This year, I have had a Sam Killermann experience. The social justice comedian that recently spoke at Millersville’s sEXPO told a story about how he had to “come out as not gay.” I laughed a little too loud at his jokes, relating to them on a personal level.
A boy has said he was convinced that my friend and I were lesbians. When hearing this secondhand, I reacted in a way that many did not expect. Instead of being angry that I was called a lesbian, I asked, “so?” People were perplexed that I did not take it as an insult.
Why should anyone take someone misidentifying a person’s sexual orientation as an insult? I was called a lesbian, not a murderer. As crazy as it sounds to some, lesbians are people too. Believe me, I have been called much worse than a lesbian. Killermann had the same reaction to his case of mistaken orientation.
When a person apologized for mistaking him as gay, he said “don’t apologize because it implies that being gay is bad.” I share the same sentiment.
What did upset me, however, was the stereotypes that made this boy come to the conclusion that I must be a lesbian. He identified me as so because my female friend and I were close.
It is harmful that two women cannot be close without being accused as being ‘more than friends.’ This discourages women from being supportive of each other. We should not be expected by our patriarchal counterparts to put each other down.
When we bring each other down, we are just leaving space for men to do the same. In general friends are expected to be supportive of each other. Friendship is not a contest. Furthermore, friendship is also not something that should be defined by people that have the wrong idea about feminism.
Defining people by a stereotype is not beneficial to the progression of society. Human beings are much more complicated than an irrelevant and ignorant generalization. We are all individuals with separate experiences. Generalizations dull us and convince us that it is wrong to be ourselves.
Another frustrating assumption I have encountered is the belief that only lesbians can be ‘true’ feminists. There can be straight female feminists. Contrary to belief, we do exist. Feminism is not about hating men, it’s about equal social, economic, and political rights. Sexual preference and activism can be separated.
Women biting the heads off of men just for being men is a fallacy. Men should not be afraid of feminist women; they should be fighting besides us in the struggle for human rights. Images of militant feminists taint the minds of many. That type of thinking takes away from the mission of feminism. Wanting rights for everyone should be something everyone fights for.
Feminism is an inclusive movement, but not everyone fits society’s idea of the ‘typical’ feminist. A ‘typical’ feminist does not exist. Feminists can be Muslims, sex positive, asexual, male, women of color, and queer. If you limit who can be considered a feminist when you have someone willing to fight for women’s rights, you lose a valuable ally.
We are in college not only to learn from our classes, but to learn from each other. Instead of defining people by stereotypes, why don’t we put a stop to ignorance? Otherwise, we will be sliding down a slippery slope of nonsensical assumptions.