eumelia: (Default)
One of my favourite courses in Uni this year is Intro to Queer Theory.
It's taught by Amalia Ziv, which I've mentioned on this blog before in various contexts, mainly to fangrrl, because she's a queer academic icon [dykon].

One of the requirements of the class is to write and hand in commentary on at least three articles that we are reading throughout the Semester.
I took my time writing these commentaries, because I wasn't sure what to expect from the class and I wanted to see how I managed in the actual class discussions.
I do very well, by the way, if I may brag for just a second. I'm a participant, I always find myself saying something, or responding to something someone else has said.
Amalia knows my name and looks at me when there's a lull in a discussion.
It is quite awesome.

The article I wrote a commentary for is "Oral History and the Study of Sexuality in the Lesbian Community: Buffalo, New York, 1940-1960" by Madeline Davis and Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy.

A large portion of the article is detailing the unique historiography of the pre-Gay Liberation Lesbian Community, especially the Bar Scene and the Butch-Femme dynamic within the community.
Butch-Femme relationships were the norm of that time and place and what's really great is that all the information comes straight from the women who were a part of that community - hence oral history.

What's really interesting is that the Butch-Femme dynamic (as presented in the article) is part of a working-class community. That the social norms formed the sexual practice of Butch/Femme sexuality.
I'm not sure what my own view on gender are, other than the fact that it is a socially constructed category and that there are many facets and ranges on the various gender expressions. So when I first encountered the idea of Butch/Femme, which is arguably the most known Lesbian stereotype found in various mainstream ideas about how Lesbians behave, I was sure what it was just that.
A stereotype.
The realisation that I was mistaken came long before reading this article (well, not too long, but enough time to not be completely floored by what was written in the article), that Butch and Femme identities weren't just Lesbian women who took on specific roles that replicated Straight ones - I mean, that's such a reduction of the dynamics and relationships!

I'm a bit ashamed of myself for ever thinking that sort of thing.

I think what impressed me the most is the parallel development of this specific Lesbian community in the 1940's and 1950's with mainstream culture. I mean, it's well known that during WW2 women found themselves working and supporting themselves without men. It's really not too far fetched to imagine some of them making the most of this period of time to explore other avenues of sexuality. The War is not mentioned explicitly in the article, though I think it was certainly a factor.
In the 1950's the whole Domestic Goddess ideal and being supportive for the husband. Not to mention that it was probably the most sexually repressed time since the Victorians.
While Straight society was doing their best to have sex for reproductive purposes (this of course merely the ideal of what went on - Kinsey showed things to be quite different) the Lesbian community was all about experimenting with sexuality.
The Lesbian scene was actually an arena of openness and expression.

What really impressed me in the article was the sexual mentor role that Femmes played in the 1940's and how it expanded in the 1950's to older Butches teaching younger Butches proper sexual etiquette.

I think that's something that's really missing from our current modern society.
We're expected to get into bed with a partner and "know" them by virtue of being human - "let nature take its course" - but that that's such bullshit.
I mean, sex is something we have to learn, some part are intuitive, but certainly not all.
I mean, why is intercourse still considered the be all and end all of "proper" sex still, when for half the population (women), having a piece of flesh pressing inside them isn't the highlight.

I think if the conflation between love/sex were actually culturally separated it would be easier for people to find people to teach them how to gain pleasure from their bodies and create pleasure for another.
Basically, if the perception wasn't that people are for gaining sexual gratification, but rather than it is gratifying to be sexual with other people, maybe sex in Western culture wouldn't be so fucked up.

And Lesbian sex would actually be regarded as sex and not, you know, an empty space waiting for a cock.

That ended on a rant didn't it...

Still worth thinking about.

And have a...
Happy Hannukah!
Merry Yule!
And may this long Solstice Night pass quickly and may the days be lengthy.


Light My Candle )
eumelia: (bollocks)
My tolerance for people has never been particularly high. I'm very picky about the people I'm willing to be friends with and I unfortunately tend to form strong opinions very quickly, so if someone said, done or have an attitude that grates me... I'm afraid it would take a hell of a lot to make me consider that someone worth any kind of positivity from me.

The one kind of attitude I can't fucking stand, really, it pisses me off beyond grating, is the "I'm so speshul" attitude.

A small disclaimer; I have my own incidences in which I'm completely narcissistic and think I'm the best thing that ever happened. This is a normal thing for people who know they're smart, I think.
But when [editorial] you are only saying something in a class discussion that isn't in aid of putting forth a standpoint, but in fact to put yourself in the spot light, you're an ass.
No, really.
You are.
I'm sorry I'm being vague, but I dislike demonizing particular people on the Internet, especially since I'm not locking this post as it's actually something worth talking about.

In a class forum, especially in a class in which sexuality and gender identity is on the table (it being a Queer Theory class), your own individual personal sexuality isn't what's being discussed.
It's one thing and a very good thing, to say out loud, that the discussion is excluding certain sexualities and identities (e.g. bisexuality and genderqueer). It's another to say that it affects you personally.
No, sorry, that's someone with an attitude problem.
And I may sound harsh, but I cannot stand it when people decide to use a class forum to show off their "spedhulness".
It's neither the time nor the place.
You want to talk about your own sexuality, there are breaks and after-class discussions. I mean, c'mon, we're a bunch of intellectual queers... this is what we do.
It rubs me the wrong way.
I (try to) participate in classes. I have things to say. I try to make them a standpoint and not a "personal opinion" or a "personal issue" mainly because, every word I say is ideological and very obviously a "personal" thing, unless I'm very specifically playing Devil's Advocate - but that's a whole different kettle of fish (where does that saying come from).

There are certain types of "speshul" people.
Not just the type described above.

There's also the type that feels the need to tell you, that because they like something in a certain way, then liking that same something in a different way is wrong.
For example, I was talking to this person about Alan Moore and how I'm really pre-supposed to hating the new "Watchmen" movie, mainly because I hate, despise Zack Snyder.
Hate. That. Director.
A lot.
Aesthetics mean a lot... but not enough to cover up the badness and complete lack of directorial abilities.
But I digress.
Any way, this person totally agrees and inside I'm all "yay, Moore fan!" and then he says "I really hated the Vendetta movie as well".
And I was like "What? How come? I mean, it was a very cute adaptation? Wachowski Sibs!"
He goes: "It completely butchered the meaning of the book, which is one of the few works that managed to show Anarchy as interesting".
(I refrain from bringing up "The Dispossessed" by Ursula K. Le Guin).
I say: "I enjoyed it and..." before I can finish my thought about the movie making it's own statement about freedom, government and other things like that, he interrupts and says:
"I guess I'm more of a political hard-liner than you"

What is with people?
Do you know me? I think not. I'll tell you something, I now know this guy a hell of a lot better now than before and I hope the hostility I transmit reaches him loud and clear.

People are people, I know.
And I can understand how misanthropy develops and becomes ones default position when it comes to interaction with others.
I really hope I retain my love for humanity for a little bit longer, despite the fact that I'm encountering these characters.
eumelia: (Default)
It's amazing how much our perceptions are just a matter of arbitrary perspective.

Yesterday, I was telling my parents about the LGBT studies and Queer theory conference that went on at Uni (the eighth "The Other Sex" con at Tel-Aviv University) and was asked if everyone there was as strange as I.

They said it as a joke (or not, I try not to dwell), but I couldn't help but think about it in a more critical way.

Am I strange?
I mean, really?
And in any event, define "not strange", or "normal", or "normative" - none of those are synonymous.
So beyond that little venture into semantics land, I have to say that this year's conference was fun, as I actually knew some of the people speaking on the panels and understood the theory that was being discussed there. Last year, was my first Queer academic conference and there was a whole lot that I didn't understand, other than what I had actually experienced as a queer person.

Where was I?
Oh, yes, the "strangeness".

Walking down the street, in my day to day life, I wear my political identity on my sleeve; which not everyone gets, understandably so, I suppose. Most of the time I feel as though I somehow escape the scrutiny of the hegemony because I don't break any societal conventions in the way I present myself to the world (correct me if I'm wrong IRL people). But I'm aware of where I and the "mainstream" meet and conflict, that place where I know that I don't fit into the categories society assumes to subject me to.

And today, at this conference, it's always amazing to hear the theories that describe the reality in which we live and the people who, along with me, don't fit the *deep breath* Patriarchal-heterosexist-Ashkenazi (i.e. white)-Jewish-nationalistic hegemony.

There is always a problem of representation. There wasn't any panel (that I saw) that touched on Bisexual identity specifically, there wasn't a whole lot about Trans' issues and there was a lot of Judith Butler bashing, which seems to be a trend in current post-structural theory and philosophy - which I don't get, personally.

There was a whole lot of talk on Queer identity, which a lot of times is used as an umbrella term for LGBT, but as (the amazing) Amalia Ziv said this evening, Queer is also an adjective and a verb... but not everyone has an identity which is fluid and shifting and changing.

I consider myself and call myself queer in certain circles, but I know that my some members of my family don't understand what I mean by "queer", but "bisexual" - with the baggage that word carries, is something most people who aren't queer themselves and know queer culture - is easier to understand, because it holds within the binary mainstream society insists we live as either homo or hetero, being bi is a little skew from that, but there is the option of one way or the other - with Queer, the options, the categories, themselves are put into question.

And that's what I felt what the conference was about; mainly about literary texts and more theorizing than practicality... but hey, this is academia, sometimes theory is the praxis.


eumelia: (Default)

June 2015

 12345 6

V and Justice

V: Ah, I was forgetting that we are not properly introduced. I do not have a name. You can call me V. Madam Justice...this is V. V... this is Madam Justice. hello, Madam Justice.

Justice: Good evening, V.

V: There. Now we know each other. Actually, I've been a fan of yours for quite some time. Oh, I know what you're thinking...

Justice: The poor boy has a crush on adolescent fatuation.

V: I beg your pardon, Madam. It isn't like that at all. I've long admired you...albeit only from a distance. I used to stare at you from the streets below when I was a child. I'd say to my father, "Who is that lady?" And he'd say "That's Madam Justice." And I'd say "Isn't she pretty."

V: Please don't think it was merely physical. I know you're not that sort of girl. No, I loved you as a person. As an ideal.

Justice: What? V! For shame! You have betrayed me for some harlot, some vain and pouting hussy with painted lips and a knowing smile!

V: I, Madam? I beg to differ! It was your infidelity that drove me to her arms!

V: Ah-ha! That surprised you, didn't it? You thought I didn't know about your little fling. But I do. I know everything! Frankly, I wasn't surprised when I found out. You always did have an eye for a man in uniform.

Justice: Uniform? Why I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about. It was always you, V. You were the only one...

V: Liar! Slut! Whore! Deny that you let him have his way with you, him with his armbands and jackboots!

V: Well? Cat got your tongue? I though as much.

V: Very well. So you stand revealed at last. you are no longer my justice. You are his justice now. You have bedded another.

Justice: Sob! Choke! Wh-who is she, V? What is her name?

V: Her name is Anarchy. And she has taught me more as a mistress than you ever did! She has taught me that justice is meaningless without freedom. She is honest. She makes no promises and breaks none. Unlike you, Jezebel. I used to wonder why you could never look me in the eye. Now I know. So good bye, dear lady. I would be saddened by our parting even now, save that you are no longer the woman I once loved.


-"V for Vendetta"


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