Welcome to Maoist Orange Cake. Each week one of our Divas posts a thoughtful (but not necessarily serious) essay on whatever calls forth her Voice or strikes her Fancy. We invite you to join us wherever the discussion leads.
Motto of the MOC: Sincere, yes. Serious? Never!

"I would also like to add that ‘Maoist Orange Cake is possibly the best name for a blog ever. Just my twopence." -- The Sixth Carnival of Radical Feminists, 1 October 2007


The Twelfth Carnival of Radical Feminists is up at The Burning Times blog and mentions one of our posts, Helen 'Wheels' Keller, for recommendation. Orangeists spreading our zest!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

DAUGHTER OF MICHIGAN -- by Maggie Jochild



As requested, here's a new post so the thread begun below can continue. I have many photos of MWMF but I'm reluctant to post nudity here. Ditto me and camping, but also I seem to be nekkid in all my tent photos. So, I'm using the closest Lesbian pulp novel image I had in JPEG format. Carry on.

72 comments:

aunt soozie said...

Maggie,
I love that you can't seem to find an actual photo from Michigan without nudity in it. Thanks for the new post...I'll have to wait to compose until later. Tomorrow morning a friend is coming to help me clean my house and I have to clean it up tonight before she gets here so I won't be embarassed when she gets here to help me clean it so...I have alot of work to do tonight.

shadocat said...

What Aunt Soozie said...More thoughts to follow after 8 hours of sleep to clear my head...

aunt soozie said...

Oh Shadocat...to sleep for eight hours in a row...!!
Kids take that from you...but, I can't totally blame her...here I am still trying to clean my house...that's all on me.

I've made some progress though... but not before I had to go to the store and buy an assortment of plastic boxes and baskets to organize my junk and my kid's junk.

Maggie Jochild said...

Makes me think of Eleanor Rigby. These days, she'd be wearing a face she keeps in a teal-colored plastic organizer box from Ikea by the door.

Pamish said...

If you're still searching for that spider link, it's here: http://www.pamisherwood.co.uk/gallery/spiders1.htm
then follow through the next six pages. Not sure I could do this trick from scratch now, but I am ignoring the two fair-sized ones living in the bathroom. Some phobias apparently take more than four hours to fix, tho' this was a great leap forward.

shadocat said...

Soozie; one of the few pluses of having an empty nest is---you get to sleep! (well sometimes).

One of the reasons I asked all of those questions in my last thread, was the questions I began to ponder during last year's big Michigan debate. I confess, I've never been to the MWMF; I've got some health issues that would make it difficult, as well as some other minor ones (money, for instance).

I've never experienced the "city of women": so I don't know personally of the feelings my friends speak of, of being in a sacred space that is entirely female.

I'd always thought of "transgendered" people, as people who had already gone through the process. Since then. I learned that word can be applied to people ina all stages of the process of transitioning, and I been thinking about what that really means---and although on a personal level, I feel I accept everyone, I've got to admit I don't really know how I stand on the the concept of transitioning and transgender.

One thing I DO know is how I stand on being called "Cis"; it's the biggest load of bullshit I ever heard. To claim that I, a handicapped, lesbian, middle aged woman is on some sort of "priveleged" level...where do people come up with this stuff?

Ginjoint said...

Maggie was kind enough to let me post with you all on "MI, My MI", so here goes...

I get reeeally nervous posting anything regarding transgenderism and MWMF, because it does seem that the label "transphobic" is tossed about pretty easily. But I do feel that my I.D., that of a lesbian woman-born-woman, is just as valid as any other. And there are times I want to be with likewise.

At the age of 40, I've never been to MI - it sounds rather intimidating for me. I do have a question, however - so, after all this arguing, are pre-op MTF folks (those with penises) welcome there, or not? Sorry if this question makes me sound like a complete dolt, but despite all the debating I've read about this issue, I can't tell what falls where.

drakyn said...

(If this is woman-only space, please tell me so I can leave)

Shadocat, having cis*privilege doesn't mean that you haven't experienced hardships.
Just like a straight black guy has both male and hetero privilege, even though he is a member of an oppressed group.
I'm trans* and queer, but I still have white privilege and temporarily-able-bodied privilege.

The point of using cis* (or whatever term is eventually decided as being the most fitting) is partly linguistic convenience - some term is needed, after all.

The other point is to try and use a term that makes cis*people realize that they are positioned in this debate, rather than implicitly dividing the world into unpositioned people and trans* people. It isn't people and trans*people; it is cis*people and trans*people.

hammerwoman said...

Evening all,
Whew, today was a Monday of Mondays. I'm an RN team leader in a university medical center orthopaedic clinic, and I got my ass kicked today. Too emotionally and intellectually weary to sit for too long at the keyboard, even to talk with friends, even about something that concerns me so intimately.

Shadocat, I'll tell you though, I don't really know where *I* stand on transitioning and transgender. There was a time when I thought I knew. The moment that changed? I met a couple that live near me- they were (and are) Camp Trans stalwarts, who had, in fact, met there, and we were talking about their experiences. The angry, testosterone-fueled energy from someone who identifies as MTF but who feels that ze "shouldn't have to do any [hormones or surgery] because I know I'm a woman" was something quite new to me. I thought, you know, I don't know whether I belong at the MWMF, but I know for sure that *you* don't. . . and if they've gotta keep me out to keep you out, I'm fine with that. The line has to be drawn somewhere, I guess, and each such gathering draws its own.

In 2003, I went to WIMINFest out in Albuquerque; the friend who invited me and I both inquired (without telling the other) whether I was welcome there; I was, and I went an had a wonderful time. The controversy there was over the FTMs and the drag kings, and it was kind of cool to watch it play out around another group.

I don't get the whole 'cis' thing either. Another self-defeating label. When someone asks me if my parther (my wife!) is trans, I reply no, she's a natal woman, meaning *physically* woman-born (the old slang term, a "gigi", for "genetic girl", I had learned as an obscenity on the level of the c-word).

Again, the question. Am I a woman? Am I a man? I have no real experience to answer that question. I know I was never believable as a man, and thus often in danger around men. Now, at least, I can pretty much blend in (except that I'm 5'10"), and I'm comfortable in my skin. Hopefully, we can meet sometime, and you can decide how you see me for yourself. When M. and I first got together, she told me, "I don't know what gender we are, but we're the same."

Sorry, I'm rambling. Time for bed. My thought for the day- as it often is after one of these: "The absurdity of a life that may well end before one understands it, does not relieve one of the obligation to live it as bravely and as generously as possible."

'night all, -g.

Maggie Jochild said...

"What falls where" ... See, I credit you with humor even when you may not mean it.

The policy is that the festival is for womyn-born-womyn, girls of any age, and boys up to a certain age (as babies, boys are welcome in the regular festival, after a certain age they live at Brother Sun which adjoins the Festival and is run by mothers and committed folks -- the details are at their website). Attendees are requested to honor this policy, and unless they self-declare as other, no one will know. This does mean that if you do not currently identify as a woman (for example, transman) or you do identify as a woman but were not born one (for example, MtF), you can easily enter the festival but must remain covert.

All attendees are warned in the strongest possible terms to never make a gender assumption about another woman there. And back in the 1980s, that was one of the joys of Michigan, that you could see the extreme diversity of "what a woman looks like" and find strength in that. I know my daughter did. Going to Michigan really kicked her self-image issues in the ass, because there were so many ways of looking like a woman, she had an visual example in-the-flesh to counteract the feminine version perpetrated by the media.

When Bitch talked about how Michigan was full of trannies, I think she was referring to the fact that a great many of the women who go to Michigan call themselves transgender (meaning a variety of things) as well as woman, including many women-born-women who now identify as men. The latter are, of course, not following the requested guidelines, but as long as they don't draw attention to themselves, no one will question them.

Activitists from Camp Trans and other organizations regularly attend and agitate for changing the definition of the Festival; women lead workshops on the issue; and musicians who identify as transgender are invited to perform.

There have been instances where attendees were escorted from the grounds. These always involve someone who has entered the Festival subsequently making it very public that they are male, either by self-identification or by genital display. The details of these instances are available by Google search, although you have to be careful because there are also lies about it all, on both sides, being circulated. There has never been nor will there ever be a "panty check", as this would in fact be transphobic and the staff at Michigan would not allow it.

I think it is important to note here that most if not all of the groups advocating for what they called trans inclusion also state, if you read thoroughly enough, that they also believe anyone who declares themselves a woman, even if it is just for the purpose of entering the Festival, should be allowed in. Most of them say they think men should be given admittance to the Festival as well. So, bottom line, when women say women only, the argument against that turns out to be one of the core disagreements, not just a definition of what woman means at this Festival.

I worked Security at Michigan (as well as in the Womb, the healing tent) most years that I attended, back in the late 70s and early 80s. The most pressing problem at that time was from men trying to sneak onto the land. One year, some guy hired a small prop plane and flew over the Festival all afternoon taking photographs. When men succeeded in crashing the perimeter -- which tended to happen at least once every year -- the cry would go up "Man on the land!" and everyone knew to go stand around him, surrounding him but not laying a hand on him, until Security could come and escort him to the gates. By that time, he was always eager to leave. They were completely unprepared for masses of naked women who were not afraid of or impressed by men. It was a paradigm shift that threatened the foundation of their world.

My friends who were part of the Rainbow Coalition said similar tactics were used by them when the cops would invade -- they called it "love-bombing". No violence, just surrounding them and showing no fear.

I am really hoping that creating room for non-attacking discussion on the web will allow folks to enter into conversation enough to realize that the divergent viewpoints are using the same terminology to mean quite different things. Women and feminists of a certain generation invented terminology whose definitions are now being challenged and altered. Which is how things work, of course, and to be expected. But that doesn't mean one side is wrong and other is virtuous. And there is currently a power imbalance as to which side gets general airplay and credence in queer media and mainstream media -- transphobia is used very diligently indeed as a means of shutting others up. As we in our day used other terms, I'll admit.

But this line drawn in the sand isn't creating meaningful exchange or any growth that I can see. Young women hear only one side of it, usually. The vitriol aimed at older lesbians and feminists who do not identify as trans in any form can feel life-threatening because it often does transgress simple disagreement.

Until Michigan stops filling a need, its basic definition is not likely to change. The women who need it are the ones who make it happen every year. The numbers who attend Camp Trans are quite small, and the definitions of those who attend are in flux. In that regard, Michigan has already "won" the battle. Hence, the new maneuver of disenfranchising performers who have appeared at Michigan or who make the mistake of not falling in line to attack the policy. We'll see how well this maneuver works.

Gay men, as a group, have not been reliable supporters of Michigan, and they have the money and power, such as it is, in queer media and most organizations. But there is no matching effort to infiltrate their male-only cultural events and clubs. I'm sure they would not tolerate it for an instant. I was refused service regularly at restaurants on Castro Street because I was a woman. I learned not to go to those places -- they wanted to gather as men, they have a binding shared interest in having been boys who grew up to love men, and I understand it.

Maggie Jochild said...

Re the use of cis: It doesn't fit me, and I reject its usage for me. As anyone gets to do.

I know many folks who identify as trans AND man or woman. Some of them were born women, currently claim woman as identity, but also claim trans. So it's not an either/or for them, either.

Further, as it has been presented, the binary here seems to be someone who has chosen to claim trans identity vs. someone who has not. And to me, this resembles any self-identified target group labeling all those in the non-target group as "other" without differentiation. Black vs. non-black; raised poor vs. non-raised-poor. The value of sorting through what it means to be target in a specific way does not come from sweeping everyone else into the same pile (especially if they resist going into that pile), it comes from identifying how the institutions operate to name you as target -- how have you been systematically declared a target. When you do that, naming yourself "woman", for example, does not mean "men" are the other group you must agitate against (although we certainly frequently made that error at the beginning of this movement), it means that the system had labeled us as less than human against our will. It meant our work involved dismantling the system, not cries of "privilege" and trying to invoke guilt.

And, I'll be honest with you -- every piece of theory I read about how trans people are targeted, how it plays out in hard reality as well as how it occupies our brain's perceptions -- it all reads to me as sexism. Trans is just one more "other" to the default, which is straight male. Straight male is non-target for gender. And to me, that means all of us in the "target" group need to focus on dismantling the patriarchy (as I call it, other folks have other terms) rather than measuring each other's cups to see who has more. I begrudge the sexism which means gay men's voices and interpretations dominate what is called queer, often to the exclusion of lesbian voices. But I don't mistake that for gay men having "privilege" that I must try to remove from them in order to be free.

Thus, "cis" is of no use to me in my lifelong quest to undo the patriarchy, to undo racism, to undo classism, to undo the ownership of children.

shadocat said...

drakyn---not to worry; we (and I think I can speak for my sister divas here) welcome all points of view, as well as all genders. We like to debate and discuss; that is, of course, as long as everyone stays civil, polite and makes the effort to "play nice".I think you know what I mean---I've been on other blogs where people just lose it , and everything gets toxic---this is something we all try to avoid. You're doin' just fine and I welcome your presence in the conversation. I really don't think I'm priveleged, so I guess I still disagree with you on that...but I'm still willing to listen and talk about it. (yeah, I did go a little crazy with the "BS" stuff..sorry about that):(

Aunt Soozie said...

Wow...okay...I'm engaged.
Hammerwoman, you sure sound like a woman to me but I don't want to label you.

Anyway, here's my thing about mwmf..and I will add that though I kind of want to go...I never have.
My sister and her partner have gone every year for years. I still have ptsd from my years at girl scout camp and with the spider I saw on my front porch this evening...I'll be doing Michigan when they have hotel suites on the land.

I worked at Girl Scout camp.
Most years that I worked there...there were no male staff at camp. Other than the guy who lived there year round with his family. We called him the "ranger" which is funny if you know how non-foresty our camp was...anyway, the ranger kind of lurked around but kept on the downlow and had minimal interaction with the kids.

So, you had this staff of women and girls and a camp full of girls for eight weeks. Overnight camp. And I saw something happen there and it's kind of like what Maggie describes. You get a bunch of girls together without boys and the parameters widen. In a co-ed enviroment, for the most part there are all these upspoken and sometimes spoken rules about how girls will be girls and boys will be boys.

In my house, growing up, there were no boy children. There were four girl children. On a daily basis we never had re-enforcement of things like, John, take out the trash and Suzie, wash the dishes. My dad was a really sweet loving guy who worked fulltime but also helped with childcare. He was very nurturing, oh sure, my parents regretted the error of their ways when two of their four daughters came out as lesbian..okay, just kidding.

I didn't fully appreciate until much later how progressive my parents were in NOT raising us with a large array of gender based limitations. Oh, they were there but less so than with many of my peers.

I helped my dad change the oil in our cars, my sisters played softball, we were involved in lots of things but, at least in our house, there was no gender based difference in how we were treated as we were ALL girls.

So, back to girl scout camp...when girls were isolated from boys you could see the continuum between the girlie girls and the more masculine girls and/or the more androgynous girls expanding. In this context someone had to be
the brave one around bugs and someone had to know how to cook a meal on an open fire and
someone had to gather fire wood and someone had to lead songs at the campfire and
someone had to clean up the camp site and
someone had to plan the days activities and
someone had to be the funniest and someone had to be the strongest and someone had to be the fastest or the shyest or the quietest, the leader, the follower, the problem solver and whoever that person was...it wasn't based on what genitalia they were born with or what sex they were assigned at birth...it was just about who was more inclined to be a certain way or do a certain thing...
just based on what was inside of her self.

And it was a beautiful thing to see the expansion of roles and responsibilities and strengths that could occur when you were not broken into those proscribed roles that are all around us all the time even now in the year 2007.
I loved seeing it and experiencing it and I loved feeling free to be strong and tough and brave and androgynous and more
without the risk of being called butch or dyke or offending boys or being looked at funny.

It was just about being fully who you were in the absence of that dichotomy. And I don't think, as a society, we are anywhere near being able to offer that experience in a group that would include all kids. I think isolating girls offered them a great opportunity to grow in new ways.

I don't think we should get rid of all co-ed camps or force all girls to spend time in girl-only spaces but I think that it is a valuable experience and one worth having. I would fight for the right of girls to have that experience.
But when it comes to defining who is a girl?
that I can't tell you...

Likewise, I had a learning experience when I went to Israel when I was in High School. In my city, in my neighborhood, at least eighty-five percent of the Jewish kids were in the "smart kid" classes. The Jewish boys we knew were nearly all nerdy smart boys with pocket protectors and black thick framed glasses and polyester pants. Okay, so not all of them wore polyester pants but ALOT of them. I remember when my friend Sue got set up on a blind date with this boy and he was wearing non-polyester "designer" jeans and a matching denim vest...for that time and that place, whew, that was hot and happening. but she said, nothing like a wadded up ball of used tissues in the pocket to take away from a really nice pair of jeans. Alot of those dorky Jewish boys that we went to school with had allergies, too and that was a genetic thing or a product of living where the air is nasty.

When we went to Israel we saw something else...in Israel there were lots of Jews and there were lots of kinds of Jews and lots of ways that Jews looked and acted. people who identified as Jewish had immigrated there from all over the world. We didn't know Jews who were cops or cooks or soldiers, who didn't have chronic nasal congestion or who had beautiful dark skin...
So, we got to see that just because the boys we knew were pasty and wore polyester or even when in cotton had wadded up tissue in their pocket, not all Jewish people were the same.

It's kind of the same thing...when you narrow the field you allow for more diversity to naturally emerge within the narrowed field and in my lifetime, I've valued those experiences.

would I want to live in a community with people who are all just like me? No way.

Would I want to go to a festival for a week full of nothing but dykes? Hell yeah.

Do I see any benefit in having a festival that caters to women born women or ciswomen? I do.

Do I think all women's music festivals should be for ciswomen only? no.

Do I think wanting to maintain the mwmf for a select group or women or type of women is discrimination or phobia or prejudice? I don't.

If a group of straight women wanted to have a festival or event for straight women only...that's okay with me.

I've seen some of the arguments on the michigan site and some women are horrible in their contempt and disrespect for transwomen. I don't agree with those women. I think transwomen are women. But I don't think that ALL women have to be accepted into all events. As I said when we had this discussion over at dtwof, I think there is validity and meaning and value in segregating ourselves sometimes. It's all nicey nice and politically correct to be inclusive but sometimes it's okay to say, this tent is for women of color only or this event is for women of color only or this event is for mtf women only or this event is for post-op mtf women only or this event is for bisexual women only.

I do think it's useful and beneficial and it feels awful to have someone tell me we aren't allowed to do that, ever, because we can't ever exclude anyone...that doing so means we are hateful or afraid of those we are excluding.

ugh, i'm tired and I don't feel like I articulated this very well but it's a start.

Goodnight Ladies.

Maggie Jochild said...

Transphoebe?

I saw that episode. She borrowed one of Chandler's suits and kissed Rachel, right?

Ginjoint said...

Thanks Maggie and Aunt Soozie for once again writing what I feel. It saves so much wear and tear on my fingertips, as well as my lazy-ass brain.

What I can't get past with MWMF and trans people, personally, is the feeling of once again, no not meaning no. FUCK, that has happened so many times in my life. So when this one week a year for WBW has to be opened up, it feels like once again having to accomodate.

Another issue for me is that of a history of sexual abuse (I think this was brought up briefly on the debate last fall at DTWOF.) I'll be honest - I'm not comfortable being nude around men, those who identify as men, or even...uh-oh...those who were once male. I know, I know. Not cool. But, WHOOMP, there it is! My body has memories that, even with all the progressive information in the world, my brain can't seem to counteract.

Ginjoint said...

I also would not be able to ever turn my back on a dyke performer simply because she had performed at Michigan. That smells too much like some sort of strongarm divide and conquer tactic, and I'll have no part in it.

As Aunt Soozie stated, I think there's value in sometimes segregating ourselves. I believe this is also true for gay men, straight women, and straight men (even the godawful Bohemian Grove, which some of my FEMALE relatives have attended events at! {In the company of men, of course}*sigh*)

little gator said...

Drakyn- this is *not* woman-only space.
Stick around as long as you want.

aunt soozie said...

I'm not familiar with Bohemian Grove.
Have to go google it.
and Maggie,
too funny.
You should post that over there.

hammerwoman said...

Hey, ginjoint, don't worry, I get that- I'm not going to take offense! I only wish we were having this conversation in person, especially because of what I'm going to take on next- and this is something that makes *me* self-conscious about saying. It's-

How would you know?

You might think you can always spot a tranny, but you can't. I'm 5'10", tall but not too tall. One of the few giveaways are that, at 52, my breasts don't sag. I haven't had implants (hey, I'm a 38A), but they don't sag for the same reason that a 19-year-old's breast's don't sag, because we only grew them a few years ago. My body fat, what there is, has been recontoured by the influence of the hormones so that it's distributed in a distinctly female pattern. Ditto the body hair that hasn't fallen out. I move, and sound, and smell- all over- like a woman. And here's my "uh oh"- not with a tongue or hand on or inside me would you think (or feel, or taste) anything different or strange. If I didn't tell you, you simply wouldn't know. Not clothed, not naked, across the room, at arm's length, or at nose level.

Sigh.

Self-disclosure and honesty are the only way you would know. Ya couldn't drag me through the gates of something like the MWMF where I'm not wanted- I hardly get to spend time with friends and loved ones who would be delighted to see me. But I know others of equal passability who are not so honest.

Ginjoint said...

I probably wouldn't know, unless told otherwise. So the joke would be on me, I guess. Naked, naked me. Somehow, instead of opening my mind further, that makes me feel...I don't know what. Violated, on some weird level. And I know, I know it has to do a whole hell of a lot more with men, and men only, than it has to do with transgenderism.

I really hope my comments are not coming across as hostile towards trannies, because that's not where I'm coming from. I think trans folks should be allowed to change their documentation, get nonjudgmental health care, all of that. But I do wonder how many women at Michigan share my angle. And I also wonder, in terms of Michigan...where do trans folks' rights (of privacy, of inclusion, of psychological safety) begin, and mine end? And vice versa?

kellan said...

Hello, Divas (and drakyn, though presumably you've earned the title of Diva by now for your comments on this thread). I hope you don't mind that another straggler has followed you here from AB's blog.

I've been reading all the posts as they've appeared, and the conversation is fascinating. I was thinking, though, that it would be interesting to ask someone who identifies themselves very strongly as both/neither male/female where they would draw the line about appearing at Michigan. What do you all think about asking someone outside the current conversation (I wonder what Kate Bornstein's schedule is like these days?) to contribute a thought or two?

Also, in response to a comment made here somewhere about FTMs and men-only groups, the whole Buck Angel gay male porn controversy aside, James Green talks in some detail in his (highly recommended!) book Becoming a Visible Man about his experiences with a men-only drumming group called the Sons of Orpheus. He was a member of the group for some time before coming out to them as a transman. Of course, this was possible for him, like the vast majority of transmen, only because there was no nudity involved in the group. Which brings me back to ginjoint's comments. Is it the nakedness that bothers you, or is it an accusation of deception towards any transwoman who has not publicly discussed her genitals? This isn't a hostile question - I just can't figure out how to frame it any other way.

kellan said...

Oh, and I should mention that James Green's book is not the primer for transitioning transmen that the title implies. He does focus on FTM transition, simply because that's what he knows most about, but the book as a whole is a nuanced, extremely lucid look at identities and communities both in and around transgenderism. He is an excellent writer and speaker, and the depth of his experience and empathy is very visible throughout the book.

Jana C.H. said...

No one needs to be invited to join the conversation here on the MOC. We are open to fruit of all varieties. You do, however, have to be invited to be a Diva, since the Divas run the blog.

I am acquainted with only one MTF individual. The two of us were among those staffing the phone banks for the Democrats last election day, and somehow we started singing Gilbert and Sullivan at each other. You can’t necessarily “tell” by looking that she’s MTF, but you can by hearing: she’s unquestionably a tenor, not a low contralto. I know she would like to be in the chorus of the Seattle G&S Society, but this year’s show is “Princess Ida”, the theme of which is the Battle of the Sexes—that’s sexes as the 19th century knew them. A woman among the male soldiers instead of among the female students would make nonsense of this particular play. Maybe next year!

A few years ago I saw a production of “Iolanthe”, my favorite G&S opera, in which the man singing Strephon, the romantic lead, was FTM, and was one of the best singers in the show. I never would have known he was FTM if someone hadn’t told me; he was a complete baritone. The production was by a mixed gay chorus, apparently directed by the maestro; wisecracks about fairies during rehearsals must have been something else!

Jana C.H.
Seattle
Saith WSG: My brain is a fairy brain, but from the waist downward I’m a gibbering idiot.

Maggie Jochild said...

I'd like to begin by appreciating Ginjoint for saying what really comes up for her in a clean way (big guts) and to Kellan for asking a great question about it in a clean way (more big guts). I like it that we're trying to talk across a divide here that I just don't believe has to be a divide. Aunt Soozie, amazing eloquence on your part. The description of roles made tears come to my eyes. From your mouth to g*d's ear. Or, as Picard would say, "Make it so!"

Ginjoint, I grew up with casual household nudity, and in the early 70's, hanging out with fags (as they called themselves) also often meant being around male nudity. I'm comfortable with it as just bodies. I don't experience female nudity as sexual, either. And my long intimacy with disabled folks means "physical difference" is just interesting to me, never strange. Human is human. And I used to persuade women I knew to allow me to take photographs of their yonis. The diversity in female genitalia is extreme (and wonderful) (and tasty).

But I do have a reaction to erections. My kind of herstory of sexual abuse makes that understandable, and yet I'm not hanging onto that reaction as "this is just who I am". I know, goddammit I KNOW, that an erection is not always avoidable by the guy having it -- I think they are a LOT more avoidable than the gender lies would have us believe, arousal is largely a voluntary choice, but I have a nine-year-old godson who has shared the life of his penis with us since he was born and I know sometimes it just happens. All the same, my difficulty with erections has sometimes kept me from going to mixed-gender venues where clothing is optional. And if if was meant to be a woman-friendly, woman-focused space for cultural purposes, and I was not the only woman with this issue, I'd want (sometimes) accommodation for what is, in fact, personal residue. Even as I try to get myself past it.

However -- here's what I seldom see in print, at least in a non-kneejerk way. I led the first ever workshop for sexual abuse survivors at Michigan in 1981. I was a member of a lesbian and bisexual, working-class, self-help and political reform group for incest and sexual abuse survivors called the Pleiades. The first in the Bay Area and one of the first ever, not just in the U.S., but ever. Our group wrote a lot of the theory that exists in this field today (though we didn't take credit for it because of our class background). We broke ground with our bodies and spirits. Before women like us changed things, the standard psychological approach to incest was that (a) it seldom happened, (b) it was usually forgotten by the child and didn't affect her as an adult, and/or (c) the girl somehow solicited it from the adult male.

Angie Romagnoli (one of my Pleiades sisters) and I were going to Michigan anyhow, so we signed up to do a workshop and used the plan we'd been using in the Bay Area. The day of, Angie was wearing a pair of bandanas tied around her waist, sunscreen, and a pair of boots, I think. Maybe a hat. Standard Michigan attire. We came over the hill toward the hollow where the workshop was to be and looked down on at least 70 women waiting on us. We had no fucking idea how many of us there were at that point. Angie said "Whoa. I gotta go put on some clothes" and rushed off. I had on overalls, which was enough to feel okay, so I walked down into that mass of women.

Almost all of them had never told anyone publicly that they were a sexual abuse survivor. Few of them had even told a lover or best friend. This was coming out on an indescribable scale. There was one woman, a woman of color, who was deaf and had never told anyone. She had trouble getting across to her signer what she wanted to convey, though whether it was an emotional block on her part, her signer's part, or gaps in ASL, I couldn't tell. That woman stayed afterward and wept in my arms for half an hour. I've never forgotten her. She, too, had never told anyone.

My personal estimate for the percentage of Lesbians who experienced sexual abuse as children is well over half. Report rate I think is around 30%. So, it's this hidden population at Michigan, at any women's gathering. And if you haven't been able to tell others or get adequate counseling/help for it, it tends to run your life in hidden ways. Triggers, as it were.

My generation was the first to name it and try to eradicate it. Staci Haines, author of the Survivor's Guide to Sex, is our second generation and she has founded a project in the Bay Area called Generation Five -- the goal is to stop child sexual abuse in five generations. It is stoppable. It's just conditioning. Go to Generation Five for more information.

For reasons which I think I understand (which may be delusion or arrogance on my part), the conditioning which produces a sexual predator -- someone who is willing to act out their confusion of sex with power onto those perceived as less powerful than them instead of getting effective help for how they were hurt or just internalizing the hurt -- is linked, in most Westernized countries, to male conditioning. The statistic I keep hearing is that 98% of child sexual abuse is done by males. Usually males who identify as heterosexual. It gets attached to gay men but it's not gay men molesting boys and teenagers, it's usually heterosexual men who also have a third sexual orientation, that of pedophile or pederast. I believe, as do a lot of folks in this field, that pederast is a distinct sexual orientation, on the same order as gay, straight, or bi. You can be one or any mixture of them. But the fact is, the gender (and age) of the victim is usually irrelevant to the perpetrator except as an issue of access and as a re-enactment of how the perpetrator himself was hurt as a young person.

I do know that sexual abuse is also perpetrated by women. I have counseled women who have molested children. My first lover, when I was 14 and she was 16, turned out to already be an experienced pedophile, I found out decades later. No doubt part of the reason or perhaps the only reason I was attractive to her -- I was already trained as a victim. When I confided in her, at 14, that I and my younger brother had been molested by an older male in my family, she confessed her own past of having been abused. It was a bond between us. But how she dealt with that, and with being a Lesbian in those frightening times (early 1970s), was to take on male conditioning wherever she could. She did not identify as male personally, but she adopted all of the behaviors and persona of males that she could. And when she was in college, my little brother was 12, and I had pissed her off because I was moving on, she came back to my family's house one night when I wasn't there and raped my little brother.

So, I know. Still, the odds are against it. From my discussions with men, I believe they are heavily abused as children, in a number of ways, by both men and women in their lives. I personally would argue that the methods of imparting male conditioning are frequently emotionally abusive and can come equally from mothers as from fathers. But sexual abuse, per se, tends to come onto all genders from males.

And not just adult males. At least a quarter of the women I have counseled about being abuse survivors were molested or assaulted as girls by males we would identify as boys, not men. Sometimes a boy only a year older. Sometimes a boy not older than her. It's about power, as Susan Brownmiller taught us long ago, not sex. Thus, while we may see a group of children of mixed genders as benignly working out their dynamics, the experience for the girls may be akin to rape. Intelligent supervision is required.

Back to Michigan: Every mother I've ever talked with who has gone to Michigan has said, quietly, "I wouldn't feel all right about letting my daughter(s) run around in the Girlpack there if I knew men were on the land. I or someone I trusted would have to watch her every minute." And, honestly, I feel the same way. I'd feel the same way about little boys, too -- I'd never leave my godson alone in a situation where adult males not vetted by his parents were in charge. And, in my terminology, I define adult male as someone who either received male conditioning as an impressionable child (when the likelihood of abuse acted out on them is high) or has adopted male conditioning as an adult. In either case, I would have to know their abuse history and their counseling history to give them an okay. If you don't get help and undo what was done to you around abuse, and if you have adopted the male conditioning edict that it is preferable to externalize your pain than to internalize it, then you are a risk to anyone you perceive as less powerful than you. And if you don't believe that male conditioning makes you male, if you believe in the primacy of biology, and/or if you have trouble with boundaries set by women -- you are, in my opinion, at even higher risk.

I'm not arguing, by the way, that internalizing abuse is any more healthy or makes you a better person. It's just as lethal, and will make the children around you wretched. But you're not likely to molest them.

One more controversial thing I'd like to say here is that perpetrators who are looking for easy access to children are, logically, going to be drawn to certain occupations or circumstances. Nurses, teachers, childcare workers, priests -- I fucking hate it that male teachers, for instance, are viewed with suspicion. I think male nurturing should be encouraged. At the same time, it really is true that if you a pedophile, you will be drawn to arenas where you can seduce children, even as you also genuinely care about them. It sucks, but I have to be rational, here. Likewise, anyone who was abused as a child is at higher risk for being a perpetrator (that includes me, folks) unless they have demonstrated an effective healing process. And "effective" is often hard to come by, or even define.

So, with regard to Michigan -- opening up the current structure, where during the day girls have an unequaled autonomy, a freedom that changes their worldview forever (as it did for my daughter) -- opening that up to the population whose conditioning can predispose them to being sexual perpetrators (98%, again) is a risk I would not take. It's just a statistic, but it tips the balance in a direction I could not tolerate.

With regard to my own daughter: After I came into the picture, when she was age two, her fundamentalist grandparents insisted on weekend visits with her or else they would file for custody of her. The attorneys we consulted said that under Texas law, with her mother being an out Lesbian, the grandparents would win. So she went off at least once a month to spend the weekend with them, despite her begging not to go. I would have defied them and fled the state or the country with her, but I was not the biological mother. Her grandparents shared those visits with the other grandparents, her estranged father's parents. And that is where she was molested. Despite all my effort, she was molested.

But after she went to Michigan the first time at age eight, she stopped that bastard. She told him to never touch her again, and backed it up with clear threats. Later, when she was 13, she finally came and told me what had happened, the same time that she told me she had begun using drugs. Recovery from substance abuse went hand in hand with sexual abuse recovery. She went on to contact her half-sisters on her father's side, find out that they too had been abused by the same man, and enlisted the aid of adults to confront him -- as a teenager. They made him pay for their counseling, and stopped his access to girls after that. She is now as good a child advocate as I believe exists.

And, last comment: Jana, your trove of Gilbert quotes seems endless. Do you have his books on a disc, so you can search for keywords, or is this simply the result of your voracious reading? It's wonderful, either way.

kellan said...

Maggie, there are a great many amazing things and much food for thought in your last post.

The one thing that I feel a need to immediately respond to, however, is what appears to be the explicit charge that transwomen should naturally fall under greater suspicion than other women of being sexual predators:

"...opening that up to the population whose conditioning can predispose them to being sexual perpetrators (98%, again) is a risk I would not take. It's just a statistic, but it tips the balance in a direction I could not tolerate."

Aside from that being a grossly untrue and unfair link to make, it seems to me to stem from the same root as the prevailing mentality that allowed your sexual orientation to be used as a weapon to prevent you from being able to protect your daughter from visits to her grandparents. Substitute "morality" for "conditioning" (the spurious assumptions made about your perceived morality, or lack thereof, as a Lesbian, and those made about the perceived conditioning that transwomen receive as male-bodied children), and there you have it.

Maggie Jochild said...

You're right, Kellan, that I am linking male conditioning statistically to sexual perpetration. Not maleness (as a a lot of people decide from the same statistic), but male conditioning. I don't have a value judgment about it any more than I have about any other aspect of male or female conditioning -- the FACT of conditioning I find morally repugnant, yes, but both sets are incomplete and dehumanizing, in my opinion. I'm ready to toss them and start over.

So, I don't see this as the same as making a value judgment about a category of human beings. I'm breaking it down to conditioning and behavior, not the people.

For instance, if someone wanted to argue that Lesbians are more likely to have breast cancer than non-Lesbians, I'd have to agree. There are reasons for it, some of which link to conditioning. Again, it's not a moral judgment.

I am deeply committed to understanding the reasons WHY child sexual abuse occurs and stopping it. Whatever it takes. Wherever it leads. Naming the source instead of pretending it occurs somehow magically, or we mustn't hurt someone's feelings by being honest. It's a learned behavior that comes from (a) a certain kind of conditioning combined with (b) having been abused yourself as a child and relying on the aforementioned conditioning as an answer of how to cope with it.

The fact is, one of the places this quest leads is into the traditional American family as it is imagined by the Right (although model only existed for at most 20 years in the middle of the 20th century). That family definition and conditioning also contributes heavily to the possibility of child abuse. This doesn't mean I'm anti-family. But I'm willing to dismantle accepted ways of defining it in order to produce healthier generations in the future.

Conditioning does exist. Morality is subjective. They cannot be exchanged for one another.

kellan said...

Maggie, I will be thinking hard about what you have said. I'm supposed to be working right now, though, so for the moment I just wanted to direct anyone with a taste for comics (comics? us? never!) to the website of Erin Lindsey, who draws the comic Venus Envy. It is a lighter look at transwomen's issues from the point of view of a trans teenager with a painful secret or two. The storyline by this point is quite long and kind of scattered at times, but it's easy to scroll from strip to strip, so it's not too cumbersome to read or skip ahead. If you go down to the black and white picture with the green arrows on the right side of the page, you can choose the Venus Envy archive from the drop-down list and start from the beginning ("a few bad jokes" come first). In fact, here's the link for the beginning: http://venusenvy.comicgenesis.com/d/20011106.html. If anyone is so inclined...

Good night to all of you!

shadocat said...

Aunt Soozie; I think I might have had a similar experience to your childhood, but I missed it by just one boy...

I am the oldest child, and have three sisters. I also have one brother, and before I go on, let me stress, I love him dearly. He is a sweet, kind, gentle man, which is a miracle, because he was raised to be a male chauvinist pig.

One of my mother's favorite stories to tell was the one where one morning, she awoke from a gray and gloomy "twilight sleep", convinced she had birthed yet another girl child. Then the clouds parted and an angelic nurse appeared, announcing that she had given the world a son. "It was the happiest day of my life", Mom often said.

Like all children we were given household chores to do; the girls had a myriad of tasks assigned to them; cooking, laundry, dishwashing,ironing,etc. My brother had two: taking out the trash, and mowing the lawn. And mowing the lawn was not just his alone; it was a chore he shared with the rest of us. Naturally, we resented him---A LOT. As an adult, my brother told me of the loneliness and isolation he felt, because we wanted little to do with him (our nickname for him was "the little prince"). By the time I entered my teens I had enough of this arrangement; I announced to my mother that I would no longer do my brother's laundry or clean his room. My reasoning? "His arms and legs don't look broke", I said. Despite being grounded, losing priveleges, and getting smacked around a bit, I remained unmoved. I had hoped eventually, she would make him do the work; but instead my mother did these chores by herself.

We sisters were seldom praised for our talents, or good grades, or achievements. We were nagged about our bodies, and cautioned, "You'll never get a boyfriend if you do "X". Because getting a boyfriend, and later a husband, was what made you valueable in her eyes. Then of course, after marraige, you were expected to have sons.

I fought the boyfriend business as long as I could, but eventually gave into the pressure, and got married. But no sons; just two wonderful daughters. Then I got divorced. Then I came out. Any shred of pride she may have had in me went right out the window.

The one good thing about being raised this way, was I certainly knew how NOT to raise girls. I tried to encourage my daughters to find pride and a purpose within themselves, instead of looking for another person to do this for them.
It hasn't worked as well as I would've liked , because of the messages that innundate young women in this culture. But they are certainly more confident than I ever was.

I do worry about my brother. His "male advantage" was no advantage at all; it just really fucked with his head. We're friends now, but I can't help but feel guilty for all those years I spent wishing he'd get kidnapped by aliens, or just run away.

A few months from now, I'll be a grandmother---I know what to do for a little girl(I think). I'm worried what to do for a little boy. I have no idea what I would do with a child that was inter-sex, or transgender. All I can do is to try to keep that child out of these toxic gender roles that hurt me and my brother so very much.

Maggie Jochild said...

Thanks, Kellan, I will check it out. I'm supposed to be working, too. (grin)

One thing I feel I should do is ask you, and anyone else, where YOU think the behavior of child sexual molestation comes from? (Grammar, I know, forgive me.) Especially since it is overwhelmingly done by males, even though there are so many women out there who are abuse victims and if it's just that you learn it, then there should be an equally high percentage of women who are perpetrators. I really struggle to say away from essentialist or biological-based arguments for human behavior. I need to believe it is learned and therefore can be unlearned.

I also want to say to those reading down this far (maybe we should start another thread): Today is the six year anniversary of my little brother Bill's death. He was 42, and he died alone, in desperate emotional and physical pain, after having turned to the man who molested us both for help and been not just turned down but ridiculed for his troubles.

The man who molested him died this year, and I have to admit (just realized it this week) it's made a difference for me to know he is dead. I never believed in that kind of closure before. But it feels a lot easier to remember Bill, knowing that his tormentor doesn't get to be alive, either. I am upset by this realization. But I'm thinking about it a lot tonight.

Happy Juneteeth, ya'll. Freedom arrives as fast as it can.

shadocat said...

Oh, before I forget---check out this article; I guess if you're in Florida, no one has privelege!

http://www.rosie.com/blog/sections/in-the-news/

kellan said...

I posted this on the DTWOF blog too, but I guess I'm on a Kate kick right now.

http://www.katebornstein.com/KatePages/indexkb.htm

Shadocat, the same dynamics poisoned the well for the four siblings in my family (two boys, two girls) before I came along last, 19 years after the oldest sister and 9 years after the brother closest to me in age. The half sibling, the bastard, the dyke, the daddy's girl (I was the only one who grew up with my father) who turned out to be another boy (I'm too afraid of my oldest sister's anger about our family to approach her now, after transitioning - the last time I saw her was six years ago, when I was a black sheep but at least not a tranny ram). All I can say is to love your grandchild, whoever he or she turns out to be, female or male or trans or intersex or whatever, and respect that child's humanity and capacity for growth and change. My thoughts are with you.

Ok, I'm in so much trouble for not doing my work...woe is the day I found AB's blog...

kellan said...

Oh, I mean the Kate Answers the Question "Woowahyoo" link in the sidebar to the left.

Maggie Jochild said...

Thanks for the bio, Kellan, AND the link. Kate Bornstein is very much worth reading. And the Ben Franklin quote up at Venus Envy is one I've never seen before -- I'm stealing it to post on this blog at some point.

Here's another link, to an excellent indepth article about Kate Bornstein. She refers to the Michigan issue in it at one point.
Interview with Kate Bornstein

aunt soozie said...

Anybody have the lyrics to Longtime Friends handy? I have that Ginni Clemmens album somewhere but I just moved, uhm, two years ago...and I'm not sure where my record albums are... :P
They're probably in the garage somewhere in one of the dozen or so boxes that I never got around to unpacking.
Thanks,
and thanks for all of the linkage...I'm going to go exploring and reading later.

aunt soozie said...

Bornstein takes a different perspective. Referring to the Michigan debacle, she says, “Why would anyone go where they clearly aren’t wanted?” Bornstein is sympathetic to the particular situation faced by Burkholder, but feels that the ambivalent response to transsexuals among women raises broader, valid issues. “Much of feminists’ complaints regarding MTF transsexuals are the transsexuals’ responsibility. Raised as men, transsexuals often bring a sense of entitlement with them, and go around saying ‘I’m a real woman now.’ Bullshit! You are a transsexual woman, and that’s a very particular kind of thing. You have to recognize that it’s not the same.”

Sorry to quote a whole paragraph that y'all could just go and read but I think I tried to make this point over at dtwof. That the person who is "different" is better off when they take responsibility for making the other folks feel at ease with them instead of waiting for or insisting on acceptance. If you are the freak you have to reach out across the divide. that's my opinion anyway, as a freak, I mean. Can't tell you how many times I've given intimate details to virtual strangers about how my kid was conceived. It's like Joann Loulan used to say (when she was a lesbian) if you go to the supermarket and hold hands with your lover, I'll go to the supermarket and hold hands with my lover and then your mom will see me and my mom will see you and my mom won't think I'm just doing this to piss her off. Anyway, I loved what Kate said up above and she can say it cause she's a trangendered woman. I can't cause I'm just a garden variety dyke freak.

Maggie Jochild said...

Just wanna throw in here -- Eli Clare in his book Exile and Pride (about the intersection of disability, class, and gender), writes about how and why we don't seem to have had the courage to reclaim the word freak yet. I can't paraphrase it, you should just read the book. For a kajillion reasons.

hammerwoman said...

Hey, Sooz, thanks for the whole KB quote. I'm with her! I was so glad when I was able to meet, hug, and thank her for Gender Outlaw- the book that helped give me the courage to quit worrying and get on with it.

And Eli? Yep, just read him, and love him. If he's ever speaking near you, well, he's a rare treat in person.

Maggie, thanks for much to think about.

Jana C.H. said...

Maggie—

The Gilbert and Sullivan quotations burst forth from within my poor mad brain without me having much control over it. I had considered a different Iolanthe quote as a tag line for that letter—“What’s the use of being half a fairy?”—but decided the one I used was better in the context. I could bring up several more without much effort. It’s not memorizing; it’s just a matter of being extremely familiar with the plays for decades.

The quotes came thick and fast back when I belonged to Savoynet, a listserv of G&S fanatics. We would drop Gilbert’s text into our letters—sometimes just a single word—without benefit of quotation marks, confident that everyone would know them. In fact, I’ve done that very thing in this letter. Can you spot it?

I eventually quit Savoynet because it took up more time than AB’s blog and the MOC combined. One can only handle so much e-mail.

Jana C.H.
Seattle
Saith WSG: Don’t tell the audience you’re a funny man. If you are, they’ll know soon enough.

aunt soozie said...

I found the lyrics to Long Time Friends...thanks!

Maggie Jochild said...

Jana, now I'm intrigued. I don't know G&S well enough to spot the inclusion. Thick and fast? (Sounds like some bad dates I've had.) From within my poor mad brain? Maybe someone else will know.

I understand the quotability. I do it constantly (internally as well as in print or conversation) with Alix Dobkin and Judy Grahn. Cadence rules.

And Eli -- I loved her as poet Elizabeth Clare way back when. But his thinking on disability completely revolutionized my brain (perhaps because of the class perspective) and informed, as the academics say, pretty much everything I produced for my writing tenure with Actual Lives. Including a piece on "informed consent" which got renamed "Severe and Profound", a shorthandese used for certain kinds of disability by those who, as someone quoted earlier, DON'T get it.

little gator said...

Maggie-I gave the wrong answer. The right one is:

With my ACME Dehydrated Coyote Locator.

Maggie Jochild said...

I am SO cracking up! I can even see the box it was mailed in.

Ginjoint said...

Hi everyone. I just wanted to write that, until Friday, my internet access is spotty - I'm not at home and not surrounded by people that I can type around, if you know what I mean. So I'm not ignoring everyone's great responses & questions; it'll just be another day before I can reply.

Happy Juneteenth, a coupla days late. Maggie, I'm thinking of your brother.

Til then.

Maggie Jochild said...

Gotcha, GJ. See you on Viernes. And thanks.

Jana C.H. said...

From Ruddigore: When I am lying awake at night, and the pale moonlight streams through the latticed casement, strange fancies crowd upon my poor mad brain, and sometimes I think that if we could hit upon some word for you to use--some word that teems with hidden meaning--like “Basingstoke”--it might recall me to my saner self. For after all, I am only Mad Margaret! Crazy Meg! Poor Peg!

Jana C.H.
Seattle
Saith WSG: Modified rapture!

little gator said...

jana-I'm the same way with song lyrics.

Jana C.H. said...

Song lyrics return you to your saner self?

Jana C.H.
Seattle
Saith WSG: They sing choruses in public! That's mad enough, I think!

Maggie Jochild said...

Hi, from Mad Margaret and Crazy Meg. Also been Meggars, Megala, and currently Maggie.

I worked at a stultifying job for five years where I developed a gift for complicated practical jokes, often focused on the born-again humorless receptionist of low wattage. After an inordinately long time, she finally figured out it was me (such as when I'd call, say I was from the air conditioning crew working on the building and there was a guy on the premises we needed to talk to immediately, asking her to page him, which she would get on the office intercom and do: "Has anybody seen Mike Hunt?") Anyhow, she got really cheesed at me and I told her I had an evil twin, Peg, who followed me around and got me in trouble. I could see just that flicker of doubt in her eye when I told her that whopper, so I took my old-fashioned Texas birth certificate to Kinko's, did a little creative white-out and typing work, and came up with my twin's birth record -- turns out, she had been named Pegboard Demento which is where Peg came from. I posted it on the office breakroom bulletin board. The receptionist actually came to me and asked why on earth my parents would have called a child "Demento". I explained it was a family surname, and she wondered out loud if that was why Peg had such anger toward the world, then.

Peg's been a fixture of my life ever since.

little gator said...

So Peg, *has* anyone seen York Hunt?

little gator said...

Speaking of funny names, I am *not* making this up. One of the members of the something or other board in my town is Paul Enis, and name name thingy on his desk says
P. Enis.

Can you imagine how hard it is not to giggle, especially when sitting through hours of boredom to get to the bit of the meeting you care about?

His parents were mean. or stupid.

hammerwoman said...

little gator, I just had my laptop repaired, and now there's tea (with soymilk, natch) in the keyboard- again- and, of course, down the front of my scrubs!

little gator said...

hammerwoman-was it York Hunt or the unfortunate Mr. Enis that did it?

I've killed enough keyboards that I've finally been convinced to us ea keyboard condom. We hates it, yess preciouss.

hammerwoman said...

Oh, it was York Hunt, for sure, Mike's (for Micheala, of course) sister. Don't they have a cousin, Seymour Heine?

Oh, sorry. I am soooo Friday. Want to go home and eat and drink things that are bad for me. Tomorrow we're going to try and get the new goat fence finished. They're complete escape artists, and while their pasture grows up wild, they're eating the hostas and sleeping on the picnic table. Still have to mend the chicken yard from the last ice storm of the season (we have to fence it overhead because of hawks), poor Lily the little lame labrador just came home from the vet post-porcupine, and the shop (where we work on old motorcycles) has feathers all around, because the hens are molting and they like to hang out in the coolness. . .got to stop daydreaming, I'm still here at the clinic!

shadocat said...

i once worked with a woman, last name of Driver. One day, the mullet-wearing hubby and cute little son came down to the office; husband's name was Harley. Then I found out the little boy's name was Race. Well, I couldn't resist---"Honey," I said (he was about 5 or 6)"What's your MIDDLE name?"

"Car", he said. "Why didja ask?"

Maggie Jochild said...

Hammerwoman, have to agree -- Little Gator, that was the best ever. York and I are VERY close.

little gator said...

Alas, poor York!

little gator said...

And don't forget their other cousin,
Amanda Huganankiss.

Ginjoint said...

....aaaaand we're on to The Simpsons ("Amanda Hugankiss"), which is what I tend to quote in my daily life. I'm not nearly as sophisticated as you, Jana; I guess my lowbrow-ness is showing. (Wait - no, it's not. I shave down there!)

Ahem. To answer Kellan's question, nakedness in and of itself doesn't bother me - I live alone (well, with two cats, and you know how they can stare), and am often nude. I like it, actually. I don't mind being nude around other women, either. I've bathed and showered with platonic friends (female) in the past, and enjoyed it. But nakedness with men? Not so much fun.

My feelings are not so much an accusation towards transwomen because they haven't publicly discussed their genitals as it is an awareness of my own past, and a validation of that past. I know what (well, who) hurt me and I pay attention to that. I know the environment and the conditioning that led to my abuse, and I'm going to give it credence.

shadocat said...

Ginjoint: I heard Amanda Hugandkiss was gating a trans guy named Heywood Jablowme...

On another subject, ummmm...you mentioned shaving "down there"...my daughter tells me "everybody" shaves their Y's now, and pubic hair is considered "icky". Is this really true? And if it is, when the hell did that start?

Maggie Jochild said...

Shado, there was a great article on Salon a few months ago about the generational shift toward shaved pubes. Short answer for why: Porn. With the spread of easily accessible pornography in the internet, people who consume it (or who date men that do) have been socialized to expect the porn look of genitals.

The reason why porn insists that women have shaved genitals is to make them look pre-pubescent, to appeal to the pedophile trade. (Which is huge, and growing.)

The comments section of the Salon article was fascinating, by the way. A huge number of men replied that they, too, found pubic hair "disgusting" on women, but a careful read of their language indicated the majority of them (a) didn't share that feeling about pubic hair on men, (b) preferred their female partners to look "adolescent" which is code for underage, and (c) were consumers of porn. A distressing number of them made racist comparisons between how "clean-shaven" Asian or Nordic women were compared to full-thatched dark-skinned women from other regions. There was also a line these men were using about how it was "healthier" to shave, which was debunked by the women responders who had to do it.

The cultural myth that women are supposed to have less body hair than men (face, legs, underarms, and now pubic areas) got entrenched in this country around World War II, when advertising realized the market for razors could be extended to women. Then came depilatories and bleaching agents, along with the 1960's "waif" look (another code word for underage).

Now femininity and masculinity are polarized around the issue of hair, at least in Westernized regions. It's all ridiculous, flies in the face of actual biology, and contributes to not just dehumanized and objectified portrayals of women, but, much more insidious, helps support the American male obsession with sexual interest in children and teenagers.

Ginjoint said...

*sigh*

I think Jochild's right. So why do I shave? I'm 40 years old; old enough and smart enough to recognize when I'm being played by any industry. However, I shave for me and me alone. This may sound like caving-to-the-pressure bullshit, but for me it's a matter of tactile aesthetics. I really enjoy being soft and smooth down there when I masturbate. That's it.

I was first shaved by a female lover several years ago on a playful night. She had beautiful light red-colored pubic hair, which I thought was so sexy. Mine? Meh. I never liked the texture of it while masturbating. So after some Roxy Music on the stereo and a coupla glasses of wine, away it went.

One could read that as body-hating, but I don't - that's speaking just for me. I don't give a flying fuck what women in porn do with their hair, or what someone else prefers for my body. This isn't to say that I haven't had conflicts about shaving; there have definitely been times when I felt I was contributing to the infantilization of women by doing so. But then I think, well, who the fuck knows about it anyway?! Um...you guys. And that's about it. I'm not a nude model for all to see (and be influenced by) in the porn industry, and that razor-wielding lover from a few years ago? Yup, my last lover. So I'm hardly out there affecting the dominant paradigm.

I also shave my legs. Why? Because I can't stand the sensation of my leg hair against pants. You know how we all lose hairs off our heads throughout the day? If I have a loose one on my arm or god FORBID on my naked back, it just absolutely makes my skin crawl. I have to get it off immediately. I have a personal category for these kinds of stimuli - I call them "H.S.'s", which stands for "Hideous Sensations." Another one? I can't wear pants/jeans while barefoot, 'cause they tickle the tops of my feet too much. Sheesh. Odd, I know.

Of course, I realize that a lot of people will think that I'm just giving in to the latest mutilation of womens' bodies. Whatever. I'm comfortable with why I do it.

shadocat said...

Hey Ginjoint,

Hey, I'm totally cool with people shaving whatever they want(or having a lover do it) as long as it's what THEY want to do. It's just the attitude that unshaved "naughty bits" are somehow gross, and must be shaved to attract a man I find disturbing. I sure didn't burn my bra 35 years ago, just so my daughter would grow up to shave her crotch for some slacker. Where did I go wrong?

Now mind you, I'm not a strict purist on the shaving thing--I shave my underarms due to an EXTREME perspiration problem that seems to run in my family--and the men who have this have to shave too, unless they want to pit out everything they own.(Sorry if this is TMI). But the hair in and of itself is not gross, unless it's in your soup.

While discussing this subject with another friend tonight, she told me she read an article that said young women are now having PLASTIC SURGERY ON THEIR CUNTS to make them more "aesthetically pleasing"!Can you imagine? I mean, CAN YOU IMAGINE??!!

Maggie Jochild said...

Well, hell, Ginjoint, I didn't mean to come off all "you're a porn addict" on you. I literally had just gotten up and, well, the brain doesn't always kick into gear before I write. Or speak.

Which one ex used to take advantage of -- she'd interrogate me before my caffeine infusion and I'd tell her anything, including the stuff you really shouldn't tell people.

Actually, now that I think about it, I had THREE exes who used that trick. Damn.

Anyhow, we're influenced how we're influenced. All I care about is that we understand something of why and do our best to not let them lead us around by our noses.

I myself gave in several years ago and started shaving off my beard. It was just one too many things to explain -- I walk like a chimp, when I can walk at all; I'm very fat; I've wheezed all my life; I look like a dyke; my clothes are always wrong; when I wear shorts (which I do, it's Central Texas) the scar on my left leg freaks people completely out; and I'm frequently mistaken for a woman of color (which I think must be my attitude more than my looks). I still get called "sir" just as often, it was more the confusion of children that was hard to deal with. I'm one of those people who let kids ask questions and run interference from their horrified parents, trying to make sure the children know that "different" is okay. When the beard was there, it drowned everything else out.

But I would never do electrolysis or anything permanent to my body for appearances. And I apologize to all the women I love who do keep their beards and mustaches, and contend every day with having to explain that yes, WOMEN have facial hair.

I understand the Hideous Sensation thing, too, although I don't have the same ones. I can't eat apples that aren't cut up because of the squeaky sensation of the peel against my teeth. Even writing this makes me nauseous.

As for plastic surgery on yonis -- don't get me started. I personally believe clits and labia are the pinnacle of human evolution, exponentially more sensitive and intricate than anywhere else on bodies of either gender. Why oh why would someone risk losing that kind of sexual responsiveness? Thank you, o g*d, for letting me be born a woman.

But then, I worked for five years in a cancer clinic. I know full well what can go wrong with our flesh and how devastating it is to have the loss come upon you against your will.

Ginjoint said...

Maggie, no way did I take what you had written in that way.

Wait, what?!

That's one of the worst sentences I've ever written, but I think you know what I mean. No worries. And Shadocat, like you I also don't find anything gross about pubic hair on women - in fact, I think that triangle is wonderfully sexy.

However, sickeningly enough, the surgeries that some women are having on their twats is a continuation of the infantilization that Maggie brought up. Every, I mean every, article I've read about this says that the surgeries involved do this: 1) make the labia majora plumper, for a more "pronounced" look; and 2) make the labia minora smaller - the smaller the better. In other words, make the vulva look like it did pre-puberty.

As Maggie stated, I can't buh-LEEVE some women would chance losing sensation (O wonderful sensation!) in order to fulfil some asshole's fantasy. Why are so many women so damn dumb?

Jana C.H. said...

Saith George Eliot: I’m not denying the women are foolish: God almighty made ’em to match the men.

shadocat said...

Maggie,

I forgot about my other shaving area, and thanks to you, I was reminded. If I didn't shave it, I would probably have a goatee. I shave it because;a) I think it's ugly and it itches; and b)I have a fear of goatees. Well, maybe not a fear, but a little, teeny, tiny bit of a phobia.

I'm a Catholic school survivor, and in all my religious schoolbooks, the devil was shown exactly the same way; green (yeah GREEN), pointy ears, long tail with a triangle at the end, usually nattily dressed (depending on the time period) and a very neatly trimmed GOATEE. I used to have nightmares about that goatee (calling Dr. Jung, anyone?)My former husband once tried to grow one and I risked his ire by pitching a huge fit until he shaved it. The idea of that face hovering over my body at night was way too "Rosemary's Baby" for me.
So no facial hair for this woman.

Yeah, I know. I have, ummm, issues...

little gator said...

Goatee?

Mr Gator had one when he stopped shavign at the age of 19. I never even noticed it till someone else said so. To me, a man has a full beard if he doesn't shave at all, regardless of how it grows.

Like many blond men, he had sparse facial hair till he was 35 or so, and it's been gradually thickening all that time. and gettign darker except for the growing numbers of white hairs.

I don't even know when his head hair turned brown.


My face hair? Hardly any. Sometime pluck them out, sometimes I leave them.


When y mother was little she slept in a room which had the doorway to the attic stairs. she was afraid the devil would come down form the attic and get her, and he looked *just like* the Underwood deviled ham logo. She was also terrified of Mr. Peanut, whom she still loathes.

I forget-in the Star Trek with the alternate universe did the "evil Spock" have a goatee or a full beard? We had a selectman named Bryon in our town, and seriously dislike him both personally and for his political behavior. When he grew a beard we started calling hin the Evil Bryon.

What kind of hair does York Hunt have?

hammerwoman said...

Bright copper! The hair on my head has gone brownish (with red highlights) after my second run through puberty, but elsewhere, I'm still shinin' like a new penny.

But if women are willing to starve and cripple (heels) and subjugate themselves. . .does their whole purpose in life become being an accessory, decoration? And how far is labiaplasty from clitoridectomy or. . . excuse me, I'm starting to hammer at the keyboard and I've got work to finish. Later all.

shadocat said...

Hmmmm...all this hair talk reminds me...

When my pard and I first met, it was summertime, and in the summer, my hair tends to lighten up a bit. I made some joke about being a redhead, and she actually argued with me;"You're a blonde!" I stuck to my guns, but she just shook her head, thinking I was joking.

It wasn't until things got a little more,er, shall we say intense, that i suddenly heard this cry from below; "Honey, I'm sorry! You ARE a natural redhead, after all!

kellan said...

Warning to all Maoists and anyone with a continued interest in the totally exhausting and somehow never exhausted topic of MWMF: the strip #509 thread lives on!

Though I am still spending a lot of time thinking about the things that have been said here and on the DTWOF blog, I had actually sworn off vocally participating any more in the discussion, because it involves a great many things that I am absolutely unqualified to air my opinions about (I mean, the first time I ever went to MI in my life was last October, and there certainly was no nudity, music, or lesbianism involved). But then a stinkbomb arrived on my doorstep...

kellan said...

Ok, so it wasn't a stinkbomb. But it was something that I felt compelled to respond to, or at least to kick off my doorstep back into general circulation.

And I agree with GinJoint on the current code word for leaving comments - "smenita" definitely has a dirty sort of ring to it.

Daisy said...

I just started a Michfest thread at my blog, also. Just letting folks know. Stop by if you like, and you are certainly free to comment anonymously if you prefer!

Interesting comments here, as always.

My opinion: I've decided the transwomen should come on in and join us.