Sunday, May 30, 2010

Go Back to the Shadows

I should probably know better than to try to piece stereotypes together like pieces of a rational puzzle, and yet I still do it all the time.

The other day, I saw a man reading some kind of Weekly World News or Star Magazine type journal. was of that "not serious" flavor, for all of our sakes. On the obverse (from him - the side facing me, that is to say), I saw an advertisement for male enhancement herbal drugs developed in Nepal. Isn't that something - the conflicting racist stereotypes - the one desire to emasculate Asian races with comments about their penis size (which might fuel the ad campaign - "There was high demand for this, so they developed it") compared to the stereotype of any Asian race as masters of herbal remedies and esoteric sciences (so they can market an exciting, exotic variation on the male enhancement scam).

I guess I've half-answered my own query. If you think "supply/demand" then you can justify the whole racist enterprise; if you think in terms of whether or not the medicine might actually work, then it all breaks down. Because if "Asian masters of herbology" have perfected a male enhancement drug, there should be no stereotype of the small Asian penis.

I used a hypothetical "you" in that last paragraph. I got into trouble with that when I went to burgers with Gypsy-Song, Briullov, and company. Gypsy-Song said she didn't care for my Butler allusion and I explained, to the rest of the company, that I was extending her metaphor about the heteronormative and the transvestite. "...but if you see a transvestite on the bus, you'd feel more threatened than you would by the same individual you saw on stage."

Gypsy-Song asked, "Who's 'you' in this story?"

"The heteronormative Great White Male."

"See, that's what I don't agree with. I don't think that such an opinion is normal."

"Of course it's not normal," I said, "But it's prevalent [I ought to have said 'normative] - else why would there be such a big deal about securing equal rights for humans, regardless of their sexuality?"

"Oh, people are stupid," she said. "Look at how many people follow the Tea Party."

"The Tea Party is the best thing to ever happen to the Republican Party," - this was Debbie/Dallas interjecting, "I'm excited to see them split themselves up."

The girls are likely right. I still let myself fall into the trap of the hidden center, from time to time. Hopefully there's no one who would fall for the racist stereotypes of an ad; hopefully there's no one who would fit the criteria to act as the heteronormative Great White Male. I'm scared they number more than I care to admit.

A young GI sat next to me on the final leg of my journey, possibly reading me writing about the possibility of him reading me writing about the possibility of him...

Again with the craziness. I was tempted to grill him: how old are you? Were you just on drill or in some flavor of deployment? Why did you join? What are your hopes and dreams? Who is the enemy? Why are you fighting?

I didn't, though.

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