For me, reading Marnina Gornick’s piece, “Sugar and Spice and Something More than Nice” was like being repeatedly punched in the face for every single time she used the word q***r. It is true that some LGBT people have reclaimed the word “queer” and use it to define themselves, but this does not mean every LGBT person has reclaimed it. To some of us, being called q***r is just as offensive as being called a f*gg*t or a d*k*.
To illustrate, I have never seen a feminist piece which refers to women as “b*tches,” and refer to women as “the b*tch community,” despite the fact that some women say they have reclaimed the term “b*tch.” And yet this is exactly what we have with the word q***r. LGBTQ+ people are regularly referred to as “q***r people,” “the q***r community,” or “q***rs” (by far the worst use of the term is as a noun, in my opinion).
Gornick frames her piece as an exploration of whether or not q***r girls are “girls” as defined by society. It seemed to me upon reading this introduction that she was alluding to the fact that society’s idea of what constitutes a “girl” is invariably tied to heterosexuality, and indeed sapphic girls do trouble that definition. I think it would have been so wonderful if Gornick’s piece had actually dug into this idea that she introduces at the outset. It has taken me my whole life to even begin to understand why I never felt like a proper girl. The deeply intertwined issues of gender and sexual orientation that Gornick alludes to are, I believe, crucial to understand so that sapphic and trans girls can receive the support they so desperately need. While Gornick does discuss current issues and instances of homophobia and transphobia faced by youth, I was disappointed that she did not, in fact, focus exclusively on girls as her title implies (focusing instead on “youth”), nor did she make any strong connections between what it means to be a girl and how heterosexuality is expected to be present within that framework.
I continue to be amazed that Gornick and so many like her can intone the evils of homophobia and transphobia against youth while casually referring to us with a slur. Referring to an LGBTQ+ person as a slur without their consent is itself an act of homophobia, and it certainly does sapphic and trans girls no favours.
Gornick, Marnina. “Sugar and Spice and Something More than Nice? Queer Girls and Transformations of Social Exclusions.” Gender and Women’s Studies in Canada: Critical Terrain. By Margaret Hobbs and Carla Rice. Toronto: Women’s, 2013. 377-89. Print.