How I have come to experience discrimination: excerpts from abnormal feminine stories.

Last time I went out, I was harassed by a ‘male’ taxi client on St. Laurent street, Montréal. Having green hair lead me to experience discrimination and, since I am a woman, I’ve been called a ‘dyke’ too. That was a first, really. I thought: How come seeing green hair is that a shock in someone’s life? How can it grant someone the permission to ruin my awesome night with such repulsive & ignorant comment?

That night, I had been ‘overdetermined from the outside’ and put on an undesirable scale. This young man was fully experiencing biopower (integrating and auto-imposing dominant morals/norms) and reimposing it on us. People are so accustomed to be discriminated; they don’t speak up. It was painful, outrageous. I was angry at what he represented: an oppressive hetero-patriarchal society. But it wasn’t a first.

I had already been sexually objectified in Montevideo (Uruguay) for not covering my legs or my cleavage enough. An archeologist twice granted himself the permission to invade my intimacy in an elevator then made surprised home-visits. I felt helpless, broken. I sometimes tricked myself covering body parts or not “making myself pretty” to avoid harassment. On other occasions, I would also use my body as a subversive political statement. In Montréal, I had been categorized as a “dirty punk” once, but I’m apparently “too sensual” and “intellectual” for that. Not that tonight, I had my moonshine sweater on, I fitted the ‘dyke’ category.

I opted to tell my story, at least a story of how I’ve come to experience discrimination which now makes me seek more and more emancipation from normality. This is an illustration of my decolonization path. It’s also a round two of my writings on decolonial love. I think my story is worth sharing, may it offer you something.

Being introduced to poliamori and freedom

When I was in Uruguay last year for my phd fieldwork, I was single. Freed from a long-term relationship with someone I still have in my heart but to whom I (we) don’t belong anymore. Dealing with such freedom and pain generated creativity, openness. A desire to know, to explore. I was slowly and finally insurging, getting back to myself. You know, that curious badass woman, the one my ancestors tha(o)ught me to be. So the process of (re)becoming my woman ideal blasted off.

Such exploration guided me to Francisco, a soulmate who shared his special self with me. We both offered our strengths to one another. I honestly can say that I have experienced, for a moment, a deep, sincere, intense ‘decolonial’ love. Our love was incommensurable. We created so much together, arts, theories, while sweeping into the clandestinity of spraying Montevideo of ancestral and continuous Charrua People presence. We would enlighten each other while sharing and intermixing our views on the world. Our encounter was rich and non-possessive.

Francisco prompted me to go towards women, to try, since I had already met Lorena. (He also prompted me to dye my hair purple.) I was confused. I was so deeply in love with Francisco. I didn’t wanna be with someone else. Francisco and I was way more than enough for me. I had to be monogamic! But I went ahead, I trusted him.  He wanted me to go beyond my fears, break with self-control and embrace my abnormality. I’m glad I did. I never felt freer in my life.

Harassed for affirming our non-heteronormative love

One night, while living publicly our complicity with Lorena, I realized that our mutual love disrupted some people around us. We were a source of fantasy for an eventual porno show. You know, where women love only exists to stimulate phallocentric desires, especially if they fit with feminine standards. That night I had a red dress; she had a black top and tight jeans. We were basically looking for it. (In my mind, we were an anarcho-communist flag.)

I remember ourselves laughing in the parking lot… as a black car came by. The two men inside tried to hit on us. We nicely said that we were in our “bubble” and went back to the rollercoaster. As we got it in, the male employee paternalistically incestually said: “Hey gorgeous! Don’t abuse too much of that wine!” presuming I was tipsy. We just had our first sip. I replied “whatever” and got in. We laughed so hard as she was preventing my skirt from flying while being dazed by the movements. When we got out, the employee expressed how “hard” he was while looking at us. “Fuck off.” While we were heading to the rambla (Montevideo has a beach front bordered by a highway all around the city), the black car came by again: “hey girls!”  “OK, again?!” We ran to the beach front.

As we sat and expressed our mutual affection, a man in his 30s passed by with his 2-year-old son and said: “would you share a kiss with us?” I didn’t totally get what he said and as Lorena repeated it to me, I noticed that the black car had parked in front of us. Honestly, we didn’t want to be bothered. We were overwhelmed and started to be scared.

As we ran towards my car, daddy reappeared next to his friends and screamed: “Hey! Where did you buy your wine? It seems quite good!” I replied: “Oh! You want wine? Enjoy!” as I splashed our red wine on him. No one expected this. He had gone too far. I am not used to discrimination so I didn’t tolerate as much as Lorena did. She was laughing so hard: “Oh my God! Did you just do this?! I cannot believe it!” We got into our car, and guess what? The black car came by again. They decided to follow us for at least 10 blocks. I felt like we were in Fast and Furious for a moment.

That night I felt prohibited and simultaneously felt a strong compassion and deeper understanding for anyone else who does everyday. I understood my Indigenous friends who live prohibited identities. I was especially sad and angry to hear that – coming from an evangelist family – Lorena sometimes tricks herself into thinking her love for women is a sin. I saw Lorena as a warrior. (I sincerely think women are the most beautiful and powerful beings on earth. Women are strong, protective, smart, creative & inspiring.) I understood our spontaneous solidarity. I had then fully integrated a new struggle: the one to refuse (ab)normativity. 

To be continued.

2 comentarios en “How I have come to experience discrimination: excerpts from abnormal feminine stories.

    1. Emmy,
      I’m sad to read you had similar experiences. No-one should. I have been told that I was seeking pity through that article and that because it is so common people didn’t see the purpose of it. Lately with the #metoo campaign we hear more about such stories and I sincerely think sharing our stories is liberating for the writer, but also empowering and inspiring for the reader. This is what I wanted when I wrote this text. I know I haven’t reacted the best way by splashing him with red wine, but I was so overwhelmed. I think men have to understand that. Their little comments might look not that offensive but they sum up with so many that we have to handle every day. We have no resource to stop this, because most people stay quiet: “It’s her business” or they are just accustomed. I truly enjoy meeting women lately who react in solidarity when such situations occur. I felt so proud of our solidarity. “Hey, she said ‘no.’ Can’t you notice she’s not comfortable, she had too much? Leave her alone.” When we gather, we are so powerful and we empower each other. I guess I should have written about that too, but I forgot.

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