I hate to write a blog post on the same thing twice in a row, but this whole media firestorm is something I can’t help but shake my skinny fist at furiously. I mentioned in my previous post that even the Advocate‘s transgender guest columnist failed to make the distinction between sex and gender. Beatie himself failed to make such a distinction, and while the fella’s not a sociologist or anything, it seems like if you’re about to put yourself out there for public scrutiny while representing a largely misunderstood, misrepresented and oppressed community you would at least know your way around the language. In the Oprah interview, Beatie continues to use male/man interchangeably.

If we can’t overcome these really basic obstacle, how are we going to move forward? Everyone’s saying, “What did he expect, coming out in front of the national news media, getting interviewed by Oprah, than to be turned into something of a sideshow freak?”

We’re all kind of sideshow freaks, after all, guys. Like it or not. It’s only a question of whether or not we want to embrace and deal with our freakiness maturely. I think that the Beaties are trying to do the world a great service by standing up as representatives of a new standard of gender normalcy — one into which the oppressive binary structure just doesn’t factor as much. They’re living, within the confines of a gendered society (and even Oprah has to admit that our society is deeply gendered), with as little regard for what we deem “normally gendered” as humanly possible.

The Beaties, while courageous, aren’t doing the world the greatest service they might be. Using the binary rhetoric that the mainstream media wants to see is mere collusion; though we recognize our oppression, we’re failing to empower ourselves to overcome it. Education is one thing, but as I mentioned to someone before regarding the Oprah interview, a twelve-year-old can work Wikipedia. There are quick and easy ways to educate oneself on the internet. I’m sure Oprah has the internet. (Correct me if I’m wrong here.)

But it isn’t up to Oprah to change the rhetoric surrounding gendered oppression. It’s up to righteous folks like Thomas Beatie to not only let the world know that he exists, but to up the ante and refuse to buy into the words that the mainstream media wants to put into his mouth. Sure it’s going to take longer to explain, but he did have a major interview on Oprah, in addition to further interviews with other news sources. Don’t tell me that we need sound bytes. That’s exactly the problem. The expectations need to change.

I’m tired of putting up with this bullshit. I’m tired of hearing these crass jibes being made at people who are trying to live their lives lovingly and justly. I’m tired of seeing such people refuse to take a stand against the linguistic barriers our society has put into place, and subsequently colluding with gendered oppression. The only way to change the way people think about non-binary gender situations is to change the rhetoric surrounding gender itself, feminism itself. It’s high time someone stood up and said so.

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