clearly i don’t know what’s going on, but it’s something important

This is some of why I haven’t been blogging lately… I don’t really like the way i started out. It felt like “HERE ARE MY VERY IMPORTANT OPINIONS & I’M PROBABLY RIGHT”. I used to interact like that more and have tried for years with some success to tone it down, but it seems to come out again when i write. also, i’ve been writing as though all these people I don’t know are reading my blog. yeah, it’s on the net so there may be a few… but c’mon, it’s not like i’m hot shit. i’m mostly addressing people I know here, and I don’t feel like my writing has reflected that.

so I got tripped up on feeling egotistical/self-important, and couldn’t figure out how to change my approach but still write about things that felt worthwhile.

this is some of why I haven’t been blogging lately… all I wanna do is complain about shit and freak out about how i don’t know what to do about anything anymore. y’all know what I’m talkin about, i’ve written about it already. i may sound depressed, but really I’m just constantly baffled. fine line, y’know. after all, it’s depressing to be baffled in a world where so much needs to be done.

to be honest though (this is tangential and i’m running with it), I kinda wish we would all stop talking about how depressed we are. maybe that seems like a really horrible thing to say… btw, i’m not addressing people who are struggling with chemical imbalances here. I’m talking about the rest of us, and there are a lot of us. i know, we’re unhappy & tortured… so why shouldn’t we talk about/think about/spend time worrying about what’s wrong with us?

well, dig: we live in a fucked world that we experience little or no power in, excluding the small percentage of people possessing real financial/social/political power. but they’re probably not depressed by the havoc they wreak so I ain’t talkin’ to them. Whether the rest of us actually have power (regardless of how we feel) is debatable and i won’t go there right now. anyway, within our group of powerless-feeling folks are many subgroups, membership in which can further blight your experiences. y’know, being differently-abled in an able-bodied world, being gender-variant in a binary world, living in palestine – you get the idea. natch, many people inhabit multiple you’re-fucked-now subgroups.

and… shockingly… this is probably why we’re all “depressed”. you’re a normal person with emotions and a brain and this kind of living is bullshit. even if you inhabit no unhappy subgroups, as long as your brains & feelings are working you will feel bad for everyone else’s groups, and for feeling powerless to help.

i sometimes forget this, blaming the way I’m built for making me this crazy instead of the external forces acting so violently on my perfectly functioning mass of nerve endings, synapses, what have you. the language we often use to discuss our feelings frames the situation as though there’s something unusual about feeling this way, and something we should be doing to get back to “normal”. as debbie’s post about her dad reminded me a while back, many of us suffer entire lifetimes without ever realizing the frame is wrong.

that’s not an accident, in case you were wondering. it’s rather integral to the smooth functioning of the machine, which is why i’d like us to reconsider buying into the depression epidemic.

crap, see. there i go getting all preachy-teachy again.

This is some of why i haven’t been blogging lately… i wanna write about certain things, but they take me to places where i’d rather be talking to someone in person. mostly b/c if i follow these thoughts to the logical big question – “what can we do about all this?” – I feel like i shouldn’t be exploring possible answers to that question on the internet. i get paranoid. and fuck those in power for making my world a place where that is a serious consideration rather than some imaginary sci-fi bullshit. democracy my ASS!

i’d rather not continue in this vein right now. in the future, what can I blog about in lieu of all this embittered navel-gazing? music or books? i’m not usually up on the newest music/reading – but I can bandy about opinions on old shit you’ve probably already made up your own mind about. Or I could discuss what i ate earlier or the fact that there’s a mouse in my office or how many times i’ve picked my nose today (a lot)? what i like? what i think is silly? wtf this adorable creature is?

bunny? mouse? piglet?

bunny? mouse? piglet?

I’m open to suggestions. maybe i’ll try blogging about nothing in particular and see how that goes. Sometimes i’ll prolly have to lay down an oh-so-important opinion on a controversial topic and contemplate the fucked-ness of everything, just to remind myself that i’m still not buyin’ any of it.

and hell, if i still don’t blog after this, then maybe it just ain’t my thing right now.

December 31, 2008. Tags: , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. 3 comments.

The Colonization of Gender

After reading a post on the Minnesota Nice blog over at bitchmagazine.org about the many ways people can and do repeatedly “come out”, I followed a link to Trevor Hoppe’s blog and podcast (The Gayest Podcast in Michigan). After partaking of some compelling reading and listening, I hopped over to check out Beyond Masculinity. From the website:

“Beyond Masculinity is a groundbreaking collection of 22 provocative essays on sexuality, gender, and politics — all written by gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer men. Part audiobook, part-blog, and part-anthology, [it] brings together a smart, diverse group of queer male writers all critically examining maleness and the construction of masculinity and gender norms for men. Contributions focus on five key areas: Desire, Sex and Sexuality; Negotiating Identities; Queer Feminist Politics; Beyond Binary Gender; and Transforming Masculinity.

Did we mention that it’s free?”

Leaving aside the (interesting) subject matter for a moment, I just want to bask in the amazingness of a free online book/audiobook interactive project. Nice work, Trevor (he edited the anthology). If anyone is aware of similar projects happening, please post links!

I have only just started reading and listening to the anthology, and already I’ve come across a really intriguing piece by Qwo-Li Driskill, a Two-Spirit indigenous scholar of Cherokee descent. Hir piece explores the connections between the colonization of Native peoples and the violent introduction of a gender binary that didn’t exist in a starkly delineated fashion prior to colonization. S/he discusses the importance of duyuktv—balance, truth & justice—in pre-colonial Cherokee culture, and the ways in which strongly enforced European gender norms contributed to the devastation of this central component. S/he calls upon (for some reason, only male-embodied) Two-Spirit people to recognize the role they can play in healing, rebalancing and strengthening their communities. Not only is the article amazing, but to top it off the entire story is modeled on a traditional Stomp Dance.

You’ll just have to check it out for yourself – and I highly recommend listening to the audio version, if you have that capability.

UPDATE 07/15/2008

Driskill mentions the writing of several Native feminists in hir article, among them Wilma Mankiller. Mankiller received recognition and wide respect for being the first female chief of the Cherokee nation, and for her accomplishments both in this role and as a community activist. She co-edited The Reader’s Companion to U.S. Women’s History. Her autobiography, Mankiller: A Chief and Her People, received praise from the likes of Alice Walker and Gloria Steinem (that bastion of oblivious mainstream white feminism). Steinem, a personal friend of Mankiller’s, also wrote the introduction to Mankiller’s Every Day Is a Good Day: Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous Women.

Sadly, one of Mankiller’s “accomplishments” in 1992 (attempted first in 1988, only a year after she was elected chief) was to legally solidify a questionable set of criteria for citizenship in the Cherokee Nation which ultimately excludes all Cherokee Freedmen[sic] from the rolls. I actually didn’t even realize that the Cherokee, along with several other tribes, ever had African slaves. That’s not something I’m at all qualified to talk about, I’d be in wayyy over my head. But from 1992 until the present, the descendants of those slaves have been denied not only citizenship in the nation they helped to build, but their very identity and cultural history – thanks in part to the work of this “feminist” activist. Yes, that word is in quotes for a reason. As many women have stated throughout the history of feminism, what good is a movement that excludes certain skin colors and economic groups?

At first I wasn’t sure whether Wilma Mankiller’s actions should necessarily be critiqued within the framework of mainstream white feminism. But clearly that is the framework she herself has chosen to work with. Even though the actions I’m pointing to were undertaken over 15 years ago, they still affect people in seriously f*ed up ways. And she is still an active, respected member of the mainstream feminist community in spite of this. It’s really upsetting to find yet another example of someone whose behavior has promoted and further institutionalized racism who is also active in the most visible form of feminism in this country.

July 10, 2008. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.