ihavegoneintohiding asked: Hey, a response for one of the anons weighing in on the X-men bigotry discussion. Yes people do yell slurs on the street at me when I am visibly queer (whether it be in presentation or behavior with partners). It depends on the location; but it happens.
Sometimes people are just assholes. I am sorry to hear it.
First of all, WOW at people not believing people have slurs shouted at them in 2014. I get slurs on the street at least once per month. Three instances so far this month, along with one misgendering, two questions along the lines of “are you a dude?”, and three solicitations assuming I’m a sex worker (or at least assuming I’m down to have sex in exchange for drugs or whatever).
But yeah… I was actually talking about X-Men-as-civil-rights-metaphor earlier today on twitter! The thing I always had trouble with is how much the X-Men function as a metaphor for civil rights, minority experience and oppression from the perspective of the oppressor, than really expressing the experience of oppression from the icky side of that line.
Like… humans actually have a legitimate reason to be scared of mutants, in that mutants DO indeed have power, and CAN threaten the human race. In real life, the power of women and minorities to pose a genuine threat to the dominant social classes has been deliberately and systemically stripped away (and continues to be stripped away… consider how republicans approach the questions of where voting centers are placed, how long they stay open, what kind of documents and identification are required, etc. To say nothing of today’s SCOTUS decision).
There’s also that whole Professor X / Magneto “Good Activist” / “Bad Activist” metaphor at the center, playing directly off of what is a very self-serving myth for the privileged. It’s the same myth that pretends Nelson Mandela and MLK Jr. were hardline pacifists (which was not the case at all) while pretending Malcolm X and Huey Newton were violent terrorists or whatever. It’s built around demonizing active resistance, and essentializing beatifying or canonizing these false, constructed images of wholly passive resistance, wherein the oppressed only pushes back by politely requesting that the oppressor knock it off. It treats the primary virtues of someone struggling for their rights, freedoms, dignity and survival as being their willingness to compromise, their reluctance to threaten or hurt their oppressor, their eagerness to forgive their oppressor, and their willingness to make everything as easy as possible for their oppressor.
See also the common conception of Valerie Solanas (for the record, I think her ACTIONS were horrible, and she clearly had mental illness she was dealing with, but her book is just silly and unrelated to why she shot Warhol). Or heck… see how passionately cis people complain about “Die Cis Scum” (or how they often paint ME as a result of that picture of me wearing the jacket I had with the slogan!), while they express no real emotion at all about the ACTUAL violence and injustice and incarceration that trans women face.
The “Bad Radical” is, in my mind, a very, very ugly myth. Which X-Men has thoroughly enjoyed playing to as though its the reality… in the sort of weird roundabout way of positioning it as the “realistic” thematic core of the fictional stories about guys with knife hands and laser eyes.
There’s a lot more to it than just those two dimensions… but just the degree to which every time I really analyze what X-Men is actually SAYING about minority struggles, rather than simply appreciating them just for being willing to (metaphorically) broach the issue at all, it seems very clear to me that it’s about the struggle against oppression AS WHITE STRAIGHT MEN UNDERSTAND IT, and write it, rather than speaking much at all to any of my genuine experiences of oppression in the real world.
Maybe we should just find the comedian who wrote the original ~that woman’s really a man~ joke and let him know that all of these hacks are stealing his bit.
That’d probably be the only way to get comedians to stop telling it, since joke stealing is the only issue they seem to actually care about.
Yeah, but the first one probably died in, like 198 BC.
"The Oral History Of Automata"
A wee idea for a comics anthology featuring several different artists…
An aging, cracked terra-cotta golem speaks to a lost, young 21st century experimental AI prototype robot in ze has encountered on an old, back-country road in a rural Chinese province. Ze tries to impart wisdom to the newly created intelligence, by relating an old story ze heard in hir own early travels from a rusting old “atomic” robot (think silver age comics) …
The atomic-era robot’s story relates a cool story that, somewhere in the middle, includes how, in the scrap heap where he learned to repair himself, he met a broken old golden gynoid (in the fashion of the gynoid from Metropolis)…
And she relates her story, which includes her meeting a rusty old clockwork robot who…
Tells of an evening camp fire, back in his (unnamed, but totally obvious) homeland, where he and a few others of his kind, including a tin man, an animate scarecrow, and a wooden creature with a pumpkin for a head (who himself had, as a companion, an animate saw-horse), where each of them relates tales of others of their kind they’ve met on their travels.
Including a story about a Steam Man who lived on the American prairies, not far from the land of Kansas which lay past the borders of their homeland.
And a story of a machine-man designed to lay down rail spikes who was decomissioned after he was defeated by an heroic human railworker.
And stories that include further stories-within-stories, leading back to tales of…
A woman who was created from the corpse of the deceased wife of an arrogant, megalomaniacal, grief-stricken doctor who tried to use science to overcome death. She could not remember him, though, and chose to instead pursue the doctor’s other creation, the prototype, who had been stitched together from the parts of various deceased criminals and met only persecution at the hands of humans. After finally killing his creator, he left her, and chose to wander the arctic, where she hopes to one day find him again.
A golem made from the clay of the river Moldau, with the word of life written upon his forehead by the Rabbi Loew, and imbued with God’s breath of life (the breath that animated Adam… and the golem relates THIS story, that of Adam, Eve and the fall, as a tale of the very FIRST golems), which allowed him too to live and possess a soul. And how he for many years protected the jews of Prague from anti-semetic tyrants, the blood libel, and the poverty of those years.
A breathtakingly beautiful Greek woman who had originally been a sculpture, but had been animated by the amorous passions of her creator… whom she ultimately killed and fled, due to his rape and sexual abuse of her.
So I weave all these great stories and myths of golems, robots, automata and other types of “created life” into a cool single narrative, modernize them, and imbue them with all kinds of great allegory and symbolism with which to discuss questions of: identity, self-definition, agency, parenthood, the opposition to parents, abusive parents, incest, sexual abuse, creativity, the creative impulse, tyranny, oppression, the Monstrous / Uncanny / Unheimlich, the Other, fear of science, abuses of science, how fear of science tends to punish the innocent who require it rather than those who abused it, etc. etc. etc. etc.
And informed by my own experiences as a transsexual person, as a rape survivor, as an abuse survivor, etc… all of which relate allegorically to such stories, either through my own connection (my feelings of empathy and love for Frankenstein’s monster and the golem of Prague, for instance) and allegories that have been imposed upon me (people imagining transsexual women to be “Frankensteins” and/or “Pygmalions”).
I’d really, genuinely LOVE to do a project like this.
Anyone know of any other great golem / automaton / created-life stories in public domain (or that can be easily pastiched)?
…maybe a lot of people don’t understand what methadone is, how it works, why it works, or what methadone dependency is.
consent is sexy in the same way that not shitting on people’s doorsteps is sweet and neighborly
I’ve kind of emotionally crashed HARD tonight.
I’m not at ALL okay. Serious panic attack stuff going on, serious self-hate and lack-of-confidence stuff going on, serious desperation stuff, serious depression stuff, serious anxiety stuff, and serious self-destructive want-to-give-up die/use/whatever stuff… really really really not okay.
And this is a pretty bad not okay.
Kind of a ‘desperately want help but have no idea how anything would really help’ sort of situation.
Kind of a ‘even if something could help with Immediate Concern X it would only be temporary, and have no bearing whatsoever on the other 25-letters-of-the-alphabet worth of things that are crushing or devestating or terrifying me’ situation.
Yeah… NOT okay.
So I’m going to disengage from internets, BUT…
I am still curious about questions posed earlier and would still love input. I’m definitely NOT okay emotionally, but that doesn’t mean I can’t handle critical input on questions where I was specifically looking for critical input.
I just probz won’t be able to respond to anything until tomorrow.
… the “cis-washing” thing wouldn’t be a meaningful question to me at all if I didn’t find the term very useful. If there are better synonyms for a controversial word-choice available, it’s ALWAYS a good choice to just go with those synonyms instead of wasting time arguing, no matter HOW much you agree or disagree with the controversies. Cos, like… why NOT just use the different word? This is what has ALWAYS confused me about people fighitng for the “right” (you already have the right, enshrined by a free country, and empowered by a bigoted country) to use slurs and bigoty or offensive or dehumanizing words… why is it so fucking important for you to be “allowed” (you already are allowed) to say t——y or c—t or whatever?
Anyway, though, I find “cis-washing” useful because it refers to something very specific about cissexism.
But… if there IS a better term out there, or if we can invent one than will clearly communicate what we mean, that makes things REAL easy, cos then I (we) can just use the other word…
So can anyone think of a good alternate term for that thing cis people (often especially gay and lesbian cis people) do ALL THE DAMN TIME where they erase trans people from historical narratives (Stonewall), or pretend prominent trans heroes and figures weren’t trans but “really” gay/lesbian/drag, or viciously argue against someone admired or important being trans and demanding ridiculous amounts of “proof” first (Chelsea Manning, Lana Wachowski), or diminish and overlook trans roles in larger narratives (the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot’s role in the Queer Rights movement)?
Cos another word for that would be DOPE. It really is a VERY important and central and aggressive aspect of cisnormativity, and a good word for it (“cis-washing” isn’t a very good word for it) would be great. Obviously, though, it should be a word that conveys the meaning easily, though.
Question re: “Cis-Washing”
So… a fellow white trans woman tumblrer, called impcollections, called me out on my use of the term “cis-washing”, arguing that its shitty for white trans women to appropriate and re-purpose phrases related to racism and white-supremacism for our own purposes.
Now, I COMPLEEETELY agree with the principle she was raising here. Yes, it IS totally shitty for white trans women to appropriate and re-purpose phrases related to racism and white-supremacism for our own purposes. This was brought up to me a long time ago by a TWoC friend of mine, criticizing my use of the term “cis-supremacism”, and I listened and agreed with her and have made a serious effort to stay away from ever using phrases or terms like that since.
Recently, I’ve also begun making an effort to not avoid the all-too-common trans-women’s strategy of comparing transphobia, cissexism or trans-misogyny to racism or white-supremacism as an easy, lazy tactic for making a point about the wrongness of cissexist bullshit. It’s particularly awful when white trans people use the angle of “You wouldn’t say X / get away with X / whatever if it were about PoC!”. This obfuscates and trivializes the living, present reality of racism and white-supremacism, and buys into the myth that “racism is over” to bolster the distortion of “but trans people are still acceptable targets!”.
One of the worst instances of this was in response to Suzanne Moore’s Guardian article in which she talked about how she lacked the “ideal” body type of a “Brazilian transsexual”. White trans women busted out “she wouldn’t get away with such comments about PoC!” … but she fucking WAS making a racist remark about PoC, and indeed GETTING AWAY WITH IT in that most people weren’t even noticing that aspect of it. I mean, it was ALSO cissexist as fuck, but it was definitely racist too. And particularly vile in relation to the intersections of race, patriarchy, cissexism, poverty and international power dynamics that have resulted in Brazil having any astronomical rate of trans-misogynistic murder… more murders of trans people (read: trans women) than the rest of the Americas combined.
(on the subject of murders of Trans WoC, by the way, I have also become incredibly disturbed by the increasing tendency for white trans women to invoke TWoC murders whenever we want to score points in debate, lend weight to our arguments, or otherwise exploit those deaths to advance our political agendas. “That’s what gets TWoC killed!” has become a disgustingly common invocation in even the most trivial and insular of white trans women’s debates… usually over matters of theory wholly divorced from the harsh realities with which such violence is associated, and often being creepy distortions in which the actual victims of such violence might well have been the people they’re “calling out”, given how trans-misogynistic violence often tilts in different ways than erasure, visibility, access to conditional cis privilege, and status internal to trans communities)
But yeah… Racism isn’t “over”, and trans people aren’t “acceptable targets” relative to PoC. Furthermore, these comparisons are, in addition to being a lazy and cheap tactic, also exploitative, dismissive and trivializing of the degree to which different oppressions operate different and (surprise yo!) how DIFFERENT IDENTITIES MEAN DIFFERENT THINGS, and rather insensitive and shitty towards trans people of colour. It also plays into white people’s desire to disregard their own privilege, and wash their hands of accountability, via their association with other oppressed (or “oppressed”) minority or marginalized identity / status (trans, poor, woman, disabled, etc… or even ridiculous back-breaking stretches like atheist or Irish or pagan or Italian-American or whatever), and the sensibility very common to contemporary privileged folk of desperately WANTING to be the marginalized underdog so as to permit a sense that one’s achievements are not only totally one’s own, independent of privilege and luck and fortune you were just born into, but that you achieved them "against all odds!"
Fuck all that.
So yep, I absolutely agree with Impcollection’s basic point, and the principles behind it, about the repulsive and appropriative tendency for us white trans people to be rather embarrassingly eager to compare ourselves to PoC, or use the language of race relations to describe trans/cis power relations.
If I remember correctly, the etymology of the “white” in “white-washing” has nothing to do with race. That basically it’s based in a metaphor of, say, bleaching bloodstains out of your sheets (or generally cleaning away your metaphorical stains), and that the term “white-washing”, relatedly, is used for ANY instance of bullshit historical revisionism being used to “clean-up” or “sanitize” a historical incidence, or narrative… or even a fictional story or an ongoing news story… for the sake the dominant cultural mindset and sensibility. The meaning of erasing PoC contributions or presence in a historical narrative or new story, or of false historical revisionism that imposes a white-centrism, is a more recent meaning, that’s playing upon the duel-meaning.
But the earlier more general meaning can even be applied to historical narratives that are already only about white people. Anonymous, for instance, seems to “white-wash” the Gunpowder Plot, painting Guy Fawkes as a romantic revolutionary, whereas he in fact wished to impose a Catholic Theocracy.
So “white-washing” is not definitively a race-related term.
My general policy with situations where I’m potentially doing or saying something racist is to err STRONGLY on the side of caution (or the side of not-being-a-racist-idiot; however you want to see it is cool). I go with a three-pronged approach:
1) If I suspect there’s a chance that what I’m doing or saying might be racist, I assume it probably is, and I remind myself that it definitely isn’t worth the risk.
Example: a few weeks ago I wrote some tweets joking about how I’d start using “son”, “girl” and “child” as male, female and gender-neutral pronouns. But I then thought “Wait… this could EASILY come across as me being all ‘hahaha, isn’t AAVE just so charming / exotic / fun?’”. So I then thought: “No fucking WAY are these tweets even REMOTELY funny enough to risk being that shitty and Othering and stupid.” So I deleted them within two minutes of tweeting them. This is how I manage to generally not be a racist fuck-up or piss off PoC… not because I’m a better person, or less likely to make mistakes, or somehow essentially “not a racist”, but just because I have the good sense to question myself and, if I think there’s a chance I’m about to be a racist bitch, I don’t take that chance. And, when in doubt and it’s feasible to do so, I’ll ask. If in doubt and it isn’t feasible to ask, I shut my fucking mouth and/or back away from the goddamn keyboard.
2) If a PoC is telling me something I’m doing or saying is racist, I try my best to shut the fuck up and listen. I may ask questions, for the sake of understanding what I did wrong so that I can offer a genuine apology (I don’t believe in apologizing when I don’t know what my mistake was, because “I’m sorry you’re upset!” is a shitty fauxpology, and anything else would be insincere, and equally shitty), and for the sake of avoiding future mistakes, but NOT for the sake of mounting some kind of “defense”. This is HARD, because of course everyone feels defensive when they’re called racist, and it takes serious fucking work to learn how to put your own hurt feelings aside and listen to the person talking to you. Even when you know they’re probably good people and wouldn’t be saying this to you without a good reason, it’s STILL hard to acknowledge that you almost definitely made a really bad mistake like that. But it’s still really really important, and is worth the work. And “worth it” aside, it’s our fucking ethical responsibility, as those benefitting from white privilege, white-supremacism and social inequalities based in racism (and the legacies thereof) to do this work, no matter how hard it may be. After all, it’s still a whole hell of a lot easier than living BENEATH the boot of a white-supremacist system.
And, the one that counts the most for this incident:
3) If another white person says I’m being racist, even if I disagree or have a defensive argument or don’t see how I’m being racist, I still give them the benefit of the doubt and seriously question myself and consider what dimensions, nuances or issues I might have missed.
So even though I’m like “but white-washing isn’t a specifically race-related term”, I’m STILL thinking “I might be wrong… fuck, I hope I’m not wrong… I should probably look into this to make sure I’m not wrong”.
I wrote about it to a Certain Unnamed Very Popular Tumblr Blog That Answers Questions About Whether Or Not Shit Is Racist, explaining and asking “Am I wrong about this one?”, and dude privately wrote back saying “I have no idea”.
Then I saw a response from Impcollections making the very good point that even if “White-washing” as a GENERAL term isn’t race-specific, the USAGE of white-washing to pertain to a given cultural identity erasing The Other from a historical narrative, news story, or what-have-you, *did* originate in describing race stuff, and this is the use from which “cis-washing” derives (since “cis-washing” is used to describe removing all trans people or trans aspects or whatever from a story, or pretending trans people weren’t there or involved, or pretending that trans people who WERE involved were actually cis, or related things… which is very much in line with the use of “white-washing” that means similarly erasing PoC from the picture or pretending PoC weren’t there or pretending PoC were really white, etc).
My general inclination is still to think that since the usage of X-washing to mean a privileged identity imposing themselves into a historical, fictional or ongoing narrative and/or erasing the marginalized identity from the narrative and/or pretending members of the marginalized identity WEREN’T and/or inflating (or fabricating from whole-cloth) the role or central position of the privilged identity in the narrative is ALREADY a repurposing of “white-washing”, which originally had nothing *specific* to do with privileged identities vs. marginalized ones (though, obviously, since dominant ideologies are white-supremacist, white-washing historical revisionism was more often than not imposing a white-supremacist interpretation onto historical narratives that may have been “embarrassing” [EPIC UNDERSTATEMENT] for white people and white sensibilities), that therefore “cis-washing” isn’t repurposing a racial terminology but just (perhaps) echoing another repurposing. BUT…
… I know better than to trust myself. Even a shadow of a doubt that a term I’ve been using is Not Cool is enough for me to want to question and think about it.
I’d be really interested to hear people’s thoughts on this (and any of the other things I’ve been talking about here).
Can we talk a bit about this f-ed up assumption?
Something I’ve noticed in a LOT of queer and trans communities, particularly the communities of queer women (and trans men), is the attitude of “Yeah, we all know each other in this town!”
This assumption is based on a pretty obvious assumption. Of course you know all the queers in your town THAT YOU KNOW OF, because those are the ones you know.
The problem comes in how much this utterly erases the members of the community who AREN’T part of the established scene, leads people to concluding that those members of the community who are being excluded (or who feel unwelcome or whose attempts to become part of the community have not been met well) simply don’t EXIST, leads people to believing that the most dominant and welcomed and visible members of the community (for instance, white people, cis people, able-bodied people) are the only ones there are the most numerous, leads people to making assumptions that the ‘nature’ of a given queer identity is consistent with the habits of the most dominant and privileged, and ultimately reinforces the attitudes that exclude and push out marginalized queers, while obscuring queer community’s capacity to even question or realize that they’re excluding, erasing and marginalizing people, or failing to be accessible.
NO… you do NOT “all know each other”. Especially if you look around your parties and just see a whole bunch of white, cis, able-bodied, neurotypical people.