Femme FATale


taking space, taking time.
September 21, 2008, 12:32 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

it’s been a rough week and so i haven’t written much. things have been crazy busy, as i’m preparing to go back east for a week and some to attend nolose and then to visit my family in nj and nyc. my best friend, kelley, is coming to visit my family and i in jersey for a few days, which will no doubt be good for the soul.

as i mentioned in my post a week or so ago, i’ve been having a lot of heaviness on my mind in regards to identity issues, not so much personally as much as how we’re all capable of getting caught up in labeling people based on what we want them to be in this queer community of ours. the range in severity of this can span from a minor offense to something tragic and hurtful, but either way i’m finding it so tiresome lately. more on this later as i develop it. i think i feel, in ways, responsible for some of the above mentioned stuff that i’m seeing in my own life and the lives of those around me and i want to figure out my own place in it before i spew on and on about it.

i’m working on these new methods of really trying to be self-reflexive about the things that bother me, partially spawned by my friendship with e, who maybe will always feel like more than a friend. we both have tempers that are quick to burn, so in the interest of trying to keep our shit on lock this year, we’re being more and more patient with one another and more cognizant about taking time and space when we need it to think our shit through. it’s been working well so far and i feel closer to her than i have in a while which is nice.

i’m finding out more and more lately that one of the most loving things we can do for each other is to know when to take space and sit with what we’re feeling. maybe at the end of a lot of sitting, we’re able to talk things through, process, get things back on track. maybe, we can spend months thinking and come to nothing but what we can say to one another only inside of our own heads. regardless of the outcomes, i can think of far too many times when i should have, or you should have, or we should have, stepped back and thought a little bit deeper about the shit between us, but instead we blurted out a lot of filler without giving things much thought and glossed over the important bits. i’m tired of doing this, so i’m taking space from a few things right now to think more about them. no doubt you faithful readers will get an earful…eyeful?

aside from this heavy stuff, good things: i’ve got a pitter-patter crush sorta thang going on with some handsome butch who lives way too far away but who i appreciate continuing to blow up my phone. i’ve got an achey, but full, heart from spending 2 weeks with my friend emily who has now returned home to san fran. i’m one prelim paper down and the second well on it’s way (i have 3 to complete by november). i just received the most beautiful dress, handmade for me by jane bonbon, which i am far too excited to wear – photos to come, i promise! my students are giving me enough humor/horror to keep me going, i.e. “i thought this was feminist film theory, not race film theory?” “errr…really?” mostly, though, i realized that after quite a few days of not posting, i missed talkin’ to y’all out there. what’s a girl to do without her extended blog family?

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mpls is angry today.
September 4, 2008, 8:57 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

for those of you who don’t know it, i live in minneapolis. i love it here. it’s usually a friendly, progressive city that moves a little slow at times for my jersey blood, but makes up for it with it’s summer thunderstorms, fried cheese curds, and lakes. i’ve been here nearly four years now as i work on my ph.d. and while i occasionally miss the northern east coast and its very different way of life, i’m happy here.

the last few days in mpls have been angry though…and scary. for those of you trapped under a rock, the republican national convention is in town and while you won’t see a ton about this on your mainstream news channel, it’s really fucking up my home. mere whispers of dissent are, apparently, enough for the cops to bust into your house and arrest you, it seems. there have been a number of houses in the twin cities raided over the past few days for suspected protest activity and “terrorism.” at one point, the local food not bombs group was raided in a search for…bombs.

what’s more is that, at present, there’s a reported 400 people being held in jail right now for protesting and over 100 of them are being held on bogus, inflated charges of terrorism under the patriot act. did you know that it’s against the patriot act to cover your face when demonstrating? that means that any attempt to shield oneself from the onslaught of tear gas and pepper spray used by police is not allowed. mere bandanas = terrorism these days. of the remaining prisoners not yet charged, many are being held past the state’s 36 hour law for being able to detain uncharged persons. reports have come out from other protest groups that many of their members being held are not being given medical care and that transgender prisoners, especially, have not been allowed to visit with lawyers or make phone calls.

as i type this, the news playing in the background, cnn was showing the arrest of two protesters on bicycle and even the on-the-ground reporter exclaimed “i don’t even know what they did! there doesn’t seem to be a reason for their arrest!” these are scary, angry times here. below is information on who you can call, what you can do to help per an email that’s been circulating amongst groups and folks who believe in the right to protest and who oppose this kind of horrendous treatment of others. even if you’re not in the minneapolis/st. paul area, you can still call and demand their release.

from the email:

Please call the following offices and continue calling until all arrestees have been released:

St. Paul Mayor – Chris Coleman (651.
266.8510)
Head of Ramsey County Jail – Capt. Ryan O’
Neil (651.266-9350 ext 1)
Ramsey County Sheriff – Bob Fletcher (651.
266.9333)
County Chief Judge Gearin (651.
266.8266)

Demand the following:
– Immediate medical attention as needed for ALL arrestees;
– That the prisoners who haven’t given their names (Jane & John Does and Jesse Sparkles) have access to
group meetings with a lawyer in jail;
– Dismissal of all charges;
– Release of all minors; and
– Ensure trans prisoners have access to phone and attorneys, and are held in gendered facility of their
choice.

Donate!
Money is needed to help cover legal costs and get people out of jail. Any amount you can give is greatly appreciate
d.To donate by Pay Pal visit https://coldsnaplegal. wordpress.com and click on the donate button.

For more details and up-to-date information about jail conditions and prisoner status, please see:
http://submedia.tv/
http://coldsnaplegal.wordpress.com

http://twincities.indymedia.org



fail: beth ditto
July 31, 2008, 2:03 pm
Filed under: arg, class, fail, fatness, over it, pop culture, privilege, queer, race | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

this week has been one where you can’t blog fast enough about something. it seems like the second i read the news about beth ditto’s recent problematic spread in nylon magazine, five other posts popped up on my reader about it. namely, check out the smart and thoughtful responses from tara at fatshionista.com and the fierce ladies at threadbared (which is also cross-posted over at racialicious, one of my favorite reads!). both of these pieces are super insightful and exciting for the fact that they are so complete in their analyses. read them and love them!

the only 2cents i want to add is oh how i wish this photoshoot had come about a month sooner! don’t get me wrong, i wish it didn’t exist period, but if it’s going to, the least we can do is use it as a teaching tool and that i find exciting amidst the harm a photo like this does.

i’m thinking about june of this year when i went to an academic conference for an area of study whose evolution over the past thirty or so years has been so dedicated to thinking intersectionally about issues like gender, race, and class, along with the much-needed additional analyses of other identifiers like dis/ability and size. and yet, at a meeting aimed specifically at making space for fat studies within future conferences and the discipline as a whole, conversations about fat inclusion were “justified” by claims that “being fat is the last acceptable oppression.” i was so stunned by this response that i couldn’t control my body’s reaction to shake my head “no” rapidly and uncontrollably despite what i’m sure many assumed to be quite rude. this position is so offensive and so privileged, yet surprisingly rampant amongst a number of straight, white, fat folks.

and so then here’s beth ditto! someone who is white, but who grew up poor and has working class roots, is fat (publicly and on-stage!), and is queer and partnered with a masculine-identified, female-bodied person (i’m not sure how freddie fagula identifies, so…). and despite all of this, a photo like this exists that just so “brilliantly” makes clear that we are so far from any kind of place where any one identifier is the final frontier of oppression.

beth ditto, i thank you for being a strong, fat, queer girl, and for all of the awareness you’ve raised about what it’s like to be fat in the spotlight and in the mainstream, but it takes so much more than that to hold my respect. where’d your good politics go, girl? the ones that made us all fall in love with you in the first place? we’re all waiting for your response…



butch vs. femme, or why it’s not ok to play "i have it harder than you."

after a fairly successful weekend of fun, i was visiting my usual online haunts before getting ready for bed and came across the most recent vlog by resident youtube butch, AJ on her sister channel, the Beaver Bunch. i don’t know how popular AJ, of Ask AJ Anything fame, is amongst us tech savvy queers out there, but basically she gives advice and makes a lot of “top 10” lists. i’ve never found her much to write home about, but that’s just my opinion.

anyway, this week’s vlog was about sharing coming out stories, which was all well and good until about 4minutes and 45seconds in when AJ starts talking about being visibly queer and how she can never not be “out” because of her appearance. shortly after this, she relays the following message that has had me fuming for the past hour. basically, this: femmes have it easy. maybe my anger is misdirected. AJ is only one of many butches i’ve heard voice these sentiments in the past few years and i’m officially over it. so, to AJ, and all those who might agree with her, here’s my rant:

so, check it. unfortunately, most of us who are queer have had homophobic speech slung at us at least once in our lives. whether it was directed to us individually, as part of a couple, or with a group, the impact is still the same. for me personally, this usually isn’t what i get called out on the street for when i’m on my own or with a group a friends. if i’m going to be heckled in broad daylight in the middle of downtown, it’s going to be because i’m fat or, the way i like to think of it, because i’m a hot fat girl who defies every convention of what it is i’m supposed to do – cover up every inch of skin, wear dark colors, talk quietly. basically, do everything i can to keep attention away from me, to fade into the woodwork. though truth be told, assholes on the street would find me there too.

when i’ve been the target of queer bashing though, it’s always been in the company of others. a big group of my homo friends at a non-queer bar or arm-in-arm with someone i’m dating who, because i always date on the more masculine end of the gender spectrum, tends to be more visibly queer than myself, thus drawing attention to us. those times have mostly been scary, some downright terrifying and, later, when safety is certain and blood pressures have resumed a normal range, angering for everyone involved. never, though, have i sat down afterward with my significant other or with my friends and deliberated which one of us motivated the attack, who’s most queer in appearance, or who has it easiest/hardest…and i, frankly, can’t understand anyone who would!

i know all about the differences of visibility and invisibility when it comes to butch and femme (or anyone queer who doesn’t pass as straight and anyone queer who does – the labels don’t matter here); i deal with what it means to be invisible to a straight world, and even a queer world sometimes, on a regular basis. for example, there are few things more infuriating to me than my lack of recognizability as queer and the swiftness with which that changes based on who my partner is. far too often, my entire gender and sexuality become about the gender identity of the person i’m dating rather than anything about me. all this being said though, i also know that i’m privileged in passing because my queerness is rarely a visible target of staring, behind-the-back whispers, or violence, and that those are things butches and other masculine-identified, female-bodied folks are forced to deal with constantly. i don’t deny AJ, or any other person who exhibits female masculinity of any kind, the fact that their visibility is always more dangerous. the ways in which they bravely navigate that on a daily basis will always have my utmost respect and appreciation.

my frustration instead is about the need to make this comparison, to attempt to outdo eachothers’ experiences of oppression. i would never say to a butch, a trans guy, someone genderqueer, that i experience discrimination worse than they do because of x, y, or z. i realize, in the case of visibility, their identity puts them in a different place, a more volatile place even, than myself, but i’m not going to tolerate them or anyone else telling me that i have it easy. this is not to say that differences in experience don’t need to be acknowledged. of course they do! and in the particular case of discrimination as a result of visibility, i know who has a roughter time. but what’s the point of sitting around contrasting whether the attack on your queerness is greater than mine? what gets accomplished in that? and more so, what significant information gets erased in this attempt? what about the particulars of space and time? or the specifics of the person and the variety of other intersecting identities like race and class and size, amongst others, that operate simultaneously with queerness and how we experience discrimination? are we really going to spend time figuring out whose feelings were hurt more or who was treated more unjustly when a stranger called you a “dyke” and me a “fat bitch”? or are we going to acknowledge the fact that it sucked in a bunch of different ways for both of us, but we learned a bit from each others’ experiences as a result?

if we’re queers and know what that means to us and understand the politics and investments of using that word beyond an identity of being G, L, B, or T, we need to learn what it means to be allies to one another; to be supportive, caring, respectful, self-reflexive, and to know that finger pointing and pitting ourselves against each other is futile. acknowledging the different ways we experience our lives and our identities is invaluable, but the pissing contest of who has it easiest and who has it worst seems to be a game with no actual winner.



Protected: throwing in the towel.
July 16, 2008, 8:27 pm
Filed under: butches, exes, fail, fight, over it, reciprocity | Tags: , , , , , ,

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fail: katy perry

i’ve been trying to write a post about katy perry’s new song “i kissed a girl” for about two weeks now and every time i try to sit down and do it, i go off on these crazy tirades that take me far away from where i began. as destiny would have it though, my friend gave me the heads up on some reporter at the chicago sun times writing an article about how katy’s song is the new summer anthem and asking for readers’ opinions. i wasn’t going to respond, but then my friend made me feel it was my queer duty. did i want some college co-ed responding instead about the merits of kissing random girls for free beer at frat parties? not really. so here’s what i wrote up and sent to the reporter:

Before even getting into the specifics as to why “I Kissed a Girl” is so problematic, it seems necessary to note that the other song responsible for making Katy Perry popular is her “Ur So Gay,” which details her woes of having an “emo” or “indie rock” boyfriend whose masculinity, and later sexuality, falls into question because of both his clothing style and taste in music. As a celebrity who has not gone on record as being anything but straight, we should question Perry’s obsession with queer culture and her unapologetic capitalization of it through her music. Straight performers getting rich off of the experiences of queer folks should be as inflammatory as any other kind of exploitation. As far as “I Kissed a Girl” goes, the song is blatantly ignorant in its trivialization of sexual experimentation and of the lives and practices of queer women. This isn’t to say that girls kissing girls, regardless of their sexuality, needs to be considered Earth-shattering events, but more so that reducing it to a naughty “game” aimed at getting a boyfriend’s attention – a game that, mind you, isn’t even worth Perry obtaining her girl crush’s name – is just belittling for the many queer women who find significance in kissing other women! The video for the song makes any possibility of its subversion completely impossible by its rendering of girl-on-girl action down to the tired scenario of outrageously feminine women clad in lingerie and fishnets, applying each others’ make-up amidst their flirty gyrations. While this demographic of high femmes, or queer women who express their femininity overtly, exists within queer communities and should be rightfully celebrated, it leads me to question whether or not mainstream music and media produced by straight people, Katy Perry now included, will ever actually attempt to represent the breadth of sexual and gender identities within queer women and lesbian communities. I’m not optimistic.

i know there’s a ton more to say, but i was trying to keep my comments succinct and comprehensible to mainstream audiences. if she gets back to me and wants to use any of it, i’ll press the problem of “trying on” another girl and/or queerness for a night and the ease and privilege straight girls have in giving it a go. also, props to my bestie charlotte for actually growling over that line when i sang it to her on the phone.

for reference:
“i kissed a girl” – video
“i kissed a girl” – lyrics
“ur so gay” – video
“ur so gay” – lyrics



pride. le sigh.
June 29, 2008, 2:40 pm
Filed under: over it, pride, the gays | Tags: , ,

i feel like a bad queer today. pride has come and gone and i did *nothing* to celebrate. in fact, i spent my saturday night with my queer-friendly straight friends playing rock band until the wee hours of the morning. i finally got to screech celebrity skin into a microphone with my friends on various back-up instruments. it was super sweet.

i don’t know why i can’t get behind pride anymore. i could say it’s the commercialization of it, which it is somewhat. being in minneapolis during pride, the city that houses the headquarters of target, it’s a little bit vomitous to see homos walking around with temporary rainbow tattoos with big target emblems in the middle. but that’s not it entirely. my friends all went out last night, had a big gay time, and i’m sure i would’ve had a blast if i was with them. i just couldn’t bring myself to do it though.

maybe it’s the way that pride turns into a binge drinking fest, which i have no issue with necessarily except for when it’s binge drinking done by a bunch of frat boy dykes with visors that make me want diiiiiieeee. popped collars, polo sport, and the who-has-a-better-6-pack contest amongst them is just so not appealing.

maybe i’m too old for this. but i’m only 26. should i really be this over it? i blame college. four years at a women’s college where all we did was drink and buy into this gross fetishistic culture of talking about tits and bacardi 151. i wasn’t even butch then or sporty or whatever…i was femme, but not out as femme because there wasn’t any kind of space for that there. four years worth of all that grimey, sweaty, woo-hoo “pride” shit that has made me feel sour about it since.

but don’t get me wrong either. i’ve been to prides all over the place, in various cities, since college and have enjoyed myself. nyc pride is fantastic and there’s no way to not have fun there, whereas d.c. was just plain ol’ underwhelming. i don’t know what it is, but even my fonder memories of summers spent partying in the streets with a bunch of queers, covered in rainbows, and drinking margaritas smuggled in in nalgene bottles can’t get me amped about it now.

i guess what makes me feel guilty, when i really think about it, is that as a femme, i recognize that i get away with a lot. i walk down the street and what i get noticed for or heckled for is almost never my gender or perceived sexuality. i’m read as a straight girl unless i’m arm-in-arm with some handsome boi type. and so i know that, in the spirit of pride which, lest we forget with all that beer and all of those tits, that what we’re celebrating when we do pride is that queers exist and that we can organize and form mass and can be political and powerful. this is, after all, our remembering of stonewall, right? so i feel this obligation as someone who passes as straight 99% of the time to stand-up and state my queerness and my desire and to challenge people’s assumptions that yes, queer can come in a body that wears red lipstick and dresses. here i am, come and count me. but even with all that on my mind, i couldn’t get myself to the parade, to the various marches (including the trans march, which is way smaller, not commercialized, and struggles with visibility every year), or even to the afterparty at our local queer watering hole.

i want to be excited about pride again or maybe not even “pride” but just queerness in general. i want to take it back from its sponsors and i want it to feel inclusive and fun and political. i want margaritas and middle-of-the-street dance parties, and making out at random, but i want powerful protest signs and memory behind that too. acknowledgment of a history of queers that kind of gets lost somehwere for me in all that is “pride” currently.