Saturday, October 24, 2009

A better place

Apparently articulating my discomfort with femininity was the last step to removing it. I'm still not really attracted to femininity, but that's more, now, out of genuine preference rather than avoidance. It's still a process to tear down the old/poisonous and restructure the new/healthy. And I'm still exploring masculinity, unsure as to whether it's the novelty of it that's so exciting or previously unknown comfort... has been really helpful.

Tonight, I took a long walk from State/Superior to Broadway/Addison. It was SO GREAT!! I passed a classy Loyola University residence hall in River North. Agape at the atrium and other extravagance, I thought to myself, "This makes my dorm look like a piece of shit." The building also has some designer boutique and super-expensive restaurant. The homeliness of my dorm became much more apparent and I'm sooooooooooooo grateful that we didn't have to share the space with non-campus businesses we couldn't have afforded anyway. Compared to other university/college residence halls, I'm very glad that I was in Austin Hall.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009


"For me, the most liberating thing about coming out as a lesbian was that I could do anything I wanted, and didn't have to think about whether people would think I was weird. Because they probably ALREADY were going to think I was weird." - The Girls Next Door by Pamela Robin Brandt & Lindsay Van Gelder

Reading is so incredibly important. Books, newspapers, zines, blogs, etc. To take in information, analyze it, question it, compare it, be inspired by it, and to ENJOY IT!!

I'm eternally grateful to my mom and my half-sister, Leslie, whose combined efforts drove me to love reading. Leslie, an editor, has provided a great supply of diverse, interesting, beautiful books always a step ahead of my age's reading level. My mom read to me every night when I was a kid and frequently took me to the library a few blocks away. I still have most, if not all, of the books Leslie gave me and I still read them! The day before I started kindergarten, I told my mom that I would go to school to learn how to read and write, and then stop; I figured that I could do anything with those skills and the rest would just hold me back.

A lot of people say that they don't like reading because it's difficult for them. Just like everything else, it takes practice. There's no shame in reading several easy books before tackling something epic. And there's no shame in putting down a book for a while or reading it again later. I read Uncle Tom's Cabin for the first time in middle school - something I was able to do only because my mom and Leslie gave me a very early start - and then again in high school.

Everything comes from reading - writing (obviously; you have to read in order to write), language studies, science, etc. And most of all, AWARENESS!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Old is Relative

My 24th birthday is in a couple days and sometimes you can catch me saying that I'm turning old. Take this as dry sarcasm . . . for the most part. I'm turning oldER. The things that make me feel old:

1) it's my first birthday after school, living as an independent *gulp* adult

2) Looking back over the past ten years, I've got a good amount of living under my belt. Ten years ago was when I was first struggling for independence, autonomy, individuality.

"Old" is an entirely relative term; I do feel "old" compared to my pre-undergrad life and with the realization that my childhood (dependence, being seen as a burden rather than a person, attachment, unrealistic idealism) is more than ten years ago. And as for being a year closer to senior citizenship - which is still decades away - I offer you this quote from a friend of mine:

Anna: "You're not old."
Her grandmother: "Ninety next year, what do you think?"
Anna: "That doesn't make you old, that makes you awesome."

I've known people who spend their birthdays crying because they're a year closer to senior citizenship/menopause/death. WHO CARES?!?!?! There's nothing you can do to stop it and these events are negative only if you make them so, why cry about it?!?! Instead of thinking that I have a limited time in which to accomplish many things, I figure that I'll do what I'll do and then I won't anymore. Maybe I think/feel this way because I view neither childbearing nor marriage as favorable, thus having no need for a "biological clock." I'm well aware that the main reason why I reject both of these things is that I very recently gained autonomy/independence/individuality and both marriage and parenthood require giving up that. I'll probably think and feel differently years from now.

To end on a lighter note, a list of things I want to do in life. If I live as long and as well as my other female relatives, that gives me around sixty years; a good long time to accomplish these things at my pace and to add more to the list:

- travel the world (wow that's vague)
- more specifically: ALL OF INDIA KASHMIR BANGLADESH, the Celtic/British lands, Scandinavia, Japan, Germany, all 50 states
- artist-in-residence programs in national and state parks
- get my MFA from the School of the Art Institute
- join the ranks of Georgia O'Keefe, Harmony Hammond and Victor Higgins as a Midwestern artist painting the Southwest
- perform in drag
- see Ringo Starr in concert
- be a pimp...again
- have a ridiculous amount of pets
- become a renown/infamous queer activist
- get my artwork into a museum
- learn mechanics
- open a woodworking studio
- take in foster children who are trans/intersex, join a Big Sibling program and/or something along those lines
- live in a swanky Chicago condo, then move to an A-frame in Galena when I retire (which could be anytime) to a self-sustaining lifestyle
- go skiing, fishing, hiking, and swimming as often as possible
- be a more prominent figure in my family
- look like a sweet elderly person to the younger generations of my family, whose parents have to pressure them to spend time with me. When their parents aren't paying attention, I'll tell them some insane story of my youth. While they're gaping in awe, I'll throw them into the pool.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"That's Gay"

Tonight, my significant other and I went to a pool hall. We were the only flaming people, the only visible females, and the only white people playing. The table beside ours was played by three guys who joked around with us a little. All of us mutually shared the space with comofort.

They were loudly laughing and sharing stories with each other. Some words we overheard were, "gay," "fag," and "cunt." My s.o. and I hold hands and exchange pecks in public, so these guys knew that we're dykes. None of them snuck looks at us to judge our reactions or said anything like, "Hey man, that's not cool." I concluded that these were just some cool guys who don't know any better. It mattered more that they were respectful of us as neighbors than that they monitor their word choices, although it's still disappointing that such terms are used in such ways. It's no different than racist or anti-Semitic slurs.

Were we in a situation that would involve more regular contact and actual introductions, I would have talked to them about it. Just a simple, non-threatening, "Hey man, that's not cool." Chances are that nobody had said anything to them about it before!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What a week

In the past couple days, I've had two clichéd encounters:

1) A complete stranger online told me that I need to monitor my behavior because I'm a representative of the entire LGBTQ community. At all times, everywhere, no matter what. And because I wasn't aware of this "fact," this person claimed that I'm the reason why the community "fails" and shouldn't be taken seriously. ...Right.

2) A relative I don't know very well commented that my facebook link to Genderfork was "gay" and, when I was taken aback by that, insinuated that I take the political as personal. There are situations in which the political is personal, but explaining that gender variance is different from gayness is not one of those situations. He also claimed that he knows what he's talking about because he lives in California and attended Blue Man Group performances in Boystown. ...THAT DOESN'T MEAN ANYTHING!!!

Wtf?? Did someone forget to tell me that the week before Coming Out Day and the National Equality March is Clichéd Heterosexism Week?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Wrestling with Femininity

I'm halfway through "Whipping Girl: a Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity" by Julia Serano. It's very good and a good first book on the topic - there should be many more from many different perspectives! Serano includes her own experiences as supportive evidence and provides a good history of transsexuality in Western society. The only downfalls are that she has a strong us-vs.-them mentality regarding cissexual "experts" and often writes as though her opinion is the only correct opinion. If one approaches this book as one view on the topic rather than as the ultimate authority, though, the flaws are mere obstacles. As stated above, it's a great first book on the topic of transwomen experiencing the scapegoating of femininity.

The book, though, has forced me to come face-to-face with my own issues with femininity. I'm not among the dykes who think of femmes as "Uncle Toms;" I admit that I have tended to assume that many femmes fall/walk into the same pitfalls as feminine straight girls: not knowing and/or willing to take care of herself and, instead, using her looks to get someone to take care of her. I've known butches who do the same thing,though... And as for feminine men: I have respect for their crossing of strict gender expression boundaries, but I will avoid those who I know use it to get things out of people (same with masculine people who use their masculinity to swing their dicks all over people).

I'm certain that this disdain of femininity came from my past. There is a Biblical story of Jacob wrestling with some guy in the night, but it turns out to have been God. Disdain of this group of people (which I work to not actually take out on real people) is my wrestle with the compulsory femininity that had been prominent in my life until very recently. I'm under the impression that, once I've erased all my compulsory femininity, I can take on the femininity that actually suits me. This compulsory femininity is tied in with strict Catholicism, classism, heterosexism, etc. A clean slate allows me to release my past and to pick what I actually want.

Because I'm in a better place altogether now and there is a clear distinction between my "past" and "now" (I'm no longer in school, Wisconsin, dependent living, old relationship goals), it's easier to release its hold, at least in this aspect. It's easier to see that the stereotypes of the Earth Mother, Paris Hilton, and Jessica Rabbit are all parts of femininity and that it's ok to pick and choose different parts without the fear of falling into weak dependence. Refusing to wear a skirt because one doesn't want to be taken as femme is no different from choosing to wear a skirt because one doesn't want to be taken as butch/andro. I wore heels the other week for a job interview at Ann Taylor; I wore them because I felt like it. The world didn't end and the pain of walking in them made me sympathize with rather than bemoan people who feel like they must wear them.

Being able to articulate all this has made it less intimidating/controlling/big, which is now easier to leave behind me. I'm more comfortable in androgynous garb and I'm more attracted to androgynous people (which is another blog entry altogether), but that's just who I am and not a rebellion or escape. Don't be surprised if you see me in a skirt sometime! I still feel like dressing masculinely or femininely is drag, but I'm free to do it for me.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sexual Repression as Servitude

Many believe that the Third Wave of feminism - the riot grrrl movement of the 90's - ended the anti-porn and anti-sex aspects of the Second Wave. Lesbian feminism was actually very pro-sex, but within very specifically defined and even mandated terms. Despite the changes in feminism and its impact upon society, many women still withhold their sexual desires/energy/etc. This trend is from a multitude of social influences such as Catholicism, virgin/whore status, the use of sex to gain power, and the entire concept of femininity as servitude as ideal. And I can tell you from years of experience, repressing one's own sexual desires in order to please others is even common amongst the lesbian community! It is an all-encompassing social issue for people, especially women, to sacrifice desire in order to please another.

...So much to the point that one's own inner workings become automatic. When several people over a long period of time degrade you for having a higher libido than them, it becomes automatic to turn your own sexual energy into "something productive." You don't even have to think about it because it's just too painful to worry over whether something is actually wrong with you for wanting something. Maybe this is why so many housewives obsess over cleaning and baking . . . It really does suck to put your sexual desire/energy on hold, no matter the reasons and even when nobody is at fault, for so long that it disappears. Even worse once you learn to embrace that energy because it makes you feel/think that you were wrong for doing so.

There is a fine line between declaring what you want and pressuring someone into something ze doesn't want to do. Maybe I'm falling back into socially constructed ideas, but the price isn't worth the pursuit.