Monday, March 23, 2009

almost but not quite

i have to give dawn turner trice some credit. her new column has its heart in the right place: Gay rights battle puts strain on parties --

but i have an issue with the frame and the fact that it barely touches on the concept of privilege.

the problem shows up early:
"The women come to celebrate without having to worry about straight men pawing them. The gay men are there because, well, they don't want to be around a lot of women."

well, not really. gay men aren't in gay bars because they don't want girl-cooties; they're in a gay space because it's probably a respite after being stuck in a straight world all day. it's a world where you can't get married, can't have benefits, can't make legal or medical decisions on your partner's behalf, can't serve in your military, can't adopt children, can't be counted in the census, and can't really be sure that if you mention your partner at the office you won't suddenly find yourself eating alone at lunch.

by saying gay men don't like girls is 1) inaccurate and 2) not the point.
gay dudes like girls fine; they just have a problem with being forced to prop up our straight privilege when they don't even have full civil rights.

i wish dawn turner trice would at least call or email a queer history professor or queer activist before she writes stuff like this because her own heterosexism is all over the place. this isn't about a battle of genders but a battle for the kind of social privilege that straight women exercise and which the gay community wants.

these are some of the privileges/benefits bachelorette parties assert:
the ability to celebrate one's partnership openly.
the ability to celebrate one's partnership in a venue of one's choice.
the ability to be assured that everyone approves of, or at least does not want to take away, one's choice to marry.
the knowledge that there is a whole tradition of activities to support the idea of one's marriage.
the knowledge that one can see other soon-to-be-married people that look like you.
the assumption that one's marriage is a foregone conclusion.
the certainty that one's partnership will be legally recognized.
the certainty that one's partnership will not be answered with either verbal or physical violence.

if we're at all honest we will all stand up and say that tacky-ass bachelorette parties aren't the point. we all hate them. (admit it. the drunk trolleys, the bizarre toilet paper veils, the screeching, the pawing, the drunken singing - it's all awful and needs to stop immediately.) but straight privilege and homophobia? very much the point.

from the column:
"I asked reveler Blythe Thomas whether, in general, she believed holding bachelorette parties in gay bars was "heterosexist," or insensitive.

"I never would have thought about it like that," Thomas said, watching a curtainlike screen rise on four soon-to-be-nearly-naked dancers. "I could see how this could be frustrating to gay men. Maybe it's something I'll think about next time."'

*that's* straight privilege and i wish that trice's piece had made that more clear.

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