CinnaZimtAnie


Thoughts on Hair
December 17, 2009, 11:59 pm
Filed under: gender | Tags: , , , , ,

This was originally posted on 4/21/2008 at my Queer & A blog.  I edited it from there because there are some ideas I want to develop more in-depth that felt a little lonely and out of context here… and because I compulsively, continually edit.

Part One: Feminist Hair

I’ve never been a big proponent of shaving. I stopped shaving my legs and armpits in high school. I even dyed my leg hair blue a few times. I was proud of presenting my body the way I wanted despite cultural norms. As I saw it, the lie “women aren’t supposed to be hairy; hairy women are disgusting” was just another example of what our culture tells women to keep us ashamed, preoccupied, misinformed, and spending money to “improve” ourselves.

I hated the lie that it was more “hygienic” (for women only, apparently), when in reality hair removal is less hygienic.

I also heard rumors that shaving evolved (in US society) when skirts got shorter and men were surprised to find that women had body hair, even though girls did not. Whether true or not, the link to pedophilia was made in my mind, and I was horrified.

I saw the social pressure to shave as a way women were not just complicit — indeed they were enforcing –their own oppression, but also invisibilizing it by creating a normative, hairless body.

Part Two: Queer Hair.

Doing your hair is an easy way to “do” gender. I know that many queer femmes, trans women, and drag queens enjoy the process of doing femininity, including hair removal. On the other side, many trans men, drag kings, and female bodied genderqueer folks enjoy cultivating facial hair and wish their leg hair were darker.

So I find myself having compassion for a lot of people who like to shave as a way to do gender.   Including straight, cissexual women (who aren’t performing in drag).

Part Three: Hormonal Hair.

I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and a “side effect” is that I have more facial hair than most females.  I have several friends with this same “hormonal imbalance” who also have “surplus” facial hair. In fact, about 10% of women are diagnosed with it. I don’t see a lot of women with beards and mustaches though; I assume most of the women with PCOS remove their facial hair to keep a spirit of invisibility, so they aren’t perceived as transgressing gender.

Or sex.

Or the lines between who is supposed to be a “bearded lady” or “circus freak.”

Part Four: Questionable Hair.

Do you “do” your gender by doing your hair?

Is it effective?  Is it worth it?

Is it complicit or transgressive?

Both/And?  Neither?

Whose hairlessness is beautiful?

Whose hairiness?

Is your hair beautiful?

Your hairiness?

Your hairlessness?

This was originally posted on 4/21/2008 at my Queer & A blog.  I edited it from there because there are some ideas I want to develop more in-depth that felt a little lonely and out of context here… and because I compulsively, continually edit.

https://cinnazimtanie.wordpress.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gifPart One: Feminist Hair

I’ve never been a big proponent of shaving. I stopped shaving my legs and armpits in high school. I even dyed my leg hair blue a few times. I was proud of presenting my body the way I wanted despite cultural norms. As I saw it, the lie “women aren’t supposed to be hairy; hairy women are disgusting” was just another example of how our culture tells women to keep us ashamed, preoccupied, misinformed, and spending money to “improve” ourselves.

I hated the lie that it was more “hygienic” (for women only, apparently), when in reality hair removal is less hygienic.

I also heard rumors that shaving evolved (in US society) when skirts got shorter and men were surprised to find that women had body hair, even though girls did not. Whether true or not, the link to pedophilia was made in my mind, and I was horrified.

I saw the social pressure to shave as a way women were not just complicit — indeed they were enforcing –their own oppression, but also invisibilizing it by creating a normative, hairless body.

https://cinnazimtanie.wordpress.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gifPart Two: Queer Hair.

Doing your hair is an easy way to “do” gender. I know that many queer femmes, trans women, and drag queens enjoy the process of doing femininity, including hair removal. On the other side, many trans men, drag kings, and female bodied genderqueer folks enjoy cultivating facial hair and wish their leg hair were darker.

So I find myself having compassion for a lot of people who like to shave as a way to do gender.   Including straight, cissexual women (who aren’t performing in drag).https://cinnazimtanie.wordpress.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gif

Part Three: Hormonal Hair.

I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and a “side effect” is that I have more facial hair than most females.  I have several friends with this same “hormonal imbalance” who also have “surplus” facial hair. In fact, about 10% of women are diagnosed with it. I don’t see a lot of women with beards and mustaches though; I assume most of the women with PCOS remove their facial hair to keep a spirit of invisibility, so they aren’t perceived as transgressing gender.

Or sex.

Or the lines between who is supposed to be a “bearded lady” or “circus freak.”

https://cinnazimtanie.wordpress.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gifPart Four: Questionable Hair.

Do you “do” your gender by doing your hair?

Is it effective?  Is it worth it?

Is it complicit or transgressive?

Both/And?  Neither?

Whose hairlessness is beautiful?

Whose hairiness?

Is your hair beautiful?

Your hairiness?

Your hairlessness?



Crying Over (a Silly Thing Like) the Moon
December 15, 2009, 11:59 pm
Filed under: gender, spirituality | Tags: , , , , ,

This was originally posted on my facebook page, on 9/18, 2009.  Several people asked if they could share it with others so I thought it would be a good first “re-post.”

NASA has sent a rocket to collide into the moon on October 9. The impact will create a crater about/up to 5 miles wide. Within minutes, debris will fly about 6 miles high from the moon’s surface. Wtihin an hour, as high as 60 miles. The explosion should be visible here on Earth, if you have a moderate (10-12 inches) telescope.

The purpose of all of this is to have a look at what may (or may not) be water, which is a sign that there may (or may not) be a past or future for life on the moon. This future may (or may not) include a potential lunar colony.

All of that sounds kind of fun in a Hollywood Blockbuster kind of a way. We’re blowing up the moon! We found water! We’re moving a colony there! There would be massive explosions and awesome displays of CGI goodness. There would be a minor love story and some humorous lines we’d hear over and over in the previews. It would sell and we would feel a numbed adrenaline rush while we drank our sodas and ate our popcorn. And that would be that.

But it isn’t Hollywood, it’s real life. And I’m troubled. Not “grimaced when I heard it” troubled — I’m talking “Crying randomly in public since I heard” kind of troubled.

And I notice that I’m not the only one.

I’m a nanny. This morning I mentioned it to the mother I work for. She didn’t seem to notice what I was saying. She seemed very casual, nonplussed. But an hour or two later she called me and said, “I can’t study. All I can think about is the moon. I’m crying in a coffee shop and I don’t know who to call. I don’t know who will understand that I can feel the grief in my body.” She went on: “I’m used to bombing and drilling the Earth, to wars and garbage piles and mines, but I guess I thought the moon was untouchable.”

We talked for a while, I asked her what she thought made her so upset.   “It’s just so archetypal. NASA is raping the moon.”

Many females have been taught to associate with the moon. Whether or not the connection is real — and this isn’t the place I want to debate it — there has been a strong tradition most of the world over associating female power, menstrual cycles, and the cycles of the moon. Our myths,our history, even our slang teach us that we’re connected.

I bring this up not to set up an argument claiming that NASA is deliberately sending a message that females are unimportant, that their symbols (or source of their power) should be destroyed, or that women (symbolized by the moon) can/should have violence enacted against them at any time in the name of “life” or “exploration” or “conquest” or “science.”

I don’t think it is deliberate.

But intention isn’t everything; that message is still out there. I’m feeling it in my body. My employer – surprisingly, to me – also feels it in hers. People who bleed, have bled, want to bleed, know someone who bleeds…we are primed for this message.

I don’t mean women who believe with all of their hearts that the moon is sacred and powerful — I also mean monotheistic women.  Secular and atheistic women.

But for those of us who believe that the moon is sacred, this is horrific on another level, too. It is an act desecration that I don’t know how to describe. There’s a heaviness to my spirit.

At the same time I know I should feel lucky. No humans or other animals will be killed in this process. I know that Indigenous Peoples of every gender along with queers and women the world over have had their kin destroyed along with their Holy Lands and symbols. I know that sometimes the land and the people are one and they die together. I am thankful that I have the luxury of survival and continued spiritual practice even when 5 miles of the moon’s surface is blown apart. I’m thankful that NASA isn’t instituting a new era of witch burnings. Claiming to feel this destruction in my body and spirit won’t kill me or put me in prison. I recognize this as a luxury even while I resent naming it one.

As I write it occurs to me that I’m troubled for yet another reason. I’m troubled because I’m expecting to receive some negative comments. I’m expecting to hear, from my friends,

“Don’t be silly” and

“You don’t really believe this, do you?” and

“But the moon isn’t alive” and

“Don’t you care about science?” and

and

and

and I’ve seen that some of you who have posted about this have received similar comments. I don’t know all of your friends and I can’t tell if there’s context or sarcasm or diffusive jesting so I’m trying to refrain from judging. But I resent that having reverence for a celestial body — whether spiritual reverence, or simple awe — can be met with distain or demeaning comments. I resent that destruction is routinely defended, without examination. And of course I resent that sacred space and spiritual beliefs that are held by groups of women — or by Indigenous people groups — are ignored and believed to be “silly,” “counterproductive,” or “stupid.”

To those of you who made it to the end of this with some compassion or shared anger — and I hope that is many of you — I want to say thank you.  I invite you to use this space to share your stories/experienes/rituals/prayers for dealing with all of this.

Also, I’m moderating this space. If you’re unsure about whether or not something is offensive I really encourage you to send me a private message rather than posting as a comment to this note.  Go ahead and email me at Cinna Zimt Anie (at) gmail (dot) com.

More info:

http://lcross.arc.nasa.gov/

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LCROSS/main/index.html

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/06/17/MNJ41887O2.DTL