Sorry for the serious lack of posting lately, folks. I’ve been having bad blogging fatigue (I’ve hardly even been reading blogs), so I’m taking it easy, in an effort to avoid some kind of spectacular flame-out. And, Emily and I both just started a new semester. I have been incredibly busy; I’m sure Emily has, too.
That aside, here are some interesting links.
2. Don’t Divorce Us! — a very sweet video fighting Prop 8.
4. And on a completely different note, pygmy seahorses!
Tell your representatives in Congress to support an Employment Nondiscrimination Act protecting sexual orientation and gender identity. In many states it is legal to fire employees for being gay, bisexual, trans, or otherwise queer. This is wrong, and it largely hurts the members of our community who are already the most vulnerable.
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Happy Gregorian New Year, everybody!
On a completely different note, here are a whole bunch of very serious and upsetting links.
1. Just after Katrina, a white militia formed and used the event as an excuse to happily kill as many black people as possible. Absolutely. Fucking. Sickening.
3. A link round-up about the recent Israeli bombings of Gaza. More links in the thread.
4. Panel recommends reparations for people forcibly sterilized under state eugenics programs. Horrifyingly, North Carolina only ceased these sterilizations in the 1970s. This is the first time reparations have been suggested.
5. And over at Alas: We Know How To Stop Prisoner Rape.
2. Rick Warren to give inaugural invocation–Bad move!
3. So, what to do about the fact that Warren is doing the invocation. This is the message I sent to Emmett Beliveau, director of the inaugural committee:
I am appalled that Rick Warren has been chosen to give the invocation at President-Elect Obama’s inauguration. This is a slap in the face to women and LGBT people. I can’t imagine that any person so callously promoting the hatred and oppression of any other groups would be chosen to have such an important role in this or any ceremony of the Obama Administration.
I thought the Obama Campaign was about change for everybody. Apparently not — bashing LGBT people and denying women control of their own bodies continue to be just fine on Obama’s watch.
Selecting Rick Warren is not an act of inclusivity. It’s a clear message that marginalized people will continue to be excluded, while the farthest fringe of anti-liberty, anti-equality, pro-theocracy fundamentalists will continue to be pandered to.
Contact Beliveau at email@example.com.
3. Over at Alas, Ampersand offers an excellent analysis of anti-fat bias in a recent study, thereby tearing the study to shreds.
4. Bush’s Midnight Attack on Farm Workers: These will be the most far-reaching changes in the laws regulating agricultural guestworker programs since 1942. They will return us to an era of agricultural labor exploitation that many thought ended decades ago. –Via A Slant Truth.
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So in about half my classes this semester, I’m the only visibly queer person. I noticed this right away; the first few weeks of school were marked by near-constant nightmares that I somehow had long hair again. I had to cut my hair even shorter than I usually keep it just to feel like I can breathe.
This makes me feel isolated and freakish. (And it really doesn’t help that my classmates have occasionally directly pointed out that I’m, um, a deviation from the statistical norm.) There’s also the fact that I don’t feel like I have very many friends at school anyway, which is my own fault for being misanthropic, I guess. Not that I can help it, but whatever.
Anyway, all this came to a head at my midterm critique some weeks ago. I put a up a few portraits of my girlfriend — in addition to a bunch of other stuff — and in introducing my work, I mentioned that she’s my girlfriend and said some things that I think made it pretty damn obvious that she’s my girlfriend. Not to mention how plainly gay I am anyway. But my professor referred to her as my “friend” throughout the presentation, saying stuff to make it clear he understood the relationship as totally trivial (saying, basically, that I don’t really know her). I was fuming and I felt like someone had stepped on my throat, but I couldn’t say anything because I didn’t have any allies — I don’t think anyone else even noticed. I wrote him a note about it, explaining that I knew it was just a mistake but that it hurt my feelings. Of course he never said anything.
Today, in our final critique, my professor misgendered one of the people I’d made a portrait of. This picture is of a pretty young woman who has short hair. Though you can only see her face, her gender is very obvious — she’s wearing earrings and make-up, and has clearly feminine facial features. What the hell.
This is starting to wear down and me and make me depressed. I am so fucking glad I will be out of that class after Tuesday. I’m sick of feeling like a freak everyday. And it’s not that everyone there is apparently cisgender and heterosexual — it’s the creeping sensation that, when these weird, unintentional insults happen, I’m the only one who sees them. I would never, ever let something like that just pass if it happened to someone else. That is, provided I could see it happening; that’s the worst part — that they’re on such a different planet from me that they can’t even see me. My feelings are so foreign they’re invisible.
These are just the two things that are on my mind today; they’re part of a collection of dozens of similar things this semester, all of which have built up into the sense of alienation that’s starting to overwhelm me. If the pattern continues I might seriously consider leaving school. It’s toxic. It’s heartbreaking. It’s fucking unnecessary. And I do not have the resources to go at it alone.
UPDATE: I talked to some of my schoolmates about this in my class this evening, and they were very kind to me, which was tremendously heartening. I also learned that this professor has said similarly stupid things to several other people; I guess that should annoy me even more, but actually, it was a relief. I’ve concluded that the problem is, in fact, almost entirely the bad behavior of a single person.
I’ll take this as a sign that’s it’s time to write a post I’ve been sitting on for awhile about power dynamics in the classroom.
I’m thinking today of the mythical Amazons. I say “mythical” not to make any statement about their actuality, but because I’m thinking specifically of the mythology. That is, what does this mythic idea mean?
The idea is of a woman warrior, but she’s more than that. She is a person who occupies the space between sexes. She cuts off one breast, the better to shoot arrows, but leaves the other: a combatant who can nurse children. All her life is dimorphic. Women are her friends and comrades, men her enemies; her daughters are treasured children, her sons left out to die.
I am being somewhat ahistorical here. I’m interpreting this idea from my vantage point as a 21st century dyke, wondering what the symbol means today — I find its simple endurance as an idea noteworthy — and, to a lesser (and less informed) extent, what it might have meant once, what purpose this idea serves.
So. The Amazon is, I think, the visceral reaction to the gendering of violence. We code violence as male and tenderness as female and, therefore, men as dangerous and women as nurturing. Trapped in such a system, people respond in many ways — most frequently by performing these roles and behaving as if they are natural and inevitable. But I don’t think of any of us is truly comfortable with this incredibly reductive picture of human nature. The life of the Amazon is a life of both protest against this system and capitulation to it: a rejection of the system on the system’s own terms. The Amazon is following an older, crueler Golden Rule — treat others as they treat you. In a world where men, and only men, are brutal, and women, and only women, are kind,* the Amazon, in an imperfect stand against cruelty, becomes callous to men and considerate to women.
This is a profound assent to the premises of the gender system — she accepts that women are one way and men another. But it also, inevitably, gets her kicked out of that same institution. As soon as she practices both violence and tenderness, even in her sexist way, she is no longer qualified for membership in the group “woman.” This contradiction embodies the essence of life under this regime: we are trapped and re-trapped in the system even as we are constantly kicked out of it, constantly deemed unworthy of our assigned class. And that’s the real cruelty of it.
Even in exile there is no escape.
* This is not the real world. It is the world the gender system tells us we live in, though.
Cross-posted at Revolutionary Act.
3. This is very late, for which I apologize: Transgender Day of Remembrance link round-up.
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1. The wrong reasons for same-sex marriage — on gay conservatism and what Stonewall was really about.