Really, writers don’t get any funnier or more cantankerous than that, do they? Here’s another nice piece where she talks about writing and mentions that the “trick” of writing is hard work (amongst other things).
So here’s an interesting artistic/literary take on crossdressing that is definitely not the standard narrative and yet shares some commonalities with it:
In the book’s introduction, Mr. Vollmann explains that his interest in cross-dressing is more an exploration of femininity than an expression of some complicated gender identity. “Not only am I physically and emotionally attracted to women,” he writes, “I also wonder what being a woman would be like.”
But his hobby has cost him friends, and he said he has “a certain amount of fear and dread” about the book’s publication. “A lot of friends who could always handle the prostitutes and the drugs felt that I had somehow degraded myself,” he said. “The idea of stepping down from the dominant male class really disgusts a lot of people, including women.”
Still, Mr. Vollmann is not one to let other people’s opinions sway his interests. He found being a woman, or attempting to appear as one, endlessly fascinating, even when it was unpleasant. (“Mascara is an incredible hassle,” he said.)
I have to say, however, that I’m always a little suspicious of narratives like this one, especially because of how decidedly “masculine” he is otherwise. The Times article begins
As far as writers go, William T. Vollmann is a man’s man. In pursuit of a story, he has roughed it with the mujahedeen in Afghanistan and survived a land mine explosion in Bosnia. He singed his eyebrows off and nearly froze to death exploring the magnetic North Pole. In Thailand, he rescued a teenage girl from sex slavery by kidnapping her from a pimp.
… which may be the mark of a man’s man, but in my experience, it sounds more like the overcompensation of a closeted CD, except, of course, that he’s not closeted – not anymore, at least.
..seen on Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, some time around the 10/19/13..
GP Careful! Speaking as a pervert myself, what the internet did was tell you that you weren’t alone. And it was shocking. When I was young, when I was about ten years old, I used to have this fantasy, which used to turn me on greatly, of being in a body cast – lying in hospital, motionless, unable to move. And then when the internet came along, one day I just thought, “I wonder,” and then I just googled “plaster casts” and like – eugh! There’s websites called things like Cast Your Enthusiasm. It’s an offshoot of bondage.
BE It’s an offshoot of surrendering, as well – the same thing. You’re deliberately losing control.
GP And it’s kind of a loving thing, I think. It has to be. If you think about giving up to God, God is always there and is a parental presence, a parental projection. In bondage, there is always somewhere in the fantasy the loving but cruel parent figure.
BE The loving dominator.
GP Yes, we’re all gimps to a certain extent. Often when we look at perversions, you’re seeing an extreme, ritualised version of what everyone else has latent in them.
“Often when we look at perversions, you’re seeing an extreme, ritualised version of what everyone else has latent in them.” = You can put that in your pipe & smoke it.
(& it’s amazing, but honestly, can anyone look at this photo & no think: but damn, that bridge is too gorgeous.)
(The article isn’t great on the pronouns – but justice, at least.)
I found this short reflection on the difference in experience for a family when first the mom/wife went through breast cancer, and later a daughter went through addiction treatment and recovery.
Because of course, addition is an illness, as are mental health issues. But we don’t treat it, or them, as if they were.
When the wife had cancer, people brought casseroles.
Maggie was disciplined by her college for breaking the drug and alcohol rules. She began an outpatient recovery program. She took a medical leave from school. She was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, diagnosed, released. She began years of counseling, recovery meetings, and intensive outpatient rehabilitation. She lived in a recovery house, relapsed, then spent seven weeks in a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center.
No soup, no homemade loaves of bread.
When the daughter was fighting addiction, people brought none.
I have often wondered how sane a world it would be to live in one where we helped people with an illness instead of criminalizing them. Nutty, I know. But we persist in thinking of addiction as a moral failure, a failure of discipline.
So what the fuck is going on in this country? A woman’s car dies so she stops in a suburb (of Detroit) and knocks on a door for help and is shot in the back of the head when she turned to leave.
Her body is found nearby, except nope, it wasn’t, it was found on the front steps of this house.
I’m assuming I don’t have to tell you the suburb was white & the woman was black.
Horrifying, sickening, frustrating, and saddening. I’m tired of these stories, tired of people resolving everything with guns and violence.
& Ugh, her poor family.
& Then she write a column for Bilerico discussing whether or not she can be “on the same activism level as a trans person.”
At first I wanted argue. I wanted to list all the things that proved him wrong. But I paused. What if I asked questions rather than asserted myself? As I thought of his assertion that I wasn’t a true ally, I couldn’t help but wonder whether it is even fair for a cisgender person to believe herself to be on the same activism level as a trans person.
Because that would be transphobic.
& Her response – not to argue, not to list or justify, but instead to ask questions of herself, is a good one. Why did I make that choice? Why don’t I like him? Do I subconsciously consider him female? Because I think all of those things could be true, and often are, to be honest.
But that said: not dating the dude because he’s trans is entirely different from not dating the guy because he’s not her cup of tea, is what I mean. Women turn down dates from men all the time. Sometimes people like you back & sometimes they don’t. BUTT in a ciscentric world, it is important to know if you actually think of trans women as women and trans men as men to the point that you would or could date or have sex with them *as such*.
Honestly, his response to her “no” tells me there were good reasons she didn’t want to date him: way to get turned down absolutely ungraciously.
But this issue of whether she can be “on the same activism level as a trans person” is a whole other issue, for another time and post.
Happy 59th Birthday, Adam.
59, honestly, & he’s still the most beautiful man who ever lived.
This piece by John Scalzi about why he can wear generic clothes (mostly) says a lot about privilege in a very tangible way:
My systematic and personal advantages mean that nearly all disadvantages posed by someone judging me on my appearance are temporary and light. This is also why I find it amusing to post deeply unflattering pictures of myself online (see the one to the right as an example); I don’t have to worry about the negative side-effects of doing so. People who actually are judged on their appearance, and for whom that judgment will have a material effect on their life, don’t have the same luxury to be unconcerned as I do. What’s interesting and amusing to me is a matter of stress and anxiety for others.
which, coupled with this piece about poor people and brand-name clothes, really does explain a great deal of why people dress the way they do:
I do not know how much my mother spent on her camel colored cape or knee-high boots but I know that whatever she paid it returned in hard-to-measure dividends. How do you put a price on the double-take of a clerk at the welfare office who decides you might not be like those other trifling women in the waiting room and provides an extra bit of information about completing a form that you would not have known to ask about? What is the retail value of a school principal who defers a bit more to your child because your mother’s presentation of self signals that she might unleash the bureaucratic savvy of middle class parents to advocate for her child? I don’t know the price of these critical engagements with organizations and gatekeepers relative to our poverty when I was growing up. But, I am living proof of its investment yield.
Makes you think about your own clothing choices, and even how they change: at work, around friends and family.
So how is all of this gendered?
So it looks like ENDA may come to a vote early next week – according to Harry Reid.
The bill is unlikely to gain much traction in the Republican controlled House, but could provide Democrats with another opportunity to paint the GOP as out of step with most Americans by obstructing a bill aimed at ending workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
This made me cry. Wish I’d been there.
Thursday night I’d gone to see my new favorite band Those Darlins, who did a cover of White Light/White Heat – which is one of my favorite Velvet tunes – and I actually went & thanked them for it afterwards, specifically mentioning that it always does a NYC kid’s heart good to hear Lou. Such weird amazing timing: rock & roll magic.
Every once in a while when I’m doing Trans 101 I have this split second where I’m saying something standard that all of a sudden rings in my ears as blatantly false. Tonight it was this whole “preferred pronoun” business, which strikes me as kind of goofy.
It’s an accurate pronoun. Not preferred. Preference is like whether you like chocolate or vanilla ice cream. We don’t use it often to talk about queer sexual orientations anymore, so why use it for pronouns?
Lou Reed wrote a song about undergoing electroshock therapy because his parents thought he was gay. It was called “Kill Your Sons.”
He wrote “Candy Says” about Candy Darling, one of the Warhol Factory’s out trans women. (There were quite a few trans women involved in Warhol’s stuff, including – Ms. Darling, Holly Woodlawn, Jackie Curtis & Jayne County.)
He wrote “Walk on the Wild Side” which inspired a ton of trans people to say “Wait, what? That’s possible?” when it came to gender transformation.
Then of course there’s “Venus in Furs”, too, which is a whole other thing altogether, but certainly of interest to a certain subset of y’all.
Thanks for everything.