I biked home today writing this post in my head, but more than half a bottle later of the lovely and amazing Unibroue beer, Maudite (meaning Damned, in French), and two phone conversations with both also lovely and amazing EKT and CDG, I've mellowed out about the day's events a bit more.
I'm spending the next two and a half weeks at this summer institute, all about teh sexxx. Ok, really it's about sexuality, but I realize that I occupy this strange position (or perhaps want to over-vaunt my position, but whatever, it's my blog, and I'll boast and self-import if I want to) of being post-sexuality theorizing. Arrogant...I know. I appear as a white, heterosexual, upper/middle class, and over-educated (all of these labels are actually problematic, and I would say that I don't identify with most of them, except maybe 'over-educated' -- but I'm talking about the superficial so why not use superficial categories to convey my point? I'm not even at-ease with racial/ethnic category, as I've tried to figure out how my family's time in Latin America places me, who grew up in NY)...it's hard to sympathize with my boredom. I know that to most of the people in the institute, I read as "white, straight," aka, boring as hell. Yet, I identify with the queer community and feel frustrated that I get pigeonholed. And among people who have had to struggle to protect themselves and claim their sexuality, my kind, at least superficially, is exactly the world from whom they're trying to reclaim power. It's difficult for me to be constantly reduced to stereotypical het and to find that my sense of queerness has no place at the table. It's a weird circular tension of who gets to have a voice and whose experiences are considered legitimate.
Still, a possibly apocryphal story my dad likes to tell is about my being 3 years old, and after a dinner with my father and his partner's friends (two men, as well), I asked about whether Bob and James were married -- or whether they live together (as stories go...it's always hard to get precise language on these things). My dad explained, some men love men, some men love women, and some women love women. I apparently looked bored and said, oh, okay. And returned to coloring or whatever engrossing task kept me busy. In other words, sex and sexuality have always seemed pretty matter of fact to me.
This doesn't mean that sex and sexuality are intrinsically easy or uncomplicated for me, but it's just that I'm a bit disinterested in theorizing or debating much around it all. And so much of these sorts of institutes become "processing" sessions. I know that for many of the people involved, these opportuntities are rare and important. Further, most people who come to sexuality studies have had a coming out process, or have felt oppressed or silenced in their lives, and this opportunity is liberating and a very personal process. It is important to have the conversations about the proliferation of sexualities, to engage with the race and class issues that are tied into imaginations about sexualities, and to reflect on the extreme challenges of making this a more public discourse, but...like with the proliferation of sex blogs, it's sometimes incredibly mundane to me. Maybe if I'd grown up into a more non-normative sexuality (I had a phase of feeling confused about why I wasn't a lesbian, since at 15 or so, I spent a lot of time with radical lesbian feminists at the NY NARAL offices, and felt a bit funny as a straight daughter of a gay man), if I felt that I could claim an identity politics position, I'd be more excited about this whole endeavor, but I just don't...
And I really never thought I'd say this, but I kind of wish there were more theorizing. I know the personal is political, and that many of us come to sexuality studies because of our own experiences, but there are times when the institute feels like a therapy group. There's also a big commitment to advocacy and activism, and the truth is, though like a sense of social failure of not turning out a big dyke, I've made peace with my inability to be a true activist, and that I'm more comfortable in the realm of abstraction. (Ok, that's not totally true, I'm comfortable-ish with my academic status.)
**is it legit to use Latin and Greek in the same sentence? I'm having a language-obsession lately, trying to only update my facebook status, for example, with descriptors and no verbs at all. I'm not sure what that's about, but I've been enjoying the way words fit together much more than in the past.