Via Amanda Hess @ The Sexist.
Thomas has a post up at Yes Means Yes, Would That Make Me Queer? that dovetails nicely with the post I wrote last week on the limitations of “gay” as a catch-all for non-straight sexual identities and political movements. As commenter paintedstone wrote on my earlier post
The major problem with the LGBTQIA etc. position is that it’s trying to qualitatively define a subgroup which is at its core everything *but* something else.
…Problem is that there isn’t really a term for “everything but X,” when “X” is clearly defined as “good” and “right,” that can’t easily be written off (by Westerners, at least) as “wrong” and “evil”. People like to think in dyads, as problematic as they usually are. But then, it’s usually only those on the receiving end that care about that.
Thomas, in his post, is musing about the utility of the word “queer” as a catch-all for non-privileged sexual practices and identities.
There’s a lot of weight on terms of sexual orientation. They bundle together at least four somewhat different aspects of a person: (1) sexual; (2) affectional or romantic; (3) cultural; and (4) political. (There may be other ways to typologizes this; I’d be interested to see if others break it down differently.)
The first two are often assumed to map each other, and they generally do, but not always exactly. For example, I know women who only feel romantic love for other women, but play with guys a fair amount. The sexual behavior is bi- or pan-sexual, but their hearts are lesbian. Conflating sexual and affectional orientation also erases some asexual folks, who have the ability and desire to love romantically, and often with a gender preference, but whose preferred mode of sexual interaction is none.
And that leaves out the BDSM-that-isn’t-sex stuff; lesbian women who will top men but not fuck them, gay men who occasionally bottom to women but not if the scene is sexual, etc. There’s a whole range from “it’s sex” to “it’s sexual but not sex” to “it’s sensual but not sexual” to “it has nothing to do with sex” within the BDSM community, and this is one of those areas where I just take people at their word about their experiences.
I highly recommend the whole thing.