From a recent tweet by James Martin:
A woman gives birth in the UK every 48 seconds. She must be exhausted.
Which reminded me of a recent conversation I had about the surprisingly dangerous skills of deer:
Every year, somebody’s dog gets killed by a deer. It’s always the same person. They never learn. You just shouldn’t have a Chihuahua in Churchill, Manitoba
Obviously, the original intention is for neither the same woman nor the same dog owner, and the humour comes from violating this expectation, but why are both readings available in the first place?
Roughly defined, the Quantum Queer Effect is the process by which, in terms of how they are viewed by outsiders, nonmonosexual individuals exist in an ambiguous state of “kinda queer, kinda not” until they are reduced to “gay” or “straight” by outside observers.
The idea of the quantum queer effect stems from the way that the identities of non-monosexual people (like bisexuals, pansexuals, asexuals, etc.) are often reduced to either “gay” or “straight” by others (usually depending on the gender of their current partner), and the way this affects who is considered “queer” and contributes to the erasure of nonmonosexual identities.
For instance, a bisexual or asexual person may be considered “actually queer” when dating someone of the same gender, yet derided for being “really just straight” if they happen to date someone of a different gender*. But by this logic, a single non-monosexual person then exists in a sort of “quantum queer” state where they are simultaneously both “queer” and “not-queer” (and by the same logic, both privileged and oppressed) at the same time.
To many people, “bisexuality” or “asexuality”, etc. is just too difficult of a concept for them to hold in their heads, so when they encounter it they just try to find ways to split people up into “gay” and “straight” (no matter how little sense that may make).
(The term quantum refers to the idea in quantum mechanics that at subatomic levels, a systems can exist in a “superposition” of multiple possible states, only to collapse into a single state when “observed “by an outside force - think schrodingers cat.**)
Examples of the quantum queer effect in action include:
- References to “straight” and “gay” marriage (bisexual people can get married too!)
- Describing same-gender couples as “gay couples” and different-gender couples as “straight couples” regardless of how each identifies
- Constructing arguments about how only “some” nonmonosexuals should be allowed in queer spaces.
- Claims that only nonmonosexuals who actively date same-gender partners can suffer oppression.
- Claims that nonmonosexual people having straight privilege.
- erasure of the identities of nonmonosexual people in long term relationships.
- erasure of the nonmonosexuality of historical figures and modern celebrities.
(* this is without even bringing polyamory into the equation)
(** science followers: please let me know if I got anything wrong here!)
(the inspiration for the concept comes from here: http://nextstepcake.tumblr.com/post/48578050636/next-step-cake-everytime-someone-says-a-variation-on)
Today’s post is in honor of qsaberkeley's nonmonosexuality panel. If you're in the area, you should check it out!)