When people come to know I'm an Indian feminist (from India even! That, somehow, is always an extra bonus), after a quick round of, "What do you think about child marriage/sex-selective abortions/sati?" inevitably the question of the film Fire comes up. Hilariously, people are offended that I don't quite have an opinion or any interest in assessing whether Fire is "really" queer or if it's simply a story about loneliness (anyone who has ever been a token feminist knows what a blasphemy it is to not have an opinion on the 0.3 topics your opinion is demanded on), and that I'd rather talk about the events the film spurred on.
Throughout this series, we've talked a lot about labels. Identifying as gay or straight can be complicated enough; for those of us somewhere in the middle, it gets even trickier. Discussions over "bi" versus "queer" versus "pansexual" versus "fluid" get very complicated, very quickly. It makes me wonder: Why are we so hung up on labels? Do we even need labels anymore?
As I've read through the comments on my first two posts (thank you for those, by the way!), I've noticed an interesting trend that relates to what I want to talk about today: A lot of folks seem to have mixed feelings about the word "bisexual." Some are uncomfortable using it because of the way others react to hearing it; some prefer other words to describe non-monosexual attraction, such as pansexual, queer, or fluid. I understand the reasons why "bisexual" doesn't work for everyone (for a long time, it didn't work for me, either), and I'm not interested in dictating language choice or policing identities. Labels are personal, and different people react to words differently. However, I am interested in exploring the reasons why people choose the labels they do and, similarly, the reasons why many people resist the label of "bisexual."
This is the final post in my "Double Rainbow" guest blog series. I've had a great time with this guest blog, and I hope that you have enjoyed reading it. As part of wrapping up the series, I wanted to leave you with something fun. In the spirit of finding autists in popular fiction, I'm going to speculate about a character whom I almost included in my Valentine's Day post, but who I ultimately decided to save until the end.
I'm talking about Elphaba Thropp, as she appears in Gregory Maguire's novel Wicked.
Yep. I think the Wicked Witch is a little bit autistic.
I'm an affectionate person, almost everyone I've dated or been friends with commenting on that. But whenever I am out in public with my fiancée, I become self-consciously affectionate. Not because I'm concerned about what nasty thoughts people might think about seeing such queerness, but because of what they fail to think.
This post is about what I consider to be one way of being the change I want to see. I think of it as a small public education intervention that I do almost every day.
For a lot of people, the idea of a sleepover conjures an image of wholesome youthful fun. In a culture that assumes that close friendships are usually same-sex, these occasions represent something platonic. At the same time, from an early age, a disproportionate degree of social anxiety and moral panic manifests around the bedroom, the nighttime, and the ambiguous meanings of the verb "to sleep." Why so much parental concern over making sure that, as their kids grow older, they aren't sharing any of these activities with others of the "opposite" sex (as though there is an opposite to a person's experience of self!)? What about the queer kids?
Autism Speaks is an easy, easy target. And a literally huge one—it's the largest and best-funded autism "awareness" and "advocacy" (I kind of want to just call it "autism-themed") organization in the world. Autistic self-advocates rip into Autism Speaks every day because of the organization's silencing and dehumanizing rhetoric, and its focus on "curing" autism rather than dedicating its resources to practical support for autistic people. I thought I'd comb through the resources on their website to see information they might offer regarding sex, gender, and sexuality.
When I first conceived the idea for this blog, I knew that I had to write a post about Lisbeth Salander. For the most part, any discussion of queer autistic sexuality in fiction must focus on lack, on the absence of representations, but Stieg Larsson's lurid Millenium novels and the films based on them feature an antiheroine who is both queer and (probably) autistic.