I’ve been side-eyeing this little blow up for a while and I have to admit for fandom wank it’s so mild, I hardly manage to get up my ire. It’s, I think, touching on some pretty significant issues, but the problem is so complicated in real life that I don’t think there is a simple answer.
Let me sum up: some people call Stiles the pack mom, some other people argue that this reinforces heteronormativity in gay relationships, then the people who do the pack mom thing feel slighted because they don’t feel they’re being homophobic.
Here’s the thing, I don’t believe there is technically a right side here. Because, essentially, we’re stuck in quagmire of intersectionality.
Yes, it’s true that assigning heteronormative roles to same-sex couples can be offensive or even oppressive (“So which one of you is the wife, eh?”). I don’t think anyone disagrees with that.
However, what the anti-pack-mom side is essentially arguing is that women are always the mom and men are always the dad. You’re assigning the nurturing/emotional and the disciplining/stoic roles to someone’s gender. The mother/father concepts are incredibly intertwined with gender stereotypes, true, but the solution doesn’t have to be to make everything even more gender essentialist.
Basically, if someone says “Stiles is the mom”, it can obviously mean that they are assigning him typically feminine traits and shoehorning him into the feminine role to deal with the cognitive dissonance of a same-sex couple in a heteronormative world view. But, and this is a huge but, it can also mean that they are rejecting the idea that these traits are essentially and necessarily tied to the female gender and embrace a mothering role taken on by someone who identifies and presents as male.
The question is, frankly, one of semantics. I think we all agree that Stiles has a strong nurturing side and that he’s a dude. No one, outside of kink and genderbend fic, is hoping to feminize Stiles. So there are two sides here, one that ties the concept of “mom” to gender and divorces the concept from nurturing traits, and one that ties the concept of “mom” to nurturing traits and divorces it from gender.
What’s happening here is that you’re both on the same side. Now whether you call Stiles pack mom or the cuddly dad, what we’re talking about is that Stiles is the emotional focus of the group who openly cares about the people in it. Pack mom/dad is just short for something that has equivalents not just in family groups, but any group of people thrown together by circumstance, be it a military unit or a corporate team or a group of friends.
And now I present to you a much bigger conundrum: Derek as pack mom. We don’t know how things could shake out, but in a universe where Stiles and Derek get together and Derek lets go of his old demons, there is a very strong possibility that their current roles might reverse. Stiles, while naturally inclinced to make his loved ones feel good, is also eminently practical, with cold steel under his pale skin. Meanwhile Derek, once rid of his anger, just wants people to be happy.
Mind. Blown. ;)
^ Four for you, Glen Coco, you go Glen Coco.