Friday, September 4, 2009

Heteronomativity of the English Language

I saw one ribbed condom dispenser in a male public toilet yesterday and the tag line says "For her pleasure". Someone scribbled a note saying "What about mine?" I do not want to be a vandal but I wanted to write "What makes you think that I am going to use it with a woman?"

Why do people assume that I want to date a woman just because I am a man? I am not a Marlboro Man and yet when I meet new people, they always ask me if I have a girlfriend.

Maybe, they know that I am gay and they are just asking me that question to be polite? Why? Asking someone if one is gay does not mean you are being impolite. What is wrong about assuming that someone is gay?

But then I realized that this is the culture of the language I am using. In English-speaking communities, one has to assume that everyone is straight unless the person in question declares otherwise. It is like assuming that a bus driver is male unless someone says "female bus driver".

This is also why you usually see heterosexual couples hugging and kissing each other in Jetstar TV commercials or Australian straight morning TV hosts talking about their opposite-sex spouses and then the gay TV hosts just keeping their silence. Or how about the commercial with the grain who wants to be a crunchy chip--he has opposite-sex parents! Why can't grains be gay?

I hope that there will come a time when assuming straightness becomes a form of discrimination.

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