So it’s only been the better part of a month since I last posted here.  Part of that is it’s been kind of a whirlwind around here between medical stuff[1], Harvest 2011[2], and various Family Things[3] on the go.  The other part is that I’ve been working on contract for the past five weeks (may or may not get renewed, will have mixed feelings about it either way) and haven’t had bundles of blogging time on my hands of late[4].

None of which has anything to do with what I’m going to blog about right this second.

A local kid died a few days ago.  Suicide brought on by not being able to cope with homophobia.

There’s been a lot of local press about this, and there are petitions here (Ottawa Carleton District School Board) and here (Ministry of Education) asking both the OCDSB and the MoE to actively enforce the Safer Schools Act — An Act which is supposed to protect rainbow kids from discrimination in schools.

Now, my own experience of queer-bashing, homophobic bullying, and so on… is virtually non-existent.  The only time (in school) that it happened, it was basically a bunch of assholes throwing spaghetti at the metaphorical wall to see what stuck.

Being a chick, “slut” would have been the more likely term of choice[5] but, being a “late bloomer” and, thus, hard to sexualize,  it also didn’t get applied to me.

I do, however, remember that when it came to the bullying I did endure, most of my teachers were pretty-much at a loss as to what to do about it. Detentions and suspensions, when they happened (not typically in relation to me, fyi), didn’t actually change anyone’s behaviour, and my guidance councilor (whom my 5th grade teacher send me to talk to on more than one occasion) didn’t actually do very much in terms of helping me to cope with what was going on.

So, while my own Situation happened about twenty years ago and there’s theoretically at least slightly more “awareness” about bullying today than there was when I was a kid… I find myself wondering: Exactly what is it that teachers (and other related individuals) are supposed to do that actually works?

When “faggot” is a means of gender policing, regardless of someone’s sexual orientation, I think things have to go a lot deeper than some “zero tolerance” policy towards bullying.

I’m thinking of things like Day of Pink, but not quite. Teachers being out as queer, for example, and principals and school boards backing them up when the stupid, STUPID phone calls from “concerned” parents come in. But also teachers modeling different types of masculinity – rock the lavender shirt and the white tie, guys – and including different types of masculinity in their curricula (like maybe including guys like Johnny Weir as sports roll models, if you’re a gym teacher – not because they’re gay[6], but because they’re fem).

When someone uses “faggot” as an insult, what they’re effectively saying is “You’re not a Real Man”. This is why it hurts so much, particularly when you’re trying to navigate your way through puberty and into manhood in a culture that’s set “masculinity” up as this impossible, competitive test. This is also why it’s SO FUCKING IMPORTANT to actively work against that shit.

If you’re in a position to sculpt young minds, if you’re in a position of authority… do something to challenge the prevailing assumptions about who is and isn’t allowed to be in authority, who is and isn’t supposed to be respected just for being what they are.

Eugh. Anyway, that’s my rant for this evening. Give it another week, and I’ll be blogging here more frequently. November is Nanowrimo, and my plan is to write my first draft of “Cultivating Entitlement” in blog-post form. So stay tuned for a daily post on D/s and Holding Power staring in November.

Ms Syren.

[1] No one is sick.  Don’t worry, we’re all fine. 🙂

[2] My discussion group went really well (I think).  Thanks for asking. 🙂

[3] Happy wedding to my cousin and new cousin-in-law. 😀

[4] Yeah, yeah, I could totally blog in the evenings except (A) see above, re: Whirlwind, and (B) I do actually <em>like</em> spending time with my girlfriend, y’know?  So I try to keep the computer-absorption to a minimum once she’s home.

[5] Emily White wrote a book called Fast Girls: Teenage Tribes And The Myth Of The Slut.  It’s a remarkably depressing book – no surprises there – but it talks about how the term “slut” is used as a cultural boundary marker and, in one section, talks about how the “boy” version of “slut” is “faggot”.  Thence the relevance to this post.

[6] Because, depending on the Olympian athlete, they might or might not be.