• Teleionormativity as a problem


    This is a restored post from my WordPress. I do not have an original date of upload for it, but I can speculate it comes somewhere from 2019. Some things here are presented in a shallow manner and under-explored.

    “Teleionormativty” is a name I gave to a social phenomenon that I noticed. In a nutshell, teleionormativity refers to an assumption that all people must strive to be in their prime fertility, in a relationship, and producing offspring. It overlaps with many social issues and brings harm to people it affects. Here is how it works.

    Teleionormativity and health

    Disabled and neuroatypical people are assumed to be not fit for the society, because normacists (normality supremacists) believe they’ll spread “defective genes”. Features common among them (inability to live independently, niche hobbies, unusual social skills) are mocked and attributed to lonely people who can’t have sex. See all the jokes about young men who live in their parents house, watch cartoons, and don’t go to parties. A normacist cannot imagine that such a person can be happy without a relationship, or happy in a relationship with someone who can appreciate them. Attacks on fat people poorly disguised as health concerns can also be put here, because these days skinny is the mainstream ideal, and normacists desperately want everyone to want to be conventionally attractive.

    Teleionormativity and gender equality

    Traditional families have more children, so there is a push for stricter gender roles. Girls who aren’t feminine are told from a very young age that they won’t be able to find husbands. Even people who aren’t going to have children still can perpetuate teleionormativity here – mocking men with small penises and insisting on women always being sexy comes from subconscious concerns about reproduction. Trans people also are affected, one of the most common transphobic stereotypes is that trans people are all ugly and have deviant sexual interests.

    Teleionormativity and uncommon sexualities

    Here we have same gender attractions, asexuality, attractions to people of a vastly different age (pedophilia, gerontophilia), attractions to non human animals, and so on. These people are often told that their attractions make them defective, or are a result of them not being able to be with someone of their age, species, and the opposite sex. Love of one young adult for another young adult is seen as superior.

    Teleionormativity and child protection

    Contrary to the popular belief, it’s not “pedophile culture” when very young girls are pressured to dress and act like adult women. Actual exclusive pedophiles aren’t attracted to that as much as they are attracted to children who act like children. This is the outcome of girls being told they won’t be loved until they’re an object of male attraction, so they’re trying to imitate older women, since most men aren’t attracted to little girls.

    It is important to notice that people who learned to recognize why teleionormativity is wrong in one aspect still can serve it in another. For example, mental health and CSA prevention advocates can sometimes hate maps. Another aspect of teleionormativity connected to maps in particular that I forgot to mention is teleio privilege. It consists of an assumption that every person can and will act on their sexual attraction. Many mapmisiacs believe that every map will eventually offend, because they personally don’t hesitate a second before pursuing their love interest when given an opportunity, and they can’t imagine how it might work otherwise.

    So, to sum up, for normacists every human must be a young adult, or try to look like one, fertile, attractive, and ready for a relationship. People who don’t fit in are degraded and dehumanized. It’s important to understand that love can have multiple forms, only consent and absence of harm matter, and some people are perfectly capable of living without any relationship at all. Some manage to call out several aspects of teleionormativity while strengthening others. The problem itself won’t disappear till all factors are named, analyzed, and opposed.

    2023 commentary: what I find lacking here is a more detailed mention of how much health and physical performance are used to determine people’s worth, and the fact that such criteria for who is or isn’t a prime example of a human being are directly tied to capitalism. I don’t think it’s as simple as “the society wants you to conform to beauty standards and be fuckable”. Rather, the beauty standards emerged at the crossroads between what makes you more efficient as a worker (good health) and what makes you more exploitable (people pour a lot of money into dieting and sport routines to stay skinny or get defined abs). And deviating from these standards is punished, because it makes you less useful and harder to control. The message the society sends to children, disabled people, fat people, old people, etc is “your humanity must be earned”. And those who find these features attractive are undermining this message. Which makes teleionormativity just one aspect of this problem, not the underlying cause.

    However, the concept itself has some potential. If we don’t try to stretch it beyond what its actual name implies, as in, the topic of attraction to young mature adults, we can discuss how people of diverse age groups feel pressured to present as if they’re eternally in mid 20s, how people are shamed or laughed at for finding features of some other age attractive (even if that is an age above 18). There also is the underlying assumption that getting a partner in this age group takes more work and effort, and that people who express interest towards someone else just did not succeed here. There is a real tendency to see teleiophilia as the default chronophilia and everything else as a deviation.

    I’d even go as far as to say peer attraction among children and old people is regarded as more of a behavior than a preference, settling for what’s available. That doesn’t mean the society readily accepts teleiophilic children and the elderly – it simply would rather ignore these age groups’ sexuality and pretend their dating life is just a form of sexless companionship, which is another form of depersonifying.

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