Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hair

I don't identify as femme (why not? it doesn't fit how I feel. my gender can't be defined that easily. that is all) but I relate to a lot of what's being said here.

Ever since I've been growing my hair out (yes, that's all) I've noticed a distinct shift in who notices me and what kind of attention I get. It's all about the hair, folks. True story. Ask any middle schooler.

A couple of Sinclair's points that I enjoy**:
Not being seen as queer and recognized as radical by straight folks is a common complaint I hear from femmes. There is an added burden of constantly having to come out verbally, constantly having to remind the folks around you that you are queer, constantly having to deflect and defend yourselves against unwanted straight male attractions, since in this culture the display of femininity is presumed to be for the attraction of men, men’s gaze, men’s sexual advancement. It is seen as an invitation to being hit on, in fact. A girl out on the town and all dressed up in heels, dresses, lipstick, must be trying to “catch a man.” Of course, this isn’t true. Whoever this girl is, she could be wearing those things for all kinds of reasons, for her boyfriend, for her friends, for herself, for her wife. And this is constant. Walking down the street, catching a cab, on the subway, at work, at a party, at a play, at a concert, in a bar – everywhere a femme goes, her femininity is assumed to be for men and to attract a man.

(This is also, in fact, one of the reasons femme-ness is subversive, and feminist: it re-creates femininity not as a tool to catch men, but as an authentic mode of expression for onesself and for queerness, disrupting this idea that femininity is “natural” for women.)

...You can’t choose who sees you when you walk down the street – you put yourself out there in a semi-public domain and you can’t pick who you interact with on a daily basis. But you can choose what those interactions mean. And here, you just have a more advanced sense of this sex-gender assumption than they do. You are right. They are not.
and also
What a complicated, heartbreaking, turning-ourselves-inside-out that coming to a new identity process is. And when it is not marked by physical proof, when someone looks the same, there is no particular indication that Something Big Has Changed, so how do we know? By speaking of it, by talking about it, by documenting it in some form. Still, so much of the data we take in is visual, so even when our minds take in that something is different, if we don’t see the physical proof, it might not register the same way. I think this is also partly why the process of coming out as a dyke often involves things like cutting one’s hair off – which is the rejection of femininity and the association that femininity is performed for the attraction of men, yes, but also a physical marker that something has changed.

These are just things that are “true,” according to our culture: femininity is a tool for the attraction of men; dykes reject this and therefore don’t have to perform femininity; if you are a dyke, you also come to a more androgynous gender identity as part of your dykeness. Sexual orientation and gender presentation are so tied together – that is the sex-gender assumption in a nutshell.

At a conference not too long ago (just before the vote, actually) I was talking to a small workgroup of LGBT folks. We were asked to describe what we imagined or wanted to focus on as a community after the election was over. I suggested that, as a community, we do some work around sexism, because most homophobia comes down to gender-based discrimination.

For example, how can you tell someone's queer? Unless they're making out with someone, you kind of have to go by gender markers. It's the gender transgression that is the problem, not the sexual orientation.

Why do some straight guys feel incredibly threatened by gay men and fixate on gay sex? Because gay sex is believed to be "feminizing" in a world where feminine=less power.

Why are transwomen subjected to violence more frequently than transmen? See the "feminizing" situation above.

Why, even, is marriage an issue? Because it's seen as making a mockery of the man-woman dichotomy.

Every single one of those folks around the table looked at me like I had two heads. There was a brief silence and then the conversation moved on, closing over my comment without any indication that it had ever existed.

Yes, okay. And there's a big part of the problem, in a nutshell, and why I have a hard time getting behind a lot of the queer activism that's going on right now. More on this later, I think.

**hee hee

Monday, November 23, 2009

Gravy

My family doles out responsibility for Thanksgiving Dinner. One aunt is cooking the turkey; another is mashing potatoes. My dad brings yeast rolls. I had really been hoping to try to introduce non-starch vegetables again this year. I need them to soak up the massive amounts of sugar I'll be eating. I feel guilty eating so many carbs without even the tiniest hint of green (no, frozen peas don't count).

My "weird" food habits are more of an issue than my sexual orientation. Shave my head and bring a "friend" home from college? Totally fine. Bring roughage to dinner? Create a scandal that echoes for years. The fact that I don't eat dairy is a constant source of amusement and mystery, and I gracefully bear a lot of jokes about the beans I love to eat.

Last year, in my eagerness to share the joys of brassica, I brought sauteed kale with garlic and soy sauce for Thanksgiving. Everybody politely took a tablespoon of it and drowned it in gravy or vinegar. There was a lot of it left at the end of the meal.

And then I was late calling them back this year to choose a dinner assignment.

"I'll bring a salad," I said.

"Umm..." my aunt said. "That would be good, except I don't really know where I'd put a salad on my Thanksgiving dinner plate. "

I know what she means. In our tradition, Thanksgiving dinner is strictly meat, fat, starch, and sugar. Vitamins need not apply. And salad wouldn't really blend in, would it? Plus, the combination of salad and gravy is horrifying.

"How about an appetizer?" she said.

Appetizer. A snack. Harumpf. I wonder if I've been assigned the powerless task of appetizer on purpose so that I don't mess up anyone's carbtastic meal. Ok, but I could do a raw veggie platter, sneak in some broccoli and kohlrabi--

"But your other aunt is bringing cut up vegetables and dip, and celery with cream cheese and olives, so..."

Damn, now my crudite plan was foiled! I agreed to bring some kind of appetizer, and hung up in a panic. What was once a simple food assignment is now a mission--a challenge from the foodie gods to find some possible compromise that will be not only vegetable, but acceptable to my family's specific palate.

After a week of frantic internet-recipe surfing (interrupted only by critical Gaga infusions) I think I've come up with the perfect compromise: Bacon-Wrapped Brussels Sprouts.
They probably won't look like this, but they'll be SO DELICIOUS. And they will be EATEN. Now you're jealous.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tag, I'm It!

Because I like to play nice....

Rules:

1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Ok, the 7 things:

1. I like to eat sardines. Usually on crackers.
2. I'm a member of a dream group. We meet every week and talk about our dreams.
3. I failed NaNoWriMo. I blame the Yes on One folks, because... why not?
4. My only significant encounter with the law is one speeding ticket.
5. I've been so tense this week that, while I'm sleeping, I clench my hands until they are numb and bloodless. There is no one reason for this stress; I think it's a month-long accumulation. I need to get to the gym more.
6. In high school I used to play clarinet, bass clarinet, french horn, hand drums, and electric guitar.
7. I like to make my own beer and wine.

I'm going to break the rules because I dislike tagging people. However, I would LOVE to know seven random things about you, so if you posted them I would clap my hands with excitement. Really. Consider yourself tagged.

Tradeoffs

It turns out that being less anxious has made me into a little bit of a flake. I run late to things. I stay home and chill instead of doing things I said I'd do. I'm a tad forgetful.

I feel bad for everyone who is collateral damage to this, but I'll take flakiness over an anxiety-exploded brain any day of the week.

Friday, November 13, 2009

...

Because that's how it is for me these days. Just. ...

I didn't expect to feel so strongly about the election. I don't support marriage as The Cause for the queers; I don't think it's a very functional institution and I'm not interested in assimilating. I do support my friends who want to get married, though, and I understand that the conversation is already, happening. Can't stay neutral... moving train. Etcetera.

On Wednesday morning it sure didn't feel like a vote about marriage, though. It felt like 53% of the state voted against ME. And my chosen family.

Also, it's November, my least favorite month of the year. I would make links to previous posts that acknowledge my November-hatred, but I just don't have the energy today.

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