Unedited meditations on a bad tidebound day for a singer who brightens the disturbance of my tears.
Aoifeschatological followup to my earlier critique of the Whedon “peeny” remark. Some of what I say below refers and connects to that first post. But this entry is meant to expand the discussion by investigating what are the real, underlying issues. Honestly — there’re just too many presumptions about gender and women that self-appointed “geek culture” reiterates casually. And the prefatory nature of these remarks are gesturing to that overall situation.
Yeah, I get that #peenygate is #done. But it’s not just about Joss Whedon (no — really! It’s not All About Joss!) There’s far more at stake here than a one-off quip from a very famous screenwriter. I wrote this followup because I’m concerned for a feminism that must speak to a sexist culture that is perpetuated by loads of things besides one mere afternoon tweet. I’ve focused on this instance, however, in that the ‘response’ provided further demonstration of what had originally been described. I believe that examining these details — or at least the ones pertinent to my experience of writing on this subject — reveals some interesting patterns.
Twitter fandom approached Joss Whedon today with this enquiry:
“Any advice on writing strong female leads in a comic?”
A laudable question. But why ask Joss Whedon? Why not, say Gail Simone, Vera Brogsol, Alison Bechdel, or Ôshima Yumiko — to name only a few women authors in the chronically female underpopulated medium of this genre?
Why ask Joss Whedon — however you perceive his literary merits: he’s male — for a prescription for what constitutes strong womanhood? I’ll leave that question hanging in the air for a moment.
That aside — he had this by way of response, a pithy rejoinder:
If you are a trans person contemplating suicide, please visit here for information on how to find help. I’m not going to tell you it gets better; but I will assure you that your survival is important and meaningful. Please consider alternatives. ♥
James Joyce once exclaimed that trying to cross Dublin without passing a pub would be an excellent puzzle.
Here’s a much easier one: see how long it takes to get through Bill Simmons’s reflections on Dr V before you pass by the word ‘sorry’.
I can’t say that poetry ever saved my life.
In my case … gravity — and cheap Vancouver apartment fixtures — saved my life.
AKA: On how I failed to get properly gendered health coverage under BC’s new enrollment scheme.
The following entry will be decidedly less formal and topic-specific than my previous posts. Unedited, working straight from memory to record yesterday’s failed efforts to negotiate BC’s new health database — here, I recount my experiences yesterday in failing to get a properly gendered BC Services Card. Such is the most recent version of what was once called the Care Card — the newer model displays, unlike its predecessor, a gender marker. A great deal of confused information currently circulates about what is required to obtain properly gendered documents in this province. I can only relate my experience; yours may vary considerably. Specifically, my story would apply to residents of British Columbia, Canada. The events I now describe, to the best of my recollection, occurred at the Commercial Drive ICBC office, Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish territories.
No sooner had the white smoke erupted from the chimney, after the curious case of the duck-and-cover retirement of Pope Benedict XVI, did the optimistic adulation for Pope Francis I, a Jesuit and the first non-European pontiff, commence.
Benedict XVI had been a disaster for many levels of the Church, except perhaps for “the women do the washing up” members of Opus Dei or other cadres of conservative zealots. Professorial, aloof, academic, nicknamed “God’s rottweiler” for his willingness to excommunicate first and ask questions later on matters of theological debate … compared to Emperor Palpatine in appearance … oh, and that stuff about joining the Hitler Youth … B16 was not the web 2.0 upgrade over the media savvy Pope John Paul II.
Thus, the post habemus papam euphoria that followed Francis I’s election seemed more a cry of relief than endorsement. The first Latino pope in Church history, with a religion whose membership is largely from those regions! A paladin for social justice and the poor. Vatican news outlets speedily offered us humbling pictures of this beatific man: from Argentina, he understood the rule of dictators (though never spoke out against them) and the conditions of poverty in his homeland. A very solid pedigree of activism for the disenfranchised, he considered himself one of the people, even taking the bus to work. A bus! (I’m now imagining a children’s propaganda comic book showing a fuzzy, haloed grandpa putting his pesos in the fare box — next panel, a smiling vantage point on his fellow passengers whose workaday week has been enlightened by this show of the beatitudes in motion on public transit).
So many of my friends — from ardent atheists to yoga teacher new agers — all choir-chorused in agreement on one interpretation: “He seems like a nice guy.”
I hope I spelled your name correctly. We have, of course, never met. You probably don’t even know I exist; and, as for me, the knowledge of your birth came only through chance circumstances of random information on FaceBook. (A curious place–the curation of faces and the arbitration of relationships, in type as well as in counterpoise.) I could have drafted this letter in a thousand different variations of incompleteness. But, electing as always for a fearlessness that now has become more natural (one of the gifts of transition), this simple logic of saying spontaneously based on a resolution to dare — I have no other philosophy.
“Trojan women.” I first encountered the phrase on a TERF website that I naively stumbled upon after I was diagnosed with severe gender dysphoria, was internally mummified with terror, and googling the phrase “Reasons not to transition” to find exactly that — a single overwhelming reason to dissuade me from making the one single decision that would alleviate a lifetime of routine despair and confusion as to my gender identity. In short, I was afraid.
The TERF phrase “trojan woman” combines the trap accusation with a classical allusion to infiltration and destruction. In the view of this rather twisted paranoia, all transgender women — every single one of us — exists as a siege weapon for patriarchy, knocking at the doors of Themyscira. Rather than bludgeon down the walls with bravado, Trojan Women act as stealth operatives. As the B2 shadow bomber of men’s rights activism, trans women filter through the gendar (extended simile intended) of Real Women™ to enter into the inner sanctum of biological womanhood. The Trojan vehicle, in this case, is the “gender identity movement”, which has enabled men to put on the appearance of femininity and, femininjas that we are, sneak through the sexual shadows and into the legitimacy of Troy.
This blog post begins by connecting to last week’s reference about
#twitterfeminism. I stated my position on that matter then, but now I’ll offer a small example, from my own exchanges in that forum, of what a few tweets can accomplish.
A topic I’d like to write about later is how vegetarianism has influenced my transition. Along with yoga, the adjustments I’ve made to my diet have been very powerful in addressing my ED, as well as nourishing the woman I was becoming. Especially in those early, bewildering forays of being Aoife, yoga and vegetarianism provided me with a powerful way to unbottle myself, connect with new friends, and attain the first few magical glimpses of relief in my regeneration.
Sarah Kramer, a prolific vegan cookbook author, BC local, and woman of tattooed fierceness whose books I really admire. Her recipes — delicious and delivered with anecdotes and personal sass — were my very first deliberate efforts into serious, no compromises vegan eating. Her recipes never felt like challenges, but opportunities for exploration.
Because I respect her so much, I was disheartened to discover that, in one of her books, she makes movie recommendations for having a vegan sleepover party, one of which left me gutted. It’s a great chapter in concept, certainly: what better way to introduce mates to the glorious variety of vegan cuisine than with a little bit of adolescent reclamatory sleepover giggleness?
She provides a list of suitable films for such festivities, a mix of genres, and all guaranteed to inspire gasps and guffaws. But Kramer heartily recommends the 80s slasher film Sleepaway Camp, which she praises as having “an amazing ending” and “so creepy” and a “final scene that gives you nightmares”.
Well, I’ll spoil the “amazing ending” for you with consummate distaste: Darllen Rhagor