Pride (or Gay For a Day)

This is a joint post with Hypotaxis.

Hypotaxis and I recently had dinner at a Japanese place, the kind where they seat you with a table full of strangers and everything is cooked communal-style and your eyebrows get singed by the flame. (We are introverts who would never have chosen this place, but hell, we won a gift card).

Immediately, we realized we were making the straight people at the table uncomfortable. While we didn’t show our marriage certificate, or even hold hands, the mere fact of our existence made these people wish we were seated somewhere else, like, say, New Mexico. One dude flat-out refused to sit next to Hypotaxis, saying he felt “claustrophobic.”

He was definitely something-phobic.

The point is, we’re lesbians. We’re womon-loving-womon gay lady dykes, and this kind of experience, albeit rare where we live, is part and parcel of our experience. There are towns in America where Hypotaxis, looking the declarative way she does, cannot safely get out of the car at a gas station.

Which brings us to Pride. Theoretically, Pride is where we should feel safest, yes? We should be looking forward to it. Why, just today, during a Target run for paper towels and socks, we saw a whole section of Pride-dedicated merchandise – scarves, stickers, pins, shirts – and while on one hand this could be read as “Wow, we’ve come a long way, baby” – really it signifies that corporate America has gotten wise to the fact that “gay is cool.” In fact, you don’t even need to BE gay to CALL yourself gay; you just need to wear the right accoutrements, you just gotta reach down deep and find the one marginally unusual thing about your personality, throw on a $5.99 rainbow ascot and VOILA, you’re gay. Because really, if Pride was just for homos, Target would not be hocking that shit in their stores.

The truth is, lesbians and gays are a sexual minority who face real, everyday homophobia, like we did when we were just trying to eat some very tasty fried rice or fill up our car in Amarillo, Texas. Now, though, those of us who have lived long enough are experiencing homophobia – lesbophobia, mostly – from what was once our own “community.”

We have entered a point and a place in time in which lesbian-bashing, even and especially at Pride, is the new social-justice warrioring. It’s now en vogue, sanctioned, encouraged for leftists to shit on lesbians – openly, gleefully. Brilliant vlogger Magdalen Berns was attacked on the street. The San Francisco Public Library celebrated beating and assaulting women; primarily lesbians, who refuse to bend to the will of men who say they are women. If you haven’t heard the story about the lesbian assaulted in Ohio by a group of “non-binary people,” please head over to Gendertrender’s excellent post.

As we discussed the hetero-overtake of Pride (swearing that we’d never attend a Pride event again – and we won’t) we wondered at the origins of Pride becoming a strictly fomo (fake-homo) event. Yes, yes, this is “gatekeeping” – a term beloved among straight people with fetishes who get upset when dykes dare suggest that lesbianism is an actual thing and not an outfit, a whim or a cry for attention. Did the straight co-opting begin when it looked like gays might get the right to marry? Did it begin when the gay community, foolishly, decided that “gender presentation” was the same thing as homosexuality? Did it begin with the gay community’s efforts to make mainstream America see us as full human beings? Was it our fault? Did we bring this on ourselves?

Women are harassed online, lose their jobs, are SHUNNED by lefty “queers” who don’t like the fact that lesbians exist and have lived realities different from straight girls who once made out with their roommate in college, or different from men who feel best in high heels, or different from straight couples who get off on BDSM (did you know that “kink” is now inherently gay? — Trust us, it won’t be long now before Target starts selling whips and chains).

We are proud of being lesbians; we are proud of our lesbian heritage – our home is filled with art and literature made by lesbians, about lesbians, for lesbians. We are proud of what our foremothers endured so we could be a married couple, with good jobs, with friends who see us as a legitimate couple and not just “roommates.” Most gays and lesbians over thirty have a grasp on where we’ve been, as a people, and what we’ve suffered in order to live relatively socioeconomically comfortable, relatively fearless lives.

This is the reason for Pride month. And it’s a good reason. And allies, too, are good – the gay community, like all marginalized communities, needs and benefits from heterosexual allies. However, again, we’ve reached a point where lesbians are personas non gratis among “queers.” Straight folks love gay culture – our music, our haircuts, our flannel shirts – but they don’t so much love us as individuals, particularly as female individuals with opinions, perspectives and positions that maybe don’t center their interests in fashion or sexual preoccupations. Mainstream culture, eg. Target, doesn’t love women whose lives don’t center around the needs and desires of men.

They don’t love women who say “Nope.” Because queer culture is about “yes” – yes to everything and anything. Queer culture is simply an iteration of heterosexual dominance with Kool-Aid streaks in its hair, and when you, as a lesbian, say “no” to its ideology, you are shut up and shut down. Pride is now for and about everything and anything, and therefore it is about nothing at all. It is a meaningless frivolity wherein straight folks can be “gay for a day,” drink too much, and listen to dance music.

Pride is not about homosexuals and it’s definitely not about lesbians. Maybe do something else instead. Get together with other lesbians? Read a book about lesbian history? Or throw that exorbitant entry fee at a worthy cause, organization, or publication like OLOC or Lesbian Connection? Or maybe just buy a dyke some dinner? (But not at that one Japanese place.)

 

 

 

 

Pink pussyhat “controversy”: In which men tell women what to do, again

What’s up? My wife and I are hiding out in our small town, doing everyday life and taking our hopeful moments where we can. Mostly, we stay in; sometimes we go out (and hope that no teenager sees our matching camo sweats and memes us). We bake cookies; we watch “The Chi” and “90-Day Fiancee.” We ask each other, “Are you OK?” several times a day. We check Twitter before our feet hit the floor in the morning to make sure the world’s still here. We are members of “Together, We Will.”

Which brings me to my point. TWW recently posted a piece called “An Open Letter to People Who Love Their Pink Pussy Hats.” It starts with a “thank you for everything you’ve done this year, blah blah blah,” then segues into:

“Please don’t wear your Pink Pussy Hat to this year’s Women’s March.”

Guess why? In part, because:

“I’m a woman, but I don’t have a vagina.” “I have a vagina, but I’m not a woman.” “My vagina is not pink.”

Females have vaginas; males don’t. If you’re a Person of Gender who identifies as a pan-glittter demiboi unicorn with “Meow” pronouns, fine, you do you. However, with intersex exceptions, humans are a sexually dimorphic species. It’s a two-party system. You get what you get and it stays got, no matter what you do.

If you’re female, your vulva is not hot pink unless you have a mean case of bacterial vaginosis you can’t stop scratching, or you are in a porn. Pink wasn’t meant to signify the color of anyone’s genitalia. The pussyhats, created by women of color, were a response to Trump’s “Grab ’em by the pussy” remark. Pink is…a gender marker people put on woman anything. If you wanted to, you could make a brown or black pussyhat. I myself could find some olive/toast colored yarn. Everyone at the march will love!

Unless, of course, they object to to the reality of your vagina itself and not the hat, because it’s “cis privilege” to have female anatomy to be grabbed by. Unless being reminded of womanhood upsets them because “woman” is something it’s impossible to appropriate or to opt out of.

Unless they just wanted you, and all women, to shut up and do as you’re told, because their power comes from women shutting up and doing as they’re told. Women who won’t play nice put little holes in the fabric of male domination until they rend it altogether.

Unless they were men telling women what to do in order to further their male agenda.

Unless they hated you. And hid it behind a guilt-inducing smokescreen of “inclusion.”

The TWW piece goes on:

If it was just a hat, no one would be feeling hurt by it and no one would mind being nicely asked not to wear it anymore.

Yes, I do mind. I realize women are just supposed to go along with being “asked nicely”  because we’re supposed to mind men’s feelings at all times, even at our own expense, but to me that sounds like patriarchy or even fundamentalism.

It isn’t about “feeling hurt.” It’s about being dismissed and told our actual, lived experience in our actual, lived bodies is something to shut up about because it hurts men’s feelings.

But, it’s not just a hat. It is a symbol of personal empowerment and feminism. For many, it’s a symbol of a type of feminism dominated by middle-class white women who have not always been stalwart allies of women of color or transfolks or marginalized folks in general.”

Right. Because we shouldn’t let ordinary middle-class, middle-aged or old white women feel at home in feminism, ever. Because these women have no problems and deserve to be demonized for everything wrong on the left, on the right and in between.

If you want to wear your pussyhat, wear it. Don’t be afraid. Alice Walker said it best: “No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.”

Have a good Women’s March.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Transparent”: Spitting on Michfest’s grave

Jill Soloway’s “Transparent” is a truly great TV show, primarily because its characters, the Pfeffermans, are unlikeable – selfish, lying, navel-gazing cheaters – yet totally engaging in a way I haven’t seen since “Six Feet Under.”

“Transparent” shines with clever dialogue, intricately layered story lines and an overarching awareness of the primacy and inexorability of truth, whether individual or epigenetic: The truth is patient and will find you, however long it takes.

Plus, “Transparent” portrays older female sexuality in laser-sharp focus. Not gonna lie, I didn’t enjoy watching Judith Light get diddled in the bathtub by Jeffrey Tambor, but I appreciate the message: Old women are human beings with human needs and you, the vaguely-nauseated viewer peeking through your fingers and dying for this scene to be over, need to call yourself out on your ageism.  And yes, Gaby Hoffman is strange-looking in the extreme, but it’s only because she refuses to adhere to Hollywood femininity requirements such as eyebrow-shaping and teeth-whitening. There’s power in that.

However! The second-to-last episode of Season 2, “Man on the Land,” is 30 minutes’ worth of misogyny and lesbophobic propaganda. In case you didn’t watch: Tambor’s character, Maura, a late-transitioning M2T, accompanies his daughters to Idyllwild, a thinly-veiled stand-in for the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival complete with nut loaf,  a Drumming Against Racism workshop, tampon crafts, and the Indigo Girls performing “Hammer and a Nail.” We, the viewers, see the women having a good time, but also, we’re invited to laugh at the silly-serious retro-ness of lesbian culture. Those throwback dykes with their hairy armpits, nattering on about “safe space!”

Watching this, what I saw was a twisted, perverted parody of Fest – of any female-only space – seen through male eyes; or through colonized female ones. Like some kind of Black Mass with the liturgy recited backwards.

So then Maura goes to the crafts area, where Vicki, a jewelry seller played by Anjelica Huston asks Maura how she feels about “the policy.” Maura doesn’t understand, so Anjelica explains: “The women-born-women policy.”

Maura is very hurt; very upset; and all of a sudden all the women are yelling “MAN ON THE LAND! MAN ON THE LAND!” (with a volume and intensity, by the way, I never heard at Fest) because the port-a-Jane guys are there and they want to make sure “nobody gets triggered, or too excited,” and Maura feels they’re yelling at him; staring at him; in hot pursuit. Because everything, of course, is about Maura.

The women who simply ignore him do nothing to make him feel comfortable, and that’s how we can tell they, too, are exclusionary bigots with no empathy. During a short scene of a few women at a campfire discussing their need for WBW space, someone mentions Maura’s male privilege – a privilege he’s enjoyed up until pretty much now.

“I was in way too much pain to experience what you’re calling privilege,” Maura says, and shakes his head in disbelief when it’s pointed out that his pain and his privilege are two different things,

Then, when someone else mentions rape, Maura’s younger daughter responds, “She stopped raping a long time ago.”

The message here: Don’t listen to your own voice; your own instincts, when it comes to what a male-bodied person might do in female-only space. Just listen to what he tells you. Listen to what his supporters tell you. Let him into your space. He has as much right to be in your space as you do.

Maura is now running through the woods looking for his daughters to tell them he wants to go home – he doesn’t belong here, his heart is breaking – and all of a sudden the veil between the past and present tears open and we’re watching Maura’s mother, a Jewish girl in Weimar-era Berlin, fleeing the Nazis and losing her brother, “Gittel,” because guess why? He’s trans and refuses to use a visa with his male name on it even if it means death. What a hero! What a martyr! Because, if people don’t accept you exactly as you want them to, the only alternative is death, right?

The scene continues, and now we have full-on Nazi imagery – book burnings! men in identical shirts! – spliced with lesbian faces; lesbian bodies. It’s a Miller analogy: Women who want female-only space are to Nazis as Maura (and by extension, all men who believe they are women) are to Jews being rounded up for torture and extermination. Maura runs through the woods to escape women who simply don’t believe he is a woman, while Gittel is dragged into the woods to be murdered by men simply because he is a Jew.

The clear message: Hate is hate, you evil dykes. There is no difference between:

  • Wanting a week in the woods with other women; and
  • Attacking a group of innocent people with guns and leading them away to starvation; forced labor; the gas chamber; the grave.

It’s amazing to me that women (the Indigo Girls, Ali Liebegott, Eileen Myles, Sia, Peaches) who owe their artistic success to the lesbian community and our lesbian dollars, were so eager to participate in this lesbophobic travesty. Jill Soloway, a lesbian, wrote words to mock and trivialize other lesbians who spend money and time supporting her work. Jill Soloway wrote the words, “Let’s go into the forest, and menstruate on a stick,” and put them into a lesbian character’s mouth to make an audience laugh.

The Indigo Girls, I sort of get. They’ve been singing the same songs in the same order for going on 30 years, so of course they took the opportunity to breathe life into a stagnant setlist even if it means shitting all over the same festival that gave them so much exposure. Gotta tend the earth if you want a rose, I guess.

Eileen Myles, though. Who the fuck reads Eileen Myles but us?

At the end of the episode, we see Maura leaving Idyllwild, laughing in defiance and shouting, “MAN ON THE LAND!” as she escapes what she calls “the feminist fuckhole.” Vicki the jewelry seller picks Maura up and takes her to a hotel, where they have the kind of sex that makes you cover your eyes. If not wanting to watch Anjelica Huston straddle Jeffrey Tambor in a wig is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

“Transparent” is important TV. Don’t not watch it. Watch it hard. Watch it with everything you’ve got, because the message is there, and it’s insistent, and if you are a dyke, it’s for you. What you do with it matters greatly to us all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jezebel Supports Ebony Williams’ Murderer

Just when you thought Jezebel, of Gawker media, couldn’t go any lower, its writers fawn all over a child rapist/murderer – and encourage his delusional ruminations about a feminist who had nothing to do with his case.

Hypotaxis

I’ve spent a lot of time today thinking about a child who died over twenty years ago. Her name was Ebony Williams. Had she lived, she would be just a few years younger than me. However, in 1993, Ebony Williams was raped, her throat slit, her body stuffed into a cardboard box and burnt beneath a bridge.

She was raped and murdered by two men. Both were convicted, and Ebony Williams is still dead.

I don’t know how often you’re around thirteen year olds, but I’ve spent some time working with this age group. Their brains are cleaved in half – one half child, one half young adult. You can have grown up conversations with them, and you can also easily engage them in word search puzzles and sock puppets.

In form, in thought, they straddle two worlds.

Those of us who lived long enough to be an adolescent might…

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M(isogyny) F(atigue) S(yndrome)

Hypotaxis

I’m burnt out on bullshit. I can hardly muster the energy, these days, to address the issues that populate this blog. I’m bored of the predictability. I spend a lot of time saying, “of course.” I have misogyny fatigue syndrome.

All women, who can bear to think about their lot, and the lot of their sisters, arrive at this place, and spend their lives vacillating between misogyny-fatigue and righteous indignation, swaying between the poles of “fight it” and “fuck it.”

Being a woman is fucking exhausting. When you’re a woman, your life is seen as part of an issue, the hinge on which an ongoing debate swings, a dismissive mention in some pernicious legislation that is constantly under revision.

But I’m edging up on forty. I’m somewhat inured to all this.

This week, I saw a story about an adolescent girl, in Los Angeles, who had been raped by her…

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Tweet this shit, or spin these yarns over a craft beer at your favorite sex-positive-poly-queer-trans-feminine bar and grille

A collaboration with Hypotaxis.

About a month ago, AfterEllen.com published a lengthy trans-apologist piece absolving men-who-feel-like-women of all culpability in the destruction of women-only and lesbian space. The article was the usual, run-of-the-mill, “Why all you dykes gotta be so uptight?” bullshit espoused by liberal feminists who are far more concerned with protecting the delicate male ego than supporting women, much less lesbians. Unsurprisingly, the article culminated with the author expressing hope that the word “lesbian” will be diluted to accommodate men and no longer denote “female homosexual.”

The article was the same old trite, man-centric, mental-Cheetos one might find on Everydaymisogyny.com or the TransAdvocate: Lesbians are mean because they don’t want dick. Radical feminists are mean because their politics center women.

Predictably, the author of the AfterEllen.com article cited “internet sensation” Cathy Brennan as being the meanest mean of ALL TIMES, fixating on her as though she is the ONLY woman who is of the opinion that female isn’t a feeling, and that women have a right to, and need for, woman-only space. For liberal feminists, gay and trans advocates, Brennan has, in a sense, become a synecdoche.

And while many in liberal media, gay media, and trans media like to portray Brennan as the ONLY one who holds gender critical perspectives, as the ONLY woman who doesn’t believe one can identify their way into the class of female, this is, of course, not true. Many women share Brennan’s position on gender and on female-only space. Unlike her, though, most of us have been scared into silence or, at best, pseudonyms. Because even the mildest criticisms about our gender-sick, woman-hating culture are met with profound hostility.

 Also, Cathy Brennan is a person, not a synecdoche.

We’ve made no secret on our blogs of the fact that we are actual friends of Cathy Brennan. The kind of friends who talk about movies and music and many other things that have nothing to do with queer/trans politics. Because we’re, you know, human. And none of us are actually obsessed – or even care that much – about what strangers say or do. We do, however, care about women and girls and, as unpopular as it may be, dykes. We do, as friends, share a mutual refusal to accept the toxic, misogynist beliefs that are so deeply a part of queer/trans dogma.

And our words, our critiques, our questions are treated as literal Molotov cocktails, literal punches, literal knives. Histrionics, hyperbole, and gaslighting are the only rafts allowing queer/trans “logic” to remain afloat. Women know this.

Cathy Brennan knows this, and has been outspoken on the matter. She’s called bullshit on rhetoric and legislation that will directly harm women and girls, and because she hasn’t hidden behind a pseudonym, because she has been completely transparent about her identity, she has become a target for liberal feminists and trans activists (most of whom are male).

Once again, while Brennan is a prominent advocate for women and girls, she is also an actual person, and when writers make libelous claims about her, she has every right to defend herself. A lie is a lie, even when it serves your special persecution narrative so very well.

And here is a lie: The author of the AfterEllen.com article claims that Cathy Brennan “doxxed” MtT’s.

We’re not really down with techie/internet speak, but from what we understand, “doxxing” involves digging deep for a person’s personal info – like their telephone number, home address, family members, etc., collecting that info and publishing it in a public forum. Exactly like what the TransAdvocate did to GallusMag of GenderTrender, because they didn’t like her perspective on gender politics; because she sometimes offended men who identify as women.

Doxxing is actually really fucked up. It’s a symptom of an unhealthy obsession. It’s a particularly pernicious form of cyber stalking. So when you accuse someone of doxxing, it’s a serious accusation. And if it’s a false accusation, it’s defamation.

Having been wrongly accused of doxxing, Brennan filed a lawsuit.

AfterEllen.com’s response to the pending litigation cited “proof” that Brennan had doxxed an MtT. The “proof”? A link to the webpage of someone who once publically threatened the lives of Brennan’s children in a terrifying Twitter meltdown that went entirely unnoticed by gay or trans media. As further proof of “doxxing,” AfterEllen.com argued that Brennan “published the whereabouts” of the original article’s author. Basically, Brennan mentioned that the author was a hairdresser in San Francisco, information that even the most cursory Google search would provide.

AfterEllen.com is sad that Brennan pushed back after one of their writers made a false, defamatory claim. See, liberal feminists, trans activists, and formerly lesbian publications (like AfterEllen.com), care very deeply about “fighting back,” “speaking up” and about “justice” when we’re talking about men and men’s rights not to be identified as men and men’s rights to colonize female spaces. Liberal culture cares a lot about men’s feelings and men’s rights, and there’s simply no room for women, especially not those who are lesbian, especially not those lesbians who don’t need or want men’s approval.

By the way: We see a distinct parallel between liberal feminists who center men, and working-class people who vote Republican because they suspect, deep inside, that they’re going to be rich one day. The latter group has unhinged its collective jaw to swallow whole the lie America sells: Our nation has no class or economic system holding anybody back no matter where or when or to whom they were born.  These working-class people, who believe they’re only one genius idea or one lottery ticket away from taking their rightful place among the rich, vote with their imaginary wallets instead of the ones they actually have – and claim their allegiances are due to “morals” or “family values.”

Correlatively, liberal feminists believe that if they center men’s needs, wants and imaginings when it comes to women’s status in the world, they’ll earn “just-like-men” status (the kind of status they might earn in developing nations by having six or seven sons). “Just-like-men” women aren’t bitches who insist that “women, not people, have abortions” or object to being called “cis.”

“Just-like-men” women argue that freeing the nipple is GREAT for women because they should be able to take their shirts off in public just like men; that being fucked for money is FINE for women because it’s a woman’s empowering choice re: what to do with her body, just like men (please disregard the economic and political factors that go into that choice for the vast majority of women in the sex trade, or that that men don’t get naked for empowerment or you’d see powerful men doing it) and hey! Look over here at this privileged white university student who escorted for a year, got a book deal, and then went right back to college to get the kind of education that saves her from EVER having to fuck for money. “Just-like-men” women don’t give the tiniest hoot about lesbians unless they’re grinding on each other for male amusement.

Hell, so-called lesbian publications hardly even write about lesbian culture or issues of importance to lesbians unless it’s in the context of how lesbian culture can become more accommodating to males who feel like women. Doubt us on that? Consider that AfterEllen’s article about “Lesbian Abundance” was actually about MtT’s who feel excluded by lesbians.

Oh, and it took no time for Advocate.com to run a finger wagging piece written by Don/Dawn/Don/Dawn Ennis, which makes a point to, in the style of your average grocery-store checkout tabloid, use an unflattering screenshot of Brennan as a lead-up to making more false claims about what she said during an interview with Don/Dawn/Don/Dawn last month, including the statement, “she made it clear in a July interview with The Advocate that she is strongly opposed to civil rights protections for trans people.” This is a patent lie, and can be easily refuted by listening to the recording of the interview: http://genderidentitywatch.com/dawn-ennis-of-the-advocate-magazine-interviews-cathy-brennan-july-13-2015/

But no one – not the so-called lesbian publications and organizations, not the trans publications and organizations, not the liberal feminist publications and organizations – are really interested in presenting the truth about what women like Brennan, women like us, say in regard to gender politics. Men and their concerns have hijacked formerly pro-lesbian, pro-woman outposts and are now interested in campaigning, fully and decisively, against women’s rights to question gender, against dyke’s rights to say, “Thank you, no. Not interested in sucking dick,” against any opinion, any perspective, any thought that pokes holes in the collective delusion that maintains any man can be female if he “feels like it.”

These organizations and publications are hell bent on bamboozling women into believing shared girlhood does not exist, that males who feel like women suffer more than any woman or girl ever has, that failure to prioritize male beliefs in gender is an act of violence, that the denial of any man’s desire – whether it is to use female restrooms, attend female-only concerts, or be housed in female prisons – is akin to murder, is a human rights violation, and that men’s psychological needs will always be more important than the needs and safety of women and girls. In fact, if you deny a male person what he wants, he might even commit suicide.

We saw an amazing – amazing in the truest sense, e.g., we were gobsmacked – MtT internet meme yesterday.  It said: “The most important thing you can do as an ally of mine: Ask me what I want and need, then try your best to give me that.”

Really let that wash over you, women who center men. It undoubtedly feels great when men call you the sensitivest, inclusivest, bestest ally all of all time, and you get a frisson of superiority when you stick it to “TERFS”– kind of like how the Duggars feel towards the rest of the sinful, front-hugging world – but: Do you really want to be everyone’s mommy? When was the last time a trans person, or a man, asked you how they could be your ally, as a woman in this world? Not recently? Why do you think that is?

Anyway. None of this is anything new. It’s the same old male manipulation, male aggression, male entitlement designed to make women feel crazy, to make women doubt themselves, to make women turn on reality and turn on one another.

The bearers of today’s misogynist philosophies are, more often than not, men who feel like women. Their forums for espousing their shockingly anti-feminist, anti-woman ideas are often the very publications where women, dykes in particular, once sought community and solace.

Women have come to expect that when we challenge the status quo, when we question the systems put in place to marginalize us, to make us feel like shit, we will be set upon by those who need to uphold the status quo, those who built the systems. This is just a fact of life for those of us who are female; maybe even more so for those of us who are dykes. No one fucking cares what we think, or how we feel until we express what we’re thinking; what we’re feeling – and then we’re vilified. We’re not supposed to disagree. We’re supposed to always put the proverbial cock in our mouths and pretend we enjoy it.

But here’s the thing, while we have come to expect it, there’s no rule that says we have to accept it.

Despite the trans/queer/liberal feminists’ strong investment in language, thought and perception-policing, American women – even dykes! – live in a country where free speech is (ostensibly) sanctioned and where there are, in fact, libel laws. So what this means is, until further notice, women can actually have ideas and express them. AND if you make shit up about women, because our words hurt your feelings, or because our ideas don’t fall in line lockstep with the bullshit liberal drivel you’re peddling, women can SUE you.

Even if we weren’t friends with Cathy Brennan, our hats would be off to her in filing this lawsuit. We believe that women – even those who disagree with us – should be able to use their words, and use their intellect, to speak their truth, and to openly criticize social movements, political ideologies, and legislation that appears harmful. Open, honest discourse is important and healthy. Dissent is healthy. And it’s also healthy, and appropriate, that when a major publication publishes damaging, outright, lies about an individual that individual ought to defend herself by making use of the legal system.

The culture, especially in liberal circles, has done a lot of work on a lengthy fiction that portrays lesbians with a radical feminist analysis as beasts, as slightly subhuman assholes, because we understand basic biology; we reject the notion that gender stereotypes are innate realities; we’re not terribly interested in male feelings and approval, and we’re pretty blunt about sometimes wanting space away from dudes (even those who “identify as female”); we prefer romantic attachments with other female human beings, and our activism, our political discourse concerns itself with women and girls. We’re monsters because, to quote the amazing Andrea Dworkin, we’re “radical feminists . . . not the fun kind.”

And because of this fiction, the one where radical feminist dykes are virtually the same as Fred Phelps (seriously, that analogy has been bandied about a lot) or Hitler, it’s tempting for “fun feminist” writers to build on the storyline, to make shit up, to run with unfounded rumors. And it’s one thing to Tweet this shit, or spin these yarns over a craft beer at your favorite sex-positive-poly-queer-trans-feminine bar and grille, but it’s quite another to commit these inventions to print and call it journalism. That’s slander, sister.

So more power to you, Cathy. We’ve got your back, and the backs of all women who are done with being threatened for having a class analysis, who are sick of being silenced on matters that impact us directly, who are over being maligned and misrepresented; our characters and reputations carelessly sacrificed to the precious male ego, to the gender god, to liberal feminism. Fuck that. Fight back.

A meditation on the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival : 1975-2015

fest

The nutloaf was nutty. The drumming was drummy. I bought a dykey leather bracelet, got my period, howled like a wolf, showered in the open air and woke up in a tent underneath several inches of water during a thunderstorm. I washed dishes in a communal trough and let a silky wolf spider shimmy up my arm. I felt Lisa Vogel’s true love for each one of us in the fireworks show on Saturday at Night Stage.

It was Fest. It was the last Fest.

Before I left, I rubbed my new bracelet in the dirt and on the bark of trees in an effort to take the Land back with me. I tore off a piece of a fern, put it in my mouth, chewed, and swallowed.

I’m in the denial stage of grief: Lisa will hear our pain; feel our need; change her mind, I keep thinking. And then, more calmly: Even if Fest doesn’t continue in the same way we’ve known for the last 40 years, it’ll revamp; renew; reformat. We may not gather in 650 acres of pristine northern Michigan woodland, but we’ll figure things out on a smaller scale. Lisa gets to retire if she wants to. No one can be the lesbian Moses, leading us out of the desert of our lives, forever. Forty years is long enough for any job. It’s as long as I’ve been alive. 

“If you need it; if you want it; then create it,” we all heard from the stages – and though I appreciated the encouragement and felt a frisson of excitement at the idea of making something blossom out of the Fest seeds, I don’t think I’m alone in doubting that I can create exactly what I’ve needed, and got, in my years on the Land. The most creative idea I’ve got at this point has to do with an all-women’s potluck. And I don’t know any sisters in this town. So I feel sad and afraid.

The loss of Fest is serious and worthy of our grief. Many women depended on Fest to be:

  • The only place they ever got to fully inhabit themselves without the male gaze; without judgment; without fear; seeing themselves only through loving eyes and finding themselves enough.
  •  The only place they could set a bag down and walk away; knowing it’d be there when they got back.
  • The only place they could travel from a great distance with only a backpack; knowing their needs would be met by the Land and the women on it.
  • The only place they ever experienced a week without men – and, more importantly, with only women – and if you haven’t experienced this, I can’t explain its transformative power.
  • The only place they ever spoke – or listened – to a much older woman or a very little girl.
  • The only place no one treated them as inferior because they were deaf, or disabled, or a single mother, or had a full beard, or worked a blue- or pink-collar job.
  • The only place they really mattered to other people.
  • The only thing they were ever really a part of.

The “only place” part is, I think, a real indictment of the world we live in; of “Area 51.”

I know that women always have, and always will, find ways to connect and get our needs met – even in, or especially in, times and places deeply hostile to us. We are water that flows downward and rust that never sleeps, and this goes double for lesbians: What have we not done? Where have we not gone? When have we not carved out spaces for ourselves – and long, long before the Internet, when we were still criminals just by being who we were?

I know all this. I believe it. This loss, though, sisters. This loss.