song du jour: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Movement 1, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as (constantly) hummed by Skyler

mood: thankful

Trans Feminism, Le Feminism Nouvelle, or Crossing the Great Span (and Delving in with Depth)

I've been giving even more thought than usual lately to the defining and embracing a kind of feminism that, unlike the NECESSARY and DEEPLY APPRECIATED feminism of the past, doesn't limit my choices and make me (and a significant bunch of femme-kind) feel confined, perhaps even toward something that doesn't leave all you poor guys out there wondering if you'll ever get it right around us superwomen. I know I'm not alone in this hunger, for suddenly I seem to be surrounded by other women, and men, in this emerging dialog. It used to just happen when I picked up a David Deida book. Now it's on Charlie Rose, linked in my comments section, in other women's blogs, and even on the lips and quips of my Volvo mechanic.

Yesterday, when, mercifully, my transmission stopped acting up just as suddenly and mysteriously as it had started, my mechanic with the non stop one liners told me he harbored John Wayne fantasies. (?) Tentatively (I don't like westerns), I asked him to elaborate, and so he shared with me that secretly, he wanted to make it all better for his customers. He wanted to come in and save the day, be the hero, make my car troubles go away. "That's fine!" I told him, but he insisted men aren't supposed to do that anymore. "No, really, I don't mind. You can even open the door for me. I won't be the least bit insulted." It's come to that. Except for the few, who haven't figured out the days of the barbarian conquests were over a thousand years back (unless you're part of the Bush administration), most guys seem afraid to make a move or play the hero for fear of getting taken down. When my car breaks down, even more than when I have the flu, I just want someone, who knows what they're doing, to make it all better and without treating me like I'm too stupid to know where/what the tires are. None of us are good at everything. That's why we seek out experts to whom we can outsource. Shouldn't that include the play of the polarities, the fun of the battle of the sexes? After all, no one wants to be told the reason you're in bed with someone is because you're too dumb and inadequate to do it by yourself.

Let me back up a second and explain that all caps above and, um, cover my posterior curves a minute. I said "necessary and deeply appreciated" because I first and foremost acknowledge the immense work, frustration, anguish, and determination of all the suffragettes and feminists, who fought so I could vote, own property, and, at least in theory, earn the same pay for the same work as men. When we women criticize the down side and the less fortunate effects of feminism, we must always remember were it not for the pioneering feminists, we'd have far more to complain about, but as in our own individual growth, changes in culture and society often embrace the polar opposite in their quest to move upward and onward, and so, naturally, feminism in it's original form since World War II, paved the way for us to act as masculine as we wanted or needed to have the freedom of choice and the social and financial independence that men have had for centuries.

The trouble is I'm not a man. I'm not even remotely like a man. I don't even presume to know what it feels like to be a man. - I used to have a close friend, who is a transexual, and who used to roll her eyes at any pre-op man, who claimed that he'd always "felt more like a woman." They didn't like her much when she'd ask them how the hell they could possibly know what that felt like since they had not in fact become women. I appreciated her stereotype blasting, but ironically, post op, she became a catty vicious bitch from hell, and we parted ways. - I know what it's like to assume all roles in life: mother, father, homemaker, bread winner, career person, artist, business woman, unschooling mom, flirt from hell, vixen, vamp, brainiac, logical one, and when necessary, ball buster. I don't have any idea what it's like to eagerly await the next issue of Maxim, nor have I ever laughed or am ever likely to laugh at fart jokes. I will freely admit, though, that I hate to ask for directions. It's not pride really, just bad short term aural memory (If I don't write them down, they're gone out the other ear.) and well, ok, an arrogant belief that people often don't know what the hell they're talking about even when they feel compelled to speak as if they do.

I just watched Maureen Dowd on Charlie Rose. (Charlie, I had no idea that you're looking, but, honey, I'm everything you say you want, and I've had a crush on you for years!) Funny thing is, I was thinking that if I weren't so boringly straight I could get a crush on her too, when Charlie quoted someone else, who described Maureen Dowd as someone with whom you can't help but fall a little in love. Amidst her brilliant political analysis (and a whole big bunch of those 2 flirting) was the characteristic Rose style zing in question, "Do men find you intimidating?" Needless to say, I put down my pliers and gave the TV all my attention. "Not men who know me. I think, or I hope." was her reply. I used to think that was just the worst most depressing thing to hear from men (next to any even remotely derogatory comments about any of my body parts). There's nothing so alarming as hearing one is regarded as intimidating after articles of clothing have already been shed. That's happened to me more than once, but now, bored with the repetitious scenario, I'm more likely just to enjoy the ridiculous of it as one more asset in my dealt hand of flirt cards. Why not? All the qualities that make me regarded as intimidating are things I like about myself, and they are better than playing up my weaknesses. Vulnerability may be hot, but Achilles heels in the way of inferiority complexes most certainly are not.

Courtesy of a blog comment, I found this from The Good Body by Eve Ensler.
When a group of ethnically diverse, economically disadvantaged women in the United States was recently asked about the one thing they would change in their lives if they could, the majority of these women said they would lose weight. Maybe I identify with these women because I have bought into the idea that if my stomach were flat, then I would be good, and I would be safe. I would be protected. I would be accepted, admired, important, loved. Maybe because for most of my life I have felt wrong, dirty, guilty, and bad, and my stomach is the carrier, the pouch for all that self-hatred.

As Dowd stated, sometime after deciding how we look doesn't matter, we flung ourselves to the other extreme, willing to submit to any promise, any anorexic air brushed magazine icon, any toxin, any knife. Me, I'm a slave to alpha hydroxies. I'll be fine as long as I can just peel my face off on a regular basis.

So on the occasions when my top has been long gone by the time I've heard the 'i' word used to describe me, part of me was thinking "bloody hell, not again!" and part of me was thinking, "It's because my stomach isn't concave, isn't it?" I've been on the verge of making peace with the whole middle section of my anatomy. Usually about the time I get ok with being a Venus, who's born a child, I start mourning gravity in other areas. Atlanta is a skin city even in the cold, and everywhere are waifs in wonderbras or silicone with straight lines from the bottom of their last top curves, straight past their unpuckered hip huggers, and down to their knee caps. I want to like my belly. I've spent enough time learning how to flutter, shimmy, and roll it up and down. If I lived in another era or another culture, I'd likely be regarded as too skinny, but when I catch a glimpse of the post mama-hood me dancing on video, I vow to give up cake forever. It doesn't work. I'd rather hate my belly and love cake. Oh, to one day love both.

One of the things I love most about my crazy, role embracing life is it's inherent (and desperately necessary) spontaneity. One minute I'm working at my bench, the next I'm baking bread, the next Skyler and I are erupting his new volcano kit. This is a normal day for us. I was elated to see this from Hannah Dallman on her blog:

I'm so invested in this motherhood business that I feel that what I do next will have to blossom from that. And, I feel funny about that. Like it's a cop-out to make something about that, or I won't be taken seriously enough, maybe even be a little embarrassed that I want to talk about motherhood and babies and all those desires that are tied in with wanting to care for your child while still having a career.

So, what is it that's making me feel so embarrassed about shouting my desire from the rooftops; through film or otherwise? Could it be that feminism has new ground to cover? It's accomplished one mission of releasing women of feeling guilt about their sexual desire; allowing it to be a wild thing in the midst of 'tame civilization.' Why is it that all our images of motherhood are soft focus portraits of women in frilly nightgowns contentedly nursing their newborns or of scattered housewives, embittered by their domestic trappings? Isn't there a better option out there? Where are the real role models of motherhood? Where do we see the true, real intensity of the desire to protect and nurture our young?

...I have shunned advice to cover myself while I nurse in public, and now proudly consider myself a 'lactivist.' I bring my baby wherever I go, to school, to a cafe, to yoga, to visit with friends, to a film set. And I don't want to be ashamed to talk about my experiences or my deep desire to mother through my art.

I remember it well. I didn't have frilly nightgowns either except for the one my mother bought me, which wouldn't even fit over my post pregnancy bust size and added to the hormone induced night sweats, exacerbated by an emergency c-section (the one that made my belly ripped but not in the way of a 6-pack). I didn't think it was cool to make art about mothering, and so it came out anyway If you click on that link, look at that piece really closely. It's my inadvertent self portrait. From there began the giant shift in my work from the elements to the play of masculine and feminine forces.

So, where is the feminism that embraces ALL of this? Where is the ideology, the lingo, the rallies, and the public awareness that encompasses ALL our energy in diversity, for that's what the feminism is: the countless ways energy manifests in this world. We can each only embody a section of the spectrum at a time, but holding space, letting patriarchy die means understanding that expecting us to confine ourselves to one role, one set of desires, one set of acceptable behaviors is oppression. Where is the place that I can resolve a love for FM shoes, 'lactivist' emeritus curves, sharp wit, honed logic, boundless creativity, and mother bear love? The place where I can be but don't have to be everything?


And without.


manonfyre said...

In Maureen's conversation with Charlie ("Are Men Necessary?" -- not-to-be-missed television!), I was particularly taken aback by her "so many young just women wanna be Maxim covergirls" trendspotting. Eve Ensler, too, spoke at the Miami Book Fair (the CSPAN broadcast) about the 40-Billion-dollar cosmetic and self-mutilation industries and, [paraphasing] "Wow! If we [women] could just make partial peace with ourselves and devote even half of this money toward you-name-it!"

Googling "trans feminism" hasn't led me to an answer for the question you've raised here.

It's seems your web blog, and Hannah's, and others' are the emergent and heroic heart-shouts of Le Feminism Nouvelle.

manonfyre said...

oops edit: "so many young women just wanna be"

manonfyre said...

Would that I could swoop in, not John Wayne but Drukpa Kunley style, and ravish your every worry away! And in return?

Damn girl! Blessed is the soot that clings to your pliers, for it is near you! You are so much closer to all you desire than you realize.

Exacerbating though it may at first sound, only in the limitless effulgence of top-down, 2nd-tier, nivikalpa samahdi (abiding sahaja samadhi) does the the answer to this and other cultural quandaries abide. The rest is only partial solutions. Sorry. Real culture only starts there. Truly recognise, however, that THIS is always-already freely given -- now, and now, and now, despite all our interruptions of IT. "God" is soooooo very easy! Our own resistance is the hurdle.

It's the start. . . alpha and omega.

What is the revelation at the heart of Wilber's and Deida's work? It is the same revelation freely-given and available to you and me and any one of us who rightly stop to notice.

Trans-feminism is tranpersonalism. And where and what is the gate to the transpersonal? It is closer than your own breath and always-already so. It is . . . [!!!!!]

No, you're right. This radical-freedom/limitless-fullness doesn't pay the bills.

[back to my monk's cell]