Hey guys. I wanted to let y’all know about a really awful breach of human rights happening in Berlin right now. A father of an 11-year-old transgender girl has the authorities’ support to remove her from her mother’s home and place her in therapy (yup, that’s a mad house to you and I) until she returns to ‘normality.’ They will force her to grow up as a boy. I can’t imagine the psychological and physical damage to this child that will result from this action.
Get informed by reading this article in English. I find it shocking, sad and depressing that these kinds of things *still* happen in so-called developed countries. Bleurgh.
On a happier note, I am very proud to be quoted in next month’s Hugs & Kisses magazine. This queer German mag contains an article about asexuality written by the amazing author of that zine on asexuality I wrote about. In fact, my most popular post on not wanting to have sex will be reprinted in the next edition of the zine. Yay for me! The article will also be featured in a new zine for queer youth in Berlin. More details to come sooooon!
Your sad and happy news for the day. Over and out. LTx
The problem with only writing about yourself when you are a literary genius from History is that you only know that you are a literary genius from History when you have been dead 200 years. And then it’s a bit late to start writing about yourself.
You may have noticed that I am a feminist of the personal is political kind. If not, you should probably read this post to fill yourself in. While some people say that writing about yourself is indulgent, and should only be done if you are some kind of literary historical genius, I say it is a political act.
I could leave write diaries and accidentally-on-purpose leave them lying around for an intellectually curious niece to find when I’m dead (Oops! You’re just going to have to write a memoir about your crazy feminist Aunt now aren’t you?) but then I wouldn’t get credit for all the awesome things I have to say now. And I like credit. Anyways, wanting to be heard is part of being an artist. A friend of mine, who is a well-known musician, said to me the other day that part of what makes us artists is this burning desire to tell our stories, to be listened to, in whichever medium we work.
I have never really felt heard, but I guess that’s a subject for another piece.
Women’s lives involve a lot of drudgery. As well as being whatever we want to be (bloggers, writers, doctors), we also have to be what we are supposed to be (mothers, housewives, good lovers). Even if we want to be some of the things we are supposed to be, it’s still hard to find time to be them. (Isn’t that sentence really hard to read?)
Because of sexism, women have to work extra hard in order to be seen as successful women. Because of sexism, men just get to be men without any extra effort at all, it would seem. (Or do they? I only half believe this and I think it would be a great subject for an upcoming post. How hard do you have to work to be seen as a ‘real’ man? Quite hard, I guess.) By that, I mean that men don’t have to prove themselves to be good fathers, househusbands or lovers in order to be successful in their career of choice. Men get away with being complete shits in their personal life, while being celebrated as a good writers, doctors, whatever in the public sphere.
I have a Wonder Woman keyring. In some ways I find it empowering to look at (hell yeah I’m Wonder Woman!), in other ways it puts me under a lot of pressure (Oh no, now I have to do EVERYTHING.). It makes me remember that I not only have to be what I want to be – a good writer, artist, friend, lover, feminist, ally, sister – but also what society and my family think I should be – gainfully employed for money (none of this volunteering bullshit), a good daughter, beautiful (read thin), wife, mother, and a whole bunch more. Sometimes I feel like Wonder Woman. Sometimes just thinking about all the things I want to do, plus all the things other people think I should do, makes me want to explode.
And people think women are the weaker sex? We must be superheroes in order to be able to keep all this shit together!
These ideas make me think of the stereotypes we have about men when they’re ill. When my Dad has a cold he stays in bed feeling sorry for himself, stops working so much, and tells everyone he meets just how ill he is (I do this too). When my mother is ill, unless she cannot physically stand up, she will carry on doing the cooking, cleaning, farming, working and looking after my Dad. She also doesn’t complain about it. This isn’t because she wants to, but because she has no choice. She is a woman, and she needs to keep her shit together.
I want to be a writer, filmmaker and photographer. Society (with a capital S) says I have to be a good daughter, career woman, heterosexual etc etc etc. I also have depression. I am pretty sure it is the overwhelming coming-together of all these conflicting demands that has made me ill. I think I have depression because at some point the weight of all the things I should be crushed all the things I want to be under a big heap of sexist concrete. I feel like I am stuck underneath a fucking concrete mountain and now I have to dig my way out of it using a tattered self-help book and a spoon (obscure T-Shirt potential: I got buried under a big pile of concrete and all I got was this lousy spoon.). (You know when you can’t tell whether a metaphor is genius or incomprehensibly obscure to anyone who doesn’t live in your mind? That was one of them. )
Talk about being a superwoman. I am supposed to be a successful blogger, put on a party and make a zine while ignoring the fact that I have depression? I don’t think so!
I think that ignoring the superhuman effort it takes for someone with depression to even get dressed in the mornings is part of the evil ideology that makes people like me depressed in the first place. If I weren’t a woman, if I weren’t gay, I honestly don’t think I would have had to go through all the bullshit in my life that made me this ill. And not talking about depression only contributes to the conspiracy of silence that keeps people like me ashamed and putting ourselves under a lot of self-hating pressure:
‘I need to get better now! I need to get better now!’ Why? To please myself or someone else? As a woman, I am always spending my energy trying to please other people. Even when this effort exhausts me.
It is a fact that LGBT people have more mental health problems than straight people. It is a fact that people of colour are more likely to die from stress-related illnesses than white people. Racism literally kills. And I am sure it’s a fact, even though I can’t find a link for it, that sexism kills women too. When I think of brilliant female writers, I think of Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf. It’s pretty sad that, as a female writer, some of my strongest role models are women who are equally famous for having committed suicide.
That’s why I am writing this now. I’m not going to wait until I’m dead, especially as I am hoping that time will be way in the future.
So, when I sit here in my bedroom, beating myself up for not having written anything for my blog, maybe I should remember; I’m not Wonder Woman. And maybe it’s even feminist not to be. I shouldn’t try to be everything to everyone – Laura the blogger, Laura the good daughter, Laura the good friend. Maybe I should just give myself a break.
Tomorrow I am going away to meditate in the woods for a while and won’t be posting here until the third week of February. But no fear, here is plenty of reading to mull over in the meantime. You can also check out my links sidebar (on the right) and find other awesome feminist and queer blogs. I’m just sayin’…
“A couple of weeks ago I got an email from a young woman, a college student, who claimed that her professor had assigned her entire class a special little assignment, for extra credits, for students who could track down my legal name and bring it to class. This young woman had tried and tried, she said, to find it online, but couldn’t, and she really wanted those extra marks. Would I be so kind as to just tell her?”
Reading this opening of Ivan Coyote’s latest story, I was pretty – well, not shocked, I guess, because I wasn’t surprised. But I was upset. Sometimes I forget what it must be like living on the borders of gender, carving your own path. As I said in my previous post, reminders like these make me want to be a better trans ally. To do my little bit. And then I got to thinking about the whole grammar thing of using “they” as a singular third-person pronoun, and I got a little bit obsessed. It turns out, there is a lot of historical precedent to using gender neutral pronouns in English and a tonne of research on the subject.
A Lipstick Terrorist’s Guide to Beating the ‘they’ Doubters:
1. First of all, If you are looking for a 2-minute ‘I told-you-so’ to show the ‘they’ doubters before you move onto reading about another subject, this is the place for you. As it is made by a dictionary, any grammar snobs will be super impressed by its air of authority. I can’t embed it here because WordPress is being stupid.
4. And then there’s the fact that you’re being a big transphobic plonker if you don’t use the pronouns your friends and peers ask you to. For anyone who feels that they (yes, that’s the singular they in action folks! See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?) could learn more about trans etiquette and manners, go here. I know I certainly could. And this is another really helpful resource for people who are new to having trans folks in their life.
Lastly, for a little fun, here’s a little song the Canadian singer Rae Spoon wrote that we can all sing together:
So Santa please won’t you get me something naughty? Erm, I blame catching the xxx-mas bug on being on Oxford Street in London right now. BIG NEWS guys! Copies of the Dressed Like That zine are now up for sale in Berlin at my friends’ awesome sex shop Other Nature. So now you can go buy eco, vegan sex toys and pick up some fine literature along the way. What more could you want? Zines cost €5, which isn’t bad for 44 pages of fem(me)inism. Christmas presents anyone?
Don’t forget, a fully translated (German/English) edition of Dressed Like That will be out next year, just in time for the release party. To find out more, sign up for email updates using the button on the right!
A little reminder for those of you on this side of the Channel that I will be conducting a workshop/panel discussion hybrid on sexism in the queer community at Bildwechsel’s Zine Action Day in Hamburg. This is actually happening tomorrow, not today as previously advertised. I will also be selling copies of the zine. Check out the deets here (yes I did just say deets).
And, just for kicks, more vaginas courtesy of Ismael.
For all of you who are new here and have followed the pages of the zine to this, my other creation, welcome! It’s great to have you here. This weekend, I and some dedicated friends staffed a Dressed Like That table at Zinefest Berlin. It was a wonderful occasion with the promised vulva cupcakes causing quite a stir (see pic below). I believe they have now gone viral on Twitter. Oh deary me, so many joke possibilities…
From the feedback I have had about the zine, most of you thought it was pretty darn awesome. With 18 kick-ass contributions, I couldn’t agree more. Thanks to all of you who bought it / traded with me and happy reading! For those of you who are monolingual and wondering how the hell you are gonna read some of the German texts, or have non-English-speaking German friends, there will be a fully bilingual edition coming out in January 2012, to premiered at our fantabulous release party. Details up here soon…
And now for the cheeky self-promotion. Well, it is my blog so I guess I can do what I darn well please. The lovely folks from Bildwechsel have invited me to be part of the Zine Action Day in Hamburg this weekend. For those of you who don’t know, Bildwechsel in an awesome charity which promotes feminist art and artists. (For folks reading this in the UK, there is a branch in Glasgow so check that out!) Along with another zine-maker from Finland, I will be conducting a workshop slash panel discussion on sexism in the queer community. I ran a similar workshop at the Queer Festival in Copenhagen earlier this year and I fully expect this one to bring up as much food for thought. If you happen to be in this small corner of Europe, come check it out! I will also have copies of the zine up for grabs.