things to think about

today i am thinking about: heterosexual, homogender
September 5, 2009, 1:08 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

I have thought at great length about the difference between homo homos and hetero homos — you know, homos who date people whose genders are like theirs vs homos who date people whose genders are different from theirs. I identify as a hetero homo usually — whomever I am dating, their gender is different (oppositional is harder to say) than mine. I like the difference. I like gender roles. You get the gist.

I am in Kalamazoo, MI today and it is funny to be here where I am the only queer as far as the eye can see. I keep thinking people (ok, girls) are flirting with me but I think everyone’s just really nice. It’s always funny to get out of New York City but I love the midwest just a little bit.

And so I am surrounded by family and locals, and they are straight people, and today I am thinking about gender. Not homo gender, but hetero gender for once. I am going to theorize wildly, and you know what, I am not going to feel bad about it, because I am sure everyone has been theorizing about me all day long. My queer friends and I are all slightly gender-obsessed; we think about it and play with it and analyze it and get overwhelmed by it and have sex with it and mess around with gender all day long. But I don’t know if straight people do this too, see, and right now I am fascinated by heterosexual gender phenomena.

This is the thing: there are a lot of matching heteros in my family. Heteros where they wear the same clothes, have the same aesthetic, even sometimes the same hair. I wonder how they think about this; I wonder how they talk about this. I was wandering around Target (I needed sunscreen) and there were so many married couples who, well, matched. Just like matching homos! But different, right? How do heterosexuals think about this?

Taking this in, I realized was that I was programmed to see this as a failure, especially on the part of the woman. The whole “letting themselves go” thing, right? These married couples matching must mean that they’ve failed, that they’re not hot for each other any more. I guess part of this is that they are all low-fi matching, not all fabulous and dressed up (I am very excited to see what everyone wears to synagogue tomorrow). But why do I interpret this similarity as a failure and a capitulation where I interpret other gender-synchronicity — the queer kind — as kind of cute and great?

I am really curious about what it is to operate in the hetero gender world. They don’t talk about gender like I do, or like my friends do; at least it doesn’t seem like it. Do the women who are not so feminine feel like failures? Do these men who are not so masculine feel like failures? Do they feel bad for not playing into the world of opposites?

Sometimes I am curious about dating heterosexually but I just can’t imagine how it would work. I could date other queers, but I cannot imagine my gender in a completely heterosexual paradigm. I feel like I would be unintelligible. I am always curious to find out if that is true but I do not even know how to begin testing (and I mean, I’m not REALLY) that curious. I would pay a million dollars to know if people here in Kalamazoo are even aware of my gender, or what they think about it, or even if they CAN think about it or if it is just unintelligible — just like a lot of their genders are to me. I want to know more about straight people gender! Straight people, do you talk about this? Think about this? Date people with genders like you (I mean, aside from being “man” vs “woman”) or people with genders not like you? CAN you date someone “opposite” from you who is still the same? Do you think different genitals (if your genitals are different) are what make you hetero, or is it something else?

Please comment about this! And please tell your heterosexual friends about this post. INQUIRING MINDS NEED TO KNOW.

9 Comments so far
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soooo interesting….
I think about degrees of feminine..the very feminine, delicate,nails done, handbag, shoes, pedicure, hair combed and they do not feel like they would necessarily get me…tomboy, natural, makeup missing. Feel rather masculine around them actually. My ying needs more encouragement i think. Not sure about the superficial ying..thinking about the part inside that nutures and receives. ???
Some men allow me to feel more feminine’s something in the air. While others well, I feel rather neutral.
As for matching, giving up couples, though I have wondered about that same thing now I think it’s comfort…like good pair of shoes or jammies that always feel right. So, dressing up is more like for stage work.
More than that? your questions are a bit too complex for me to answer but sometime I’d Love to talk it around a bit. Love that you question, observe, watch.

Comment by Joyce Major

Hi! Oh man I’m glad you read and replied!

See what I said above, to Sam — and I think I am going to keep working on this one a little bit. I am learning a lot about how straight people think about gender and it is interesting to me. Very different from the queers! Satisfyingly so. There will be more soon. I think there is something about comfort that should not be lapsed — but if that is what is comfortable, right, does that say something about someone’s underlying gender mo? Like, women who aren’t really so feminine, and don’t actually want to deal with that kind of femininity, but then feel obliged? Maybe we are all much more like each other than we think. But then, I am not really an expert on heterosexuality…hmm.

Comment by glitzkreig bop

i came to this post from a friend (i’m a hetero male), and i’m totally intrigued by your questions. and i want to try to share my perspective, but i’m new to a lot of this language. you ask: “do you date people with genders like you?” but i don’t know what that means… are you asking if the women i’ve been involved with are more feminine or more boyish? you also ask “can you date someone opposite from you who is still the same,” and again i don’t think i understand you. so please give me some more info!

Comment by sam

Sam! I hope it emails you to tell you I replied. Another post is coming to explain a little further — it’s funny how much I realized that I totally am not being clear. I take things for granted in my little queer utopia sometimes.

I think I mean this, loosely: that when you take crotches out of the picture, and stop assuming they mean much about someone’s gender, you get a lot more variables. I think about homo homo daters — people who date people with about the same gender presentation as they have and tend to be attracted to someone like them, like two girly girls dating. Then there are hetero homo daters, right, of which I tend to be — the classic example are butch lesbos dating femme lesbos. Sure, they’re both women, but they do gender really differently.

I think about, for example, straight couples who seem to be really similar. Their style is similar, they hold their space similarly, that kind of thing. Kind of homo, even though it’s hetero, right? But it’s funny how because you have these two different categories, suddenly that is totally elided and invisible.

Does that make more sense? I would love to know what you think!

Comment by glitzkreig bop

I’m not totally straight, but when I date hetero, I tend to go more toward those like me–that is, kind of middling. I’m not a total tomboy, I like to be a little girly once in awhile. I can also dress male and go do “guy things”. So I tend to gravitate towards women who are like me and men who are slightly feminine.

Comment by Zippa


i completely understand your explanation, which was very clear and articulate and i now realize that these are not new concepts to me, just new language. good stuff.

so… i guess the answer, from my perspective, is that there isn’t really the same kind of thinking or amount of attention paid to gender-as-separate-from-physiological-sex amongst straight folks as there seems to be amongst queer folks. i tried to write about whether i date folks of similar or different gender presentation as myself, and i discovered that i do not have a good idea of what it that looks like.

this might come off as totally insensitive, which is not my intention, but it sort of confuses me that you refer to the two separate categories of physiological sex and gender, and observe that they are “suddenly elided and invisible.” i would argue that in fact, the idea of gender as separate from sex is a comparatively new idea, and rather than being suddenly elided, the thing is just that much of the population hasn’t come around to the idea of how to separate out what used to be one single concept.

i guess the other thing, or maybe the more important and overarching thing, is that if sexual orientation is part of gender presentation, and i don’t know if it is but it seems to be, then i think that i, and perhaps most straight people who i know, perceive orientation as so defining that the rest of someone’s gender presentation is basically irrelevant. add that together to the fact that i think that people basically tend to date folks who are like them, and i think that we have a pretty good explanation of your “homo hetero” observation.

does that make any sense? do i sound like an insensitive prick? i hope not. because, like… i am generally pretty smart and educated but i don’t know a lot about this subject, and i’m well aware that it can be a sensitive and emotionally-charged matter for lots of folks. so i’m sorry if i ruffle any feathers. i’m not trying to push an agenda or argue a point, only to engage in conversation.


Comment by sam

I gotta say, I’m not surprised. There’s no real reason for hetero folks to interrogate something that’s made to seem natural, unnoticeable, effortless, like gender and sex and sexuality “matching up”. I mean, there’s a lot of effort put in to making hetero sex-gender-sexuality collusion invisible, into making gender seem biological, so how can you interrogate something you’ve never had cause to notice? But once you notice, it’s hard to ignore again, isn’t it? It kind of colours your perception of the world.

Comment by yondergen

So glad to have found your blog again. Just went through my May/August emails and there you were this whole time. Yessss! Major find.
Also, I like your whole homo homo and hetero homo analysis. I am a hetero homo myself, but most homos where I am from are homo homos. It’s a sad state of affairs.
But then you made me think… most of my heterosexual friends are homo heteros. I didn’t even ever think about such a thing existing before. Now I am perplexed. Is everyone in this city just a huge egomaniac wanting to date themselves… gay or not! Jeez.

Comment by Dylan

I’m a bit late to the conversation here, but I’ve just found your blog & I like to think about things too! 🙂

So, you say that “My queer friends and I are all slightly gender-obsessed; we think about it and play with it and analyze it and get overwhelmed by it and have sex with it and mess around with gender all day long.”

My question is this: Do you all talk about the fact that one gender is more powerful than the other? That there is an undeniable gender HIERARCHY? That an immeasurable amount of oppression and violence has resulted from gendered dynamics? I SINCERELY do not intend these questions to be hostile or aggressive. I have a philosophical concern with the extent to which the idea that male and female genders are “equal” and interchangeable and fun to play with! without further recognition of the way that female-ness has been denigrated (he-ey, Deep Lez!). I’m sincerely interested in discussing this matter with self-identified queer lesbians. For real. It’s difficult to get the convo going, though…if you know what I mean. I come in peace and good faith.

Comment by Undercover Punk

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