Responding to David

WAAAAAAY back on Dec 2 (!), David asked about the ramifications for a heterosexual person to apply the term, “dyke”, as an identity label to another person…here’s what I had written (via email) to the rhetoric class about this question:
“Should any of you go using the term? At your own risk. It’s too simplistic to say that as members of the outgroup it just wouldn’t be appropriate, I think it depends on the degree to which you’ve been exposed to the culture and have familiarity with the norms. Chances are you would use it wrong, and set yourself up for a whole lot of grief. Hang out around the Stonewall Center for a semester or two and maybe then you can acquire enough sense of the norms to be able to use it accurately.”
So, David – I’d hesitate to use “Steph said” as a “softener.” ­čÖé On the one hand, it usually backfires to invoke anyone’s statement as representative of some ‘truth’ or as indicative of ‘permission’; but more importantly, context matters, as well as any given individual’s personal identity development process and ethical stance. For instance, in many circles I might choose to define as a “queer” rather than a “dyke” because it broadens the net of inclusivity. Use of that term would “member” me as part of a larger community, whereas the use of “dyke” might be perceived as delimiting the group to which I consider myself to belong. In some instances, this might be appropriate or even more accurate. Again, here I would state that these two terms are essentially synonymous, but others would (I’m sure!) disagree, on the very basis of the distinction I just made.

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