Monday, September 29, 2008

Time to go to bed...

I really like people who use lots of words...

This was the preamble to my result for the Poly Fluency Test..
The Poly Fluency Test

You're done with the test.

Before you get your results, I have some explanations for you (so you know what you may have missed, and why). I couldn't figure out how to get this afterword inserted AFTER your scoring. This test-creating business is a tough job! Anyway, if you just want your score, scroll way, way down, and hit the "THAT'S ALL!" button. But if you're curious about all these words and their definitions, then read what I've written in between here and there first. (Or copy and paste it. Then you can read it later.)

Of course realize that I, the creator of this test, am polyamorous (and polyfidelitous). So yah: there will be a "propoganda" price to pay, if you want to learn the definitions of these poly words from me. I don't consider it propoganda, but many monogamous folks will. Before taking offense at what I will say, you may want to consider using Wikipedia and other sources of information to satisfy whatever poly-word curiosities you have. I of course welcome you to read what I have written. Just be warned: I will speak of polyamory favorably.

Bigamy is polygamy -- if and only if polygamy is forbidden by law. If polygamy were legalised, bigamy would become a thing of the past. It's not necessarily male chauvinism, though it can be infected with chauvinism ... especially if, for example, "polygamy" is meant as "exclusive polygyny" (i.e., men can marry multiple wives, but women can't marry multiple husbands). The Mormon church once practiced exclusive polygyny, and called it polygamy. That was rather chauvinistic.
3.
"Celestial marriage" (along with "plural marriage") was the term used for the particular kind of polygyny the Mormon church practiced in the 19th century. "Celestial" in this context connotes "the Celestial Kingdom" -- Heaven if you will. The idea was that only a select few would attain the highest place in Heaven -- and those few would have to practice Celestial marriage in order to attain it. For the most part, only church leaders had this lofty opportunity. They had to be called to it, by the Presidency of the church. These marriages were sealed in Mormon temples, so they were "temple marriages." But it's important to understand that the Mormon church (known correctly as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) has been out of the polygyny business for about a hundred years. Temple marriages today are strictly monogamous.
4.
Mormonism's old practice of Celestial marriage, plural marriage, or "polygamy," was actually just one kind of polygamy. The word "polygamy" per se denotes a range of marital arrangements: multiple wives or multiple husbands. Technically, what the Mormon church practiced was a type of polygamy. But it was still misleading to use that term. The Mormon church was practicing polygyny. That is a subset of polygamy. Polygyny is marriage involving multiple wives -- not multiple husbands.
5.
The correct word for a marriage that involves multiple husbands is "polyandry." Really, if the Mormon church wanted its practice to be called "polygamy," then it should have embraced both subsets of polygamy: polygyny and polyandry. Instead, the church embraced polygyny, and staunchly forbad women even think about multiple husbands.

Just as polygyny and polyandry are subsets of polygamy ... so polyfidelity is a subset of polyamory. Polyamory is, in general, a marriage-like union of potentially more than two persons. The persons involved in the polyamorous covenant promise to love each other, support each other, and stay with each other. But they may have an open relationship (which I'll explain in a moment).

If a polyamorous relationship is closed, then it is called polyfidelity.
6.
The traditional marriage of today is monogamous (especially since polygamy is illegal) ... and closed. We call a marriage "closed" because of the vows a couple makes never to have sexual relations with anyone besides their spouse. Unless both spouses mutually agree to lift that restriction, the marriage remains closed ... and sleeping around (without one's spouse's permission) is indeed cheating.
7.
Even if two (or more) people don't marry, they may have a marriage-like relationship that involves those same vows of fidelity. That is, vows are made to restrict sexual activity to the circle of persons committing to each other. There's no government-sanctioned marriage certificate, but again, sleeping around (without permission of the others) is still cheating (from an ethical standpoint). The relationship is thus "closed."
8.
Many non-marital relationships are closed. Some are open. Some marriages are open. An open marriage is when both spouses agree to allow each other to have sexual relations with persons outside the marriage. As offensive as that sounds to many conservatives, open marriage is a real phenomenon, and it happens a lot. Likewise, many people who aren't married have open relationships. They're committed to stay together, to love and support each other ... but they still allow each other to have sexual relations with persons outside that committed relationship.

"Compersion" is a very poly word. It was coined because no word existed as a counter to the word "jealousy." In a polyamorous relationship, more than two people are involved. That's the sticking point for monogamous folks. How, for example, can a man share his beloved with another man? Surely there will be jealousy, bitterness, and the inevitable breakdown of the relationships. But it doesn't have to be that way. If the emotional environment is open, honest, and safe, then the man in question can feel compersion for his beloved and the other man he shares her with. That is, he can experience joy because he knows his beloved and this other man (who he hopefully also cares about) find joy in each other. When you love someone, you can be glad for their gladness. The trick is that everyone must feel secure that their own sexual and emotional needs will be met. If everyone's needs are being met, then jealousy can be overcome, and supplanted by compersion.
9.
Jealousy is a difficult problem. It hides itself well, and there are many forms of it. Sometimes it's the fear of being abandoned. Sometimes it's the shame of realizing your spouse has deceived you. Sometimes it's the mere ache of feeling left out. Whatever it is, it adds up to resentment over a partner's involvement with someone else ... and people can get jealous over mere friendships their partners have with outside parties. Jealousy is as much a problem for monogamous couples as it is for polyamorous families.

There's various words for the number of people that can be involved in a polyamorous relationship. The commonest words are dyad, triad, and quad. A dyad is a polyamorous couple. There's only two of them, but they favor polyamory, and would consider adopting a third person into their circle. If they do adopt a third person, the dyad becomes a triad. If a fourth person is adopted in, the triad becomes a quad. Whatever the number of people in the polyamorous circle, they all make vows to love each other, to support each other, and to stay together for the long haul. Usually when we say dyad, triad, or quad, we also mean polyfidelity, as well as polyamory. Polyamory (per se) is open. That is, members of the polyamorous circle are allowed sexual relations outside the circle -- as long as everyone is kept on board, and is okay with the situation. Polyfidelity, however, is closed. New additions may be adopted into a polyfidelitous circle. But any "non-adopted outsider" is off-limits, sexually, to anyone inside the circle. So most dyads, triads, and quads function a lot like a traditional marriage ... with the sole notable difference that more than two persons may be involved in the marriage-like covenant.
10.
It often happens that triads split into a "vee." That is, there are two persons sharing romantic relations with a third person. If the two persons doing the sharing also have a good, close, open relationship with each other (even if it's not a romantic one), then the three people involved act as three points of a triangle, with their close emotional ties making their triangle complete. That's a triad. But if there's a falling out between the two persons sharing the third person, or if the two persons never felt comfortable enough to get to know each in the first place, then the triangle is broken at the point where there would be a connection between those two persons. The sharing agreement may stay intact, though. In that case, the relationship becomes a "vee." The shared person is at the base and center of the vee. Each sharing person is a leg stemming from the shared person.

There are so many words connected with polyamory ... and a lot of them start with the "poly-" prefix. Polyamory; polyamorous; polyamorist ... polyfidelity; polyfidelitous; polyfidelitist ... even polygamy; polygyny; polyandry; polygamous; polygynous; polyandrous; polygamist; polygynist; polyandrist ... if more than two persons were legally allowed to get married. The point is, all these "poly-prefix" words call for a single word that could offhandedly refer to all of those abstract nouns, concrete nouns, and adjectives. The prefix itself, "poly," then, becomes that word. Poly means polygamy, polyamory, polyfidelity, and any or all of the other "poly-prefix" words.
11.
It follows that if all things with a "poly-" prefix can be grouped together and called "poly," then ... monogamy, monogamous, and monogamist can also be grouped together and called by a single word that comes from their prefix: "mono." Mono connotes "only one" -- that is, only one partner. Poly connotes "more than one" -- that is, more than one partner.
12.
(Technically I realize "mono" can also be used as an abbreviation for infectious mononucleosis. But usually when poly people say "mono," they're talking about monogamists or monogamy.)

A true monogamist only marries once -- and never sleeps around. Anyone that has ever divorced and remarried ... anyone that has ever been drawn into an affair ... may want to ask themselves if they might be polyamorous at heart. If it's possible to deeply love one soul at an earlier stage of life ... and then, deeply love another soul at a later stage in life ... is it really so hard to imagine deeply loving two souls during the same stage of life? Our monogamous upbringings have taught us to find the very thought revolting. But many of us live in the shadow of polyamory, even while loudly professing our undying loyalty to monogamy. Monogamy isn't just about not sleeping around -- although it is in part about that. However, it's also about not loving more than one person -- ever -- during one's entire life. If a second love ever comes into your life, then you have crossed into that gray area between monogamy and polyamory. And it isn't such a terrible thing.
13.
That gray area is called "serial monogamy" (or serial mono, for short). It means you're not just getting married, and staying with that one person for life. Instead, you're marrying first one person, and then another ... punctuating your marriages with divorce. How far of a leap is that from practicing polyamory? Polyamory is the same thing, but without the divorces. You may think of that as a slippery slope, but I think of it as an opportunity. When you re-marry, for instance, but still have feelings for the person you left behind ... ask yourself: "Am I polyamorous?" You might be.
14.
Note that if and where gay marriage is permitted, monogamy no longer means one man marrying one woman. Now there are one-man one-man marriages, as well as one-woman one-woman marriages. It has become a reality in some liberal states. Other states are likely to follow, though there will be hard, long, bitter struggles before then. Humanity is reluctant to become more tolerant. But it's slowly coming to pass.
15.
Polyamory, in general, simply means "to love more than one." Sometimes polyamorists just maintain close friendships with each other. But those ties can also be sexual. A polyamorist, in principle, is someone who chooses to allow themselves to be openly in love with multiple other persons. The key word here is "openly." It's a little different from cheating, since polyamorists tell each other when there's a new, additional, or outside love interest. There are no secrets in a poly home ... at least, not if it's an emotionally healthy poly home. Some poly families break up (just as monogamous couples often divorce), but it's not the multiple love relationships that destroy the poly family. It's the lack of open, vulnerable truth-telling. And, not surprisingly, the lack of open, vulnerable truth-telling has also dissolved many a monogamous marriage. If there are no secrets, if everyone's needs are being met, and if everyone feels okay about what's going on, then a poly family can survive. Many poly families have done it. They have endured just as long as the longest monogamous marriage.

Sometimes a polyamorous family will call itself a "group marriage." There's some contraversy about that. The problem is that marriage is generally defined as a legal transaction. Governments don't acknowledge polyamorous unions. So is a polyamorous union a marriage? Certainly it is in practice, if not in theory. I guess it's a question of semantics. I personally prefer to hold out on calling something a marriage until it fits the legal definition. If it weren't so, why would it matter whether the government certified gay unions? I know; a lot of people say it's just because of the legal benefits involved in a legally certified marriage. Still I think the governmental aspect of the word "marriage" itself is also going to be hard to wave off.

A common misconception is that polyamory means anything nonmonogamous. Not so. First of all, sleeping around without one's partner's consent is just as forbidden in poly relationships as it is in monogamous relationships. Second of all, polyamory doesn't include the looser lifestyle we call swinging. Swinging is when a single, couple, threesome or whatever, write each other a blank check to have casual sexual relations with any number of people, any time, without notifying the committed group. Swingers would usually avoid emotional attachments with their outside liaisons. Emotional attachment may even be avoided within the committed circle. People drift in and out of each other's lives, usually pretty quickly. It's about sex -- not love. Polyamory is a little more involved than that. It's certainly looser than monogamy, but it's also tighter than swinging.

In poly relationships, each person can have more than one intimate partner. Often a hierarchy exists. One intimate partner might be a "primary." The other might be a "secondary." It there's a third intimate partner, he or she might be a "tertiary."
16.
There's some contraversy over what these words mean. To some people, "primary" simply means the first intimate partner that came into your life. Your "secondary" is the second intimate partner that came into your life; your "tertiary" is the third intimate partner that came into your life ... etc.
17.
Going by that definition, there can only be one primary, secondary, and tertiary. But my sense is that there's a greater consensus for those words to mean something less chronological. A primary is like the top person in your life. But can you have two primaries? I think so ... if they are both tied for first. A primary is someone you are totally committed to for life. A secondary is someone not so closely connected to you ... and whose connection to you is actually not so vital for you or them. Thus a secondary is subject to primary "veto." That is, if your primary has irreconcilable issues with a secondary, then your loyalty to your primary compels you to sever your relationship with your secondary. Sometimes a primary has the power to veto a date with a secondary. It depends on how people define the words, and how the hierarchy works in their home. Often the secondary doesn't even live in the same home. But in polyamorous relationships, even a primary can live in a different home. There's many shapes and forms a polyamorous relationship can assume.
18.
Personally, I would feel much more comfortable if everyone in the poly relationship was a primary. If someone's just a casual sexual acquaintance, doesn't it create inequities that are hard to work out? How does a secondary feel, knowing he or she is beholden to a primary? Difficult situations can evolve, especially if your primary becomes irrationally jealous, acts out, and puts you in a tight spot where you feel forced to support your primary even though you don't want to.
19.
However, I know there are people that find ways to balance the primary-secondary dynamics, and it works well for them. I'm cool with that. We're all different. I'm more of an all-primary type of person. Other people are more comfortable with the primary-secondary mix. It's all about what works best for the unique individuals involved.
20.
Where there is a tertiary, the tertiary is usually low indeed on the totem pole. A tertiary tends to be a casual friend. Typically, you would only see your tertiary once in awhile, or sporadically, as in spurts. Sometimes your relationship with a tertiary may only amount to one visit ... ships passing in the night, and then it's over. Rarely would a tertiary be someone that lived in your home. Certainly a tertiary would be subject to veto powers, both by any secondaries you have, and by primaries.
21.
For me, living in a polyfidelitist home means there are no tertiaries ... and there should be no secondaries either, but I guess that's just my preference or opinion. As I said, polyfidelity is just a subset of polyamory. Polyamory can be very fluid.
22.
One concern I have is that if there's too many tertiaries, and relationships with them are too short and too casual, the line really does start to blur between polyamory and swinging. Polyamorists tend to deplore being grouped with swingers. But be careful about that tertiary action. As a polyamorist, you could be shooting yourself (and the whole poly community) in the foot. Perhaps if you have too many tertiaries, you should stop trying to call yourself polyamorous and just try on the swinger hat. I don't necessarily think swingers are bad people. Again, it's all about what works for everyone involved. If the types of relations you have are mutually consensual, and meet everyone's needs ... I'm not going to complain.
23.
So, what happens when two primaries have irreconcilable differences, and each wants to veto the other? I guess you could argue that someone has to become a secondary ... but then I'm not sure it has to be that way in every relationship. What if both primaries are reasonable and compatible enough to work out their differences? If the differences can be reconciled, then vetoes aren't needed. That, to me, would be an ideal poly relationship. But I realize things don't always work out in an ideal way. Monogamous couples, too, live with things they might think of as less than ideal.

By now you may have a multitude of questions about this poly business. How are potential STD's handled, for instance? Well, first of all, by lots and lots of honest, empathic communication. But that doesn't answer the whole question.

You can see how exhaustive this test (and in particular this lengthy overview here) is. I don't want to lose my potential test-taking patrons because I'm overwhelming some of them, and boring others half to death. Plus I myself am exhausted from the amount of work I've done to put this test together.

I've only touched the surface here. There's so much more to know about polyamory, and so many more words to learn. There's a lot of information out there. Google "polyamory;" go to Wikipedia and look up "polyamory." Almost any generalized search engine (e.g. Yahoo, etc.) will direct you to a wealth of information if you plug "polyamory" into it. Give it a try. There is a whole new world waiting for you out there.

Thank you for bearing with me, and for taking this lengthy test. And now at last ... let's have a look at that score of yours. Click on the "THAT'S ALL!" button below.
and this was my result for...

The Poly Fluency Test...

Yoda

You are 91% poly-fluent (so far as this test is concerned).


It's very possible you might be Yoda. Who else could score so high on this diabolical test? Many questions had only one right answer. To the others, the wrong answer was deceptively alluring. Only by being one with the Poly Side of the Force could you avoid such pitfalls. You are ready to challenge the likes of Darth Maul and Count Dooku. Just try not to look too short, silly, and green, as you cavort about the screen like some oversized gnat. Best bet is to stay on some nice quiet swamp planet, where you can offer up such platitudes as, "When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not, hmmm?"

Take The Poly Fluency Test at HelloQuizzy








if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Their troops are coming home...

In her book The Shock Doctrine Naomi Klein describes scenarios that have happened all over the world, instigated by amerikkkan economists and backed up by the CIA where whole populations were held hostage, intimidated, murdered, disappeared so that draconian economic agendas could be hatched and then carried out, imposed on the citizenry of countries in latin amerikkka but also in places like china, russia, poland, south africa...I'm including japan because it's so clear what was done to that country's economy and to its citizens after hiroshima and nagasaki.

Finally, with all their research abroad completed to disastrous effect elsewhere they are now ready to bring everything they've learned home.

Don't fantasize about heading north to kkkanada. Whatever happens south of the 49th eventually happens here in some way shape or form as well. Besides, anyone who pays attention to kkkanadian politics will tell you that our pm bears a striking resemblance to georgie the village idiot.

I can't say "And so, it begins...." because this has been unfolding for decades. I'll just say it continues...

betmo told me about this...

Army deploys combat unit in US for possible civil unrest

By Bill Van Auken
25 September 2008
Use this version to print | Send this link by email | Email the author

For the first time ever, the US military is deploying an active duty regular Army combat unit for full-time use inside the United States to deal with emergencies, including potential civil unrest.

Beginning on October 1, the First Brigade Combat Team of the Third Division will be placed under the command of US Army North, the Army’s component of the Pentagon’s Northern Command (NorthCom), which was created in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks with the stated mission of defending the US “homeland” and aiding federal, state and local authorities.

The unit—known as the “Raiders”—is among the Army’s most “blooded.” It has spent nearly three out of the last five years deployed in Iraq, leading the assault on Baghdad in 2003 and carrying out house-to-house combat in the suppression of resistance in the city of Ramadi. It was the first brigade combat team to be sent to Iraq three times.

While active-duty units previously have been used in temporary assignments, such as the combat-equipped troops deployed in New Orleans, which was effectively placed under martial law in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, this marks the first time that an Army combat unit has been given a dedicated assignment in which US soil constitutes its “battle zone.”

The Pentagon’s official pronouncements have stressed the role of specialized units in a potential response to terrorist attack within the US. Gen. George Casey, the Army chief of staff, attended a training exercise last week for about 250 members of the unit at Fort Stewart, Georgia. The focus of the exercise, according to the Army’s public affairs office, was how troops “might fly search and rescue missions, extract casualties and decontaminate people following a catastrophic nuclear attack in the nation’s heartland.”

“We are at war with a global extremist network that is not going away,” Casey told the soldiers. “I hope we don’t have to use it, but we need the capability.”

However, the mission assigned to the nearly 4,000 troops of the First Brigade Combat Team does not consist merely of rescuing victims of terrorist attacks. An article that appeared earlier this month in the Army Times (“Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1”), a publication that is widely read within the military, paints a different and far more ominous picture.

“They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control,” the paper reports. It quotes the unit’s commander, Col. Robert Cloutier, as saying that the 1st BCT’s soldiers are being trained in the use of “the first ever nonlethal package the Army has fielded.” The weapons, the paper reported, are “designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.” The equipment includes beanbag bullets, shields and batons and equipment for erecting roadblocks.

It appears that as part of the training for deployment within the US, the soldiers have been ordered to test some of this non-lethal equipment on each other.

“I was the first guy in the brigade to get Tasered,” Cloutier told the Army Times. He described the effects of the electroshock weapon as “your worst muscle cramp ever—times 10 throughout your whole body.”

The colonel’s remark suggests that, in preparation for their “homefront” duties, rank-and-file troops are also being routinely Tasered. The brutalizing effect and intent of such a macabre training exercise is to inure troops against sympathy for the pain and suffering they may be called upon to inflict on the civilian population using these same “non-lethal” weapons.

According to military officials quoted by the Army Times, the deployment of regular Army troops in the US begun with the First Brigade Combat Team is to become permanent, with different units rotated into the assignment on an annual basis.

In an online interview with reporters earlier this month, NorthCom officers were asked about the implications of the new deployment for the Posse Comitatus Act, the 230-year-old legal statute that bars the use of US military forces for law enforcement purposes within the US itself.

Col. Lou Volger, NorthCom’s chief of future operations, tried to downplay any enforcement role, but added, “We will integrate with law enforcement to understand the situation and make sure we’re aware of any threats.”

Volger acknowledged the obvious, that the Brigade Combat Team is a military force, while attempting to dismiss the likelihood that it would play any military role. It “has forces for security,” he said, “but that’s really—they call them security forces, but that’s really just to establish our own footprint and make sure that we can operate and run our own bases.”

Lt. Col. James Shores, another NorthCom officer, chimed in, “Let’s say even if there was a scenario that developed into a branch of a civil disturbance—even at that point it would take a presidential directive to even get it close to anything that you’re suggesting.”

Whatever is required to trigger such an intervention, clearly Col. Cloutier and his troops are preparing for it with their hands-on training in the use of “non-lethal” means of repression.

The extreme sensitivity of the military brass on this issue notwithstanding, the reality is that the intervention of the military in domestic affairs has grown sharply over the last period under conditions in which its involvement in two colonial-style wars abroad has given it a far more prominent role in American political life.

The Bush administration has worked to tear down any barriers to the use of the military in domestic repression. Thus, in the 2007 Pentagon spending bill it inserted a measure to amend the Posse Comitatus Act to clear the way for the domestic deployment of the military in the event of natural disaster, terrorist attack or “other conditions in which the president determines that domestic violence has occurred to the extent that state officials cannot maintain public order.”

The provision granted the president sweeping new powers to impose martial law by declaring a “public emergency” for virtually any reason, allowing him to deploy troops anywhere in the US and to take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of state governors in order to “suppress public disorder.”

The provision was subsequently repealed by Congress as part of the 2008 military appropriations legislation, but the intent remains. Given the sweeping powers claimed by the White House in the name of the “commander in chief” in a global war on terror—powers to suspend habeas corpus, carry out wholesale domestic spying and conduct torture—there is no reason to believe it would respect legal restrictions against the use of military force at home.

It is noteworthy that the deployment of US combat troops “as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters”—in the words of the Army Times—coincides with the eruption of the greatest economic emergency and financial disaster since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Justified as a response to terrorist threats, the real source of the growing preparations for the use of US military force within America’s borders lies not in the events of September 11, 2001 or the danger that they will be repeated. Rather, the domestic mobilization of the armed forces is a response by the US ruling establishment to the growing threat to political stability.

Under conditions of deepening economic crisis, the unprecedented social chasm separating the country’s working people from the obscenely wealthy financial elite becomes unsustainable within the existing political framework.

See Also:
Political dissent as terrorism: "Minnesota Patriot Act" charges filed against RNC Eight
[11 September 2008]
Amid mass arrests and suppression of media
RNC in Twin Cities: Eight protesters charged with terrorism under Patriot Act

[6 September 2008]
Mass arrests of protesters at Republican National Convention
[4 September 2008]
Repression in Denver highlights assault on democratic rights in US
[29 August 2008]





if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

Partying and living in polite society, Betmo...

betmo has left a new comment on your post "In spite all my rage...":

being out in 'polite society' is always an adventure- i find it tedious and as you describe. i find it interesting that even folks marginalized by the white western world in general find ways to marginalize others and each other. a prejudicial pecking order- if you will. having lived with white privilege all of my life- it came as a shock to me when a good friend at work- who was quite black skinned- told me that other people of color treated her differently simply because she was darker than they. that was really when i began to see. i never even gave it a second thought- she was just 'janet' to me.

don't get me started with weddings... :)


Hi betmo,
Weddings aside, I understand polite society as the entire world outside where I used to draw breath as a young Black lesbian separatist feminist.

I presently live in polite society.

When I leave my house and am forced to play silly surface conversational games with my middle class white neighbours I remember that I now live in polite society. :)

When I deal with the teachers at my daughter's school and can't just explain to them what I understand about who they are...meaning that they are controlled and controlling arms of the state and agents of domination hired to indoctrinate my daughter so that she will become a more willingly valiumized member of polite society...I remember that I am living 24/7 in polite society.

When I wake up in the morning, bathe, make up my face and choose the cloth-based cloaking device I will sport for that day instead of remaining naked, unwashed and plain faced I am confronted with what it means to live in polite society. giggles...of the damned.

When I bleed from the crotch and can't just leave the house with my blood streaming down my leg but instead have to live for six days in abject terror of strong smelling redness brightly blossoming on the back of my pants and skirts, I know I already live in polite society. :)

Moving among the wedding guests was more of a specialized and ritualized trip into the heart of polite society. It was a more intense dose of what I already experience everyday.

In terms of people of colour oppressing each other and in so doing contributing to the maintenance of the systems of domination that threaten us, our families and our communities, none of the systems that effect the dominated, whether it be wimmin, queers, elders, youth, fat folks, poor people...no power based system would be effective without the collusion/participation of those dominated by them who have been taught to internalize the beliefs associated with those systems, taught to hold hierarchies of power and domination dear so as impose them on each other, but first excruciatingly on themselves.

This sort of oppressive dynamic isn't new to me. Actually it's not new to any of us. There are very specific, ritualized ways that we have been taught to engage with each other that support domination in our families, communities, workplaces and countries. It's foundational to how our societies have been organized.

What isn't common place is us discussing and deconstructing it openly without fear. What is considered shocking is when we actively take up space by choosing to name what has been hidden. This kind of open, forthright naming is not considered acceptable, especially in political circles where the mistaken belief that lefty politicos don't do this kind of shit, flourishes. That's why, whenever I really get things hopping here on this blog and get all up in talking about about what I've encountered inside political circles, my blog gets really quiet. :)

People don't understand how embedded these ways of being are inside us, how linked to our emotions domination actually is. We've been implanted at very early ages with the visceral need to maintain domination. It's part of our basic human programming. We're all Manchurian Candidates and most of us don't even realize it.

Sweet. :)

Here's my best polite society fake smile, betmo...




if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I went to sleep thinking about femininity and what constitutes a radical feminist politic...added some more to this...

I hope somebody is reading this and noting my changes...the construction is still very dodgy. Bits and pieces that should be together or more closely linked are too far apart. But my ideas are still flowing. So I try to tuck things in as best as I can. Later, I'll try and make what I've written flow and sing....

lilylotus has left a new comment on your post "Lily lotus...":
Hi again,

And thank you for your answer. When I was reading your post and writing down some of my thoughts the other day, I had in mind the hierarchies you're speaking of.

My 'awakening' and liberation happened on more than just one level, but your post made me think of the time when I was dealing with appearances, clothes, behaviour etc... in short all the messages emitted to position myself in my social surrounding.

I suppose you're not surprised when I tell you that my investigations led to the finding that I was caught in between a rock and a hard place. I was in a constant balancing act between various internalized female and male expectations.

I started to play with this division inside of me. I challenged my partriarchally invested self to run around in the streets looking as "unattractive" as I could dare to, which made her freak out for some time. :) And I noticed that my so-called "liberated part" was looking down at me with distrust and pitiful anger whenever I felt like dressing and looking and acting in the classically defined way of what is "female".
In these moments I disdained myself as the lesser, weaker, not to be trusted sister. I had within me the conflict that your answer. I looked at myself with the eyes of some feminists who would think of me as a lesser being for “falling into the trap of patriarchy”.

One day I understood that I was working so hard mainly to prove to the patriarch and feminist inside of me that it was my intellect doing the work, not my looks. Since I entered puberty I have been told repeatedly how beautiful I am. Essentially, these were nothing more than encrypted messages of warning, grudge, disrespect, even jealousy... Sometimes the message was that I shouldn't be too proud of my achievements because anyway I could only have reached them through my physical appearance.

It was crucial to realize I was actually trying to make things up for how I am and look. It helped me to throw off board all patriarchal and feminist ideals that held me unfree, and go to find my own. I wanted to be androgynous in the sense that I could freely choose how to react to a given situation, without there being any labels in my mind that could keep me from doing what’s needed.

For me, it’s about freedom from restricting notions of male and female, so as to become truly androgynous. It's about becoming a human being.

I’m totally with what you write, getting rid of false, derisive and faulty hierarchies, which I see existing not only in rad fem circles, but mostly in ourselves.

I don’t know whether I have made myself any clearer, or whether this makes sense to you at all :) In any case I thank you for the space to play with, and arrange, and re-think my thoughts.

lily
Lily,

I have to come back to this. Can't write it out full right now.
a few hours later...
Okay, I'm back.
My initial thoughts were/are a jumble of memory and analysis.

I'm thinking about the seminal work done by queer and transgendered edge walkers who have worked hard to understand, define, unpack, deconstruct and to build a radical analysis of gender, gender roles, gender constructs, gender oppression...false, imposed, destructed, unintelligent gender binaries.

I'm thinking about the new word...new to me...cisgendered. That's me. I'm a cisgendered queer femme.

That's different than simply being feminine. There's a lot more packed into being a femme than goes into what your average garden variety feminine hetero lady understands...which isn't really a lot...about how their identities and sexualities have been constructed for them...about how choice has been taken right out of the equation.

Without consciousness there is no choice. I don't fucking care how many feminists talk in really disempowered ways about not having choices. That's bull. They make choices and then avoid accountability by creating theory that says they have no choice...that choice isn't possible as long as they experience oppression. That's so fucking off.

My field of options are always disgustingly limited by the powers that be. I don't have full range of movement. I know what I want, but often I'm not allowed to have it. And even if I can get there, often it's not without a fucking bloody fight.

I am blooded and bloodied.
And still...
I claim the right to make choice. I deal with the consequences of my choices even if those consequences are constructed so as to maintain power relations that threaten to kill me bit by bit slowly over time.

I have choice. For many years I chose to fuck wimmin. I chose to fuck only Black wimmin. Then I chose to only fuck wimmin of colour.

Then, for a variety of horribly excruciatingly painful reasons which I have written about here very often, I chose to stop fucking wimmin.
I did not choose to stop fucking.
I was not interested in not fucking.
I fucking like to fucking fuck.
I had just chosen to not fuck wimmin...anymore, it seems.
Now, I've chosen to fucking fuck fucking men. hee, hee!
They, too have warm human responsive pervertible bodies I don't mind being near. I've spent a lot of time studying them and the patriarchy that simultaneously confers massive amounts of privilege on them even as it so thoroughly harms, guts, limits, dulls them, their emotions and their senses.

Some of them are still fascinating, though. sigh...that was me trying to protect my insides and save face. Truth is...I choose to engage with some men...emotionally. I...choose to...love some men...deeply...to allow them to connect lovingly, passionately with my spirit and in so doing I choose to tangle in really up close, personal, difficult and extremely challenging, sometimes draining, occasionally disturbing, always thought provoking ways with the ideological, systemically manifesting beast that dominates wimmin all over the planet. I make choices that are complicated by my experience of oppression and by their experiences of privilege.

I choose.
Then I deal with the path and relationships I have chosen.
I deal with the consequences of my choices every blasted day. I hold myself accountable for the choice I have made and continue to make.

hmmm...
Now I'm thinking about how many feminist writers and theoreticians used the word "sex" to talk about gender. I know that many of the Black feminists in that anthology words of fire certainly did....they never used the word "sex" to talk about fucking because fucking wasn't (and still isn't really) considered a feminist or political issue.

I'm thinking about how the attempt to purge femininine wimmin from rad fem circles is really about a continued fear of the sexual, of the erotic. Rather than deal with what it means to be sexual animals resisting their own containment, their own oppression, some of the rad fems seem to be offering once more to reinforce the containment. This time they justify it by asking us feminine rad fems to either accept that new (really tired and old) order of things - us defined as lesser in political circles or stop presenting as potentially fuckable. Being overtly fuckable has been conflated with not being trustworthy, being cowardly, being weak, not being really about overthrowing patriarchy. Sweet.

But perhaps I should have started off with a really basic and glaring fact about Black wimmin. No matter how femininine our presentation, are not really considered feminine. The legacy of the stolen, force worked, raped, beaten foremothers still very fresh in the subconscious of those who have been taught to hate, fear and dominate us means that very few people, when push come to shove, actually understand Black wimmin as feminine. Femininity is something reserved for white wimmin. It was built to uplift, to control and to contain them. It defines their relationship to patriarchy and their relationships to Black wimmin of any political stripe or sexual orientation. If white wimmin who are androgynous want to discuss (their relationship to) femininity, then they should go right ahead...while grounding, always grounding their analysis in their own historical, collective, social, familial experiences.

Then I might take their rabid foamings about femininity and their narrow understandings of feminism more seriously.

Now watch me ground my understandings as I am remembering...
Young Black androgynous dyke me wearing heavy black rimmed glasses, black converse runners, black levis...which I still have the remnants of...only thing, they're now really greyed booty shorts with the crotch sewn/held together with scraps of a black bandana also from my boy days...

Me with lovely carefully clipped sideburns...

Me refusing the wear deodorant and getting flack not only from strangers in the hetero world but also from lesbians, too. My body is very...aromatic...without lymph node clogging breast cancer causing scent and sweat suppressants. I tried a crystal for most of this year but then I had this wierd reaction where my armpits started to blacken and develop white patches. Now that I'm back to the cancer causing stuff my pits are returning to normal colour.

I'm thinking about the amount of privilege it takes to walk as an androgyne, about the other behaviours or ways of being that need to be in place so as to demonstrate class, "good" behaviour...if a woman is actually going to be allowed relatively safe passage while thumbing her nose at femininity.

When I was androgynous I got no jobs in or outside community. I didn't look "right". I stopped getting work in feminist community because of that awful habit I have of questioning inside community. I think I got two contracts in two different cities before people realized that I didn't know how to play the game.

So I was androgynously on welfare. I androgynously starved. I androgynously got eviction notices every month. I androgynously ate lots of oatmeal. I androgynously slept on a moldy piece of foam in a cement floored basement.

When I was androgynous I also coincidentally didn't pay much attention to the world, didn't understand a lot about the world. This is significant because I had already grown up without guidance, access or connection, the child of an immigrant who could not pass on a full understanding of our new world to me, who did not have connections to grease my way in this new place where we lived. Sadly I did not understand what I understand now: many of those who succeed, have jobs, have community ties and are respected in the world as androgynes often come from a base that has afforded them ways to move through the world that offset the effects of their aesthetic androgyny.

I was talking to Papi some more about androgyny as a radically politicized feminist choice and about class. hmmm...I wonder how many of the wimmin who can actually work androgyny successfully...successfully meaning that their blogs are often referred to even by wimmin who don't take feminism as a life choice seriously, meaning they have jobs that are really sound career choices that speak to their spirits and line up with their politics, meaning they have housing that doesn't put their lives or their spirits in danger, meaning their neighbours understand them as enough like them in terms of class and values that them being openly androgynous really doesn't even fucking rate as a problem...I wonder how many of the androgynes who would dearly love to give a radical feminist like me a rough fucking ride...I wonder how many of them were raised middle class girls? :) I wonder how many of them were raised with the understanding that performing femininity was crucial? How many of them were forced to do femininity as a way to attract a suitably classed patriarchal male mate? I wonder how many of them were taught that they would only be able to have family support, care and attention if they performed femininity? I wonder how many of them were forced or almost forced to uphold the feminine part of the patriarchal equation that includes marriage, coerced contractually binding sex with a patriarch carefully screened by their parental units so as to bear tiny patriarchally indoctrinated worker units well equipped to do their part to maintain white domination, the phallic power of the patriarchy and the power based hierarchies of the middle and upper classes?

How many? I think I'd like to conduct a muthafuckin panty check of my own. :) Androgynes!? Drop your hidden dirty laundry NOW! Whose askin'? Just me. One of the damned dirty suspect feminine whores of the patriarchy. :)

This is me saying I don't have the same radically oppositional reaction to femininity because I did not/do not have access to the same kinds of privilege or privilege, power and access lusting training that was probably imposed on many wimmin who have powerful reactions to the mere idea of femininity.

No one made any femininity based patriarchal plans for me, my nether parts or for my progeny.

As a girl child I encountered all applicable forms of oppression but I did not have a powerful, privileged, classed, power hungry, strategically planning patriarchally headed family charting my path through the world.

I had a patriarchal authoritarian father but if you ever get a chance to speak with him you'll see that his relationship to class, citizenship and even to patriarchy as an immigrant Black male only allowed him to attempt to personally dominate me on his own...to very little effect. I spent most of my time out in the world, away from home. I learned to resist overtly...not through my clothes (silly surface wimmin if this is all you've got by way of a feminist politic, that and not sleeping with men, we're so up shit's creek) I learned to resist with my voice, with my words, with my passion, with my intellect, with my will.

I realize that many of the wimmin who are complaining about feminists fucking men or feminists wearing feminine clothing weren't raised to overtly resist. They were disempowered at close range from the get go. They learned from their mothers to fight indirectly.
I didn't have a mother after the age of eight...at least not one who was close enough to indoctrinate me in all the feminine fighting arts. :)
As a result, I can point out that NOT doing something isn't overtly fighting...unless you come out of a middle class background where silence, avoidance, indirectness and circularity are constructed as powerful stances.

These are not powerful. They can be useful in certain instances. But actually building a life around them? Building a movement around them? That's. not. smart...or ultimately useful.

I realize that many of the androgynes may not have been raised in situations where they were actually allowed or encouraged to verbally resist or openly debate with the men nearest and dearest to them.

I had to learn to roar. I had to learn to physically fight back. I had to learn to say "Fuck you." I had to learn to think for myself. I learned to openly resist even in close quarters.

I didn't have to actually out and out fight much. But I always new that I had that ability. I knew that I could actually back up what I thought and said and did if anyone decided to get stoopid.

Whether I'm wearing a negligee or a top with a plunging neckline or a tight skirt or a pair of dainty slippers, I'm still powerfully me under here. That me draws from a solid base. That me has had to learn what time it is. That me is confident. That me can and does regularly hold her own in conversations with men. You've read some of the conversations. Some of them you haven't been able to witness.

Being able to hold my own doesn't mean things always work out as planned. Being able to hold my own doesn't mean I always get things my way. Being able to hold my own doesn't mean I don't ever encounter stuff that hurts me. Being able to hold my own doesn't mean I am always treated with respect. Being able to hold my own doesn't mean I don't ever encounter oppressive patriarchal shite.

Being able to hold my own means that I don't have to persuade myself that something else is happening. Being able to hold my own means I always offer myself sufficient space to recognize and name what happens or what I encounter. It means I can move through most situations with much more ease than I had when my world was tiny and separatist (fyi: the radically androgynous sisterhood might want to think about not conflating separatism with radical feminism...they might stop pissing wimmin like me off as much as they are). I move through a world that does not reflect me, where others rule. I move with massive amounts of critical consciousness and with as much confidence as I can muster on any given day. I move with courage and a grounding radical feminist critique.

I'm sorry some of the sisterhood don't actually have a belief in what they can do at close range. I understand that some of them were dominated into silence, infused with fear by the patriarchy at such a young age, so thoroughly that even thinking about engaging with men makes them want to ralph.

I can see that. Patriarchy and patriarchal relations make me ill.

My former lesbian separatist self fully gets it.

I can fully validate their choices to not even bother to overcome their early conditioning as the dominated by forthrightly and powerfully engaging with men now that they are grown wimmin with radical political consciousness. I understand that the triggers probably come fast and furious and tire them out and make the interactions not really worth it when they feel much more at ease and much safer dealing with other wimmin, especially those who have similar experiences of domination and destruction at close range as middle or upper class wimmin raised in patriarchal households where they knew they would never be allowed to lead or make the important decisions.

I know that dealing in woman only situations where differences around class are ofttimes completely erased can be much more of a happy place for many wimmin who might chose androgyny to more fully erase these differences that persist, nonetheless.

I get it. I just am not interested in building a denial based, limited radical feminist politic around any of it at this particular point in my life.

Here's why...

As an androgynous fat Black lesbian feminist who asked questions while aesthetically presenting herself in ways that demonstrated a powerful politic, I was considered unacceptable in a variety of ways that meant I was not going to survive. I was not considered useful enough as an ally for the sisterhood to take notice...beyond inviting me to read at their events. Other than that most of them, including the Black dykes who toyed with androgyny, but who always made sure to keep a foot in the door by wearing their locks long (no, I saw all of you trying to fudge it), even they, raised as good west indian girls, many of them middle class knew a common class threat to the status quo when they saw her/me.
sigh...
Androgyny did not work for me. Aesthetic androgyny just put a target on my forehead with the people holding the weapons looking/seeming disturbingly like they were supposed to be allies of mine. With androgyny as a performative aesthetic reflection of a politic I fully backed up with word and deed I had less people I could count on to watch my back...than I already had as one of the dominated. I had less, not more.

I remember walking the streets without back up in a backwater town, the capital city, where white feminists with no race analysis to speak of dominated. This was in my first few years as an out dyke...when I realized I was interested in wimmin I immediately started coming out to everyone who knew me. I was/am naive and stoopid/brave like that.
In any case...
My partner and I got looks of disgust from straight white people, from straight Black people and from white feminists who still did not think we were androgynously feminist enough, who did not feel it was necessary to have understand how their white skinned privilege afforded them space to walk open and out and to find a "home" in a mostly white dominated queer community.

"Unh...the fag hags are all in the bar next door...the men's bar."

So there it was. Even then I could not come "home" dressed as is. I needed to make a pit stop and find me a flanel shirt, some jeans and some men's shoes.

So I did. Cut the hair, too. Cut the hair of all the wimmin I knew even some of the straight wimmin who seemed to be developing crushes on me. :)

I held hands with my partner on the street but if the clothing wasn't right, my choice meant nothing to those who had elected themselves arbiters of who was right and who was wrong.

Funny, even as I was being told that I wasn't androgynous enough to be a "real" dyke, I had hetero people on the sidewalks asking me: "Are you a man or a woman?"

I spat on horrified, fascinated, wierded out heterosexuals who wouldn't keep their eyes to themselves until I had no saliva left.

(hee, hee...Bloggers want to call the me they've met only recently scary, difficult, angry, discomfiting...? They needed to meet the younger me, the one who had the consciousness of all what a g'won poured into her head like a load of hot coffee dumped right down a soft pink throat. The ones who think I'm difficult to stomach need to have met her. She wasn't a happy camper. She was difficult on every possible level.)

I remember being angry. I was always angry, always enraged...again, people don't know about enraged. These days I'm not really enraged. I'm just sort of pleasantly, manageably pissed. :)

I remember seeing red about the people who insisted on me aesthetically anchoring myself to one gender...or another and afixing an easily readable label. I remember putting away all my diva earrings, hiding them away in a box...couldn't quite throw them out. I remember very real frustration and annoyance as I talked to Rozena, a heterosexual feminist critical Black conscious lipsticked feminist, about their questions. I remember her modelling and verbalizing in I can't remember the exact words that my politic did not reside in my over sized earrings but in my spirit, in my intellect and in my willingness to take a stand and fight and resist.

I remember breathing a sigh of relief, walking consciously back over to the femme side. MAC russian red lipstick, anyone? I still buy that shade...and many others, too.

Androgyny...

If the rad fems jealously claiming it as their political territory would just stop and think for a muthafuckin sec they would realize that androgyny might encompass a very surface aesthetic, but really at the end of the day deep down inside a woman it's about spirit and energy and power.

Do they ever try to talk to the middle class heterosexual white wimmin who do androgyny as a way to desex themselves so as to more fully present themselves as respectable? Try talking to them in their flat shoes, comfortable pants, cleavage obscuring t-shirts, short no-nonsense hair cuts, unmade up faces and serious faces. They present as androgynous. Does this mean they are all about the cause? Are they more allied with feminism than this Black woman they try and avoid in the streets so as to better demonstrate their relationship to the powers that be?

I fucking think not. (the librarian I had to liquidate is much more androgynous than I am, by the way.)

Obviously there is more to this androgyny thing that folks are able to wrap their minds around.

I wish they could have talked to one of the men I've fucked or chatted with.

A few come to mind.
One night at a gay bar where I had decided to come bald headed, made up, not packing but drag queenly nonetheless in floor length home made gown, I emerged from one of the washrooms. As I moved back into the main space a Black gay man lustfully locked eyes with me and asked: "Are you a man or a woman?" I answered him as best as I could. "Does it matter?"

I've been chatting with men online who like to talk about their cocks...about jerking off. One day as I conversed with one of them I too talked about jerking off. I purposefully use the same sort of terminology they do when I describe my erotic, when I describe the ways I'd like them to service me and what I'd like to do to them. Some people get it. Others freak out and worry about trying to turn them into gay men. The question - "Are you a man or a woman" - again, this time barrages me in the form of text.

One time about ten years ago comes to mind.
He was a young hungry eyed thing. I picked him up after he finished work in a cab and took him to my basement bedroom. As I undressed him a shiver seemed to ripple through him. His eyes darted nervously around my room in ways most of us wimmin recognize from those movies where a woman is alone with a man and realizes that he means her no good...that she could be or is about to be raped and/or killed.

His discomfort was delicious. In another second he would have probably covered his nakedness with his hands and arms. He spoke: "Unh...are you sure you're a woman?"

His problem?
His difficulty?
He had never been so aggressively, powerfully, penetratively gazed on, cruised, sexualized, handled by a woman.

This experience was not one he was familiar with. This experience was one of being prey, not to the cliche heterosexual feminized nympho who serves the cock. No, but instead to one who he might have to service, who he might have to get off, whose bidding he might have to do in ways that did not support his constructed, imposed, indoctrinated masculinity.

His fear, and it was fear, was about encountering someone so clearly presebting as feminine who, in that moment where men are usually so clear about who occupies which role, was so clearly not occupying the societally defined role, who was clearly so devoid of feminine sexual energy, even as I was dressed as a woman, that he became worried he had actually been lured into a sexual encounter with a man dressed as a woman.
See...
He had encountered this androgyne
Me
cloaked in the attire of the dominated
Me
clearly emanating energy that spoke to how not dominated I was/am
Me
walking wrapped in what is understood as feminine/masculine
willing and able to occupy a third energetic space in ways
that give me full aesthetic liscense to play and resist and fuck with
beliefs about what is normal and/or political

He had encountered something he could not consume
Something that threatened to consume him
to sexualize him
in ways he had not been taught to understand
He was attracted and terrified and completely unsure about what it was he was seeing
He stayed in my little basement room for a time
And I helped him work out...his confusion
:)

And one other wonderful little telling?
Last week new lover said sadly that he wished I had a cock so that I could cum in his ass. I fell in love with him and his appetites all over again. I wrote that I felt sad about not being able to do that, too. Right now he's chatting with me and explaining that he'd love me to be his boy. I'm gushing all over the place explaining to him how perfect he is for me cuz I really miss dressing like a boy and I'd love to be his boy. :) Really, I just miss looking less femme. I'd love to have someone to offer me context. He does this without me even asking. It's just what turns his crank...and mine, too.

sigh...
I get it when the men who are so analytically simple, so ruled by their unthinking cocks, so unable to make that cognitive collective leap don't fully understand androgyny as performed by wimmin who are dominated under patriarchy. Of course many of them don't get it or decide to only filter it through the sexual.
What is killing me off is the fact that some radical feminists, so well educated, so conscious of the inheritance they have benefitted from through all the different feminist waves, so full of language and spirit and intelligence still default to only the most simplistic understandings of what it means to resist, still support the idea that for a woman, it's all about the clothes she wears.
sigh...
Funny...in a sort of sad way...sad for me, sad for us rad fems that we are not able to complicate our analysis to the point where multiple ways of engaging with gender roles, gendered constructs would be possible.

What an exciting and dynamic feminist movement that would be, Lily. That would be sweet. I'm holding out for that. I'm still here, working gender roles and aesthetics in whatever ways I see fit...trying to survive.

Survival is key. Sorry, yes it does completely override any political imperatives because if I can't stay alive, I can't fight the good fight. Game over. I'm out of commission. Can't have that. Nope. Can't have that at all.

When I decided that I would leave "home" and move out into a world that is for the most part dominated by those who willingly benefit from all different kinds of power based privilege, where gender roles and binary constructs reign supreme, I studied the people I encountered t/here hard...I'm still studying them...the men and the wimmin...even their children.

I walk among them sometimes offering them back the constructs they've learned to understand as normal, other times insisting on fucking with what they've been taught. It really depends on who I'm dealing with, how much power to do harm they have and what I actually need them for.

I understand femininity, masculinity and even androgyny as I've been taught to understand them, through the lense of a politic shaped by feminism, by the queer political, by Black consciousness and by a whole host of oppositional teachings which have shaped me and my beliefs. I understand femininity, masculinity and androgyny as power based constructs that function on continuums maintained by us human beings. I understand that I have the right, the ability and the responsibility to defy all/any of these, to roam across these continuums, to irreverently toy with these in ways that make sense for me.

More to come, Lily. And thanks for writing out your process here with me in ways that allowed me to continue to write mine out, too.





if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rad fem process-ing femininity...take two...

I've been adding to this and I'm really enjoying what's unfolding...

lilylotus has left a new comment on your post "Lily lotus...":

Hi again,

And thank you for your answer. When I was reading your post and writing down some of my thoughts the other day, I had in mind the hierarchies you're speaking of.

My 'awakening' and liberation happened on more than just one level, but your post made me think of the time when I was dealing with appearances, clothes, behaviour etc... in short all the messages emitted to position myself in my social surrounding.

I suppose you're not surprised when I tell you that my investigations led to the finding that I was caught in between a rock and a hard place. I was in a constant balancing act between various internalized female and male expectations.

I started to play with this division inside of me. I challenged my partriarchally invested self to run around in the streets looking as "unattractive" as I could dare to, which made her freak out for some time. :) And I noticed that my so-called "liberated part" was looking down at me with distrust and pitiful anger whenever I felt like dressing and looking and acting in the classically defined way of what is "female".
In these moments I disdained myself as the lesser, weaker, not to be trusted sister. I had within me the conflict that your answer. I looked at myself with the eyes of some feminists who would think of me as a lesser being for “falling into the trap of patriarchy”.

One day I understood that I was working so hard mainly to prove to the patriarch and feminist inside of me that it was my intellect doing the work, not my looks. Since I entered puberty I have been told repeatedly how beautiful I am. Essentially, these were nothing more than encrypted messages of warning, grudge, disrespect, even jealousy... Sometimes the message was that I shouldn't be too proud of my achievements because anyway I could only have reached them through my physical appearance.

It was crucial to realize I was actually trying to make things up for how I am and look. It helped me to throw off board all patriarchal and feminist ideals that held me unfree, and go to find my own. I wanted to be androgynous in the sense that I could freely choose how to react to a given situation, without there being any labels in my mind that could keep me from doing what’s needed.

For me, it’s about freedom from restricting notions of male and female, so as to become truly androgynous. It's about becoming a human being.

I’m totally with what you write, getting rid of false, derisive and faulty hierarchies, which I see existing not only in rad fem circles, but mostly in ourselves.

I don’t know whether I have made myself any clearer, or whether this makes sense to you at all :) In any case I thank you for the space to play with, and arrange, and re-think my thoughts.

lily


Lily,

I have to come back to this. Can't write it out full right now.
a few hours later...
Okay, I'm back.
My initial thoughts were/are a jumble of memory and analysis.

I'm thinking about the seminal work done by queer and transgendered edge walkers who have worked hard to understand, define, unpack, deconstruct and to build a radical analysis of gender, gender roles, gender constructs, gender oppression...false, imposed, destructed, unintelligent gender binaries.

I'm thinking about the new word...new to me...cisgendered. That's me. I'm a cisgendered queer femme. I'm thinking about how many feminists used the word "sex" to talk about gender and how they never used the word "sex" to talk about fucking because fucking wasn't considered a feminist or political issue. I'm thinking about how the attempt to purge femininine wimmin from rad fem circles is really about a continued fear of the sexual, of the erotic. Rather than deal with what it means to be sexual animals resisting their own containment, some of the rad fems seem to be offering once more to reinforce the containment. This time they justify it by asking us feminine rad fems to either accept that new (really tired and old) order of things - us defined as lesser in political circles or stop presenting as potentially fuckable. Being fuckable has been conflated with not being trustworthy, being cowardly, being weak, not being really about overthrowing patriarchy. Sweet.

But perhaps I should have started off with a really basic and glaring fact about Black wimmin. No matter how femininine our presentation, are not really considered feminine. The legacy of the stolen, force worked, raped, beaten foremothers still very fresh in the subconscious of those who have been taught to hate, fear and dominate us means that very few people, when push come to shove, actually understand Black wimmin as feminine. Femininity is something reserved for white wimmin. It was built to uplift, to control and to contain them. It defines their relationship to patriarchy and their relationships to Black wimmin of any political stripe or sexual orientation. If white wimmin who are androgynous want to discuss (their relationship to) femininity, then they should go right ahead...while grounding, always grounding their analysis in their own historical, collective, social, familial experiences.

Then I might take their rabid foamings about femininity and rabid feminism more seriously.

Now watch me ground my understandings as I am remembering...
Young Black androgynous dyke me wearing heavy black rimmed glasses, black converse runners, black levis...which I still have the remnants of...only thing, they're not really greyed booty shorts with the crotch sewn/held together with scraps of a black bandana also from my boy days...

Me with lovely carefully clipped sideburns...

Me refusing the wear deodorant and getting flack not only from strangers in the hetero world but also from lesbians, too. My body is very...aromatic...without lymph node clogging breast cancer causing scent and sweat suppressants. I tried a crystal for most of this year but then I had this wierd reaction where my armpits started to blacken and develop white patches. Now that I'm back to the cancer causing stuff my pits are returning to normal colour.

I'm thinking about the amount of privilege it takes to walk as an androgyne, about the other behaviours or ways of being that need to be in place so as to demonstrate class, "good" behaviour...if a woman is actually going to be allowed relatively safe passage while thumbing her nose at femininity.

When I was androgynous I got no jobs in or outside community. I didn't look "right". I stopped getting work in feminist community because of that awful habit I have of questioning inside community. I think I got two contracts in two different cities before people realized that I didn't know how to play the game.

So I was androgynously on welfare. I androgynously starved. I androgynously got eviction notices every month. I androgynously ate lots of oatmeal. I androgynously slept on a moldy piece of foam in a cement floored basement.

When I was androgynous I also coincidentally didn't pay much attention to the world, didn't understand a lot about the world. This is significant because I had already grown up without guidance, access or connection, the child of an immigrant who could not pass on a full understanding of our new world to me, who did not have connections to grease my way in this new place where we lived. Sadly I did not understand what I understand now: many of those who succeed, have jobs, have community ties and are respected in the world as androgynes often come from a base that has afforded them ways to move through the world that offset the effects of their aesthetic androgyny.

I was talking to Papi some more about androgyny as a radically politicized feminist choice and about class. hmmm...I wonder how many of the wimmin who can actually work androgyny successfully...successfully meaning that their blogs are often referred to even by wimmin who don't take feminism as a life choice seriously, meaning they have jobs that are really sound career choices that speak to their spirits and line up with their politics, meaning they have housing that doesn't put their lives or their spirits in danger, meaning their neighbours understand them as enough like them in terms of class and values that them being openly androgynous really doesn't even fucking rate as a problem...I wonder how many of the androgynes who would dearly love to give a radical feminist like me a rough fucking ride...I wonder how many of them were raised middle class girls? :) I wonder how many of them were raised with the understanding that performing femininity was crucial? How many of them were forced to do femininity as a way to attract a suitably classed patriarchal male mate? I wonder how many of them were taught that they would only be able to have family support, care and attention if they performed femininity? I wonder how many of them were forced or almost forced to uphold the feminine part of the patriarchal equation that includes marriage, coerced contractually binding sex with a patriarch carefully screened by their parental units so as to bear tiny patriarchally indoctrinated worker units well equipped to do their part to maintain white domination, the phallic power of the patriarchy and the power based hierarchies of the middle and upper classes?

How many? I think I'd like to conduct a muthafuckin panty check of my own. :) Androgynes!? Drop your hidden dirty laundry NOW! Whose askin'? Just me. One of the damned dirty suspect feminine whores of the patriarchy. :)

This is me saying I don't have the same reaction to femininity because I did not/do not have this kind of privilege. No one made any femininity based plans for me, my nether parts or for my progeny.

As a girl child I encountered all applicable forms of oppression but I did not have a powerful, privileged, classed, power hungry, strategically planning patriarchally headed family charting my path through the world. I had a patriarchal authoritarian father but if you ever get a chance to speak with him you'll see that his relationship to class, citizenship and even to patriarchy as an immigrant Black male only allowed him to attempt to personally dominate me on his own...to very little effect. I learned to resist overtly...not through my clothes (silly surface wimmin if this is all you've got by way of a feminist politic, that and not sleeping with men, we're so up shit's creek) I learned to resist with my voice, with my words, with my passion, with my intellect, with my will.

I realize that many of the wimmin who are complaining about feminists fucking men or feminists wearing feminine clothing weren't raised to overtly fight. NOT doing something isn't overtly fighting...unless you come out of a middle class background where avoidance, indirectness and circularity are constructed as powerful stances.

These are not powerful.

I realize that many of the androgynes may not have been raised in situations where they were actually allowed to fight the men nearest and dearest to them in open ways.

I had to learn to roar. I had to learn to physically fight back. I had to learn to say "Fuck you." I had to learn to openly resist.

I didn't have to actually out and out fight much. But I always new that I had that ability. I knew that I could actually back up what I thought and said and did if anyone decided to get stoopid.

Whether I'm wearing a negligee or a top with a plunging neckline or a tight skirt or a pair of dainty slippers, I'm still me under here. That me draws from a power base. That me has had to learn what time it is. That me is confident. That me can and does regularly hold her own in conversations with men. You've seen some of the conversations. Some of them you haven't.

Being able to hold my own doesn't mean things always work out as planned. Being able to hold my own doesn't mean I always get things my way. Being able to hold my own doesn't mean I don't ever encounter stuff that hurts me. Being able to hold my own doesn't mean I don't ever encounter oppressive patriarchal shite.

Being able to hold my own means that I can name what happens, what I encounter. It means I can move through most situations with much more ease than I had when my world was tiny and separatist (fyi: the radically androgynous sisterhood might want to think about not conflating separatism with radical feminism...they might stop pissing wimmin like me off as much as they are). I move through a world that does not reflect me where others rule with consciousness and as much confidence as I can muster on any given day.

I'm sorry some of the sisterhood don't actually have a belief in what they can do at close

As an androgynous fat Black lesbian feminist who asked questions while aesthetically presenting herself in ways that demonstrated a powerful politic, I was considered unacceptable in a variety of ways that meant I was not going to survive. I was not considered useful enough as an ally for the sisterhood to take notice...beyond inviting me to read at their events. Other than that most of them, including the Black dykes who toyed with androgyny, but who always made sure to keep a foot in the door by wearing their locks long (no, I saw all of you trying to fudge it), even they, raised as good west indian girls, many of them middle class knew a common class threat to the status quo when they saw her/me.
sigh...
Androgyny did not work for me. Aesthetic androgyny just put a target on my forehead with the people holding the weapons looking/seeming disturbingly like they were supposed to be allies of mine. With androgyny as a performative aesthetic reflection of a politic I fully backed up with word and deed I had less people I could count on to watch my back...than I already had as one of the dominated. I had less, not more.

I remember walking the streets without back up in a backwater town, the capital city, where white feminists with no race analysis to speak of dominated. This was in my first few years as an out dyke...when I realized I was interested in wimmin I immediately started coming out to everyone who knew me. I was/am naive and stoopid/brave like that.
In any case...
My partner and I got looks of disgust from straight white people, from straight Black people and from white feminists who still did not think we were androgynously feminist enough, who did not feel it was necessary to have understand how their white skinned privilege afforded them space to walk open and out and to find a "home" in a mostly white dominated queer community.

"Unh...the fag hags are all in the bar next door...the men's bar."

So there it was. Even then I could not come "home" dressed as is. I needed to make a pit stop and find me a flanel shirt, some jeans and some men's shoes.

So I did. Cut the hair, too. Cut the hair of all the wimmin I knew even some of the straight wimmin who seemed to be developing crushes on me. :)

I held hands with my partner on the street but if the clothing wasn't right, my choice meant nothing to those who had elected themselves arbiters of who was right and who was wrong.

Funny, even as I was being told that I wasn't androgynous enough to be a "real" dyke, I had hetero people on the sidewalks asking me: "Are you a man or a woman?"

I spat on horrified, fascinated, wierded out heterosexuals who wouldn't keep their eyes to themselves until I had no saliva left.

(hee, hee...Bloggers want to call the me they've met only recently scary, difficult, angry, discomfiting...? They needed to meet the younger me, the one who had the consciousness of all what a g'won poured into her head like a load of hot coffee dumped right down a soft pink throat. The ones who think I'm difficult to stomach need to have met her. She wasn't a happy camper. She was difficult on every possible level.)

I remember being angry. I was always angry, always enraged...again, people don't know about enraged. These days I'm not really enraged. I'm just sort of pleasantly, manageably pissed. :)

I remember seeing red about the people who insisted on me aesthetically anchoring myself to one gender...or another and afixing an easily readable label. I remember putting away all my diva earrings, hiding them away in a box...couldn't quite throw them out. I remember very real frustration and annoyance as I talked to Rozena, a heterosexual feminist critical Black conscious lipsticked feminist, about their questions. I remember her modelling and verbalizing in I can't remember the exact words that my politic did not reside in my over sized earrings but in my spirit, in my intellect and in my willingness to take a stand and fight and resist.

I remember breathing a sigh of relief, walking consciously back over to the femme side. MAC russian red lipstick, anyone? I still buy that shade...and many others, too.

Androgyny...

If the rad fems jealously claiming it as their political territory would just stop and think for a muthafuckin sec they would realize that androgyny might encompass a very surface aesthetic, but really at the end of the day deep down inside a woman it's about spirit and energy and power.

Do they ever try to talk to the middle class heterosexual white wimmin who do androgyny as a way to desex themselves so as to more fully present themselves as respectable? Try talking to them in their flat shoes, comfortable pants, cleavage obscuring t-shirts, short no-nonsense hair cuts, unmade up faces and serious faces. They present as androgynous. Does this mean they are all about the cause? Are they more allied with feminism than this Black woman they try and avoid in the streets so as to better demonstrate their relationship to the powers that be?

I fucking think not. (the librarian I had to liquidate is much more androgynous than I am, by the way.)

Obviously there is more to this androgyny thing that folks are able to wrap their minds around.

I wish they could have talked to one of the men I've fucked or chatted with.

A few come to mind.
One night at a gay bar where I had decided to come bald headed, made up, not packing but drag queenly nonetheless in floor length home made gown, I emerged from one of the washrooms. As I moved back into the main space a Black gay man lustfully locked eyes with me and asked: "Are you a man or a woman?" I answered him as best as I could. "Does it matter?"

I've been chatting with men online who like to talk about their cocks...about jerking off. One day as I conversed with one of them I too talked about jerking off. I purposefully use the same sort of terminology they do when I describe my erotic, when I describe the ways I'd like them to service me and what I'd like to do to them. Some people get it. Others freak out and worry about trying to turn them into gay men. The question - "Are you a man or a woman" - again, this time barrages me in the form of text.

One time about ten years ago comes to mind.
He was a young hungry eyed thing. I picked him up after he finished work in a cab and took him to my basement bedroom. As I undressed him a shiver seemed to ripple through him. His eyes darted nervously around my room in ways most of us wimmin recognize from those movies where a woman is alone with a man and realizes that he means her no good...that she could be or is about to be raped and/or killed.

His discomfort was delicious. In another second he would have probably covered his nakedness with his hands and arms. He spoke: "Unh...are you sure you're a woman?"

His problem?
His difficulty?
He had never been so aggressively, powerfully, penetratively gazed on, cruised, sexualized, handled by a woman.

This experience was not one he was familiar with. This experience was one of being prey, not to the cliche heterosexual feminized nympho who serves the cock. No, but instead to one who he might have to service, who he might have to get off, whose bidding he might have to do in ways that did not support his constructed, imposed, indoctrinated masculinity.

His fear, and it was fear, was about encountering someone so clearly presebting as feminine who, in that moment where men are usually so clear about who occupies which role, was so clearly not occupying the societally defined role, who was clearly so devoid of feminine sexual energy, even as I was dressed as a woman, that he became worried he had actually been lured into a sexual encounter with a man dressed as a woman.
See...
He had encountered this androgyne
Me
cloaked in the attire of the dominated
Me
clearly emanating energy that spoke to how not dominated I was/am
Me
walking wrapped in what is understood as feminine/masculine
willing and able to occupy a third energetic space in ways
that give me full aesthetic liscense to play and resist and fuck with
beliefs about what is normal and/or political

He had encountered something he could not consume
Something that threatened to consume him
to sexualize him
in ways he had not been taught to understand
He was attracted and terrified and completely unsure about what it was he was seeing
He stayed in my little basement room for a time
And I helped him work out...his confusion
:)

And one other wonderful little telling?
Last week new lover said sadly that he wished I had a cock so that I could cum in his ass. I fell in love with him and his appetites all over again. I wrote that I felt sad about not being able to do that, too. Right now he's chatting with me and explaining that he'd love me to be his boy. I'm gushing all over the place explaining to him how perfect he is for me cuz I really miss dressing like a boy and I'd love to be his boy. :) Really, I just miss looking less femme. I'd love to have someone to offer me context. He does this without me even asking. It's just what turns his crank...and mine, too.

sigh...
I get it when the men who are so analytically simple, so ruled by their unthinking cocks, so unable to make that cognitive collective leap don't fully understand androgyny as performed by wimmin who are dominated under patriarchy. Of course many of them don't get it or decide to only filter it through the sexual.
What is killing me off is the fact that some radical feminists, so well educated, so conscious of the inheritance they have benefitted from through all the different feminist waves, so full of language and spirit and intelligence still default to only the most simplistic understandings of what it means to resist, still support the idea that for a woman, it's all about the clothes she wears.
sigh...
Funny...in a sort of sad way...sad for me, sad for us rad fems that we are not able to complicate our analysis to the point where multiple ways of engaging with gender roles, gendered constructs would be possible.

What an exciting and dynamic feminist movement that would be, Lily. That would be sweet. I'm holding out for that. I'm still here, working gender roles and aesthetics in whatever ways I see fit...trying to survive.

Survival is key. Sorry, yes it does completely override any political imperatives because if I can't stay alive, I can't fight the good fight. Game over. I'm out of commission. Can't have that. Nope. Can't have that at all.

When I decided that I would leave "home" and move out into a world that is for the most part dominated by those who willingly benefit from all different kinds of power based privilege, where gender roles and binary constructs reign supreme, I studied the people I encountered t/here hard...I'm still studying them...the men and the wimmin...even their children.

I walk among them sometimes offering them back the constructs they've learned to understand as normal, other times insisting on fucking with what they've been taught. It really depends on who I'm dealing with, how much power to do harm they have and what I actually need them for.

I understand femininity, masculinity and even androgyny as I've been taught to understand them, through the lense of a politic shaped by feminism, by the queer political, by Black consciousness and by a whole host of oppositional teachings which have shaped me and my beliefs. I understand femininity, masculinity and androgyny as power based constructs that function on continuums maintained by us human beings. I understand that I have the right, the ability and the responsibility to defy all/any of these, to roam across these continuums, to irreverently toy with these in ways that make sense for me.

More to come, Lily. And thanks for writing out your process here with me in ways that allowed me to continue to write mine out, too.







if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Rad fem process, Lily...

lilylotus has left a new comment on your post "Lily lotus...":

Hi again,

And thank you for your answer. When I was reading your post and writing down some of my thoughts the other day, I had in mind the hierarchies you're speaking of.

My 'awakening' and liberation happened on more than just one level, but your post made me think of the time when I was dealing with appearances, clothes, behaviour etc... in short all the messages emitted to position myself in my social surrounding.

I suppose you're not surprised when I tell you that my investigations led to the finding that I was caught in between a rock and a hard place. I was in a constant balancing act between various internalized female and male expectations.

I started to play with this division inside of me. I challenged my partriarchally invested self to run around in the streets looking as "unattractive" as I could dare to, which made her freak out for some time. :) And I noticed that my so-called "liberated part" was looking down at me with distrust and pitiful anger whenever I felt like dressing and looking and acting in the classically defined way of what is "female".
In these moments I disdained myself as the lesser, weaker, not to be trusted sister. I had within me the conflict that your answer. I looked at myself with the eyes of some feminists who would think of me as a lesser being for “falling into the trap of patriarchy”.

One day I understood that I was working so hard mainly to prove to the patriarch and feminist inside of me that it was my intellect doing the work, not my looks. Since I entered puberty I have been told repeatedly how beautiful I am. Essentially, these were nothing more than encrypted messages of warning, grudge, disrespect, even jealousy... Sometimes the message was that I shouldn't be too proud of my achievements because anyway I could only have reached them through my physical appearance.

It was crucial to realize I was actually trying to make things up for how I am and look. It helped me to throw off board all patriarchal and feminist ideals that held me unfree, and go to find my own. I wanted to be androgynous in the sense that I could freely choose how to react to a given situation, without there being any labels in my mind that could keep me from doing what’s needed.

For me, it’s about freedom from restricting notions of male and female, so as to become truly androgynous. It's about becoming a human being.

I’m totally with what you write, getting rid of false, derisive and faulty hierarchies, which I see existing not only in rad fem circles, but mostly in ourselves.

I don’t know whether I have made myself any clearer, or whether this makes sense to you at all :) In any case I thank you for the space to play with, and arrange, and re-think my thoughts.

lily

Lily,

I have to come back to this. Can't write it out full right now.


Okay, I'm back.

My initial thoughts are a jumble of memories.

Young Black androgynous dyke me wearing heavy black rimmed glasses, black converse runners, black levis...which I still have the remnants of...only thing, they're not really greyed booty shorts with the crotch sewn/held together with scraps of a black bandana also from my boy days...

Me with lovely carefully clipped sideburns...

Me refusing the wear deodorant and getting flack not only from strangers in the hetero world but also from lesbians, too. My body is very...aromatic...without lymph node clogging breast cancer causing scent and sweat suppressants. I tried a crystal for most of this year but then I had this wierd reaction where my armpits started to blacken and develop white patches. Now that I'm back to the cancer causing stuff my pits are returning to normal colour.

I'm thinking about the amount of privilege it takes to walk as an androgyne, about the other behaviours that need to be in place so as to demonstrate class, "good" behaviour...if a woman is actually going to be allowed relatively safe passage while thumbing her nose at femininity.

When I was androgynous I got no jobs. I didn't look "right". I also stopped getting work in feminist community because of that awful habit I have of questioning inside community.
I was on welfare. I starved. I got eviction notices every month. I ate lots of oatmeal. I slept on a piece of foam in a cement floored basement.

As an androgynous Black lesbian feminist who asked questions whileaesthetically presenting herself in ways that showed a politic, I was considered unacceptable in a variety of ways that meant I was not going to survive. I was not considered useful enough as an ally for the sisterhood to take notice...beyond inviting me to read at their events.


Androgyny did not work for me. Aesthetic androgyny just put a target on my forehead with the people holding the weapons looking/seeming disturbingly like they were supposed to be allies of mine.


I remember walking the streets without back up in a backwater town, the capital city, where white feminists with no race analysis to speak of dominated. My partner and I got looks of disgust from straight white people, from straight Black people and from white feminists who still did not think we were androgynously feminist enough, who did not feel it was necessary to have understand how their white skinned privilege afforded them space to walk open and out and to find a "home" in a mostly white dominated queer community.


"Unh...the fag hags are all in the bar next door...the men's bar."


I could not come "home" dressed as is. I needed to make a pit stop and find me a flanel shirt and some jeans.


I held hands with my partner on the street but if the clothing wasn't right, my choice meant nothing to those who had elected themselves arbiters of who was right and who was wrong.


Funny, I had people on the sidewalks asking me: "Are you a man or a woman?"


I spat on horrified, fascinated, wierded out heterosexuals who wouldn't keep their eyes to themselves until I had no saliva left.

Bloggers want to call me scary, difficult, angry, discomfiting...? They needed to meet the younger me, the one who had the consciousness poured into her head like a load of hot coffee dumped right down a soft pink throat.

You need to have met her.

I remember being angry. I was always angry, always enraged...again, people don't know about enraged. These days I'm not really enraged. I'm just sort of gently pissed. :)

I remember seeing red about the het people who couldn't stop staring, about it about their insistence on me aesthetically anchoring myself to one gender...or another and afixing an easily readable label. I remember putting away all my diva earrings, hiding them away in a box...couldn't quite throw them out. I remember very real frustration and annoyance as I talked to Rozena, a heterosexual feminist critical Black conscious lipsticked feminist, about their questions. I remember her modelling and verbalizing in I can't remember the exact words that my politic did not reside in my earrings but in my spirit, in my intellect and in my willingness to take a stand and fight and resist.


I remember breathing a sigh of relief, walking consciously back over to the femme side. MAC russian red lipstick, anyone? I still buy that shade...and many others, too.

Androgyny...

If the rad fems jealously claiming it as their political territory would just stop and think for a muthafuckin sec they would realize that androgyny might encompass aesthetics, but really at the end of the day it's about spirit and energy and power.


I wish they could have talked to one of the men I've fucked or chatted with. One from about ten years ago comes to mind. I picked him up after work in a cab and took him to my basement room. As I undressed him a shiver seemed to ripple through him. His eyes darted nervously around my room in ways most of us wimmin recognize from those movies where a woman is alone with a man and realizes that he means her no good...that she could be or is about to be raped and/or killed.

His discomfort was delicious. In another second he would have probably covered his nakedness with his hands and arms. He spoke: "Unh...are you sure you're a woman?"


His problem?
His difficulty?
He had never been so aggressively, powerfully, penetratively gazed on, cruised, sexualized, ravaged by a woman.

This experience was not one he was familiar with. This experience was one of being prey, not to the cliche heterosexual feminized nympho who serves the cock.

His fear, and it was fear, was about encountering someone so clearly feminine who, in that moment where men are usually so clear about who occupies which role, was so clearly not occupying the societally defined role, who was clearly so devoid of feminine sexual energy, even as I was dressed as a woman, that he became worried he had actually been lured into a sexual encounter with a man dressed as a woman.
See...
He had encountered this androgyne
Me
cloaked in the attire of the dominated
Me
clearly emanating energy that spoke to how not dominated I was/am
Me
walking wrapped in what is understood as feminine/masculine
willing and able to occupy a third energetic space in ways
that give me full aesthetic liscense to play and resist and fuck with
beliefs about what is normal and/or political

He had encountered something he could not consume
Something that threatened to consume him
to sexualize him
in ways he had not been taught to understand
He was attracted and terrified and completely unsure about what it was he was seeing
He stayed in my little basement room for a time
And I helped him work out...his confusion
:)

Funny...in a sort of sad way...sad for me, sad for us rad fems that we are not able to complicate our analysis to the point where multiple ways of engaging with gender roles, gendered constructs would be possible. What an exciting and dynamic feminist movement that would be, Lily. That would be sweet. I'm holding out for that. I'm still here, working gender roles and aesthetics in whatever ways I see fit...trying to survive.






if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.