Thursday, July 26, 2007

Transwars redux: You've got your mother in a whirl...

Her name was Libby, and she is no longer with us. Please pause, and think kindly of her.

She was one of my feminist mentors. The year was 1979, if memory serves, and someone had written something in one of those feminist newspapers like BIG MAMA RAG. Jill Johnston had already attacked men wearing drag in MS.

"We need to have a meeting," she announced. And so, we had a meeting. It was the first time I remember all hell breaking loose.

One of the feminists at that meeting asked the enduring question, the one I took home with me, the one I return to with regularity: Doesn't drag and transsexuals prove that being a woman is not ALL about biology?

Another woman replied: Then WHAT is it?

I had to admit, I didn't know the answer to that, and I'd still like to know the answer. How can we say something is or is not WOMAN, if we can't readily define what it is?

OF COURSE WE KNOW WHAT A WOMAN IS, another woman bellowed back.

All right, said the first, then what?

Sputtering, stuttering, screaming, pouting, teeth-gnashing, tears, oy. The meeting was a fiasco. A HUGE fiasco. It was as if we all had discovered another layer to our existence, one we didn't realize was there. We had: it was called GENDER, but we didn't yet have the word for that.

Several of us just sat there looking at each other, long after the meeting was over; the tears, fears, yelling and heart-wrenching emotion still in the air. We were pondering the echoes.

And so, there we were, smoking a joint, when Libby said: This is gonna be going on for a long, long time, you know.


"Forever." Libby was shaking her head, slowly. And she repeated, "This could go on forever." She inhaled deeply on the joint, and said: "This might break up everything, eventually."


Fast-forward about 30 years. What do you all think of the brilliance and prescience of my mentor?

Background threads, which inspired this one: Alas #1, Alas #2, Margins #1, Margins #2, Feministe.

Apologies to all the threads I missed. Truly, there is no end to it.

Who you gonna believe? Me or your own eyes?