Hiking the AT

I’ve got a friend hiking the AT right now. He’s posting (well written) updates I will be following, hence this post and the link under my blogroll.

Distinctions

Chris Rock has a routine where he makes a distinction between black people and niggers. He basically defines “niggers” as stereotypical black people whereas black people are simply people who happen to also be black. I think it’s a good distinction. There are people out there who fit the negative stereotypes associated with black people. Those are crappy people that mess it up for all the non-stereotypical black people (which constitutes the vast majority). I want to extend this distinction to another group, but with some deviation because the analogy isn’t perfect.

There are gay people and then there are faggots. A gay person is someone who doesn’t flaunt his sexuality around in public; it’s unlikely a random gay person could be identified as being gay if he was walking down the street. A faggot, on the other hand, is nothing but identifiable. This is a person who intentionally dresses flamboyantly, speaks with an unnatural lisp, and tries to fall into all the stereotypes associated with gay people.

This distinction, it should be noted, has absolutely nothing to do with sexual orientation. It isn’t possible for anyone who isn’t a member of the shrieking PC brigade to think it does. If this was about sexual orientation, then I wouldn’t be able to make a distinction between people with the same orientation in the first place! Exclamation marks are usually bad writing, but this case should be so obvious that it warrants one.

The distinction Chris Rock makes is more severe because the stereotypes about black people deal with violence and real safety issues. That clearly isn’t at point with gay people. Though the principle that intentionally fitting a stereotype is a bad thing does stand in both cases. It’s an act of immaturity. We see it in more apt analogies. The goth clique in high school. The frat guy with the pink shirt and popped collar. The girls wearing shorts up to their pubes and shirts they bought at Baby Gap. How often have you come across a person you would consider mature who also dressed like any of these stereotypes? It almost never happens.

The final example is the best because it deals with sexuality (though not sexual orientation). Girls who dress in overly skimpy clothes are usually called skanks. We go from a neutral term (girls/women) to a negative one (skanks). This is justified. If they are going to try and play a part or a role because they’re too immature to realize that embracing stereotypes is not a mark of adulthood, then they deserve to be derided. This is especially true for skanks because they are dressing in a way that is considered inappropriate in much of the public square. They are “expressing” their sexuality in a truly skanked up way.

Faggots are skanks by another name. They are advertising in a way that is so similar to skanky girls, a distinction is only to be made based upon the details, not the principle. That is, they are part of a different group, but they’re doing essentially the same thing.

Beyond that, a “faggot” is someone who can be identified while walking down the street as being gay. There is no need for that. Just the same, there’s no need for the asshole from the frat to dress like a complete and utter tool just so he can show off his straightness to all the ladies.

Note that there is consistency in this post. That is because I’m not reasoning based upon sexual orientation. My basis is first that intentionally following a stereotype is bad. This is because it gives a bad name to everyone else who doesn’t want to be a part of that crap. Furthermore, it is immature. Adults who fall into stereotypes are either losers or celebrities trying to keep up an image for the sake of business. If you’re an intentional stereotype, an adult, and not a celebrity, you’re a loser. Maybe most importantly (to me, at least) is the fact that this is all dishonest behavior. I refuse to believe there are so many more gay men with lisps than straight men. Surely there are gay men who honestly have lisps, but c’mon. There should be a roughly proportional number of gay to straight men with lisps. The stereotypes skew the numbers, and they do it either for attention or to fit a prefit model or for some other purely dumb reason. There is no good reason anyone should be able to identify your sexual orientation based upon how you speak. (Again, consistency tells us that the same applies to straight men trying to be overly macho or whathaveyou.)

No one is saying that people have to behave differently than what feels natural to them. But how many after school specials have said “Be yourself”? The point of this post captures that sentiment perfectly.