It seems the latest attack in the never-ending culture wars comes from a Northwestern University freshman, who this week claimed that Generation Z needs to “acknowledge its heteronormativity” if it truly wants to be called “progressive.”
Generation Z, which Wikipedia says is “widely accepted” as starting with the birth year 1997, is only “statistically” more progressive than its predecessors, Tanisha Tekriwal writes in The Daily Northwestern.
“Just because we are collectively attempting to undermine social constructs of race, gender, patriarchy, organized religion,” Tekriwal says, “does not mean we are individually immune to the less explicit and more insidious forms of these very institutions.”
For the author, one of the “less explicit and more insidious forms” of sticking with traditional “constructs” is a heterosexual person stating that they don’t want his/her partner to be bisexual. Such statements “infuriate” Tekriwal: “[That] discovering someone’s sexual orientation would change the way you see them is not a personal preference; it’s simply a prejudice I cannot respect or accept.”
Look around a room and definitively identify a stranger’s orientation or pronouns. You might have a lucky guess, but the truth is, you can’t tell something like that. And by trying to, you’re playing into heteronormative ideology because you’re boxing people into what you think are definable categories of who’s queer and who isn’t. Yes, there are stereotypes of what gay or lesbian people act like or are supposed to act like, but they’re stereotypes for a reason. Androgyny means nothing that its bearer doesn’t want it to — there is no such thing as “gay behavior” or “straight behavior” — only stereotypes.
One of the biggest demands the LGBTQ community and their allies are making is asking people to realize that personality is in large part unaffected by gender identity or sexual orientation. They are not a break from the heteronormative “default,” but very much part of everyday and our “normal.” If you liked someone when they were or you thought they were heterosexual, and suddenly don’t when you learn they’re bi/pansexual or non-binary, you’re doing exactly what Gen Z is always accusing boomers of: not supporting people and their choices.
There’s clearly a difference between liking someone in hopes of pursuing a romantic relationship, and liking someone as a friend to hang out with. In the latter, it certainly is arguable that you’re not a very nice person if you end a friendship just because you learn that friend is gay. However, if you’re a heterosexual, there’s nothing at all improper with terminating a (possible) romantic relationship upon learning same.
That being said, if you still actually think Tekriwal has a point, she kind of ruins it by delving into the “studies”/sociology pit of oppression in her closing paragraph:
“The truth is we are all guilty of living comfortably in an age of state-sponsored monogamy and state-sanctioned erasure of identity on an unimaginable scale, both of which are closely tied to the institution of colonialism,” she says. “Many don’t know or ignore how entrenched the gender binary is in the enduring imperial trajectory and the white male dominance it has birthed.”
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