Thursday, April 08, 2010

People like her

Rachel Maddow - People, April 2010

This long and painful march toward full equality, it seems to me, boils down to something quite simple – normalcy. For all the fighting and chanting and rallying and protesting, what we really want at the end of the day is to be seen as normal. We are, after all, just like everyone else. We pay taxes, we have families, we fall in love, we fall out of love, we vote, we go to the dentist, we buy groceries, we argue about what to watch on TV. There is just this little business of what kind of genital we prefer that differs. Minor, really.

Whenever we’re treated outside the gay community as just that, normal, I feel we’ve accomplished our goal. So, when I picked up People magazine to read the feature on Rachel Maddow and her partner Susan Mikula, I almost felt like screaming “Victory!” How incredibly normal, how delightfully mundane was the feature on them? Look, they have a cute house – just like you! Look, they do the dishes together – just like you! Look, they eat Cream of Wheat – just like you!

The short piece (read the full scans here) has none of the “What’s it like to be gay?” drama that sometimes accompanies such mainstream features. It’s not an issue, just a fact. Other interesting facts? Rachel works 60 hours a week (I bet it’s really more than that). They live in a 275-foot Manhattan apartment during the week (How do you shoehorn that much smart into that small a space?). And Rachel says they way the two met while she was doing yard work for Susan was “very ‘Desperate Housewives.’” (Sample pick-up line: You want me to trim your bush? Groan. Sorry, had to).

So thanks, People, for making us love Rachel even more and realizing – besides her abnormally big brain – how so very normal she actually is. Also thanks for making every gay gal on the planet frantically take to Google to find Rachel’s adorable ringer T.

14 comments:

Norma Desmond said...

THIS. I don't know why, but normalcy like that kills me every.single.time.

PS, I'm very happy we keep the same hours. Keeps me entertained in the wee hours.

Anonymous said...

oh god, VERY cute picks of rachel. *adorable*

creatingspace said...

I'm with norma, I see the positives (and perhaps need) for representations of normalcy but I get a little sick in my mouth every time. Normal is a standard set largely by heterosexual society that suggests in order to be considered acceptable human beings we (queers) have to ascribe in some way to predetermined measurements in order to gain acceptance. Articles such as this (granted I haven't read the whole thing) only reinforce that. The domestic bliss picture is a case in point, there is certainly some masculine/ feminine posturing happening there playing on old stereotypes of who does what in the domestic space. That's my 2c

Betti Kern said...

looks like a "neighborhoodie" T-shirt to me. I have one just like it, with a different motive...you can customize just about everything, and they have a shop in new york, go figure...
http://www.neighborhoodies.com/index.php

Anonymous said...

"This long and painful march toward full equality, it seems to me, boils down to something quite simple – normalcy."

Any psychologist will tell you that the concpt of "Normal" is a myth. I think it's time that we as a culture STOP excusing heterosexual dysfunction.
Straight people kill thier spouses, molest thier children, are infamously nunfraithful and instead of pointing the finger of indictment in their direction we cry and whine that they don't consider US Normal? Are you serious? Time to stop playing victim.

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

Who has time for normalcy? It just requires too much effort.

wrongway said...

All I can even think about is....Rachel likes big girls!! I'm a big girl! whoooo hoooo!!!

Gender Blank said...

I'm with you, wrongway. That was the first thing I noticed, and it made me happy.

PhillyDyke said...

I love that her partner is a woman of size. REALLY REALLY LOVE THAT. it makes me feel warm and squishy.

also, I think DS used the word "normal" to imply "non drama, how did you know you were gay, when did you come out, how did your parents feel, do your neighbors now" approach to the article. I agree, it's nice to have that lense in which to view a queer woman's life.

noveltyvicky said...

Like some of the other comments I was happy to see Rachel's lady is beautiful and full-sized.

DS- You should do more about this topic :)

L. Dawson said...

Yes, we are all normal. We go through our days carrying out the mundane tasks that make us all human. We have cars and and cellphones and tiny dogs with sparkly collars and quaint little houses with white picket fences. We have jobs and pay taxes and sit our cubicles watching You Tube videos like the “normal” people who compose the heteronormative majority. How nice that we queers can fit the mold so that we can all just get along.

There’s just one little problem with normal. The whole concept is restrictive, oppressive, and arbitrary, not to mention boring. Is that what championing gay rights is all about – getting lost in the folds of the hetersexual weave of society? That would be fine except for one problem. It doesn’t go with my shoes.

We queer folk aren’t doing ourselves any favours by perpetuating the fallacy that we are all the same. By doing so we effectively strip ourselves of our right to subvert tthe idea of “normal.” Our right to be freaks. Our right to be different. Normal is just another box to fit into. Maybe it’s a little more comfortable, a little more spacious. Maybe there’s even a nice comfy couch and a flatscreen T.V. But in the end a box is still a box.

We’re not normal. We like to fuck, sometimes in public spaces. We like leather. We like kink. We like drinks with little umbrellas and dammit, we can dance. These are just some of the things that make up the queer identity. Admittedly, not for all of us. That’s the beauty of the it. The very idea of the queer identity falls to the wayside when we strive for normality. We perpetuate a culture of shame when we aim to be normal. By doing so we are effectively admitting to our deviance.

Equality should be based on celebrating and accepting our differences, not assimilating them into something that is safe and easy for the majority to digest.

Let your freak flag fly.

yoyelena said...

"There is just this little business of what kind of genital we prefer that differs."

As other commenters have pointed out, it's waaaay more than just this "little business." As we learned in gender studies 101, gender identity has only a tangential relationship to genitals. It's all about performance, subjective experience, continually re-enacting your gendered self within a constantly changing social matrix. It's not that non-queers do not do this, it's that we queers do not take it for granted. We are aware that "normal" is just another performance, and sometimes we choose to perform it and sometimes we choose another script.

I hear your relief, Dorothy, when *for once* a mainstream publication does not make a big stupid deal about a gay couple living their damn lives already. It's nice, it's cute, I like the t-shirt. But let's not forget that behind "normal," there are queer lives, there is a history of discrimination and violence, there is performance and gender play - we queers carry that around with us even when to the outside world we may seem "normal." Can we expect People Magazine to recognize and write about this? Hardly. That's not what the story was about. But we can point to it and talk about it and celebrate it!

(Oh, and I think the tshirt is an old Mr. Chen shirt from the Cat and Girl web shop...no longer available, unfortunately.)

betseyb said...

Geesh, what's with all the angry philosophy majors? Well, I, for one, LOVED the post:) I pretty much love anything that has to do with theMaddow, though.

Kate said...

I very much enjoyed your post, Dorothy. The comments, however, give me a headache.