I know what you mean by that last post. (I would post on there but I'm tumblr dumb). Anyway, this is something I struggle with as well. I've been thinking about the way people perceive me and how it's probably totally wrong. I don't know about you, but I get so frustrated when people never get to see my personality, and are left thinking I'm just a dimply smile. I know that it's my own fault but how can you change this when it feels natural to just put up a friendly facade? I've been thinking about this a lot so let me know if you come up with a remedy to be more real I guess. Man, I managed to make this mostly about me.
I’m glad you could tell me this from your point of view though!
I especially agree with “I know that it’s my own fault but how can you change this when it feels natural to just put up a friendly facade?
I feel that it is really different with friends, who can see how awesome you are from all perspectives, including aspects that are not dimply smiles.
I suppose that’s one way to combat this: to make close friends.
I’m willing to bet that a lot of people we know battle with this secretly.
It hasn’t happened much lately, but as Enid is much less often acknowledged than Rebecca, so I am much less often acknowledged than some of my wonderful friends (understandably). This can be anything from acknowledgment of good looks (Rebecca is WASPy and therefore conventionally attractive) to acknowledgment of me as a human being (I am often ignored in social situations), to acknowledgment of my intelligence (I am not talkative). I know that it is an extremely narcissistic thing to even think about.
I can also relate to Enid on her feeling of constant need to change her appearance. Although I am much less likely to act on it than maybe some of my friends or Enid, I often feel that if I looked more punk, then people would acknowledge me in the way that I feel that I deserve to be acknowledged. For example, right now I have the most normal, drab brown hair in a plain long style with bangs. I dress androgynously, but not in a cool way, because I am chubbier than I have ever been and do not feel that I can look good in ultra-feminine clothes. Probably a lot of people who meet me think I am a conservative, straight, boring person who buys into capitalism when in reality, I am none of those things. I might be a bit boring, but I do think that I am kind of badass.
And I mean, I do realize that these are some extremely negative aspects of my personality and Enid Coleslaw’s. It’s probably worse for me since I’m a real person.
“Would u rather have a Beach House set list, or cut off a lock of Vicki LeGrand’s curly hair, then make a doll using her real hair called ‘Lil Vicki’, inspiring an indie version of ‘The Body Guard’ starring Whitney Houston + Kevin Costner?”—
Well I hate to say it but seeing Bright Eyes live ==> kind of a disappointment
I’m going to sound like the biggest motherfucking hipster cunt for saying it, but the crowd was too large. Bright Eyes only really played shit off The People’s Key and then crowd pleasers like “Lover I Don’t Have To Love”. I am glad they played “Poison Oak” and “An Attempt to Tip The Scales” but those are really the only ones I connected to even remotely. I guess I just don’t like Bright Eyes that much anymore. It’s weird, because my taste has just changed so much within the past year or two. I used to live for Saddle Creek. I scarcely/never listen to Rilo Kiley anymore. These bands just don’t give me the thrills that they used to. Maybe I’m not depressed anymore. I really think that’s why. I think that when I was younger, I was fifteen and anxious and depressed and now I’m just twenty and anxious. Maybe I used to be more self-loathing than I am now. I think that that is at least true of Conor Oberst himself. He was extremely happy and gracious at the National. It surprised me.
I ended up leaving early because I was really cold and sopping wet from riding my bike a mile in the freezing rain to get there. My legs hurt significantly when I got back on my bike; it was extremely difficult to first of all balance and second of all push off. When I got home, I felt drunk or just fucked up but I hadn’t had any alcohol since a single vanilla porter with breakfast. My legs were frozen and it took a few hours for them to get back to regular body temperature.
Do you use an instant back with your diana+ dreamer? If so, do you prefer the instant photos or 120mm photos?
I do use an Instant Back lately, but I prefer the 120 photos. They come out cleaner, and I find the film easier to use if that makes sense. I feel that for the Instant Back, even with the correction lens inside the camera, the focus is a little off. Instant gratification is nice, and I suppose it helps the photographer to learn from mistakes much faster, but I do like the mystery of having to wait for development. Plus, as the photos turn out better with 120 film, it’s definitely worth the wait.
Call people by their preferred name, pronouns, and label. Always. Even if you’re angry with them, even if they’re total jerks, even if they’re using gender-neutral pronouns that “sound weird” or “are hard to remember.”
Yes, even when they’re not around to hear. It’s a respect thing.
If you’ve met the person after transition: don’t ask to see pictures from “before,” or ask about their previous name, or otherwise quiz them on topics that are likely offensive/painful.
Don’t try to compliment people by telling them that they look like a “real [gender],” or that you “never would have known.”
Don’t make comments about the person’s gender presentation that you wouldn’t make to someone who was assigned that same gender at birth. Critiquing a trans woman’s makeup in detail, or offering a trans man suggestions on how to walk “like a guy,” is as rude as it would be if you were talking to a cis person.
Do not inform any third party that your sibling/parent/partner/whomever is trans without the trans person’s express permission, gotten in advance.
Don’t describe past situations by saying “When [person] was a [gender]…”
Don’t ever describe someone as a member of the wrong gender, even in a way that’s superficially nice. “But you’re so handsome as a man!” is unacceptable, as is “You were a lovely little girl.”
Words that you shouldn’t ever use: “tranny,” “shemale,” “he-she,” “shim.” Seriously. Even if your other trans friend told you it was okay. Just don’t say it.
Don’t make comments that fetishize trans people. “I love trans guys — they’re so hot!” is pretty belittling; so is “People like you are so exotic.” These kinds of statements reduce trans people to sex objects, as though we exist just to be that “exotic” kink or turn-on.
Don’t ever ever inquire about the state of someone’s genitals, about whether they’re having surgery, or about how they have sex. Ruuuuude.
Don’t make assumptions about someone’s sexual orientation. Some trans men are gay or bi, or asexual; likewise with some trans women. Genderqueer folks have sexual attractions that come in all stripes.
If someone’s gender is ambiguous, resist asking “What are you?” flat-out; though some people don’t mind or even relish it, for many it’s simply intrusive. Instead, try to pick up on the person’s identification through context. If you really don’t know, and really need to talk about the person in a gendered way, ask “What pronouns do you prefer?” or “How should I refer to you, gender-wise?” (Do this very politely, and in private if you can.) You don’t need to know every detail about the person’s identity — you only need the information that will allow you to speak to and about them respectfully.
More complex accommodations
Yes, it is certainly difficult to adapt to thinking of a person in a new way, particularly if you’ve known that person all your life. A period of discomfort, or even mourning, is not uncommon. But I challenge you to try to work through that — to understand that trans experiences are usually much harder for the trans people themselves — and to work earnestly on understanding, rather than becoming bogged down in regret.
Many aspects of these concepts can be confusing or difficult at first. (Maybe your trans son is still in a relationship with a lesbian … why? Maybe your trans sister chooses not to have surgery, though she could afford it … why?) However, most trans people do not wish to serve as constant educators; being asked to justify your choices, some of which are so instinctive that they’re beyond words, is tiring and draining for everyone. Be sure to think over your questions carefully, seeing if you can answer them with your own common sense, before you ask the trans individuals themselves.
If you’re in charge of a public bathroom of some sort — in a store, perhaps, or a university building or a workplace — you may wish to label it as unisex or “family.” Some, though not all, trans people are not comfortable or safe in either exclusively-men’s or exclusively-women’s facilities (maybe they’re pre-transition, maybe they present as androgynous and don’t want to be hassled). It’s not a big deal to put up a new sign, and it makes sense for reasons beyond trans issues; young children, for instance, are more easily able to enter unisex bathrooms with their other-gender parents.
Keep in mind that a gender-neutral bathroom should not be used to segregate trans from cis, but rather exist as a voluntary option. It’d be inappropriate to say “Trans women in the genderless lavatory, cis women in the women’s lavatory”; that sort of phrasing implies that trans women are different or unreal.
Refer to “all genders” or “any gender” (plural) rather than “both genders” or “either gender” (dual). Gender is not a salt-and-pepper set, with only two condiments on the table, if you want to think of it that way. It’s a much larger sort of system, including the possibilities of “male” and “female,” but not excluding anyone else either.
Occasionally — when you’re on the subway, maybe, or driving past a pedestrian — you’ll see someone whose gender you can’t decipher at first glance. A total stranger, not someone whose identity you actually might need to know. Your instinct is likely to take a closer look at the person, closer than you normally would, and try to figure out what gender they are. Avoid this, if you can, or at least stop yourself consciously in the midst of doing it. The person may not know the wiser, unless you’re outright staring, but this is an example of an invasive and transphobic behavior. It’s not the King of Indiscretions, but it needs to be treated seriously: you’d feel insulted if you were scrutinized in such a way (“is she or isn’t she?”) and so will most other people.
Trans people are not freaks. The label of “freakishness” can go either way: people may see it as something repugnant, creepy, or against nature — or they may consider it exotic, or especially erotic, or radical.
But transness is none of these things. It can’t be so easily characterized by that kind of shallow stereotype. It isn’t something super-special to be considered “cool” and “fascinating,” and it isn’t something super-gross or weird or barbaric. It’s just a Thing, a fact of some people’s existence, and when you assign it a moral meaning the actual facts can get lost in the theory.
Try to level out your thinking on trans issues, realizing that it’s more complex than either an “awful curse” or a “special gift,” but just is. … Some people, individually, will choose to embrace a freak identity. But that has to do with their individual journeys, rather than encompassing all of what trans means to everyone else.
A couple years ago my cousin told me she had started something called a “blog”. Despite my aversion to technology I began reading it and soon realized that there was a whole community of “bloggers”, many of whom were women of color writing about topics that resonated with me. One day I innocently followed a link on my cousin’s “blogroll” and found myself on a shiny, snarky ladyblog called: Jezebel.
This was a blog unlike any other, not just because it was by and for women, but because it was interactive. And so I figured, “Hey, I’m a woman! I will do this blogging!” I needed a screenname so I chose one that was an oblique reference to the furious cycle of flattery and flagellation that would follow. I had no idea how right I’d be.
The Birth of MizJenkins
I also had to pick an avatar. I figured since I my screename had been derived from Black comedy I might as well use a picture of a Black woman to represent me. And after all, what that would be unique and of value did I have to add to any conversation about issues of the day if not for my perspective as a mixed-race woman who has spent a lifetime trying to understand what is real and admirable about her Black identity? And so Miz Jenkins was born.
After a few weeks I was excited and surprised to learn that they covered topics of diverse interest and specifically issues related to race, like the underrepresentation of Black people in the media and the social realities of interracial dating. However, I was much less excited (and less than surprised) to see that the level of discourse in the commentary relating to these stories was often as uninformed and out-of-touch as I’d seen anywhere else. And so I took it upon myself - seeing as the economy was slow and I was bored at work - to try to teach a little and raise the general level of awareness of issues that affected me and folks in my communities.
MizJenkins is a Star!
Suddenly - WOW!! - I had all these people who loved what I was saying and who “hearted” me. I’d even gotten a few direct shout-outs from the editors and a shiny gold star next to my name saying I was alright. But then the inevitable happened. A situation arose (as they so often do IRL) where I felt compelled to say, “YIKES!! Um…you might want to think twice about what you just said because it’s a little racist”. And oh how the shit hit the fan! Because as generation of people in this country have learned the hard way, Hell hath no fury like White when it ain’t right.
I was labelled an angry and “threatening” person, stripped of my badge of honor and summarily cast out of the clubhouse. And that was just the first time. After several months of letting wounded egos heal and begging forgiveness I was reinstated. But once I made it clear that MizJenkins wasn’t going to hold back when confronted by examples of racism, casual or otherwise, I was banned permanently.
But MizJenkins don’t play.
The Rise of MizX
Since first arriving in this country in chains, Black Americans have had to find creative ways to subvert and defy White authority, through slang, song, rhyme, code and creating new identities. Their success has been made possible in no small part by the willingness of White people of strong moral integrity to poke holes in the mantle of White supremacy and let Black folks sneak through (see, the Underground Railroad, Freedom Summer etc.)
After MizJenkins was banned a good internet friend who was appalled at her censorship sacrificied her own distinguished status on the ladyblog so that MizJenkins could live on.
And so I created MizX (surprise?!)
I assumed at first that my “secret” identity would be pretty obvious to anyone who had been paying attention to MizJenkins. Once I realized that this was not necessarily the case, I decided I would try a different tack with this new commenter as something of a social experiment. I would make my comments “more Black” in that I would use the vernacular and concepts that I would employ with my Black friends instead of the kindergarten schoolteacher “voice” I use with my White friends who just don’t quite get it…but I would back down from contentious racial arguments. Instead, I would express some of my unpopular opinions (that folks seemed to have forgotten about during MizJenkins’ martyrdom) more stridently than ever.
People railed against MizX’s thoughts on topics ranging from abortion to the color pink. She got told - even by many of MizJenkins’ closest tumblr friends - to STFU on several occasions (sometimes rightly so). But it was only when she betrayed a mainstream Black attitude toward race that she was BANNED! just like her predecessor.
Over the past two years I have been banned four times on the ladyblog (that I can think of…if I’ve lost track of one shout it out):
* Once for pointing out that the conceptual link between brown people and fecal matter has a long-standing history as a racial slur (see, above).
I also once got demotedbfor calling T.I.’s wife Tiny a hoodrat, which might be the truest thing I’ve ever said.
In each instance I attempted to contact the representatives of the ladyblog and make my very best, most sincere arguments - with all that my natural talents, an Ivy league degree in politics and cultural relations, a doctorate in U.S. law and a lifetime of being Black in America could muster - as to why I made the comments I did and why I believed them not only appropriate but necessary and why it was important for a certain Black perspective on these matters to be heard.
The only counterargument or response I EVER received in return was: “I don’t like your tone.”
Becky, Becky, Becky
Right around the same time I created MizX I created another ladyblog persona who I named DarlingBecky (suprise?!!). My purpose in creating her was originally to give some of the commentors who had been fighting the good fight alongside MizJenkins a convenient foil. Rather than them engaging in mind-numbing debates with real live racists (which led to a lot of real live heartbreak and frustration) and since I wasn’t there in the trenches to lend a hand, I would set up all of the most common and illogical racist arguments I knew so that the folks with good sense could knock them down. After all, I’ve been trained to argue both sides.
The experiment didn’t last long…in part because I’m apparently too plain-spoken for subtle satire and in part because I got bored of being that inane. But in her time on the ladyblog DarlingBecky made dozens of purposeful, flat-out, unapologetic racist comments in the smarmiest tone I could conjure. She contributed absolutely nothing of substance. And she has never been banned…even when several people pointed out that she was an obvious troll.
She’s been “warned”, scolded, given the side-eye and quietly ostracized from the bold and shiny in-crowd…but she has also occasionally been promoted and even won a few friends and messages of sympathy and support.
She has never been told authoritatively that, “NO. You may not speak. That perspective will NOT be permitted to exist here.” No one ever does.
What Have We Learned Today Chirruns?
The point is that the single most enduring, most defining FACT of Black history is that:
THERE IS ALMOST NO CONCEPT OR ACTION THAT IS MET WITH SWIFTER AND MORE VEHEMENT REPROACH AND RETRIBUTION THAN THAT OF BLACK PEOPLE ASSERTING A RIGHT TO RESPECT AND RECOGNITION ON THEIR OWN TERMS.
Sure, many White people are willing to tolerate - and even celebrate! - Black people so long as they remain the ultimate arbiters of how/when/whether Black people’s needs are going to be served. So long as they retain the power to systematically suppress any expression of dissatisfaction that they find offensive or unsettling (these, it seems, are legion).
It has been true since slavery, through Reconstruction and Jim Crow, through the murder of Fred Hampton and the condemnation of Pastor Jeremiah Wright and that finally allowed a docile and notably (overly?) conciliatory Black man to be President. It has gone on so long that even when we think we have risen above it we can miss it when it stares us directly in the face.
Notwithstanding all the vitrual ink I’ve spilled here, I don’t flatter myself to think that my words or actions on a silly internet gossip blog are particularly meaningful in the grand scheme of things. Mostly I just find social justice issues a lot more interesting than the finanicial derivatives I’m tasked to examine all day by trade. I don’t mean to call out any specific individual and I apologize for any undue stress or frustration that I’ve caused my friends.
I just hope to explain to you why I believe this principle is worth fighting for and to suggest that there is still evidence of racial discrimination abound - accidental or intentional - even in the most casual and trivial of environments.
They say that well-behaved women rarely make history. I say, this is a history that damn well needs to chance. So please excuse me if I refuse to behave.