the difference

quite a while ago i asked the question what the difference might be – the difference between homosexual and heterosexual. suzie made the point in her comment that this difference is a rather artificial one – why should something (i.e. sex) that you do not even that often define your identity? good question. so far no answers from your side, dear reader. so some of my thoughts on the subject.

first i think there is a difference between homosexual and heterosexual because it makes sense. not because this difference necessarly means anything, but because differentiation makes always sense – on a basic cognitive level. it seems that we humans can only deal with the world and actually experience the world by making a difference. making a difference between things helps us to decide how to deal with it. the moment it has a label, i most probably will have an idea of how to react to it. so the moment i become aware of something in the world, i will try to describe it, to label it, to compare it with something i already know – that will give me an idea how to judge it, how to deal with it. so making a difference seems to be a basic human operation. so in the next step it is interesting to see where we make a difference.

there are many examples where making a difference is necessary – otherwise we would react wrongly or even be in danger. but then there are many differentiations that somehow make no sense: as a very general example i would like to mention gender difference: in a modern working setting it makes no difference if you are a woman or a man. men and women alike have obviously the abilities needed in a modern working environment. but still we make a difference there – and also statistically we see that this difference is clearly visible (different pay, very little women in higher managment etc.). so from the point of abilities to make a good job there is no reason to differentiate between women and men – but we do it still. one explanation might be that making a difference has a very pleasant side effect – which still works, even if the original reason for making this difference has disappeared: it reduces complexity. to put it very simple: it narrows down options. if i think women are not apt at doing the job, then i can already filter out all job-applications by women. of course in this example you can as well insert “foreigners”, “too old”, and so on. additionaly making a difference, creating categories not only reduces complexity, but quite obviously helps some people, rather certain groups of people.

so creating a difference between people not only structures society – which makes it easier to handle (most people will treat monarchy different then a beggar – and monarchy and the beggar will also expect a different treatment), but creates groups within society. it gives us a home. a group we belong to. an identity. so we all kind of profit from being different, somehow…?

that is where it gets to the point of a self-fullfilling prophecy. by accepting – and in certain cases by being forced to accept – the difference we will take up this label, this identity and will also try to fit. society gives us a lot of knowledge about how that difference looks like – how cliché that might be. a good example came up lately: since it is is now something of a general knowledge that women are totally obsessed with shoes (yeah, must be genetic), nobody seems to take note that men are also totally obsessed with it. i remember standing at a bus stop in berlin, waiting for the night bus to arrive, and having these two guys discussing for 20 minutes where to get all these super special limited edition sneakers. their knowledge was simply baffling… and just recently i have seen on mtv cribs (silly little homestories, showing “the crib” of some more or less famous star) the closet of a well known producer, filled with hundreds of sneakers. but it has not being commented upon – by nobody. so the difference “women are obsessed with shoes, men don’t care about shoes” might be totally unfounded – but by existing and being promoted it structures our perception of the world. so if we see the closet of a women with hundreds of shoes we say: yeah, she’s a women. if we see a closet of a man with hundreds of shoes we don’t say anything. we might not even realize it. and men as well as women profit from it: women can buy shoes and just employ that cliché as an excuse. men can do it and it does not even get mentioned – or they don’t care about shoes and it fits even nicer. so suzie might be right – there is no reason to make a difference between a heterosexual and a homosexual. but it is made, and therefore it comes into existence.

so there might be initial differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals (genetic?) – but this remains to be seen and it might also be not that important because the moment the difference is made and is accepted it constitutes itself. any explanations trying to establish an initial difference are therefore just a reasoning afterwards (as with homosexuality is shown so clearly: any reasoning that this difference makes sense because there is a genetic difference already makes the basic mistake that genetics are a lot younger then the term homosexual). so after all that long blabla we come to the rather simple conclusion that yes, there is a difference. because our society makes this difference. that’s it.

well, not really. i do find it interesting to see where and how and why it came into existence. and why it still has such an effect. and who profits from it. and to what extent it should and can be changed. a lot of questions. and no, i will not deliver here any answers. but then this blog kind of circles around these questions anyway – and some answers (even contradicting ones) have already been given.

foucault is certainly to mention researching how in our western culture sexuality in general became so important for making different labels for people, for our identity. most theorists already presented ask the same or similar questions. and yes, quite some music posted lately is as well concerned with these questions. so i guess we have to keep on reading and listening and keep on thinking. sorry about that. well, not really.

but why do it? for one i personally find it interesting. then it seems to me something of a moral obligation – the more one realizes that these categories and differences are not written in stone (although it sometimes seems so) and have its specific histories and strategic reasons to exist, the more one might be more careful to employ these differences and take them for granted. and then it is a strategic necessity as a member of a minority to know as much as possible about these strategies and mechanisms.

so we will keep on asking and trying to answer.

3 Responses to “the difference”

  1. k. Says:

    Was sicherlich auch interessant wäre : Wird die Differenz Mann/Frau schlussendlich nicht auch auf homosexuelle Paare projeziert? Ich denke da an ein typisch bürgerliches Manöver mit Gleichgeschlechtlichkeit umzugehen, indem ein homosexuelles Paar gefragt wird, wer denn nun derjenige sei der koche und da eigentlich eine andere Form der ‘Arbeitsteilung’ gemeint ist, um bei entsprechender Antwort die gängige Differenz (Mann/Frau) einzuführen und sich quasi wieder auf sicherem Terrain zu befinden… (übrigens nicht von mir erfunden, sondern von einem Bekannten erlebt!!)

  2. sunbathinglizard Says:

    hallo k.!
    freut mich, dass du den weg hierhin auch gefunden hast! anscheinend bist du ja in der stadt der lichter – ich hoffe du hast zeit mal bei monsieur louboutin vorbeizugehen…
    (préférable pendant les soldes)

    zu deinem kommentar: ja, klar. persönliche erfahrung ist ein erster anhaltspunkt. die plumpe frage: wer ist bei euch die frau? wurde auch mir schon gestellt – was doch ein wenig heftig ist, da die frage dann ja tatsächlich von eigentlich entfernten bekannten gestellt wird – welche ich normalerweise auch nicht nach ihren sexuellen präferenzen frage (worauf die frage ja im kern abzielt). interessant ist daher sicherlich die frage von sexueller präferenz und ihrer zuordnung – passiv / aktiv, top / bottom. eine charakterisierung, welche dann über die sexuelle vorliebe als charakterisierung der person genutzt wird – auch inder schwulenszene. und allgemein ist zu beobachten, dass die heterosexuelle geschlechterdifferenz an verschiedenen orten versucht wird auch beim homosexuellen einzuschreiben – das wird dann entweder als “die heterosexualisierung der homosexualität” oder “normalisierung” beschrieben. und ja, wir kommen in diesem blog noch dazu… ; ))

    herzlichen gruss!

  3. k. Says:

    Lieber sunbathinglizard,

    Lieber spät als gar nie den Weg finden! Spannender Blog den du da führst und ich bin natürlich gespannt auf die Fortsetzung der Diskussion 🙂
    Die Stadt der Lichter glitzert wirklich sehr verführerisch, aber da der Euro zurzeit so stark ist werden Louboutin und Co. wohl auch bei Soldes gemieden werden müssen…. Schade…

    Liebe Grüsse!

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