Cathrine sez: ““Normal” in New York City is going to be different than normal in the heavily Mormon parts of Utah, in Western Africa, or in Thailand. Dig a little and I think no one will stand up to a “normal” litmus test.”
This is a really good observation. Because normal is something defined by conformity to the culture one is raised in. For me the idea that someone would willingly wear a burqa or chaddor in public is bizarre beyond all reason yet women do it to conform to standards of normal within their culture.
My friend from high school was thought to be weird also and was sent off to pshrinks because she didn’t conform to expectations of normal and she too escaped the hometown for a better life.
If one lives in an insane culture or a culture viewed as insane by others, say Mormonism or fundie Xianity is it normal to embrace that culture or is it normal to reject it?
What about bohemian culture. If one is artistic and creative and lives in a place with other creative artistic people, where differentness is common and eccentricity expected what is normal. I met Bill Burroughs, author of Naked Lunch, next to Allen Ginsburg he looked like a small town business man and yet he was down right weird by almost any standard.
The Japanese have a saying, “The peg that sticks up gets hammered down.”
Yet where ever we look, unless people are utterly bland and boring there are people who are pegs who stick up a little bit and refuse to be hammered down. Who defy being hammered down even if only sticking an Obama bumper sticker on their car in an area where McCain is considered left wing and not a “real conservative”.
March 27, 2009 at 6:32 pm
“I look around and so many people are all freaky in their own special ways” … here, here. It is so true. And Catherine is also correct. Cultural/social context is basic to defining ‘normal’. And in those sentiments lie the reasons it so so damned much fun to engage people where ever one goes. I routinely travel from my home in Phoenix to my apartment in DC and I have an opportunity to mix in many different social and cultural contexts and I am always happily amazed at the interesting stories and lives that continually intersect in one way or another. I am equally at home with my Ethiopian/Nigerian girlfriends in DC or my American white girlfriends in Phoenix. Their “normals” are quite different, I assure you. And I am a tall white woman raised on the beaches of Southern California. Go figure.
Thanks Suzan for this blog … I have learned much and find your early struggles enlightening and inspiring.
Sara, Washington DC/Phoenix (and points between) …
March 27, 2009 at 9:35 pm
I guess I started this! Me and Suzy CC.
Look, what I meant when I made my statement was that I didn’t want to think female, have male organs and be forced to live a life that was destroying me. I wanted the freedom to choose what to do with my life without those conflicts. I wanted to love and be loved, that seems to me to be “normal” Everything else is driven by personal preferences. If you look honestly at my life in the cold light of day my life isn’t that “normal”. I am a musician for a start and that hardly leads to a normal life. Irregular work hours, unpredictable income are just a couple of instances. I do however have lunch with girlfriends. Have dinner parties with friends and do day trips with my husband. These are the things I sought before and were denied me while I had that intense mental conflict. While all that was going on in my head it prevented my mind from concentrating on the things I needed to have in my life.
Do I believe in God? Not in in the conventional sense; but I am not an atheist either I’m pretty agnostic, fence sitter if you like. Religion, all religion, is a tool used to control the thoughts and actions of the masses. Political doctrines, political parties amount to the same thing. If you are a conservative (republican) then you MUST believe in this policy; if you are a socialist (democrat) you MUST believe in that policy. If you are transsexual, if you are transgender then you MUST ………………. It’s all bullshit, I will think and do what darn well choose. Actually, that is rather normal too.
I happen to be hetrosexual, I didn’t chose to be I just am. I love my girlfriends but I don’t want to have sex of any description with them, because it just doesn’t press my buttons. Males do.
I like men, there I’ve said it. Sure they can be aggresive rude, self centered, irritating in the extreme. Come to think of it I’ve known a few women like that too. Yes men perpetrate rape and violence but not all. My Father and my mother beat me as child especially my Father; however, once he got used to the permenance of my transition and saw what kind of woman I have become has been a source of great strength and support. My husband, is the focal point of my life, my rock and my best friend. No he’s not perfect but then neither am I and I don’t expect perfection, I wouldn’t get it anyway.
All of this amounts to the “normality” that I spoke of, some things are very similar to other people’s lives some things are not. That is normal. Most of my friends and neighbours are straight a few are not (we have lesbian neighbours) that’s normal. That is what I was looking for 25 years ago.