To set the tone for transitioning between the last blog post and this one, here's a podcast episode called The Pink Stallion, which is about... bike shopping. And a lot of other things. [Trigger warning: homophobic slurs used during portrayal of an anti-gay experience.]

So, yes -- now with this transition from "awwww... funny!" into "oh geez uncomfortable uncomfortable heavy"... there were the Other Readings for this week, which I'm going to recommend as good starter pieces to think with (I've provided download links for all of them). I am (with difficulty) going to not really write about, not in the way I'd like to, because there's too much to unpack and too little time because I really need to write my prelim. All three readings are "hey, nobody has studied this before, so we'll begin" studies, so things like "huh, small sample size!" are (to me) quite excusable; these are early fumblings-around in a new space, but they're good fumblings-around by people who are brave enough to get in there (and pretty good at stumbling).

There's a 2013 conference paper by Erin Cech, which talks about depoliticizing queerness -- how we, all too easily, use the "that isn't technical and therefore isn't relevant" argument to shut down (and thereby discriminate against and diminish) the experiences of LGBT engineers. A straight man can talk about his wife to colleagues, but when a lesbian woman starts to talk about her wife, we tell her it's off-topic. That, along with the 2009 paper by Bilimoria & Stewart on LGBT engineering faculty, shout into the social-justice space: "Hey, straight privilege! It's a thing that affects engineers!"

However, I found Cech & Waidzunas's 2011 Engineering Studies paper ('Navigating the heteronormativity of engineering: the experiences of lesbian, gay, and bisexual students') the most helpful, because it gave me Vocabulary Words to use for my class final project (a comic on intersectionality with disability, of sorts; more later, but I wonder if you can guess at it from the remainder of this blog post). A list of these, plus notes for future-Mel-self:

  1. heteronormative -- we distinguish between hearing and non-hearing, and the practices of "hearing" people are the only validly privileged ones. (Ablism?)
  2. climate -- negotiating it daily in ways able-bodied peers do not
  3. coping techniques -- MYRIAD (to the point where I won't even start writing them down here, because it would be hard for me to stop)
  4. technical/social dualism & depoliticization -- see above
  5. conformity & "passing" -- I'm an excellent lipreader, and when I don't have hearing aids (or have hair long enough to cover them) my Asian appearance allows me to pass for "hearing non-native English speaker" to most people (this is also intersectionality)
  6. "coming out" -- repeatedly, to everybody, all the time; it's always an active decision
  7. covering (as distinct from passing; covering is when you're "out," and do something to mitigate effects of that) -- humor is a powerful tool; be the first to crack fun at your "difference"
  8. dualism / lack of consiousness of within-category diversity -- I'm not like all deaf people, and they're not all like me.
  9. using technical language as a description -- plugs & outlets (sex), low-pass filters and lossy receivers (hearing)
  10. toleration vs acceptance -- both of which can be rescinded at any time
  11. expertise and indispensability -- working hard to "earn" a sort of power that "overrides" negative social connotations; "you must respect me because I'm so technically skilled that my participation is vital to our work"
  12. living compartmentalized lives -- separating the social and professional... or deliberately blending them (I did) so my social was my professional.
  13. emotional labor -- is invisible, yet required if you want to stay in the climate and be you
  14. isolation -- sucks.
  15. future job security -- see note on #10, and the "Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" point of "[As someone with white privilege,] If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it had racial overtones."

And for those of you who at this point are guessing at my project, remember: intersectionality does not mean one can directly translate everything from one form of privilege (or oppression/discrimination) to another. This list is uncomfortably close to that for me -- I don't want people looking at this list and thinking "oh, being deaf is like being gay!" (It's not, so please don't; I have plenty of straight (or straight-enough) privilege and have tons of respect for those who don't have that experience, and instead have different experiences that I will never really understand, regardless of how hard I try -- and I'll keep trying really hard.) This list, these notes: all they are is a starting point I'll be reworking into future material (and alongside plenty of other material) with this "intersectionality is not translation!" discomfort foremost in my mind.

(Again, citations for Alice.)

White, Malic. The Pink Stallion. The Moth, n.d.

Cech, Erin A. (2013, June 23-26). The Veiling of Queerness: Depoliticization and the Experiences of LGBT Engineers. Paper presented at 120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Atlanta, GA.

Bilimoria, Diana, and Abigail J. Stewart. “‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’: The Academic Climate for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Faculty in Science and Engineering.” NWSA Journal 21, no. 2 (Summer 2009): 85–103.

Cech, Erin A. and Waidzunas, Tom J. (2011) 'Navigating the heteronormativity of engineering: the experiences of lesbian, gay, and bisexual students', Engineering Studies, First published on: 06 Feburary 2011 (iFirst)