Wednesday, March 29, 2006

My comment overstepped its bounds...

Sybil posted a comment in Childrearing tools ignoring behaviour/action morph into disciplinary adult relational strategy...

I started writing a brief comment back to her that sort of expanded and expanded until I realized I had another post...

This is a lightly edited (added to) version of what I wrote in the comment box.

In my city, there was a moment where many different kinds of wimmin would come together to organize despite their differences, they came together with men despite their differences, too.

I actually got back to the city from being away at school in a border town just around the time when people were getting close enough to rub each other the wrong way. More differences than were comfortable were rising to the surface and being recognized. I don't think any of the wimmin I found there, or I knew what to do with the profound gaps between us. It was a challenge they were not prepped for, that terrified them and forced them to back away from working in solidarity with each other in ways that were meaningful, deeply political, with clear sight.

It was painful and terrifying and enfuriating to see the fissures begin to form. One that I witnessed was an all wimmin of color dance where some of the wimmin had white lovers and friends they wanted to be allowed in. The organizers, friends, colleagues and lovers of these wimmin refused. Thing is, I think they were actually surprised about who asked to bring in their white acquaintances, as if they had not been living in community together all along. I don't think some people's alliances survived that night.

For me the telling moment was also in my twenties, a time of exhilarating (self)discovery where I understood that I was lovingly enveloped in a world of men and wimmin who were dedicated to liberation on all possible fronts. Of course again, I hadn't actually been listening or paying attention to what they were actually saying about their politics at all.

That is until one of my lovers was violently driven outta Dodge for being a woman of color who was way too different to be tolerated. She was constructed as an abuser by the wimmin she had organized with (some of them dated/fucked) because as a leather wearing, boy bottom/masochist, with a dick, who was Black/Asian/Carib Indian who had come out in a time when these weren't identities that most understood could be held inside the body and spirit and politic of a woman of color, she was too many things at once for our allies through the skin to understand or tolerate.

Her shunning led to my having a complete systems failure, shut down, does not compute, breakdown. That was when I first started spending most of my time in the house and not coming together with the other race wimmin I knew and had formerly been allied with.

The safe home I had read about and had been taught to see went poof and I was terrified and enraged and confused. The realization that this place with wimmin who looked like me was not (necessarily) home came crashing down and destroyed me. I stayed in the house for six months.

In a lot of ways I understand I've got healing to do around that moment in my life and a few other "choice" experiences that have led to realizations and epiphanies I could have done without but that have made me who I am nonetheless.

Even as these flipped scripts have taught me and violently propped opened my eyes, they've also profoundly shifted my understanding of human dynamics in ways that mean I don't take so easily to mob...unh...I mean group situations. I understand how easily a grouping, even one that seems political on the surface can become a tool utilized for the imposition of convention and largely agreed upon values.

Being lovers with the woman I mentioned up above, by proxy going through her ostracism from circles where she had been a queer youth leader showed me that none of my alliances were permanent or strong just cuz they were called strong.

I developed a way that many would consider anti-social, of pushing the bounds of any alliance, purposefully seeking out the raw spots, the weak spots and poking there. To my mind it was no use hiding these areas or protecting them as eventually they would be found and exploited at the most inopportune moments. Better embrace those messy little bits now rather than be compelled to look upon them later.

Witnessing what I did taught me to not be afraid, taught me a crucial lesson about what it means to step up to the plate and be in community with someone others consider distasteful. It compelled me to grow and change and question in ways that eventually morphed me willingly into a being others might find to be difficult, irritating, to be avoided...distasteful.

I understand that when people consider allying with me, they're actually considering allying with a profound lack of popularity, lack of group presence, a life of aloneness, a life of stringent exploration... not the glamorous kind, but just inner seeking. Them realizing this early saves me a lot of heartache and energy in that my forthrightness forces people to choose really early on instead of allowing them space to construct romanticisms about who we be that might cloud their or my vision.

My work to date in the blogosphere looks like holding those who attempt to create false homogenieties accountable to the lies they tell to themselves and to each other and to me so that the veneer of sameness can remain intact.

It means realizing that I will often be constructed as a threat to any monolithic (seemingly) homogeneous grouping of people simply by pointing out how very much we aren't the same.

It means that I will be understood as a danger to be neutralized for speaking openly about differences and about the bits and pieces of oppression and power attached to them.

But watching the ways that difference is ferreted out and attacked even as many/most make a show of being "open", "progressive", "radical" means that to not speak would mean a life of hiding and cowering for me where I could still expect to be eventually witch-hunted out into the open for easy disposal.

Not okay. So, I say pretty much wherever I go and encounter stuff that breaks my heart: I'm standing eyes wide open. If this, this, this way of behaving, denying, obscuring is what you've got for me? Then, bring it on.

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