Eccentric Freedom

The test of the freedom of a society is the freedom of its LGBT members. No one is free, if I am not.

In thinking of this, I came across the Simone de Beauvoir quote “No one is born a woman. She becomes one.” That led me to Philosophy Talk. Following Sartre, Existentialists seek to make choices in “good faith”, that is, proceeding from and expressing their authentic selves.

It is harder for women who are oppressed by their society into second class status, and not educated, as they are expected to be wives and mothers. Laura Maguire herself escaped to college but most of the girls she grew up with repeated the pattern. This is all the more shocking as she was born around 1980.

Maguire thinks Beauvoir’s quote can be extended to the oppression of any group, such as people of colour, told constantly that they are second class. Maguire’s interpretation seems economic: can the person reach their potential as an earner. She overcame oppression in going to college, taking her PhD, and becoming a director of research at Stanford- so she overcame it because she was exceptional. Most of her female contemporaries became wives and mothers, with only secondary education. They were held back by the expectations of others, which they internalised, and perhaps by force, such as being taken out of school by parents.

Had Maguire not been a girl, her Irish society could have seen hers as worthwhile ambitions and good outcomes. That is the difference with us queers. My ambition to transition does not make economic sense, only existential sense. Even before I could bear it, I wanted to express who I am.

My decision inspires disgust in some people, and some of those would seek to prevent it.

For me, expressing my authentic self was more important than any economic progress. (I make excuses for myself, now: my current damaged and vulnerable state is the result of my upbringing and society.)

I would change that first sentence. At the moment, the test of the freedom of Western society is the freedom of its queer members, to make choices others find nonsensical or disgusting. Even when life paths of transition, or of gender neutrality, are well mapped out there will still be good faith decisions which others find incomprehensible. The measure of freedom is the level of acceptance of those decisions: do people find their diversity blessing, rather than threat?

OK.
If that’s what you want
Go ahead.

Simone de Beauvoir

2 thoughts on “Eccentric Freedom

  1. The internet sucks. I remember a time when I thought all of us in Western society were free. But in the last couple of years I have come to realize that only white WASP’s like myself are free. And even then it can be a little dicey. I loved this piece. It reminded me of a painful conversation I had with a friend of mine who was considering the change. he had always felt he was supposed to be a girl. There was all of this garbage I wanted to throw at him, verbally I mean, but I quickly realized that was just me and my baggage and it had nothing to do with him. Thankfully the only thing I told him was to talk to the Lord. He’s the only guy I know who does NOT have an agenda. I liked that answer a lot better than preaching at him.

    Like

    • When I talked to the Lord, I found encouragement and acceptance. I have been healed by God, and part of that healing was my male to female transition.

      It is a powerful realisation, to know ones privilege. I am still white (!), educated, articulate, with a good social network. These are great blessings.

      Liked by 1 person

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