Feminism, Intersectionality, Other Stuff We Read, Sweet Machine

Quote of the day: Normal

I take the war on terror personally because the war on terror is really a war on difference, because my body strikes terror in the hearts of other Americans.

My body and the bodies of the people I love are the most intimate sites of American imperialism. Because our sex anatomy isn’t normal, they operate on us without our consent. Because who we have sex with isn’t normal, they won’t let us get married. Because our gender isn’t normal, they don’t give us jobs, health care, or housing. We work, we pay rent, we pay taxes, but because we’re not normal, we don’t get the same freedoms other Americans enjoy, the same freedoms American soldiers are murdering to protect.

Normal is a weapon of mass destruction. It’s just as deadly, and just like those weapons, it’ll never be found.

— Thea Hillman, Intersex (for lack of a better word), 2008

I very highly recommend this book: it’s fascinating and moving.

20 thoughts on “Quote of the day: Normal”

  1. My personal website where I post all my writing is AboutBeingDifferent.com, so I totally agree with this assessment of the world normal.

    Instead of liking normal, I prefer the idea of pluralism. That ideas clash and compete in society. That there is no one right, but instead a collection of could be rights. And I get to choose which right I agree with.

    I’m against the War on Obeisty because I feel it’s an unscientific and illogical argument. Instead of a push and pull of ideas, we have a moral majority promoting bigotry and hate.

    But before it became a war and was just a bunch of people thinking I was weird because I didn’t diet or strive to be thin, I wasn’t really vocal about my feelings about being fat.

    Before it was a war, if fat was a choice then I was choosing to be settled and happy with my body despite their idea of a normal weight.

    Now that it is a war, I’m putting my tiny voice to add to the clamor so that one-day our fat voices will be louder than the anti-fat ones.

  2. I struggle with the war on our bodies as well. I’m not trans, but I’m not exactly cis either. I’m queer but not a lesbian, bi or straight. My body is a battlefield that I fight on every morning in the shower and throughout every day, and it is mostly fought in silence.

  3. What happened to the site?! It looks terrible. :(

    About the post: That’s really well said; normal is a weapon of mass destruction. We’re learning about teaching exceptional students and how to make individual lesson plans for them. A fellow student of mine brought up a problem with the term ‘exceptional’; it implies that there is some sort of ‘normal’ that most people fall into. We’re ALL individuals and teachers, doctors and other professionals need to recognize that.

  4. I’m right behind you, O.C.! I just passed along an order request to our selectors for two copies–one for each branch.

    I also swiped the final statement of the quoted passage to post on my website. I may put it on a t-shirt . . .

    Thanks, Sweet Machine!

  5. Totally had to peep up and mention having recommended it to the head reference librarian here as well. Huzzah for libraries!

    If that quoted section is even partially representative of the book I can’t wait to read it fully!!

  6. lilpocketninja see if your library has any of those interlibrary loan request slips. You could drop off the suggestion for the book into the book drop or at the circ desk anonymously if you’re cautious about signing up as interested in it. Though if you do put your name on it the request holds a bit more sway. Just a few thoughts :)

  7. I think it’s great you bring up this topic, I really think it needs more attention from the public. Just recently I watched a show on TV about gender images where people who didn’t fit into the typical gender roles due to different reasons talked about their perception of gender. I really had a sudden revelation of how overrated the gender issue is and how often we look at ourselves as men or women first, and only secondly do we look at ourselves as human – even though it really should be the other way around! This kind of thinking robs people who don’t fit into the general categories of male or female of their identity, and I was really impressed with how strong this has made many people faced with these so-called “issues”.

  8. Hey, SM, do you have any suggestions for a decent 101 source for trans- and intersex issues? I’d also be grateful if you know one for disability and developmental disability issues (and if those are not considered okay terminology, please let me know.) Anyone else who has suggestions, please feel free to chime in. I try to keep my mouth shut on these questions because it’s likely I’ll end up chin-deep in a swamp of mucky privilege-based idiocy with no idea how I got there.

    Also would love to know if anyone is involved with or aware of a similar source re: mental health issues. I’m fiercely angry about a lot of what happens to people suffering from mental health problems (myself included, sometimes) but it hasn’t occurred to me before that there might be a community of activists.

  9. Hey, Starling … in terms of trans 101 resources, if you’re just looking for a primer on terminology and such, T-Vox has a pretty widely recommended one located at http://t-vox.org/index.php?title=Trans_101.

    But for a trans 101 that really gets into the issues that trans folks face, I think Questioning Transphobia’s “Trans 101” sidebar is excellent. It’s at http://questioningtransphobia.wordpress.com, located towards the bottom of the page on the righthand side.

  10. “…it hasn’t occurred to me before that there might be a community of activists.”

    Just Google ‘Mad Pride’!

  11. That’s so cool, Mary Anne! I too love seeing people from my grad program make it big. :-)

    Starling, I’m not an expert by any means, but here’s some links you might start with:

    My understanding is that trans issues and intersex issues often get put under the same umbrella, but not everyone agrees on how that should play out. Hillman’s book (as is probably obvious from the quote) is pretty inclusive of everyone under the label “queer,” but that’s not universal, afaik.

    Professor Google will help you find a ton of stuff on the other issues you ask about: try “mad pride” and “disability rights”/”disability activism” for starters.

  12. Thanks very much. The Caster Semenya situation has brought home to me how little I actually know about these issues of discrimination. Time for some self-education.

  13. To Starling – Check out http://nami.org/ It’s the National Alliance on Mental Illness and is the United State’s largest and longest running grassroots advocacy and support group on mental illness. They have groups in every state and almost every county.

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