Wednesday, December 22, 2004

(sigh of contentment)

I just spent a lovely week in Tucson with Anna and Erica, and now I'm back in Flagstaff for the actual holiday. It is going to be so hard for me to go back to Evanston now that I've been surrounded by mountains and friends and a sense of belonging again. When I was driving to Tucson, I was just awestruck at the beauty and emptiness of the land around me. Even though I have done that drive an ungodly number of times, I hadn't realized quite how beautiful it really is. I haven't seen such a span of empty-of-people-and-related-things space in so long! We went up on Mt. Lemmon while I was there, and ate lots of good food (Sher-e-Punjab, Zemam's, the new pizza and wine place downtown), went to Bentley's, watched lots of Sex in the City and basically just hung out. Probably the low point was going to an "ugly Christmas sweater" themed party wearing these hideous turtlenecks and vests from Savers only to discover that nobody else was dressed up at all. Bah! But otherwise it was great.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


I'm heading home tonight. I can't wait to see all of my friends and family, to be somewhere with mountains and much less humidity. It's so nice, to think about being somewhere familiar again after several months of personal upheaval. I can't wait to leave this cold windy place and go home for a little while.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

stepford discrepancies

I just watched The Stepford Wives, hoping for a little light entertainment. I find that my light enertainment turns into anything but these days, and this proved to be no real exception. I admit that I am out of the mainstream, so to say, and would probably have not known that this movie had been made except for the fact that I have read the novel and watched the old movie, and the name consequently caught my eye over the summer.
The novel version of this movie is creepy but slow. The old movie is creepy and utterly terrifying in the final scene. The new movie is amusing and ends completely differently from the other two. If you ever want to watch or read the older versions and don't want to be surpirsed, don't read this post.
So, you probably know that this movie is based around the concept of a town of men who turn their wives into robots in order to make them perfect housewives. Both the novel (by Ira Levin) and the old movie take place kind of near the end of second wave feminism, and as such are bitter indictments of the reactions of men and women towards feminism, as well as a nice picture of stereotyping and such. In both of these versions, there is no happy ending. The women all become robots, the end. In the old movie, there is a particularly terrifying final scene where the real Joanna confronts the robot Joanna and realizes that the robot has these huge nipple-protruding breasts. I knew exactly what was going to happen (having read a movie synopsis) but was so freaked out that I had to turn on all the lights in my house and read something happy. (Although there was one awesomely funny short scene where Joanna tries to organize a feminist consciousness-raising meeting that turns into this bizarre slo-mo discussion of household cleaners...)
In the new movie, there is the obligatory happy ending, which was not so surprising in and of itself. I was, however, shocked to find the blame behind the robot women shifted from the main evil male character to his wife. What does it mean, that the older versions of this story saw fit to leave the male characters as the bad guys, while the contemporary version shifts the blame to a woman? That the bad guy is, in fact, a bad girl? I am somewhat creeped out by this. This probably didn't really demand a post of this length, but I really was shocked by the whole thing. What does this say about the consumerism of movie watchers? Did somebody somewhere decide that the male-negative ending of this movie was to harsh?
Up 'til that point, I thought this was actually a really funny movie. There are lots of little jokes that go by if you aren't watching, and maybe the overall humorous approach was the reason that they decided to make the ending different. I don't know. Anyway, that's way too much writing about this.

Monday, December 06, 2004


So I've been reading about transgender stuff lately. It amazes me constantly that no matter how much I have thought about binarism, gender ambiguity, all sorts of things, I somehow frequently don't really understand them or bridge the gap between the thought and the acceptance, the real understanding. It is easy to read about how we binarize sex into male and female, but can you honestly really understand how fully we take that to heart? I am reading Gender Outlaw by Kate Bornstein, who was born male and became female and doesn't really seem to indentify strongly as either. I read, and I know even as I read that I can't fully grasp this. Neither? I can't even talk about this book, because I get bogged down in my pronouns because there is no word for neither that is avalaible for me to use. This is not my only problem/conundrum/essential inability to fully express this feeling. Here are my questions for the moment:
Can you even begin to imagine somebody who doesn't call themself "man" or "woman?" I mean, really. Can you hold that in your mind as a concept and feel that you understand it as a potential reality? I want to, and I can't seem to just yet.
Can you view transgenderism as something other than going from one biological "sex" to another? This is a variation of the last question, I know, but we so frequently catagorize within transgender as MTF or FTM. How about as something to something else?
This is directly from Bornstein:
-Do you think you have it in you to be a man?
-Do you think you have it in you to be a woman?
-Have you ever thought what it might be like to be neither for a day? An hour? One minute?

We read, and even understand, but we don't always know. At least I don't. There is understanding in a logical analytical sense (which may or may not be crap, depending on your feelings about that), and understanding something in a way that makes it personal to you, makes you feel it in a way that will make you laugh or cry or both, that will make you really truly get it. If I can't imagine myself without this social construct called gender, how can I understand what a transgendered person feels? It is hard to align with something that you can't understand. I don't know where I'm heading with this. I guess I need to sort out my own thoughts and feeling a bit more.
A few years ago, a girl asked me to write something for a zine she was making on "what it meant to me to be a woman." I wrote this crappy thing, I don't even remember what-all was in there, but I ended by saying that I didn't think of myself as a woman so much as I thought of myself as a person. That might be the closest I've come to this concept. A person is ungendered, in the purest sense of the word at any rate. We are all people, yes?

I (heart) RuPaul

These are my two favorite quotes so far this week:

"Definitions have their uses in much the same way that road signs make it easy to travel: they point out the directions. But you don't get where you're going when you just stand underneath some sign, waiting for it to tell you what to do."
-Kate Bornstein, from Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us

"Like I've always said, 'You're born naked and the rest is drag.'"
-RuPaul, taken from Transgender Warriors by Leslie Feinberg

"The problem with revolution, of course, is violence. It would be neat to take part in a non-violent revolution of inclusion, whereby the revolutionaries simply have a good laugh, and welcome anyone else to dinner."
-Kate Bornstein again

Sunday, December 05, 2004

turn turn turn

As soon as I finish and turn in my pedagogy paper tomorrow, I am done for the semester (or "quarter," as they say here). Thank god. I am ready for a break already.

Friday, December 03, 2004

robotic voices for peace

When I use my AT&T calling card now, this is what I hear:
(sad woman's voice): To donate calling minutes to your US military troops, press 1.
(happy woman's voice): Want to learn more about Sam's Club? Press 2!
(neutral woman's voice): To place a call, press the star key.
It used to just ask me if I wanted to make three way calls or some such thing.

In other news, the Book of the Week for me has been Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg. Just simply for its portrayals of things that I've never imagined myself inside, like butch-femme bar life in the 60's pre-stonewall or what it was/is probably like to try and pass like a man and to be transgendered, it's worth reading. It was terrifying at times, sad enough to make me cry a lot in many different places, and just overall mind-widening. But alas, sometimes a little unbelievable in a few of the scenarios that occur. Well, no book is perfect. Still well worth it for the overall effect. S/he's also written a bunch of other books, including one called Transgender Warriors about trans history that I'm going to read next. Leslie Feinberg's website is if you're interested.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

it's my party

Woo, it's my birthday! However, since I opened all my presents this morning and I don't really have any friends here to celebrate with or anything, I think the birthday part of today is already pretty much over and now it's just a day. But whatever.
I had a really crappy couple of days since Anna left, including many many many boring orchestra rehearsals, a recalcitrant quintet coach, and somebody crossing my name off of a sign-up sheet for make-up viola lessons. Also just marathon days at school, not coming home for 12 hours and things like that. I don't like that. So as long a today is better than that (which it promises to be) I am relatively happy.
In an attempt to negate the crappiness of yesterday, my roommate Josh made me a birthday "cake" out of a tofutti cutie with frosting and a candle. He's such a nice guy, it was really cute and made me feel a lot better.
So everybody who might read this, have a great day in honor of the twenty-third anniversary of my birth. That's all, I guess.