Earlier in this blog I introduced a social concept I had come up with during my time studying philosophy and LGBTQ issues: queerism. As it stands, my deceleration on queerism stands as: “I believe that queerism, as opposed to feminism, is needed as a national discourse because the recognition of genders and sexes other than the male/female binary will literally, quantifiably result in less violence in our society and lead to a more authentic, liberated identity expression that is actually more in align with what is natural, contrary to how we have been conditioned to recognize as true.” I wondered back in March, though, if I couldn’t include some kind of extra theory about love into the queerist definition.
Love is perhaps the most speculated, investigated, questioned, feared, and hoped for part of human existence. The feeling of love, real love that is about knowing and accepting another person for who and what they are, is a feeling all of us are either after or in revolt against. True love, truly dedicated love can change the course of lives. Love is also not simply an easy thing despite it feeling so natural, sometimes we must be willing to make great sacrifices for love if indeed that is what we are committed to doing.
After cleaning my room recently I found a New York Times article about a pair of star-crossed lovers in Afghanistan, Zakia and Mohammad who were forced to chose between each other and the tradition of their notoriously conservative society. After choosing each other, “the young couple had faced criminal charges and death threats after eloping and fleeing their village in the high mountains of central Afghanistan last year. Now they have had their legal issues resolved and their marriage legally recognized”. Most Afghanis have arranged marriages out of respect for tradition and keeping tribal bonds strong. In order to succeed with going against the grain of their conservative society, Zakia and Mohammad had to prioritize what was most important in their lives, and they both chose each other. However, triumph did not come without tribulation. After fleeing their families and then returning to their village, Mohammad was confronted with a gun and a knife and chased through the potato fields by Zakia’s brother. They’ve faced social repercussions that have made getting work difficult, and now with a baby, receive relief from “an anonymous benefactor in the United States who had read about their plight and sent them $1,000 via Western Union to help care for their baby.”
Zakia and Mohammad qualified under international law for refugee status in order to escape the hardship of their situation in Afghanistan, however, they chose not to go that route. People are eligible for refugee status if they face “a serious threat to their lives based on discrimination because of gender, race, religion, ethnicity, and choice of spouse”. Zakia personally experienced an extension of rape culture by her own male relatives due to choosing Mohammad, she “never goes out at all, for fear that she might encounter someone from her own large family. her fathers and brothers publicly vowed to kill her and Mohammad Ali when they eloped”. Believing the female body to be an extension of the familial bond and/or public property and therefore a necessary thing to control is a form of rape culture. That Zakia’s male relatives could chose to end her life for her pursuit of romance, love, and sexual satisfaction is a form of the control rape culture employs and encourages. Queerism by definition must fight against rape culture because rape culture presents a direct threat to trans bodies. Many people hear about transwomen being murdered because “he found out she was a he” (to say it in a disgusting heteronormative manner) at some point during courtship or sexual encounter and then, in a rage, killed another human being out of issues revolving around convoluted notions of masculinity and dominance. For many years, murderers walked free because of the “gay panic defense” or the heteronormative solipsistic defense strategy to employ as many homophobic notions concerning the idea of proper male sexual attitudes against the murder victim. Sadly, one state in the nation, California, has banned the defense in 2014. It is shocking how badly transpeople are treated by the criminal justice system, but it is only a reflection of how badly they are treated in greater society.
While not a queer relationship, Zakia and Mohammad’s tale fits within the paradigm of the need for queerism because of the issues surrounding the rules of love in their society. Two people who the world tries to keep a part for reasons of socialized rules and regulations that are only as real as people make them need queerism because by definition queerism recognizes the legitimacy of love that is not viewed as an acceptable norm or even questioned on the legitimacy of the norm. For example, how could a straight man love a transwoman while knowing that that person used to be a man? To many in the heteronormative solipsistic world, it would be a demonstration that the straight man is not as masculine as he could be, and that the transwoman will never “really” be a woman. But for people who understand queerism, they recognize that the straight man is as masculine as he ever is, and that the woman he is involved with is a woman, and that there is no problem here anyway because it really isn’t anyone’s business except the two people involved in the relationship. Queerism grants autonomy and legitimacy to all consensual adult relationships without the societal pressures of aligning with norms of that culture.
Zakia and Mohammad represent a time old conundrum of love and injustice, which is that the most perfect person for you can bring you such pleasure while only to have societal norms and cultural customs screech with indignation at the boldness of your actions. It is an unfair and harsh world. One of the only points of peace for a person is intimacy and love. Part of realizing the ugliness of the world is understanding that there are people, cultural customs, and societal norms that will stand in the way of the one universal thing that will give people comfort. Queerism stands to fight against that in whatever form it takes.