It looks like I’m back using tweets as a catalyst for discussion. This tweet appeared as a retweet in my feed the other day:
Raise a glass to presenting gender and sexuality any damn way you please pic.twitter.com/114xx72j0w
— aging quickly (@anyharder) December 26, 2016
Wow, this single tweet has more retweets and likes than I’ve received in my whole twitter career (by a factor of 100). Clearly this is a popular idea, the idea that we should toast folks presenting their gender and sexuality any damn way they please.
But surely not any damn way?
Let’s consider some examples:
Alex is a 30 year old male who is minor-attracted like the character Walter in The Woodsman. Surely all these likes wouldn’t extend to Alex acting on his sexual attraction to young children, would they?
Lucy is a necrophiliac like Sandra in the 1996 film Kissed. And like Sandra, she would like to act on her sexual attraction to corpses. These likes wouldn’t all extend to Lucy, would they?
And what about Scott? He is sexually attracted to horses, just like Kenneth Pinyan, a man who died after having sex with a horse. Would those 50,000+ likes extend to Scott (or Kenneth) acting on his sexual attractions?
And then there is Debbie. She is into sadomasochism. The way she’d like to present her gender and sexuality is by wearing her dominatrix costume to the PTA meeting at her children’s school, just ’cause. Whaddaya say? 50,000+ likes?
When it comes to these specific dispositions and behaviors, I’m guessing that Alex, Lucy, Scott and Debbie would see a significant drop-off in likes.
You see, almost nobody raises their glass to folks presenting sexuality and gender any damn way they please. We all retain a range of convictions regarding what is laudatory, what is permissible, what should be socially censured, and what should be outright illegal. Virtually all people identify particular expressions of sexuality and/or gender as deviant, as unhealthy either for the individual or the collective social good. And it does no good to mask these convictions with a facile invocation of libertine maxims.
And that brings us to the next question: to which expressions of sexuality and gender do we raise our glass, and why?