Femme FATale


the moratorium is over.
December 9, 2008, 11:48 pm
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the title of this post should say it all. the moratorium on blogging and other fun and enjoyable things is officially over! monday night, i took my oral preliminary exam and passed! i am now an official ph.d. candidate and considered “all but dissertation” (ABD)! resuming normal life starts now!

blogging is not the only thing that has been put on the backburner in the last few months because of these horrific exams. socializing, laundry, moving generally beyond the 625 sq. ft. of my apartment (or library), are all other examples. seriously, i leave to see my family and friends back east in a week and my apartment has never been messier. life has been on hold far too long because of these things.

i miss being physically around my friends here in minneapolis. i’ve seen folks here and there and i’ve been to others’ houses for dinners and movies and thanksgiving, but no one’s been in my apartment since october. i realize that sounds pathetic, but when things got intense with writing my papers, my whole way of keeping up my apartment just took a nose-dive. i think it’s because it’s the one thing i *can* allow to slip, so it does. alas, i’m preparing to teach my last class of the semester tomorrow and then, for days on end, i will be armed with laundry detergent and pine sol in order to get this place livable again.

in the midst of all this stress and letting my apartment go to hell, i’ve never been closer connected to friends and family. there are folks out there in this world who, no matter what time of day and no matter with what frequency, high or low, allowed me to call them excited and hyper after too much coffee or crying and sniffling over what i assumed would be my academic decline. i owe so many thank you’s to the folks who got me through. allow me a few shout-outs, no?

my post-exam acceptance speech: (ahem!)

* to my parents, who don’t read this, but who i absolutely must acknowledge. i think we’re closer than we’ve been in a while because i called you nearly every day for weeks just to hear the encouragement and support in your voices even when we were talking about banal things like christmas, living wills, and the downstair bathroom renovation. mom, i’m sorry i bugged you so incessantly, but you make me feel better when no one else in the world can. knowing i make you proud is what’s most worth it. dad, i know you’ll never understand that what i’m writing is a dissertation and that it’s a lot different than my undergraduate “thesis,” which is how you repeatedly refer to it. still, the best part of passing monday night was calling you right after, when you were working on the trucking dock, and you yelled and cheered so loud that all the other guys on the platform knew i passed and they beeped the horns of their 18-wheelers and forklifts in congratulations. i will never forget the pride in your voice.

* to kelley, i’m finally getting around to giving you the address to this blog and with perfect timing. now i can say ‘thank you’ without breaking down into tears on the phone. i’ve never doubted the power of our friendship almost 10(!!!) years old now, but you reminded me why you will forever be so important to me. thank you for letting me sing entire songs to you that night i was losing my mind. thank you for telling me silly stories and rehashing all four years of college in order to take my mind off of the present. thank you for nearly getting into a throwdown with your boss monday night when you squealed with delight over my exams during the office holiday dinner party at a fancy pants restaurant. you’re the best surrogate sister a girl could have. family indeed, genius OF MY LIFE. xo.

* to emily, for being supportive and loving two time zones away. thanks for allowing me the occasional freak out phone call, my bombarding questions over gchat, and for not allowing me to wallow or be as self-deprecating as i probably would have liked to have been at times. you’ve always taken such good care of me – from first year to now – and you somehow still manage to do that even all the way over there in san francisco. i miss you way more than i can ever say. thanks for my surprise celebratory dinner. nothing says “you passed!” like pizza luce. you’re truly the best.

* to e, i’ve said it once and i’ll say it again, for all of our drama, you still know me more than most and know how to comfort me truly as a result. thanks for the much needed distraction of your neverending shoe dilemma, the oh-so-helpful and last minute study session over this past weekend and the reassuring phone call right before i went in. you are the only person i texted when i was waiting for the verdict to hear if i passed. that must mean something, no? xoxo.

* to all the other folks, some who read this and some who don’t, but who nonetheless i’m so grateful for: grandma, katie b., jasmine, porter, becky, uncle david & john, ricky, kandace, diane, bevin, and victoria (who sent me the most amazing femme-inspired care package ever!). special thanks also to leo, freedomgirl, kyle, sublime femme, and others for keeping me in your thoughts and leaving comments/sending emails of support and encouragement. love, love, love to all of you.

i worked harder than i’ve ever worked before these last few months and for all the effort i passed an academic milestone and simultaneously was reminded of the epic amounts of love and support i have in family, friends, and community. i am so thankful for all of you.

i’m sure that to some this whole post is going to seem dramatic and maybe it kind of is, but i’m too elated to really care right now. i’m happy and excited and *relaxed* for the first time in weeks. i’m savoring all of this and making it last as long as i can.

…in fact, until further notice, you can all refer to me as ph.d.-elect, hussy red!

xoxo.



keyboard obstruction
November 24, 2008, 4:37 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

Lula Bodeen

…and you thought the reason i wasn’t posting as much
was because of school. silly readers!



shazam!
November 21, 2008, 6:32 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

for the “butches in the a.m.” news crew and for those of you who just, generally, love some nerd porn,
i offer you a photo of my life right now.
hussy red, femme’ing up academia all day, every day.



remember a lot, heal a bit

i read leo’s post last night about feeling a little bit stuck post-election, not knowing what to say or write next, and found myself tearing up in agreement. i think what leo is articulating so honestly in this post is what a lot of us are feeling right now – happiness and shock over barack obama’s win and then disbelief and anger over all that’s happened since. and i’m trying to move past the prop 8 stuff, but calling out the scapegoating by queers on people of color has me tethered to it tighter than ever. my stomach lurches every time i hear someone else mention those reports of queers protesting, slinging slurs at black folks in the midst. and it hasn’t stopped with those early stories. the advocate, one of our most renowned glbt (i will *not* use “queer” to describe the advocate. ever.) has the most truly offensive cover one could imagine right now. “gay is the new black?” really, advocate? are you going to play this appropriation game? are you really going to further pit queers and black folks (as well as other communities of color) against one another by making *this* the slogan of the gay marriage debate? the subtitle of “the new civil rights struggle” does little to soften the message; in fact, it feels unclear to me whether or not we’re supposed to interpret gay rights as the “new civil rights struggle” or the growing tension between queers and people of color. when did it ever become a good idea to compare and contrast oppressions across difference?

i am awe-struck by what we are witnessing and have never felt more detached from my community as a result. earlier in the week i wrote about what is at risk in focusing only on homonormative issues like marriage and ignoring others, citing the murder of duanna johnson as the worst kind of example of this. last friday, another transwoman of color was murdered in syracuse, new york, teish cannon. that’s two transwomen in barely two weeks. my brain can barely process it, let alone my heart.  racialicious noted in a post this week there was an increase in racially motivated hate crimes during and post-election season, as well. we are funneling so much energy and money into having the right to marry, but so many of us are overlooking physical violence and death. what are we in the midst of here? despite a win in the white house, the aftermath is terribly frightening to me.

today is transgender day of remembrance and i’m going to attend services to remember those whose lives have been cut short because they’ve dared to be themselves. i’m going to go and remember duanna johnson, teish cannon, 15-year-old lawrence king, and the other 26 named and the however many who are unknown and unaccounted for. in this space, with fellow queers and allies, i’m going to try and feel like part of a community again. one that is able to think across sexuality, gender, and race to realize how these oppressions operate in tandem with one another; they are not separate to the point of dividing us so starkly. i’m going to hope to feel part of a queer community that is capable of wanting equal rights, including marriage rights, for everyone and simultaneously challenging what it means to make our relationships and our love “normal.” what’s at risk when we strive for this? who and what goes unnoticed?

today is a day for those we’ve lost, to remember them, and their place in or queer communities, or queer families. it’s also a day to heal a bit, soak up some love and strength, and figure out how we manage to move forward, fix this terrible rift we’ve caused, all while honoring the memory of queers who have lost their lives so violently in fighting this fight to just be.



homonormativity, negligence, and duanna johnson

i’ve taken a bit of a break from blogging over the last week or two because of these exams of mine coming up that will pretty much determine whether or not i can/will continue with this ph.d. program and move on to (finally) beginning my dissertation research. i have a set of three “publication ready” papers due next monday and then the oral exam, which terrifies me, on december 8th. but my blood pressure is not the topic of this entry. all of this is to say, instead, that i haven’t been writing not because there’s nothing to write about or because I have nothing to say. in fact, there is so much to say that i’ve been dying to put out here, but that my workhorse way of life right now has not been allowing me. i realized this morning when i woke up, unplanned, at 7am after only being able to fall asleep at 3:30, that maybe i at least need to get this one post out of me that has been aiding in my insomnia, especially this past week. i might catch a lot of shit for this entry, but since I’m in major-exam-fighting mode these days, bring it.

i’ve acknowledged on this blog and offline to friends and family too, as many of us have, that november 4th was an exciting and historical day for the u.s. electing barack obama, but a disappointing day in terms of the myriad of anti-affirmative action and anti-queer rights ballot measures that passed, including of course, the number of bans on gay marriage. i’ve been surprised to watch, between coffee breaks and citation searches, this unification amongst members of our “queer” communities to rally in support of gay marriage. (sidenote: i’m purposely putting “queer” in quotes here because of the, seemingly, changing definition of this word recently. one that i used to acknowledge as being tied to a particular, transgressive kind of politics that now, in light of these recent events, seems almost remiss) surprised not because marriage rights are not important to many gay people and their allies, and not because i doubt the ability of folks in these communities to organize around such an issue; the hrc, amongst other organizations, has been telling us to do so for the last 5-10 years after all and we are certainly a community of ralliers. i’m surprised, more so, because over the past week i’ve watched my queer friends across the country, people who are part of my “radical” queer community, that have for so long been outspoken about homonormativity, about the monopolization of the gay marriage debate, and about the negligence paid to more pressing issues like trans rights, queer p.o.c. rights, and hate crime legislation, organize against prop 8. and i worry, is this the new “queer” politics?

let me clarify something before i, unintentionally, wind up devaling the efforts of folks who came together since november 4th and, especially, those who turned out nationally in most major cities across the country on saturday. i don’t think going out and rallying against prop 8 this weekend was a bad thing. at all. i think that, in light of what just happened, national organizing and public disavowal of anti-gay rights ballots in all of the states that passed them, not just california, is an important thing. no doubt the number of demonstrations and, what jointheimpact.com is counting as, over one million people protesting across the country is exciting and shows incredible solidarity.

my concern is that in all of this outrage over prop 8, in all of the organizing, what has “queer” politics left behind? why, post-november 4th, is homonormativity, and all that it overshadows, not still one of the queer community’s biggest gripes? and if you want to tell me it still is and that the outcry against prop 8 since election night doesn’t change that, how and why did we not organize and demonstrate over the recent murder of duanna johnson, a black transwoman of memphis, tennessee? how did we, the people who claim to be so attune to what national gay rights conversations consistently leave out, allow gay marriage to trump issues of transphobia and racism right under our noses? in the midst of all our rallying over the *institution* of marriage (and yes, i support all of us having that option even if i’m *institutionally* opposed to it), we obscured a woman’s, a member of our larger queer community’s, death.

duanna johnson was brutally beaten by memphis police in a hate crime incident that occurred in february of this year when she was arrested for prostitution. last sunday, the 9th, she was found murdered, shot to death, with last i read, no suspects in custody. how do so many of us queers still, a week later, not even know her name, let alone what happened to her? the queer community i’ve been so proud to be a part of was one that would have spread duanna’s name from coast-to-coast in order to raise awareness around this incredible loss and around issues like the intersection here of gender, sexuality, race, and class; hate crimes; police brutality; transphobia; and violence against sex workers. and all of this while simultaneously calling bullshit on organizations like the hrc that continually make marriage the locus of their attention and financial support, while programs that look at more marginalized groups within queer communities, and the issues that pertain to them, are consistently overlooked or cut altogether in the name of producing a white, affluent, normative image of what gay looks like. this is the queer community i love and support and that doesn’t require quotation marks to qualify its meaning.

i worry about its survival and i worry about what else, who else, we’ve failed to see in the past few weeks and whether or not this is what “queer” is truly at risk of becoming. in the meantime, this thursday is the international day of transgender remembrance where, surely, duanna johnson’s life will be honored and represented amongst the many other folks whose lives have been lost in the struggle that it is, not to marry, but to just live.

you can check out events happening all over the world and, hopefully, in your area at www.transgenderdor.org

also, because i’m 100 years behind in my blog reader, check out jack’s (of angry brown butch) post from earlier this week about this exact topic.



what’s hot.

obama-fist-bump1

y’all, we have a soon-to-be-president and first lady who give daps*.
that’s hot. just sayin’.

*conservatives, you might be familiar with daps as “a terrorist fist jab.”
also, sorry about that whole “sweeping the election” thing.
xo, hussy red.



from where we find strength

last night, i went to bed with a full heart and mind over the success of president-elect, barack obama, only to wake up with feelings that are bittersweet because of the passing of several ballot iniatives that proffer hate and discrimination – gay marriage bans in california, arizona, and florida, a ban on gay couples adopting children in arkansas, and a ban on affirmative action in nebraska and, possibly, colorado.

as a queer person who, institutionally, finds marriage unappealing, but who very much supports the rights for everyone to make that decision for themselves, to articulate relationships in any way they see fit – whether that be through an “official” marriage ceremony, sworn commitment amongst only one another, living together in relationships or couples of two, three, or twelve folks – i am heart heavy. again, as a queer person, but also as a white person, a woman, a fat girl who works diligently to engage with her own privilege – race and other, who works to promote anti-racism, anti-homophobia, anti-ableism, etc., in her communities big and small, who is overwhelmed with joy to have a young, more progressive, black president, i can’t help but be crestfallen over actions taken to eliminate access to education and employment that have been so improved by affirmative action.

for the sake of delineating what is at stake, i describe these ballot initiatives to ban the rights of queers and affirmative action as separate incidences, but they’re not. difference, whether it be racial, class, sexuality, gender, ability, size, etcetera, is in the cases of these ballot initiatives as well as beyond, under assault collectively. barack obama may be our next president, but colorado, a state he won last night by 7%, may be, as i write this, overturning affirmative action. california, notoriously progressive, which obama won by 24% of the vote, passed proposition 8. while we hugged and cried on the shoulders of strangers in the streets last night, and as we watched eagerly the writing of history as our first black president gave us his victory speech, a lot of us missed what else was happening until we woke up today. as queers, as persons of color, as part of any marginalized group(s), it is imperative we see the links between each other’s oppression in order to draw strength across issues in our moments of success and defeat; moments like today where both are so present.

i am thrilled about the results of last night’s presidential election. i am for, probably, the first time in my life, honestly proud of saying i am american. i love that voter turn out amongst people of color and young people and young people of color was unprecedented – i read a statistic today that 4 million more youth voters participated in this election that in 2004. that’s huge and nothing to sweep under the carpet. we deserve to continue celebrating this victory even while we mourn our losses and what they mean to us personally and beyond. we are not “just” queers or people of color or queers of color who, last night, were wounded. we’re a nation of “other” people, people who are different across a whole host of identities and in this there is so much present and so much potential love, warmth and strength. that is, if we continue to, and in many other cases figure out how to, harness it.