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Category Archives: Queer
I understand that marriage is a prison, has a historical basis in silencing women and trading them like pieces of chattel and that a mere fifty years of “change” or transgressive reinterpretations can in no way wipe out a history of oppression and inequality stretching back centuries.
So both my readings last week went exceptionally well. I got a bunch of compliments on my prose piece and am going to submit it somewhere this week and despite my fear the Manifesto reading went swimmingly. The audience got what I was saying and was whooping and hollering in agreement. In fact after the reading I had a few people come up to me and ask if they could find it online or if it was posted anywhere. I had been on the fence about putting it up online simply because it is pretty radical and the blogosphere is a very different environment than the very radical space I was in for the reading. I’m not up for some of the comments I’ll inevitably get but having folks ask me if they could find it online made me realize that if no one sees or hears a manifesto what is the freaking point?!
So my Manifesto, Not The Marrying Kind will be going up in five parts this week. I’m breaking it up, not to make more posts out of it (or at least not just because of that) but because it’s the way I wrote it – in a series of chunks – and I like the idea of it being experienced in that way. In fact at the reading since we had interruptions from the audience they got it broken into sections as well and I think it worked very well, allowing folks to take in the previous points before moving on. Keep in mind that this is an early iteration of the work and it may grow, shrink, shift during any future re-writes however the core of it will not alter.
Not The Marrying Kind: Intro
Okay so it’s not at #459 yet but I’ve long since lost any interest I had in The Real World. Most of this probably comes from the fact that I remember the first few years of the Real World, when it was really a revolutionary show, when open talk about sex, politics, religion, race and everything else on television was always stringently scripted. Those first few years of the show gave us characters we’ll never forget (Norman, Heather, Pedro, Judd, Puck, Beth, Aaron, Pam, Kevin, etc.) and interactions I still remember:
The Original New York Cast’s Kevin and Julie having a loud raging fight about race in America.
London Cast’s Neil getting his tongue almost bitten off at a show.
Pedro of the San Francisco Cast openly talking about living with HIV.
These were really images that are historical in the framework of Reality Television and compared to those moments, what the show has become? The latest crop of starved, late teen/early 20’s, wanna be-actors/singers/models (because at a certain point the show stopped even entertaining the idea of allowing people who look average into the house at all), gossiping and generally acting like a bunch of six-year-olds holds next to no interest to me at all.
Then last week I caught the beginning of the new season, set in Brooklyn, and I met Katielynn, the first trans- contestant on The Real World. Suddenly I was interested in the show again. Not because Katielynn is transgender but because she’s not the usual stereotype of transwomen that we’re allowed to see on television. See Katielynn is a black belt martial artist who recently moved to Montana to be with her boyfriend and would love to own her own dojo one day.
Generally, when a transwoman gets featured on a television show she has to be a sex worker or a …well generally sex worker is all that transwomen are allowed to be in Hollywood, with Alexis Meade from Ugly Betty being an exception. Wait, I forgot the stock character of the tranwoman who is also allowed to be the suffering, tragic outcast who has no (or one) friends, no romantic prospects and eventually falls into something against her will that destroys any hope of a happy life for her – like drugs or… sex work.
Katielynn (from what I’ve seen, which I admit is only one episode) seems to be a strong and capable woman, someone who knows who she is and what she wants. Even though I’m sure that’s not her point and it’s certainly not her job just by being who she is she breaks down stereotypes society holds of transwomen. That interesting notion and how the rest of the house might react to her openness (there’s already two guys I’ve pegged as idiots) is definitely enough to make me interested in the show again. Because at it’s heart that’s what I think the show was originally all about – exposing people in the house and around the world to folks of all different walks of life, people they might not run into in their everyday life, breaking down stereotypes and showing humanity.
Some classic moments from past Real Worlds:
Kevin & Julie – Original New York Cast
Fellow Castmates remember Pedro Zamora
It’s been over a week since WisCon and while I’m still going through withdrawals I’ve forgotten a lot of the nuances of what happened so I’m just going to hit the major points.
Saturday was the day of the Coffeeklatch (People Against We-Sha-Sha!*) and it went fantastically! Much props to Tempest for the planning and execution. We all discussed our secret plans for world domination…*cough* I mean had coffee and cake!
By then it was almost time for my first panel of the con and the only one I was moderating, Captain Jack’s Big Gay Torchwood. This was one of the panels I didn’t feel went that well, I wanted it to be a very fun but also thinky panel but I think there were a couple of people on the panel who just wanted to squee and gush about how cute Jack and Ianto are together. In fact one member came prepared to derail the discussion if it got too serious (too serious for who?) which really kinda raised my hackles. Maybe she didn’t mean it that way but it came across as her deciding the panel was gonna go her way no matter what, it just stank of privilege.
So yeah I brought up the devaluing of women’s sexuality throughout the series and the way that they aren’t allowed to have the same experiences of their male counterparts. The invisibility of “the lesbian” in the show was another thing that was brought up and how casting Jack as an alien allows some folks to detach and not address the sexuality of the character directly (the same thing that happens with all the POC on Stargate being aliens, but that’s a post for another time). And Jackie piped up from the audience and brought up the problem with terming some of the kisses on the show “gay kisses”, which is that it sets up the default as all kisses are straight. The problem for me is that I felt like we didn’t really get to the meat of any of the issues because we kept getting somewhat derailed by people saying “ohhh so hot”, “oooh so pretty” but whatever.
The rest of the day was a bit of a blur, I know I attended some panels and they were probably super but nothing that really stuck out at me.
I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the Carl Brandon Society Party which I’m pretty sure happened on Saturday Night. Now first of all CBS put on the Opening Ceremonies on Friday evening which were a great big filk sing-along! There were songs about how WisCon was made for you and me, about each Guest of Honor, about all the good food that surrounded WisCon (I can attest to this!) and finally best of all Nisi Shawl’s filk song “Filk Music Ain’t Got No Soul”. It was a lot of fun and laughs were had all around.
Anyways on Saturday it was up to the CBS party where I drank C-52’s (B-52 with a M&M in it, C stand for Carl) renewed my membership, donated to the Octavia Butler Scholarship and ran into old friends and we talked about everything from the society itself to books that we had liked in the recent year. Then there was wandering from party to party until the crowded atmosphere became to much for us.
The night ended as I think all of mine did this WisCon, sitting in the bar with friends I only see once a year shooting the shit and getting hammered. By which I mean it was a very good time.
Next up: WisCon Days 4, 5 & 5 1/2
Currently Reading: Changeling by Delia Sherman
*We-Sha-Sha has become shorthand, among certain folks, for the objectification/exotification of POC & cultural appropriation, pretendianism in particular. It’s origin is with Cassie Edwards, the romance novelist who the blog “Smart Bitches, Trashy Books” revealed was plagiarising chunks of her books from various other sources. Now a lot of her books have to do with the old west and a white woman being kidnapped by Native Americans only to join the group and fall in love with a Native man or some similar bit of a outdated trope. Plus they all have titles like “Savage Love”, “Savage Moon”, “Savage Bloodthirsty Native Man – Fear The Brown Folks!” okay so I made the last one up but you get the point. In one of these novels the heroine has super curly red hair but she talks about how she uses a special herb called we-sha-sha to darken and straighten her hair so she can fit in more with her adopted Native peoples. So yeah, People Against We-Sha-Sha! I even have a button 🙂
Just a quick post that’s semi-related to my post yesterday. So in that post I used the term “gay marriage” a few times, in the title and in the post itself.
Something about that term made me uncomfortable all of yesterday and this morning I hit on why. I remember a conversation I had with someone about the term “white trash” and how they had massive problems with it, not because they found it insulting but because the need to add the descriptor “white” to it implies that People of Color are trash anyway.
It’s the same with the term “gay marriage”. It works on the assumption that marriage is a heterosexual union. If it wasn’t working on that assumption there would be no need to qualify it with the word “gay”. So I’ve gone back and changed the post to read “Marriage Equality” instead because I just think that’s a better phrasing altogether.
I may not agree with marriage and want it abolished wholesale but I’m still an Creative Writing graduate, terminology is important to me.
By now you’ve probably heard about this bit of news, this morning the CA Supreme Court has overturned the ban on same-sex marriage in my state. The conservatives are already pushing to get something on the ballot in November to re-ban it.
I wasn’t going to write anything about this decision at all. There’s been much rejoicing by my friends but personally and frankly the news gets a shrug from me. Not because I don’t believe in marriage equality but because I don’t believe in marriage at all. So let me explain, but first a disclaimer.
What follows is my personal opinion and not a judgment on those who are married or wish to get married…
Why are you against marriage, it’s just love? Do you hate love?*
I think marriage is an archaic institution that was and still is to a large degree about ownership. When a man and a woman marry the woman takes the man’s name, why? No, really why? If it was just about having the same name it would be just as useful for the man to take the woman’s name but that’s not the case. In fact even today if a man wants to take his wife’s name it may take him two years and a lawsuit to do so. Renaming someone, even with their agreement is staking a claim, it’s the loss of half your identity to prove what exactly? It’s only in the last 50-60 years that the idea of marrying for love really came into vogue. For the most part marriage has been about property rights, heirs and power.
For me the history of marriage is the history of a system of oppression and ownership of women. This is not a legacy I want any part of because even though people argue that it’s changed I think that building on a dark history only legitimizes that history. Plus I just don’t understand the need for outside validation in my personal relationships. If I want to be with someone then I’m with them until I no longer want to be. I don’t want/need to be legally tied to someone.
But what about the benefits?*
Well I don’t think those benefits should be tied to marriage at all. Because what about those who maybe want those same benefits to go to that friend they’ve had for over 30 years? Maybe a lot of this comes from the fact that I’ve never seen that much difference between romantic relationships and close friendships except for the absence of sex (and really that depends on the friendship). I think the idea that you have to be in a romantic relationship with someone to feel that sort of closeness is a societal construct that we’re all taught to buy into from childhood. What if I want all those benefits from marriage to go to my best friend of 5 years, how is that relationship and love less valid than a marriage of two people who’ve known each other for six months? What if I want my elderly sick mother to share those benefits? Or what if I have more than one partner? What if I’m in a stable loving long term relationship that involves three people? What if I’m polyamourous and seeing two people that I love equally and each of those people is seeing someone else and on and on? I just see marriage as another hierarchical institution that places those who dare fall outside the “norm” once again on the bottom rung.
Those people are freaks! Real love involves two people!*
There are those who would argue that it’s just between a man and a woman. And others who would say that that man and woman have to be of the same race. Love is for everyone.
But isn’t this a move in the right direction?*
Well not for me because I haven’t seen any of the discussion of the above issues, anywhere. I expected a little criticism somewhere on the web but it’s no where to be found and that actually makes me a little sad. But perhaps everyone is just caught up in the happy right now which I can understand and criticism will come later. About the push for marriage equality in particular well I see it as another way for LGBTQ organizations to assimilate more into the mainstream leaving behind the “freaks” and “weirdos” that used to be celebrated by the movement. Again playing into that structure where two people who get married are then considered better or more happy than those who don’t want to get married (like me) or those in the situations I pointed to above who still won’t be able to provide those same benefits to someone they love.
But we can’t just let anyone get married, god wouldn’t like that!*
And that’s another issue I have with marriage, the lines are blurry. It’s a religious institution, it’s also a governmental classification and the lines get blurred so that god is often brought up. Setting aside my personal religious feelings, there’s a little thing called separation of Church and State so personally I could not care less about what your god would and wouldn’t like. If you want to have a religious ceremony with all the pomp involved that’s your choice and more power to you. If your church chooses not to recognize certain unions well that’s their business but I’m talking about the government recognizing it and that’s something entirely different.
Well what do you want?*
I personally would like to see a shift in language, the abolishment marriage and the creation a new classification that would allow people to give those special benefits to anyone they would like, friends, family, multiple partners. I’d like a true kind of equality that would allow me more choice in who I give rights over myself to and that isn’t based on something with such a horrible history. You can’t build a perfume store on top of a landfill ’cause eventually that stench rises up.
Now all that politically radical rambling (that will probably get me in a bunch of arguments and trouble) being said I know none of this is likely to happen anytime soon. Understanding that, am I happy that an institution I don’t particularly like is being widened in definition? Of course as I stated above I think everyone should have the right to be recognized as having a valid relationship with someone of their choice. I think this is a victory but I think it’s a relatively small one and I’m gonna wait to jump up and down with joy until I see some movement towards true freedom.
*All of these are questions I’ve actually recieved in discussions on my view on marriage.