Quite Frankly

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Hey Frankie,

So I’m kinda uncomfortable because this weird thing happened…A friend of mine mentioned that somebody in one of my classes was talking to him about me and my S.O. (who’s genderqueer, btw), and it started out positive. The person in my class apparently said that he respected my S.O. because, and I quote, “They have a hot girlfriend.” That’s me. Like, thanks for calling me hot, I guess. I’ll take that scrap, but also it makes me uncomfortable that somebody would use me, more specifically my physical appearance, as a metric for my S.O’s worth. My S.O. totally is with me here that it’s not okay. I’m just uncomfortable, especially in my class with the person who said this about us. Help?

Sincerely,
Uncomfy and Unamused

Dear Uncomfy,

Quite frankly, the heterosexist paradigm is alive and well here at Vassar College. Its disgustingness never ceases to amaze me, in the worst possible way. Of course you feel uncomfortable; this is an awful situation to find yourself in. I think such a thing is particularly upsetting because it forces you and your S.O. into this gross, misogynistic mold (mold in the sense of form, and mold in the sense of decayed).

Especially for a non-hetero couple, this sort of homonormativity is jarring. By homonormativity, I mean the attempt to fit queer relationships into a straight schema, where one member is the masculine, and therefore dominant, party, while you as the feminized member of the relationship become objectified and subordinated. Of course, even if you guys were in a heterosexual relationship, this commodification of your bodily appearance would be completely unacceptable and sickening.

All of this to put a finer point on exactly why I think you feel uncomfortable. As far as what you should do, though, I have less of an answer. The unfortunate truth is that these kinds of interactions are somewhat unavoidable, and handling them can be quite taxing, both for you and your relationship. I don’t get the sense that you want to directly confront the person in your class, as that could just lead to more difficulty down the line. However, I do think being in open communication with your S.O. will be important as you process this, as it concerns both of you.

Your S.O. likely also takes issue with this classmate inviting them to the boys’ club of misogynistic sexualization and tokenization of your body, which is another reason that a conversation could benefit both of you. I’m sure they also have some emotions about the situation that they’d like to unpack with your support.

Best Wishes,

Frankie

P.S. If this escalates or you hear about more unsavory conversations between your friend and your classmate, you might consider talking to your professor or another trusted “real” adult about the situation.

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