I'll readily admit that I am an enthusiastic Apple acolyte-- however to be fair, I'm also equally enthusiastic and evangelical about all those nifty Google web applications. So, like the masses of gadget geeks across the nation, I waited with great anticipation as to the announcement of the then rumored iSlate, now officially announced iPad. I was an early adopter to the tablet PC revolution (which turned out more like the recent Iranian green revolution than a gloriously bloody and victorious French one), having used a hybrid tablet PC throughout my college career. I loved the idea of stylus input and handwriting recognition, paperless notes, and dynamic pressure-sensitive digital art. The implementation of all these great ideas by Microsoft was a lackluster to say the least.

So the prospect of the Apple tablet for me was great. I faithfully waited for the announcement, watched the liveblogs and the tweets. But I became suddenly displeased by the sudden outbreak of the now ubiquitous iPad/Maxi-pad joke. A poor choice on behalf of Apple marketing execs? Perhaps. Only time will tell. After all, the peanut gallery laughed at the iPod name.

But the fact that so much attention has been given to the iPad qua feminine hygiene is really childish and frankly sexist. A recent CNBC segment discussing the iPad launch descended into a death spiral of anti-woman cringing and menstruation hate when a female correspondent declared her distaste for the product because it reminded her of feminine hygiene. Her male peers then proceeded to audibly groan and make derisive comments about menstruation.



Let the anti-menses rhetoric stop. The notion that menstruation is gross, disgusting, unclean, etc. only further alienates women from their vaginas and reproductive organs. Additionally, by continuing to focus on this minute natural bodily process, we discursively reduce women to a single bodily function. A bodily function that we treat with great shame, secrecy, and disgust.

Moreover, this kind of mense-talk builds on historical and institutional rhetoric on menstruation that is fundamentally biased as anti-woman. If you look at medical language, many textbooks and resource materials describe the menstrual cycle as the vaginal "decaying" and "shedding" as opposed to "regenerating" or "renewing." Same essential idea, two completely different implied meanings.

I'll be honest, the iPad is not a perfect product. The lack of flash support, open source ePubs documents, a lack of an optional stylus input (like Wacom tablets), and no camera are all missing features that will keep me from purchasing (at least version 1.0). But, the fact that mense-hating has taken over the iPad discussion is nothing but anti-woman speech and I have had enough of it.

And one more note, to all of the gay guys out there: Stop making fish jokes. Just stop it. It's not 1992 anymore. It's not funny anymore (was it ever?). We get it. You're gay, you like guys, you suck cock. Done. Finito. fini. Just because you like guys doesn't mean you need to hate on gals to get your point across. #petpeeve

Queeriously also writes for Scarlet Betch.

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I couldn’t have ever imagined being pissed off about a noticeable lack of discrimination. All that the queer community wants is acceptance---to go about their daily lives without facing bigotry and bias at every corner. One would think that the less discrimination we must face, the better. As I began preparing for this article, however, pissed off is exactly how I found myself.

One of my favorite ways of preparing for an article is debating; debate groups of all shapes and flavors are but a Google search away, every possible perspective can be found and pried into, and future article topics are often handed to me on a silver platter. My original idea for this article was the invisibility issue (which I still intend to cover), and so I went to my favorite debate forum, in search of opinions. Instead, I found myself in the midst of yet another debate on same-sex marriage. The usual positions, both for and against, were voiced, along with the unavoidable spews of bigotry. I’ll spare you the bulk of it, as I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, but one particular post caught my attention. In the ever eloquent language of ignorance, reference was made to “ass-fucking perverts”. Surprisingly, I found myself much less pissed off about the bigotry than the exclusionary term itself; clearly, when this person thought of same-sex marriage, it was actually gay men that came to mind.

With this in mind, I visited several other debate forums and websites, and was awestruck that all of the debates, and particularly the negative comments, I read about same-sex marriage (and same-sex relations in general) focused solely on men who date or sleep with other men. No mention was made of lesbians, or whether two women could raise a child. There weren’t any diatribes about how disgusting two women fucking was. There seemed to be an unspoken, but widely agreed upon notion that “homosexual” was a cold and clinical term for dangerously unnatural and perverted men. After a few quick replies and a few deep breaths, I reminded myself that I was writing about bisexuality, not homosexuality, and once again began searching out different perspectives and opinions. Now that I was looking for it, I was not all that surprised to find that the complete opposite notion applied to us. No mention was made of men at all in the bisexual debates; it was silently assumed that the term “bisexual” referenced kinky or confused women.

As I shut my computer down for the night, still processing all of the comments I’d read, one question kept coming up. Why was discrimination so…well…discriminatory? Why are gay men constantly forced to defend their sexuality, to prove they are not pedophiles and perverts, while lesbians are often completely ignored, overlooked, or brushed aside as harmless women with penis envy? Why are bisexual women constantly forced to legitimize their sexuality, to prove we are not confused or indiscriminately promiscuous, while bisexual men are often completely ignored, overlooked, or brushed aside as gay men in denial? I believe the answer can be found at the root of stereotypes.

We hate what we fear and we fear what we don’t understand. Stereotypes, essentially, are ignorant and lazy assumptions, based on what we believe we do understand. Little attention is paid to lesbians, because two women feeling affection for one another is not difficult to understand or unpleasant to imagine. It doesn’t defy the stereotype of women as emotional, sensual beings. Bisexual women, on the other hand, are misunderstood as promiscuous or confused, breaking away from the stereotypical fantasy of finding a strong man, settling down and having a family. Bisexual men receive little attention because few people even believe they exist (another topic I plan to cover), and one cannot hate what does not exist. Gay men, however, are undeniably present, and force us to reexamine the stereotype of rugged protectors of women.

Gay, lesbian or bisexual, it seems to be the challenging of stereotypes that generates fear, and determines who will remain invisible, and who will face discrimination.

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In the story "Modern Marriages: The Rise Of The Sugar Mama," NPR reports that the number of women who man more than their husbands is increasing, and that for the first time ever among men and women under age 44, more women than men are earning college degrees. The same study from the Pew Research Center found a rise in the number of marriages where the wives’ income tops the husbands, from 4% in 1970 to 22% in 2007.

Now, I write about this as kind of a poster child of this phenomenon. I earn more than my husband right now. My sisters-in-law earn more than my brothers right now. I say right now because one sister-in-law is pregnant and set on becoming a stay-at-home mom, even though she has a masters degree in her field, and my brother doesn’t, and last I heard, she made more than him. But, money isn’t everything.

However, are traditional hetero marriages shifting? Right now, my husband is looking for a full-time job. I currently work full-time. I come home to dinner (almost) on the table. When my husband does his laundry, he does mine too. The past few grocery trips have been done by him.

However, that doesn't mean everything is peachy keen.

The difference between our balance, and what I’ve read in columns like the NPR one, is that when both of us are working, we share the household chores. Some studies show that when both the husband and wife work outside the home, the wife still shoulders more household chores. Now, I don’t know how that compares to the number of hours she spends outside the home.

Additionally, "marriage expert [Stephanie] Coontz says no one should exaggerate women's new economic prowess. They still make 77 cents to a man's dollar, and their earnings can lag over time since women are more likely to cut back to care for children. But this, too, is shifting."

So what is happening to straight marriage among Gen Y? Are the “traditional” roles shifting? And what will happen if they do?

When I was in college, I read Egalia’s Daughters: A Satire of the Sexes at the recommendation of my Philosophy 101 professor, and lovely man who admitted he liked to wear long skirts on occasion (but sadly never wore them to class).

In Egalia’s Daughters, men and women are biologically what we know, but are viewed completely differently. Because women have the power to make life … they have the power. Both in and outside of the home. Child birth is a ceremonial ritual, not a medicalized ordeal. The men raise the children. The men are sex objects. The women are the rulers. But as we’ve seen in our own contemporary Western cultures, absolute power corrupts. Women abuse their power at the expense of the men. And, believe it or not, men, the second sex, organize to revolt against the women, and demand equality.

Of course the book is written in such a way that the reader sympathizes with the lowly men, and is angered by the domineering women. It succeeds at pointing out the flaws in a culture that oppresses one group for the success of another.

Getting back to the real world. Is our Western society one that requires one gender to be dominant over the others? If women do reverse roles with the men, is it at the expense of men? It would be interesting to wonder if trends continue, what Western society will be like in 50 or 100 years. Not just changes in the roles of “men” and “women,” but also if we generally accept that there are more than just the two genders, and where that comes into play. Will we still try to define each group for the ease of stereotypes and expectations, or will the lines continue to be blurred, to the point where no one expect either mom or dad to be the one to stay at home, but always asks the question “will one of you be a stay-at-home parent?”

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1.27.2010

P.O.'d

Something interesting happened recently in the Michigan Secretary of State election race.

Now, before you tell me that the word "interesting" and the phrase "Michigan Secretary of State" syntactically can't be in the same sentence together, bear with me, and let me introduce you to Representative Paul Scott:





Seems a charming enough fellow! Step right up, sir, and let us know what you're planning to do for the people of the great Wolverine State! Let's see, I have his website right here...

"I will stand strong against illegal immigration by verifying a valid social security number before issuing anyone a driver’s license, an issue Representative Dave Agema has been pushing for 3 years.

I will actively push to encrypt the traceable RFID chip in the enhanced driver’s license.

I will make it a priority to ensure transgender individuals will not be allowed to change the sex on their driver’s license in any circumstance.

I will work tirelessly to repeal the over $100 million dollar tax increase on drivers in the form of driver responsibility fees."
Well, not my platform (I am a godless hippie Chomskian socialist; it's not a powerful political party, but we do lead both major parties in smugness), and isn't it hypocritical for conservative Republicans to even have an RFID chip in their driver's license? Though maybe that driver's fee thing is a bad deal and...

Wait a minute...what was that third thing?

"I will make it a priority to ensure transgender individuals will not be allowed to change the sex on their driver’s license in any circumstance."
Hold on. Under any circumstances? Even if the birth certificate of your home state has been amended? Even if your passport, social security card, phone bill, all your credit cards, and your Price Chopper card all have you down as your new gender? Seriously?

That, as we say 'round my parts, is some seriously frakked up stuff. (Actually, we don't say that, but I'm trying to preserve family values for this post.)

What on earth could his rationale be for this?
“It’s a social values issue. If you are born a male, you should be known as a male. Same as with a female, she should be known as a female,” he said.

When asked to explain how such a mandate from the Secretary of State would benefit Michigan, he said it was about “preventing people who are males genetically from dressing as a woman and going into female bathrooms.”
Aw frakkin' stuff, the bathroom thing again.

For your convenience, here's a handy chart of where some people will have to pee,under a Paul Scott administration:


Well, that seems logical, doesn't it? (As you might have noticed, the last two are "ringers" and not transgendered at all: Rachel Maddow and Johnny Depp, in his "21 Jump St." days. But they both might not make the cut for Paul Scott's bathroom patrol.)

I'm being facetious. I have to be; it's the only way to deal with the pain. This is the old "bathroom libel," the idea that somehow a transgendered person peeing near you is...well...something. Dangerous? Catching? Damned if I know.

And it's not just conservative Republicans who get in on this act! Anti-trans radical feminists can't resist either!

"If the MTFs use the male restrooms they may be subjected to harassment, even, rape? Well, exactly how are females supposed to know which of these MTFs will not take that male characteristic/behavior with them when they start using female restrooms? Should we assume/believe that the male’s urge/behavior to rape women is going to disappear simply because his penis is removed?"

The truth is that no one has ever tried to use a transgender identity as a cover for raping people in the bathroom of their gender presentation. It's never happened. And part B of that is, of course, that the little signs on the bathroom doors are not Glyphs of Warding, cast by 27th-level wizards; there have been cases of women being raped in bathrooms, but it's never been by a transgender woman.

But that's logic. Hearken, Starbuck, to the little lower layer and you'll see why it is that conservative Republicans and radical feminists make common cause on this issue. It's truly simple, actually: they don't want transgender people to exist. So they try to make it impossible for trans people to live their lives, mostly by denying them "special" (read: human) rights. If we can't see the problem, it doesn't exist. If trans people can't live a normal life, then there won't be trans people.

Sadly, for them at least, trans people persist in existing.

And sometimes they have to pee.

And since they can't use the proper bathroom, in Michigan at least, they'll have to find another place.

I suggest right on top of Representative Scott's shoes.

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I don’t appear queer anymore. Along the same lines of bythebi’s last post, I am a person born female who is dating a person born male, and everywhere I go I am seen as straight. While I recognize that I get an enormous amount of privilege with this arrangement that I was previously denied in same-sex relationships (such as no special sets of questions or looks when signing a lease, buying apartment furniture with just one bed, going out on a romantic dinner, bringing my partner home to may family, etc.), I also feel a loss of identity and belonging within the queer community.

I am no longer visible as queer outside of myself and my personal network. Last weekend my partner and I invited his friend, a gay man who does not know that I identify as anything other than a straight woman. He shrugged and said, “Sure, I guess I’m up for some straight drama?” I was shocked for a moment, then retorted back, “Who you callin’ straight?” But he just laughed and carried on as if I was just being cute. While he didn’t mean anything by it, I was so angry at him for the rest of the night for making such an assumption, an assumption he should know better to make being a queer person himself.

Yet while I think that all queer people should know better than to make assumptions about a person’s identity, assumptions that they themselves have to deal with, there is no consensus among the queer community what “queer” really means. Hell, we can’t even agree what “gender” really means. I made the mistake once of venting to a trans friend of mine about the importance of gender in our society, how angry I was that I was seen as a woman and automatically placed in a box I don’t believe in, and how I just wish everyone would (I believe my exact words were:) “open their eyes and see what a bullshit construct the gender binary is.” He paused for a moment, then replied tensely that while he understood that I was frustrated with being seen as a different gender than I identify with, that not everyone sees gender as just a “bullshit binary,” and that he believes deeply in nature of gender, because otherwise what was the point of him transitioning if it was just from one constructed gender to another? I had nothing to say to this because, in truth, I struggle with the issue that he just named.

As unboxedqueer mentioned in their last post, getting rid of the idea gender binary “would unravel the bit of headway that trans people in the world have fought so hard for.” And while I am not going to negate anyone’s sense of identity, just like I don’t want anyone negating my sense of identity, the way that the queer community views gender right now does not leave much room for people who do not want to identity at all. Yes, there’s room for lots of variations in between the genders, but if you don’t want to identify as anything and the idea of having a gender at all makes you cringe, I have not found a practical place for you outside the theory books. (And if anyone’s found one please let me know!).

I have considered transitioning to a man before because I feel so un-womanly. I often try to pass as a man, yet I look very femme, even when I wear my butchest of clothing and keep my hair cropped. However just as I don’t feel like a woman, I don’t feel like a man either. While I love wearing “men’s” clothes, I equally love wearing “women’s” clothes. I love my name, a fairly common “girl” name, and have no interest in changing it. I prefer being called male pronouns just because it shakes things up a bit, yet it’s not accurate with my identity because I feel no more male than I do female. I tried for a while using the neutral “ze” and “hir,” but even I don’t fully understand when to use which sometimes, and the thought of trying to explain to my grandparents how to use these pronouns just makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.

Overall, it’s just not worth it to me to transition because there are no parts of my life or identity that I want to change other than how people perceive me. Which ultimately, I have no control over. I can yell and I can scream and I can tell them when to use which pronoun and why I hate it when people call me my partner’s “girlfriend” and why I never want my kids calling me “mom” and everything else that comes with it, but I can’t change how they see me in their head, especially strangers who I never have the opportunity to have this conversation with. I can’t pass in a store as a man, and I don’t want to. But I can’t help passing as a woman, which I don’t want to do either.

I could deal with all that before, because at least I could still be seen as gay. At least people wouldn’t put me in the straight box. At least I could still appear queer in that sense. But I fell in love with a person who happens to have a dick, and now I’m not a dyke anymore either. There is no space in the visible queer spectrum for me. Once I explain a little bit more about myself, maybe slip in some tales of my ex-girlfriends to “prove” myself, then I can squeeze through the queer door and pass for a little while. But then my partner shows up and back out the door I go. And as much as people say that “bisexual” is an equal part of “LGBT,” (a label I also have an issue with and much prefer pansexual if needing to choose) in my experience you’re only bi/pansexual if you’re dating someone of the same sex; otherwise you’re just a straight girl who slept with a few women in the past.

I have a few friends that I’ve known for a while, when I was visibly queer, and they often tell me that it doesn’t matter how a person’s seen, it’s about how they identify. And I tell myself that it doesn’t matter, that it does only matter how I view myself. As while ideally I agree, it shouldn’t matter what people think, especially the strangers who I’ll never see again, it doesn’t make being seen as a woman, or as straight, any easier. It makes me feel invisible.

I miss the community. I miss being able to be completely myself within the community. Yet now every time I become friends with a new queer person, I’m just dreading the point where they’ll ask if I’m dating anyone, and after I say that it’s a man I have to wait to see if they’ll be open to that or if they won’t be calling me for coffee or drinks anymore. I understand that there’s a need for a tight-knit and potentially exclusive community to a certain extent, because otherwise it can become an unsafe space and the queer community needs to feel safe within itself. But how can we make it safe without judgment? How can we create a queer community where you don’t have to “prove” your queerness, and where queerness is not dependent on who you’re dating or sleeping with, but who you are? When does that day come?

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I'm about as good at keeping my thoughts to myself as you'd imagine I was. A bevy of friends and an intellect capable of using the word “bevy” in a sentence correctly have not better equipped me to avoid those awkward situations where I unthinkingly upset or offend people by tearing apart the things they love in violent, verbal outbursts of rage and liberal arts hubris. Some of my more “clued in” friends have been Pavlovically conditioned to put a drink in front of my face whenever I say the words “well, you see, it's sexist because...”. This seemed to do the trick and yea there was peace o'er the land. But then I moved to California from my birth religion of poolhallism to karakeology, and lo many beloved companions were lost to the gnashing of teeth amidst that infinite darkness. I now enter the bar alone in a paralyzed fearlessness, like an actress hosting a press conference without a publicist. It is inevitable that I will say something icily ignorant. My notoriety depends on it.

Some time ago, between now and when Michael Steele was still scientifically considered “human” (I refrain from using exact dates, lest the people mentioned in this anecdote put two and two together, find me, and give me a stern talking to), I was in a bar with some friends, drinking and chortling in appreciation at the modern performance art that served as our entertainment (talk-singing “Light My Fire” by The Doors could perhaps be the single greatest deconstruction of modern music since Richard Cheese). By chance, the subject of retro video gaming came up. I said “by chance” because we didn't all have gags, tongues, or genitalia in our mouths: when a gaggle of queers get together, video games can be expected to come up in conversation 9 times out of 10, the 10th being the aforementioned orgiastic fantasy. So anyway. I'm really trying to be better about these outlandish tangents. Doing the time warp by to when I still had a point...

We were talking about retro games, a subject that I am very involved and invested in. I have a personal blog devoted to the subject, and I've just begun conceptualizing a gallery show/installation called “The 8 Bit Medicine Show” (same as the blog). My love of retro gaming has influenced my philosophy in regards to all gaming (and life, because really, isn't life just one really long game with no continues?). I have not adjusted to non-academic (see also: real) life very well, and still haven't gotten used to the notion that when someone nods and says “huh, really?”, it is not necessarily an invitation to elaborate on your original statement. When I get that through my head, I can cease to have the following exchange with people, which is itself a sweeter reward than any chocolate covered treat or obligatory sex act done with the TV on could ever be.

“So I think that retro gaming can be incorporated by the queer community as a tool of political, social, and economic expression of protest to the classist heteronormative economic system. Many queers are looking to MMOs, but that's a death trap, man, because all an MMO does is eat your time, and soon we'll have people just stuck sitting at a laptop for 18 hours a day, not going anywhere, not making any real life connections, and our visibility in the real world will eventually disintegrate. I say we promote retro gaming to show that we enjoy gaming, but refuse to keep up with the Joneses. Xbox and PS3 games are only going to get more sexist, more racist, and less original over time. We're funding the media machine that in turn silences our voices and keeps our back pressed to the fringe.”

“Huh...well, that's neat...I'm not sure if I agree...you know, I have my own crazy theories.”

“Well fuck, man, if there was a time and place for crazy theories, it's here and now, brother.”

“All religions preach the same basic moral values, you know? So maybe they're all made by the same divine force, you know, God was smart enough to craft separate religions that would speak in one way or another to all people of the world, and that it doesn't matter what you believe in, as long as you believe.”

“You come up with that all by yourself?”

“Yeah!”

“No research team of theology and world religion majors?”

“No...”

“Well you better write that thesis paper now before anyone else thinks of it. That's a million ruble idea right there.”

TLDR version: A friend (he may not be anymore, I haven't checked my facebook f-list in a while) opened up to me about their spirituality (a tender subject to many queers), and I mocked them in front of their friends because I thought their idea of a multi-conceptual God was somehow more ridiculous than my idea about queers all over the world giving up their Xbox's and reclaiming the Dreamcasts and Super Nintendos from the closets of their pasts...or houses, if that's where said systems are literally located.

I cannot express in words the remorse I feel in refuting what I imagine must have been a hard conclusion for a religious queer to come to (though “jerkface” comes close). Religion, as I've stated before, can be a really touchy subject in queer circles. The ratio of practice what they preach to persecute the everloving shit out of us of many organized religions has driven many queers to the greener pastures of atheism/agnosticism (science and homo/transsexuality are tight and a good word has been put in for us) or the unorganized “old school” spiritualities that constitute what Pat Robertson call “the paganssssss”.

As a Discordian, I am torn between my logic and reason, which tell me that there is no definite and materialistic way to prove the existence of an unseen diety and it is in the best interest of all humanity to live with and acknowledge this doubt, and then there is the childish buffoon in me that takes a particular glee in saying she worships a Goddess who tells her to eat hot dogs and cause as much mischief and confusion as humanly possible. I didn't read my first Richard Dawkins book until I was 23 because I was afraid that it would drive me irreparably mad, like the Necronomicon and Oprah Magazine before it, or force me to grow the fuck up so I could be taken seriously as an adult. But as luck would have it, no matter how well read you are on atheist literature, however, an art degree doesn't get you very far in intellectual circles. Damn it. I never should have played God. Pass me the Dolphin-to-English dictionary, would you?

We as a community cannot succumb to the political and social cannibalism that has brought down the American Left. We must not eat our own, for even united we suffer a massive numbers disadvantage. We need every warm body we can get. Perhaps even some dead ones propped up on sticks. Don't look at me like that. You ever seen a teabagger rally in person? Like a Statler & Waldorf family reunion.

So I've decided that the only way for me to atone for the mockery of my fellow queer is for you to mock me. Don't be shy. I majored in art. I can handle it.

If all things return to you threefold, I figure if just three of you tell me off, then I can be forgiven my transgression.

I know, I know. I'm talented, attractive, articulate, and very attractive. But this must be done. This is not a case of “one law for the rule, and one for the ruler”. If another queer blogger with half the readership I have were to do the same, I would be a real meanie to them. I expect no less from the legions of my personal fan army.

Without further ado, I present you the stick with which to beat me. It is an excerpt from a paper I wrote in college, about six months to a year before I came out as trans. If problematic language and privilege were tacticle attributes, this metaphorical stick would ten feet long, covered in thorns, and possibly have the words “whoever gets hit with this is an asshole” etched on it. Enjoy. Let the trashing commence.

“Although the aesthetic principles and humorous, self-referential nature of the film are surely strong enough to secure my argument that Rocky Horror Picture Show is the most relevant film of the 20th century, I would also like to note that RHPS has what I firmly believe to a culturally impacting message: “give yourself to absolute pleasure” has been interpreted by some film scholars to mean “everyone should be hedonistic and fuck anything that moves”. While we as art critics tend to eschew the more blatant messages found in media, I feel that with the current and historic socio-political landscape of American (and to a larger extent, Western) culture, this seemingly tongue in cheek paper-thin moral could be used to empower those considered to be sexual minorities. The LGBT movement of America has become increasingly platonic and non-sexual in the pursuit of the restoration of its human rights, for fear, perhaps, of “grossing” mainstream America out with the schematics of their sexuality. The flamboyant “queen” of the 70's-80's has been replaced with the suit-and-tie garbed executice circa Will & Grace. Words like “love” and “commitment” are plastered on picket signs to justify the fulfilling of genetic programming. This, I feel, is unncessary. It shouldn't, and doesn't, have to be about love. Frankly, few hetero relationships are. If we could all come to this understanding (that being “sex feels great”) we could avoid much of the arbitrary lip service and backtracking LGBT organizations have to endure to justify their relationships to a perhaps equally hedonistic and materialistic heteronormative culture. If we could all find common ground in the pursuit of hedonism, then we could, in theory, overcome inane, pointless prejudices and open up our schedules for even more mindless, NSA fucking.

This, I believe, is the message RHPS has for America, even if Richard O'Brien didn't intend for that. Deconstructvism for the win."

Do your worst, blogosphere.

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Unboxedqueer is a label I gave myself to let people know that I hate labels. Despite the irony of it, it’s actually quite fitting. I have finally come to terms with the fact that in our society, we need labels. Everyone has to have something to identify as and with. We are so caught up on binaries such as black and white, positive and negative, true and false, and male and female; however, I am ready to accept a label. I have come to adopt the term “queer” as a gender. While accepting this “label,” I am unraveling the necessity for classification. When I use queer to define my gender, it still leaves fluidity in the picture, which is what I love about it. As I identify queer, I don’t have to feel so boxed in with identifications such as: lesbian, butch and femme, male or female. It just allows for more flexibility and I don’t feel so bound by the typical terms.



I have also been giving a lot of thought to the idea of standardizing a third gender into our society. I have thought a lot about the pros and cons of doing so, and worry that it would inhibit more people than it would help. I genuinely believe that while it would be nice to not have to check a box with an “m” or an “f”, it would unravel the bit of headway that trans people in the world have fought so hard for. I worry that it would push trans people into this “other” category, rather than allowing them to completely define as their desired gender. The only way I really see it working would be if claiming this third gender was optional for those who feel they do not fit into a male or female category, while still allowing trans individuals to choose sides. I just feel, however, that our society would want to group the whole LGBTQ community into this third gender and be done with it.

The controversy surrounding the idea of a third gender is whether it would be autonomous or mandatory. If choosing this third gender were to be mandatory, whom would it affect? The entire LGBTQ community? I am not sure anyone would want a choice so domineering. On the other hand, if it were arbitrary, it would link individuals to the freedom of having a label with no labels, which is what many people are seeking; a box with no lid, so to speak. There is also the contention of whether this would be a simple choice or require therapist validation, similar to what trans people face.

There is also a point in which Reece Kelly makes in his video, “Institutionalizing a 3rd Gender.” His point is simply to de-gender rather than incorporate this new idea of a third gender. I think there are many debates to both sides, however I agree a lot with Reece and feel that we need to fight harder to make gender less thought of by society, rather than trying to project another section into the already, too forced binary system. If we could just convey that gender doesn’t define anything, there would be no reason to augment this extra category.

There’s always some gray in the mix. Everything is not always as black and white as some people see it. There are always arguments to arguments and cons to pros. That’s why I feel that instead of adding blue to the black and white, we just need to swirl the two together to come up with our very lovely gray. So instead of male, female, and X, we’ll all just be gray and not feel the need to express what’s in our pants. We don’t have to be afraid to step outside of the box.

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In light of hokumandhex’s previous post, which discussed the pervasive erasure of working class gays from public consciousness, I thought it might be interesting to continue a discussion about the relationship between economics and queer issues. Unfortunately, economics has long been ignored in queer theory circles, and Below the Belt has not been immune to this tendency (see, for example, the few posts that come up when searching for ‘capitalism’).

Nevertheless, given the huge impact of the global financial crisis, now might be the best time to begin a conversation about how different economic systems have impacted queer people around the world. Which type of economic order has been, or has the potential to be, most conducive to sexual and gender liberation? Is it some form of free market capitalism? A Keynesian social democratic economy? Socialism? Nationalist protectionism and mercantilism? Or is it communism?

At least one group of scholars has a ready answer to these questions. Among some of the most prominent contemporary U.S. conservatives and libertarians, it is an article of faith that the most unrestricted form of free market capitalism is inherently conducive to human rights and civil liberties. As Francis Fukuyama wrote in his notorious Cold War victory article, “The End of History”:

“…the spectacular abundance of advanced liberal economies and the infinitely diverse consumer culture made possible by them seem to both foster and preserve liberalism in the political sphere…that state of consciousness that permits the growth of liberalism seems to stabilize in the way one would expect at the end of history if it is underwritten by the abundance of a modern free market economy” (6).

Charilaos Peitsinis, a scholar of F.A. Hayek, has similar thoughts: “Free markets provide a successful counterweight to central planning and governmental decision-making, thus mobilizing uncontrolled social forces which tend to seize power from the ruling elites and distribute it to the masses.” Radical free market capitalism is thus a profoundly anti-authoritarian doctrine. If governments are less involved in economic life - if they own fewer companies, provide fewer services, abandon price controls, deregulate the market and open their countries up to free trade- then their capacity to control citizens’ lives will significantly reduced. Furthermore, as Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty website states, the free market “is the greatest engine of prosperity the world has ever known.” And as they become awash with money, societies will care less about ethnic, racial, gender, and sexual divisions. “Post-material” values - such as, individual autonomy, self-expression, and human rights - will finally be allowed to flourish.

These ideas have largely trickled down to some gay conservatives, who believe as an article of faith that unrestricted free market capitalism is the best promoter of the LGBT cause. Richard Tafel, a former executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, argues in his book, Party Crasher, that gay rights are inseparable from capitalism and free markets. Brian Miller of Outright Libertarians also takes a similar view in a series of blog posts titled, “Free Markets, Free Gay People.” He swoons at the “power of free markets to solve complex social and economic problems quickly and often ingeniously.” And, of course, the free market is definitely “far ahead of the pack” when it comes to LGBT issues, a claim that Miller backs up by providing information about how well gay people are treated by the U.S.’ biggest companies: by 2006, 80% of Fortune 500 companies banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, over one half of them provided health benefits for domestic partners, and many also allowed their gay employees bereavement leave, adoption assistance, and childcare benefits. As one glowing Fortune article puts it, “gay marriage – an idea that has been banned by all but one of 27 states that have voted on it – has become a fact of life inside many big companies.” Keeping productive workers at the workplace by satisfying their lifestyle needs is seen as leading to greater profits, while ejecting successful queer employees has the potential to seriously harm company profitability in the long run.

Andrew Sullivan, in many ways a figurehead of the gay conservative movement, is not immune to this kind of thinking either. Even though he adheres to a more pragmatic version of conservatism, which is skeptical of F.A. Hayek and Milton Friedman, he has not hesitated to cite examples of LGBT successes within America’s biggest corporations as evidence of a connection between free markets and gay rights. Overall, much of the Gay Right is enthralled with the idea that unrestricted free market capitalism provides the best social context for the promotion of LGBT rights, and human rights as a whole: all around the world, “free markets mean free people.”

Naomi Klein’s Challenge

In her book, The Shock Doctrine, Canadian author and activist, Naomi Klein, provides a severe, scorching attack on this idea. Given the massive body of evidence she compiles, it is difficult to argue with her central contention: that radical free market reforms have, in many cases, been enabled by systematic human rights abuses. She essentially describes the fostering or creation of a [Carl] Schmittian “state of exception” as being absolutely pivotal to the success of core neoliberal economic policies, such as the privatization of state-owned companies, deregulation of financial markets, and opening up to unrestricted free trade. According to Klein, after World War II, most societies adopted different versions of regulated capitalism, Keynesian social democracy, Third World economic nationalism, socialism and communism. But since the 1970s, there has been a strong movement, led by Milton Friedman, Chicago School economists, the IMF, the World Bank, and large multinational corporations, to dismantle all of these economic systems and replace them with a “purer” model:

“In the U.S., and in all supposedly capitalist economies, the Chicagoans saw interferences everywhere. To make products more affordable, politicians fixed prices; to make workers less exploited, they kept minimum wages; to make sure everyone had access to education, they kept it in the hands of the state. These measures often seemed to help people, but [Milton] Friedman and his colleagues were convinced – and they “proved” it with their [mathematical] models – that [these policies] were actually doing untold harm to the equilibrium of the market and the ability of its various signals to communicate with each other. The mission of the Chicago School was thus one of purification – stripping the market of these interruptions so that the free market could sing” (Klein, 53).

Privatization, deregulation, and free trade were advised for all economies, regardless of the specific conditions prevailing in each country. And since the 1970s, these policies have been rammed down societies’ throats worldwide through a variety of mostly undemocratic methods. This thesis is definitely not deterministic: there have certainly been cases in which Chicago School-style reforms have been implemented peacefully and democratically. But the sheer number of countries in which that has not been the case clearly suggests that there is no necessary connection between human rights, civil liberties, and radical forms of capitalism. In my view, Klein basically destroys the notion that free markets inevitably lead to free people.

What examples does she provide to buttress her argument? There are far too many to discuss here, so I will focus on the following specific cases: Chile under Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship, Margaret Thatcher’s Britain, and George W. Bush’s America. In all three cases, major free market reforms were accompanied by massive human rights abuses, suspension of civil liberties, and the invoking of Schmittian “states of exception.” All these policies would be portrayed as a response to a shocking crisis or emergency, which justified all kinds of measures that would have not even been considered outside the normal spectrum of legal political action. While the relative scope and severity of human rights violations, repressions, and extra-legal political practices varied considerably in each of these three cases, there is no doubt that they figured prominently in each country’s attempts to privatize publicly-owned companies, outsource key government functions, deregulate financial markets, and open borders to unrestricted free trade.

Pinochet’s Chile is remembered in U.S. public discourse for its nasty torture chambers, mass extermination of political opponents, and tight-fisted rule over a cowed population. In fact, the depravity of the regime and its seemingly wanton blood-letting have been so overemphasized that it has become easy to forget the purposes behind the brutality. In The Shock Doctrine, Klein redresses this imbalance by showing that one of the goals of the disappearances, tortures, and mass exterminations was the need to pummel through a comprehensive economic program that “bore a striking resemblance to Milton Freedman’s Capitalism and Freedom: privatization, deregulation, and cuts to social spending – the free market trinity” (77). The “Chicago Boys,” a group of Chilean economists trained by Friedman at the University of Chicago, had tried to sell these ideas to various politicians and to the public at elections, but they had failed to gain traction: Keynesian, social democratic, nationalist, and socialist ideas were highly popular, which is one of the reasons why Salvador Allende was elected in 1970.

Nevertheless, with Allende deposed by a CIA-backed military coup, which had the stated aim of ridding Chile of alleged Marxists, the “Chicago Boys” finally had the opportunity to impose the so-called economic “shock therapy” that had proven so unpopular at the ballot box. Luckily for them, the military junta, some of Chile’s upper class elites, and multinational corporations were highly receptive to their ideas. Hence, during the 1970s, Chile underwent one of the first radical free market revolutions in the post-WWII era: Pinochet even received advice from Milton Friedman several times. And in sync with the "Chicago Boys," the purpose of the tortures and human rights abuses became to clear out “the people whom the juntas had identified as posing the most serious barrier to their economic program…the military government used the initial chaos of the coup to launch vicious attacks on the trade union movement,” leftist university students, and intellectuals (Klein, 106). Thus, in Chile, the implementation of free market capitalism was not accompanied by improvements in human rights. In fact, it depended on human rights abuses for its implementation and led to the creation of one of one of the most brutal right-wing dictatorships of the late 20th Century.

While Margaret Thatcher’s Britain was certainly nowhere near as brutal as the Pinochet regime, in a relative sense, her imposition of major free market reforms was also accompanied by human rights abuses. It was also made possible by the shock of a war that produced an emergency “state of exception” in the country. According to Klein, “it was the Falklands War that gave Thatcher the political cover she needed to bring a program of radical capitalist transformation to a Western liberal democracy for the first time” (137). With the UK swept up in a jingoistic fervor, and Thatcher’s popularity soaring as a result of the war victory, she finally gained sufficient political capital to privatize on a grand scale, break-up public housing, lay off workers, and downsize unprofitable public sectors, such as mining. Policies that were previously highly unpopular (Thatcher’s approval rating before the Falklands War was 25%) were now almost ignored by a public completely enthralled with the war-winning “Iron Lady.” It was in this context that the 1984-5 coal miners’ strike (in response to potential layoffs and closer of mines) was broken up. According to Klein, Thatcher “unleashed the full force of the state on the strikers…[including] eight thousand truncheon-wielding riot police in one confrontation” (Klein, 138). Thousands of people were injured in the violence. In parallel, Thatcher also launched what has been called “the most ambitious counter-surveillance operation ever mounted in Britain,” which featured major MI5 infiltration of the union, bugging of union members’ homes and places where they frequently met (Klein, 138). Clearly, in Thatcher’s Britain, radical free market reforms and respect for civil liberties did not exactly go hand in hand.

A much worse situation was created by the George W. Bush administration in the United States. It implemented one of the most sweeping privatizations of core government functions in U.S. history, buying crucial state functions, such as defense and disaster management, from private companies. The outsourcing of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to companies such as Blackwater (now Xe Services) and Halliburton is the most infamous case of the government privatizing its key functions. To fight its wars, it is now wholly dependent on private contractors:

“During the first Gulf War in 1991, there was one contractor for every hundred soldiers. At the start of the 2003 Iraq invasion, the ratio had jumped to one contractor for every ten soldiers. Three years into the U.S. occupation, the ratio had reached one to three… [Four years into the occupation], there was one contractor every 1.4 U.S. soldiers” (Klein, 380).

The results were similar in disaster management. FEMA outsourced its hurricane contingency planning for New Orleans to a private contractor. And while the contractor came up with detailed plans for how to address a potential flooding of the city, the government ended up not having enough money to put the plan into action. And thus, very little was done to prepare New Orleans pre-Hurricane Katrina, since the FEMA simply did not have the money to pay the contractor (Klein, 409).

Overall, the Bush administration engaged in a major privatization drive of some of the government’s core functions, and if given a free hand, it would have also completely marketized social security. This puts it in the position of being one of the U.S. administrations most committed to the free market in history. But contrary to the expectations of some conservatives, this has not translated into a positive human rights and civil liberties record for the Bush administration. In fact, it performed abysmally in that department. The USA Patriot Act allowed for unprecedented levels of spying on American citizens, the CIA set up clandestine torture camps (“black sites”) for proven and suspected terrorists, and a whole new category of persons was invented in international law (“enemy combatants”) so that captured suspected terrorists would not have to be treated according to the provisions of the Geneva Conventions. A state of de facto emergency was invoked after the September 11th attacks, which allowed all of this to happen. Overall, under the Bush administration, radical free market reforms went directly along with human rights abuses and the invoking of a "state of exception."

Klein’s thesis is, of course, not absolutely watertight. She definitely does not prove that free markets inherently come with restrictions to civil liberties, or that they always require the invoking of a national emergency or extralegal political action to put them into place. She also does not address Milton Friedman’s economic and social theories in a very detailed way, but at the same time, she excoriates them for being responsible for the impoverishment of millions of people. Furthermore, she does not even mention the numerous abuses and extralegal political activities that have been committed in the name of other economic doctrines – communism, socialism, fascism and mercantilism. Nevertheless, The Shock Doctrine is convincing in simply putting to rest the myth that radical free market capitalism, human rights, civil liberties, and democratic processes necessarily go together, as some conservatives would have us believe. In many cases around the world, “free markets [have not meant] free people,” and Klein is highly adept at proving this point.

Free Market Revolutions & LGBT Rights

To what extent is it possible to adapt Klein’s thesis to queer issues? Does the gay conservatives’ and libertarians’ contention that a free market ideology is more likely to lead to successes for LGBT rights hold up? How has the LGBT community been dealt with in Thatcher’s United Kingdom, Bush’s United States and Pinochet’s Chile? Has these leaders’ commitment to the free-marketization of society fostered concrete successes for queer people?

At least in the case of Thatcher’s Britain and Bush’s America, the answer is definitely “No.” Aside from some who ridiculously embrace her as a camp gay icon, she is mostly remembered for her staunch opposition to gay rights and her government’s passing of Section 28. A clause within the Local Government Act of 1988, it states that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any [government funded] school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.” This nasty clause characterized the relation of mainstream heteronormative society to homosexuality during the Thatcher years. And as we all know, George Bush’s America was similarly hostile. Throughout the 2000s, Bush’s party supported a Federal Amendment to ban same-sex marriage and managed to pass bans on gay marriage in more than 20 states. The marriage issue can be seen as a proxy for the general disdain with which his party and his administration viewed gay issues and sexuality in general (abstinence only sexual education programs, for example). The mantra of the 2000s can be summed up with the following Bush quote:

“I believe marriage has served society well, and I believe it is important to affirm that — that marriage between a man and a woman is the ideal…And the job of the president is to drive policy toward the ideal.”

Chile’s Pinochet is a somewhat more complex case. There was, of course, no chance of an organized LGBT movement emerging under his rule, since the military regime did not accept any kind of organized campaigning or opposition. However, the free market reforms did allow for the establishment of gay clubs and for the development of a gay community in the capital, Santiago. As Victor Hugo Robles writes:

“The heavy regulation of sexuality that has always existed in Chile intensified during the Pinochet dictatorship as society became increasingly militarized. At the same time, however, the rise of free market ideology allowed for the emergence of the first gay dance clubs” (38).

Nevertheless, this was definitely not a reflection of “official tolerance towards homosexuality, but [only] the tacit recognition of homosexuals as a potential economic market” (Robles, 38). In this sense, capitalism does provide queers with an opportunity: if they provide an economic demand, and if having venues and enterprises that cater to them has the potential to be profitable, then it is likely that gay-friendly night clubs and gay-friendly stores will flourish. Hence, people will be forced by the profit motive to at least tolerate the existence of alternative sexualities and genders. Queers can effectively use the lack of morality embedded in the market to stake a place in society.

This was one of the strategies employed by Harvey Milk, who managed to convince homophobic storeowners and business people in the Castro to tolerate the homosexuals simply by reminding them of how well their businesses were doing in the increasingly gay-populated neighborhood. The businesses that accepted gays as costumers flourished, while those that did not suffered and had to shut down (see these two previous posts for more details on Milk’s approach to gay activism). Nevertheless, there are huge problems with encouraging tolerance/acceptance of queers solely on the basis of the profit motive – it sets the stage for marriages of convenience based on common economic interests, but completely ignores the need for wholesale transformation of the dominant sexual and gender order. It promotes begrudging tolerance by those who profit from gays, but does very little to foster acceptance by society at large. It also makes queers vulnerable to future economic shocks – what if their community stops being profitable? And what if business owners find some other means of making a profit? The risk that society would revert to full-on homophobia would certainly be palpable.

If not the radical free market…?

Overall, it seems that the gay conservatives and libertarians are wrong in simply assuming that “free markets mean free gay people.” Many governments committed to radical forms of free market capitalism have not adopted gay-friendly policies. And while their championing of marketization may have facilitated the opening of gay-friendly clubs and enterprises, this purely lays a foundation for tolerance based on economic interests, not for major transformations of values about sexuality. The point that has to be made about the disconnect between free markets and gay rights, though, is that the same probably applies to every economic ideology. Indeed, if we look at the track record of socialist and communist regimes around the world, they fare quite poorly on LGBT issues as well. For example, take a look at the abysmal situation for LGBT individuals in Castro’s Cuba and in other communist-in-name regimes around the world, or for example, the fact that Chile under Allende was more-or-less the same for homosexuals as Pinochet’s regime (Robles, 38).

It seems to me that progress for queers may not be linked to any specific economic ideology, that it is possible under a variety of economic regimes, and largely influenced by a variety of other cultural and political factors. Or is it? As a crude experiment, I looked up the history of gay marriage legislation and found that all of them had been most fiercely promoted (and usually implemented) by left-of-center political parties, who at least nominally profess a social democratic or Keynesian ideology: the Social Party in Belgium, the Democratic Party in some U.S. states, the Canadian Liberals, the Socialist Left Party in Norway, Spain’s Socialist Party, the Social Democrats in Sweden, and South Africa’s ANC. Perhaps there is something then about Keynesian social democracy that is particularly amenable to supporting LGBT rights? Perhaps its ideological vision of cooperation between different strata in society, and of social solidarity, is inherently the most favorable context for the promotion of the queer agenda? It is extremely difficult to provide answers to these questions, but it would be very interesting to look into them.

***For More Information***
You can purchase Naomi Klein’s book here. Also have a look at the following gay conservative books: Richard Tafel’s Party Crasher, Bruce Bawer’s A Place at the Table, and Andrew Sullivan’s Virtually Normal. For more details on gay conservatives’ economic views, see Paul Robinson’s Queer Wars: The New Gay Right and its Critics, Richard Goldstein – Homocons: The Rise of the Gay Right, and Michael Warner’s, The Trouble with Normal. For more on Milton Friedman and Chicago School economics, see this wikipedia page and the book, Capitalism and Freedom.

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In the mid part of the last decade, a phenomena crept into prominence, that of the ‘metrosexual.’ What is a ‘metrosexual,’ you ask? The simple definition was a “straight man who acts gay.” However, that definition simplified the concept far too much: a metrosexual is a man who takes pride in himself and in his appearance, to the degree that he would engage in activities commonly seen as ‘feminine’ or ‘non male’ in order to keep up a pristine appearance. So the metrosexual plucked his eyebrows and had his hair styled, not cut. He was lauded by some, and abhorred by others, but he was there nonetheless: an urban cowboy in Abercrombie chaps with Kenneth Cole boots. Some stated it was the evolution of the idea of “male.” Some said it was too good to be true.

History has proven that the latter won out. As quickly as the word hit the common parlance, it was struck down as dead by the contemporary media. Some mourned that the metrosexual was just “too pretty” to live. Some felt the metrosexual was just a NYC/LA/Chicago scenario that didn’t really impact the rest of the country. It is far too easy to recognize the metrosexual as the “other,” a male that had all of the benefits of heterosexual AND homosexual men from the point of view of many women (“he dresses up AND he likes women! He’s a human Ken doll!”). But just because the fairer sex were enamored with the metrosexual as the other doesn’t mean that the less well coifed kin of the fair haired boys were in any way pleased to see him on the scene. Here’s four reasons for the murder, ahem, disappearance of the metrosexual:

(a) the metrosexual is regional – a cosmopolitan male who drinks cosmopolitans could do very well in New York, but might only last 5 minutes in a ”beer only” bar in central Tennessee. The fact is, to many males, there was nothing “male” about the metrosexual. The gay man could be a non-threatening cohort for a heterosexual woman (and a roadblock for heterosexual men). But the metrosexual, who to your beer drinking “real man” ACTS like a gay man (because he portrays the ‘I relate’ charm to women) but is more than willing to sleep with a woman. That has ‘bar fight’ written all over it.

(b) the metrosexual is expensive – keeping yourself in tip top shape and well adorned is quite an ordeal. There are socio-cultural systems that allow women to take advantage of this “self maintenance”, not men. In other words, if Kelly wants to leave work early to get her hair done, her peers (and perhaps supervisor) would be fine with that; Paul, on the other hand…is a different story.

(c) the metrosexual might as well be gay – the metrosexual got the same bad rap that bisexuals continue to get in our society; nobody believes them. Heterosexuals and homosexuals alike are torn on whether bisexuals are “confused”, “in process of coming out”, or “just damn greedy”. Nether side of the sexual spectrum fully embraces bisexuality, and some contingents even doubt its existence. Metrosexuality faced the same uphill battle. Straight men thought many metrosexuals were “practically gay” or “on the road”. Gay men in significant numbers shared this feeling. Both sides bought into a concept of heteronormative behavior, and frankly the metrosexual didn’t fit. The ultimatum was “either turn gay, or start biting your nails and going to a barber like every other guy!”

(d) the metrosexual is just the ‘sensitive guy’ in better clothes – every generation had a concept of the ‘sensitive guy’ that was much more attractive to women (in social settings) than the rough and tumble alternative. In the ‘90’s it was the “guys who cried”. Before that it was the guys who “shared their feelings”. The metrosexual is simply an aspect of this. The problem is that just like the sensitive guy, the metrosexual is situational. Some guys might be sensitive under some conditions, but heartless under others.

Let us not think that men (gay and straight) played a part in this “murder” alone; women had their fair part. The heteronormative idea of the male wins out in some scenarios; he may be hot in that blazer and those loafers, but if there’s danger, I don’t want him waving his Prada umbrella at someone. Further reinforcing this heteronomativity is the idea that the metrosexual could be ‘pretty’ but not ‘too pretty’…he still had to be a man. When the oil needs to be changed, Banana Republic shirt my ass, you do your job.

Will a condition like “metrosexual” rear its head? Already has! Yes, the metrotextuals have entered the scene. Now, let’s see how long they exist before they are killed….

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1.14.2010

Gender 101

My previous (and first post) dealt with the concept of femme gender and whether or not it needs to be legitimized. An excellent suggestion was made that I make myself clear on what I mean by gender and the terms that I’m using and that I do a little Gender 101.

Usually with a 101, we start with vocabulary so that we can understand the words being used. Here are some common terms that are used when talking about sex and gender:

Sex: A term used to describe a type of physical body, can be based on primary and secondary sex characteristics, hormones, and/or chromosomes.

Primary Sex Characteristics: Sex characteristics that are directly related to the reproductive system and encompass genitals

Secondary Sex Characteristics: Sex characteristics that are not directly part of reproductive organs and develop during puberty (such as breasts)

Genitals: External sex organs that are directly related to the reproductive system

Reproductive System: The organs of a body that allow a species to reproduce

Gender: A social and psychological identity

Gender Roles: Sets of behavior and assigned by society that are supposed to correspond to traditional ideas about gender

Male Sex: Usually assigned at birth based on primary sex characteristics, such as the presence of a penis, scrotum, and testicles. The assignment can be based on hormones, other primary sex characteristics, secondary sex characteristics, chromosomes

Female Sex: Usually assigned at birth based on primary sex characteristics, such as the presence of a clitoris, vagina and vulva. The assignment can be based on hormones, other primary sex characteristics, secondary sex characteristics, chromosomes

Man: A gender identity socially assigned to those who are assigned with the male sex at birth as well as a gender identity that one may come to through experiences and identification.

Woman: A gender identity socially assigned to those who are assigned with the female sex at birth as well as a gender identity that one may come to through experiences and identification.

Gender Fluid: A person whose gender identity and presentation fluctuates

Third Gender: A person whose gender identity and presentation does not fit within concepts of man or woman

Intersex: Intersex bodies are that do not fit within the concept of an exclusively male or female sexed body.

Biological Sex: A term used to describe the sex of the physical body – a controversial term

Cisgendered: A term used to describe those whose gender identity matches that of the sex they were assigned at birth

Transgender: An umbrella term to describe those whose gender identity falls outside of the normative assignment of male sex = male gender and masculine behavior and gender presentation, or of female sex = female gender and feminine behavior and gender presentation

Transsexual: A term originating in the medical field to describe one who has through medicine changed a part of their sex either through hormones or surgery

Feminine: Characteristics of a person that are associated with femaleness and female gender roles

Masculine: Characteristics of a person that are associated with maleness and male gender roles

Butch: Can be used to mean a masculine gender identity for a person assigned female at birth, or a masculine gender identity for a gay-identified man or a gender identity that encompasses some masculine or what is defined as butch characteristics originating in the lesbian community

Femme: Can be used to mean a feminine gender identity for a person assigned female at birth that identifies as a lesbian, or a feminine gender identity for a gay-identified man or a gender identity that encompasses some feminine or what is defined as Femme characteristics originating in the lesbian community

Boi: Usually a term for a young masculine or gender fluid identified person who was assigned female at birth, also commonly used among young gay-identified men

Boy: Used as a term for a young masculine or male-identified person, sometimes used by anyone with a young masculine gender identity

Girl: Used as a term for a young feminine or female-identified person

Grrl: A term originating among third-wave feminists to replace traditional ideas of young girls as tender and passive

Effeminate: Gender characteristics associated with the behavior of gay men
Normative: Follows cultural and social norms

We are usually taught that there are two sexes – male and female-and two corresponding genders to the two sexes – man and woman, in some circles, that is considered the end all and be all of sexed bodies and gender identities. In other circles it is acknowledged that there are more than two sexes, that there are those who are intersex, and that the range of sexed bodies is quite large with no clear demarcation between the two. Historically and currently in some areas, the concept that there are two sexes has been considered a simple fact of biology and that there are two corresponding genders a simple organizing principle of society.

Recent developments in gender studies, and findings in anthropology and sociology have challenged both viewpoints. Several theorists, namely Anne Fausto-Sterling have challenged the idea that sex as we know it is a biological fact. She points out that the range of sexed bodies is far larger than simply male or female and that historically and currently our concepts of what constitutes ‘male’ or ‘female’ hormones, the penis and/or the clitoris as well as secondary sex characteristics have been socially influenced for as long as the concepts have been around. Other challenges on Western concepts of gender can be found in comparative Anthropological gender studies show that many other cultures have a different gender structure, they may have more than two genders or entirely different characteristics assigned to the genders they have, even if they two follow the male=man and female=woman taxonomy.

However, one does not necessarily need to look to academia to understand and know that many people’s lived experience differs from what is considered normative in terms of sex and gender. Communities of differently sexed and differently gendered folks, and other sexual minorities such as the BDSM-Leather-Fetish and LGBT communities, have a wide variety of gender identities that are created, celebrated, contested and that move into other communities. The world at large includes a plethora of sexed bodies and gendered experiences and the ways in which I have experienced the world as someone who identifies as a Femme, but not necessarily a woman, and the experiences of others all across the sex and gender spectrum are the types of experiences I would like to examine, celebrate and delve into in my writing. This is just the tip of the iceberg – it is Gender 101 and I look forward to Gender 201 and beyond.

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I call myself transfeminist, because I identify as trans (with a little help from our wonderful society which does so much to keep me from forgetting it) and feminist. Usually this isn't a problem: I identify as a woman, and  feminism is about furthering the causes and rights of women, and I am. so. there.

But at the same time it has to be acknowledged that feminism and transgender activism often have found themselves in at best an uneasy alliance, and at worst completely divorced from each other. A certain strain of radical feminism (see: Heart, Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, and my friends at AROOO) maintain a richly transphobic tradition of never seeing trans women as women (or trans men as men, for that matter; that's why so many trans men have had no problem getting into MWMF), using such all-time hits as "mutilated men," "colonizers," and still number one with a bullet, "rapists." (I always like that one. I once went looking for statistics on how many trans women get raped a year. The numbers proved very elusive--it seems most trans victims are either killed instead of being raped, or killed right after being raped.)

I'd love to say that this tradition is an out-of-the-mainstream offshoot of more mainstream feminism, but I think we should confront and be honest about heritages--that in fact, this transphobia is almost genetic to the modern feminist movement that began in the '60s and is usually called Second Wave feminism. Consider how many of the leading lights of that movement--the heavy-duty theorizers--have proven to be extremely transphobic: Germaine "ghastly parody of women" Greer, Janice "morally mandating it out of existence" Raymond, and Mary "Frankenstein Phenomenon" Daly. (Andrea Dworkin will get an Incomplete on this excercise--she seemed to feel that transition was the best thing for us poor deluded souls until the Genderpocalypse would come and we'd advance into the genderless utopia.)

Mary Daly's recent death has highlighted that split again. Many feminist blogs picked up the story and either presented Daly as completely laudatory with maybe a few distracting foibles, simply ignored the transphobia that was a not insignificant part of her career (she was Janice Raymond's thesis advisor, fercryinoutloud), or both. Sadly, that even included Shakesville, where Melissa McEwan posted an uncritical obit of Daly from the Boston Globe (theologian, radical, wouldn't teach men, etc.) without any mention of her transphobia or problems with feminists of color (see Audre Lorde's famous "Open Letter to Mary Daly", to which Daly never publicly replied.) Normally Shakesville is both very trans-friendly and usually quite quick to correct oversights--and Liss did put up an update that addressed the problems with Daly. And I have no reason to doubt her statement that she simply did not know about the darker side of Daly. (Although the only reason I can think of for that is that she simply didn't know much of anything--like me, though at this point I pretty much assume a Second Wave feminist is anti-trans until proven otherwise--about Daly; the Lorde-Daly feud, at least, was a famous controversy of late-Second Wave feminism.)

And that probably rated more than just an update to the original entry. Certainly Liss's own eulogy of Teddy Kennedy (a terrific piece of writing) remained ambivalent, and Kennedy did much more for many, many more people than Daly ever did. And it's frustrating to not see a similar kind of piece right off the bat for Daly--as one of the commentators at Shakesville said, "how horrible DOES a feminist (or other activist supposedly on 'our' side) have to be before we (the general we, humanity, not necessarily Shakesville) condemn hir rather than laud hir?"

The thing is, to someone like me Daly wasn't a mostly good person who had some regrettable flaws; to me, she was the enemy, and all the economiums by feminist women who were so positively influenced by Daly's erudition and the real sisterhood she gave people during her life--all those stick in my throat, because Daly would never offer them to me. To her, I am a monster. She not only didn't want to be my sister, she wanted me to not exist.

That doesn't mean, like some trans activists, I'm ready to give up on feminism. (I love Genderbitch's writing and I groove on her radicalism, but I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel myself on either Shakesville or feminism.) Not the least because there are feminists out there who do feel that trans women are integral to feminism--the irrepressible Sady of Tigerbeatdown (who had hands down the best and most balanced obit of Daly), the way that Feministe has tried to increase its trans awareness after some spectacular failures last year, and Laurie Penny's recent remarkable post at The F-Word:

"Many otherwise decent and sensible cis feminists have fallen prey to lazy transphobic thinking. In the vast majority of cases, cis feminist transphobia does not stem from deep, personal hatred of trans people, but from drastic, tragic misapprehension of the issues at stake. Recently, outspoken feminist Julie Bindel declared in an article for Standpoint magazine: “Recent legislation (the Gender Recognition Act, which allows people to change sex and be issued with a new birth certificate) will have a profoundly negative effect on the human rights of women and children.” Her views are founded on the assumption that “transsexualism, by its nature, promotes the idea that it is ‘natural’ for boys to play with guns and girls to play with Barbie dolls… the idea that gender roles are biologically determined rather than socially constructed is the antithesis of feminism.”

Bindel and others have, initially with the best of intentions, misunderstood not only the nature of transsexualism but also the radical possibilities for gender revolution that real, sisterly alliance between cis feminists and the trans movement could entail."

Articles, and feminists like these, are what keep me a feminist; because they keep alive bell hooks' maxim that "Feminist movement is vital both in its power to liberate us from the terrible bonds of sexist oppression and in its potential to radicalize and renew other liberation struggles." That kind of solidarity--that kind of movement against all kinds of oppression--are kept vital by many feminists today, and are why I still choose to call myself a feminist.

The trans part I just have to live with.

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As loud as a newborn baby’s cry, our gender screams, “Name me!” Our society is so defined by gender, that we must gender-ize everything. Every single thing that we do, wear, and own has been given a pre-determined, societal driven gender stereotype.

Let’s all consider the fact that when you enter or leave a store someone is going to call you ma’am or sir at least once. While checking out, you may receive something such as, “Thanks ladies.” The cashier, floor workers, and other shoppers have all assumed you a gender in their five minutes of meeting you.

Colors often set a tone for gender, as we’re told from the beginning of our lives that pink is for girls and blue is for boys. The same sets in as we wrap our newborn babies in gender defining blankets of blue and pink. Occasionally, you’ll find a gender-neutral baby blanketed in yellow or green, yet the first thing someone says in that instance is, “aww, how cute. Is it a boy or a girl?” Why is everyone so fixated on knowing what is below everyone else’s belts?

From the hobbies we choose to the types of vehicles we drive, they’ve all been given a gender. For example, societal thinking is if you like to work on cars, you must be masculine. If you like to cook or sew, you must be feminine. If you’re into watching sports, you’re definitely male and if it’s gardening or baking that you’re into, you have to be female. If you drive a truck, that slaps masculinity right on your back, but anybody can drive a car.

Career choices also affect the way people judge your gender. This aspect is opening up a bit more, where you see more male nurses and more female construction workers, however there is still that gender-based stereotype behind everything we do.

The two things I can’t quite grasp the gender labels on are socks and bicycles. I cannot possibly imagine why we have socks packaged separately for men and women, boys and girls. Socks are for feet, all of which have ten toes. I can understand sizing differences, but gender, I just don’t get. I feel the same about bicycles. How is the position of one simple bar gender defining? If you look at men and women’s bikes, they’re exactly the same, minus that one bar. Again, sizing makes perfect sense, but gender still doesn’t fit a bicycle.

One of my least favorite gender-named areas: A PUBLIC RESTROOM. You’ve got to be kidding me! We seriously still have this separated? I thought this debate was going to end in favor of uni-sexed bathrooms. It’s a nightmare trying to go anywhere, while hoping I don’t have “to go.” I stand there between the two doors, trying to figure out which one is the best choice for today. I know deep inside myself that neither choice is right, yet I have to make a quick decision. Typically, no matter what choice I make, I’m going to get a confused, intimidated look from one random stranger or another.

Clothing departments are pretty comparable to bathroom experiences. I get the look, which translates to me that I am too masculine to be female and too feminine to be male. I am going to assume that it is our society’s influence on me as I find myself playing this gender tug-of-war game. I often find myself trying anything to fit into one gender confine or another. I, too, have fallen prey to this whole, “battle of the sexes” charade. I think, “well you do this like a girl and that like a boy.” I try to name myself a butch lesbian, but then argue that I’m too masculine for the term, “lesbian” because it re-iterates gender. I worry that if I were to transition to a male gender, I would then be mistaken for a gay man. It’s frustrating to not fit into either category because our society has put a gender on everything. However, I feel it’s only right to be who you are and for me, that’s somewhere in the middle. We don’t have to be afraid to step outside of the box.

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+ news +

Well, at least the federal jobs site tries to avoid trans discrimination,
interesting article about Westernization and conceptualizations of mental illness,
and BTB's 2009 Reader is published! (yes, this is news alright?) for the week.


Remember, if you love BTB and its writers, please donate $5 via our Donate page. And if you're feeling sassy, a $20 donation will get you a hard copy of our beautiful reader!
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Responsibility.

It's not a word you hear often in the circles of fandom. And admittedly, on a list of people suited to pontificate on such a theme, I come pretty low, perhaps just above FEMA grande queso Michael D Brown (linguistic humor and cultural references? Yeah, you better gasp collectively, I'm too legit to quit).

We don't like to associate responsibility with comics, games, and other things that nerds get excited about; such “flights of fancy” (and ultimately, all venues of art and entertainment) would appear to be a deliberate shirking of responsibility in favor of expression and the gratification of creative venture. But society and media has curved in a way the abstract language centers of our brain could not have predicted. We live in an environment where media is not only consumed, but emulated.

The “monkey see, monkey do” nature of humanity has driven us to isolate from the real world in favor of recreating the fiction we read (...to help escape the real world...huh...that seems so obvious when we think of it, I don't know why I didn't see that coming...I never should have played God!), a phenomena that, despite its similitaries to the ancient human tradition of organized religious practice, is but a newborn when compared to the chronology of human existence. As far as I know. I took two history/anthropology classes and cosplay, fanfic, and translating culturally relevant writings into imaginary languages never came up.

Allow me to do the time warp and re-read my last sentence: basing your life off the bible isn't that much different from Star Trek fandom, when you consider the fictitious nature of the source material. Yes, I just said the Bible isn't real.
Come on. Flame me 'til I love you.

We are all tangled in a web of misinformation and sleight of hand, where even the most empirical , materialistic of knowledge and fact can be lost in a sea of baseless uknowns. And now for the non-poetic description: nobody knows anything because we're all SHOUTING OVER EACH OTHER to get our point across.

But Jetta...you say...you're a Discordian, surely you must favor such a disorganized system of information. To which I reply nay...voice inside my head...such a system is actually representative of order, because this “system”, if you can call it that, gives all opinions (and the facts that are misfiled as opinions) equal weight. This facilitates the layer cake that provides the foundation of western society, where “white” people are given more opportunities than people of color, where religious fundamentalists can vote down the restoring of human rights to groups of non-believers, and (insert your own misjustice here). In such a system, everyone is responsible for maintaining the integrity of their own background and community. It only takes one gaffe, one slip up to get our “we have our shit together” card revoked.

In a society where teachers have to respect parents keeping their children home from field trips because it doesn't jive with a Biblical understanding of science, you can bet your ass that a writer can be held accountable for what they say, even if its fiction.

GET TO THE POINT!

Stephanie Meyer and J.K. Rowling, authors behind the Twilight and Harry Potter books respectively, are irresponsible and should be held accountable for the marketing the reinforcement of patiarchal stereotypes to children (and adults for whom Pahlaniuk is too much to ingest).

Say what?

I will preface my onslaught of unwarranted criticism by saying this: I don't think the system is fair. In a perfect world, Stephanie Meyer could continue to promote the marginalization of women without meanieheads like me poking their noses in and saying “hey, that's demeaning to women everywhere...can't you show a little pride for your own?” But life isn't fair. As a trans writer, I am expected, to a degree, not to embarrass the trans community with my ignorance or oppressor apologism. And just as I can't come on here and say “doof doof we're the best of both worlds doof doof”, Meyer and Rowling, as women, should not be allowed to get away with marketing their gender de-powering fiction to a patriarchal audience (many of whom are young women hoping to see strong female characters to identify with). Maybe when women make as much as a man does in the same position, when an abortion does not require armed security, we can write Meyer as a mere peddler of subpar fiction and be done with it. Until that day, however, we are all charged with the task of not hurting the credibility of our respective communities.

Twilight is an easy target because it sucks. Meyer's writing style, if it can be called a style, most resembles a composition notebook of gothic poetry written by a group of teenagers who upon pooling their literary background together would come up with an improperly quoted Edgar Allan Poe poem, some Robert Smith lyrics, and a half-finished Mad Libs book with “blood” or some variation of filling every blank line. The dialog is pedestrian, the characters are negative one-dimensional, it easily undoes the work Bram Stoker and Anne Rice did to establish a solid literary vampire mythos, and oh god if I keep this up the article will never be finished. It sucks, sucks, sucks. If anyone believes I am speaking in too broad and dismissive critical language I will be happy to write an even longer article just about the inequities of Mrs. Meyer's literary suckage. Don't. Tempt. Me.

I will not mince words (or meat, since I prefer pies with cream filling): Twilight is gender mutiny. It's female protagonist is a submissive, spineless basket case who longs for the love of a brooding, possessive pedophile. Bella is incapable of fending for herself in any way, even relying on Edward to protect her from herself (see also: lose her virginity because even blood-sucking cannibals know it feels great to wait). When Edward up and leaves her because he grows tired of having to be her constant protector, she simply latches onto another supernatural hearthrob, thus igniting one of the most anti-feminist social trend (Team Edward vs Team Jacob) since “should we a)drown b)hang or c)burn these witches”? Admittedly, Meyer is probably not entirely at fault. I'm sure that's some advertising Machiavelli's idea, and when Joe Lieberman brings forth the apocalypse, Lady Gaga will punish him for his sins.

Meyer could, perhaps, be forgiven for such a problematic premise, if it not were for her highly publicized Mormon faith. Mormon author. 108 year old man and teenage girl who cannot be trusted with her own sexuality. Awkward descriptions of intimacy, as if written by someone who's either 1) never done it or 2) never enjoyed it. I'm sorry, if you don't see the parallels here, if you can't see where the story of vampires ends and the Mormon morality story begins, if you can't see the Joseph Smith watermark (metaphorically speaking, don't your book to the light), then I'm sorry, there's nothing more I can do for you. Crawl back into your parent's basement and read the nearest religious scripture until the world ends. Which should be relatively soon, if all these articles and stories I read on the internet about girls leaving their boyfriends and “holding out” for someone more like “their” Edward are indeed true and not some elaborate hoax. Twilight is fitting the women of our generation with a psychological chastity belt, encouraging them to reserve themselves for someone who doesn't exist, in both a very literal and metaphoric/philosophical sense.

People like Edward Cullen do not exist. If they did, instead of writing this article I would be huffing smelling salts in a bunker gripping a shotgun that I've named Lilith and a case of silver bullets that I've drawn various emoticons on to give me some semblance of company. Because if human history has proven anything, it's that people with power will use it for their own gains, and for immortal cannibals “their own gains” that would mean tearing out every jugular from here to Istanbul. If vampires existed, they would not be benevolent and loving. Society can hardly handle the people who think they're vampires.

Now, I'm not arguing that this was all Meyer's plan. But I would argue that if such a scenario were to happen, if women everywhere sought to emulate Bella, if the book inspired more women to sexually repress themselves and reject relationships with other people in favor of “holding out” for some imaginary prince charming, then Meyer and those like her would experience a feeling of validation. And there's no hint that this phenomenon will fade anytime soon. People are making money every day by feeding this fad to women, women who have not been properly educated on their own herstory, who couldn't tell you who Susan B. Anthony is or what Helen Keller did with her life other than be deafblind and the butt of so many ableist jokes. Like the digital sexism mentioned in my Misnintendogny article, Meyer is just one of many people who make a profit from the undereducated, underdeveloped, and underappreciated female population in our society, and have few if any ethical qualms by promoting female submission and sexual repression. And Meyer is one of just many people who should be held responsible, though her more than others because she is the one who hath released the hounds, so to speak, by allowing her work to be snatched up by merchandise peddlers.

When the patriarchy is overthrown and women are restored (not granted) their equal standing in society, I want it made perfectly clear that Stephanie Meyer is not invited to the Lilith Fair on PPV viewing party. But beyond that, there is no further retribution necessary. One day every women in this country will have a destiny free from the constraints of male interest. But her books will always suck.

I saved J.K. Rowling for second because apart from the troubling “downtrodden protagonist who still manages to have every advantage (and people who are trying to kill him for it)” premise, I really liked the Harry Potter books. Up to Goblet of Fire, after which I went back to casually reading them on long flights and waits in the doctor's office as opposed to the “walking home so I can read this chapter on the way” setting that was my default. Rowling is an exceptional writer, and I make no reservations about giving her credit for getting kids re-interested in reading again. That's what makes her patriarchal pandering all the more heartbreaking.

When asked what attribute is most essential for wizardry, most would respond with intelligence/brain power/chutzpah. Culturally we link brain function to wizardry, like strength to warriors and glitter to queens. So it should follow that of the main characters in the Harry Potter series, Harry should be the smartest wizard, being the “chosen one” and all that. But not so. The smartest wizard of his clique is clearly Hermione, who on more than one occasion uses her wits to save Harry and Ron from some bullshit situation they probably put themselves in the first place. And what does all that studying and “applying herself” get her in the end? Third banana to a scarface over there with the complex. Oh, and married to the second banana, Ron.

So after all those adventures, after standing up against the forces of evil and assisting the prodigal hero on his quest that we all knew from Book One he was going to complete, she ends up married to the comic relief in another one of those “we're always at each other's throats because we love each other” that is so my mother's first marriage. Why couldn't she have married Harry? Because Pothead needed to end up with Ginny, his damsel in distress of choice. Better yet, why even marry within the trio to begin with? Can't a sister go on some adventures without marrying one of the males in her party? She's the only one of the trio to complete her seventh year, and the only one to pursue a viable career after that final fiasco with the Death Eaters. Harry and Ron become Aurors (magical cops). Oh gee, how convenient, becoming Aurors after you've defeated the most dangerous wizard you will ever encounter, ever.

Hermione goes on to have a career and uses her position to improve the quality of life for magical creatures, and H & R Blockhead eat donuts and bore themselves to death with war stories. Who's gotta kill your parents for a gal to get a break around here?

I have argued in the past, and will continue to in the future, that Harry's loss of parents is a form of privilege. He gets a reputation that doesn't really earn until later in the books, has quite a long list of people who are willing to risk their necks to keep his ass off the chopping block, and, if I remember correctly, was fucking loaded in the books. Oh, and he's full-blooded (to my knowledge, feel free to correct me). Hermione, despite being smarter than Harry, saving him on a few occasions, and being so vital to the story that Rowling herself admitted that she was used a “plot dump” to explain the HP universe in-story, does not get the recognition she deserves because she does not possess Harry's reputation (privilege) of surviving Voldemort's curse, an incident that Harry had almost no control over.

This is not to say that Hermione is not a dynamic character. She is, in fact, one of the best in the story, and one of my personal favorites. But with that admiration and identification comes the tragedy of realizing that no matter how smart she got or how many dark wizards she slayed in battle, she would always remain confined in some infernal cursed glass ceiling because not only was she a girl, but not “chosen”.

Unlike Meyer, I don't really believe Rowling was intending to make a message with her restained female protagonist. But she set out to make a series of books about a prodigal male protagonist, one who would overcome evil and become the most powerful wizard of his day and use that power for good for blah blah blah, and by sheer design, these types of stories regulate women to be sidekicks and the occasional love interest. Rowling could have broken that mold and had Hermione branch out and become her own woman and forge her own destiny, but instead she ends up married into the same family Harry does (hmmmm....remind you of Song of Roland, aqueertheory?). To tell little girls that they could one day grow up to be like Hermione is, in the grand scheme of things, only mildly different from telling her that she could be a very very well liked receptionist.

I'm not suggest that Rowling be flogged in public (despite my proclivities for BDSM and British ladies) or put through the critical ringer. But as a woman author, even if only a “children's” author, I think she is susceptible to a certain amount of criticism for simply telling the same old “boy with destiny eventually grows up to earn it” story when the public could have really used something a little more empowering for the female readership which makes up a considerable amount of the fandom. There are no statistics available as far as I know, but of all the HP readers I know, 80 percent of them are women, easily. I'm sure if I did the math I'd get a bigger number, if I did the math right, which there is no guarantee of. It's not hard to imagine that if more women are going to college than men, than more women are reading than men. And if you're a woman writing for an audience that is comprised muchly (if not mostly) of women, perhaps it's not outrageous to demand a little better gender sensitivity from you. Just a thought.

So what does any of this mean? That female authors should be held to a higher standard in regards to their portrayal of women and the female condition? Yeah, I think that's fair to say.

Also, I think it's fair to say that I'm blowing this up, and that I'm over-analyzing two series of fantasy books that were intended for kids and teenagers, and that I'm just finding shit to complain about, and that I shouldn't be, because I'm the comic book and video game person, and this is a little out of my league.

You may be right on all acounts. Especially that last one.

But in a period of inequality, in the age of the layer cake, we must hold everyone accountable for the advancement of their oppressed communities. Even if every women becomes an avowed feminist, if every queer become an activist, even with fronts united we would still be fighting an uphill battle, and we cannot afford, nobody can afford, for people like Meyer and Rowling (but Meyer mostly) to profit from underselling the capability and spirit of women, even if only through fiction. Blah blah, blah blah blah, blah blah.

No one is going to make room for feminism.

We must make room. Boycott, criticize and expose the truth of patriarchal religious propaganda disguised as vampire stories. Kindly remind decent writers that they could and should be doing a lot better, considering those same people they're underestimating are the ones who put her ass in that nice-ass house she's got.
In the end we are all responsible.

Just as I chide Meyer and Rowling for failing women, I will chide anyone, including myself, who simply shrug off this mainstream babble as damaging and stupid but does not seek to replace it with something better, by either promoting/distributing/spreading the word or creating it ourselves. But I'm an artist. That's my solution to everything.

So, fight the good fight.

Yo, I like your video game stuff a lot better.

In the meantime I'll try to get my own works published so I have other things to do than bitch about people who are more successful than I probably ever will be.
And you'll be posting them on here because it's the only way you could get people to read it.

One day, I'm gonna afford healthcare and medicine, and you're gonna wish I didn't.

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