When I was about seven years old, my mother wanted her maiden name back. My father respected her and fully supported her choice. She was a coal-miner’s daughter from Southern Ohio—Pleasant City—and feminism mattered to her. At 13, just to make being a teenager even more fun, I hyphenated my own last name and took her maiden name, too. It is only fair.
I was teased for my mother, my father and my name growing up. My mother’s feminism threatened people in my community and even members of both sides of my family. Some extended family members would refuse to write-in her last name and wrote in my father’s name instead, back in the days of hand-written envelopes. I was teased for my dad looking progressive—wearing a satchel for instance, which was taken to be a “purse,” a gender-bending, suspect thing. And my name was, in central New York of the 1980s, a freak-show. Within three years when I became a hardcore, political punk challenging the apartheid in my school and the emptiness and injustice of Reaganite America, I was also called a “fag”, and was subjected to three actual bouts of gay-bashing, although I didn’t know the name for it at the time. I dated women—seeking intelligent, free women who were my equal. The gay bashing was over my flaunting of gender norms—one system of normativity crashing into another and landing on my head as fists.
When Donald Trump calls his talk “locker-room” banter, he is reinforcing the very systems that bullied me and my family growing up. His talk is violence against women. It is hate speech, all the worse because people still do not see it as hate speech. But it is also oppressive to men, most directly, in the way that the norms of objectification of women fall back on any man who refuses to subscribe to the hateful gender and sexuality norms of patriarchal and heteronormative America.
Jeremy David Bendik-Keymer
Beamer-Schneider Professor in Et