“Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky tacky, little boxes on the hillside, little boxes all the same”

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“There’s a green one and a pink one and a blue one and a yellow one, and they’re all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.”

We fight against labels, conformity, and gender stereotypes. We fight to have freedom of choice, freedom of expression, freedom to love.  Yet throughout this struggle I feel we become intolerant of those that do not adhere to our codes and ideals and views about life and what is around us. We fight to be nonconformists, but does that mean that we just draw up new rules of engagement that reframe our worlds rather than remove the frame completely?

I have experienced and witnessed instances of intolerance or judgment that came quickly when there was a misstep perceived to be made outside the new lines we’ve drawn. I grew up in home that was clearly biased towards my brothers, where societal conformity and traditionalism were the rigid rules we had to live by. I’ve been fighting against them for the past 20 years. I have won many battles, and will continue to do so. But throughout this personal journey of mine I have seen judgment rear its ugly head in so many places from the most unlikely of people. I will try to give a few examples from my personal experiences.

Looks and physical presentation can be such a battlefield. Growing up, I fought to shed all the rules of what it means to be beautiful (the combed straightened hair, the make-up, the colors I would wear, the length of my skirt, the spotless, frayless, holeless jeans…etc.) Our society pushes us to be a certain way, to shape our eyebrows or tattoo them to match our puffed up sex lips and have silky smooth legs and the perfect bikini line. And now that I have shed those rules I like the idea that I don’t have to shave, blow dry my hair, wear make-up every day, or dress up in a suit or the latest of fashion trends. I refuse to have to conform. I like the freedom of choice that comes with nonconforming.  But that’s just it, freedom of choice. So when I make it a point that women do not have to tattoo their eyebrows to be accepted, but can have shaggy eyebrows too, then I as a woman have the choice to decide to tattoo or grow a uni-brow.  So why is it that after we’ve fought so hard to get that choice, do we pass judgment on those who struggled with us, and still chose to shape their brows, get waxed, wear make-up…etc.  and look at them funny when they do? And make statements of “uft shu hal habal had?” We all conform, one way or another.  Even in our choices to go against the system, we are conforming to some other code we ourselves have drawn up. So when do we really stop conforming? And when will we stop passing judgment on those that do, especially if they know that they don’t have to?

Let’s step away from appearance and into sexuality for a minute or two. Women who have sex with women may or may not have struggled with their sexuality. Some may or may not be out, some may or may not be comfortable with their sexuality. Some may choose to have sex with men too.  Some may be currently questioning their sexuality after years of identifying as “lesbian”, or even when trying to be part of a gay community. I have had numerous conversations with women who are bisexual and others who are now questioning their homosexuality and there is always an underlying tone of unrest related to the judgment that will be passed on to them by peers. Sometimes this fear is unfounded other times it is justified. Even when our peers are not directly judging us, many of us self censor in anticipation of a judgment that can only come out of an atmosphere that is intolerant of difference.

I feel that in our queer circles we preach diversity and non-conformity to a point that the definition of non-conformity becomes a box that we put ourselves in. This box is exactly what we are fighting to break free from. I don’t care how big, unpretty or diverse this box is, I don’t want a box.

- Contributed by Dyke Drives

Guest Contributor

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