Caroline Narby is “five feet tall and pudgy,” she tells us at the beginning ofher article “My Butchness,” a rather solipsistic 2,000-word discussion of her sexual identity. Of course, I graduated from a third-tier state university in Alabama, where using a fancy word like “solipsistic” would be considered kind of a show-off move, but Caroline Narby is an alumna of Wellesley College, ranked No. 4 among liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report. Annual tuition at Wellesley is $45,078, so when Carolina Narby (Class of 2011) gets solipsistic, buddy, she goes whole-hog. Among other things, she informs us that Wellesley has “a vibrant and visible LGBT community on campus,” and her first semester she took a course entitled “Gay Writing from Sappho to Stonewall.”
This is some high-class intellectual navel-gazing, y’all:
After agonizing over the matter and consulting and commiserating with other butch women, I’ve come to realize that butchness doesn’t need to be understood as “masculinity” at all. Its form and substance don’t have to be defined by its opposition to femininity.
Sometimes I like to think of butchness as a kind of satire. Not as a parody — not as a clownish imitation of manhood–but as part of a purposeful endeavor to dismantle the popular conception of masculinity and the hegemony that it represents. . . . [B]utchness works to deconstruct maleness and masculinity by co-opting behaviors and aesthetics that men have tried to monopolize. Butch is a trickster gender — and so, in a similar way, is femme. Lesbian gender expressions do not emulate heteropatriarchy, they subvert it. Femme removes femininity from the discursive shadow of masculinity and thereby strips from it any connotation of subordination or inferiority. Butch takes markers of “masculinity” and divests them of their association with maleness or manhood. Butchness works against the gender binary — the masculine/feminine paradigm — and reclaims for women the full breadth of possibilities when it comes to gender expression.
Other times, honestly, I just don’t like to think about my gender as a conscious political undertaking at all. I know that “the personal is political.” I know that no action or belief can possibly be apolitical because every social institution on every scale is steeped in ideology. But sometimes I just get so tired. Sometimes I want to just be.
You probably want to read the whole thing, complete with her description of Girl Scout Camp “where it seemed as though 99% of the staff were lesbians.” But you knew that, right?
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Caroline Narby is the blogger we met earlier, complaining of the “dehumanizing” nature of “sexuality under heteropatriarchy.” She now has a master’s degree in Gender and Cultural Studies and is “currently finishing up a second master’s in public policy,” because I guess after paying $45,078 a year to get your bachelor’s degree at Wellesley, you need two master’s degrees before you can be bothered to get an actual job. Meanwhile, she’s a blogger, and you might want to read her contributions at Bitch magazine:
The aim of this blog is to explore and interrogate popular representations of autistic sexuality and gender performance from a queer, autistic perspective.
Let’s don’t and say we did.
Nevertheless, there’s “Erasure and Asexuality”:
In my previous post, I remarked that an examination of cultural representations of queer autistic sexuality will inevitably end up as a discussion about lack and absence, because so few representations exist. . . . This reflects and reinforces the presumption that autistic people are too “childlike” or socially stunted to comprehend the idea of sexuality, let alone to actually have sex. The result of prevailing cultural attitudes is that autistic people are perceived as inherently non-sexual. . . .
What popular culture tends to do is to deny that autistic people possess the agency and self-awareness to think about and establish sexual identities. Ableism combines with the general erasure of asexuality, and the assumption that a lack of interest in sex equates to naïveté, to produce the idea that asexual-identified autists must be asexual because they are autistic. They are asexual not because they are self-aware individuals who happen to express a particular sexuality, but because somehow their autism renders them too naïve, “innocent,” or socially inept for sex. They are not asexual because that’s what they happen to be, they are non-sexual because they have no choice.
This assumption robs asexual autists of all romantic dispositions of agency and recognition.
To repeat: $45,078 a year it costs to learn how to write that stuff.