I spoke a lot about my problems with the concept of norm and people who proudly identify themselves as normal, and I explained my main point briefly – existence of a norm implies existence of abnormality, and no matter how many experiences and identities you manage to push into the norm, there will always be much more left out. But I rarely had an opportunity to put all of my thoughts on this subject together, which is what I’ll try to do now.
Norm in a statistical sense denotes the average and insignificant deviations, and in this sense that concept can be benign, but in the social sphere it became synonymous with “morally good” and “desirable”. I don’t think I need to explain to you how much of a bad spot you’re in if you’re regularly singled out as abnormal. At best it means many people trying to give you unsolicited advice on how to live your life and what to do with your mind and body, at worst it’s active attempts to convert or kill you.
After coming out to oneself about having some abnormal feature, many people feel like if they just push hard enough, they can persuade the world around them that they’re actually normal, their features are normal, and they don’t deserve harassment and abuse on this basis. This is a task rather hard to do – because all stigmatized identities are stigmatized due to some large underlying reasons, and in order to successfully lobby being considered normal, you first need to lift the stigma (and not the other way around, like some believe). But even if it was much easier to do, I’d still be very skeptical and want nothing to do with it.
I have multiple features that are considered abnormal, and I have heard multiple explanations why this or that one is actually normal. I have heard the “consenting adults” one for sadomasochism, “prime fertility” for hebephilia, “sexually mature animals who initiate mating” for zoophilia. More often than not they were completely incompatible with each other and had an aftertaste of “unlike”. It’s normal to want to have kinky sex with another consenting adult, unlike wanting a teenager. It’s normal to want to have sex with a teenage girl in her prime fertility, unlike sex with a goat. It’s normal to want to have sex with a sexually mature and interested animal, unlike wanting to sadistically hurt it. And I cannot split my paraphilias from one another, I don’t experience them one at a time, they’re parts of a whole. So people who employ such arguments make paraphiliac spaces hostile to me – I already don’t go to BDSM spaces and zoo spaces for that reason – and even if some of them will win in the long run, they’ll only reinforce the bigotry against other parts of my orientation.
Can there be an argument in defense of ALL paraphilias being normal? I heard something that could work once, about radical destigmatization of desire and considering everything that can be produced by a human mind to be normal. But at this point I have to ask, why use the word “normal” at all.
Naturalness carries the same problems as the above, plus additional trouble with having to defend against people who have ideas about the “natural order” and want to build a society that’s a mix of a mid 1950s book about ancient humans and a Nazi’s fantasy about Hyperborea. Using “natural” as a synonym for “good” attracts transphobes, antivaxxers, prolifers, antifeminists, and other similar people. It doesn’t matter if you disagree with what they include in “natural”, they’ll just be there because they recognize a dogwhistle.
There’s also been a distinct genre of pro naturalness posts in the map community in particular (can’t say about other ones) that goes uncomfortably too close to trying to seek ethical principles and life goals in evolution. No, maps did not “evolve to make children happy”, that’s not how evolution works. It also is quite self-centered to pose romantic and sexual feelings as more important than friendship, or any other positive social connection a person can have. Tying life purpose to what you think people evolved for is bad, because it teaches you to disregard individuals’ wants and see useless lifestyles as bad and meaningless. Which is, unsurprisingly, again a mechanic behind many types of bigotry, from misogyny to ableism. I don’t suppose that maps who reblog these posts all think that way, but I know for sure that at least a few do, and it’s dangerous to allow them to spread their rhetoric.
And all in all, I don’t want to tell my oppressors that I’m normal and natural. I want to say I deserve rights. And I’m tired of people from within the community telling me that I absolutely need to start considering my mapness normal first, because they typically assume I just don’t love my sexuality enough and I don’t accept it enough. Meanwhile I accepted all parts of it already, even the ones they themselves would hate.
It’s also possible that they actually secretly want me to let go of other aspects of my abnormality, because there’s also been an increase in bios with “I genuinely love kids, if you ever dream about harming a kid, I hate you”, and I’m a sadomasochist. But this feels like a topic for another post.