Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Suicide, Killing Hitler, and Feeling Left Out.

A friend of mine once said to me “If you could go back in time and kill baby Hitler, would you do it? I mean of course you would do it, right? You could save millions.” Being the good member of the hegemonic norm I (apparently?) am, I said “No! Are you crazy? I would not kill a baby no matter who the baby might become. Because MORALS!” I then tried to trip him up with arguments about how time is fickle and wibly and wobbly and other adjectives and parallels. He eventually conceded to my point that if not Hitler then only some other Hitler by another name might be so unpreventable and vicious (because social conditions exist and make scapegoats and persecutors of anyone, or everyone).  But despite my logic, my real issue, my knee jerk reaction, with his hypothetical was you don’t kill babies, they’re the future.  
            This was a few years ago, I think I was only 19 when I had this conversation; but if there is one thing society seems to be really, really good at teaching society it’s that the most important thing is the future. And for that reason I think Edelman’s essay is extremely valid.  Think about it. Appeals to futurity are everywhere and they are disgusting. In my opinion, they are the lowest form of pathos; they are the debate equivalent of hair pulling and below the belt blows. Let’s be real, it is 100% manipulation. As Edelman says “the function of the child as a prop of the secular theology upon which our common reality rests – the secular theology that shapes at once the meaning of our collective narrative and out collective narratives meaning… The child whose pure possibility suffices to spirit away the naked truth of heterosexual sex seeming to impregnate heterosexuality itself with the future of signification by bestowing upon it the cultural burden of signifying the future, figures and identification with an always about-to-be-realized identity” (290) And Politicians and lobbyists are the worst of these. They all do it. And I hate them more and more every time. What did the Republicans want last election? Family Values! They paraded it them in front of our noses: white bread, picket fence, 2 kids, stable fulltime jobs, Anne Romney at home with the kids, and riding her horse on the weekends. Normal, Normal, Normal. Be Normal or be poor and othered and wrong. They went so far as to say that only those people who wanted those things for the future were ‘real’ Americans and worth helping, protecting, serving.  But don’t think for a second that the Republicans (a dirty word in some circles) are the only ones appealing to futurity to manipulate their audiences.  Obama did it too, and he quoted Martin Luther King Jr. doing it as well. In fact, the futurity appeal is probably the most famous and most quoted part of his speech I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Is it as low a blow when it’s not covering a message of subjugation? Y’all can be that judge. But it’s there, staring us in the face. The unspoken ultimatum to procreate, and to make our children be like us: Ideal, unobtainable, perfected, imaginary versions of us. And that’s why I can’t kill baby Hitler, because my whole life I’ve been told he stands for the possibility of everything I’ve found wonderful about the world. The fact is, me and Hitler, neither of us fit into what those futurity appeals had planned for us. We’re both, to some, a let down, an atrocity, what they were trying to protect the future from. In some minds Hitler and I are the downfall, the destruction of the unobtainable ideal hegemonic future.
            I sit here comparing myself to Hitler and I really have to wonder what sort of disillusionment this causes in children and young adults. I remember being young and being told “you can be anything! You can do anything!” and what that really meant was “you can have the American dream, you can finally be the one who gets that.” But of course I’m not a straight lawyer with 2.5 kids and a dog and a house with a fence. I’m a lesbian with a horse and no job. I’m not what my parents wanted me to be when they thought, or didn’t think, about having kids. I’m real, and compared to the vast majority of 23 year olds I know I’m doing really well. I’m happy and healthy with health insurance, trade skills and a degree, working on another one.  I’m not some cheap appeal to pathos. And I really have to wonder when people stopped being able to tell the difference from reality and illusion.

 Tomorrow hasn’t done a damn thing for me yet.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Actaeon and I

The hart run down,
run apart
Leaping, dashing, dodging

You came at me,
looked upon me

You look at me
gazing to see
to absorb
not to comprehend

Oh Sweet Io,
Sweet Daphne,
only an Echo

I am examined,
and fed to the dogs.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Apparently Unapparent Differences in Getting Fucked and Fucking

 Let me queer up a few things for you.
I recently read an essay by Iain Morland on Intersex. What caught my attention about the essay and became a snowballs roll down a large hill was the point made on the difference and intersections of being touched and what Morland refers to as “tactility” (the act of touching). This brought up a whole plethora of questions for me, none of them about Intersex (Sorry). Namely of which was: is liking to touch not standard? Apparently it's not supposed to be. 
It seems that the cultural expectation of heterosexual sex is that the female is passive and enjoys the active touch of the male. [i.e. vaginal penetration] (in this scenario there is an equal exchange of touch and tactility among the partners, both genitals touch and are touched alike.)  
The separation between the enjoyment of touch and tactility becomes more apparent when we look at the cultural conceptions surrounding women giving blow jobs. Women, it would seem are not supposed to enjoy the act of giving a blow job. Though it does afford the woman more agency than she is typically given in the stereotypical vanilla hetero pairing. I’m not sure why they’re not thought to enjoy it, perhaps the lack of genital contact, tied up in the myth of the vaginal orgasm, who knows.

 But the blow Job affords us an example of tactility in the extreme, if a woman were to get off on she is deriving pleasure from the pleasure of her lover and that physical body alone, instead of the stimulation of her own body.
            The woman getting off from giving a blow job is seen as an atypical display of eroticism in the heterosexual couple. Pleasure derived from tactility alone, especially from women is seen as kinky and even abhorrent. This could be because of the shift in agency, in the scenario of the blow job obviously the woman controls the pleasure of the man instead of the man controlling the pleasure the woman receives- because of this active agency the man seems to play the more tactile role in heterosexual intercourse as cultural norms would have us believe it exists.  But let us not forget that in this act, despite agency, a dick gets touched, and that’s what pleasure is derived from. Though the cultural mentality is that the dick touches the vagina, that’s a big difference; though it may seem semantic, it’s a detail of agency and reveals the way tactility and touch appear to be intertwined with it.

But enough about straight people. Enter the stone butch a lesbian who refuses to be touched and instead derives sexual pleasure from the act of touching her partner.

 Excuse me while I take a sledge hammer to everything society thought about how pleasure is derived. While obviously varying from person to person, the idea of the stone butch suggests that pleasure can be found not in agency, because lets face it, for many power isn’t all that appealing and if it were just the agency wouldn’t domination come into play? Stereotypically the role of the stone butch is that of care-taker, not necessarily a dominant position. The femme will make clear her needs to the butch and the butch will execute. From where I stand, that seems pretty damn submissive. 

She kind of kicks normative sex in the balls, no? It’s not about power, it’s not about getting touched, it’s about really liking your partner and their parts, I can’t make it any more sensible than that. So what is this act of touching? And how does giving pleasure to another and perhaps more paramount experiencing their body non-genitally transmit into an orgasm?  I do not fucking know, but I encourage you to try it with a willing participant.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Problem with "Skinny:" don't fucking talk to me in a cvs.

Alright my lovelies,
Some clerical things:
I've been thinking (dangerous, I know), plotting really. I intend to do a weekly posting and I think, at least until I find my rhythm here, each month will have a topic. Since I've already started talking about bodies, this month's topic will be bodies.
I'd like to take you on a journey into the past with me now.
Hop on in. Buckle up.
We're not going far, just a quick jaunt into the past. About last Monday to be precise. We're in a cvs. And since we're in a cvs that means I am sick, because no one goes to a cvs willingly in good health. You're either sick, about to be sick, or getting over being sick. (Or you need tampons, like.. an hour ago) In any case, no one wants to be in cvs and certainly on this day I was not an exception to this rule.  My girlfriend had spent approximately the last 18 hours wrenching her guts out at all hours of the day and night.

It was nothing like this. It was exactly like this.
 And we're standing in the cracker and cookie aisle while she stares, half longingly, half fearfully, at all the things she may or may not be able to keep inside of her.  I have a migraine to beat all migraines and am fighting desperately to stay upright. I'm winning, but it's a close thing.  Suddenly, a man appears in the aisle, I'm not sure how he got there or how long he's been there. But then he's talking to us? Certainly he's talking to the aisle and we're the only other people here so I assume he's talking to me. Damn. Why me?
"Did you guys see any bagged popcorn around here?" Okay benign enough, polite enough. Maybe this won't kill me.
I reply, because my gf isn't going to.
"Uhm.." (I'm really a bright girl, guys) I look around a bit, I don't even eat popcorn, it's not on my radar.
"No, I haven't seen any." I say smiling politely.
And I have to assume that smiling politely was my mistake. Society tells me I've brought this upon myself (obviously).
The man, who is basically middle of the bell curve white guy wearing a t-shirt and jeans, turns back to the food stuffs and ignores me. And I think:

I'm in the clear! Social interaction over! Crisis averted!
Wrong. So, so, so, wrong.

He turns back to me, and he seems more manic than he did a few seconds ago.
"What's it like being skinny? I forget." And then, you guys, he stares at me. HE WAITS FOR A FUCKING RESPONSE TO A QUESTION LIKE THAT.  And being the barely upright, good little southern girl I am: I fain a small laugh and fucking fake a smile. I am honestly not sure what about this interaction upsets me more.
Scratch that I do know. I am upset that my immediate response was not "Kindly fuck off, Sir."

I am so beyond angry with myself that my knee jerk response is to please some random jackass over making myself feel comfortable, or in control of the situation.
 Because that's what women do right?
Even the Slayer is a good girl and takes a compliment.
Nod, smile, be cute, boob shimmy. Not too much don't be a whore, Buff.

That's what I've been programmed to do: to let people objectify me, and nod and smile while it happens. To tell myself: "he's just trying to be nice to you, he's trying to give you a compliment. Take the compliment, don't be rude."

I should have said:
"Shut your damn piehole. My body is not an appropriate topic for small talk or any talk. My body is not yours to comment on no matter how good or bad you may think it looks. How dare you presume to know how I feel about my shape, or if I consider 'skinny' to be a compliment. Which you've proven you think it is, it is not. You are rude. How dare you single me out on the basis of weight. Do you ask Black men what it's like to be Black? I am sure you do not."
Just because the media inundates images of women that are skinny that has made this poor smuck think that it's alright to single a woman out in cvs for her weight and think it's some sort of compliment, doesn't mean that I didn't suffer the whole way through middle and high school for the body I'm in.

Dear that guy:

The fact is that anyone on any end of the bell curve is othered. That's how difference works. So, until you've been a size zero or a size thirty, until you've been othered, you sit there with your invisible backpack and be quiet. There is no easier. We are all othered for something. Remember that feeling the next time you think it's cool to comment on some one's body. It's not cool. It's rude. It's othering. Stop it.

I know someone out there right now is thinking "But, A. That guy legit thinks this is a compliment, society says that being skinny is good and confers specialness upon you like grace from heaven because we can discern your sternum!" And you're right. I'm sure somewhere along the lines someone has looked at me and subconsciously thought "Ah, there's a nice skinny girl! I'mma be nice to her because skinny reasons."
I have exactly one response to your thought and that mystery person who may be privileging me because of skinny.
 You ready? Here it is. It's pretty effing great. Let's say it to ourselves like a mantra. over and over.


Certainly don't rub in my face that you're objectifying me.

Basing an interaction with a person based solely on their body or one aspect of their body is objectification. There are lots of forms of objectification, some more glaring than others. Maybe you don't see it here, but oh, it's there. Thinking I'm special for my body is objectification. It's reducing me down to one thing-- skinniness. I AM A WHOLE WEALTH OF ADJECTIVES, SKINNY IS BY AND FAR NOT THE MOST PARAMOUNT OF THEM. And if you, Oh Sir in the cvs, were bothering to treat me like a person you might realize that. Or at least have the decency to realize your input was not wanted or valid. But instead you prioritized your own motives over mine and made me feel uncomfortable and all around shittier.

 Stop dehumanizing me. It's not flattering. It's not a compliment. It doesn't make me want to nod and smile. It makes me feel horrible. It makes me feel unable to enforce my own comfort levels and personal boundaries. It's no more right for you to comment on my thinness than it is for someone to comment on fatness. Just because society deems it "good" to be skinny doesn't make it not objectification when your only interaction with me is to narrow me down to my thinness. Asking me what it's like being skinny in a cvs is no different than yelling "nice tits!" at me out a car window. 100% not cool.

Objectification is never a privilege. 

A very special thanks to L for helping me make this post amazing and not a deranged rant. Well, less of a deranged rant anyway. You tried. I'm grateful.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Gender Dysphoria and Unwinnable Battles

  As a skeptic, I live in constant fear of over simplification. But that is an examination for another time, right now I’d like to pretend we have solid ground to stand on, and like Wiley Coyote, I won’t look down to check because I’m sure if I do I will fall to my doom. So, let me just keep chasing the Road Runner right now. 

      I’m interested in bodies, something that so often gets over looked in Queer theory. More particularly I'm concerned with what we do with our bodies and how living in a body marks that body. Our habits and values show on our bodies.
don't slouch, god only knows what kind of hump you'll get.

  I’d like to think about how our bodies are the battle ground that gets marred by gender. And how this power struggle (the battle of fitting into the category Woman vs. the self)  relates directly to me, namely how as a woman I’ve been told my whole life that my body is not mine, not really that it belongs to men, that it is for men to enjoy and that I should treat it as something not part of myself that it should be better than "me", fake, disposable, worshiped, perfected. This is an idea I’ve always felt but didn’t always know how to put a name on, I didn’t realize how I’d spent a lifetime fighting against it. 
 The idea of repetitive actions shaping a person both mentally and physically is not new to me, as someone who got paid to ride horses, I've essentially been a professional athlete from 17 years old.  My legs bow, my ankles sprain and swell from repetitive injuries, my femur is dented from being kicked by a horse, 
I wish I could say that was the worst injury I've suffered or that this was the worst the bruise looked.
But that would be a lie.

I carry my weight almost exclusively in my heels, my posture (even though I feel I’m slouching when not on a horse) I’m told is better than the majority’s, my delts and biceps are bigger than any girl's "should" be
Where the fuck are your arms? How do you even pick anything up?
and to be perfectly honest my breasts are more muscle than fat/tissue. My ribs have been broken, and if you push on my chest right they click. Sometimes the floating rib on the right side tries to slide up under my rib cage (yes, it's as uncomfortable as it sounds). My shoulders have been dislocated, my hands calloused there’s dirt under my nails that is never coming out. I’ve had 3 concussions and my nose has (I’m fairly sure) been broken.  I can carry 100lbs on my shoulders easily. I’ve broken 4 fingers and 6 toes, my right foot and ankle. My sport has changed my body irrevocably. I’ve devoted more than half my life to saddle time, every free moment I could manage was spent on or near a horse. I was happy. Happy to be damaged. 
HoverDylan Whirrrrrrrrrr

Happy to have boys tell me that my arms were “too muscular,” that my feet were “ugly” that my hands were “rough” that my nose was “jacked up.”  I wore, I wear, them all like badges of honor. They were my choice, my devotion, symbols of my power over all the girls in middle school who called me flat chested and made me feel shitty about my body.  My injuries mark my body as my own. Injury means I've tried and sometimes failed, but sometimes succeeded. They separate me from an 'ideal' I will never fit and never ascribe to.  I guess, you could say that being an equestrian has made me gender queer, certainly I’m more masculine than society feels I should be. My repetitive choices to not “fit” the category of woman marks me, however subtly as queer.  

Do I pass as a feminine? As a woman? Certainly. Even with my hair cut short I’m never accidentally called “sir” like many women, even with long hair, sometimes are. Even at my most muscular my body is not one that’s going to be confused for masculine. But that’s the thing about the gender binary you’re always going to be lumped into one or the other but it’s never going to come close to encapsulating who you are.

 It’s not even going to really describe a piece of it, not really. It’s a pronouncement “I’m a girl” but does that really tell you anything about me? No, It only tells you that I’ve been given the same pronouncement as roughly 50% of the rest of the population. 

 It tells you what makes me the same, what makes me part of heteronormativity, what role in the reproduction of society I am supposed to play. And since I don’t play that part, it tells you jack shit about me. (I would wager that since none of us can really play that part, as Butler argues, those pronouncements tell you exactly jackshit about anyone.) 


This puts me in an odd position, I love my body, I love who I am, but I’m not inhabiting my body the way a “woman should” and I’m not interacting with society the way “a woman should." I interact with the world in a somewhat masculine way (despite my feminine style of dress. I like being pretty when I get to do it on my own terms). 

Yet society seems to unanimously agree that I am, in fact, a woman.  It seems to me that I am trapped in some sort of incomplete-able rebellion. I cannot fully rebel against my pronouncement, as a cis gendered female, yet there is some gender dysphoria there. Some portions of me don’t can’t and won’t fit into the pronouncement “woman,” this goes similarly for the pronouncement “man” I am no more one than the other, I am neither, I am nothing, I am myself. Society is not in the business of the acknowledgement of self. And so I feel doomed to this half-assed rebellion in which I am constantly fighting for the possession of myself and the acknowledgement of it.