This evening, I discussed a very personal lifestyle choice that I have made with some of my coworkers. Discussion became somewhat heated. And I’ll admit, I became angry. So I’m turning that energy into what I hope is something better.
DOES THIS LABEL MAKE ME LOOK LIKE A STEREOTYPE
I am a lot of things, and there are a lot of things I am not. I’m a server. Servers are widely stereotyped as being unintelligent, yet I finished school two years early at the age of sixteen. I can remember the meals of entire tables, yet some of my guests can’t remember the one dish that was theirs. So does that seem a fair assumption to you? I’m a queer pansexual. Most people I’ve met don’t even know what pansexual means, and “queer” probably sounds like “gay” or”lesbian” to them too. I’m neither. I am a queer pansexual. I have a non-normative sexuality, and I prefer to love people for who they are, rather than what they are. I’m SBNR (spiritual but not religious) meaning that I somewhat believe in some kind of higher power, yet I do not practice any religion. Just because I don’t worship something (or just because I believe something different) does not make me a bad person. On the whole, I am kind and compassionate. And lastly, the issue that was at hand tonight: I am an ovo-vegetarian. But I am not: a card-carrying animal rights activist*, a member of PETA, or an idiot simply because I don’t eat meat.
*ETA: not that I believe being an animal rights activist is bad, that’s just not necessarily one of my reasons for being a vegetarian.
I AM NOT STUPID BECAUSE I MAKE DIFFERENT CHOICES THAN YOU.
My dietary reasons are not open for discussion. You have no say, whatsoever, in what I put in my body. None. At all. And I also do not have say as to what you put in your body. Neither do I criticize your choices. Unless I am asked, or the topic is otherwise broached, I do not discuss the reasons that I do not consume meat. So you can talk until the cows come home about how meat is the best thing ever in the universe and you love steak so much you want to die, that will not make me eat it and there is nothing you can do. If you can’t accept that, that is entirely your problem.
“WHY DON’T YOU EAT MEAT?” (AND OTHER PERSONAL QUESTIONS)
If you have asked this question, you best prepare yourself for the answer. This means sit down, shut up, and strap in. You are now in my territory. I am a minority. You have given me the floor so that I, as a minority, may share my experience. You do not have this experience. Do not tell me about mine. If you have asked, prepare to listen. Don’t “correct” my life with your assumptions about my sexuality/diet/et cetera. Listen. Learn. You’ll get your turn to speak. In fact, your meat-eating/omnivore privilege means you probably already have. Just because I am a vegetarian doesn’t mean I don’t understand why people do eat meat. On the contrary, I definitely do. But it is not the right choice for me.
Side story, here. A close family member did not agree with my choice of partner. If I had asked her what she thought of our relationship, or brought it up at all, that would be opening the floor for discussion. To discuss it with them, I would have had to prepare myself for this family member’s input on my relationship, my choices, and their views on them. If I had asked, I would have needed to accept their answer as one I cannot change or affect. Those are their views, and it is their right to have them. My views differ. Thus, I did not bring it up. If you are not comfortable accepting an answer that differs from what you believe to be the right and correct way, do not ask the question. Because in all likelihood, you will not like the answer.
WHAT IS PRIVILEGE?
If you find that you are a general majority (white, christian, straight, cisgendered, omnivore) you have privilege. Privilege means that you can look around and find others similar to you. You can find representations of yourself in mainstream media. Your views will generally be agreed upon/confirmed or whatnot. In general, you will also not find a stereotype of such being used as a punchline. You are “normal”. You will not be expected to represent your entire group. Some relevant links: general privilege, straight privilege, check your privilege
DO NOT MARGINALIZE ME.
Just because it’s not a term you see often, doesn’t mean it does not exist or that you can/should deny it does. If you’re going to talk about me - if you are going to label me - use the right terms. That means, use what I identify as. Pansexual means I love all genders/gender does not affect my love for another person. It is a term that disregards the gender binary, that acknowledges and accepts non-cisgendered peoples. So don’t call me bisexual. I am not bisexual. Do you need to hear me say it again? I am not bisexual. So don’t misrepresent me, don’t call me something I’m not. It would be like calling all Hispanic persons “Mexicans”. Guess what, Mexicans come from Mexico, Hispanic people may be from Puerto Rico, El Salvador, and yes Mexico, or any number of other places. So stop using the wrong terms. And for the love of goodness, please, stop intentionally using the wrong terms because “others don’t know what it means”. If you are speaking about me, at least represent me properly. If you are going to make MY sexuality a topic for discussion, don’t try to sell me short or sum me up in a way that’s easier on you. Nothing about me is for your convenience, or meant to be a conversation starter for you. Stop taking shortcuts. If you want to discuss my sexuality, go ahead. But that means it’s on you to explain what pansexuality is. It’s the least you can do for objectifying me.
SO WHAT’S YOUR POINT?
Hi, my name is Emily and I am: spiritual but not religious, an ovo-vegetarian, a server, a queer pansexual, a Halo nut, the wearer of a non-normative piercing, planning on being tattooed, a female, a daughter, a sister, an undergrad, an 20%+ tipper, stubborn, downright weird, a fan of self-deprecating humor, someone who watches supernatural, a cuddler, a human, and I’m willing to give you a chance. Can you do the same for me?
Hi, my name is Emily. Please don’t judge me. I won’t judge you.
Hi, my name is Emily. Tell me, who are you?
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