Category Archives: gender & sexuality

jesusland – on bug-smashing faggots

While i love the Internet for many things, my deepest appreciation concerns how it has helped queer youth come into their own without killing themselves. This is only possible because of the possibility of community and support, people from different geographical regions with good hearts working to help each other make sense of the world.

When i returned to queer youth spaces during my first year of graduate school, i was horrified to find that what was once a safe space for queer youth had become a place where the fundamentalist Christians could attack them. I spent many nights on boards with these kids, hearing how they were attacked by people offline and online, not sure who to trust, not sure where to go. The niche communities that had helped me find grounding were terrifying. I was truly saddened by this.

Max Gordon has just composed an essay called Jesusland where he talks about queer youth, Christian fundamentalism, political anti-queer rhetoric and the responsibilities of a society to take care of its people. We hear about the Gay/Straight alliances but we don’t hear about SAFE – students against faggots everywhere. We don’t hear about what the anti-same-sex marriage is doing to youth. I can’t help but wonder, is there a safe refuge for queers kids now or will the suicide rate just rise?

masculine anger

I pulled into the parking lot at BestBuy. It’s a tight squeeze and i was pulling into a parking lot as the driver in Mercedes SUV threw his door open, into me; i put on the breaks but already the door has made impact. Given the SUV, the only damage is on my car. There’s a couple in the Mercedes. The driver jumps out and starts yelling at me. I’m totally taken aback, shaking. The passenger gets out and pushes away the driver after i already yell back that i’m calling the cops. The passenger and i talk, i give over driver’s license info and we exchange insurance info. I can’t fully guarantee what happened. I remember seeing the door opening as i pulled in to the space, not as it being opened. But alas, all damage to me; none to Mercedes. I decide not to deal with it, given that the only reason that my car doesn’t have any dents on it is because it has all new exterior panels from a multi-car collision a year ago (heavy raining + over-egotistical SUV going 75 down 101). But i was still all shaken up, not by the bullshit SUV, but because of the asshole SUV driver.

As i was chewing on what really bothered me, i realized how ill-equipped i am to handle masculine anger in a state of nerves. I’ve managed to acquire a lot of masculine traits over the years, in part as a coping mechanism. But i’ve never been able to master masculinity when i’m torn to shreds emotionally. All of my deep-seated femininity comes to the surface. For some, it’s so bloody natural – that masculine survival technique of absolute anger and dominance in the state of panic. I turn into a mushy ball of OMG what happened?!?!? Masculine anger allows all the blame to be externalized, while the feminine OMG internalizes everything. No doubt the driver spent the rest of the day damning me for being in the way, even though the SUV suffered no harm.

I’m often reminded that my femininity gets me a lot of attention, even in the working world. I’m not going to dispute this, but i do know that my lack of complete masculine coping mechanisms means that i’m never prepared to handle the privilege that i’m afforded. That said, i’m not sure that i want to even acquire all of the masculine coping tools. I don’t know.. it feels so confusing.

[Note: i’m addressing traits in a masculine/feminine form based on the gender performance with which they’re associated. One of the big misnomers about gender performance is that it is linked to sex. Masculine anger may be embodied by a male individual, but it may also be embodied by a female individual. Culturally, we are taught to follow male/masculine and female/feminine sex/gender role models. But this is not universally built into us, nor something that all of us can comfortably learn to do.]

Intimate communities: social/emotional support, technology and the gender divide

[Cross-posted to:]

With social networks all the rage in places like Silicon Valley and the DoD, most of the focus has been on how social networks can help you access information, find jobs, track terrorists and, all to often, abuse your connections for personal gain. I just reread Claude Fischer’s “To Dwell Among Friends” and various other social network papers.

Historically and broadly speaking, men and women have different types of social networks and use them for different purposes. For example, most men don’t have any trusted emotional confidante other than their wife. Men use their social networks to address functional needs; women are more likely to use their networks for social/emotional needs. Women were classically the group who maintained a family’s community social ties.

While tools may not being built to explicitly help people people manage their social/emotional support networks, they are obviously being used that way. From Usenet groups to LiveJournal to mailing lists and IM/SMS, people are often using technology to reach out for social/emotional support. There’s nothing more calming than logging into AIM and seeing your buddies all displayed. Often, that peripheral display provides enough social support to not necessitate certain kinds of communication. This is shared context, an opportunity for intimacy.

When we talk about production of information, we’re often focused on the kinds of content that can be assigned metadata and useful to everyone. Yet, much of the content that we share in everyday life is about maintaining intimacy. We check in with one another. We share {{hugs}}.

So, i have to ask… what kinds of social/emotional support does technology provide you? How? Is this about supporting everyday interactions or providing access to a whole new world of support?

[This entry is based loosely on Joi Ito’s discussion of “Full-Time Intimate Computing.”]

the freaks of san francisco

An old friend came to visit me this weekend. ::bounce::bounce:: She’s one of those people who i see as exceptionally similar to me. Overeducated, always thinking about issues of privilege, activist, queer, etc. We both came from the hippie-esque world of the coops.

Anyhow, we spent a few hours wandering around the Mission and it was such an eye-opener. She was so viscerally aware of the elements of CITY and of San Francisco in particular. She’s living in a town that looks like something Disney would create. She’s not blonde, not rich, not a prep, not a surfer; she’s an outright freak there. But she’s there because she’s kicking ass on the international activist scene and that’s where she needs to be right now. But talking to her made me really reflect on how much i value San Francisco.

I’m not a freak here. No matter what i wear, i will run into someone with a crazier outfit. And it doesn’t matter anyhow. My sexuality is also not a big deal. It is so strange to be in an environment where the straight folks are more tolerant of queerness than the gay folks. But again, no big deal. Whenever i want to meet new interesting people, it’s possible. In fact, there are so many intriguing people that i want to get to know, but just haven’t because of time restrictions on my part. I can see art events whenever i want; i can go dancing whenever i want. There are cool bookstores and clothing shops and street life.

I just received a note from a 15 year old somewhere in “WASP suburbia.” She wrote to tell me about how she’s tormented by kids at school, about how the administration does nothing to help, about how valuable the Internet was for finding people like her. I totally get where she’s at. When i was living elsewhere, i always felt so out of place and relied on technology to meet people more like me. But the funny thing about San Francisco is that i’m finally in a place where there are more intellectual freaks/geeks in everyday life than i ever found online.

I just had two different friends leave SF because they *hated* it. I still haven’t been able to squelch my immediate visceral response: how do i like you??? is there something about you that i don’t know about yet? ::laugh:: But seeing my beloved city through a friend’s eyes was so refreshing. I am so thankful for living here. For having 85 degree days in March. For having so many freaks, geeks, and queers that i can just be me and stop trying to exacerbate or repress my identity for others.

It’s funny because people have pointed out that i rarely write about personal identity struggles anymore. I used to write long rants about them. At first, i thought maybe it’s because my blog went a bit off the professional deep end. But then i realized that it’s because i’m actually doing AOK with who i am these days. Seeing my friend and hearing from a youth in suburbia is a clear reminder of how lucky i am. And for that i am very thankful on this Spring Solstice Eve.

Ni una mas! Not one more in Juarez!

I don’t think that i can describe the various emotions that i feel returning from Juarez. But i want to try to record what i can, more for my own processing… but also for those who’ve IMed me to know.

It was surreal. Two days surrounded by famous people, paparazzi wanting to see them, and the mothers of victims. What a triangulation of emotions. The hope of the privileged, the desire and surfaceness of the paparazzi and the mind-numbing sorrow and anguish of the mothers. As i escorted one of the mothers to the stage, i took her hand, i looked into her eyes. A wave of nausea hit me. Her eyes were dark, lifeless, staring out in complete shock and horror. How do you explain to a woman who lost her 17 year old baby that her participation was so valuable, so appreciated? You can’t. But i didn’t have to. A few ours later, she came out on stage to give a speech. At the end, a hideous heart-wrenching, blood-curling scream came out of her. “Ni una mas.” (Not one more) We all coiled back, struck by the terror of that sound. And then we collapsed, in anger and sorrow, remembering why we were there…

Perhaps i should back up….

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juarez: a call to action

If you know me, you know how much V-Day means to me. Tonight, i spent a tearful night with Eve Ensler and gang at the San Francisco Premier of the movie. Absolutely moving. It opened at Sundance a bit ago and due to popular demand, a second showing happened. And then the press wanted a third showing. The movie with premier on Lifetime on February 17 (commercial free!).

Well, there are lots of V-Day events coming up (it IS V-Season after all). First, i’d like to strongly request that if you haven’t seen the play and you love me, you’ll find out where it is in your community and see it. Support your local community working to end violence!

Second, there are two major events that i’m doing my darndest to go to. First, there is an all-trans V-Day production in LA on February 21. But, more pressingly, there is a march on Juarez scheduled for February 14. For those of you who don’t know, hundreds of women have been abducted, raped and brutally murdered in Juarez. And the government is not responding. The march is to make the government take action against this ongoing violence against women, to create awareness of this situation. Juarez is just across the border from El Paso (think cheap Southwest flights).

If you aren’t able to get involved in any of these events, but want to support an amazing organization, help keep the movement (and safe houses) alive by donating what you can.

Join me. Join V-Day. Help end violence against women and girls worldwide!

[Update: One of my readers suggested the book Juarez: The Laboratory of Our Future. I don’t know the book, but i’m curious to learn more.]