My partner and I made it through this party I’d been half-dreading, a party to celebrate our prior unification ritual. It was a lot of things, but largely, it felt validating and joyous, in a chaotic sort of way. It was fun; we would not do it again! It was a different kind of experience for me; I was on a natural high for so long, it was starting to get tedious. I mean, I’ve had a lot of extreme highs and lows in moods, over much longer periods of time, but this was somehow different. Somehow much less scary. I felt confident that even though I felt this way, I could depend on myself to do whatever it was I needed to do. It was a high that was not really all that fun, in its duration. Maybe I am growing up.
High extended roughly, from Thursday (kicking the planning for Saturday into high-gear,) till Tuesday (by then, we were in Northampton, MA for the start of our vacation, and the long drive to get there felt like it happened in a snap.) I wasn’t hungry; I wasn’t sleeping well. I was able to just keep going and going and going regardless. I didn’t particularly feel euphoric or excited (I mean, I did at times, but not sustained.) I basically started feeling like all I wanted was to get a full night’s sleep, an entire meal in my stomach, and to come down from wherever up-in-the-clouds I was.
On our vacation, we stopped through Northampton and Spencer, MA before heading up to a tiny town (talking about a town with a church and a convenience store. No gas station.) in central Maine. We stayed with two friends who have an awesome cabin they’ve basically created themselves, over the past 10 years. It sits on 50 acres of land, and they live there part time. We went blueberry picking (organic! $1.50/lb!!!), swimming in a very cold lake (when the air temp + rain hitting lake was even colder), trouncing through the woods a bit. We kicked back, did some reading, connected with our friends, and heard stories about / met some of their neighbors.
At a rest stop on the way up there, I did an awkward dance with an older woman over the fact that I was in the women’s bathroom. She spun around to walk back out and check if she was in the right one, sort of touching my shoulder to prevent a collision between us, saying she’s checking that this is the right bathroom. I smiled and said, “Yep, it is.” This, surprisingly, does not happen to me often at all. I can’t even remember the last time. I enjoyed the experience (since it wasn’t threatening or uncomfortable, was in a way validating.)
On our way back home, we stopped to stay in a tree-house! And on our way from Maine to this tree-house, my partner read aloud an article from the August 4, 2014 edition of the New Yorker (p.24 – “What is a Woman? The Dispute Between Radical Feminism and Transgenderism”). I’ve never picked up a New Yorker before. (I think maybe my partner hasn’t either, because she commented, “There are a lot of comics in here!” Haha.) It had been given to us by our friend in Maine, because she knew we’d be interested in this one article.
Imagine driving on winding roads through rural VT, rain coming down, having previously been bored out of my gourd, tired of our musical selections. And suddenly being fully engaged in this topic that seemingly came out of nowhere (I mean, I know it came from the New Yorker; I just mean I wasn’t prepared for it, but it surely was a much needed distraction right then.) At various points, I interrupted my partner to argue passionately both with the article itself and with the radical feminists the article was about.
Some of the gists:
– Not all, but some radical feminists still feel that transwomen are not women and will never be women (and that they benefit from male privilege…?). These rad-fems continue to want to exclude transwomen from women-only spaces, and to invalidate their experiences in numerous other ways. They reject the notion that someone could feel intrinsically female or male, and that all the ways that women and men are different are due to sociological forces and learned experiences only.
– The common term for these rad-fems is TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminists).
– Some TERFs are detransitioners, and TERFs often cite detransition as proof of the fallibility of transgenderism. (Expert reports state that the percent of people who detransition is somewhere between 1% and 5%. This is higher than I would guess, but hardly significant enough to attempt to build a case.)
– Some TERFs face threats, both in their personal and professional lives. Situations have become so escalated at times, that they must be escorted by security to events and go underground in their academics.
There was so much more to this article (such as why FTMs are OK, but MTFs are a threat -??? Maybe I’ll return to the article for a more in depth future post); I highly recommend seeking it out if you can. It was eye-opening for me because even though I’ve heard of this term (TERFs) and understand the basics of the arguments, this really painted a picture. On the one hand, TERFs’ arguments are terribly weak and seem fueled by fear and a lack of understanding, with no efforts to begin understanding.
On the other hand, I find myself empathizing (just a little.) “TERF” is not a self-describing term. It is essentially yet one more slur, coming from others in sexual/gender minorities – people all too familiar with slurs themselves, usually. These women have fought passionately (sometimes for decades and decades, creating groundbreaking groundwork) for changes in the view of what it means to be a woman, and now they’re kinda in over their heads here. One final passage from the article that really sums up how this sub-group of rad-fems must feel,
“[These] radical feminists find themselves in a position that few would have imagined when the conflict began: shunned as reactionaries on the wrong side of a sexual-rights issue. It is, to them, a baffling political inversion.”
A few weeks ago, a friend asked me if I could portray Bob Dylan, as he were in Subterranean Homesick Blues. (My initial plan for “Drag King Stories” was to be chronological; obviously I’m not following that because I’m now jumping to the most recent story I have on the topic!) The friend had been invited by the local Improvement Society to give a power-point presentation at a literary/cultural hub, just up the street from me. He was going to be one of 11 people, doing flash-presentations to highlight what’s new!
His project: He is the mastermind behind a new radio station that will be hitting the airwaves by October. It’ll be run by and for the community; all funds will be raised by community efforts (as opposed to commercial, although there might be underwriters and/or sponsorship members).
So when he approached me, he said that each group presents 20 slides and a representative talks along with the images, which are on an auto-timer of 20 seconds each, for a total 6minute, 40 second presentation (per group). And the audience sits and watches each presentation, one after the other. He told me he’d already gotten permission to stray from the rules and just not use power-point or slides at all. To instead go totally lo-fi, using poster-board with words sharpied in black. Just my style!
In the past, any opportunity to be in drag and perform outside of a typical drag show format has been a total blast, and so I jumped on the chance. My friend and I hung out in his attic the Sunday before the event, listening to music, practicing, and drawing out the words with sharpie markers. He had written out a script, telling the story of the radio station thus far. I assumed a wide stance and stony expression, just like Mr. Bob Dylan. We decided in advance that I was going to have an attitude. I was just going to drop each poster onto the floor and then at the end of our 6:40, I would throw the last poster up into the air and walk off, leaving others to pick them all up.
We arrived early, and I was excited to find out we were on first. Love getting a performance out of the way and then kicking back! The audience was a bunch of young entrepreneurs / hipsters / yuppies / intellectuals. Haha. We got up there, did our thing, I walked off, and then we watched everyone else. There was an intermission with cucumber sandwiches, meats and cheeses, and tiny fingerling potatoes(?), and beer. This was, ultimately, a networking event, but I dislike that stuff, so I let my friend do the talking, and my partner and I grabbed food and beer and went to explore the building a little bit.
After the event, my partner and I went out to a bar to see a different friend’s new band. I felt really solid in my button-up shirt, vest, and sideburns. I should remember to go out “in drag,” just for fun, more often!
Also, if you wanna check out what I wrote in Part 1, it is here!