Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Queer femmes representing

New (to me) at least blogger salty femme responds to/riffs off a very old (to me) persona/blog (which is new to her). posting here not so much because i want to get back into talking about I-Blame-The-Ennui, but because i think what SF is talking about here actually comes up fairly often in this here femisphere, and is also not totally unrelated to Battle Trans(bigots).



Interesting how the queer femme position complicates both sides of this debate: that femininity is inherently a tool of the patriarchy, and that femininity can be reclaimed without questioning and struggling with the ways that femininity is patriarchal. Also interesting that the queer femme is nowhere to be found in [the IBTP] thread. And I realize that my questions are novel. Stuck between these two positions is a hard place to be. But it helps to read why some feminists hate femininity so much – it helps me clarify why I agree to some extent, and why agreeing that femininity has been a tool of the patriarchy pushes me to own femininity and struggle with it instead of reject it. It’s the murky place of figuring out exactly how to do that that seems to really fuck people up.


And so I ask again, what does it mean to be a feminist and claim femininity, and not in the girly “I can’t get out of my comfort zone so I have to shave my legs and wear makeup but call it feminism to justify it” kind of way. In the way that my femininity belongs to me. Not to patriarchy. Seriously. Because I get to pick and choose; because I can control the way others respond to the gender I perform; because I still sport body hair with a sexy tank top and mascara and declare it as hot and mine and others respond in kind; because I don’t perform femininity for any man or even for any woman. I like femininity because I choose it, and not because I’ve been co-opted as a tool of the patriarchy. And I do it all as a feminist.

I also wonder what gender the femininity-hating feminists perform and how they make sense of it. Gender is a part of our world (a part that I actually enjoy) so I am genuinely curious as to how they see themselves and how they think others perceive them.

So how does being a queer femme give me special privilege to talk about femininity? Granted, I exist in this world and was socialized into the same one as straight women. At the same time, I imagine and seek out a world outside of the mainstream. In my attempts to stray from the mainstream, I realize also that the best way to fuck with patriarchy is to subvert it and not to reject it outright. Rejecting something means that you acknowledge its authority, power, and importance. It is completely exhausting and when it comes to gender, and to femininity more specifically, it doesn’t work. Queer femme means subverting femininity – gender is never meant to be taken at face value. It’s a game. The trick is figuring out the rules.



So right away those of you who've been following along in the peanut gallery can point to the places where the all-patriarchy-blaming-all-the-time crowd are gonna raise objections.

like, this:

I realize also that the best way to fuck with patriarchy is to subvert it and not to reject it outright.

...is gonna read like hopeless self-delusion at best, quietism or even sinister collusion with the forces of darkness at worst, to Certain Types.

And in the abstract, I could sort of understand that mindset: hey, if an Empire is Compleat Evil, then you don't negotiate with it; you don't compromise with it: it is a Fight to the Death, for True Freedom.

which, and even given the assumptions that 1) the Patriarchy -is- The Monolith, i.e. Sexism Trumps Everything Else and, 2) it's -all- hopelessly corrupt and tainted, there is -nothing- worth salvaging in the current Oppressive System (hypothetically you understand), well...okay! good luck with that there! and that hasn't really gotten off the ground in the past thirty years or so because?...

oh, right, i forgot (how quickly they forget):

In point of fact, right now, to be dedicated to an end to sexism and to gender, full stop, is to be relentlessly excoriated by people who call that “transphobic” and a whole lot of other nasty things and a lot of those people are MEN who do not care one whit if anything ever changes for women, they want the clock turned back hundreds of years to the time when they owned us outright.

...*in fact* radical feminists are responsible for *revolution for women in our time* and if misogynists of all and every stripe would get the fuck out of the way with their misogynist ideas and behaviors and projects which they think are oh-so-”progressive,” and “transgressive,” even though they take us back to pre-feminism days, we might be able to actually *finish* the revolution we fucking began.

...Heart



Right, anyway. Point being: an -end to gender.- Which is seen as part and parcel of "an end to sexism."

This is a very different goal and worldview from that expressed here:

Rejecting something means that you acknowledge its authority, power, and importance. It is completely exhausting and when it comes to gender, and to femininity more specifically, it doesn’t work...gender is never meant to be taken at face value. It’s a game.

And, further, the following Does Not Compute, to some:

Because I get to pick and choose; because I can control the way others respond to the gender I perform; because I still sport body hair with a sexy tank top and mascara and declare it as hot and mine and others respond in kind; because I don’t perform femininity for any man or even for any woman. I like femininity because I choose it, and not because I’ve been co-opted as a tool of the patriarchy. And I do it all as a feminist.

Please note: she doesn't say that doing these things in themselves are what MAKES her a feminist, or that they ARE particularly feminist in themselves, even. (if i am understanding correctly; i have my own bias there tho') She says she does them -as- a feminist.

iow: she is a feminist, and she is a (queer) femme. maybe she is not a feminist BECAUSE she is a femme, but, as i am reading this,

and not in the girly “I can’t get out of my comfort zone so I have to shave my legs and wear makeup but call it feminism to justify it” kind of way. In the way that my femininity belongs to me.


she is also clearly not willing to accept that she is a feminist IN SPITE of being femme. iow, without apologies to the more "advanced" feminism/ists. because she simply doesn't accept that implicit framework, to wit: start point: unthinking girlie-girl-->end point: patriarchy-throwing radical-feminist, free from all constraints, including gender. especially the feminine gender, if there is an "especially."

or, sigh, okay, quoting from the IBTP post SF is quoting:

Femininity is a set of practices and behaviors (boob jobs, FGM, ‘beauty’, the ‘veil’, the flirty head-tilt, pornaliciousness, BDSM, fashion, compulsory pregnancy, marriage, et al) that are dangerous, painful, pink, or otherwise destructive; that compel female subordination; that exist only to benefit Dude Nation; that are overwhelmingly represented by ‘girly’ feminists as a ‘choice’; and that are overwhelmingly represented by godbags and other irritating conservatives as ‘natural instincts’.

Which,

o, where to begin.

well, what SF says, for a start:

The author is clear to define femininity as the term is used on that specific blog. However, the definition is itself so patriarchal (taking away all agency re: femininity from women themselves) that I wanted to scream.


But, you see, let's be very clear (as i think the author sees it): the -author-, woman, radical feminist, is not taking away any agency from women, because not only is that the opposite of what she wants to do, but she cannot; the -patriarchy- did that. Women -have- no "agency," because the Patriarchy made and makes sure of it. You may think you have free choice, but it is an illusion. She's simply telling it as it is. QED. Take it or leave it (but she hopes you take it). In the land of the blind, etc. etc., not that we accept anything as patriarchal as "kings," one-eyed or otherwise, we hasten to add. Just imparting some hard-earned wisdom.

so, there's not really much point in discussing how y'know "beauty" practices (including for Menz!) or indeed other existing or historical ways of "doing" gender other than the rather painfully obviously culture-specific framework that the author is coming from, apart from the obligatory nod to "veils," because...yeah. that's a separate post, i think. stay tuned.

also, at some point, we really are going to have to sit down and talk about this whole "godbag" business.

but, like, okay, not -too- long ago, did you know, it was actually pink for -boys,- blue for girls. it reversed after WWI i believe, for reasons i do not recall at present.

which, i think the author and many others would dismiss as irrelevant; blue, pink, what's the difference? It's still them making us jump through hoops. Who cares what color the hoop is.

well, you get the idea. the notion that -it can and frequently does change at all-, this how-you-say "cultural construct," is apparently not sufficiently interesting to explore further. away with it; away with it all. okay.

now, BDSM thrown in there is interesting, although that, too, deserves a separate post.

but very briefly, just related to the gender aspect: previous discussions at the abode of this author as well as many of her regulars, and people who think similarly, and reading other, offline feminist predecessors whom some count (explicitly) among their influences, makes it pretty clear that "BDSM" overwhelmingly means "male/masculine/butch/top does classically spanky-hurty things to female/feminine/femme/bottom."

any other configuration, at least as I have been reading lo this past while, is generally glossed over or, when pressed, explained away as the woman fulfilling yet another dreary male fantasy, all uncomfortable ouchy shoes and plunging cleavage, daintily playing "mean sexy bitch" for a little while until everyone has an orgasm (orgasms are the opiate of the masses, pretty much, at least in TF land), and then it's back to business as usual.

and, of course: it's never -her- idea. Not at the patriarchally constructed root; and very probably not right there at the surface of the actual encounter, either; that is, she probably doesn't -want- this, certainly not more so than him.


Now, this is certainly not -my- experience of How This Works, and it doesn't seem to be SF's either, or some of the commenters. But: well, for our purposes here, does this matter?

Only in this: that in fact, the Author is reinforcing the (very patriarchal) idea that "feminine" is inextricably bound to "biologically female" AND to "bottom,"

which, in turn, means, "submissive to the man/masculine/top,"

which, in turn, means, o how to put this. At best:

"loser."

If not actual "victim." One-down, okay, and no, playing with it in fantasy doesn't help dislodge the way this works in "real" life; it just reinforces real-life male (as in, male, men) domination.

With me so far? Okay, because here's where it all comes together:

In other words, "gender" is a MALE thing. No matter what gender we're talking about (and really, there are only two, no matter how you slice it; and one -always- has power over the other, in a way that connects up with ). Because: "gender" cannot be a performance or a game: "gender" is a system of maintaining male power over women. Full stop.

Which is why "we" want to get rid of it.

As I am understanding it.

We are NOT, however, trying to get rid of -sex,- i.e. -biological-, -physical- (o but even here), differences.

Or, well, depending on who you ask, I suppose.

Judging from the recent spate of "I am WOMAN, I give BIRTH, I BLEED, I squirt MILK, i have been LABELLED GIRL by the PATRIARCHY and as such have SUFFERED ENORMOUSLY at the hands of MEN, and YOU HAVEN'T, NOT LIKE I HAVE, SO AWAY WITH YOU, YOU SURGICALLY 'MAN-MADE' IMPOSTER, GET OUT OF MY IDENTITY AND MY SKIN,"

at least, a lot of the people who want to "get rid of gender" are just fine and dandy with their sex (clinically defined). more than, even.

(I do not think that TF shares this biological essentialism, for the record).

So, but what we also see here is that in fact this is something that this branch of feminism and queer feminism -shares- (stay with me): the very basic understanding that gender=!sex.

The difference lies in what we think we ought to do about this.

In theory.

And yet...something just isn't adding up here, is it?

I mean, for me anyway. Because, I -know- what the world SF is talking about looks and feels like, because I see & experience people actually living it. A myriad of genders, played with. -And- a myriad of -sexes-, played with. -And- a number of ways to play with power. None of which, in fact, are -synonymous.- Mix n match. A zillion possible combinations. And, although yep we're all influenced by this our Patriarchal Culture (tm) and it doesn't No, it doesn't solve the world's problems, in and of itself; but how many people are actually saying that it does?

But, more to the point: so, okay, the idealized alternative to this alternative to the Patriarchy is just nuking the whole thing. kit n kaboodle. no more gender; no more -power.-

which, the latter, hoo boy, that is -also- a post in itself, or several.

but okay, just sticking to gender, then, this is the part of SF's post i find most intriguing:

I also wonder what gender the femininity-hating feminists perform and how they make sense of it. Gender is a part of our world (a part that I actually enjoy) so I am genuinely curious as to how they see themselves and how they think others perceive them.

And I find myself wondering that as well.

So, now what I want to ask of this feminists who adhere more or less to this school(s) of thought (and also please, correct any misunderstanding as you see it) is this:

Taking it for granted that you are a "woman," either because of your physiological born-with bits, the label -given- to you by the Patriarchy, okay (this is also an argument), or both. And that you are trying to go about creating a world where "gender" is done away with.

Do you perceive yourself to have any gender -now-? If so, what is it? And, how do you propose doing away with it, if that is indeed the goal?

If not--i.e. you think you are gender-free right now: what leads you to this conclusion?

Curious.

91 comments:

Thirza said...

It's SO confusing and contradictory. I also don't understand how femininity is going with the patriarchy. French feminism has somehow managed to honour femininity, but we don't get that much over here. As a butch girl I'd have to say the toughest women I know are usually femme women. And as far as their assumptions around the BDSM dynamic,how come there are so many sub/bottom bio boys and butch girls if masculinity is supposed to equal top/power positions? After a while their arguments just keep going more and more circular and becoming this restrictive dogma where no one's allowed to be masculine or feminine. I don't think gender roles are oppressive, it's the power ascribed to them that can be. It's the fact that whenever I see who's making the laws, it tends to be upper class white men who are acting straight. I certainly don't feel like female oppression is being perpetuated because the cute Domme I'm hanging out with is wearing lipstick.
Thanks for this post.
Some thoughts. Thanks for visiting my blog btw.

Thirza said...

Oh yes, and my gender:
kinda complicated. Very simply I'd say I'm a butch girl with a marked preference for high femmes. However I'm also trans in that oftentimes I just feel like a boy who's content to live in a female body for now. And sometimes, to make it even more confusing, I feel like a gay man. So for gender I guess fluid masculinity would describe it best.

Daisy said...

Ugh. Great post.

Only in this: that in fact, the Author is reinforcing the (very patriarchal) idea that "feminine" is inextricably bound to "biologically female" AND to "bottom,"

which, in turn, means, "submissive to the man/masculine/top,"

which, in turn, means, o how to put this. At best:

"loser."


Amen.

Renegade Evolution said...

I'm not even queer and I am nodding like mad to this train of thought.

Eh, here we go...

I see myself as a woman, female, and I don't much care for the idea of doing all away with gender. Some of it, sure, but all of it? No. I know men and women (RT is a good example) who are pleased as punch with gender...not biology, gender, and both the good and bad that can go along with it. And I do think women (feminist, queer, or otherwise) are not so...eh, how to put this delicately...fucking brain dead that they cannot choose aspects of feminity that they personally enjoy, find athetically pleasing, erotic, or work for them and utterly reject others...men can do the same even! I don't want to be a man, and I don't want us all to be the same, some big genderless collective. There are differences via gender that just suck, but some? Not so bad really, not so bad at all...

I mean, BD, you, personally, as a queer feminist...do you find it insulting or rude or mysognistic when you are leaving a store and a man holds a door open for you? Yes, people of both sexes and all orientations do that on occasion, but holding a door open for a female/woman/whatever is often defined as a trait belonging to the male gender....how about if he lights your cigarette, drops you off at the door while he braves the weather to find a parking space? Is it OH, that DAMN GENDER MALE and his OPRESSION of me...or is it...just polite?

Yeah, um, no huge desire here to be part of the great genderless, make up / BSDM/ boob job free new world here...none at all.

And yes, I love how quick some feminists are to discount that in the world of BSDM, there are a lot of female tops...which reminds me, I need to polish my jackboots...

Winter said...

I keep meaning to post on gender, but getting put off because it’s too BIG to cope with, but here are some of my main concerns with the get rid of gender theory:

1.Is this even possible and, if it is possible, is it desirable? Really? Are you sure?

2.Because what would we replace it with?

3.And would the replacement be any more desirable, really? Are you sure?

4.And isn’t this really just a theoretical conversation because gender ain’t going anywhere anytime soon and, while it may be fun to talk about and speculate, shouldn’t we be focusing just as much on things that make peoples’ lives better in the here and now and in the nearer future?

5.And perhaps looking at making things better in the here and now means changing our attitudes to gender and theorising how gender can be a site of resistance and change?

I mean, I haven’t personally been helped by any get rid of gender theory, but I have been helped a lot by Kate Bornstein’s book Men, Women and the Rest of Us which was something of a lifeline for me a few years ago.

Drawing upon Kate I’ve learned to see my gender performance as a work in process. I’m not going to try to do away with it, but I have made some changes. Gender is something I’m doing, always in a context and always for others. I’m also learning to deal with the internalised misogyny which has indeed led me to hate femininity. I rather like Judith Butler’s formulation which says something like gender is a kind of improvisation within a scene of constraint. Yes, there are always constraints, but why do we focus on the constraints when we could be exploring possibilities for the improvisation?

So a binary gender system sucks. Yes, it does in many ways and there's plenty to be got rid of (not least the idea that gender has to be binary!), but what’s more likely to succeed, utterly wiping gender out of existence or challenging it, changing it, working with it, celebrating the gender warriors already out there fighting to make gender something other than a source of oppression?

Also, hasn’t heteropatriarchy (now there’s a monolith for you) always already failed anyway? The fact that so many people do resist at the level of gender, the fact that so many people are not “correctly” gendered (in heteropatriarchal terms) – your queer femme being an example – isn’t that important? Throughout history many people have always used gender performance as a site of resistance – queer people especially. Why can’t be focus on this instead? How about we crack open that fissure between what is supposed to be happening and what really is happening? I’m more interested in that fissure than in speculating about a genderless utopia which I’m not sure is any utopia I want to live in anyway.

Perhaps new genders will emerge. Perhaps we should get working on that.

antiprincess said...

I like to knit, while watching football, while wearing my favorite sundress (which exposes my furry legs), while drinking beer.

boy? girl? masculine? feminine? anybody's guess, really.

who the hell knows...I love to cook, hate to shop, love to sew, hate to get dressed, love to iron, hate to clean, love kinky sex, hate high heels...

belledame222 said...

winter: yeah, those would be my questions also.

the more i go on the more i am leaning toward some of the post-colonial-feminists' take on some of this: that a good chunk of the problem is in fact the extremely narrow frame of reference this is almost always coming from, no matter how many noises are made about embracing every woman in the World ('cuz most if not all of them are suffering horribly, pretty much nonstop).

but so like when you say "different genders:" well already one could point to a number of cultures where in fact more than two are recognized; and/or they are framed in rather different ways than we think of it here n now. and yes, institutionalized sexism by and large tends to be a problem there, too; nonetheless, i am not at all sure that the latter is what -causes- the former. if you see what i'm saying.

and not saying "great let's all of us embrace this other culture(s) as our own!" of course. just: if you are -aware- that there are other possibilities, you begin to become aware that maybe everything isn't so hopelessly cut and dried as you thought. which realization is probably either scary or a relief (or both, but p'raps one more than the other) depending on how invested you actually were in maintaining those familiar, neatly limned categories. even if you -have- declared them The Enemy: ever ask yourself, what would you be doing without it?

belledame222 said...

How about we crack open that fissure between what is supposed to be happening and what really is happening? I’m more interested in that fissure than in speculating about a genderless utopia which I’m not sure is any utopia I want to live in anyway.

yeh, I think that actually -this- is the bottom-line division, more so than any particular stance on even such things as pr0n or transitioning or marriage or abortion or whatever.
"be here now/be the change you seek/harm reduction" vs. "we're holding out for the Promised Land, dammit, this place is just completely irredeemable, we have to destroy it to save it and start from scratch."

Roy said...

I don't want to be a man, and I don't want us all to be the same, some big genderless collective. There are differences via gender that just suck, but some? Not so bad really, not so bad at all...

But, does denying gender have to result in all of us being the same?

I'm coming in late, and maybe I'm missing something, but gender- particularly the typical dichotomy between masculine and feminine- has always seemed problematic to me. It's like, the desire to label and box people away as a result of pretty arbitrary qualities just doesn't make sense to me. I'm not even sure, at this point, what it means to "feel masculine." I identify as straight, and I'm a guy, but I hate sports, like to cook, and spend a lot of time reading and drawing. What does that mean, though? Does that make me feminine? What makes those traits masculine or feminine, and why is it important that they're one or the other?

I mean, BD, you, personally, as a queer feminist...do you find it insulting or rude or mysognistic when you are leaving a store and a man holds a door open for you? Yes, people of both sexes and all orientations do that on occasion, but holding a door open for a female/woman/whatever is often defined as a trait belonging to the male gender....

See, I don't see a behavior like holding a door for someone as being gendered- being a decent human being shouldn't be associated with one gender or the other, and the fact that we do associate behaviors as "belonging to the male gender" or not, is a problem for me.

I don't know. I guess I'm just bothered by the idea that people are looking at us and evaluating us and trying to wedge us neatly into boxes that nobody fits neatly. And it's not like there aren't real consequences to these things- kids figure out very quickly that boys who don't "act like boys" and girls who "don't act like girls" are easy targets for abuse.

Sorry, I'm all over the place here, and probably missing the point completely.

Renegade Evolution said...

Roy-

No, see thats kind of exactly it in some ways I think...I love sports and cars and lots of 'guy stuff', I also love make up and heels. Which, poor me, by some standards makes me the biggest dupe of the patriarchy of all...conforming to thier beauty ideals and trying to like their things and hobbies....which is all bullshit. Gender, while there, can have some fluidity to it, no one, not the femmest femme, not the manliest man, conforms to ALL gender traits, but really, is there anything wrong with embracing some of either if that's what feels right to you? According to some, yes, absolutely it is....but HOW is one going to combat or blend gender at all without, oh taking some from both sides?

mrevolution said...

Hey, question from the clueless het guy...

wrt rad fem thought and BSDM...have they missed the whole trust aspect involved there, or that when, oh, tied up a male sub can just as easily be truly hurt as a female one? Or that it is not so much about being controlled as letting someone else (you trust) take charge? Did they learn all their BSDM folklore from bad deSade based slasher flicks???

Roy said...

I guess we've got some intersection here, because I definitely agree- that's bullshit. The notion that choosing to wear make-up or enjoying sports somehow means you're automatically conforming to or perpetuating the discrimination of patriarchy.

Gender, while there, can have some fluidity to it, no one, not the femmest femme, not the manliest man, conforms to ALL gender traits, but really, is there anything wrong with embracing some of either if that's what feels right to you?

See, I think that's sort of what I'm trying to get at- nobody fits neatly into one gender or the other. There's not even a solid agreement on what counts as being masculine or feminine. The same trait seems to be both masculine and feminine depending on the chromosomes of the person exhibiting it, and that's problematic. I don't think that there's anything wrong with embracing whatever qualities you feel like embracing. It's the labeling process that perturbs me. The association between X, Y, Z and "masculine" or "feminine" is troubling.

I guess I wonder...
Okay, take sports. What is it about liking sports that makes it Masculine. I don't know the numbers, but there certainly seem to be a large number of both men and women who enjoy sports of some kind. So, why do we count that as Masculine, but cooking- something that men and women also do- as Feminine?

I'm not sure how, exactly, the fight against standard gender placement takes place... I guess I'm just sharing my sort of gut feelings and reactions. I havne't been comfortable with standard gender identification for a while, now.

belledame222 said...

MrEv: well see in many (not all) cases here we are talking about people that--i'll just say it, this is my impression of a number of people, o.k.--aren't real clear on the notion of boundaries to begin with. Some have had them violated repeatedly and horribly and so aren't real big on that trust thing in general; some (i think) never really learned 'em real well to begin with; in some cases, it's both at the same time, which i do believe is what's lent so many of these uh conversations their uh -interesting- flavor.

and/or, in a word: yah, pretty much, to:

Did they learn all their BSDM folklore from bad deSade based slasher flicks???

and/or "kinky" adverts, and/or bad mainstream hetporn with some badly misrepresented and highly sexist quasi-BDSM touches thrown in for "oo kinky," and/or what those other knowledgeable people who have Been There and know so much more about feminism too tell them about it (esp. if it's based on the whole Dworkin/Jeffreys/MacKinnon/Against Sadomasochism angle),

and/or, sadly, and most important, personal experience with some happy asshole being abusive and calling it "BDSM" as an ass-cover.

...is my impression.

i mean, there's plenty of mainstream ignorance already; throw in all this other stuff and well really it's not a surprise i suppose.

and, the rest of folks, i think, who aren't particularly bent that way and simply don't get it, probably just don't give it much thought; but if the people around 'em are saying This Is Bad, they'll probably take that in, you know.

Winter said...

that a good chunk of the problem is in fact the extremely narrow frame of reference this is almost always coming from

And giving up the narrow focus means having to admit other ways of seeing, which is always painful (and necessary). I find recognisng the narrow focus for what it is has helped me understand my own experiences. My gendering has taken place in a specifically middle-class white british context and this colours all my feelings on the subject.

just: if you are -aware- that there are other possibilities, you begin to become aware that maybe everything isn't so hopelessly cut and dried as you thought. which realization is probably either scary or a relief (or both, but p'raps one more than the other) depending on how invested you actually were in maintaining those familiar, neatly limned categories. even if you -have- declared them The Enemy: ever ask yourself, what would you be doing without it?

Exactly. That's when I started to feel better about my gender, when I realised there are other possibilties and things "don't have to be this way". And it was scary too.

In a way, insisting that gender is the fountain of patriarchy, or vice versa, and it must be destroyed, all the while sort of implying that it can't be destroyed and we're all fucked, keeps it in its place and ascribes it incredible importance.

Perhaps gender will go one day, (and of course I do think there's a huge amount that needs to be changed and which we could probably live better without!), but I don't believe that's the only way forward; other ways of seeing and doing gender are possible.

belledame222 said...

In a way, insisting that gender is the fountain of patriarchy, or vice versa, and it must be destroyed, all the while sort of implying that it can't be destroyed and we're all fucked, keeps it in its place and ascribes it incredible importance.

Bingo.

and, too, you can play all kinds of exciting games whilst whiling away the time 'til the Revolution, or the Second Coming, whichever comes first. "let's you and me unite against him/her;" "ain't it awful;" "If it weren't for you;" "Now I've Got You, You Son of a Bitch," and of course the ever-popular, "I'm Only Trying to Help You."

R. Mildred said...

I see myself as a woman, female, and I don't much care for the idea of doing all away with gender.

Ah, but the funny thing is that if anything made these dipshit radfems laughably stupid, it's their complete and utter misconception of what the fuck gender actually is.

In this weird conception of gender I've seen the cultfems whipping out, gender, "femme" and "butch" behaviors and looks, are the product of patriarchy and will *poof* disappear when the revolution comes.

Except what they're doing when they whip out that line of bullshit is accept the patriarchal genderisation of the various sexes - the patriarchy says "this behavior is feminine" and "this behavior is masculine" and the radfems are like "OMG it is, let us renounce this 'femme' stuff!" or "OMG, let us renounce this 'butch' stuff!"

Meanwhile... the actual point of it all, of "post-gender" thinking, goes woosh right over their tiny pointed heads.

Of course, silly ol' me thought that feminism was an excuse for intelligence, not stupidity...

belledame222 said...

well, and take a lookee what "being a woman" means, according to Heart, which is now apparently also synonymous with "gender:"


The experience females have as females, who grow up girl and into woman, is an experience of subordination and subjugation. It is not an “identity.” It is an experience of oppression. This experience of oppression and subordination at the hands of males includes, but is not limited to:

* female genital mutilation
* foot binding
* breast ironing
* being Trokosi
* being a “concubine”
* being forced into female ritual servitude
* being a “comfort woman”
* the Ashley treatment
* being prostituted
* being trafficked
* being paid less money than men for the same work
* being battered by husbands
* being owned as chattel and the ongoing consequences of that up through today
* being denied an education and the right to work, vote, own property, drive, and the consequences of that up through today
* being forced to marry, sometimes as young as 6 or 7 years old
* being sold as a wife to a man, sometimes as young as 6 or 7 years old
* being forced to marry a man when you are a lesbian
* being forced to marry a man, period
* compulsory motherhood
* compulsory child-bearing
* being discriminated against because you are pregnant or a mother
* being raped for genocide
* being forcibly impregnated for genocide
* being prostituted
* being objectified in pornography
* being forced to work land you can never own
* being forced to wear certain clothing under penalty of beatings, imprisonment or death
* being punished for loving women
* being subjected to clitoridectomies and hysterectomies to “cure” “hysteria,” depression, “nympomania”, and lesbianism
* being brutalized during pregnancy and childbirth
* being kept from forming strong attachments with other women
* being restricted to your home

This list is what gender is. This list. This list is what it is to be born female into the world. Those of us born female and made to be women know that this is our fate from our earliest moments, even when we didn’t or don’t have language for what we know.

...No male-born person experiences this. None. Male-born persons do not experience FGM, or footbinding, or relegation to subordinated status, or anything similar.



it's a little masterpiece of sheer wankitude, really.

but in its own totally warped way it sort of makes sense of her position, at least:

1) gender="women suffering"

2) transgender="keeping gender in place"

3) therefore, the existence of transgender(ed people) is enabling womens' suffering

QED


It is always educational to go to Heart's site/mind, i must say, even if i need a headshower afterward. And to learn, as here, for instance, that

being denied an education and the right to work, vote, own property, drive, and the consequences of that up through today

is something that no, repeat, NO male-born person suffered or suffers. AND, -this- is what "gender" means.

So, if you, like, buy a bottle of pink nailpolish and it makes you feel all feminine, you are participating in a system that keeps women (but ONLY women)

being denied an education and the right to work, vote, own property, drive, and the consequences of that up through today

and further, you are directly responsible for the Ashley treatment, which also could never ever happen to a male disabled person, or anything even remotely equivalent.

However, i -think- --we'll have to ask Heart to make sure--traditionally-designated "feminine" names like "Cheryl," long flowing hair, flowy skirts, earnest and sometimes painfully twee discussion, homecrafty handmade artifacts a la Cracker Barrel sold over the Internets, and/or bad poetry wrt "womens' culture," these things are all totally fine. As is taking one's right to use a particularly designated bathroom in public for granted, using the female (if twee-ly misspelled) pronouns for oneself, constant fapping at people you don't like with the crushing pronouncement, "You sound like a -man-", making many not-at-all-wistful allusions to one's past identity as a "blonde bombshell," and so on, and so on, and so on, and...

R. Mildred said...

his experience of oppression and subordination at the hands of males includes, but is not limited to:

* female genital mutilation


What does she call cigendernormative "gender reassignements" that occur at birth to many transgendered people? What does she think of those women born as women and then given male genitals by the doctors?

Short answer: she doesn't.

belledame222 said...

Hey, RM? Ren? BA? I don't normally make such requests, but in this case i will make an exception. Here is a dude who needs one serious fucking ass-kicking, the "Rich" alluded to elsewhere:

http://www.adonismirror.com/

little light said...

Are we sure that's him, BD?

Also, have you read any Tara Hardy? She does some seriously badass stuff on femme-queer identity that my girlfriend threw at me, that I think is worth spreading around.

belledame222 said...

1) if it's not him, it's another total asshole who sounds a lot like him, and did i mention a total asshole? posts excerpted in the post below, "One of these things," down in the end of the comments

2) No, I haven't, but thanks for the tip: will be on the lookout

Unsane said...

In most instances I've come to feel really uncomfortable when I have to dress up formally or girly. This is partly because the type of body I've developed is now more muscular, more bulky than before, and therefore more suited to comfortable or stretchy two piece clothes. Stretch is ideal because, with the muscle power I've accrued, I can tend to rip my clothes if they do not move with me. So, often if I put on a dress which has no stretch in it part of my mind registers something akin to the sensation of being in drag. I then have to change my body movements to adapt to somewhat smaller movements, and find the dress constricts me in the way I sit, and so on.

The other aspect of discomfort with femininity I feel is that I've never been able to perform it that well. I've learned to make some accommodations, such as wearing paler colour lipstick, when I wear it, as the dark shades can mess up and get stuck to my teeth. I've very bad at keeping my hair tidy, and I never quite feel comfortable with my proficiency in applying foundation. Therefore I like to avoid all these things as much as I can. Such avoidance of concern for feminine appearance reduces my stress levels immensely.

When I look closely at my face these days, I enjoy my appearance almost only from the perspective of exuding a fresh, boyish look. From a distance, I admire my whole outline as female, but athletically so.

I think I'm finding a good balance between masculine and feminine components, but my wardrobe is still something of a mix, and not altogether not a mess.

KH said...

Biographical question: had Seelhoff been exposed to radical feminism before her mid-1990s ordeal? Or has she learnt it all since then? Does anyone see any doctinal innovations in her writing, or is she just a fluent popularizer of authoritative texts? Her list of what constitutes womanhood is certainly derivative, both rhetorically & substantively.

belledame222 said...

More and more, I get the strong impression that she's basically learned what she learned from her pal Char, and a few others, and some Sheila Jeffreys and other usual suspects.

not that this makes her an "academentic," please note.

she seems to have gone through a number of upheavals and big shifts in her life. i am not at all clear that early radical feminism was a big thing for her, although there are allusions to her being a campus radical of some sort, before she married her first husband (the really abusive one who put her in the hospital) at 22. a couple of kids.

then i guess she has a career of some sort. somewhere in there she marries husband #2. go out for the homeschooling, self-everything homestead, passel of other kids, the Quiverfull thing, "rising star" of the Christian homeschooling movement; this keeps them occupied until whenever it was that the Big Scandal drove her out of the Church and into her adulterous paramour's arms for keeps, Rick Seelhoff, #3.

and from there...it's a bit murky. well, their co-published magazine, "gentle Spirit," goes up till 2001. then i guess she starts the Margins, so it's somewhere around there she's transitioning from fundamentalist to feminist, and from there to radfem. and starts holding forth on the Ms. boards i guess.

--*damn*. *serious* deja vu here. i so HATE that.

anyway, uh. so, what i still want to know is:

where's Rick?

and when'd he leave the picture?

'cause, she's talked a lot about how she doesn't trust any man, how she's an out and proud political lesbian, giving all her energy these days to the wimminz...

but, she still (unless i'm crazy?) goes by his name, Cheryl Lindsey Seelhoff;

and, there is an allusion in that utter fuckwit Rich's blog to a Rick Seelhoff article linking to Robert Jensen in some banal online drama; and this is in 2005.

so, Seelhoff, wherever he is, is apparently on board with the whole pro-radfem thing these days.

curiouser and curiouser.

i dunno, man. i'm exhausted just -reading- about it. and yet...

was this trip really necessary?

seriously, i dunno; i mean, abuse happens to anyone; but does everyone have quite this much -drama- going on? i mean, it's -consistent.-

belledame222 said...

--ah! lookie what i found!

http://www.blogger.com/profile/10215758

"Occupation: housewife."

belledame222 said...

...seems like a nice enough fellow.

no mention of Cheryl.

pretty sure that's him though.

and, okay, i gotta just say it:

here i was assuming that -all- the Men she was with were, from her peculiarly emphasized stories:

1) black

2) abusive

so, but number 3, the good one (?) is a white dude;

whom she may or may not still be living with;

and she's currently fapping away on and on about the evils of (black) men, the evils of -queer,- and...

-drum drum drum-

I must be missing something, right? I mean, surely no one could be THAT blatantly hypocritical, with this stuff easily available, and no one calling her on it, right?

Renegade Evolution said...

And so the henchwoman pitbull who is ready to scream mass amounts of obscenities due to html code happily trots off to the provided link....

Renegade Evolution said...

...and comes back shortly later mad as hell and this asshat yet realizing apparently he just POSTS his wisdom and 'concern for class women' yet, there is no comment option?

All Hail Bob Jenson the II

KH said...

It is not an “identity.”

I assume I'm missing some sort of essential context here. Surely she doesn't deny that "woman" can be, is an identity? Identity politics without identity?

KH said...

http://nudedude.zaadz.com/

Renegade Evolution said...

KH-

That's the mystery man from over at hearts? Aw, and I just posted a rant about the fellow belle pointed me towards...

sigh. He deserved it anyway.

KH said...

RE, no no no. Nude Dude is Mr. Seelhoff, Heart's 3rd (?) husband, the streaker. Not to b e confused with Richard Leader (Adonis Mirror):

http://www.richleader.com/resume.htm

Renegade Evolution said...

ah, then I did just slag off the right guy...not that I, well, would care at this point...

I am tired, there is six inches of snow on the ground, and it is -9 degrees out there and I have to break in a new pair of heels. Meh. Life.

cicely said...

Poo. I found this thread just as I must away to work. Interests me muchly from the point of view of a femme feeling/acting (specifically sexually) but not particularly femme presenting (b'cos naturally -not politically 'butchy-femme' in that regard) lesbian. Will be back later with references from Lyndall MacCowan's essay in the Joan Nestle edited book 'The Persistent Desire - A Femme-Butch reader'.

Short comment though that somewhere she makes the point that the radical/lesbian-feminists were/are mistakenly focused on gender as the locus of women's oppression in the exactness or 'totalness' of their position.

The resurgence of a butch-femme dynamic is a reclamation of something that never went away - only underground in the politicised atmosphere of the lesbian community - because in that atmophere the 'woman-identified-woman' idea, which asked the question 'what does it mean to be a woman-loving woman in a world that hates women?', didn't ask 'what does it mean to be a woman-loving woman in a world that hates *queers*?' The RF/LF politics 'normalised' lesbianism in a way - but it left butch or femme feeling/identifying lesbians *queer* at a second level after the heteropatriarchal/homophobic level, and with no place to run.

It shamed and silenced b/f lesbians, offering no place for discussion of the *actual* and personal meanings of b/f - where and the ways in which the dynamic and performance were exactly *not* any kind of role-playing copy of heteronormativity, but something unique and transgressive.

At 52, as a result of the struggles I've had personally with this, I feel myself moving towards abandoning the label 'lesbian' and identifying as 'queer'. This would take me right back to the first word I knew that described 'people like me', in the mid 1960's!! It would reflect that how I've felt in the lesbian-feminist dominated lesbian community has been *queer*, and not in a good way, but now I would be re-claiming the word - in a good way.

CrackerLilo said...

All I know is I'm femme because it's my, and my body's, idea. I would look and feel stupid and just not right any other way. I've read enough copies of National Geographic to know that my 21st century American Southern way of being feminine is far from the only one in this world. I don't think femininity, or masculinity, or androgyny, are automatically destructive. What's really destructive is insisting on a certain set of behaviors and a certain look for everyone else.

belledame222 said...

hey, CL! was just thinking about you this morning, that i ought to swing by your spot and that i wondered what you 'd have to say here.

prosphoros said...

That's a viciously wicked question, one to which, alas, I don't expect you to get any answers at all (except possibly full on, a-(to be generous; il- to answer my impulse)logical rejection and/or refutation.

prosphoros said...

I meant, no response from the all or nothing, patriarchy death or bust crowd. I think plenty of folks examine their gender, not just the gender of others, except... well, yeah.

belledame222 said...

yeh, well, it was honestly meant, no snide intended, for once. o well.

i mean, i really truly seriously don't get it. What does a "world without gender" look like? Because, for some people it seems like it truly means, just do/look like whatever the hell you want to, call yourself whatever you want to, and fuck the boxes;

but y'know, it seems to me that like a lot of genderqueer people are -already- doing that;

so, i get really you know confused when very traditionally feminine (to -my- mind, even if they don't y'know look/act like a "fuckbot" or housewife) presenting women sneer at queer and simultaneously say they're trying to "do away with gender."

but, i don't guess that word means what i think it means, in those instances.

so: what -does- it mean?

but i mean, there are people like QGrrl who have issues with "trans" identities, the word cisgender and so on, for her/their own reasons (gets the "are you a boy or a girl" all the time; found it more politically subversive personally to claim the title "woman" than anything else, id's with a lot of radfem politics more than what she's found in trans communities, so fine);

but to my mind that is a different thing. then we really -are- talking about really subtle, "advanced" if you will, stuff.

but, when a very traditionally feminine looking/presenting/received-as woman goes around calling herself "radical," a "political lesbian" even though her entire life has always been about menmenmen and in many ways still is, never really talks about anything specific to lesbians as far as i can tell except to slam on them for aligning with gay men or transfolk or anyone but radical feminists, and -may just be- still living with her -husband-, is certainly stil using his name--

you'll pardon me if i'm just a bit underwhelmed, when she says she wants to "do away with gender."

and that is without even getting into the whole mystical-womb i've-had-kids-and-no-man-can-so-nyargh
thing, or only-women-can-ever-be-victims and vice versa thing.

bleh.

no, but aside from my personal animosity, which is real and not going away, i -can- put it aside long enough to try to address her arguments, such as they are;

it's just, maybe i just -didn't read her carefully enough,- but it seems to ME that even as such, they just don't make any damn sense.

hence, this post. anyone else? no, i really mean it. I don't -get- it. If I'm missing something here, please--i wanna know.

belledame222 said...

oh, and i realize this didn't start off as a response to Heart, it was someone else responding to TF; but I am -so over- TF.

but sure, i am willing to hear understandings of her take on it, which are pretty different from Heart's.

and i mean, i know she's into drag kings and such;

mostly from her i get a real sense of, femme/anything resembling what's been coded as "feminine" sucks, away it all, with anything having to do with it, because it makes -me- feel icky and reminds me of all kinds of awful oppressive shit, and judging from everything i perceive, that's not just me, that is a universal truth.

...or something of that sort.

prosphoros said...

Oh, I totally meant "wickedly vicious" as a compliment: the wickedness is getting right at where the heart should be, the place from which all the eliminationist rhetoric should arise if there's any attempt at consistency; the viciousness is the quck, sharp way it is delivered :)

I get the trying to understand, really I do, I just... I don't know. The associated issues are just a little close and personal for me, such that while I can't seem to avoid the everpresent transhating and "transfolk, explain yourselves!" (even when it's clearly in my best interests to do so), I can't bring myself to step into it. To murder metaphor a bit, if folks don't seem to have much of an interest in Trans 101, how the hell can I engage them from my position, rather than the position they assign me, and why the fuck would I want to?

R. Mildred said...

but y'know, it seems to me that like a lot of genderqueer people are -already- doing that;

yup, but the thing is that in the wider sociological context, everyone is raised according to cisgender, heteronormative standards.

A world "without gender" is then a world where people aren't raise along cisgender, heteronormative lines.

Because your average radfem seems to be so open to suggestion that if an antifem says "jump" they say "what color?" and so the world they can live in is one where there is nothing to conform to except the act of conforming itself.

Or something.

WV: gvgoyo, the infamous curse of the welsh jews.

KH said...

Is any part of this new? It’s not unusual that there’s confusion & talking at cross purposes about a theory’s basic constitutive category, as gender is in feminism. It can be productive in successful programs. But there’s something half-assed & non-cumulative – as in, we’re not making any progress here – about all this.

The authoritative texts that Heart is paraphrasing are old (although not as old as Titus 2), & by now have been subject to a lifetime’s criticism, not all of it subject to her generic maledictions on postmodernism & queer theory.

Distinguish between the ‘is’ of identity & the ‘is’ of predication. If gender just is identical with (a form of) subordination, then it can’t exist separately from subordination. In this case, the desired future begins to look like the gender-equivalent of Kasernensozialismus. But if subordination is just a property that’s predicated of gender, then gender may survive the end of subordination. It can be fucked with. The only way to identify gender with subordination is by using word one or the other in a nonstandard way, which is SOP in the texts she’s working off of.

nexy said...

"What does a "world without gender" look like?"

i asked this exact question, only phrased it slightly differently, in the context of what an individual without gender would look like:

"i"d still be very interested in what a person would look like, act like, be like, if they are not trans, but they stepped outside of gender boxes, or better yet, lived outside gender boxes? and can such a person even exist, since so many appearances, behaviors, and states of being are perceived as being gendered?"

heart responds by suggesting that by eliminating "the list" and "all the similar subordinating, subjugating phenomena that isn’t on the list, if we eliminate sexism, then we eliminate gender."

in other words, elimination of subordination and subjugation (i.e. sexism) results in eliminating gender. this is where i become twisted up in all the terms.

it would appear that radical feminists such as heart believe that gender is not in fact, "performance" (for lack of a better word), but a method by which men (males?) (the patriatchy) subordinate and subjugate women (females?), or in other words, sexism. in simple terms (because i am a simple person and have trouble with long sentances that include lots of big words, yes, seriously) gender = sexism.

somehow, wearing dresses is gender, which is sexism, until the patriarchy stops forcing women (females?) to wear dresses, at which time wearing dresses is no longer sexist or gender. once the force stops, we can all wear dresses again without being a tool of the patriarchy. and that kinda makes sense for me.

the problem is, what do we do in the mean time, while gender still exists? do we not wear dresses? (and i use wearing dresses and one example of probably millions of "gendered behaviors") what's the alternative? wearing pants? and isn't that a man (male?) thing?

or do we wear what we wear *despite* what the patriarchy tells up to do, which is what i interpret heart's proclivity to long blonde hair and high heels to be. i have to wonder, to the casual observer, who is pretty much anyone who doesn't give two shits about feminism or gender (radfem definition), how that has any effect on ending subordination and subjugation (i.e. sexism).

in other words, my boss will still think less of me when i wear heels because i'm subordinated and subjugated into wearing them, as if i'm wearing them for the same reason heart wears them.

i'm beginning to believe that the whole problem has its root in the different understandings and usages of our language.

and on a side note regarding female genital mutilation, i was born a male in jewish culture. when i was about a week old, my foreskin was removed without my permission. i could argue that my genitals were mutilated. because male and female genitals are different (at least as far as i can tell :), i'm not arguing that male and female genital mutilation are the same thing, but i think the arguement that men (males?) don't experience genital mutilation, as part of "the list", is not quite right. i could go into other examples of that "list", but i don't want to get into a "more oppressed than thou" rant.

belledame222 said...

in other words, elimination of subordination and subjugation (i.e. sexism) results in eliminating gender. this is where i become twisted up in all the terms.

That's all well and good; but in that case, why give a shit if anyone else decides to play around with "performances" while they're working on all those important issues? (clitoredectomies, rape, etc. etc.) I guess where I'm getting lost is where things like consensual BJ's and "fun femme" wear somehow impede this work. or, anyone's decision to do pretty much anything with her own body, or what sie calls hirself, and so on.

belledame222 said...

...or, well,

the problem is, what do we do in the mean time, while gender still exists? do we not wear dresses? (and i use wearing dresses and one example of probably millions of "gendered behaviors") what's the alternative? wearing pants? and isn't that a man (male?) thing?

or do we wear what we wear *despite* what the patriarchy tells up to do, which is what i interpret heart's proclivity to long blonde hair and high heels to be. i have to wonder, to the casual observer, who is pretty much anyone who doesn't give two shits about feminism or gender (radfem definition), how that has any effect on ending subordination and subjugation (i.e. sexism).


yeah, that.

i'm thinking that the problem may be because not only do we have different understandings of language, but in this case, someone is being rather conveniently elastic with certain terms, depending on goal and/or context.

iow: i don't think, if it's confusing, that it's because any of us here aren't clever or educated enough. you know.

belledame222 said...

yup, but the thing is that in the wider sociological context, everyone is raised according to cisgender, heteronormative standards.

A world "without gender" is then a world where people aren't raise along cisgender, heteronormative lines.


Yah, but so like, okay: this means, what, any attempt to "be the change you seek" in this regard is simply unacceptable until the Revolution happens, which comes about not by making any gradual attempts to move in that direction, but by keeping such people out of wimmin-born-wimmin only circles and fapping endlessly about the glory and pathos of one's womb, and all that comes out of it, and such.


Or something.


Or something.


so open to suggestion that if an antifem says "jump" they say "what color?"


*snort* yeah, that's about what this feels like. Splunge! 42! QED! AHAHAHAHAHA! ...here, just Read the Manual a few thousand more times, if necessary hitting yourself over the head with it, hard; and it will all start to make sense.

prospohoros: yah, i think it's fair to say "meet where you're at" isn't probably gonna work if one party insists on being "at" the equivalent of the Roman Coliseum for you and you'rn. at minimum: trying at all is above and beyond all reasonable expectation (if damn admirable), not a requirement.

R. Mildred said...

this means, what, any attempt to "be the change you seek" in this regard is simply unacceptable until the Revolution happens

What's the dem line? "keeping the makeup dry"? Like all those survivalists forever preparing to play out red dawn one day, with their secret DIY bunker up in the hills, with their chemical toilets and heavy machine guns, all for that one day when the ruskies will invade...

Lesbian survivalist WASPs is what we have here. It's a form of escapism, manic disorders are bastards for it, as are depressive ones.

Jay said...

Belle!!!

How are you? I feel like a stranger around here....

But, as I never lack an opinion:

I find myself agreeing with Heart to the extent that I believe gender is a set of social practices. Where we diverge, of course, is that all social practices for "women" are subordinate. Mostly I tire of her and her ilks intense, addled addiction to victimization.

What I appreciate about SF's piece the paradox of coming to own a gender that is patriarchial. I felt very much at home in her words as a transsexual man.

I mean really, there is no other way to own masculinity than to just own it.

Where my path differs from her's is that to some degree I do my gender for others. I mean really: I was sick to death of being read as female. So to the extent that I want others to see/read me as a man, is the extent that I am in performance/practice with others through my gender.

I experience this position as a particularly white one, to the degree that I can focus exclusively on my gender - and the power relationships embedded in it without also seeing how my practices are informed and bounded by my gender(trans) etc.

You are a goddess!

belledame222 said...

Jay!!! o cheers, libations & tribute accepted (waves vaguely) over there.

how the hell are you?

i STILL need to read your book goddamit. and another friend's. they're both sitting on my desktop. i'm such a damn addict for this other online crap...

belledame222 said...

Lesbian survivalist WASPs is what we have here.

HA!!

'cept for, y'know, if it's up to Heart & co, (with the exception of Amy) i am thinking: without the actual muff-diving and such. which is a shame, because nothing caps off a good long hard day of setting bear traps for trespassers and tinfoil wrapping than a nice long session of sapphic lurve. o well.

belledame222 said...

...actually come to think of it: she -is- in the Pacific NW, no? must be all kinds of nice pale little houses/encampments in the Big Woods, around her neck of those woods...

Zan said...

Ya know, I've never had a single thing on that list of hers happen to me and I still think I'm a woman. Hold on, let me check. . .

Ayep. 'tis what I thought. Girl parts and all. So. Hrm. Someone's definition here is wrong and I'm pretty sure it's not mine.

I posted about this on my own blog and it all boils down to -- this all pisses me off. Really, it does. Don't we have better things to do than be the gender police? Especially when it seems that gender is being defined by what we do/wear/look like? I'm getting tired of being made to feel that this is a no-win situation for me. Act to femme and I'm a bad feminist. Go too far in the other direction and I'm so kinda man-hating freak. Really, isn't being just ME good enough?

Here's my proposal -- I let people define and describe their gender for themselves and they let me work mine out for myself, k? How hard is that?

Also, I don't understand the calling yourself a lesbian but refusing the girl-love thing, myself. I mean, sure, you could, but why would you want to? That's a whole lot of happiness you're denying yourself, but then I've never been a fan of self-denial. *shrug*

Tom Nolan said...

no mention of Cheryl - BD

But there is a link to Gentle Spirit. And he uses the phrase "may your tribe increase" which is one of her favourite valedictions.

As you say, he seems like a really nice guy.

Veronica said...

Lesbian survivalist WASPs is what we have here. It's a form of escapism, manic disorders are bastards for it, as are depressive ones.

Yeah, that.

It's not about "eradicating patriarchy." It's about being a Force of Pure Good, opposing Dastardly Dudes and all their fiendish Homunculi.

I mean, if Patriarchy went away, what would they do all day?

Veronica said...

That said, I do just sort of want to follow Heart around Washington with a boombox playing Antony and the Johnsons/Boy George's "You are My Sister" on repeat.

Just to see how long it took before she SNAPPED!

Jay said...

i STILL need to read your book goddamit. and another friend's. they're both sitting on my desktop. i'm such a damn addict for this other online crap...

you know what? I say the same thing about your blog! and the other blogs I love to read....

R. Mildred said...

I mean, if Patriarchy went away, what would they do all day?

Patriarchy can't go away though, not for them.

The thing is that their conception of patriarchy is tailored to fit reality so that it always will exist, if we really did live in a obejctively post-patriarchy world, they'd still find something to scream patriarchy about, even if they had to get really ludicrous and start suggesting that butch lesbians are tools of the patriarchy or something.

(book?)

belledame222 said...

Speeding ticket: tool of the Patriarchy.

stomach flu: dastardly Patriarchy!

spore mold: SO Patriarchal.

R. Milcred said...

I've just coined the term "pantryerkle" to describe this special form of "patriarchy" that the cultfems are always waffling their irons about.

Trin said...

"wrt rad fem thought and BSDM...have they missed the whole trust aspect involved there, or that when, oh, tied up a male sub can just as easily be truly hurt as a female one?"

they solve this easily. dominant women do not exist (but some victimized people forced into the sex industry will play one for cash), and dominant men are MENNNNNNNNN so they suck, and submissive men want to play at being women and that's insulting.

now if you'll excuse me i think i am going to go take a ride on a pegasus all through doesnotexistland.

Tom Nolan said...

so, i get really you know confused when very traditionally feminine (to -my- mind, even if they don't y'know look/act like a "fuckbot" or housewife) presenting women sneer at queer and simultaneously say they're trying to "do away with gender." - BD

The thing to understand is that society as currently constituted has a complete sexual taxonomy, and that there is nothing you can do in terms of dress or appearance or behaviour to escape it. No matter how you present you're going to get categorized. But it doesn't follow that, just because established society has a name for you, it *approves* of you, or that you aren't defying it when you cross the boundaries into one of the categories it despises. Cheryl is implying that because transsexuals and other people who don't gender-conform exist within the patriarchy, then they must be *of* the patriarchy, and that consequently they are no less conformist than a twinkly little ash-blonde mother of (I lost count how many) children who is terribly keen on weaving and raffia-work.

emily said...

>>>so, i get really you know confused when very traditionally feminine (to -my- mind, even if they don't y'know look/act like a "fuckbot" or housewife) presenting women sneer at queer and simultaneously say they're trying to "do away with gender."

Thank you for that whole bit BD.

It's like, they're do away with gender..

but DON'T YOU DARE DO THAT in any kind of concrete way.

There's so little conversation--or even familiarity--with the various ways that queer *does* do that (not to mention a fair amount of homophobia and transphobia mixed in there too).

I mean, to me, the whole broad genderqueer umbrella is all about disconnecting body-as-socially-assigned from gender-as-it-performed. Which would seem to me the first step, not towards doing away with gender, but towards widening the possibilities for the two, and for opening up some middle ground to move beyond a strictly binary system. But what would I know.

cicely said...

I mean, to me, the whole broad genderqueer umbrella is all about disconnecting body-as-socially-assigned from gender-as-it-performed. Which would seem to me the first step, not towards doing away with gender, but towards widening the possibilities for the two, and for opening up some middle ground to move beyond a strictly binary system.

Yes, emily, sometimes one gets the impression that the 'do away with gender' feminists want this done in some particular (not to mention mysterious since no-one seems know what genderless looks like) fashion - and feel that the folks doing it for themselves, and expanding possibilities rather than eliminating gender are somehow 'getting away'.

The genderless society concept appears to be doomed to irrelevance in most peoples actual lives, and if feminists, like Heart for example, want to describe their own performance preferences (long hair/high heels etc) as 'deals with the devil' (which is what Heart does) it can only detract from their pleasure to no useful purpose as far as I can tell.

Anyway, here are a few quotes from the essay I mentioned earlier
(Lyndall MacCowan in 'The Persistent Desire')...

'Butch-femme lesbians claimed the right to play with gender and sex roles long before 1970's feminism began to critique sex and gender. Such an exploration has had to proceed despite heterosexual oppression and the oppressive restrictions of lesbian-feminist androgyny. It will be a long day before heterosexuality is no longer compulsory, one made no shorter while one group of women centralizes their experiences as 'universal' and interprets everyone elses for them.'

'What's oppressive about gender and defined sex roles in our society is that they are limited to two, rigidly correlated with biological sex, and obsolete in a complex industrial society, as an expression of who does what work. The sex role oppression that feminism means to criticize is rooted in the social restriction...Gender perse is not the problem, and I think it's impossible, as well as pointless, to try to rid ourselves of it. Certainly, lesbian-feminism has not been able to: its 'androgynous' norm is itself a gender, serving precisely to signal that one is a woman who sleeps with women.'

'The lesbian-feminist movement, in the enthusiasm of its power, came too quickly to answers about the causes of oppression that have turned out to be incomplete. Too much of lesbian life, especially butch-femme life, was denied in the process, and it needs to be said plainly that a movement that claims to speak for all women but cannot now listen is not going to liberate anyone. We need to take back 'lesbian' as a sexual definition disburdened of any political justification. In particular, it's time we reclaim the right to fuck around with gender.'

belledame222 said...

not to mention a fair amount of homophobia and transphobia mixed in there too).

well as for transphobia, that's been more than a fair amount, with Heart, here.

but, for all that she/they claim to be against homophobia excuse me lesbophobia...even she calls herself a political lesbian now...

yeah. i ain't buyin' it.

especially when some of your same beloved commenters who've been saying all kinds of ignorant hateful shit about transfolk -also- say,

(in response to an attempt to appeal to nonexistent sanity/empathy with a parallel about gay marriage)

"nice ANALogy, but..." (then, words to the effect about how "silly" it was to add onto the patriarchal "barbaric" practice/house of marriage when what SHE wants to do is tear it down)

or, (someone else)

"You sound like a fag."

or, Heart introducing that Robin Morgan emu-ry with a long preface about how her gay-lib husband was sitting right there with his friends supposedly being an ally but -still- being a Man, dammit, (i.e. They all think we're "monsters" on accounta our genitals and such)

or, Kitty MacKinnon writing about how the activism to overturn the (consensual) sodomy laws was yet another distraction from the dastardly "liberals," what does this have to do with womens' liberation/revolution, answer it doesn't, on accounta once again, we're back to MEN and their PENISES,

(because lesbians have far more in common with Miss Kitty than with gay men, esp. in this regard, see, and why can't they SEE)

or, the constant attempts by Sheila Jeffreys and her lovely contemporary fangirls to police all these expressions of lesbian desire (butch/femme, BDSM, sex toys even) while -also- redefining "political" lesbian as simply eschewing men, no icky sex with women necessary...

or Heart, who's lived with men all her life and -may just- be living with one even now, still keeps her last husband's name at least, and is as TN notes a conventionally pretty ash blonde "former bombshell" who's into weaving and moonjuice and mystical motherhood and shit, snapping that "queer" theory and transgender...everything/one, is misogynist, reactionary (!!) and what needs to "get the fuck out of 'our' way" of the Revolution...

then, you know, yeah:

"With friends like this, who needs enemas?"

belledame222 said...

as for the andro thing: yeh i agre, it is a gender in itself; but at least y'know people who -do- it are attempting to y'know sort of practice what they preach.

if someone were to genuinely present as so androgynous that sie kept getting "excuse me, sir?...miss?...", eschewed traditionally gendered pronouns, use whichever public bathroom sie felt like using and allowed that others could do the same;

and particularly was on board with some kind of movement to do away with y'know required gender boxes on official forms and other legalities...

then i could at least see where they were coming from, wrt "do away with gender," and why they might have a problem with transitioning from one to the other. i still would think it's not their business if their path doesn't work for someone -else-, but at least there's some internal consistence there.

but again: well, what Tom said, and what Veronica said: if you simultaneously present as traditionally feminine -and- are claiming for a de facto biological essentialism (swear upndown that no that's not what you mean, once you start with the whole, no man can ever do what i do, GIVE BIRTH, then you're biologically essentialist, sorry)...

somehow, i don't think you're in the best position to tell other people how they're holding up the free-us-all-from-gender Revolution. like, at all.

if what you really are in favor of is a kind of Holly Hobby matriarchal femsupremacy, then just -say- it, you know.

saltyfemme said...

Added to this discussion over at saltyfemme - wondering how we can connect the "end of gender" conversation out to other forms of resistance. Also, I write specifically about queer gender and how it can be a form of resistance.

belledame222 said...

cheers, thanks for the heads-up

emily said...

I too have responded to this in some length... hopefully not too critically, since these are questions I'm wrestling with myself as I transition and use femme aesthetics as a way of passing..

http://sexualambiguities.blogspot.com/2007/02/femme-aesthetics.html

Cassandra Says said...

OK, before we get to the rest...so now we're assuming that the religious right is down with BSDM? Because that hasn't exactly been my experience.
I really wish that lot would STFU about BSDM in general. Anyone who assumes male top/female bottom or female top but only because she wants to make the boys like her is pretty clueless. I actually don't know a single straight female sub. Lots of lesbians, a few women who are bi, but straight female subs? When I was active in the scene in London they were rarer than unicorns.
I'm not so interested in the magical gender-free world that seems to be being proposed either. I'd like to see people free to play around with the idea more, and more acceptance of people who don't fit their prescribed gender mold, but doing away with it entirely? I'm not entirely convinced there's a point to that. Humans being as we are we'd probably just replace it with some other classification and use that to make people miserable instead.
Part of the way I look at this is probably due to early immersion in gender-bending subcultures, which are also like totally trivial man and not worth thinking about in the IBTP world. The fact that they helped me to feel a lot more free is apparently irrelevant. I wonder just how many women have to say "you know, this supposedly trivial thing actually improved my life in all kinds of ways" for it to count.
Of course we COULD just hold out for the Promised Land, but I can't help but recall the old chestnut about people who believe in salvation in the next world making an everlasting hell out of this one.

Cassandra Says said...

Mrevolution - "Did they learn all their BSDM folklore from bad deSade based slasher flicks??? "
It does seem that way, doesn't it? I sort of get the feeling that most of them saw one little snippet of something on late night cable, were shocked, just shocked! and have completely misunderstood the whole thing ever since.

Cassandra Says said...

Belle - Heart's mind is a fascinating place to visit, but I'm very glad I don't have to live there.
That's what bothers me most about that brand of feminism, I suppose. It doesn't square with my actual life experience. My life has not been one long unending mess of pain, suffering and subjegation from the very day I was born. I have never been significantly harmed by a man. I've probably done more harm to them than vice versa in a personal sense. Do I not exist? Does no one else like me exist? Who thinks that things are not quite right not because their life has been PURE SUFFERINGtm, but because they have enough brains to look around and see all the ways in which things are not quite right? In order to have empathy and compassion for those who have and will suffer do we really have to pretend that suffering is all there is to the female life experience? Because that doesn't make sense to me, I don't think it's necessary, and in all honesty I think it's the single biggest thing putting so many women off feminism in general. They read Heart-style stuff and it just doesn't jibe with their own experiences.
Then there's also the fact that some of us don't feel quite so comfy in the victim role and tend to respond to "you can't do X" with "want a bet?".

Cassandra Says said...

zan - totally random question that seems somewhat reasonable after a quick peek at your blog - is your screename based on the Dir en grey song? Because given the love of pretty boys in eyeliner and all...

carpenter said...

now I am confused about gender. It is one of those huge blobby things like "religion" that Im not sure even has a definition.(Is religion beliefs? magic? a set of rituals? must there be a soul gods or spirits?) Is it a mode of dress, of speech, of mannerisms? If so why not lump that under culture sub-culture? of sexual preference, and sexuality?Why not lump it under sex then? Is it about ecomonics and power? The answer to all of this is yes. So it seems I could do away with the notion entirely and absorb it into diffrent classifications and phenomena. Does gender even exist right now as a write this?
It seems there are areas within the blob of gender (like religion) that dont overlap at all have nothing in common.

If I tell what gender I am what reference frame do I use to descrbe my gender? The one where there are two opposite and complimentary genders? One where there is neuter in between? One where feminine = passive? One where feminine= lustfull vagina dentana style?
maybe gender isnt a good classification scheme at all. Unless you are laboring under the idea that there is a huge unifying principle like all of "gender" is oppressive to females (which I mostly dont believe), there seems little point in even calling it all gender and trying to lump it together.
Help.

OnlinePharmacy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
extra cheap phentermine said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
meridia reactions said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
brazil delta airlines credit said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
name said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
cebu tour said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
clan tang tour wu said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
said...

Magnific!

canada levitra said...

Hxx6r2 Good job!

download said...

Magnific!

Anonymous said...

ライブチャット出会い出会い無料出会い系出会い 喫茶出会い カフェ出会い パーティー優良 出会い出会い人妻出会い掲示板フィリピンデリヘルチャットレディチャットレディー出会いテレクラ出会い系サイト優良出会い系サイトテレクラバイク買取セフレセックスフレンド不倫出会い喫茶出会いカフェデリヘルアダルトライブチャット出会い山口車買取転職出会い出会い系チャットレディーチャットレディノンアダルトチャットレディーアダルトチャットレディーテレフォンレディー携帯チャットレディー車買取京都きもの不動産出会い長崎ソープランド・・・天然オリゴ糖在宅仕事爪水虫在宅ワーク出会い福岡出会い大阪出会い青森出会い山口出会い北九州出会い

Anonymous said...

It is uncommonly important to match adapted caution of all your precious stones pieces so that they pattern for a lifetime. There are divers approaches and ways to straight diverse types of jewels be it gold, euphonious, pearls, diamond or semiprecious stone stones. Outlined below-stairs are the several ways sooner than which you can induce care of your accessories and charge of them gleaming and green always.

Anonymous said...

To be a noble human being is to have a amiable of openness to the world, an cleverness to group undeterminable things beyond your own pilot, that can lead you to be shattered in unequivocally extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something uncommonly important thither the fettle of the principled autobiography: that it is based on a trustworthiness in the fitful and on a willingness to be exposed; it's based on being more like a weed than like a treasure, something kind of feeble, but whose very item beauty is inseparable from that fragility.

Anonymous said...

Advice in old age is foolish; for what can be more absurd than to increase our provisions for the road the nearer we approach to our journey's end.
[url=http://www.flukiest.com/b/accutro5573]Watches[/url]
Watches

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work. general health

Anonymous said...

You wrote a very interesting article. And I agree with you. hair loss Read a useful article about tramadol tramadol

fxhawaii said...

Very helpful info, thank you for your article.