Vissi d'arte

from lullaby to requiem

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What's wrong with being a pansy?

This is in reply to Justice Isagani Cruz' hateful article, "Don we now our gay apparel" published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Aug. 12, 2006. Maneul Quezon III (and, by now, several other writers) has already written an excellent reply to Cruz' bigotry, but I think Quezon missed something that I feel is rather important.

What's wrong with being a pansy?

Most people view a pansy as someone weak, someone who can't fight for himself. The term, itself, is derived from a type of flower with velvety petals - the cultivated variety of which came from a wild flower called Heartsease. By it's very nature, flowers are delicate and (for want of a better term) squishy. Because of this, all effiminate boys have been labelled pansies - a tradition we could attribute to the British.

Of course, that's one way of looking at it. We learn in school that by labelling something, and inculcating it in the culture of a people, we create our own realities based on these labels. The perception of a pansy, therefore, becomes a person who is a weakling. So? What's wrong with being weak? I might be echoing Ursula Le Guin here, but really? What's wrong with being weak?

Strength is over-rated. Is it not that without weakness, we cannot have strength? So why do we need to reject weakness in favor of masculinity and being 'macho?' Why must we always side with the masculine and ignore the feminine?

Cruz addresses this: he calls us "sexless persons without the virility of males and the grace of females but only an insipid mix of these diluted virtues." Duality addressed; but then we are left with a triad. I refuse to view myself, and others like me, as insipid mixes of the masculine and feminine. Instead, we are, in my opinion, the synthesis of the anima and the animus - a perfect combination of the two sexes. We may be viewed as sexless, yes, but we are not genderless. We are our own gender.

Like many words in the English lexicon, the word pansy may be ameliorated - its meaning changed from mostly negative to somewhat positive. Such has been done with the word "Queer." When people were called queer in the old days (about a few decades ago), that was tantamount to calling someone a whore, or a bitch, or a faggot. But now, because of shows like Queer Eye and Queer as Folk, and perhaps even theories such as the Queer Theory, we can address homosexuals as queers without the negative connotation. Of course, not all words can be ameliorated. The F word which I wrote above, for example. Even typing it is painful. No one should use this term - I believe Oprah had wanted to strike the N word from the dictionary because the connotations that it bears are far too painful. I believe the same for the F word - no living soul should be granted permission to use this offensive word - not even gays.

As for pansy, well... I think art has something to offer the term. In many of Shakespeare's plays, the pansy is a symbol of love. In A Midsummer Night's Dream the pansy's juice actually becomes a love potion. One of the original names for the pansy is actually love-in-idleness, which connotes a love that is asleep and dormant - if only the world were ready for our brand of love.

So why not think of the pansy as someone frail, but beautiful; as someone who's heart is untapped, but is willing to give love to anyone worthy. With these connotations, I can therefore proclaim, with pride, that I am a pansy. A lovely, wild, velvet pansy. But as for Cruz' warning of creating a flag made entirely of delicate lace, I'm for it. But I do draw the lines at ruffles...


  • At 8/21/2006 6:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 8/21/2006 6:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Q3 has admitted to being gay and in the process has shut himself off from a career in national politics.


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