posted by Infra on February 7th, 2013
Those bits on the Lens, in the last post, got me thinking. And what I’m wondering is if the dating advice that runs “just be yourself” might work in much the same way.
Kind of an appropriation of the idea that the body knows what it is, and where it belongs, combined with the idea that the body abhors miscegenation. Combine those two ideas, and the result is this: if you’re confused or can’t seem to get a lover, or a spouse, or a date — that’s because you don’t know yourself well enough, and the right thing to do is transfer that judgment to others. Then you’ll find out, through the acceptance and rejection of others, who you are.
I mean, if we look at how the White Lens operates, it’s similar: through appearance, and through the ways in which certain types of appearance are treated, we receive information about whether or not we’ll be accepted in certain contexts. (Usually, those contexts that are also portrayed as desirable, sustainable, and powerful. And the inescapable norm.) Rather than defining race itself, the Lens defines placement, and sends messages about what will happen to us if we dare to violate the portrayed arrangement.
Compare that with “just be yourself.”
If anything, what that advice suggests — or what, I’d contend, it’s intended to convey — is that we already have violated that arrangement. That that’s why we’re being rejected. That that’s why we haven’t found lovers, or spouses, or dates. Because we’ve crossed a line that we had no right to cross, and one that anyone who knew who they are and where they belonged would recognize.
That, because we didn’t recognize it ourselves, the right thing to do is to place that judgment in the hands of others.
And not just the right thing. The only right thing.
That, I suspect, is the message that “just be yourself” is often intended to send: that others are better at understanding who we are, and where we belong, than we are. And that, because of this fact, we have no moral or ethical option but to submit to it.
As quoted earlier on, and using the last word in broad application:
All domination takes the form of administration.
– Herbert Marcuse, Eros and Civilization
In fact, I’ll go even further: rather than being a problem with gay and lesbian partnerships, it’s this that’s behind the emphasis on so-called traditional marriage.1 It’s just that gays and lesbians are easy targets, and the approach allows for enforcement by both society and state.
First, go after the low-hanging fruit. And once you’ve done that — go after the rest.
- I.e., not “one man and one woman,” but the protection of lineage. It’s just that what “lineage” means is redefined, and the redefinition hidden from those not familiar with its earlier forms. There, too, it’s a matter of going after the low-hanging fruit: and its argument is not so different from those of miscegenation.