Tuesday, January 24, 2012

For The Last Time, He Is Not My Boyfriend

I grew up with two brothers who are more or less the best people I know, so it's perhaps predictable that all my life I have tended to form very close friendships with dude-type humans. Equally predictably, all my life I have had to combat the constant “tee-hee, it's like you're dating” juvenilia from those around me.

In kindergarten and first grade: Hal is not my boyfriend, Marshall is not my boyfriend, Davis is not my boyfriend (actually he kind of was, but we were six or seven).

In prep school: George is not my boyfriend, Gregory is not my boyfriend, Nikit is not my boyfriend.

In high school: Eystein is not my boyfriend, Chris is not my boyfriend (and if I sort of wanted him to be, it was a very confusing time in my life and I was working a lot of stuff out).

In university: Sam is not my boyfriend (though if I had a pound for every time someone legitimately thought he was, I could easily pay off my student debt).

In grad school: Tyler is not my boyfriend, and would you all please stop saying that he is?

Maybe the first couple of times it was funny, on account of the sheer outlandishness of the whole idea. But with enough repetition it becomes, frankly, problematic.

Constant reassertion of a bullshit heteropatriarchal narrative, in such a way that any objections can be countered with “jeez, can't you take a joke?”, is a time-honored bullying tactic of the Heteropatriarchy Police.

I know you all still think it's funny. But to me it's starting to feel as though the Heteropatriarchy Police are saying, “Hm, two single opposite-sex humans are spending a lot of time together, but with 0% chance of romance on either side. We'd better put a stop to this before the whole bullshit heteropatriarchy collapses! Everyone, quick, start mercilessly pummeling them with the language of romance so they get the message that their friendship as it is is not okay.”

I hate what this narrative says about the power differentials of gender and sexuality. I know if we were both dudes, or both women – or probably even if he were the gay one and I the breeder – we wouldn't get anywhere near this amount of teasing. And I hate what it says about the supreme importance of romantic relationships in our society. I know we only get this much teasing because we're both single. For comparison, I recently mentioned my friend JT to my little brother (who, lest we forget, is one of the best people I know); my brother said in a jokey voice, “Is he your boyfriend?”, but when I said, “He's married,” my brother dropped the entire subject. So apparently a friend's marital status can end the “is he your boyfriend” jokes, but the basic fact of my, you know, sexuality can't? A marriage certificate allows two opposite-sex people to be platonic friends, but the fact that one of them is gay doesn't?

Why does the concept of a very deep, meaningful, 100% platonic friendship between a dude-person and a lady-person blow so many people's minds? Hell, even if I was straight we could still have this sort of friendship. It's not like we're inventing the wheel here. There's even a TV Tropes page for our relationship. Truth be told, I expect better from the denizens of a campus that prides itself on its inclusivity, queerness, and all-round challenging of the kyriarchy.

In conclusion, take your bullshit heteropatriarchal narrative and shove it up your arses.

1 comment:

  1. Word. So much agreement here - I got so sick of that "joke" even before I came out to myself as queer. And "take your bullshit heteropatriarchal narrative and shove it up your arses" should be on a bumper sticker to go on my future car. Because YES.