Sunday, September 11, 2011

In-Your-Face Heteroprivilege

Those family decals you see everywhere on people's cars have been bothering me for at least six months now, but I couldn't put my finger on exactly why. Today it finally clicked: they're a prime example of in-your-face heteroprivilege.

Allow me to explain.

Like a charm bracelet for your car, parents go to the store and pick out the appropriate stick figure decals to match each member of their family. It usually goes something like, mom and dad and boy and girl, mom and dad and four kids in descending height order, mom and dad with girl and baby and dog, and so on. But the formula always starts with mom and dad.

The stickers always go on the back of the car (almost always back left, for easy left-to-right visual scanning), facing the drivers behind the sticker-on-ers' car. Meaning, the stickers are meant for you, person behind the minivan in traffic. They are a declaration of family, hetero family.

And what it amounts to for any LGBTQ folks in the car behind them, is a big middle finger.

If a mom and a mom and their son wanted to go buy these decals for their car, it would first require a serious conversation. Is it safe to signify on our vehicle that we are a lesbian family? Are we prepared to risk bodily harm to ourselves and our child by putting these decals on the car? You never know when some crazy bigot may see our lesbian car pull up in a parking lot, feel incensed, and decide to wait and confront its owners. Are we prepared to risk our property? Because some drunk guys walking home from a bar might see our lesbian car parked on the street and decide they want to bash our windows in. And so on.

Most lesbian and gay families are not going to risk it. It's just not worth it. Until lesbian and gay families are respected by our society, our pride in our families by necessity must be quieter and more selective.

I know that we live in a homophobic country, and that heteroprivilege is everywhere; there's so much of it that it becomes tiring to list all of the ways LGBTQ folks are treated as second class citizens by the government, secular and religious institutions, and most of their fellow taxpayers.

But can't you just let us drive in peace?

(Decal image from


  1. This is exactly why I put one on my super gayed-up subaru. It has mom+mom+doggy. My main complaint with the company is that you can't have a stick figure with short hair and pants that is identifiably a woman, so I had to compromise on my stick-figure representation and have long-hair.

  2. i love it! and though you had to compromise a bit, i say, still so worth it :)

  3. "My" stick figure is in a beekeeper outfit with long hair. I'm pretty sure most people would have no idea what it's supposed to be, but hey, they can definitely tell it's two ladies.