Thursday, November 30, 2006

More mullings both this earlier post and a thread in the comments of another. I said:

...Before [encountering the wacky world of online feminism], i was a member of a primarily lesbian womens' theatre collective (aka Dyke Drama, Cll.), which was obviously very politicized. and yeah, there were certainly familiar thrashes , familiar dynamics. the older women were more likely to have been ID'd with the second wave, i've no doubt, and indeed there were generational clashes. the younger ones tended to be i guess now i'd call 'em anarcha-fems, some socialism, a few Greens, some more moderate Dems (not as many), some who were just...doing their thing, pretty much. it was trying to be many things at the same time, i felt, was one problem.

but y'know a lot of familiar core assumptions about womens' space, collective rather than hierarchical, overall quite left-leaning, feminist, anti-homophobia (obviously), yadda.

Some of the main thrashes included:

whether and to what degree to include transfolk;

whether and to what degree men could be part of the individual productions;

how much one ought to charge, and whether a sliding scale was adequate or classist or what;

some fidgeting over to what degree het women were or should be comfortable (a lot of that was primarily coming from one very crazy woman, i think, but my perspective is no doubt skewed);

racism, that was a big one (it was very white);

classism, in a muted sort of way, as it always or often is I suspect in the U.S., especially these days (just extrapolating wildly from my own admittedly very limited experiences)

whether and to what degree to be collectively linked to other organizations and causes, theatrical and political;

and a whole lot of intrapersonal shit, of course, mainly having to do with the care and feeding of the organization itself, the productions, the space, and so on and so forth.

oh, and there was a BIG thing about transitioning from a collective to an incorporated entity, which move was necessary on account of the city was trying to foreclose on the space, and it turned out it'd be possible to buy it back for a dollar, but only with the right paperwork. that was huge and complicated and beside the point here.

point being: of all the various thrashes, "pornstitution" and BDSM were, if present, at least not on my radar. I mean, i know that some folk were personally squeamish about BDSM, or just not into it; but i never witnessed any sort of stomping off because -gasp- zomg Suzie's into leather. (if anything, it'd have been more about "how could you kill that cow?" than "your pervy fetish oppresses wimmin!" --yes, there were meat-eaters too, but a lot of veggies as well).

as for porn and sex work; well, one friend of mine worked as a receptionist for an escort agency; as i recall no one ever gave her any static about it; it was understood that we all gotta eat, so.

at least one other member is/was a pro-domme;

others were or had been sex workers in one capacity or another, again, no big deal;

and many shows were sponsored by the local women-run (heavily queer and feminist-slanted, although obviously straight/men-friendly, or wouldn't stay in business) toy & pr0n/erotica/workshop/yadda shop.

oh, and we had erotic cabarets, which often included burlesque, lapdancing, stripping, and so on. Again, in a quite queer context.

"we are of different worlds, madame."

So is that it, then? Is it different for queers? Or am I missing something else?

Because yeah, i'm sure there were wimmin there who loathed the hetpr0n and were against prostitution, too, but it wasn't such a, you know, THING; and fuck knows we didn't spend all day agonizing about other peoples' blowjobs and how OPPRESSIVE they are, for fucks' sake. hell, i'd say a good quarter of the women were too busy getting their own strap-ons sucked...

as for makeup and such: well, there were femmes, there were butches, there were crunchy-granola types. Any or all of whom may or may not have shaved (plenty of smooth bois and femmes with hairy 'pits in this world). There was i should say a certain amount of sexism toward femmes, especially from the butcher sorts, yes. and there were people who had personal contempt for such things as makeup, i am sure.

but again: we had enough other shit on our plates, we didn't sit around navel-gazing about ZOMG this lipstick is so OPPRESSIVE, i'd throw it away if only i were a good enough feminist, maybe someday...

There are at least a couple of people here who may or may not be reading at this juncture, but who i know either are or were members of this selfsame organization; if you know what i'm talking about, feel free to confirm or deny my admittedly highly subjective perceptions.


Rootietoot said...

I believe, in my own sheltered hetero way, that MOST people, reguardless of orientation or proclivities, spend most of their time figuring out how to stretch their hard earned dollar, or what to fix for supper when they get home, and this time of year, whether or not to send Aunt Mary Gladys cookies for Christmas.

While I believe it is important to think about things, and to come to your own conclusions about politics, societal evolution, and all, and strongly believe that people who worry about it to the dgree that they are oppressing other folks beliefs, simply have too damn much time on their hands, and need to go work in a food bank somewhere.

Word verification: umxuzme
I am firmly convinced the WV gremlins are trying to psyche me out.

rey said...

I think the "part you're missing" is that it was a theater group. I mean, yes, the queer thing complicates it all for the anti-porn crowd because who wants to throw in gay male flip-flop fucking, bossy bottoms, straight dudes doing trans folk, trans folk doing straight women, and male fantasies where the guy wants to be the rape victim not the rapist when it makes everything all messy?!? Isms always want to be clear, starting with: "I'm right, you're wrong." Except maybe Buddhism, "We're all wrong and that's all right..."

But theater. Right. See I think I've run into both the most liberal and most conservative people I've ever met doing theater (how many buh-jillion Mormons - both practicing and jack - have you met while working?). And I think the thing is that regardless of politics, people in theatre understand (even if it's subconscious) how much of life and identity is performance. And when you know that deep, deep down in your heart, it's hard to come down too hard on anyone for watching/distributing/performing in porn, being an escort service operator, temping during the day at Goldman Sachs, or being the Jew playing the Ghost of Christmas Past in A Christmas Carol somewhere in Georgia.

Sorry, that comment was longer than I thought it would be.

belledame222 said...

yeah, but it was a wimmins' feminist group; it was a bit differently vibed from your average fabulous thea-tahh crowd.

you may be right, though.

i don't have an Aunt Mary Gladys. speaking of oppression, i guess it is just about that time of year again, isn't it? time to declare War On Christmas! muhahahaha!

>Sorry, that comment was longer than I thought it would be.

um, Rey, you -have- -seen- -my- posts and comments, right? that was positively terse for these parts.

belledame222 said...

and y'know, being a Dyke Drama group, there was plenty of work along with the drama; lights to hang, walls to paint, fundraisers to organize, neighbors and city councils to negotiate with...

shrug. it was a community, is what it was. or it was trying to be. it was (is?) a bit too disjointed to ever really cohere that way, for practical reasons that are too long and boring to go into here, and, more to the point, or my point, i finally decided it was too dysfunctional for my tastes.

but it serves a purpose; all of it does. to varying degrees of effectiveness, yes, but...

emily said...

>>>So is that it, then? Is it different for queers?

In a word, yes. I think that because generally we grow up with a *lot* more internalised shame about our sexuality that it's harder to see depictions of queer sex as oppressive. Something's better than nothing yeah.

As for het porn, I guess it's hard to get too pissed about it when you're not watching it *not* really out of moral reasons but cos it's not going to get you off.

And to be honest, a lot of those kinds of "oppressions"--lipstick, porn, blowjobs etc--are very different to some of the specific shit that queers face (don't get me wrong, I realise the intersections). Societal pressure to be sexy or sexual is not the same as the in-your-face homophobia you get cos you kissed your partner in public or the worry about whether to come out at work or *whatever*. More immediately pressing issues afoot than to worry about straight porn or *other* people's sex lives in general.. You know?

belledame222 said...

I know.

emily said...

hehe I knows that you knows. That ended up being a bit ranty at an invisible straight audience who don't know..

hedonistic pleasureseeker said...

I think it's more simple than queer/straight theater/not. I think it boils down to the difference between 2D and 3D communications.

Rhetoric "plays" better in 2D. One can ignore the complicated messiness of humanity and hone in on pure logic (if there ever were such a thing). It's harder to to this with the flesh-and-blood human who stands before you, the one with the murky past, the complex life, the deep needs.

Can you imagine what real life would be if people were as rude to each other in real life as they are on the internet? Egad.