I expect most people will see that title and scroll on past, possibly unfollowing me in the process. That’s okay. For those of you that do read this, I hope you consider my thought processes and point of view and then engage in some respectful discussion if you disagree. (I would love to understand your point of view, if you can explain it with respect. Love.) Content note for this post: discussion of hate crimes, so expect violence (including lethal and sexual) and discussion of various identities.
There’s been some discussion lately in a group I’m a part of about the term “cishet” – short for “cisgender and heterosexual” – and whether it’s an insult or just a word to describe a group of people. I’ve actually seen three sides emerge in this debate:
1. It’s an insult. Queer people (and, as it’s often grouped together as “white cishet men”, female people and people of color) use it to attack an entire group of people, disregarding the fact Not All White Cishet Men are against the values of the queer, female people of color. It alienates the allies among cisgender heterosexual people by reducing them to the same level as the attackers, and it should not be used.
2. It’s used as an insult to give the insulting group some sort of power over the majority, seeing as how A Lot Of White Cishet Men participate (knowingly or not) in the oppression of a variety of minorities. Depending on context, it might not be an insult, but it needs to be available to give back some of the power when necessary. Allies should recognize their privilege and be willing to admit to it, part of which is owning their part in the cishet-centric society, but they shouldn’t be attacked with it the way non-allies can be.
3. It’s just a word that describes a person or group of people. If you automatically take it as an insult, that says much more about you than it does about the person who used it. Even it were part of a phrase “white male cishet assholes”, it’s still not an insult – assholes is the insult, and the rest is just to be a bit more specific about exactly which kind of assholes we’re dealing with. Allies can be cishet, but so can assholes; cishet is not the most important word in that phrase.
Has anyone else encountered this debate? What’s your take on it?
As I’ve said before, I am quite capable of setting aside an author’s beliefs to read a quality or engaging story. (Yes, or. I am not always the discerning reader I appear to be. However, Card manages to hit both categories, to me.) While it causes small ethical dilemmas when it comes to how I get my hands on the book, none of that matters while I’m actually reading it … until it starts to bleed through.
Unlike the Ender’s Game film, Orson Scott Card is one of very few people who profit from his books. He makes a much larger profit per book purchase than per film ticket. His books are, to the best of my knowledge, his primary source of income – income that funds NOM and similar ideas.
(Welcome to an impromptu four-part series on my intense love/dislike relationship with Orson Scott Card, posting daily this week.)
Orson Scott Card is an extremely prolific writer, primarily of science fiction and fantasy. One of his books is being made into a movie. He can’t seem to focus on one series at a time, and he can’t seem to decide when a series is over, returning to it years later with something completely different. He has created several distinct universes in which his characters reside, and he’s done it well enough that they stick in my head for decades after reading. Several of his books are on my favorites list. He’s also actively against most things I’m actively for, including basic human rights for all people.
There are people now getting concerned about Card’s involvement in the film adaptation of Ender’s Game. The studio doesn’t seem to be replying to the controversy. Many people are predicting Card won’t be involved in publicity, but others are saying his personal views are enough to taint the entire movie regardless. I’m not even going to pretend that his books aren’t themselves problematic from both feminist and queer points of view, because they are, but more on that later.
A couple weeks ago, I visited a home for adults with mental illness and cognitive disorders for a tour, as a precursor to potentially volunteering there. One of the residents was talking with me when another came up and interrupted: “Are you a boy or a girl?”
About 11 months ago, I wrote a post about pride and how I just didn’t understand the whole concept. Allow me to live nearly a year, reread an Orson Scott Card book, and come back to the subject, armed with a quote:
“Interesting,” said Ender. He didn’t sound like he felt flattered, or like he was acting modest – Ender truly sounded like he thought of his unusual talent for talking with the gold bugs as a simple fact.
When he thought about it, this made sense to Abra. You shouldn’t be proud of being good at something, if you were born with it. That would be as dumb as being proud of having two legs, or speaking a language, or pooping.
Because he was with Ender, Abra felt free to say what he had just thought of, and Ender laughed. “That’s right, Abra. Something you work to achieve, that’s one thing. Why not be proud of it? Why not feel good about it? But something you were born with, that’s just the way you are.”