CinnaZimtAnie


Dear Queer People (and allies), Let’s Do This Right
December 20, 2009, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

I wrote this just after Proposition 8 passed.  Since then we’ve seen changes in our (queer) community.  I’ve had many conversations that tell me there’s some anti-racist work moving along, some movement towards dialogue with religious groups that aren’t usually allied with queer groups.  But obviously there’s still work to be done.  So here’s a repost.

I know some of you are just trying to keep your heads above water right now. If this election has brought out your depression or you’re still closeted and you haven’t been saying anything about all this prop 8 business, then I want you to run to your nearest bookseller and buy Kate Bornstein’s Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws. Or, if you don’t have money, call a friend. Moisturize. Skip the rest of this post and concentrate on being okay.

If you’re already involved and keeping it focused on love and action…Keep Protesting! Keep Working! Stay Hydrated! Make space for yourself to feel what you’re feeling! Some of you have been working extra hard and really working for queer liberation. Your hearts and actions are in the right places. Great. Take this space to tell us some other ways we can get involved!

But so long as we’re protesting, let’s do it the best way we can, with the most love and efficacy, with the strongest alliances. Let’s look back and be proud of our accomplishments and our discourse. I believe in us. I think we can.

So listen up, queer community! We have been airing our dirty laundry since the fourth and we need to address this shit ASAP. And I’m not the only one who think so, so let’s take stock and do this right:

The first big concern I have is the racism and entitlement that allows (white) queer folks to name Black/African-American people as the problem, rather than as a part of our community, as our allies, or as our potential allies. This was not the group that poured money into passing Prop 8. Not to mention that queer people have a lot of different skin tones. I’m not the first to point these things out, but it bares repeating considering the racism showing up in queer white blogs right now. Let’s take this Prop 8 business as a reminder of what it feels like to be in the target group or to have people wield their privilege against us.

Let’s reread the exit polls. The people who voted to keep our rights intact are the people the queer community has done the best job of reaching out to. It looks to me like we’re good at talking to secular, urban, college educated, young, white people. That means that as a community we’re not reaching out to large groups of people. Some of those people are already in our community and we’re not doing a good job of including them. And we could both benefit from some alliance building. (What would it look like if the queer community were really anti-racist? What would it look like if we were befriending the elderly?)

The next issue I have is the attack on Mormons (specifically). They are not the only religious institution that gets political on this issue or any other. Are we using the LDS Church as an example because its easy to take shots at them? Because they aren’t like (most of) us? That is not to say the institution shouldn’t be held accountable–or better yet, educated– in some way. But targeting LDS instead of Catholicism or Evangelicalism? I think we should take stock and think about whether we’re targeting them because they “aren’t like us.”

And while we’re at it, I think we should stop with the language of retribution. Is that why we want to take away their tax breaks? To get even? This is not to say that religious organizations should receive tax breaks. I don’t think they should. Any of them. But passing prop 8 is not why. It is an example within a much wider problem. A good example, perhaps. But are we also willing to go after the progressive places of worship that supported Obama? Let’s also keep in mind that not all Mormons are homophobic or even political. I have LDS friends who have not been hostile and/or judgmental. Yes, of course the church and many of its members have not been our allies. But can’t we respond to people with love? What is so wrong with that? We know that spewing hate and lies hurts people. Why perpetuate it with the “they’ll get what’s coming to them” attitude?

Next, I’m annoyed with the comparison to animal rights (Prop 2). Californians don’t care more about animals than they do about queer people. Animals just received the right to turn around or spread their wings. Queer folks have not been locked in cages; chickens are not being given the right to marry. This is a case of apples and oranges. I’m sad that queer folks feel the need to fight over scraps. Let’s work on the system itself.

I’m sad too that we’re focusing so much of our national attention on California, and I suspect it is because this is the place we expected to do well, to hang onto our rights. I suspect it is also a way to maintain a focus on marriage. Let’s remember the other states that passed discrimination. Let’s remember the many different ways that LGBTQ people have been unequal in this country. Let’s remember the other groups that share our fates. Arkansas banned adoption for all unmarried people. Why is so much focus on California rather than Arkansas, where unmarried straight people and many, many children also stand to lose? I don’t think we should stop working in California, but I think it is worth reflecting on the reasons we’re focusing our national efforts here.

Okay folks…I expect a lot from my community. And I wouldn’t be calling this shit out if I weren’t also committed to action.

Let’s do this right.

A few disclaimers before I continue:

I know some of you are just trying to keep your heads above water right now. If this election has brought out your depression or you’re still closeted and you haven’t been saying anything about all this prop 8 business, then I want you to run to your nearest bookseller and buy Kate Bornstein’s Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws. Or, if you don’t have money, call a friend. Moisturize. Skip the rest of this post and concentrate on being okay.

If you’re already involved and keeping it focused on love and action…Keep Protesting! Keep Working! Stay Hydrated! Make space for yourself to feel what you’re feeling! Some of you have been working extra hard and really focusing on equality. Your hearts and actions are in the right places. Great. Take this space to tell us some other ways we can get involved!

But so long as we’re protesting, let’s do it the best way we can, with the most love and efficacy, with the strongest alliances. Let’s look back and be proud of our accomplishments and our discourse. I believe in us. I think we can.

So listen up, queer community! We have been airing our dirty laundry since the fourth and we need to address this shit ASAP. And I’m not the only one who think so, so let’s take stock and do this right:

The first big concern I have is the racism and entitlement that allows (white) queer folks to name Black/African American people as the problem, rather than as a part of our community, as our allies, or as our potential allies. This was not the group that poured money into passing Prop 8. Not to mention that queer people have a lot of different skin tones. I’m not the first to point these things out, but it bares repeating considering the racism showing up in queer white blogs right now. Let’s take this Prop 8 business as a reminder of what it feels like to be in the target group or to have people wield their privilege against us.

Let’s reread the exit polls. The people who voted to keep our rights intact are the people the queer community has done the best job of reaching out to. It looks to me like we’re good at talking to secular, urban, college educated, young, white people. That means that as a community we’re not reaching out to large groups of people. Some of those people are already in our community and we’re not doing a good job of including them. And we could both benefit from some alliance building. (What would it look like if the queer community were really anti-racist? What would it look like if we were befriending the elderly?)

The next issue I have is the attack on Mormons (specifically). They are not the only religious institution that gets political on this issue or any other. Are we using the LDS Church as an example because its easy to take shots at them? Because they aren’t like (most of) us? That is not to say the institution shouldn’t be held accountable–or better yet, educated– in some way. But targeting LDS instead of Catholicism or Evangelicalism? I think we should take stock and think about whether we’re targeting them because they “aren’t like us.”

And while we’re at it, I think we should stop with the language of retribution. Is that why we want to take away their tax breaks? To get even? This is not to say that religious organizations should receive tax breaks. I don’t think they should. Any of them. But passing prop 8 is not why. It is an example within a much wider problem. A good example, perhaps. But are we also willing to go after the progressive places of worship that supported Obama? Let’s also keep in mind that not all Mormons are homophobic or even political. I have LDS friends who have not been hostile and/or judgmental. Yes, of course the church and many of its members have not been our allies. But can’t we respond to people with love? What is so wrong with that? We know that spewing hate and lies hurts people. Why perpetuate it with the “they’ll get what’s coming to them” attitude?

Next, I’m annoyed with the comparison to Prop 2 (animal rights). Californians don’t care more about animals than they do about queer people. Animals just received the right to turn around or spread their wings. Queer folks have not been locked in cages; chickens are not being given the right to marry. This is a case of apples and oranges. I’m sad that queer folks feel the need to fight over scraps. Let’s work on the system itself.

I’m sad too that we’re focusing so much of our national attention on California, and I suspect it is because this is the place we expected to do well, to hang onto our rights. I suspect it is also a way to maintain a focus on marriage. Let’s remember the other states that passed discrimination. Let’s remember the many different ways that LGBTQ people have been unequal in this country. Let’s remember the other groups that share our fates. Arkansas banned adoption for all unmarried people. Why is so much focus on California rather than Arkansas, where unmarried straight people and many, many children also stand to lose? I don’t think we should stop working in California, but I think it is worth reflecting on the reasons we’re focusing our national efforts here.

Okay folks…I expect a lot from my community. And I wouldn’t be calling this shit out if I weren’t also committed to action.

Let’s do this right.

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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?