Someone Call The PC Police! I Don’t Understand Gender-Normativity


Linda! I can’t express how great it is to see you — look at your belly! Sit down, sit down. Well, first of all, congratulations on the baby. This must be a really exciting time for you! Do you know what it is yet? Awwww. Haven’t you always wanted a little boy? I already have some great ideas for the shower. We can get a blue… oh um… never mind. Just because it’s a boy doesn’t mean it has to be swathed in blue, right? That’s a totally gender-normative idea. Maybe the baby will look better in green, or purple, even. Forget I said anything.

Oh, here’s our waitress. May I have a coffee with soy milk? No, half and half won’t work, I’m afraid. Really? No soy milk? Um… just water then, I guess. Thanks! …Linda, what kind of cafe hell have you dragged me to? I know you have pregnancy brain right now, but really? A cafe with no soy milk? This is lacto-normative. Why would this cafe just assume that everyone can process lactose? I have it on good authority that 40 million Americans are lactose intolerant. Forty million. My ancestors didn’t molest cows for nourishment, and now I’m the one who pays the price because this cafe has rigid ideas on which milk options are ‘good’ and which milk options are ‘bad.’ This is freaking ridiculous.

Sorry, sorry. I’m overreacting. And I didn’t mean to be prego-normative, just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you’re insane now. Apologies. Anyway, you obviously can’t stay in that one-bedroom apartment much longer once the baby comes, what’s the plan? Are you guys moving? NEW JERSEY? I just… I never expected this from you Linda. Of course you can raise a kid in the city. There’s plenty of kid-friendly neighborhoods: Park Slope, the Upper West Side, um… I mean, how many options do you need? We were raised here, Linda. And now you’re turning your back on us? I can’t help but think that your aversion to child-rearing in the city is kind of geo-normative. You know, I expected that you would’ve changed a bit since your hetero-normative wedding — you and your blood diamond engagement ring and your bride and groom wedding cake topper — but I never thought you’d go this far. And by this far, I mean to New Jersey.

You’re looking at me like I’ve got two heads. I know you went to state school, Linda, but I don’t believe in edu-normativity so I’m not letting you off easy here. You know what normatives are and how evil they are. You don’t? Okay… well. Truth is, I’m not quite sure what they are, either. Like you, I did not attend a liberal arts college or get my Master’s in Knowing Your Vagina: An Exploration Of Georgia O’Keefe. It’s just that… well, I was on the internet earlier, reading an article about nail polish, and the author didn’t qualify her article by stating that not all women wear nail polish, and also that some men do wear nail polish, and some commenters were upset by that but I didn’t see what the big deal was, so I commented on the article saying, “Come on guys, I don’t think the author meant to exclude anyone, it’s not a nefarious article, it’s just about nail polish,” and then I got a bunch of responses accusing me of being gender-normative, part of the problem, all of that. Imagine that! I never could’ve imagined it until it happened to me, because I had no idea what they were talking about. It’s like they were all… normative-normative. Like they just expected everyone on the internet to have been born with the same knowledge, the same background, the same vocabulary, the same gender studies pre-req… it was brutal, Linda. Really, it was. I asked for an explanation, it seemed like a teachable moment, but they were so stunned by my ignorance that they shunned me. The nail polish community shunned me. I did some Googling, but I still know nothing about normativity and how it negatively affects society. It’s possible I’m using the word a bit… frugally as a result. A normativity here, a normativity there, it’s all good, right? The one thing I’ve been able to glean though, Linda, is that namedropping that word is an easy way to shame someone for something they haven’t had the opportunity to learn yet. So from this day forward, whenever something oppresses me, or excludes me, or includes me, or confuses me, I’m going with the normative defense. That way, I’ll never lose another argument again. At least not on the internet.

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