Tags: smith: issues: trans

broccoli quote from SIKOS 2002

trans issues, single-sex institutions, blah blah blah

The panel discussion (and accompanying Q&A) on feminism and transgender was mostly people agreeing with each other, but then again, who’s gonna stand up at Smith and say stuff that could be interpreted as transphobic? Though if that were really true, tomorrow’s debate at Senate wouldn’t be happening.

I liked Stacey-whoselastnameididn’tcatch (and who is possibly the first trans-woman ever to be invited to speak at Smith) the best of the panelists (in large part because she said things i hadn’t already heard before).

In her opening she talked about feminism necessarily being a reaction to patriarchy, since in a world without patriarchy “feminism” would just mean something like “promotion of the feminine.” And patriarchy is all about hierarchy, about one group having control over another (“and not in a safe, sane, consensual, manner” *g*). It’s about purity and boundaries, so if feminism is in opposition to patriarchy, it must be in opposition to hierarchy and boundaries and suchlike.

She said at Camp Trans one year, one very loud and angry MichiganFest woman asked them not to film her, and Stacey asked “Are you not proud of your opinion?” and the woman replied “Well, yes, I think I am. But I don’t know how I’ll feel in 10 years, and I don’t want this in the Lesbian Herstory Archives.” I am all about owning what you say, but i am so impressed that this woman realized that her opinions might well change, and have a lot of respect for her for that.

Stacey said that various trans-women have told her trans-women are less welcome at Smith than non-trans-men. She said it doesn’t matter if that’s true, what matters is that a lot of trans-women feel that way, and that’s something we at Smith really need to think about. (She also pointed out that the term “biological woman” is problematic since what is she, made out of plastic? Certainly she’s biological.)

Talking about just what is “man” or “woman,” Stacey said “I have a piece of paper saying I’m diagnosably confused about this issue” :)

She said that many times the issue is not what is the answer, but why do we ask the question?

“The time you spend worrying about what other people think about you is deducted from your time in Heaven -- and more importantly, from your time on Earth. ... I care about how people treat me. ... I don’t care how sincere you are, just let me in.” -Stacey

Stacey talked a lot about intention. She said discrimination is like fire: it is both good and dangerous, and should be treated with caution. So if you’re making an exclusive space, that can be a very good thing, but think about why you’re doing it, and make sure that it really is a good thing.

The bathroom issue came up (women feeling unsafe with men in the same bathroom with them), and Mitch pointed out that rapists are not gonna stay out just because there’s a Female sign on the bathroom (though it occurred to me later, that it’s much harder to sneak into a public restroom when you look like you don’t belong -- an obvious male, for example -- than when you can pass as belong, so there is some grounds for the fear of rape -- though really, how many trans-women are gonna rape someone in a public restroom? how many male rapists are gonna dress up as women in order to rape someone in a public restroom?). An audience member said that she works with an organization that helps GLBT folk who are recovering from domestic violence, so even in a same-sex environment, you are not necessarily in a “safe space.”

Jennifer Walters talked about the opportunity to be “whole” (as in, the opportunity she finds single-sex institutions provide for many people) and later an audience member pointed out the classism etc. that exists at Smith, and of course that’s true, but being me my immediate thought at Jennifer Walters’ statement was “If you are a conservative at Smith, you do not get to be a whole person, not without struggle anyway.”

Walking with H. afterwards, i mentioned the fact that i’m really not committed to the idea of single-sex education. She said she’s never understood why i’m at Smith if i feel like that. (And it honestly isn’t because i like to be a pain in the ass. I was far less obnoxious in high school than i am now, in fact.) My best friend in high school and i both applied Early Decision to colleges that happened to be single-sex institutions, but we were both rather indifferent to that fact. We loved our colleges of choice for many reasons, and the gender makeup was incidental. So i often forget that it’s anomalous to be at such an institution and not be all gung-ho about that aspect of institutions. Am i really the only Smithie who feels this way? I’m not saying Smith should go co-ed, of course. The single-sex aspect is obviously of great value to many people, and i don’t think i wanna say that their arguments are the suck (though i think that the fact that you aren’t allowed to have all-male institutions is rather unfair, though i understand the arguments -- i need to read the full text of Title IX at some point).

Talking about my applying to Smith, H. said “You weren’t queer then,” and of course that’s a deeply offensive statement, but i didn’t even realize that until she said “Wow, that was offensive” because of course i knew what she meant. And in a sense she was right, since while in retrospect i can trace self-queerness back to at least 7th grade, i didn’t realize i was queer until midway through my senior year of high school.

I actually can’t remember if i knew Smith was Home of The Gay when i applied. (I have an amazing ability to live under a rock.) I remember that it seemed like every adult i mentioned Smith to either had never heard of it or had some friend or relation who had graduated from it and loved it, but i don’t think anyone mentioned teh gay, even Mrs. Flemer (whose daughter was Smith ‘03 and who talked a lot about Smith to me my last year in high school). I don’t remember being surprised by teh gay when i got here, either, though.
you think you know...

update (this is what happens when i don't update for days)

We’ve been learning interesting things about “The Waste Land” in Michael’s class, though i’m not really in love with the poem. Sean-from-Hampshire brought in a CD that superimposed a recording of T.S. Eliot reading “The Waste Land” over the bassline of an Eminem tribute to Dr. Dre. Yeah, that was a fun way to begin a Thursday morning :)

Michael made the midterm optional so you can either do 3 short papers or 2 papers and the midterm. I am very excited about this.

Having both seen “Shells” (Angel 5.16), Allie and i discussed death and finality over lunch. This topic deserves its own post at some point.

Betsey said our final paper is gonna be tracing a single fairy tale; i am very excited about this.

Got my UMass paper back. Various “good”s and such like, and then
Elizabeth - Isabel is an intriguing subject and she makes perceptive comments. Your accompanying analysis is also insightful and is well-rooted in the context of the assigned readings. I enjoyed reading this.
Full marks, woot.

I had just read the “May 18: Final paper due by 5pm” bit on the syllabus for my UMass class, but reading it again i saw in another section: “The final paper will be given in the form of a take-home essay exam.” I already knew i was gonna be doing next to nothing once Smith ended (the last 2 meetings of my UMass class are like make-believe classes) but now it looks like i'll have even more free time, as i don't expect the exam to take me more than a day. Maybe i’ll finally get to see some valley_slash people again. I will also finally have time to do some clothes shopping (though i may get some done over Spring Break).

As part of class, we get shown stuff in the media, about romance, body image, fairy tale imagery in advertising, corporal punishment, and, most recently, the evils of Disney. A good chunk of class on Thursday was a film called “Mickey Mouse Goes to Haiti” which was all about how horribly the Disney Corporation treats its workers in Haiti. Sometimes i feel like i’m in a Smith class with the issue tangents the profs do in that class.

Went to the Mommy Myth reading Thursday night. Sat with Heather and co-liaison Jaimie. Jay was the one who introduced Meredith Michaels, and he talked about how she has published really interesting things about identity and such, but you wouldn’t know from her talk that it was co-sponsored by the philosophy department as there was nothing about philosophy in her readings.

The subtitle of her book is “The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined Women,” and that encapsulates what the entertaining reading from her introduction talked about, but it wasn’t anything i hadn’t already heard before. She also read from part of a chapter about welfare and the stigmatization thereof, but again, nothing new to me. (One interesting thing was how “mom” has become a positive term -- e.g. soccer mom, stay-at-home-mom -- but “mother” has become a negative term -- e.g. welfare mother, unwed mother.)

One of the best bits came when she was introducing her talk. She and co-author Susan Douglas were raising daughters at the same time. Meredith refused to allow Barbies into her house. Susan, in contrast, had a house littered with Barbies because her daughter demanded them and she trusted kid her kid to not be brainwashed by Barbie, being raised in a feminist household. I thought that was a really interesting idea, how much do we trust our kids, or anyone really, to not be brainwashed by society? This of course gets us back to one of my constant gripes, that anyone in politics or activism [and certainly i do it myself] has that condescending “We know The Way, The Light, and The Truth, but you are confused, uneducated, brainwashed, misinformed, evil, whatever, so we don’t trust you to make decisions for yourself and will make them for you.” My personal issue with buying Barbies for kids is that i can’t stomach financially supporting the company.

One of the last questions came from a 10-year-old boy who had this long question involving “paternal unit.” My parents and i joke about parental units, maternal and paternal, but it’s faux-pretension or whatever. I didn’t actually follow the entire question, but clearly it involved something about fathers, and there was definitely nothing about fathers in her answer. The more Q&As i go to, the more cynical i get about people not actually answering questions. Sure you might be throwing out quality information, but if it’s not the information requested, shove it.

dykotomy summed it up well:
what did everyone think about this lecture? i was not so impressed, although the presenter/author was humorous. it seems pretty obvious that motherhood is stressful and difficult and women may feel burdened by not being the perfect mom that we are conditioned to expect them to be. and racism/classism clearly make these pressures of motherhood far more difficult and cause some mothers to be judged in a demeaning/dehumanizing manner.

i didnt get what the proposed solution might be- more relaxed expectations of mothers? increased responsibilities for other family members in raising children? social supports?
I considered skipping out early to go see Mona Lisa Smile (Rec Council movie) with susiebabylon but didn’t.

I forget what i said, but something prompted “That’s why there need to be more Elizabeth [surname]s in the world.” Also: “When you’re a gov professor, I’m gonna come and ask you about the war in Iraq and gay marriage and you’ll say ‘Bitch, it’s been legal for 20 years‘ and I’ll say, “Yes, but tell me how they relate.’ ” Clearly i need to become a gov professor just so this can happen :)

Hella nice reception, though i couldn’t partake of the wine (4 months and change...). I had tons of fruit and cheese and did a little helping with chairs.

9:30-ish we left and i walked back with her to Chapin and then we chatted in Chapin dining room for quite a while. Quoting from her LJ: "And then it somehow got to be 2:30. Goddammit, if a girl is going to stay until 2:30, why can't it be that kind of girl? Nothing personal."

Went to All’s Well That Ends Well at Umass on Friday. Saw Adam there. Why do Josh and Adam spend more time with Kate than i do? [We all met on the Oxford trip, and Kate and i go to Smith while they both go to UMass.] Didn’t wait the 20 minutes (which turned into 30, making the wait 5 minutes longer than the ride) for the bus with me because he is not a super sweetheart; sigh. He seemed to actually enjoy chatting with me (i hate when i can’t tell if people are just being nice) and i have his phone number now, so hopefully after Spring Break we can get together sometime.

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Saturday night, Emma and i went to see Cabaret at Hampshire.

Amusingly, Sam (my friend at Hampshire) was gonna be in Northampton that night seeing some friends play at a bar. I had a map and directions from her, not to mention a good 45 minutes to kill, so we figured we’d be fine. Thankfully, neither of us minded all the walking we did that evening trying to find Prescott Tavern. Emma’s friend Lilah goes to Hampshire, so she joked that maybe if she yelled “Lilah!” she would come and take us there. It turned out that we had in fact walked through the complex where the Tavern is, 2 or 3 times, we had just thought it couldn’t be the right place as it looked like it was all residential buildings. But we got there in time to still have our ticket reservations honored, so all was good.

Director’s note:
Getting this production of CABARET to become a reality has been a long process. Two years ago I first set out to do this project, but quickly realized that with 7 classes it was impossible to also produce a fill-fledged musical. When the time came to figure out what to do for my Division III project, I knew that CABARET was what I wanted to do. In my Division II work, I explored questions of sexuality, and how these issues -- homosexuality, sex, gender stereotypes, HIV/Aids, prostitution, abortion -- were reflected in musical theater. Several questions I posed to myself through the process were: how can sexuality be portrayed through performance? How does theater use sexuality to entertain? What makes a work “risqué?” When CABARET first opened on Broadway in 1966, the production was considered daring dangerous, and risqué. By today’s standards the 1966 original was tame. The script was revised in 1987, giving each of the characters more depth, allowing each character to embrace his or her own sexuality.
Damn, i really should get in touch with the director, ‘cause i’m really fascinated by so much of that.

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We hung out in the Tavern until they started to close down, as we had ages to wait for our bus. While waiting at the bus stop, someone called “Emma!” ‘Twas Lilah :) She was on her way somewhere, but was cool to bump into her.

Quote of the night Sunday: from Liz Liedel at Tangent: My preferred pronoun is “The student.”
*g* Okay, background: Check-in usually involves stating your preferred pronouns if you want, and last year the SGA (Student Government Association) replaced all “she/her” language in its constitution to variations on “the student,” a move which is currently up for revote, and Liz is the SGA President.

We had a lot of interesting discussion about trans people at Smith and what the purpose of Smith is and suchlike. I forget if Tangent has one of those safe space policies about not attaching people’s names to stuff when repeating ideas brought up at meetings, so i’ll just use initials. And clearly this isn’t the sum total of every argument there is, or even of everything that was brought up tonight.

LC said that he thought of Smith as being a place for people who have/do suffer gender discrimination, and that if he thought it was a women-only space he would leave, which i thought was interesting, and certainly more consistent than some positions i have heard.

Talking about the revote, LF said that people have said stuff like “What if someone identifies as an alien, or a rabbit, or whatever, should we change the language for them?” and her feeling is that the SGA is about representing Smith students, and regardless of however else you identify, if you are a Smith student, you are a student. We agreed that the language isn’t particularly empowering, but it doesn’t disempower anyone either, and not everything at Smith has to be explicitly about empowerment. R jokingly asked if we should coalition-build with SSFFS re: alien-identified students.

S talked about men upsetting the dynamic in classes, whether they are trans- or bio-men, and that of course that already exists as 5-College kids can and do take classes here, but it’s something that needs to be taken into consideration when we think about this issue. Hmm. I don’t like Robby all that much, but i don’t think he “upsets the dynamic” of the class i have with him any more than anyone else who has comments i find annoying does. I have had few males, trans or no in my classes, but there are plenty of overpowering women in classes (isn’t that what Smith is about?) and honestly, if i were a man in a Smith class, esp. anything WST-ish, i would feel intimidated, ‘cause you’re hella outnumbered.

Do i skip Lenten book study for the trans-feminism panel [Mon. Mar. 22, 7:30, Neilson Browsing Room]? I’ll already have missed one for Spring Break, and the following week we aren’t meeting but are going to the Julian of Norwich talk at HHHC.

Senate debates the potential SGA constitution revote the next night. Who are my Senators, anyway? I”ll be attending, but i should talk to my Senators as well.

Rec Council movie this week is Gothika. I’m going to Cloud 9 at Hampshire on Thursday. Am still undecided as to whether i’ll go to the movie on Tuesday.

Oh, and it’s this Monday, not last Monday, that Philadelphia is showing at Wright, 8pm, my mistake.

Oh, and there's a lunchtime talk (CC 103, noon) about queer rights in Israel this Monday (today) because clearly there isn't enough going on in my life this week.

Gillian says we’re gonna have a standing date for me to come over and have tea at her Friedman next year. This makes me happy. I don’t see people often enough..

There will be a post about Spring Break plans later this week.

Now i need to go to bed. Wanna meet with Randy before class because i really don’t understand how i’m supposed to do some of this problem set given what we have learned so far.
you think you know...

notes from the day

I think i got a nice solid C on my Soc exam. This morning i slept later than i’d meant to (because i totally haven’t gotten enough sleep recently) and skipped the Women Mystics class i’m auditing to study for my Soc exam. For two days i have stared uncomprehendingly at the pages and left the book open in front of me hoping i could utilize some sort of osmosis. So the time i would have been in class i helped my brother edit his application essay for National Honor Society (that boy can write) and fumed at LJ immaturity. This is my life. It was so warm out today. High of 82 i think it was. And walking home at 11:30pm i still didn’t need my sweatshirt. Craziness. I wore my t-shirt that says "smart is sexy" --dana scully (which i got for only $4 from wendy of subject to change zine at BZ4) which makes me happy, though it doesn’t actually make me smart ;)

I am a cheap whore. The following (thanks, lilithchilde) makes me way too happy:
"No. Unfortunately not."
-- Actor Ewan McGregor, asked by Out magazine if he ever had sex with a man, in the April issue.
Our imaginary co-authored thesis will be titled The Decapitalization of Luv. Yea verily i say so.

Going over some old stuff i read this and came across the following from my mom. It’s an exchange from early February between her boss and his young daughter, who turns four in November.
“Hi, Muffin.”
“Hello, pancake. And Mommy is a waffle. And Nolee is an egg.”
(Nolee is her nanny.) The way kids play with words is just wonderful.

After dinner i fixed Jane’s computer (changed the settings so it doesn’t go into standby). I like when i can be helpful in a simple easy way.

Layna was coming back to her room right when i left Jane’s room, so i got to hang out with her and her sister Liz until they left for the poetry reading -- which i could have gone to had i known in advance Buffy would be postponed. *glares*

Inquiring minds want to know where i got the phrase “of the good.”

So, there’s a proposal to change the female pronouns in the SGA constitution to “the student.” Some people get all freaked out like we’re gonna start admitting biological males or something. They just want the SGA constitution to accurately reflect the entire student body, since that’s what the SGA is supposed to do. In my more aggravated moments, i side with the Jolter who said i move we change all pronouns to 'the fucker'

Today’s professor quote on the Jolt:
" Who owns your orgasm? And this is not a rhetorical question."
Prof Pat Miller Soc 210a Deviant Behavior at the start of her lecture on homophobia
I’ve gotta take that class sometime.

"lame faux drama from people who i don't really expect better of anyway" -stumbledhere
I am insulted. Every time i begin a reply, though, it falls apart. Why am i even trying with someone who can’t deal with people to their faces? That’s it. I’m done. For real. Because seriously, it really is "lame faux drama from people who i don't really expect better of anyway."

I have not yet seen Buffy episode 7.18 “Dirty Girls.” Do not tell me what happens in it. (And um, UPN, showing a repeat next week is not helping you into anyone’s good graces.)