of course not going to say any of this to my dinner-organizing colleague. I have thought of saying something jokey like, "Hmmm. . .are partners a requirement? If so, I could try to track down one of my lab partners from college or join a square dancing club but that could take some time. . .". Even that seems too snarky and not worth it. I know he is not being malicious and probably is not even conscious of his biases.

Back to work. I have a semester looming. End of rant. Down with heteronormativity, you nasty oppressive bastard.




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