The Trouble With "Normal"

Are all hairdressers fem boys? Are all construction workers macho? Explore stereotypes on these and other issues here.

Moderators: selective_soldier, Lesley R. Charles, charmcitywop

Normal, what is it?

Everybody knows what normal is
2
10%
Everybody has a differing opinion of what normal is
14
70%
Normal used to be specific, now is far to subjective
4
20%
 
Total votes : 20

The Trouble With "Normal"

Postby dabonsteed » Sat Jul 23, 2005 3:20 pm

I've encountered some problems with words like "normal" lately on this board so I figured it might need it's own topic.

I have a couple problems with the word "normal" that I'd like to bring up. And then we can talk about what it means to many people.

When I was growing up, "Normal" was used often to attack me. Because it was used to describe what I wasn't. "Dabon you are not normal". It was usually followed by 'You're weird." and the sentence "You're not normal" was never said nuetrally, or as a celebration. It was always a condemnation. Whereas being called "unique" was often a compliment. So being "not normal" was somehow bad, but being "unique" was good. Weird, huh? :lol:

Normal is supposed to mean "average" or "expected" when used in science, medicine, fields where measurement is important. Pretty harmless term when you look it it that way. But outside of that, I don't know what it means.

A lot of people call themselves "normal". What I have noticed, however, is if you were to put all the people who call themselves "normal" into a room together and compared and contrasted their characteristics ---you would find no universal characteristics, thus begging the question "what is normal?" If none of those people have a common characteristic, then what would normal be?

Couple this with the idea that "everyone is unique, special" and it's hard to relate to a term like "normal."


To go into specifics.......

I have noted several gay men on this board regard themselves as "normal".
Now, from the perspective of many straight people, gay, no matter how you slice it is NOT normal. In terms of being average, they have a point.
If "normal" means average, then straight, white, college graduates in their late 30's are "normal". From what I understand that's what the average American citizen is.

If normal is supposed to be universal, but is predicated on averages, well then it can't be universal. Because what is normal in America right now, is probably not normal in China right now. America a hundred years ago, it was normal to be a Christian, now, would we say that's normal?
It was "normal" to not have interracial marriages, in fact, they were against the law.


I've seen in personal ads that guys say "I'm normal, looking for another normal guy" yet in their pic they are in great physical condition. Are normal people in great physical condition? Not in a country where obesity is on the rise.

During the last elections both liberals and conservatives tried to paint themselves as normal. With an almost 50/50 spilt in the vote that elected Bush, how can either side claim to be normal?


One friend of mine said that there is an exact definition of normal, and that we need it in order to ask for what we want. My thought is, why not just ask for what you want? I think in our instant-gratification society we want to have simple terms that everyone always understands so that we don't have to put much effort into thinking or looking for what we want. I want a "normal" guy. Normal in what sense? By what standards? TV? Movies? Atlanta-normal or New York-Normal? Average, height, average weight, average looks? I see guys with stuff like "looking for hot, normal guys" Well, buddy, it's not normal or average to be hot. Not even for gay men.

I've been told that "normal men" don't return phone calls and love football. Yet I have met so few men who do either of those things, it makes me wonder what scale we're using and where all these "normal" men are. I think I know one straight guy who's into football. That's it.

I don't think we need a new term, I just think people need to put a little bit more effort into asking for what they want instead of just saying "I want a normal guy". Or "I am a normal guy" How so, Mr. Electrical Engineer? I didn't know the average job was electrical engineer. Is blue collar normal? Is owning your own business normal? Is working in an office and wearing a tie everyday normal?

Some people may think I'm splitting hairs...But when a leather daddy in a fu-manchu moustache, a drag queen, a straight-fireman, and a disabled female tax attorney who's asexual all consider themselves normal, I think I have a case to be both confused, and wanting a little more information.

********************************
People use normal to mean all kinds of things:

Not Crazy
Satus Quo
Law-abiding
Moralistic
Straight

*********************************************************

So what do you guys think?

What is normal?

Do you care what normal is?

Are you normal? In what sense? How do you reconcile calling yourself normal when people may differ with you on that?


What do you do when someone calls themselves "normal" when you think to yourself "Buddy, you're anything BUT normal."?

Have you ever challenged someone on their normalness? Have you ever been challenged?
"this is your life, are you who you want to be?"
Switchfoot
dabonsteed
Member
 
Posts: 76
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2004 10:32 pm
Location: Chicago

Postby edu999 » Sat Jul 23, 2005 3:45 pm

Short post. My answer is that everybody has a different idea of what "normal" is. Will elaborate on this later. Maybe.

:)
User avatar
edu999
Moderator
 
Posts: 680
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2004 2:31 am
Location: SF Bay Area, CA

Postby blu » Sat Jul 23, 2005 4:00 pm

In my opinion, when people claim normal, only on the outside are they normal, but inside they are "weirdos", being weird is the real "normal" There is a normal, and its very unrealistic, thats why the half of "normal" people end up coked out on a dead end street. Even being "unique" or "weird" or whatever has taken on a standardized form of normality(goths, punks, notice they are all the same yet claim to be unique)
User avatar
blu
Newbie
 
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Oct 24, 2004 9:09 am
Location: Philly

Postby devilnuts » Sat Jul 23, 2005 4:30 pm

Kinda the same situation. I was always told that I wasn't normal and usually followed by a weird statement or two. That's alright by me. Look at the source. If they are "normal" then I want to distance myself from that as much as possible. I'm into being my own person. If that makes me weird, abnormal, or a freak, then so be it. I welcome it...lol.
Supporting the troops shouldn't stop at the battlefield.
User avatar
devilnuts
Moderator
 
Posts: 1367
Joined: Sat Jan 15, 2005 3:01 pm
Location: Tucson, AZ

Postby Smitty » Sat Jul 23, 2005 5:25 pm

dabonsteed wrote:
Smitty wrote:
dabonsteed wrote:But I was making a joke about the use of the subjective term regular.

We have trouble with words, don't we. :lol:


Nope. Just the only time I see the term "regular" defined is in references to clothes. Otherwise it's very subjective. Kinda like the word normal.

Nope? Hence this thread.

In conversation - including posts on this board - when someone uses the word 'normal' they usually use it in an understandable context. In those cases I ASSume the person speaking/writing sees themself at the peak of an imaginary bell curve with people they are comfortable with extending to either side for a variable distance depending on the persons' degree of openness.

If the context is all males, femmes aren't 'normal'. Sorry.

If the context is femmes, professional footballers probably wouldn't be considered 'normal'.

The only problem I have with the word 'normal' comes when it is explicitly used to denigrate an individual or a group of people.

In the grand scheme of things, I don't consider myself normal. In most social settings, I believe I am.

A mutual friend commented about me to my mother, "He sure is different." She had a big problem with that, wanted to know what he meant. Like I would know. I told her that coming from him I took it as a compliment. The jerk. :lol:

Different people have different sensitivities to different words. I'm surprised how many people here don't have a problem with the word 'queer' - yet in another thread, many people seem to have a big problem with the word 'homosexual'. I'm just the opposite. In that context, I'm not 'normal'. :wink:
"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." -- George W. Bush, in a CNN interview. 12-18-00
User avatar
Smitty
Member
 
Posts: 470
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 3:18 pm
Location: Oregon Coast

Postby dabonsteed » Sat Jul 23, 2005 7:11 pm

Smitty wrote: In conversation - including posts on this board - when someone uses the word 'normal' they usually use it in an understandable context.


I don't think that's necessarily true. I rarely understand what someone means when they say they're "normal". Often times the implication is those who are not like them are "abnormal" in some type of degrading fashion. They don't establish their criteria of normal. It seems that "normal" is anything other than what they don't like.

My thought is to just say what you want, rather than things like the following:

"I'm sick of all these femme guys, why I can't I find someone normal"

IE you want someone masculine. So just say it. Or at least say "more like me" or "less feminine".

This isn't PC, any moreso than saying "I want a Burger, Medium well, Swiss Cheese, no lettuce or onions and bring me the curly fries." is PC. It's asking for what you want specifically.
This is more about people just asking for what they want. Like when I say, "I want to go to a gay bar" I know I'm talking about a very generic idea of gay. Men who are attracted to other men. That covers a lot of ground all at once. In Chicago there's a bar for just about every kind of gay person that exists. But if I say "I want to go to a twink bar" I'm making myself clearer. If I say "I want to go to a twink bar that doesn't charge a cover" I'm being more specific.



I think this sort of thread is kinda funny in a way.

Because isn't it the stereotype that women want people to read their minds and yet men just say what they want? Using vague words like "normal" and then expecting everyone to know what you mean isn't all that direct. It is very "read my mind".
"this is your life, are you who you want to be?"
Switchfoot
dabonsteed
Member
 
Posts: 76
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2004 10:32 pm
Location: Chicago

Postby Smitty » Sat Jul 23, 2005 7:33 pm

dabonsteed wrote:I think this sort of thread is kinda funny in a way.

Because isn't it the stereotype that women want people to read their minds and yet men just say what they want? Using vague words like "normal" and then expecting everyone to know what you mean isn't all that direct. It is very "read my mind".

Maybe we are expressing our feminine sides. lmao. :wink:

No. This is a good thread. Words. Definitions. The disagreements on this board stem from a lack of communication, not a lack of words. That and an element of a$$holiness.

What do I want? I want a guy who isn't obviously gay. Is that a put down of gays who are obvious? It's a matter of taste not a judgement.
"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." -- George W. Bush, in a CNN interview. 12-18-00
User avatar
Smitty
Member
 
Posts: 470
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 3:18 pm
Location: Oregon Coast

Postby Lesley R. Charles » Sat Jul 23, 2005 8:57 pm

I used to get that too. It was because I was acting like a normal girl and not a normal boy. If there is one thing people can't stand, it is when a boy acts effeminate. At the age of three, I would walk around on my toes imitating walking on high heels. I have seen girls that age doing it. So yes, I was looked at like I was wierd. Most kids did not really want to hang around me because I was unique. But I have always tried to be who I was even when I was denying the gender problems. I used to think that I was just crazy.

Anyway, I said everybody has their own definition of normal.
Come check me out on MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/lesleycharles
User avatar
Lesley R. Charles
Moderator
 
Posts: 402
Joined: Thu Dec 23, 2004 3:11 pm
Location: Greenville, SC

Postby Smitty » Sat Jul 23, 2005 9:53 pm

Lesley R. Charles wrote:At the age of three, I would walk around on my toes imitating walking on high heels.

I was older. Five or six. I remember getting smacked. Didn't get at the time my dad thought it was 'fruity'.

I didn't want heels. I was more practical. We lived... we lived in a shack actually. There were quarter inch gaps between the floorboards. Cold air blew up from the dank earthen cellar. We were at the end of the gas line. In cold weather we had no heat. Getting up in the morning and walking barefoot on that floor was torture. I realized intuitively that if I reduced the surface area between my body and the floor I could minimize the loss of body heat.

Rather than recognize my genius(tongue in cheek), my dad... well, once he feared I was a homo, anything I did was suspect.

Plus walking on your tip toes makes you taller - always desirable when you are a shrimp - and I recall it tightened my calves. It was like an isometric exercise. It fealt good. And I remember seeing other boys do it and they didn't end up with a dick in their mouth, so I think it is pretty 'normal'. Can I use that word? :wink:
"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." -- George W. Bush, in a CNN interview. 12-18-00
User avatar
Smitty
Member
 
Posts: 470
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 3:18 pm
Location: Oregon Coast

Postby Cajun » Sun Jul 24, 2005 8:45 am

Big difference between the words "normal" and "norm" - carry on :wink:
.
"The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything;
they just make the best of everything they have."
User avatar
Cajun
Moderator
 
Posts: 1047
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2004 5:11 pm
Location: Spring, TX / Lafayette, LA

Postby *B*i*L*L*y » Thu Jul 28, 2005 7:28 pm

Cajun wrote:Big difference between the words "normal" and "norm" - carry on :wink:


I think for alot of gay men....they wanna be "normal" or seen as "normal" means......they're looking to fit into the "norm".......they just wanna blend in with the rest of society....to be seen as part of the team....to not stick out...etc...etc...etc...

Makes me think of that Simpson's episode where Homer is forced to wear a pink shirt to work one morning and he says:

Marge! I can't wear a pink shirt to work. Everybody wears white shirts. I'm not popular enough to be different!

Billy
*B*i*L*L*y
Member
 
Posts: 134
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2005 8:20 pm

Postby g.cunningham » Thu Jul 28, 2005 8:17 pm

*B*i*L*L*y wrote:
Makes me think of that Simpson's episode where Homer is forced to wear a pink shirt to work one morning and he says:

Marge! I can't wear a pink shirt to work. Everybody wears white shirts. I'm not popular enough to be different!

Billy


Perfect Billy that's why I love you so :lol:

My favorite quote about normal is from the musical the "Fantasticks" from a song called "Much More". Summarizes my philosphopy on normal

I'm sixteen years old
and everyday something happens to me
Oh... Oh... Oooooh!
I hug myself till my arms turn blue, and
then I close my eyes and
I cry and cry till the tears come down
and I can taste them. I love to taste my tears.

I am special.
I am special.
Please, God, please, don't let me be normal!
g.cunningham
Junior Member
 
Posts: 54
Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2004 8:17 pm

Postby TomMichigan » Fri Jul 29, 2005 11:02 am

When one says someone is "normal", they're saying that that person appears externally to be within the norm of expected behavior and dress, at that particular point on the globe, and at that particular day/month/year. "Normal" is ever fluid in its definition. I think the word is used as a stick to beat people over the head with, because folks who are either sheltered and/or closed minded, have very narrow margins extended to what might include 'normal' in their minds eye.
TomMichigan
Newbie
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2004 8:19 pm
Location: Michigan

Postby TomMichigan » Fri Jul 29, 2005 11:02 am

When one says someone is "normal", they're saying that that person appears externally to be within the norm of expected behavior and dress, at that particular point on the globe, and at that particular day/month/year. "Normal" is ever fluid in its definition. I think the word is used as a stick to beat people over the head with, because folks who are either sheltered and/or closed minded, have very narrow margins extended to what might include 'normal' in their minds eye.
TomMichigan
Newbie
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2004 8:19 pm
Location: Michigan

Postby Guest » Tue Aug 02, 2005 10:34 am

Dabon , Your totally right. Normal does not work as a word. It's just another person's perception of the world. Like assholes we all got one.


I see you as very deep, spiritual, and balanced. Others may not.


Your right, let's stop using the other N-WORD
Guest
 

Postby BlackmanXXX » Tue Aug 02, 2005 10:42 am

Normal depends on where you live.


Chicks playing sports in 2005 ? Normal.
Chicks playing sports in 1805 ? Strange.


Straight People in New York ? Normal.
Straight People in San Francisco ? Strange.
http://people.lulu.com/users/index.php?fHomepage=496298

I need to engage in bisexual behavior on a massive scale. It cannot be corrected but I have no other way to fulfill my needs.
User avatar
BlackmanXXX
Member
 
Posts: 83
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 7:05 pm
Location: Boston Common

Postby dabonsteed » Tue Aug 02, 2005 10:43 am

Smitty wrote:
What do I want? I want a guy who isn't obviously gay. Is that a put down of gays who are obvious? It's a matter of taste not a judgement.


I've been meaning to get back to you on this one Smitty.

I hope you see the humor in both saying "I want a guy who isn't obviously gay." and at the same time using a cutesy kitty-cat avatar.


To some people, anything cutesy, especially cats, and definitely kittens is "obviously gay." Just a thought.
"this is your life, are you who you want to be?"
Switchfoot
dabonsteed
Member
 
Posts: 76
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2004 10:32 pm
Location: Chicago

Postby Smitty » Tue Aug 02, 2005 11:56 am

dabonsteed wrote:
Smitty wrote:
What do I want? I want a guy who isn't obviously gay. Is that a put down of gays who are obvious? It's a matter of taste not a judgement.


I've been meaning to get back to you on this one Smitty.

I hope you see the humor in both saying "I want a guy who isn't obviously gay." and at the same time using a cutesy kitty-cat avatar.


To some people, anything cutesy, especially cats, and definitely kittens is "obviously gay." Just a thought.

LOL. To some guys reading anything other than the sports page is gay; going to an art museum is gay, cooking is gay, etc. etc. etc. Those are the guys still wearing a gender straight jacket (pun) and they don't interest me either. :wink:

The kitten... every time I see that tongue and those eyes I break out laughing. It's probably a female ta boot, but I don't give a sh*t.
"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." -- George W. Bush, in a CNN interview. 12-18-00
User avatar
Smitty
Member
 
Posts: 470
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 3:18 pm
Location: Oregon Coast

Postby dabonsteed » Tue Aug 02, 2005 2:57 pm

Smitty, I agree with you. Just pointing out in a lighthearted way, that "obviously gay" has it's own set of problems. Considering your frame of reference and all.

Gets back to the larger point of saying what you want. I'm not dogging you on your choice of words, but obviously your idea of "obviously gay" is going to differ from people. The majority? A minority? Who knows.

This thread isn't about who you want to date, so please don't feel compelled to go into detail for us. Just know you may have to go into more detail in a personal ad or a conversation. That's sort of the point I've been making.

I think in our world of "Big Mac, Small Fries, Medium Coke" We forget you can't use the same set of thinking when talking about people. You can't say "Normal Guy" and get exactly what you want in the same way you can say "Big Mac" and get exactly what you want.
In the realm of fast food, McDonald's has defined for us what "Big Mac" means. They invented it, and gave it that name. So they're the ones defining it. But the same is not true for the word "normal". Normal is more along the lines of "small fries". IE, in other words, the fries you get at McDonalds are going to be different than what Steak "N Shake, Burger King, Wendy's, etc make. And the size "small" is going to be subjective to the restaurant you're at. Think about Starbucks and how they offer "tall", "grande" and "venti" words that all mean "big" just in other languages, but someone mean specific sizes to them. Good luck ordering a "Venti fries" at McDonald's in the US. They will have no clue what you mean.
It's all frame of reference, and sometimes, there is no universal frame.
"this is your life, are you who you want to be?"
Switchfoot
dabonsteed
Member
 
Posts: 76
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2004 10:32 pm
Location: Chicago

Postby foxeyes2 » Tue Aug 02, 2005 3:26 pm

I would never date food from McDonalds. it taste so gross.
Now Arby's is a different story.
We are all one tribe. We are all one people.
Reduce Reuse Recycle
foxeyes2
Moderator
 
Posts: 829
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2004 6:51 am
Location: Nashville, TN

Postby devilnuts » Tue Aug 02, 2005 8:29 pm

foxeyes2 wrote:I would never date food from McDonalds. it taste so gross.
Now Arby's is a different story.


Although I love Arby's food, I still wouldn't date it...however, the cute fry guy...that's another story...I hope he's grande where it counts.

[/tangent]
Supporting the troops shouldn't stop at the battlefield.
User avatar
devilnuts
Moderator
 
Posts: 1367
Joined: Sat Jan 15, 2005 3:01 pm
Location: Tucson, AZ

Postby TomMichigan » Wed Aug 03, 2005 7:45 am

devilnuts wrote:
foxeyes2 wrote:I would never date food from McDonalds. it taste so gross.
Now Arby's is a different story.


Although I love Arby's food, I still wouldn't date it...however, the cute fry guy...that's another story...I hope he's grande where it counts.

[/tangent]


Or......you're hoping there's a P-A-R-T-Y in his pants, admit it! :lol:
TomMichigan
Newbie
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2004 8:19 pm
Location: Michigan

Postby devilnuts » Wed Aug 03, 2005 6:25 pm

I'm hoping there's a party in his pants and I'm coming...
Supporting the troops shouldn't stop at the battlefield.
User avatar
devilnuts
Moderator
 
Posts: 1367
Joined: Sat Jan 15, 2005 3:01 pm
Location: Tucson, AZ

Re: The Trouble With "Normal"

Postby rlb2444 » Sat Nov 27, 2010 6:12 am

I don't know what normal is anymore. There is honest normal and hypocritical normal. I suspect that if the real truth were known that the combination of gay, bi and curious (admitted and hidden) would total a lot more than 50% of the population. Sex has become a sport.
rlb2444
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2010 9:05 am

Re: The Trouble With "Normal"

Postby Ben » Sun Jan 26, 2014 3:48 am

I think everybody knows what normal is. Except in the gay community you generally claim no know what it is because that would be the same as affirming the norm. Instead, you wanna fuzzy up the term as much as possible so that it becomes a free-for-all zone - anybody's interpretation of "normal" goes, and thus nobody becomes normal.... and thereby, everybody just did. .... become normal. :shock:

For instance, is it normal for a guy to return to reply to a dead thread, in a dead forum, on a dead message board that more than likely nobody will read?
Yes... it's normal for someone who's extremely bored. Thank god for World of Warcraft... 8)
Last edited by Ben on Mon Feb 10, 2014 6:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Don't try to be a great man, just be a man...
User avatar
Ben
Member
 
Posts: 174
Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2004 11:23 am
Location: Indiana

Next

Return to Stereotypes

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

cron