To The FemmeMobile! Away!











{October 25, 2013}   When research strikes

Hi, all!

This year has been something else. I’ve pretty much settled into my femme identity with no more trauma, which is nice. Things occasionally come up around gender or sexual inequality, but mostly little things that I post to Facebook or campaign about elsewhere.

And, a lot, I haven’t had time to write down anything that isn’t a burning desire.

Anyway. I do now. New issues! Ones that aren’t really femme or lesbian, but definitely sexual identity. So I might as well unpack those, right? Dust off the FemmeMobile, folks… ūüėČ

I wrote a book! (Uh, that is, another book!) I don’t know how popular it is yet, as royalties won’t come in for another month, but it’s getting ace reviews from both reviewers and readers. You can check it out here, on Amazon, where it has some fabulous reviews. ūüėČ

I need to talk about some of it for this all to make sense, so in short, it’s about someone getting into BDSM (mostly the BD part) with some friends of his. (Also in small part, it’s my response to how horrible “50 Shades of Gray” was. I mean, really, that book was about how to be in an abusive relationship, and how, if you’re interested in kink, you must be broken. Fuck that shit.) I did research. I wrote the book. It was beautiful. My butch (the same one I started dating over three years ago!) read it and was like, “So… honey… this is some fun stuff. :D” Ahem. Yes. >.> *grins*

Now I’m working on the sequel, which I’ve had a harder time with. A character in the book, London, who was just kind of bossy has decided that she wants to Dom. I’m not a Dom. I did some ‘net research, started writing, stalled out, started again, etc. Not sure what was wrong, I finally stopped, re-read “A Little Weird,” realized in part what was wrong, complained to a friend that I hadn’t found a book on BDSM that really helped me, and was loaned copies of “The New Topping Book” and “The New Bottoming Book.”

I’ve now read “The New Topping Book” (which was AWESOME, btw, and I highly recommend it for anyone who’s curious) and started “The New Bottoming Book,” (less important for my novel, as really I need to shape a top, not a bottom). It answered a lot of the “Ehhhhs,” I had in writing the second book, so with a much clearer idea of what I need to be shaping, I’m all set.

Allllllll of that is to say that I did this research because I was idly curious and thought it was a fun take on a story (also, I like empowering underdogs, and after “Shades” I think of healthy kink as an underdog) , and now I’m like, “Gosh, I have a lot to think about.”

Today is the first day of my period, so I’m a little low energy. I’m also coming down from a big weekend. I decided to finish “The New Topping Book” today, and pretty much just bulled through it. (It’s an easy and entertaining read, so that helps!)

Hm. I’m not sure how to continue here, so I’m going to back up and turn sideways.

I think I learned, growing up, that weakness was bad. My mom was a caretaker, but for all the wrong reasons. She’d fix things or arrange things or organize things for someone, help them with their life, but she’d be angry and resentful about it and never tell them. It left me with this mindset:

I never want to ask for help, because it is never freely given. I never want to show weakness, because then I’ll have to fend off those who would help and be angry with me for it, and do so in a way that won’t hurt them. People who care take of others can’t be trusted: they secretly hate it.

Also this:

If you ever have some time for self-care or downtime, do not use it. Find something “productive” to do.

I’ve realized aspects of these things before, but never quite as full blown as I’m realizing it now. I think I have the Topping Book to thank for that. One of the sections that really hit me was the idea of a top’s limits; that part of their job is to know their OWN limits. That it’s not just the bottom that sets limits, but that the top needs to know what they can and can’t do. You may or may not have noticed, but a lot of what a top (or a Dom) does is care taking. Be in charge, including comfort and aftercare and cuddles if that’s what your sub needs. This is exactly the kind of thing I avoid needing, but I’m definitely subby. (I don’t know how subby; I haven’t experimented enough. Luckily Q seems eager to experiment with me! Anyway, there’s definitely that inclination, though.)

In reading about tops being responsible for knowing what they can and can’t do, I had a realization: I might not understand why they would WANT to take care of anyone, but I can accept that it’s their job to say, “No, I don’t want to do a scene where I push you hard and you need aftercare, because I don’t have it in me for aftercare right now.” That it’s NOT my responsibility to feel guilty for needing help. That it’s okay to have downtime.

What a concept!

In reading the topping book, it also suddenly occurred to me that it’s okay for me to know my own limits in every day life, and to take care of myself. Gasp! You mean, today, when it’s the first day of my period, I’m tired and crampy and a little emo, it’s okay to stay in my PJs and take a hot bath and even go back to bed for 30 minutes?! I like the fantasy of letting a top (that I trust to know their own limits) pamper me like that. So why couldn’t I pamper myself like that? Why isn’t it okay to practice some self care?

Sometimes I have “sick days.” When I’m tired and stressed and I can’t take it any more, I cancel everything and watch movies. I’ve been getting better, too, about taking time off. (I’m self employed, so this takes real determination.) I’ve been doing much, much better at it. But there’s almost always a level of agitation or guilt or “shoulds” that go along with it.

Today, in reading the topping book, it was like hearing permission to be weak and vulnerable and have down time. It was this amazing idea that someone else could do that for me, could insist on it, without feeling burned out or resentful. That they might GET something from it, in fact. And if they can do it for me, and it’s not only okay but expected and praised… then why can’t I do it for myself?

In sex instead of life, there’s another aspect to this. I really don’t understand the urge to dom/top. I can accept that others have that urge, even if I don’t at all get it, and be glad for that. But between the aforementioned aversion to care taking, and the lack of understanding, I have personal concerns. Like, what if Q wants me to try topping so she can try bottoming? What if she gets angry and resentful at topping because I’m… I don’t know, too subby? (When I think about this rationally, I realize we have EXCELLENT communication. I don’t really believe this would happen, because she’d tell me something was going wrong first.)

Anyway, these are things I’ll have to think about and discuss with Q. Some part of me feels like I SHOULD at least try topping if she wants, and the gut part of me knots up at even thinking about it. (This is hilarious, as I’m rather a leader type in everyday life.) I don’t know if it’s a holdover from my gazillions of other sexual issues, or if it’s because I associate bottoming with girly genders (which Q is not, and it kind of a alarms me to think she suddenly would be — though I don’t think that’s how it works…) (also, I realize I’m totally gendering here, and that’s not a good thing. Believe me, you don’t have to point out the negative use of stereotypes, I’m aware of them.). All stuff to start processing.

Oh yeah, and did I mention we got engaged? ūüôā More stuff to process! And some other stuff, too, that isn’t mine to talk about just yet… ayup, life is changing. I’m definitely going through… something. The planets are aligned or somesuch!

J

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So, my cousin posted this thing on Facebook.

Wait, back up. You should know that both sides of my family are socially and religiously conservative. That one set of cousins (as in, the children of one particular aunt) has broken with the family conservative-Catholic beliefs to say, “Actually, maybe teh gays aren’t all that bad. In fact, they might not even be ‘teh gays’ but be actual people. WE SHALL TREAT THEM THUSLY.” A few of the others simply are loving and I don’t actually know where they stand on religious-political issues, but they do talk to me about my life and ask me with big beaming smiles about Quin, so I have no problem with them. (This is a little contrary to what I’m about to say. I’m still puzzling it out.)

But. There are another set of cousins that are really anti-gay marriage. They post anti-gay marriage things on Facebook periodically. Mostly they’re consumed with pro-life stuff, so the gay marriage stuff doesn’t come up so often, but now and then…

One of these cousins posted some speech the Pope gave with the comment, “Thank you Pope Benedict!” The speech was, in part, a reaction to the school shooting. The title (which pretty much captured the story) was “Pope Says: True Peace in the World Requires the End of Abortion and Gay “Marriage”.”

Because clearly abortions and gay marriage were on that guy’s mind when he shot all those kids. ¬†*/snark*

Anyway, it wasn’t the Pope’s statement that bothered me — I know the Catholic stance on both those things — it was my cousin’s sharing it with the comment, “Thank you Pope Benedict!” It was her making that statement despite knowing I’m gay and in a long-term relationship.

I wasn’t sure what to say. Whether to let it slide as her opinion she’s entitled to, or whether to step forward. That’s a hard line for me to see, the difference between opinion and bullying, and worse, she’s¬†family. I don’t want to create family fights.

I very nearly said nothing. My mom raised us while keeping the peace in the family. She said (and this was true) it was so that we could make our own decisions about whether or not we wanted those family members in our lives, without her burning our bridges. But what I learned, and am slowly unlearning, is that you should keep the peace in the family AT ALL COSTS.

I’m also a big believer in complicity by silence. Er, not that you should do it, but that it happens all over. I’ve been working really hard not to be complicit by silence. To speak up if I hear someone being hassled or bullied, and to call people on it when I hear hateful or predjudiced language being spewed. But here’s the thing: at what point am I being complicit by silence vs just acknowledging that people have their own beliefs?

And here’s the other thing: is it even good for me? I think it’s good for society for people to speak up. But I did speak up yesterday, and I didn’t sleep last night. I was in a state of high anxiety most of today, thinking about her possible responses and my possible responses and whether or not I was going to catch flack at Christmas, where I’ll see her, and so on. (As it turned out, she didn’t respond at all.)

BTW, my response was: “You know… I just don’t think the downfall of civilization is caused by my loving and possibly marrying my girlfriend. That action would, however, stabilize and give more support to her two kids’ lives, which seems to be what Benedict wants, anyway.”

So… I guess I’m actually here asking for opinions. When do you speak up? When would you like to see people speak up, in an ideal situation? When “should” comments slide? I’m still not sure if I did the right thing or not. I can’t say I did the¬†wrong¬†thing, but I can’t say I did the right one, either. It doesn’t help that this is family, so there’s learned and familial issues there, anyway. But at least if I had a better understanding, I might feel more confident about saying something vs keeping quiet.

At least I have realized one thing for sure: I no longer have qualms about inviting some of my cousins and not other cousins/aunts and uncles who aren’t supportive of gay marriage, should I ever get married. And I’m finally realizing that if that creates family rifts… I’m okay with that. I’m not even doing it because I feel angry at them, which I expected. It’s more like, “Well, why¬†would¬†I invite them? They would be there out of obligation, not because they were happy for me. I want to share it with the people who would be happy for me. And if they’re angry because I didn’t count them admist those numbers, I’m sorry for that, but I don’t think I’m wrong. And if they are happy for me, and are sad they didn’t get to share, then I’ll apologize and we’ll bond. Or we won’t.”

It’s kind of freeing.

J



I got an email from a friend this morning, an extremely awesome friend, that basically said this:

“You do realize that your post is like, “I’m not transphobic, but…””

It went on eloquently, but that about sums it up. (I have great regard for this friend’s ability to put things totally bluntly, without making me feel attacked, like a terrible person, and without her sounding like a bitch or condescending. I wish I had that ability, but I don’t think I do.)

Anyway, in emailing her back, a few things occurred to me.

1. I would have no problem with this if we were showing many types of bodies as beautiful, and this were just another one. But,

2. as I saw it, we were just extending the already-almost-unattainable body into a completely-unattainable-body.

As I was explaining this, I said that while I felt it was morally wrong to say what I was saying, practically speaking I didn’t want to be showing young girls something that they couldn’t possibly ever do on a skeletal¬†level as the standard of beauty.

This is when somehting occurred to me. Except for the 5% of people who are born with that model body type, we are¬†already¬†showing young girls something they can’t possibly do on a skeletal level. We’re already having to play damage control because it’s already impossible. Not almost impossible, but totally impossible for 95% of the population. I’m sure there is another 5% of the population that has a very male body type; no hips, broad chest and shoulders, etc. (They still aren’t going to have the muscles along the abdomen that men have, but an MTF modeling is going to have issues a cis-woman doesn’t anyway, so it’s ¬†a wash IMO.) ¬†If we have an MTF modeling, then at least those girls (and also the other girls born in male bodies) have a representative, too.

What we need to be doing is adding more body types into what’s considered beautiful. While I wouldn’t have chosen a body type that’s an extreme of what we already have, that also doesn’t mean we should exclude it. This is one of those two-wrongs-don’t-make-a-right moments. Saying, “We need other body types¬†but not that one” is bullshit. I call bullshit on myself.

I feel much better now. I have two centers of what’s right and wrong: my head and my heart. My heart always figures it out first, but until my head figures it out, too, things don’t work well. Now I’ve got both lined up. Woo hoo!

So I can say without reservations, go Jenna! (The model. Not me.) And also – Thanks, Momo. You rock my socks.

J



{May 18, 2012}   The hero archetype

I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I’ve posted here. Good golly, Batman! Um. Sorry about the sporadic posting. I have thoughts to say, but not as many or as insistent as they once were, and everything is so busy…

For instance: Last fall, a boom month meant I made about $3800. In January I made $7000. ¬†That was my biggest boom month to date (Jan is always a busy month — I blame new years resolutions to get the dogs trained, and all the puppies that were bought from fall onward that no one had time to train with the holidays, but NOW THEY DO), but things haven’t slowed down much since then, honestly. Average right now seems to be around $5000 a month. In some ways this is awesome (MONEY!) and in others, less so (time), but it is what it is, and I’m not about to look a gift horse in the mouth… even if it means less time for blogging.

Speaking of blogging…

Not too long ago I was sitting at a girls’ night with my girls, and somehow for some reason my sexuality came up. I think my friend Cullen said something about hating the term bi, and I laughed and pointed out that she WAS bi (which then led to a discussion of why we — because me, too — hate the term anyway), and I think someone asked me what my sexuality was. I said, “Well… I guess lesbian. I used to think I was bi, but I don’t anymore.”

My friend Kristin responded with, “I’m glad you figured it out and I didn’t have to tell you,” which might sound wrong to some people, but was actually really freakin’ hilarious. (Kristin and Cullen are my two best friends. If anyone’s going to know something about me before I do, it’s them!) Then I was laughing and saying I was masculine-sexual, as long as there was no cock involved, and it went downhill from there, as conversations soaked in wine tend to do.

Anyway. Jump forward to last week! Last week I was on a lesbian resort at Club Med in Cancun. IT WAS AWESOME. Tangent: if you don’t already know, you SHOULD know that Olivia Cruises is an all-lesbian cruise line. They rent out an entire cruise ship or, in this case, a resort and stock it full of lesbians. The Club Med staff was amazing and fantastic, and being surrounded by that many lezzies was a kick and a half. Though there were many other butches, I couldn’t help but notice that Q was the only one who wore men’s clothes, something that was commented on (favorably) by another lesbian there. Q thinks it’s because it’s an old school crowd, for the most part, but I’m not convinced. I see lots of old school butches at Sundance and whatnot. Maybe the San Fran area has more genderqueer butches in general? Maybe genderqueer butches aren’t comfortable with the term lesbian and therefore don’t go on lesbian cruises? Maybe genderqueer butches see all the other non-genderqueer lesbians and un-queer? I don’t know. Either way, she was the only one in a suit and tie on the fancy nights!

But all this is a tangent. Back to the point! While I was there, I went trapezeing! IT WAS AWESOME. More so because I’m terrified of heights, but one of the trapeze artists, S, took me under his wing and did the whole big brother schtik all week to help me along. It was perfect!

Toward the end of the week Q said, half jokingly, that I had a crush on S. I said I didn’t, which I don’t, but it did get me thinking. I like male friends. I have very few, mostly because I don’t make friends easily, I make male friends with even more difficulty, and my old ones have moved away. (I have a new one I’m striking up with, and an acquaintance I haven’t made friend with yet but would like to.) But I like them. I like the joking, physical banter you get with male friends that you don’t often get with female ones. I like the push to do new things. I like the sheer physicality — the go-out-and-do-it that I don’t see in my female friends often, as much as I adore my female friends. (There are pros to female friends that I don’t get in my male friends, so it’s equal. ;))

I also realized, when I knew I was leaving and would likely never see S again, that I was grieving. I was grieving the loss of this guy that I knew little to nothing about, because he pretty exactly fit what I look for in a male friend — which I realized is also exactly what I look for in a SO. Along with the usual ‘must be a decent person and must get along with them,’ stuff, I look for hero archetypes. S had it in SPADES. It’s what made him step into that big brother role — which even I could tell was only a big brother role because he knew I wasn’t interested in his bits. But he was rescuing and supporting the damsel in distress — me — and I totally am drawn to that. Q has it, but not as vibrantly as S does. (This is a good thing, as I’ll explain momentarily.)

The problem is that — and I know this intimately, because I always date heroes — they get stuck playing hero, and I get stuck playing damsel in distress, whether or not we want to. When it’s friends it seems to work out; if I don’t want to, I don’t visit for a while, or I whack them on the shoulder and say, “hey, I can do this, stop protecting me” and we laugh about it in a way you can’t with an SO, because you can’t be so blunt and … and blase with a SO’s feelings. I know that I make excellent friends with hero archetypes. It fulfills something in me, it creates a fast and lasting bond, and it strengthens both parties (me because I have the net, the hero because they have something that makes them feel strong and powerful).

I look for the same thing in romantic relationships, but it crashes and burns if it’s too strong. Q has it to a lesser extent, which means that sometimes we connect there and give each other what we need on that level, but it’s not so strong that it overwhelms/overshadows everything else and leaves us stuck in a power dynamic we don’t want to be in.

So when Q mentioned I had a crush on S, and it made her nervous (she’s been cheated on), I pointed out that he’d make an awesome friend and a lousy boyfriend for me, even if I were interested, which I’m not. But I do miss having a friend like that…

In the meantime… oh, hell, I forget what I was going to say. I got distracted by facebook. Anyway, those are my musings for the day. I pick friends on some of the same lines I pick SOs. Interesting.

J



{April 7, 2012}   Just a wee bit broken.

When I was sixteen (maybe seventeen?) I had my arm in a sling for six months. We couldn’t figure out what the heck was wrong with my shoulder. We finally decided a rotator cuff tear, and treated it with physical therapy knowing that someday I might need surgery.

For that six months, I learned how to do things with one arm. I could type one-handed like a demon, I’m telling you! I could mount a horse, ride (even somewhat direct reining — where you use two hands) with one hand, do homework with one hand, everything. Which isn’t to say it was the easiest thing it the world, but I figured it out.

The sling was great for attention, too, and sometimes I loved it. I decorated it with buttons that said things like “I am eruditer than you.” I was happy to tell people, in gruesome detail, about my shoulder injury. I even learned how to turn a conversation to it, if I was feeling ignored.

It also hurt. I wasn’t in a sling for nothing, and ironically it turned out (when we finally figured things out) that the position the sling held my arm in made it worse. I had muscle cramps so bad from pain that it pinched the nerves, so I’d get sensations like a hot brand down my arm and into my hand and fingers. It was Not Pleasant. There were times I couldn’t sleep, and times I couldn’t think because of the constant ache. I still live in fear that it’s going to come back. (For good reason; it occurs occasionally — and when I say ‘occassionally’ I mean “it hurts a few times a day, but only really gets annoying a few times a week, and every few months it ramps up to I-can’t-sleep-because-it-hurts for a night or two — despite the fact that I’m anal about my PT. It’s been about 14 years.)

I was careful of it. Bumping it hurt. Jigging it hurt. Leaving it too still for too long hurt. I was constantly aware of it, and constantly careful of it.

I was broken. Not broken in the hand-wringing, despairing sort of way. Broken like, “Gee, this doesn’t work so well. Hmm. Let’s do the best we can, and be aware that it needs a little extra time and care. And sometimes sit down and be sad, but other times show it off. But always, always, have it on your mind and be aware that it’s not like everyone else, and everyone else will probably forget and might occasionally do something really stupid, like clap you on the back. So be wary.”

I’m feeling that way a lot lately. Broken. It sounds melodramatic, but I can’t think of a better analogy. I don’t feel like my life is terrible, or that I need to sit and weep (though I am a little emo from being overworked). Sometimes I show it off, and sometimes I need TLC, and all the time I’m aware of it and wary of what people are going to do, themselves unaware or forgetting it.

I’m remembering things lately. They’re on my mind. Like my awesome cousins who were so great about me bringing my girlfriend to Christmas dinner, knowing the rest of the family would Not Be Okay With That. Like my mom, who really couldn’t care less what gender I date (OMG she LOVES Q, which is vaguely terrifying to me), but is also sometimes casually — and in a way, I suspect purposefully — oblivious. Not like, “I don’t want to deal with your gayness,” but like, “I’m going to pretend like I don’t see why you’d even care to hear this and isn’t your aunt so silly for even saying it, but I’m still going to tell you your aunt says you’re welcome to come to Thanksgiving dinner and they love you regardless. Isn’t she silly? Of course you know that and/or don’t care.” (This from the Baptist aunt, if my mom can be trusted. Which… she can’t always. I swear, she hears the most interesting things that people didn’t mean, and she honestly believes she heard it…)

Articles and things on acceptance are making me cry regularly. I always think that things like that are an indication that I have something I need to deal with, and sort of I do. But it’s not my immediate family — they’re awesome — or my friends — also awesome — where I feel the lack of acceptance. Or maybe it’s just that stories about people being supportive make me cry. Or maybe the lack of support in society makes me feel unacceptable. Or– I don’t know.

Part of it is me. Ever since I was a little kid, stories about people being supportive have hit me really hard. REALLY HARD. I don’t know why. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s hardwired into me. Maybe I had a non-supportive past life. I dunno. I just know that they’re like crack for me. They fill something that feels unfilled. They put paste over something that feels broken.

Right now, that sense of broken-ness is coming in the form of gay stuff. I’m not sure if I like this. I mean, before it’s always been a nebulous thing. Now it’s specifically gay stuff.

It’s still a muddle in my head. I know this: I feel broken. I always have. Now I can put a finger on the spot and say, “Here. This sexuality bit? This is what makes me feel broken.”

I’ve learned to work with it, and I’m good at it. Sometimes I show it off to people, to make them coo or to piss them off. Sometimes I give myself extra pats and TLC. I’m always aware that some people don’t know and others don’t remember, and will say and do stupid things that I have to protect from, never meaning harm. They don’t understand what it feels like, because they’re not broken in this way. ¬†Which is funny; everyone has something like that, but I often think we aren’t careful about other peoples’ broken bits. It really is just like that sling.

I have to remind myself that everyone has things they feel broken about. Things that don’t fit what society says we’re supposed to be. They’re not skinny or not Christian or not white or not male or not not not… I wonder if they feel as broken as I do, or if they shrug it off. (Of course, I imagine they shrug it off, and I’m the ONLY PERSON WHO FEELS THIS WAY. Riiiiiight.) Though I know the answer to the question, I still find myself wondering: if we’re all broken in some way, why is it so hard to be compassionate for others who are broken in ways we might not understand?

I’m ready for this ache to go away. I am overworked and running too much lately. I’m hoping next week, which should be calm, will help. But in the meantime, the ache in my broken bits is keeping me up at night.

J



{March 7, 2012}   Trans and sexism

I’ve been thinking about that last trans post I made, and the comments (which I thought about a great deal, and started a hugely long post on, but… then I got busy and never finished it, and it all boils down to what I’m about to say, anyway).

You know what I’ve realized? I don’t think this is a trans reaction I’m having. I think it’s a sexist reaction. Now, I do my best not to be sexist, but cultural sexism is rampant in everyone. Including me, much as I try to keep purging it. I don’t think it’s so much that I look at types of trans and see different genders, as it is I look at “man” and have specific, sexist ideas of what that is. If something doesn’t fit it, it is therefore “not man” and needs another category.

Now that I realize that, I can start working on it.

It does make me wonder, though: how do we define gender? Most definitions say something along the lines of, “Gender can be identified by the dress, behavior, and speech of an individual.” But we’re breaking those rules, now. So… what DOES make a gender? The way someone feels? I mean, that’s how I define my gender… but then, most people have no clue that my gender is femme, as opposed to woman. How do you differentiate femme from woman? Heck, most femmes I know can’t. It’s a feeling.

So if gender is a feeling, and there are no definitions, then how does one say, “I’m attracted to women” or “I’m attracted to butches”? If the ultimate goal is to break down the definitions, then we’re also breaking down an important way to navigate the world. But if we don’t… then you get problems like mine, above, where the ‘man’ gender has gender rules, and if someone doesn’t fit them then I’m not categorizing them correctly, and sexism is born.

This is what I’ve been mulling over.

J

 



{December 26, 2011}   Trans and Gender

I’ve been watching my trans friends and acquaintances lately (it strikes me that I know FAR more trans folk than femmes, and I can’t decide if this is annoying or hilarious), and noticing something else: some of them seem to be men. Some of them seem to be trans.

Did that make sense? Every time I see my acquaintance S, I’m surprised to remember he was born female. To my knowledge, he’s entirely pre-op, but everything about him screams, “MAN.” (“Dick,” also, but that’s because I know what he did to my friend. >.>) It’s the way he moves and the way he talks… right until he says something that throws me for a loop. Usually some great excitement and he’s suddenly not-man for an instant, only I don’t think of him as feminine because it doesn’t quite seem feminine, either, I think of him as trans. (This is happening less and less over the last six months. Of course, I haven’t been¬†talking¬†to him much over the last six months, but… I can still hear him laugh when we’re in a group, and even that sounds more masculine.) Anyway; in my head, he’s a guy.

Then there’s the friends who are just starting their own trans process, and they have moments where they seem very masculine, and moments where they seem very… trans. Does that make sense? I think it might be insulting, and I’m¬†extremely¬†sorry if that’s the case. I think it’s probably one of those, “They say they are men, ergo they are men,” moments. Which I completely agree with. And at the same time, in my head their gender is transman.

Sometimes I feel a little crazy. It always makes me feel a little bad.

But then there are the transmen who seem to glory in being transmen, and have no interest in being men. They refer to themselves as transmen and they’re in that in between gender state; neither man nor woman, but something else entirely. That’s what I think of as trans.

I don’t know. It makes my head hurt. It kinda makes my heart hurt, too, because I suspect it’s disrespectful in¬†some¬†way, shape, or form, even if I don’t quite understand it. But I can’t understand it if I never talk or ask about it, can I? Cripes, this is like asking people to shoot me down… BUT… talk to me, folks. Is this normal? Can trans people out there tell me what’s up in my head in regards to gender and transman vs man? Or are there more genders being created that I don’t know about? Or is it just a learning curve? Because I definitely don’t know.

On a much funnier note, Q had shoulder surgery (it’s all good now!), and we got come on her sling. *snickers* It’s a black sling. Hilariously, it says “hand wash only,” and given whoever wearing it apparently has only one working hand… I think it’s a cruel joke!

J



{December 22, 2011}   Femme as a Gender

Wow. I started this post in AUGUST, you people. Jesus, my life is entirely too busy. *sighs*

So, Q is more knowledgeable than me about general women’s studies, but I’m more knowledgeable than her about femme specifically. Given she’s not femme, this makes sense to me. ūüėČ After one of my posts, she was asking me about femme as a gender and why it was transgressing gender boundaries, and I was trying to explain it. This is, edited, what I wrote:

I had a guy friend once say to me, “No matter what else, you can always claim ‘woman’ as an identity.” At the time I hadn’t even heard of femme, and had no idea about gender identity. Still, I was appalled and offended that he’d apply ‘woman’ to me. I couldn’t say why, only that, like you say, it didn’t fit. It makes me feel twitchy and horrible. When people refer to me as a woman I generally want to slap them. I don’t, because they don’t understand why, but it makes me feel awful.

Femme is a gender separate than ‘woman.’ (Let’s just say that if I’m going to refer to biological sex, I’ll say ‘male’ or ‘female’ — otherwise I’m talking about the genders. :)) You kind of have to just start there — there isn’t any easy “here is what makes something a gender” sort of definition. What makes femme transgressing gender boundaries is… well, there’s lots.

The first thing that most femmes point to is the fact that it breaks the patriarchal hold on things. Femmes dress up and look nice NOT to attract or please men, but to attract or please other women, which is the first gender boundary broken.

Femmes also do it, much like butches, in the face of great prejudice from other lesbians: butches get attacked by hard-core feminist lesbians for giving into the male stereotype, but so do femmes. Just like butches, they’re seen as “selling out,” which isn’t something “normal” women have to deal with from other women. Straight women are expected to be feminine and it’s applauded if they are, and gay women are, mostly, expected to be really andro. So here, femme is transgressing gender boundaries; women as a gender aren’t dealing with discrimination for looking pretty, but femmes as a gender are.

There’s also a power difference between femmes and women. I’ve gotten pretty damn good at spotting a femme when I walk into a room, even if they’re not “high” femme. N is an obvious femme, for instance, even when she cowgirls up. Those women who, whether or not they look all girlish, are feminine in some way (even if it’s a tomboy way), but have that underlying steel are almost always femme. Femmes, when they state a preference, are typically deferred to. This is another of the gender boundaries that are broken. Women – lesbian and otherwise – tend to defer to masculine-centered people, but masculine-centered people tend to defer to femmes.

In a similar¬† trend, while many women are deferred to out of politeness, they are also expected to do “womanly” things. Not true of femmes: femmes might look all feminine, but that doesn’t make them delicate flowers who are restricted in their activities: a feminine woman typically won’t climb a tree in her skirt, or would be frowned upon if she did, but a femme won’t let the skirt stop her, and is generally encouraged in her boisterousness.

There’s a sexual component, too; femmes are seen as more sexual, more sexually powerful, and more sexually dominant in their relationships. You and I are a pretty good example: the majority of the time, your goal seems to be that I come first. ūüėČ In that sense, it’s seen as more important to make sure that the femme enjoys herself; after that it’s the butch’s turn. (Not so cut and dried as that, but I hope you get the idea!) With women and sex, it’s the guy’s privilege to come first, and hopefully he’ll then attend to the woman or let her attend to herself. Think about media: women are still seen as less sexual, less likely to come, and that’s considered okay. It’s not, however, considered okay with femme women. Again, it’s breaking gender boundaries.

Finally, femme takes all the things marked as female, and therefore weak, and makes them powerful. Women in a patriarchal society are seen as second class; femmes, especially in a femme/butch society, are typically first class and often deferred to. Again — by becoming anything other than second class, it breaks gender boundaries.

…[F]emme is typically a female gender, but it’s not the gender of “woman.” It’s gender bending because it’s a different gender on a female body. It’s very similar to woman, just like butch is very similar to FTM, but they’re both different things. Butch and FTM, and femme and women are similar in that they’re very close to each other, and sometimes the lines blur, but they’re still definitely different.

Ironically, this challenges my earlier assertion that anyone can be femme, because part of my very definition is that femmes are queer. A big part of it, in fact.

I was reading Butch/Femme: New Considerations of the Way We Want to Go¬†recently, and noticing that they didn’t really seem to have a definition of femme, either. In fact, their biggest definition was that femmes were the counterpart to butches. (Not all of the articles said that; most didn’t touch on definitions at all, but those that did were often of this bent.) Now, this is an older book with older theories, and maybe what I need is some newer reading, but it got me thinking again about what makes femme? And what makes it transgender? Because most of the things I listed above are feminist, rather than femme, and I felt femme long before I understood feminism.

One thing I read over and over is that femme is a conscious act of gender, but I felt femme before I was consciously acting any gender. (I still don’t feel like I’m consciously creating a gender, but rather am expressing what’s always been there. I haven’t changed, I just found the right label.)

I think, though, that the question I really need to start with is: what’s gender? What makes something a gender? Dictionary.com has a lot of useless definitions. So, naturally, I went to Wiki. You want to know what Wiki says? Of course you do.

Gender is a range of characteristics used to distinguish between males and females, particularly in the cases of men and women and the masculineand feminine attributes assigned to them. Depending on the context, the discriminating characteristics vary from sex to social role to gender identity.

Sexologist John Money¬†coined the termgender role¬†in 1955. “The term¬†gender role¬†is used to signify all those things that a person says or does to disclose himself or herself as having the status of boy or man, girl or woman, respectively. It includes, but is not restricted to, sexuality in the sense of eroticism.”[30]¬†Elements of such a role include clothing, speech patterns, movement, occupations, and other factors not limited to biological sex. Because social aspects of gender can normally be presumed to be the ones of interest in sociology and closely related disciplines,¬†gender role¬†is often abbreviated to¬†gender¬†in their literature.

This makes me think I ought to look at this list (“clothing, speech patterns, movement, occupations”) and see if femme (and whatever else I decide to pick on) has its own gender. If it doesn’t, does it matter that it doesn’t fit that list, or does it still qualify as its own gender because it “feels” that way? And back to the oldie but goodie, is gender created or innate? Because it certainly felt innate to me when I stumbled upon femme.

I wish I had more time to read about stuff like this… And to examine that list in regards to femme. I wish I knew more femmes so I could examine them, too. >.> Jeez…

J



{October 5, 2011}   Too tired for sex.

I just have a little bit of time (which is to say I should have gone to bed already), but I had something on my mind. It’s been on my mind for a while, and I don’t think it’s anything important, really, but writing stuff down helps me look at it differently.

Anyway, it’s about my sex life! When Q and I first started dating, we humped like bunnies. All the time! For large blocks of time! A part of me was a little distressed at the large blocks of time, actually, because it was ALWAYS a large block of time and sometimes I didn’t have two and a half hours to dedicate, you know? But anyway, I’m digressing.

A while back — maybe 8 months ago? — Q was talking about her distress because we weren’t humping like bunnies so often anymore. I actually tracked it for a few weeks, just in my head, and came to the conclusion that we weren’t really having sex much less than before, and that we’d each realized the other wasn’t going to bail soon, so we didn’t have to have lots of sex out of fear it’d go away. (At least that was the case on my end!)

Since then Q stopped worrying about it, but I’ve started thinking about it. I think the big thing is that we’re both busier and more tired these days (which in turn makes me wonder — IS that the case? If so, why? What are we doing different? …I’m working a lot more, actually…), and we’re not doing crazy drives to see each other even if it’s only for an hour; we’re subconsciously hitting a¬†maintenance¬†schedule that we can keep up indefinitely. Which is a good thing! But I do miss having sex more often. Or… I think I SHOULD miss it, or I miss wanting it so badly. The thing is, I really am too tired most of the time to start something myself. And I don’t feel unsatisfied, I feel more like, in a perfect world, we’d be rested enough to have it more often. But I’m not rested, and my desire for it is more like a desire to have a desire for it, if that makes sense.

Just a few weeks ago I noticed that Q has been very wonderful and listened to me very well, so unless I’m totally frisky she doesn’t pounce me so often (as opposed to gently seducing me or anything else that doesn’t involve physically hauling me around). Which made me laugh, when I realized that her pouncing me is a total turn on, so even if I’m not frisky I’ll often become frisky. Pretty funny, how good communication worked against me, there! (Also, she’s extra tired too, lately, so she’s not in much of a pouncing mood. I can’t blame her — I wouldn’t be, either!)

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m actually quite happy with our sex life, even at its slightly diminished state. We’re still like “normal” people, impressive since we live an hour apart. I think I worry sometimes that it’ll keep diminishing, though, even though when I stop and think about it I don’t believe that’s the case. Still, the concern lurks in my head. And because Q was worried about it months ago, I worry that she’s still worried! Ah, the inner life of a secret co-dependent-trying-not-to-be-co-dependent…

Anyway. These thoughts and feelings have been buzzing inside me. I would like more sex in an abstract way, but when I think about having more sex I’m like, “Whoa, no, way too tired to put forth that effort.” I’d really like more sleep. Then I could have more sex.

The good news is that we’ve finally gotten pretty good at having half hour sex, so we can have it when neither of us have energy for hour-and-more sessions. That makes me happy. ūüôā Also, then we can have more of it, because I have more free half hours in my day than hour and a halves… Semi-quickies are a good thing!

In other news, my baby sister got married! And my uncle, my favorite uncle who’s been fighting his homophobia for me, says he looooooves Q because anyone who makes me that happy is awesome, and he’s pushing me to marry her. I never thought I’d be happy to get marriage pressure from my family, but there you have it. It’s like his subconscious has realized it’s okay, so now he’s adding pressure. A funny sort of won battle, hmm? ūüėČ

J



{August 28, 2011}   Failing spectacularly

You know, I generally try to be the better person. I try really hard to keep my cool in the face of stupidity and think to myself, “If you attack, they won’t take anything away. If you reason, they might listen.”

(Part of me also then thinks, “No they won’t! Reasoning is for the middle-of-the-road people, not the maniacs who’ve already made up their mind to one extreme or the other!” I’ve read WAY TOO MANY STUDIES on this kind of shit, and sometimes become my own worst enemy.)

But I try to be the better person and keep my cool. When I can’t, I try and walk away. And hey, I’m good at letting claws peek out while I’m smiling, anyway, or at least I think I am.¬† Though, in general, I try to be reasonable and not prick people… though I AM more likely to do it if it’s someone I don’t know. Less respect, less personhood for unknown people, you know? Same reason it’s easy to be an ass to someone online that you’ve never met: they’re faceless.

Anyway. Some (self-identified) masculinized-female is being a dick over in DK’s old blog. DK wrote this in his new blog: “My friends defended my honour and theirs with grace and cutting verbage,” and yeah, it’s definitely Nezu with the grace, because I am certainly not acting with any of that. (I like to think I have cutting verbage. >.>)

…I don’t feel particularly bad about it. I haven’t come right out and name called (though I did use the words “judgemental” “discriminatory” and various other socially-triggering things, but I don’t really care), but I certainly feel like the claws are out.

I have very sharp claws. I generally keep them sheathed, mostly because when I don’t I regret it. Either because I hurt someone and have Guilt, or because I kick myself later for burning bridges, or because I’ve been such a shit that I’m a little horrified at myself. So far, I’ve managed to travel the line that keeps me from being horrified at myself, and I don’t have Guilt.

The last time the claws came out was also over gender issues, on my blog — well, in comments that never made it to my blog, and then email. That person showed up here a while later to lambast me some more, and those comments didn’t go through, either (though I was sorely, sorely tempted, out of sheer spite. See, I would have felt bad about that – I’m guessing she didn’t think the comments would go through, since it was pretty much vitriol aimed at me. *sighs* And even over email and in the face of insults, I remained polite. I want a cookie, damn it). (It should be noted that I used something that person said as an example of a fallacious argument, so I wasn’t at all surprised I got the vitriolic comment/email… See, I’m really not so innocent. That would be claws-out-with-a-smile, because I never attributed it to her, I was polite in the email,¬†and I didn’t pass her extremely nasty comment through to let everyone else see what a shit she was being…)

What is it about lesbians hauling off and being so very nasty to transpeople? (Is it supposed to be Trans people? I think I read that somewhere, but can’t remember.) I mean, I hear straight folk say some dumb-ass things, but I haven’t personally heard anyone straight say bitchy and outright insulting things. Lesbians, though, I’ve heard that to my face, as it were, twice, and overheard it other times.

Is it that FTMs are threatening? Making the already-small pool of possible partners smaller? Is it hard-core feminist lesbians who see FTMs as selling out? Is it that it makes us aware that, gasp, our own gender journey could not be finished and there might be MORE hard changes in store, and so it’s scary to see? Is it that lesbians are like everyone else, and things that are very different alarm them?

Probably all of the above, to one extent or another.

Anyway. I feel like a bitch in the 1700’s, when conversation was everything. When if you wanted to say something truly mean, you still found a pretty way to say it. I’ve failed spectacularly in being the better person, but at least I’m saying it with confidence and in thoughtful, creative ways. *wry smile*

J



et cetera