|on being who you are
||[Jul. 7th, 2005|12:05 am]
In Steven Levitt's book, "Freakonomics", a reasonable hypothesis is given for the development of children, and for the reduction in crime experienced in America during the early nineties. It is argued that "who you are" is the beggest determinant of one's childrens' success- not what you do while a parent of the child, nor what you name your child or whether you read to them everyday. It is also argued that in addition to more police and greater imprisonment, abortion has proved to be the biggest reason why crime has dropped. He is careful not to conflate his findings with issues of eugenics: but the conclusion is probably the most cogent argument for the ongoing support of legal abortion I have ever seen. Having choices, particularly when choice is synonymous for expanded options for finding one's own way out of the problems we create for ourselves, is an eminently sensible and logical conclusion that has taken me a very long time to come to grips with in my own head.
Much can be said about Levitt's book. Even more remarkable is the fact that although one might expect a scientist who came to such a conclusion might get a drubbing from Pat Robertson on the 700 club, it just didn't happen. A good bit of what is said in the book can be taken to criticize the agenda and plans of the current Republican administration. Indeed, much of how they perform and are continuing to perform is worthy of criticism. One can only hope that this book is being aired in the halls of power. Moreso, one can only hope that it is read also by the opposion: Libertarian, Democrat, and Green, and not simply soundbitten for what may support their efforts. For, much can be said about how this book gently takes liberalism for task for its sins, too.
The famous quote from Godfather could easily be reversed to denote my feeling of late: "just when I thought I was in, they push me back out".
I'm sick of queer politics again. The same old bullshit, the same old flaws: I don't seem to learn from my experiences in this regard.
The latest hand-staple-forehead controversy is over an article in the New York Times, repeated ad nauseam in other publications, like as done here in Planet Out. The controversy centers around one of the purported authors, J. Michael Bailey, who has had ethics problems with other studies he has performed. Long and short of the article is that "bisexual men don't exist".
Now, my usual mode might be "I could care less". Both queer politics, and the conservative right that they oppose, represent two sides of the same stupid coin, and ordinarily I might prefer to identify as a radical bisexual just to keep both of them away from me. But, I've been somewhat involved in this social hour for queer youth for about six months or so, and I thought that maybe, just maybe, ten years and a lot of distance had mellowed me enough to start to listen again. Maybe I could be a "good bisexual"- politically aware and sensitive. But, while by and large my experiences with the mostly straight volunteer crew for the youth group has been positive, I find myself subtly marginalized by the younger gay contingent. And, on the flip side, bisexual politics is just as stupid as ever.
What bisexuals want and need out of political activism, and what gays and lesbians may want, are probably largely irrelevant to one another. And, I don't believe that bisexuals can retain much of what makes being bisexual and live a life wherein you exist as a subculture to the larger entities of "queer" or "straight". I reject the notion that alphabet soup- GLBTIQO- is doing anything worthwhile of late. Liberalism has largely won the war, even though there are skirmishes still being fought- and while I have never flagged at keeping the personal political, I have had a spotty relationship with the personal politics and an even worse relationship with the political people. Yeah, its to my discredit when I conflate my bad relationships with the political people with a distaste for the politics, but whatever. You don't go through life to achieve politics- there is only people in the end.
Yeah, I don't think that an article which says "i don't acually exist- I'm actually statistically probably a gay man, although my choice in porn might say I'm straight (with a mild fetish for tentacles)" is particularly one I like, but I respect that people are going to publish whatever hypotheses fit their data. I probably could pass as a perfectly satisfied monogamous heterosexual- but why? What is the point of that? It's not who I've found myself to be. Yeah, neither is a polyamorous bisexual either, but I guess it gets closer at what might be used to describe my life, if I ever get to finish what will always be a work in progress.
It's really hard to be who you are- you've got the whole thing that who your biological parents were, and their biology before them, and who society and morality wants you to be. Sometimes it gets stacked against you, and sometimes you can coast it to a worthless but pleasant end. Sometimes, words like karma make a lot of sense. Other times, evil is rewarded and good is punished and no explanation is forthcoming- not original sin, not banal sin, nor fate or faith or anything else. But, occasionally, you get to be who you really are. It's not always fun, and it's not always good, but the best you can do is listen to yourself- and exist.