Yesterday, I ran into this commercial for a new TV show entitled The New Normal, which dramatizes new forms of family through a monoparental one, and a homosexual one. The title of the show itself struck me as particularly aware and specific of its role within society: participating to the on-going processes of normalization of homosexual couples. Tragically, not a single current nation in the world seems to have fully integrated homosexuality as a given and systematic moral or physical persecution is still occurring everywhere. However few parts of society have progressed to the next stage of those processes in which the sexual orientation does not constitute a target of stigmatization. Many people fought for years to make society reach this stage and the current normalization we observe is the product of their hard work.
The mechanisms of a society would be much more simple if they stopped here. In reality, the processes of normalization involves also a “dark side” that can not be neglected. When a minority of power integrates the norm, it becomes confronted to a whole new range of issue. What constituted its binder when engaged into the fight for power, has disappeared and is replaced by an access to the same comfort than the rest of the norm. Through this substitution -which was obviously the purpose of the struggle- the collective dissolves into the individual who has to reconstitute itself as “minor” to be engaged in another fight. On the contrary, if the normative status is fully embraced, an individual is more likely to be part of a form of oppression towards the other minorities.
This article was starting from the normalization process in which a certain amount of homosexual individuals are engaged; the perpetually “on the watch” philosopher Judith Butler addressed the problematic aspect of this process in her speech in June 2010 when she refused the Zivilcourage Prize that the Berlin Pride wanted to award her:
We all have noticed that gay, bisexual, lesbian, trans and queer people can be instrumentalized by those who want to wage wars, i.e. cultural wars against migrants by means of forced islamophobia and military wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. In these times and by these means, we are recruited for nationalism and militarism. Currently, many European governments claim that our gay, lesbian, queer rights must be protected and we are made to believe that the new hatred of immigrants is necessary to protect us. Therefore we must say no to such a deal.
Judith Butler. Berlin June 19 2010
This is only one example of a struggle which needs to continue, not to be swallowed by the oppressive behaviors of the norm; there are many others (the current situation of the Palestinian bourgeoisie or the nationalism of a part of the European proletariat for example). In order to be operational in our struggles, we need to “choose our fight” and therefore embrace a limited amount of our minor characteristics; however, this does not mean that those fragmented groups of struggle should constitute competitive individuals themselves. In conclusion, we can say that the new normal is the sign of tremendous progress in a society and in its collective imaginary. However, each individual who has experienced the minor existence should never forget the latter and should keep fighting in its name with the political power (s)he acquired.