strange fire

books. poetry. paganism. feminism. queerness. blog.

Sonnet February 15, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 2:30 am

Actually, I don’t know if this poem is specifically gay or not; but I like to think that it is.

This is for the afternoon we lay in the leaves
After it had been winter for half a year,
And I kissed you and unbuttoned your jeans
And touched you and made you smile, my dear.
And of all the good things that love means,
One of them is to touch you there
And make you smile, among the leaves,
And feel your wetness and your sweet short hair,
And kiss your breasts and put my tongue
Into the delirium between your soft pale thighs,
Because the winter has been much too long
And soon will come again, when this love dies.
I will hear sermons preached, and some of them be true,
But I will not regret that afternoon with you.

C.B. Trail

The winter has been much too long; I got soaking wet walking to the internet cafĂ©, it was pouring down hail earlier. Just wet and disgusting outside. I’m going to Spain on Saturday, for winter break, with a friend, and hopefully it will be marginally warmer. I’ll be back when I’m back, with more poems, because I didn’t get to post as many as I thought I would.

 

Happy Susan B. Anthony Day! February 14, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 2:11 am
Bet you thought I was going to post a very gay love poem, right? Tune in tomorrow.
If, like me, you’re not a big fan of Valentine’s Heterosexuality Day (I have even more reason to hate it this year: lesson planning nightmare), and want to promote something a bit more uplifting than V-Day, how about celebrating Susan B. Anthony’s birthday? Now, I’m a big fan of the Vagina Monologues, and V-Day is an absolutely necessary movement, but us feminists need all the cheerleading and inspiration we can get. And Susan B. Anthony, in addition to being really fucking cool, was born on February 15th. I say it’s time to reclaim Valentine’s Day for something actually worth celebrating.

Independence is happiness.”

I love this picture of her. She reminds me of Jane Eyre. Except she makes Jane Eyre look like a shrinking violet. They called her “the Napolean of the woman’s rights movement.” She was involved in abolitionism, temperance, labor, and education reform in addition to women’s suffrage. She never married. She got arrested for voting in the 1872 election. She started a newspaper called Revolution that “championed women’s suffrage, equal pay for equal work, women’s education, the rights of working women and the opening of new occupations for women, as well as the liberalization of divorce laws.” The Nineteenth Amendment giving American women the right to vote was originally called the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, but she died 14 years before it was passed.

She didn’t mince words either:

It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union.

The fact is, women are in chains, and their servitude is all the more debasing because they do not realize it.

Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.

I can’t say that the college-bred woman is the most contented woman. The broader her mind the more she understands the unequal conditions between men and women, the more she chafes under a government that tolerates it.

On foreign policy: How can you not be all on fire? … I really believe I shall explode if some of you young women don’t wake up –and raise your voice in protest against the impending crime of this nation upon the new islands it has clutched from other folks. Do come into the living present and work to save us from any more barbaric male governments.

I always distrust people who know so much about what God wants them to do to their fellows.

On abortion: We want prevention, not merely punishment. We must reach the root of the evil, and destroy it. To my certain knowledge this crime is not confined to those whose love of ease, amusement and fashionable life leads them to desire immunity from the cares of children: but is practiced by those whose inmost souls revolt from the dreadful deed, and in whose hearts the maternal feeling is pure and undying. What, then has driven these women to the desperation necessary to force them to commit such a deed? This question being answered, I believe, we shall have such an insight into the matter as to be able to talk more clearly of a remedy.

Resolved, that the women of this nation in 1876, have greater cause for discontent, rebellion and revolution than the men of 1776.

Oh, yes. I’d do it all again; the spirit is willing yet; I feel the same desire to do the work but the flesh is weak. It’s too bad that our bodies wear out while our interests are just as strong as ever.

She rocks.

 

go team! February 10, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 6:51 am

So far we’ve had poems about lesbian love and the sheer love of living. Today’s poem is about self-love.

2-4-6-8
Barbie likes to masturbate
She’s been doing it since age 8
And her style is really great
Religion told her she should wait
And find herself a suitable mate
2-4-6-8 Barbie didn’t take the bait
So listen all you girls and boys
Come on and grab all your sex toys
We’re going to make a lot of noise
Learning about our bodily joys
2-4-6-8
Everybody masturbate!

Brought to you by the Radical Cheerleaders and the letter F.

 

My Plan for World Domination

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 6:23 am

Step 1: Get included in the The Eighth Carnival of Feminists without even trying. Who ever nominated my porn post, thank you. Wow. I feel exactly like Sally Fields winning the Oscar.

Step 2: Gain followers through the subtle distribution of propaganda. When I was working at the public library in high school, we would get this guy who came in and surrepetitiously left Nazi literature in all the tax forms. Nothing we could do but clean up after him. I have unconciously adopted this tactic with my roommates. The only common room we have is the kitchen, and on the windowsill is a growing pile of French celebrity gossip magazines, Glamour, Vogue, and other various spawn of the fashion industry. It’s a ratio of 1:1 of magazines with Angelina Jolie or Jennifer Anniston on the cover. They’re kind of communal property; read them at the table, or take them with you and bring them back when you’re done. So I’ve taken to leaving my magazines, like SCUMgrrrls, on the pile. Have passive-aggressively outed myself to my French roommates by placing French dyke mag Oxydo right on top (about time, too. How many months have I been here?)
Anyway, my copy of Bitch magazine went missing for about a week. Score! I don’t know who’s been reading it, but I suspect it was Val, since it’s English language. Which is good. It’s my belief that most people are feminists, they just don’t know it. Val is a Super Type A Power Woman and would make a kick ass feminist. She’s already politicized (she wants to be a diplomat), she just needs to be radicalized a bit.
I’ve also asked my All-American Girl baby sister to buy me a copy of the February 10th Anniversary issue of Bitch and hang onto it for me (although, if anybody wants to send me their copy when they’re done with it, I promise to name my first born daughter after you, even if you’re named Earl). With any luck, she’ll get really bored one day and start leafing through it instead of her Cosmo and figure out that maybe her hairy dyke big sister isn’t that crazy after all.

Step 3: Invent a French equivalent for “Ms.” as a form of address. The country that gave us Simone freaking de Beauvoir still only refers to women based on their marital status.

Step 4: Recruit more lesbians. I need to convince Gorgeous French roommate that she’s really a very gay femme and get her to dump her boyfriend. I’m kidding! Kidding! Mostly.

First France, then, the world! Muahahahahahahahhahahahahahaha! ::rubs hands in manner of Bond villain::

 

For Desire February 7, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 3:34 am

Give me the strongest cheese, the one that stinks best;
and I want the good wine, the swirl in crystal
surrendering the bruised scent of blackberries,
or cherries, the rich spurt in the back
of the throat, the holding it there before swallowing.
Give me the love who yanks open the door
of his house and presses me to the wall
in the dim hallway, and keeps me there until I’m drenched
and shaking, whose kisses arrive by the boatload
and begin their delicious diaspora
through the cities and small towns of my body.
To hell with the saints, with martyrs
of my childhood meant to instruct me
in the power of endurance and faith,
to hell with the next world and its pallid angels
swooning and sighing like Victorian girls.
I want this world. I want to walk into
the ocean and feel it trying to drag me along
like I’m nothing but a broken bit of scratched glass,
and I want to resist it. I want to go
staggering and flailing my way
through the bars and back rooms,
through the gleaming hotels and weedy
lots of abandoned sunflowers and the parks
where dogs are left off their leashes
in spite of the signs, where they sniff each
other and roll together in the grass, I want to
lie down somewhere and suffer for love until
it nearly kills me, and then I want to get up again
and put on that little black dress and wait
for you, yes you, to come over here
and get down on your knees and tell me
just how fucking good I look

Kim Addonizio

Snatched up from roots down. I love finding new blogs; it’s almost as good as exploring a library.

 

merde February 6, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 2:33 am

I spent my nice, long weekend watching dubbed cowboy movies (John Wayne speaking French!) and piecing together That Goddamn Neverending Sweater. I’d started knitting a purple version of Stitch ‘n’ Bitch’s Peppermint Twist sweater in June, and after 8 months of endless knitting on miniscule #2 needles, teaching myself purling, increasing, decreasing, rib stitch, fake grafting and mattress stitch, I was done. I just had to put it all on circular needles and whip up some ribbing for the neck line. It was beautiful. It looked just like the photo in the book. Full of righteous grrl power. Am RiotGrrrl Knitting Queen! Bow and tremble before me, mortals! Don’t make me stab you with my knitting needles!
Decided to try it on before adding the ribbed neckline. Picture me hopping around the bathroom, with the TGNS stuck on my head, grunting and tugging and trying not to rip the newly-stitched side seams. Not that I’m worried. It’s supposed to be form-fitting. And it’s still adjusting to being off the needles; has to be broken in a bit. Yeah, that’s it.
I finally get it down over my head. It’s too small. IT’S TOO FUCKING SMALL!!! Well, actually it fits just fine, if I decide breathing is optional, and if I don’t mind my arms hanging slightly akimbo because the shoulders are too tight.
I find myself starting to giggle somewhat hysterically, not only because I look ridiculous, but because my other option is to start crying and stab myself in the neck with said #2 needles. I realize I can’t move my arms well enough to pull it back over my head. I have spent the last 8 months knitting a full body version of Chinese handcuffs. A straight-jacket in purple-striped stockinette stitch. I have to cut myself out of my own goddamn sweater. I’m taking a scissors to the seams I spent all weekend sewing, thinking how my life, at the moment, totally resembles a humiliating scene in a Hugh Grant farce, except I lack the charming accent and fail to get the girl in the end.

Clearly, knitting is a Tool of the Patriarchy, like high heeled shoes and pole-dancing, and must be done away with if a real revolution is to happen. I think I’ll take up some manly, butch hobby like kickboxing or shooting beer cans.

 

just a girl February 4, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 7:13 am

Hello, ladies and gents; welcome to Busy Nothings. This is another Big Ideas post. Today we’re talking about porn. And we’re not going to worry about the creepy search hits it will generate. This is me thinking out loud; there’s no central argument or neat conclusion; but the subject of porn has been running around in my head for weeks, driving me crazy, so I’m just gonna dump it all here and see what you all think.

Take this pink ribbon off my eyes
I’m exposed and it’s no big surprise
Don’t you think I know exactly where I stand?

Because, I’m wondering what kind of feminist it makes me if I own copies of both (anti-porn) Off Our Backs and the self-explanatory On Our Backs. Hypocritical? Confused? Or just a bad feminist? I’ve been reading a lot of feminist blogs lately arguing the pros and cons of porn and, being an indecisive Libra, constantly switching camps. It doesn’t help that I’m pretty ignorant of the issue; I’ve never read Dworkin or MacKinnon, or seen much in the way of mainstream straight porn. So bear that in mind; I’m just talking about my own experience as a bookish, queer feminist. And in my own experience, “pro-sex” and “anti-porn” bloggers aren’t really talking too much at all. They’re yelling at each other: “Porn is EVIL you sell-out Tool of the Patriarchy!” “Orgasms are revolutionary you facist censorious prude!!” I’m being facetious, but honestly I don’t see a lot of honest debate; mostly a big game of More Feminist Than Thou. You all do realize that you’re on the same side, right? Because both pro and antis make the same claim: they like sex, and they’re against sexual exlploitation of women. And who can’t agree with that?

‘Cause I’m just a girl, little ‘ol me
Don’t let me out of your sight
I’m just a girl, all pretty and petite
So don’t let me have any rights

This is a really big, really complex issue, so I’m gonna put on my English Major Hat and approach this the only way I know how. Let’s define our terms first. Pornography literally means “writing about whores”, depictions of the cheapest sex slaves in ancient Greece. Sexually explicit material with the goal of sexual arousal, according to Wikipedia. Images on paper and film. Words. Text, then. Now I’m on more familiar ground; I know how to critically analyze a text. I know that words have no meaning outside of their context, like a good deconstructionist; that texts are read and interpreted in many different ways. There’s nothing inherent in a book, for instance, that gives it moral value. It’s the author, the reader, and the social milieu of the book that makes the difference between Mein Kampf and, say, Paradise Lost. And even Mein Kampf is a very different book when read by a WWII historian and a KKK member. If we define porn as sexually explicit material, that includes a lot of stuff beyond Hustler and Playboy. The paintings of Toulouse-Lautrec fit the Greek definition, for instance.
But that’s not really what feminists are talking about, is it? They’re talking about sexually explicit material intended to arouse men. Really horrible misogynistic stuff. Which, as a text, is simply reflecting a really horrible misogynistic culture. It’s hard to discuss porn without bringing up prostitution, BDSM, sex trafficking, and rape culture, and I don’t really have the time and space to go into that now.

I’m just a girl in the world
That’s all that you’ll let me be

But porn is connected to all that, it’s part of a larger culture of rape, where women are the sex class, always available to men everywhere, always objectified, even by gay men, because one of the responsibilities of “woman” is to be decorative eye candy. Texts both reflect and create social constructs; so misogynistic porn is both a symptom and a cause of patriarchal rape culture.

I’m just a girl, guess I’m some kind of freak
‘Cause they all sit and stare with their eyes

And that’s what I think of when I hear the word “pornography”; more than just dirty pictures in Hustler, I think of the exploitation of women in general. And I hate it. I hate that every day I walk past a store window selling Playboy merchandise to little girls. I hate that most of my female students are more concerned with the state of their hair than their ability to conjugate the verb to be. I hate that I’m always, always subject to the male gaze, that I’m not even sure what the world would be like without it. I hate that every where I go I’m faced with gratuitous T & A in advertizements and media. Female body parts put on display like so many carcasses hanging in a butcher shop. And I hate even more that that analogy is pretty literal, that every day millions of girls and women are bought and sold in sex trafficking to realize this sick fantasy.

I’m just a girl, what’s my destiny?
What I’ve succumbed to is making me numb

So why do I own copies of On Our Backs and Slit (a radical dyke sex mag from Australia)? Lesbian porn is still porn, and dykes can be just as misogynistic as the next man. Have I internalized the male gaze? Am I exploiting, objectifying those women too? Reiterating and participating in those oppressive discourses? The master’s tools, says Lorde, will never dismantle the master’s house.

I’m just a girl, living in captivity
Your rule of thumb makes me worrisome

But is porn inherently a tool of the master? The only answer I have is: yes and no. A tool is neutral; a hammer can smash a window as easy as nail a two-by-four. Porn is a text, and it depends who’s making it, and who’s reading it, and in what context. That’s what my gut tells me. Though maybe I’m just rationalizing, making myself the exception, as people are wont to do. “Porn isn’t bad, there’s just bad porn”–is that my argument? It’s not bad when I do it, just when other people do.

I’m just a girl, take a good look at me
Just your typical prototype

Honestly, there’s a lot about these magazines I like. And pictures of naked, happy dykes–older ones and fat ones and butch ones and black ones and Asian ones and femmes and various combinations, owning and reveling in their sexuality on their own terms, without straight guys looking on–that isn’t something that I can get very upset over. Especially since nobody’s making money off it (at least not in the case of Slit). And the articles and columns have been a huge resource for me; I love “Uncle Lynee’s School for Bois” in OOB. Slit, especially, is really fucking intelligent and challenging. Go ahead and laugh at me reading porn “for the articles”; I think it’s funny too. But honestly, it’s taught me alot about my sexuality; they’ve educated and informed me immensly, demystified sex and the body. That’s not something I got anywhere else, really. Which helps me reclaim myself from a culture that tried to rob me of my sexuality (and I’m one of the lucky few; I haven’t been raped or molested). That’s really fucking empowering, to have the confidence and knowledge to own my sexuality on my terms and not put up with shit. Though I could have happily lived my life without seeing Annie Sprinkle’s cooch, but whatev. So, on one hand, porn is simply a text like any other and can be used as a means of resistance, a means of creating an alternative culture that celebrates and educates instead of exploiting and degrading.

The moment that I step outside
So many reasons for me to run and hide
I can’t do the little things I hold so dear
‘Cause it’s all those little things that I fear

But. It’s a double eged sword. And when you lie down with dogs, you’ll wake up with fleas. Just because you claim it’s feminist or empowering don’t make it so. The photos in these magazines aren’t always my thing, but I haven’t found anything too untoward. Ironically, it’s not the pictures, but the fiction I have serious problems with. There are two or three stories that really bother me. In fact, they piss me the fuck off. They’re about cop and rape fantasies (!!!!!!) and let me just say GUNS. ARE NOT. SEXY. These stories expose the lie that just because something’s taboo, it must be transgressive and subversive as well. BULLSHIT. If a man wrote these stories they’d be roundly condemned; and I don’t feel the fact that a dyke wrote them changes anything, in this case. Some things cannot be subverted; some things should not be “reclaimed.” Which highlights the “choice” pseudo-feminism that I keep running into in “pro-sex” feminism. “I can eroticize power and dominate too” IS NOT EMPOWERING. It’s not liberating. You’re just internalizing and reifying oppression, which is pretty common in oppressed groups. You’re not deconstructing or changing anything. Is there any way we can create alternative sexual spaces that are safe and freeing, without falling into this trap? Because it’s all too easy to do, and that really worries me.

I’m just a girl, my apologies
What I’ve become is so burdensome
I’m just a girl, lucky me!
Twiddle-dum, there’s no comparison

Yeah, I realize the irony of quoting Gwen Stefani, a woman who exploits and objectifies other women in a fashion that would make Larry Flynt proud. But I’ve always loved “Just A Girl”, it was an early feminist awakening moment for me, and it really articulates the bind women find ourselves in. We’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t. We can’t express ourselves sexually without constantly running the risk of having it co-opted, perverted, exploited, used against us.
So, the moral of the story is, I’ll probably keep buying Slit and OOB, but I’ll still feel conflicted about it.