Dealing with abnormality

The following paragraphs describe a certain country. As you read, try to guess which country it is.

[T]here were people whose gender identity was hard to figure out. There was this one particular person living in the neighborhood next to mine that people were always busy gossiping about. I wasn’t sure whether I should refer to this person as “aunt” or “uncle” (in [redacted], you don’t call older people by their first names; you should call them “aunt,” “uncle,” “grandma” or “grandpa”).

This person was married to a man and had two kids. Still, this person cheated on their husband with a woman and thus was always on people’s lips. When you met this person for the first time you would think she was a man. Although this person was voluptuous, with boobs bigger than any other woman in the neighborhood, everyone thought this person was a man. …

She was friendly and nice to everyone, so I always liked her. My mom’s friend had been a widow for a long time and fell in love with her. That’s why I became a close friend to her.

She took care of all the house chores typically performed by men in the house. She maintained a good relationship with her husband and she was a good mother to her children and, most importantly, she was the breadwinner in the family.

People probably wanted to gossip about her not because of her bisexuality. They probably gossiped about her because of jealousy that she made lots of money while having a good family.

Since leaving [redacted], I have learned more about LGBT issues in the women’s studies class I took. When I was in [redacted], I hadn’t heard the terms “gay” and “lesbian.” All I thought was that they had different sexual preference. As long as they were good people, we didn’t have any problem being friends with them regardless of their sexual preference.

Of course, people would gossip from time to time because they didn’t have anything else to do in their free time. People didn’t treat them with contempt and the LGBTs were never shunned or excluded from the society.

After arriving in [elsewhere], I saw that the LGBTs were a social issue and often found in public discussion. I tried to take an interest in the issue but I never paid much attention to it since it wasn’t directly of interest.

A very progressive country, no?

Here’s the paragraph I cut:

Women are not supposed to ride bicycles in [redacted], but she could ride a bicycle. That’s because even the traffic police couldn’t figure out the gender of this person. They couldn’t stop her from riding the bike. Before they could figure out the gender, she was already gone.

So maybe it isn’t progressive.

Have you made your guess?


The country is North Korea.

How can this happen? Here’s one possible reason:

[A] tolerant attitude … can be had towards any minority – whether it be a lifestyle minority, an ethnic minority, a religious minority, or a political minority – when it is below a certain level of prominence in that society.

… [T]hose of baroque sexuality have often, in sneering and pushy voices, asked “Are you threatened by my sexuality?”. Or at least they used to – now, of course, we know that that question was, in itself, a threat – the fulness of it, including the unspoken portion, would go something like: “Are you threatened by my sexuality? Well if not, just you wait. You’ll be paying astronomical fines for not wanting to bake a cake for my wedding or losing your job for daring to oppose my pet political causes soon enough, chump”.

And yet in Japan, and certainly in the world of anime, things are different. Anime homosexuals are carefully portrayed as not representing a threat to the prevailing cisheteronormist order. … Sailor Uranus does not wish to upend the society around her in order to gain the validation involved in having her lifestyle redefined as normal; she only desires to be left in peace to discreetly live as she wishes. She doesn’t want to change marriage laws, get you fired for saying that you don’t like her, or tear down the faith of the polis.

And it is because of this that she can safely be left alone by the larger society around her.

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2 responses to “Dealing with abnormality

  1. Pingback: Dealing with abnormality | Reaction Times

  2. Pingback: This Week in Reaction (2015/05/15) | The Reactivity Place

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