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The Five Bigots You Meet in Queerland

13 Jun

We queer ladies (and gents) have to deal with a lot of crap. It comes from strangers who shout “dyke!” out their car windows, from friends who introduce you as their “lesbian friend,” (as if that were the only notable thing about you), and not-so-well-meaning friends who make drunken assessments of your “true” sexuality.

There are so many of these slights that they warrant categorization. So, without further ado, I give you the Five Basic Types of Bigot, as experienced by your friendly blogger:

1. The Hater

This person is the one who leans out of the car window and shouts, “Ugly dyke!” or “Fucking faggot!” at you whilst you are strolling along admiring the daffodils, holding your girlfriend/boyfriend’s hand. Examples in my life have included:

Haters are easy to ignore when you're a badass.

Haters are easy to ignore when you’re a badass.

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Ballet and body image

12 Jun

I, like millions of other little girls, grew up dreaming of being a prima ballerina. As soon as I was able, I began checking out the same three books about ballet from the library over and over and over, poring over each page, each photo, each dance step tutorial. My favorite was about a deaf girl who kept the beat of the music by feeling vibrations through the floor. Soon I had every position memorized and began using my dresser as a ballet barre. I begged my parents to send me to lessons – reasoning it was only fair that I take ballet, as my brother took baseball and we should each be allowed to have one extracurricular hobby.

Tutus are rad.

Modern tutus are affordable and come with stretchy waistbands so even non-ballerinas can pretend to be ballerinas in the privacy of their own homes.

I loved everything about ballet: the dancers’ strong, long limbs; their high, tight chignons; the grand pianos in the practice rooms; their romantic performance skirts; their utter fanaticism – skipping high school to study dance, shipping their preadolescent selves off to Russia to become the very best at a dying art, eschewing the pubescent party scene to practice plies and pirouettes.

Little did I know that while Little League is nearly free, ballet lessons are expensive. I took a single year of classes before my parents gave up the budgetary ghost, during which I learned many useful facts:

Pippi

  • Pirouetting to the left is harder than to the right
  • Tights + leg hair = itchy
  • I am more flexible than the average person, but not more flexible than the average ballerina
  • I have a perfect point
  • If part of your Halloween costume as Pippi Longstocking involves wire hangers in your braids, and you don’t have time to change before class, your braids will scrape the wall during your barre work, and probably leave a mark

The most important lesson I learned, though – imparted to me personally by Madame Instructor herself, a wizened old woman and an expedient disciplinarian – was that I simply did not have, and would never have, the “body type” of a real ballerina. It’s hard to fathom how the teacher could have possibly drawn any conclusions about my suitability for – or interest in – an adult career in professional dance based off of my 9-year-old body, but there you have it. And thus one of the many seeds of body hatred was sown in my innocent little mind. I was not thin enough, not rich enough, not good enough for the one thing I wanted more than anything else: to dance, dance, dance.

So, were there any evil grown-ups in your childhood life that tried to squash your dreams for no good reason? And do you remember a particular moment when your self-image (body- or otherwise) was thoroughly cemented in your wee childlike mind?

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Not funny, Facebook: Sexism and homophobia from your friends and family

7 Nov

What would we do without Facebook? Well, for one, we might never find out which of our “friends” are complete and utter poopheads. And for that, Facebook, I thank you. My news feed has, oddly, found itself somewhat fuller-than-usual with illogical anti-gay or sexist rants of late – go figure. A sampling, presented for your derision:

The above is one of those “link-sharing plus commentary” posts. It points to the heartwarming story of a lesbian couple being named as reigning monarchs of the homecoming court.

Here is the text from the offending (white, male, cisgendered heterosexual) Facebooker:

If this trend continues society will be the biggest loser and women will be the second. If gender does not matter why stop here how about making the Olympics only the best in each event regardless of gender. Honoring the difference between men an (sic) women make (sic) women safer expressing femininity men better men by honoring those differences.

Like most hate speech, the rant makes little to no sense. “[gender roles] make women safer“? Last I checked it was way harder for women to run away from would-be muggers/rapists while wearing heels. Just saying! Additionally, I wonder if the OP noticed that both women in the photo are wearing dresses and full makeup? Looks like some pretty damn well-performed femininity to me. Maybe he’s wearing asshole goggles.

And how about the second part of that “sentence”: “expressing femininity men better men by honoring those differences“? Wait, what? Maybe if I took whatever hallucinogen this dude was on when he typed that and forgot everything I learned in grammar school, that sentence would make sense.

The best response I’ve heard so far is from Rebeca Arellano, the whip-smart teenager crowned Homecoming King at the high school in the news story:

For all the girls who think tradition should be continued: go back to the kitchen, stop having sex before you’re married, get out of school and job system, don’t have an opinion, don’t own any property, give up the right to marry who you love, don’t vote, and allow your husband to do whatever he pleases to you. Think about the meaning of tradition when you use it in your argument against us.

Today’s runner-up post is brought to you by the “girl-on-girl violence” club:

Transcript:

“Yes, I’m a woman. I push doors that clearly say PULL. I laugh harder when I try to explain why I’m laughing. I walk into a room and forget why I was there. I count on my fingers in math. I hide the pain from my loved ones. I say it is a long story when it is really not. I cry a lot more than you think I do. I care about people who don’t care about me. I try to do things before the microwave beeps. I listen to you even when you don’t listen to me. And a hug will always help. Yes, I’m a woman! Re-post if you’re proud to be one, come on ladies..(heart emoticon)”

I can’t decide which is my favorite kooky stereotype. Is it the finger-in-mouth, head tilted “I count on my fingers in math” statement? Because oh ho ho, that is one helluva knee-slapper! I mean, MATH IS HARD, AMIRITE ladies!? Re-post if you’re proud of your inability to count past ten!!

Or is it the nonsensical “I try to do things before the microwave beeps”? Like, what kind of things? Do you set the microwave to five minutes, and then try to run a mile? Or is it something more sinister – an entire life, perhaps, dictated by an evil beeping kitchen appliance – you get up in the morning, and try to put your pants on before your microwave announces “Beep. TOO SLOW, slowpoke. Now suffer the wrath of the EVER-EXPANDING MARSHMALLOW PEEP! Muah ha ha ha!!!”

Got your own jerk Facebook
posts? Email them to me
and I’ll probably post them:
adventuresinmediocrity@gmail.com

Most of them just sound like slightly amusing, somewhat sad things that happen to everyone now and again – who hasn’t pulled or pushed a door the wrong way? What the hell does laughing when trying to explain something funny have to do with your genitals or gender performance? And what the hell is WRONG with these Facebook people?

What’s the worst post you’ve ever seen on The Facebook (or any other social network, for that matter)? I’m sure these two are tame by comparison. Oh and – if you’re into screencapping, take some screenshots and email ‘em to me at adventuresinmediocrity@gmail.com (adventuresinmediocrity (at) gmail (dot) com), or tweet ‘em at me @mediocreventure. Be sure to include how you’d like to be attributed, if at all.

Today’s post brought to you by the letters F, A and G

7 Sep

Years ago, when I was but a young budding queer lady, I worked quite hard on my queer getup. As a long-haired makeup-wearing be-skirted member of the female gender, previously in possession of a beloved boyfriend, my street cred was constantly in question. I showed up to parties populated by lezzies and received cold shoulders and withering stares – one alpha lesbian would often ask, very much within earshot, “Who invited her?”

Not being accepted by my own damn peer group was a new and deeply unpleasant experience, so I immediately set to work lesbonifying myself. I remember one outfit in particular that was a hit – army green shortalls (crotch cut out so it was more like a minidress with a bib), ripped fishnets, green combat boots, tube top. Even when attempting to be butch, I still couldn’t stop myself from adding things like tights and tube tops to the equation.

I no longer have to prove myself in this way, partly due to the fact that I’ve been dating women for so long that everyone has accepted that I am not some kind of Benedict Arnold. But the rejection I experienced still smarts – and it still exists in gay communities everywhere for non-mainstream queers. Just try changing your gender, or being bisexual, and watch as your previously-accepting social circle turns their backs.

Melanie from silly wrong but vivid right* has smart things to say (and good advice) about lesbian fashion, and how mandatory aesthetic conformity is just plain backward, so read on:

Hey, Sarah’s blog friends :) so you may remember, a short while ago, Sarah wrote a guest post on my blog. Well, here I am, returning the … I was going to say favour, but actually it was a privilege to have Sarah write a blog for me, and it’s a privilege to appear on hers. I’ve known, and admired the lovely Sarah for her writing for many years now (how time flies!) and am excited that our wee blog worlds can cross like this.

I was a little stuck on which angle to go with, and so asked Sarah for a little guidance, and this is what she said:

“How does being “femme” change your lesbian identity? (or something like that). You know, how do you deal with people who assume you are straight, or other lesbians who questions your “street cred” because you dress in girly getups, etc.”

So here’s my attempt at a response:

“I need to go shopping” I said to my friend Jo. She is the leader in all things fashionable, and she’s one of my few straight friends. Actually, she’s the fiancée of my Very Best Friend Ever, Chris. What I believe Americans would call a BFF? I learned that from Paris Hilton. Already, I’m digressing. I shouldn’t write blogs on Monday mornings.

So for the short while that I lived with Chris and Jo a few months back, I was well dressed. Jo works in events and so therefore ‘knows’ all the right people, and often attends fashionable parties in the city on roof tops with hot tubs. She wouldn’t ever wear the same dress twice. Her wardrobe is immense! Whenever I was off out for the night, she’d send me in to it to pick something. Thanks be to the lord that we are the same size.

I often try to manufacture my look a little too much, rather than just going with instincts. Quite often, while getting dressed, I’d ask her opinion:

“Jo, do I look too lesbian?”
“Melanie, you are a lesbian.”
“Jo, do I look too girly?”
“Melanie, you are a girl.”

It’s hard work, being a girl, and a lesbian all at once.

Back to the original point though – over cocktails one night a few weeks back, I mentioned that I needed to shop. She waited for me to suggest a time and place, and I had to tell her that this wasn’t one for her. The intention of this shopping trip was to lesbonify myself.

Manchester Pride (also known as ‘Gay Christmas’) was fast approaching, and just a couple of nights before I’d had to defend my lesbian status to a gay guy, in a bar called G-A-Y (!!) who then went and retrieved one of his ‘proper’ lesbian friends to get confirmation that “this one’s straight, yeah?” The girl with the Ice-White-funky-Mohawk/Mullet-combo confirmed. Despite my shaking my head at her in a very disapproving manner. She was hot – but she pissed me off.

I think I may have been born without the chip that sets other peoples gaydars off, and the fact that I like to wear makeup and pretty clothes doesn’t do a lot to help this. I should mention that my gaydar is finely tuned, and quite often I spot the ones disguised as ‘real girls’.

But, for Pride, I intended to get chatted up. I was going to give in, and put on the uniform. Jo was having none of this, she didn’t want to hear my protests, and told me that I shouldn’t ugly myself up to get a girl. Her words, not mine. Chris also chimed in with a little wisdom; “Mel, dress for your personality, not your sexuality.” I know, I know. I hate it when other people are right. Because to be honest, I’m not going to feel myself, or beautiful, wearing clothes that aren’t my style. I walk taller, with a straighter back and my legs look better in heels. In stompy boots, I stomp, I swagger. My tummy looks bigger. Stop laughing, it’s true.

Years ago, I had a big drove of babbling gay boy friends, who I used to go out and misbehave with every weekend. I was often assumed to be their Fag Hag. I bought myself a little black vest top, and some iron-on diamantes, and emblazoned the top with the letters F, A and G. People didn’t get it.

This seems archaic to me, to write all of this. Lipstick Lesbos (ugh, I really, really hate that term!) … beautiful lesbians, have been around for so long now, they exist in hoards, I know loads of them, they are everywhere. Lesbians are no longer only overweight butchies with crew cuts and neck ties, who will only ever be seen darkened in bars far off the beaten track. We now exist in the form of beauties such as Portia de Rossi (who I’m pretty sure the world is still waiting on to get over her ‘phase’.) Shows such as The L Word and Lip Service show us lesbians in the image that they really are – diverse. So I can’t work out why it is that my own community have a problem with accepting my sexuality without me wearing it like a badge. Straight people, although often with a flicker of surprise, don’t seem to have the same problem when I reveal myself to them – but the gayers; they just don’t get it.

I get the cultural/sociological thing; that people need to ‘belong’ to their group, that their identity is as a part of that group and that they want to wear this on the outside, to be recognised by others for their ‘belonging’ – but surely we’ve moved on from that? Surely with the ‘out and proud’ diversity that exists in the more civilised parts of the world today, we can all just be who we are without having to learn secret bloody handshakes?

Sexuality should be about just that; sexuality, not fashion. There is only one thing that makes me gay, and that’s the fact that I’m attracted to women. I’ll keep on with that line of thought in that hope that others will too, and that this changing world will continue to evolve in to something that allows us to remain the individuals that we are.

And wear high heels.

* My mysterious and hip British pen pal – she sends me handwritten letters! That means, among other things, that she is nearly single-handedly propping up the US Postal Service, for which we should all be grateful.

Additional VERY IMPORTANT but completely unrelated footnote:  It is exactly one month until my birthday. AHEM. Just so you know.

Mean friends: Vignettes d’troi

7 Jun

Sophomore year of college. Upstairs apartment. Blue carpet. Slatted blinds. Beanbag chairs and grandstanding:

“Oh my god that is totally such an unexpected thing for you to say. I mean, it’s just a really good insight. You know, smart-sounding. You sound smart. And profound. And it just took me by surprise, you know? Because you just don’t come off as that kind of person. I mean, you’re just normally not that way. Smart I mean.”

Last summer, over lunch and $12 cocktails. Outdoor seating. Heat and heavy traffic:

“Ohmigod I love your sunglasses! They’re so cute and pink. I totally have a pair just like them. Except mine are Ray-Bans. I mean, those are cute and all too. No yeah they’re cute. I mean I think they’re a little crooked though. Oh wait no I think that’s your face! Ha! Anyway, where did you get them? Target or something? Oh I hate going there. I mean, everything is just so… sweatshoppy and cheap. Actually I’ve never been there. It’s kind of like, this moral stand I’m taking. Anyway those are super-cute from far away. I mean up-close they’re scratched but for Target sunglasses they’re totes adorbs.”

Senior year of college, standing on my front porch overlooking the city. Late-night fluorescence:

“It’s totally weird how you study. I mean, I just don’t understand it. Like, when I was in college I did mountains of cocaine. I know, I know. But I still graduated at the top of my class! It just was never that hard for me. Like it is for you. No. Yeah. No. No, I just mean… You know what I mean, right? Hahahaha! I totally just don’t get it.”

… this post inspired by the book “The Underminer: The Best Friend that Casually Destroys Your Life.”

High-maintenance

3 May

“High-maintenance” is often used to describe women we don’t like, but does anyone really know what it means? The phrase “high-maintenance,” like the word “slut” is just another ill-defined insult hurled at women who don’t conform enough, or conform too much, to society’s idealized expectations of femininity. So last time I heard it, I looked it up – Webster’s is no use, so here’s what trusty old Urban Dictionary has to say:

1. Requiring a lot of attention. When describing a person, high-maintenance usually means that the individual is emotionally needy or prone to over-dramatizing a situation to gain attention

2. A person who has expensive taste (re. clothing, restaurants, etc.). This person is never comfortable because he/she is constantly concerned about his/her appearance.

At first, it seems weird that the phrase has two completely different meanings, until you take the time to think about what else the phrase is used to describe. What else can be called high-maintenance? Swimming pools. Layered haircuts. Silk clothing. Fancy cars. Orchids. Conversely, take a peek at what we describe as low-maintenance: Rock gardens. Cotton-poly blends. Cacti. What do these things have in common? They’re all things. So what do we call high-maintenance? Things, and women. ‘Cuz women are things! Get it? Ahhhaahaha. Backslaps all around!

Let’s take the two definitions in order, shall we? The first is a derogatory label for women who dare to ask for emotional support from the people around them. The second is a derogatory label for women who dare to take the time they need in order to conform to society’s expectations of them. By caring about her appearance – as society tells her she must if she is to be worthy of love or even leaving the house – she is punished by being called high-maintenance, shallow, superficial, flippant. But try not caring about your appearance for a sec – go ahead, try it! Stop shaving your legs, wearing makeup, and brushing your hair. See how long you stay employed, how long you keep your boyfriend, how long it takes before your girlfriends start talking about how you’ve let yourself go when you’re not around.

High-maintenance is just another empty phrase thrown around to punish women who falter while walking that razor-thin line of magically conforming to impossible standards of beauty while making it look easy breezy cover girl. Women who slink quietly out of bed to shower and put on makeup and then slink quietly back into bed – so long as they’re not caught – need not worry about being labelled high-maintenance. It’s those who dare to sleep in, and then make their poor sops of male companions wait more than ten minutes while perfecting that foundation and blowout, that need to worry. Or those that, after a rough day at work, occasionally require a few moments of quiet alone time before tending to the passel of squalling brats.

The rub is that, with all things patriarchy, you can’t win. Let your striving show, and you’re a high-maintenance shrew. Don’t strive, and you’re ugly and unlovable, or worse – a feminist.

Any of you readers been called high-maintenance before? I certainly have. One incident comes to mind in particular, when a friend of mine told me that if he didn’t already know me, he probably wouldn’t try to talk to me because I looked “high-maintenance.” I had no idea what he was talking about, and, to some extent, still don’t. Tell your stories in the comments, eh?

Boys of Facebook

1 Mar

My favorite thing about Facebook is the fact that I get to see pictures of the girls who were mean to me in high school who are now hideously fat. Or burdened with five crackbabies and a meth-dealing ex-husband. Or live in trailer parks. Or, preferably, all three. My least favorite thing about Facebook (other than seeing pictures of the girls who were mean to me in high school who are now fabulously wealthy, accomplished and even more beautiful than they were in adolescence) is receiving messages from boys who were mean to me in high school.

The boys have, without exception, seen the error of their ways, and are hoping to get back in touch. And by “error of their ways,” I mean “my boobies,” and by “getting back in touch,” they mean “with my boobies.” It’s amazing what losing 10 pounds, gaining two cup sizes, getting contacts and learning to love tequila shots will do for a girl’s popularity.

I went from this:

To this*:

And now all the boys love me! There’s nothing like going from a chubby bespectacled über-nerd to a slender full-bosomed über-nerd to reinforce one’s complete and utter lack of faith in humanity. It’s like a real-life “She’s All That,” except instead of Freddie Prinze there’s just cynicism.

That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed the attention from time to time. My favorite message came from a boy I don’t remember who honestly confessed to having had a crush on me back in the day, when I was ugly and wore stretch pants. Whether ‘twas a cover story or not, it surely gave me the warm fuzzies. My least favorite message came not from Facebook, but in person during one of those “ let’s reconnect over drinks but this isn’t a date OK?” things:

Him: “You’re hot now!”
Me: “Um, thanks.”
Him: “I mean, you used to be all, Sarah with the glasses. And now you’re all… Sarah with the hotness!”
Me: “OK then. I think I’ll go home and wash my hair.”
Him: “But I want to get you drunk!”
Me: “Sure you do, honey.”

What’s a girl to make of all this? Are there any lessons to be taken away other than “humans are hopelessly, incurably shallow and narcissistic”? Should I take advantage of the few years of attractiveness I have left before age sets in to turn the tables on these would-be suitors and be terribly cruel to them? Would they get the message? Or would they just mutter “bitch” under their breath and find some other girl to torment? Either way I doubt it’d make me feel any better.

*Please note: I am neither Lindsay Weir nor Lindsay Lohan, just in case you were confused. I didn’t feel like digging up pictures of me IRL. Plus, I’m not really that hot. But I assure you I was very very nerdy in high school. Please confirm in the comments, fellow members of the Nerd Herd.

Related Posts: MySpace Sucks, I’ve Figured it Out!

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