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Oh, and I should add the following.

Do. Not. Expect. Me. To. Nod. And. Smile when you go «You Know» smile-smile-wink-wink «Your Friend».

In french and english, we usually make distinctions between friends and lovers and boy/girlfriends and partners and wives/husbands, and we do not use smiles and winks to convey them. We just use simple worlds like, well, you know, "friend" and "lover" and "boy/girlfriend" and "partner" and "wife/husband".

If you are heterosexual, that is.

Then, you can stay cozy with the privilege that your loved one will NEVER be equated to a "friend" (unless, maybe, we really did not know beforehand the nature of your relationship) or to one of the "special" sort.

No. You will not even have to push your little finger to have your relationship be recognized. Its intimacy and love and affection and sexuality will not be silenced by ambiguous "You know, your friend"s, told in this sort of contented self-assurance, as if nothing wrong had just been said.

I have a good bunch of friends. And let me assure you I do not experience emotions or do things with them that I experience and do with my girlfriends. I love my friends, but I am not in love with them. I can be affectionate with my friends, but I do not make love with my them.

This f***g double standard, when it comes to same-sex relationships, speaks volumes.

While heterosexuals live pure, transcendental, sacred, full-fledged love and sexual attraction, we experience a pale copy of it. Ours, apparently, is very, very, very good friendship.

Oh, and how funny! When we point out the double standard to those who make use of it, their brains warp and distort. They suddenly go into the "this is not what I meant" mode [so, what, is it that you do not "really mean it" when you casually mention your heterosexual friends' spouses and boy/girlfriends and lovers, instead of calling them "You know" smile-smile-wink-wink "your friend"s ?]. Or they go in the "It is not true that there is a problem" mode. Their brain forgets that every. other. frigging. time. they will not mistake other (heterosexual) people's partners for their "friends". They do. not. register that lots of heterosexual people around them will directly name heterosexual partners in unequivocal terms, and then turn around and mention gay or lesbian's "friends" almost with the same breath.

No. They will argue with you about your own frigging knowledge of your own frigging situation.

To those heterosexuals, Think About This: What is the probability that, when talking with your heterosexual friends, they will mention their gay or lesbian friend's "friend"? And now, what do you think is the probability that, when talking to me, a heterosexual person evokes my smile-smile-wink-wink "friend"? I'll give you a clue: the latter will happen more often. Not clear yet? When two heterosexuals meet, they are not in contact with gay reality each and everytime. Sometimes, they may think of this lesbian friend or family member or other. When a heterosexual person is talking to me, she or he is in contact with gay reality every single time because, duh, I am lesbian. So the chances that a "(special)friend" will come up are... yes, you got it, more frequent. So I get to witness and experience and be subjected to, more often than you do, the f***g double standard. And you know what? I do not always have a heterosexual friend alongside me as a second witness to the scene - besides, of course, the interlocutor. So. you. have. to. believe. me. and. not. go. into. defensive. denial. mode.

Also, do. not. tell. me. I. am. making. a fuss. You have no idea, what it means. You have to put this double standard in context. You have to stop atomizing the f***g thing and considering it in an isolated manner. Think Water Torture. One drop? Doesn't matter. Who is going to suffer from and make a fuss over one drop on the head? Nobody, for good reasons. Now, think one drop, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another... get the picture? And then put it in a context where heterosexuality is constantly and routinely praised to the skies (cartoons, movies, publicities, songs, novels, public displays of affection, etc, etc, etc - I am keeping it at that here because that could be the matter of another essay) while sexual diversity generally is silenced - even though it fortunately begins to be recognized. Reconsider all those "little drops" and put them in that perspective. Now persist in telling me I am making a fuss. You'll see a friendship break as quickly as... a wink.

Yes, there are still some lesbians and gays and bisexuals who themselves use "my friend"s for their partners. If it is out of an interiorized double standard, I really have a hard time with that and will discuss it with them (although I cannot and will not blame them for heterosexism). If they are using it as a protection strategy, I really understand. But here's the Golden rule: listen to what the person says. Once she or he is out to you, most of the times, she or he will use non-equivocal terms. And when you listen to me, you will never hear me say "You know" smile-smile-wink-wink "my friend". No, I'll be plain and casual and I will never tip-toe around words.

And one last thing. If you evoke my (ex-)girlfriend(s) with your smile-smile-wink-wink "friend" because you do not want your kids to simply and casually hear "your girlfriend", do not invite me over to your place. I won't accomodate your prejudices, your discomfort and your double standards.

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
karine
Dec. 12th, 2008 04:31 pm (UTC)
Good lord, who put that last straw on the camel's back?

Tell me this: is this attitude more prevalent in people of the generaton before ours than ours? What about the younger people, do they still nudge-nudge-wink-wink?

Maybe it's because I have many gay friends (and some relatives), but I would never belittle a relationship like that, and I can't think of any of my friends who would (probably for the same reason). I won't assume that a girl hanging out with my lesbian friend is a girlfriend, just as I won't assume that a guy hanging out with a straight girl is a boyfriend, but once I'm privvy to the information, I'm not shy about using the term "girlfriend/boyfriend".

There is one thing, though -- lately, the use of the word "girlfriend" used by a woman means something different, something more akin to friendship and the same taste in designer clothes ;) so you can never be sure (if you don't much know the lesbian using the term) whether she means a life partner or a shopping partner. I wouldn't blame this for the whole wink-wink thing, but it could be a little bit of what makes some people unable to use the word (did she mean girl that is a friend, or GIRLfriend?).
aislingtheach
Dec. 12th, 2008 06:22 pm (UTC)
Tell me this: is this attitude more prevalent in people of the generaton before ours than ours? What about the younger people, do they still nudge-nudge-wink-wink?

Oui, heureusement, en ce qui concerne les "amie-clin- d'oeil-sourire-t'sais-veux-dire", je le vois moins dans notre génération que dans celle de nos parents.

Toutefois, ça arrive encore chez certaines personnes de notre génération. C'est d'ailleurs survenu hier avec une collègue de travail avec laquelle j'étais en train de tisser un lien d'amitié. J'ai malheureusement surestimé son niveau d'ouverture. Et la discussion que nous avons eue était la goutte qui a fait déborder le vase - ou la dernière paille sur le dos du chameau (je ne la connaissais pas celle-là, je vais me coucher moins niaiseuse à soir ;)

I won't assume that a girl hanging out with my lesbian friend is a girlfriend, just as I won't assume that a guy hanging out with a straight girl is a boyfriend, but once I'm privvy to the information, I'm not shy about using the term "girlfriend/boyfriend".

Tout à fait d'accord. Pour moi, c'est la posture idéale.

There is one thing, though -- lately, the use of the word "girlfriend" used by a woman means something different, something more akin to friendship and the same taste in designer clothes ;) so you can never be sure (if you don't much know the lesbian using the term) whether she means a life partner or a shopping partner. I wouldn't blame this for the whole wink-wink thing, but it could be a little bit of what makes some people unable to use the word (did she mean girl that is a friend, or GIRLfriend?).

Ouins, j'avoue que ça se complique à ce niveau. J'aurais tendance à différencier ça par le giggle-girlfriend et le girlfriend-girlfriend ;) Mais bon, plus sérieusement, la plupart du temps, mes interactions avec les gens se déroulent en français, donc les alternatives sont les mots "amie", "copine", "blonde" et toute la gamme de mots poétiques potentiels. Perso, j'aime bien "ma douce" ;) Anyways. Dans le contexte actuel, si une fille dit "je sors avec ma blonde", ça ne sera pas interprété comme "je sors avec une amie". La sémantique est moins équivoque qu'avec le "girlfriend" actuel en anglais. J'avoue que je ne sais pas quels mots des lesbiennes anglophones préféreraient pour éviter l'imprécision.
karine
Dec. 12th, 2008 10:20 pm (UTC)
Techniquement, l'expression est "the straw that broke the camel's back".

Vraiment désolée que tu aie eu à dealer avec ça... *hugs*
aislingtheach
Dec. 15th, 2008 05:07 am (UTC)
Vraiment désolée que tu aie eu à dealer avec ça... *hugs*

Merci pour le réconfort. J'ai bien ventilé, donc j'imagine que je ne devrais pas sauter dans la face de ma collègue de travail jeudi prochain quand je vais lui faire part de ce qui fait problème.

Mais il demeure qu'en gros je n'ai plus de patience à ce niveau là et j'ai décidé de ne plus maintenir de liens avec des personnes bornées.
mousme
Dec. 12th, 2008 04:33 pm (UTC)
Ah, les joyeux problèmes de nomenclature.

Pourquoi est-ce que je devrais avoir une "amie" alors que tout le reste du monde a le droit d'avoir une blonde?

Je suis tannée de me soumettre aux sensibilités des autres. Qu'ils apprennent à m'accepter comme je suis, câlisse!
ankhorite
Dec. 12th, 2008 05:07 pm (UTC)
Aime blonde?

So what's that you're saying about blondes, mamzelle?

What I said.

Aisling laughs at my translations.
aislingtheach
Dec. 12th, 2008 06:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Aime blonde?
LOL, I laughed? When? ;)

"Blonde" is colloquial quebecer french for "girlfriend", but has a definite relationship denotation.
ankhorite
Dec. 13th, 2008 02:09 am (UTC)
Amie blonde?

You laughed for your birthday, remember?

The long translation I attempted of a train trip you took with Babelfish and my scanty knowledge of...Spanish!

:)

So what's the deal with blonde=girlfriend? Does this apply to dark-haired women also? Hmm!

aislingtheach
Dec. 13th, 2008 02:39 am (UTC)
Re: Amie blonde?
The long translation I attempted of a train trip you took with Babelfish and my scanty knowledge of...Spanish!

Ahh. I'd have to go back and see, but that does ring a bell ;)

So what's the deal with blonde=girlfriend? Does this apply to dark-haired women also? Hmm!

LOL, yes it does. And no, it does not make sense ;)

But hey, that's language and its inconsistencies for you :P
aislingtheach
Dec. 12th, 2008 06:25 pm (UTC)
J'pense qu'on risque de se répéter des amen.
ankhorite
Dec. 12th, 2008 05:05 pm (UTC)
Not Friends

I'm with Karine above: "Good lord, who put that last straw on the camel's back?"

*sigh* I'm sorry this is still happening to you. It's been eons since I heard "friend" used this way, even in the Midwest, even in non-urban families (except in obits, see below).

This is what Savant and I are forever getting when I intro him to law school acquaintances, including my Gay Rights prof who should have known better:

"I'd like you to meet my partner, Savant."

      "Oh, and what kind of law do you practice?"

"Not That Kind of Partner, Professor."

In our case, it's not gender, it's age. I am older, and while an older man/younger woman combo is dead common in Washington, DC, the Land of the Trophy Wife, the reverse emphatically is not.

But this is nothing compared to what you are forced to confront; I mention it only to try to make you laugh.

As a genealogist, "beloved friend" in obituaries makes me want to gnaw my keyboard. Was this person truly a beloved friend? Or were they a same-sex spouse and the grieving family or the overly-timid obit writer is too lily-livered to come out and say so?

aislingtheach
Dec. 12th, 2008 06:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Not Friends
I'm with Karine above: "Good lord, who put that last straw on the camel's back?"

A coworker with whom I was starting to build a friendship. Who seemed to be upfront about prejudices, but then backtracked and went into full denial and resistance mode even though I was going really mellow with her. It comes in a context of me having used a good deal of my patience throughout the years with several close ones. Dealing with strangers, I find, is far easier than dealing with people you love.

"Not That Kind of Partner, Professor."

In our case, it's not gender, it's age. I am older, and while an older man/younger woman combo is dead common in Washington, DC, the Land of the Trophy Wife, the reverse emphatically is not.


I never had to experience that, but I relate. Sexism really is not my thing and this reeks of it.

As a genealogist, "beloved friend" in obituaries makes me want to gnaw my keyboard. Was this person truly a beloved friend? Or were they a same-sex spouse and the grieving family or the overly-timid obit writer is too lily-livered to come out and say so?

Amen to that.
(Deleted comment)
aislingtheach
Dec. 13th, 2008 02:33 am (UTC)
Ouaip, je suis consciente de ces différences dialecticales entre le français du Québec et celui de France.

À mes yeux, tant qu'il n'y a pas de doubles standards, je suis confortable avec ça. Mais quand il y en a un, grrrrr.

En France, une fille hétéro va dire:
«mon ami» pour un homme avec lequel elle est en couple
et
«un ami» pour désigner un homme avec lequel elle a une relation d'amitié,
n'est-ce pas?

Et une fille bisexuelle ou lesbienne va dire:
«mon amie» pour une femme avec laquelle elle est en couple
et
«une amie» pour désigner une femme avec laquelle elle a une relation d'amitié,
c'est bien ça?

Le seul hic à première vue, c'est que le «e» silencieux peut contribuer à invisibiliser la réalité femme-femme, parce qu'on interprétera par défaut - hétérosexisme oblige - le «mon amie» comme «mon ami». Le temps qu'un «elle» émerge dans la conversation, à tout le moins ;)

P.S. En passant, j'aime beaucoup ton icone :D

Edited at 2008-12-13 02:35 am (UTC)
evilblacksheep
Dec. 13th, 2008 09:25 am (UTC)
Je rejoins tout à fait ce que disais le canard par rapport à l'emploi de "mon ami(e)", "mon copain/ma copine" qui est indifféremment employé par les homos ou les hétéros. Au pire si tu veux vraiment absolument lever l'ambiguïté, tu utilises "ma copine" et c'est assez clair.

Mais en effet, si "mon amie" devait s'accompagner d'un clin d'œil histoire d'appuyer un sous entendu, ça doit rapidement être extrêmement lourd.
aislingtheach
Dec. 13th, 2008 03:15 pm (UTC)
Et question curiosité, est-ce que je me trompe à propos de la distinction «mon» vs «une»?

J'aimerais valider pour être certaine :)

(Anonymous)
Dec. 13th, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC)
Je viens de me rendre compte que le_canard a déjà répondu à ma question! :)
aislingtheach
Dec. 13th, 2008 03:35 pm (UTC)
Bon, visiblement, l'anonyme c'est moi ;) Oublié de me loguer, apparemment.
(Deleted comment)
aislingtheach
Dec. 13th, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC)
Ça me fait d'ailleurs penser à un bouquin qui m'avait beaucoup plu. Chroniques du Pays des Mères d'Elisabeth Vonarburg. Elle avait fait un travail incroyable sur la langue française pour transformer notre bon vieux masculin par défaut en féminin par défaut.

Cool, c'est tout un tour de force! Une amie m'a également parlé d'un ouvrage d'une écrivaine espagnole (traduite en français) qui faisait sensiblement la même chose. Il est récent et c'est un récit sur des lesbiennes de Barcelone, je crois. Apparemment que c'est intéressant.

Merci pour la référence, je vais regarder ça!
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )