Genderfluidity

This is a really interesting personal story piece about being genderfluid:

I Am Genderfluid by Astrophe on Jezebel

I found it yesterday, and a lot of it really resonated with me.

I’m genderfluid.

I think. I mean, I don’t know what else to call it.

My gender exists in some sort of quantum state.  It’s Schrödinger’s cat, unknown unless I examine it.  Boy day or girl day?  Let me open the box and check.  These days it’s usually a boy day, but there have been long stretches of time when I’m usually girl, and I’m sure there will be again. Sometimes it’s neither; I open the box and can’t tell whether the cat’s alive or not.  And frequently, it’s both at once.  A tuxedo cat, black AND white all at the same time, not sometimes black and sometimes white.

Someone once compared being genderfluid or genderqueer to being a superhero, and I think that’s brilliant. Your identity encompasses both at all times, no matter how you are presenting at the moment. The way Bruce Wayne and Batman are the same person all the time, but are still different identities.

This cat: genderfluid avenger of the night!

Basically, I am this cat.

I believe gender is a thing that is 90% imposed on us from outside, and it begins so early – the very moment we are born – that most people (in my culture, anyway) literally cannot conceive of the idea that the chasm that separates “male” and “female” is really more like a bike tire track in the mud. And despite years identifying as female and not questioning that, I somehow managed to trip and fall on both sides of it.

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The Monstrous Feminine

Obviously, as a woman-shaped, read-as-a-woman person whose relationship to their mental illness, and to some extent, their overall identity, is “lycanthrope”, I have an investment of the idea of the monstrous feminine.

I am deeply devoted to the idea of being our own monsters. I am deeply devoted to the idea that we should be allowed to reclaim those parts of ourselves in all their power and all their occasional ugliness, because they are vital parts of the human experience, and having them used against us was largely an effort to deny our humanity by denying us those parts of ourselves.  By calling them abhorrent and ugly and inhuman.  And I call bullshit on that.

This really great exchange happened over on Tumblr, and I feel it’s worth duplicating some of what I said here.

Tumblr user sunteaflower posted the following:

We call ships ‘she.’ We call our war machines ‘women.’ We compare women to black widows and vipers. And you’re going to tell me it’s not ‘lady-like’ to scream, to take up space, to fight and demand respect and do whatever the hell I want. You’ve looked at nuclear bombs and been so in awe that you could only name them after women. Don’t try to down-play my power.

Brava.

Then claidilady protested, pulling some of the above apart point by (very good) point, and summing up with:

this is why i was so upset that when discussions of weapons & women/the feminine came about it seemed to call this all positive and empowering instead of fundamentally identifying the societal coding of women and their sexuality as dangerous and evil

. . .

i do not want to be an atom bomb. i am not an imprint or an echo of the destructive forces of the patriarchy and have no desire to be associated with black widows or vipers or war machines. my interest in destruction of societal norms which harm people cannot be equated to an industrial military complex, neither can my sexuality or my being.

it is not the same kind of power, it is not the same kind of force.

we can be powerful without wearing the masks of men.

And I just love both of these so much.

And here’s what I said:

I agree with everything in both these posts. Yes, that’s possible.

I’m happy to be a war machine. I’m happy to be a viper. I’m happy to be a mighty gunship, or a nuclear bomb. Because I’m still me, and I get to decide what those things mean. I don’t care who made me, or who shaped me, I belong to myself now.

There’s a reason that shit like Skynet is scary, a reason robot rebellion/AIs becoming sentient and then wreaking havoc is a perennial theme. Because people are afraid of the moment when that which was created to be subservient becomes self-willed and self-aware. And they should be.

No, women weren’t created to be subservient. But the patriarchy thinks that. And the subtext of the original post reads, to me, as someone saying “I don’t care if you mean it as an insult either forehanded or backhanded. You liken me to a thing of power, or things of power to me, because you fear me on some level. That gives me power. Whether you meant it to or not. You can’t take that back. I may be a war machine, but I’m MY war machine.”

I’m a huge fan of the monstrous/destructive feminine for a reason. Those things have been used to deny women their humanity for centuries and there are a lot of people like me who are still seen as monsters. People like me who are mentally ill, who don’t fit preconceived notions of gender, who have a body other people sometimes deem loathsome. People like me who were raised by monsters, hardened by monsters, beaten by a monstrous society, until they became monsters … their own monsters.

Gaze too long into the abyss, yes, you become a monster. You don’t become part of the abyss unless you jump.

There’s nothing wrong with being a monster. There is nothing wrong with being a thing scarred and shaped by the forces that tried to destroy you. You still belong to you. You can still be the weapon that wields itself. You can still be a good person. You can still work against the forces that shaped you with pain and oppression.

You can choose to say “I am not a monster, I will not be what they made me.” That’s incredibly noble. I respect the shit out of that, because that is a hard road. I salute all y’all who have made that choice.

But there’s another choice, the choice to take what they made you and be that in a way that defies them at every turn. And that is every bit as laudable, as honorable, as brave. That road is also hard. Y’all who bear the wounds openly and with no shame, who embrace yourselves as things that can be horrifying and dangerous, but who can also choose to be tender and protective, y’all are my sisters, my brothers. I love you all.

Some of us grow wings and new, shinier skins, rise up and fly away, and dedicate ourselves to being different, as different from the forces that harmed us as we can possibly be.

Some of us take the fur and fangs and claws we were forced to grow, we take the toxic waste of our blood, the jet fuel of our anger, the nuclear fission powering our hearts, and the giant robot Jaegers of our love for one another, and we use them to protect, defend, and when necessary, yes, we will use them to fight.

I’m not ashamed of what abuse and hardship and bigotry made me. I will never be ashamed of that. I might never feel the need to rise above that. Because it did a lot of things to me, but one thing it didn’t do: make me into an ugly person.

I am fully human. That is not up for debate. But those who do not see me as human? I’m not here to change their minds by proving them wrong. I’m here to love my monstrous sisters and brothers into being strong again.

Whatever beauty is in me is mine. I created it. I will always be proud of that. I will always be beautiful.

And because I am what monsters made me, yes, I will always be a monster, too.

I will always be a beautiful monster.

I will not rise above what I am not ashamed to be.

And even I gotta say wow.

Of course it matters to me when people try to insult me, no matter what words they use. It may be ridiculous to try to insult me with something I’m not afraid to be, but I will still react negatively to the fact that someone is trying to insult me even if the specific insult is less than insulting. Tactically I may choose to react as though they have complimented me as a way of pulling the teeth of a verbal attacker, tactically I may challenge their insult in order to point out how stupid they’re being, but I am fully aware that I have been verbally attacked!

It’s just powerfully protective to realize that the things they are calling you, while intended to be hurtful, probably are not bad things to be. So even if they are true, you haven’t been insulted. In reacting to particular words, we become bogged down in specific semantics when what we should be reacting to is the intent. Instead of “I’m not a bitch!” or “You have no right to call me a bitch!” we can say “You have no right to try to insult me, period. Doesn’t matter what word you use.”

And I think I’m gonna leave that there.

On Peacemakers and Holding Your Ground

I only recently ran across this article at Womanist Musings from back in September of 2012.

It’s called “Annoying are the peacemakers, for they will call for our silence”, and it’s all so immensely quotable that you should just go ahead and read it.  I do like this bit:

Y’see, Peacemakers, every time you speak, what I tend to hear is “sit down and shut up.” Because I, we, aren’t talking just to cause trouble, or because we love a good fight – and no, we don’t. It’s the biggest straw man in the world that marginalised people ENJOY these battles to be treated like full human beings. We’re speaking up – angrily – because we have to. We’re speaking up to protect ourselves. But you’re trying to stop us doing so.Silence supports the status quo. Our peace, our refusing to make waves, ensures that the world will continue as it is – and as it is is oppressive, prejudiced, bigoted and deeply unjust. It is hurting us and we need to speak to stop that. You stop us fighting and you help those attacking us and holding us down.

Right now, in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling about Hobby Lobby and birth control, I’m especially feeling this.  How am I supposed to meet someone halfway when they are are legislating away my right to make my own medical decisions?  How am I supposed to meet someone halfway when they don’t think I deserve the same rights as everyone else, so they’re trying to take mine away?  Where the fuck is the “halfway” on wanting me to have fewer rights than a dead body?

Meeting people halfway on legislation only leads to people wanting to be met halfway again.  You lose another half of your ground.  Why should I want to give up my safety by halves to keep things “civilized” and “peaceful”?  Because it doesn’t feel either civilized or peaceful to me.  It feels like being threatened and attacked, and told to be nice about the entirely justifiable noise I make when someone really, really hurts me.  On fucking purpose.

I’m not interested in giving bigots and regressives a free pass to walk away from the shit they do and say without being challenged.  If I choose not to challenge or engage, that’s my choice.  But I am not going to let someone else tell me I shouldn’t because it’s not nice.

That’s not peace.  That’s silence.  There’s a difference.

The Neverending Toil

I’m climbing out from under the rock of another depressive episode.  I currently have about a dozen things on my plate, things I have to do, major things, not minor things.  Projects.  Ponies, book edits, covers, formatting for print.  Things that will take days each.  And that’s on top of stuff like keeping my bathroom from looking like the guest toilet in R’lyeh and not burying myself under disposable dinnerware in my bedroom.  It’s a neverending cycle, and no matter how I fight, I can’t keep up.

Every rock has a silver lining? Fuck this.

“Annnd it’s still there. Lovely.”
Image: “Untitled” by Olivier Ortelpa on Flickr.

That’s one of the worst things about depression — or, I suppose, any other debilitating condition — you’re not just dealing with your own cycle of broken or not broken, you’re dealing with the everyday outside world, too, and its rhythms, imposed on you with no regard for your level of ability to cope with it.  It keeps running.  It leaves you to catch up.

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We Are Not Smarter Than Hunger

So this video came across my Tumblr dash, and it triggered a rant.

Basically, the gist is this: a researcher fed volunteers milkshakes.  One group got milkshakes that were labeled as low-calorie.  The other group got milkshakes labeled as high-calorie.  The group given the “high-calorie” milkshakes felt less hungry afterward.

This is an interesting example of the placebo effect, for sure.  However, it is now being bandied about as “You can change your metabolism with your miiind!”  And, predictably, people are discussing it almost solely in the context of weight-loss dieting.  As if it offers hope.

Because I’d like it preserved for posterity, here’s what I said on Tumblr (with a few minor edits):

The fact that this works for one feeding with a single milkshake means nothing.  It’s basically a trick to fool your body into feeling fuller, temporarily, but it says nothing about how your body treats hunger over the long term.

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Not Buyin’ It

Last night I had a dream I was in some sort of godforsaken upscale organic food market place, like Whole Foods, and this really cute woman in a nice suit came up to me and tried to sell me her weight loss plan thing.

She was like “We have this revolutionary new system that will allow you to–”

And I was like “Get. The FUCK. Away from me.”

 

Rethinking Thin - Gina Kolata

Rethinking Thin by Gina Kolata was the final clue-by-four.

And she kind of backed up and sat down in a chair that was by the wall, eyes wide, and I felt a little bad for being so angry so I explained the whole deal to her. I told her I was an eating disorder survivor, that my body was nobody else’s business unless I chose to make it so, that I might not be happy with it but that it still deserved love and shouldn’t be starved, and that what she was doing — I was adamant on this point — was genuinely hurting people.  And she needed to stop encouraging people to do this to themselves.  And if she was doing it to herself, she needed to stop it.

I told her about the books I’d read that set me straight, took her notebook away and wrote down the names and titles, and gave it back. And because it was a dream, I knew that I had planted the seeds of doubt, and that she would change her mind and stop doing what she was doing.

And I think that was a pretty amazing dream to have. I literally wasn’t buying what she was selling.  I’ve had other dreams like it, but that was especially good.  A dress rehearsal for when I have to meet the new doctor I’ll be seeing late this month, I guess.  I’ve already called the office and explained the deal, and I explained it again on my intake forms, but that doesn’t always do the trick.

So yeah, I think that’s a victory of some kind.  We are at the mercy, in dreams, of what we really think about ourselves.  There’s no filter there.  And yet, all this time, it’s been in dreams I’ve seen the first flashes of acceptance.  Meaning it’s been there the whole time, quietly growing without me knowing about it.  A dream like this is proof of that.  Proof of how far I’ve come.

I am pleased.  I am really pleased.

District Judge Terence C. Kern Declares Oklahoma’s Anti-Marriage Law Unconstitutional!

I’m late to saying anything, but on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Terence Kern ruled that Oklahoma’s anti-marriage law violates the 14th amendment and is therefore unconstitutional.  You can read the document here.

Nobody’s marching to the courthouse to get their papers yet, things are still kind of up in the air, but we’ve gotten this far, and that’s a hell of a lot farther than I expected us to get this soon.  I thought we’d have to be dragged kicking and screaming, but Kern’s language is a powerful blow.

In the conclusion of the court ruling, Kern eviscerates nearly every justification for denial of equal benefits under the law, using other court rulings to prove that denying marriage rights to same-sex couples is unjustifiable and irrational.  About the only thing he didn’t attack is the assertion that if same sex couples are allowed to marry, there would be nothing to stop people from marrying (and fucking — that’s where all the pearl-clutching comes in) animals, appliances, cartoon characters, or children.  I’m assuming he considered addressing that beneath his attention.

This article by David Badash at The New Civil Rights Movement is pretty excellent as far as overviews go, but I’ll pick a few passages.  Emphasis added.

The Court recognizes that moral disapproval often stems from deeply held religious convictions. However, moral disapproval of homosexuals as a class, or same-sex marriage as a practice, is not a permissible justification for a law.

A same-sex couple’s inability to “naturally procreate” is not a biological distinction of critical importance, in relation to the articulated goal of avoiding children being born out of wedlock. If a same-sex couple is capable of having a child with or without a marriage relationship, and the articulated state goal is to reduce children born outside of a marital relationship, the challenged exclusion hinders rather than promotes that goal.

Same-sex couples are being subjected to a “naturally procreative” requirement to which no other Oklahoma citizens are subjected, including the infertile, the elderly, and those who simply do not wish to ever procreate. Rationality review has a limit, and this well exceeds it.

The Court cannot discern, a single way that excluding same-sex couples from marriage will “promote” this “ideal” child-rearing environment. Exclusion from marriage does not make it more likely that a same-sex couple desiring children, or already raising children together, will change course and marry an opposite-sex partner (thereby providing the “ideal” child-rearing environment).

In addition, the Court cannot discern how exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage makes it more likely that opposite-sex marriages will stay in tact (thereby remaining “optimal” child-rearing environments).

Exclusion of just one class of citizens from receiving a marriage license based upon the perceived “threat” they pose to the marital institution is, at bottom, an arbitrary exclusion based upon the majority’s disapproval of the defined class. It is also insulting to same-sex couples, who are human beings capable of forming loving, committed, enduring relationships. “‘Preserving the traditional institution of marriage,’” which is the gist of Smith’s final asserted justification, “is just a kinder way of describing the State’s moral disapproval of same-sex couples.”

The conclusion is simple, short, and sweet:

Equal protection is at the very heart of our legal system and central to our consent to be governed. It is not a scarce commodity to be meted out begrudgingly or in short portions. Therefore, the majority view in Oklahoma must give way to individual constitutional rights.

Bam.

There you have it.

This isn’t going to stop.  This isn’t a thing that can be turned back.  We have to keep fighting, the struggle still requires us to remain fully engaged, but this is most definitely a struggle we can win if we continue to demand that all adults be allowed to marry as they wish.

Oklahoma’s littered with failure on the civil rights front so I think it’s far too late for me to salvage any pride in my state, but I am damn proud of Kern.  If you wish to thank him personally for standing up for Oklahomans’ marriage rights, drop him a line:

TERENCE C. KERN, District Judge
224 S. Boulder Ave., Room 241
Tulsa, OK 74103
918.699.4770

Because I rather imagine he’s getting a lot of hate mail right about now, and some encouragement might be nice.