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Thursday, March 11, 2010

A year of comments and femininity

It would be pleasant to get more comments. At the moment I get, per post, about 6 or 7 verbal ones, a couple via other electronics, and 1 or 2 to here. From those latter, most have some more direct communication that means I don't publish, and finally there are those that get through to fertilize the blog.
Most writing so far I see as more of a self introductory thing, which isn't that much to dialogue on,but which will be moving on to gender theory material later. However any comments on impenetrability of writing style, for example, would be interesting. Its been many years since I last wrote anything much in prose.

The rest of this post is an answer to a comment received following a recent conversation, and an expansion on something of a theme for the year.
In the conversation I'd referred to the problems in dealing with residual male privilege, partly because I occupy the central role in my place and the complex authority that derives from that.
She wrote back a consideration of that point and talked of her strong feelings that femininity and authority don't conflict with each other. She wrote of her experience, as a lesbian, of femininity being denied her, both systemically by men and by a close relative with whom she talked about being feminine. Then, with the latter, the discovery that they were separated by different definitions of the feminine, and that hers was distinct in that it encompassed, along with the stereotypic female areas, competence, empowerment, authority, independence and rationality. Therefore she wouldn't say that being in authority was in any way unfeminine.
And in substance, I'd be perfectly in agreement. At the moment its still going through an evolution in that my non-male strategies aren't in some ways well enough practiced to fully utilise the potential roles, so I'm left less altered than I should wish to be. And the authority is not so much power as how I fill a position.
Actually though, it's a good heads up. I do slump back rather too much at the moment. And the confidence born of those wide open male spaces of unchanging emotional weather is now firmly 'back in the day'. I need some girl genius kick ass stuff to get me out.
So many thanks to Claire for her observations.
There is another issue here, which has caused me problems most of the last year, that's focused around the words feminine and femininity. It's simply that I find them inaccurate guides to self definition, and too easily formed into kyriarchic complicities.
So I struggle with using the butch / femme duality instead, at least in terms of the philosophical basis for my present gender identity. I think I'm naturally fairly femme, at least in so far of those areas of identity I associate myself most, and are absolutely the most fruitful for me to explore. And clothes and other preferred styles are that way inclined*.And its in that mode that I'm closest to being able to simply relax in being female. This doesn't necessarily have anything to do with some future sexual orientation, but may be influenced by the fact that well over 90% of my serious social interaction is with women. It could be something of a phase in that naturally the most interesting areas of myself to explore are those now clearly distinctive female ones, but even as a man I had relatively femme style in, say, fashion semiotics.
But style, performance, isn't really the thing. Its more in the emotional sensitivity and intensity where I feel closest to myself as a woman, in a femme vision of female. This is , for me, anything but going along with dainty femininity or passive receptivity or any category of female that depends upon the contrasting male. It's agency is not that of subject but of definition, of world, rather than actor.It does mean, however,that I'm far away from feeling able to use male authority strategies, and everytime I fall back upon such there's a pain of inauthenticity.
Growing pains, I suppose.

*At the moment I'm wearing a reasonably tight thin grey sweater, black and white bead necklace, black cotton chinese jacket with gold embroidery and long sort of goth skirt, black with bits of lace,applique and grey crinkled streaks with a bright blue leg cast. That's conservative for daytime wear. Generally I'm thinking of going more steampunk, but I've still got a major kimono habit. These sort of looks tend to work well as detargeting strategies: I look less weird as a woman if instead of just my looks, all of me is enclosed in a weird space. It's a purple thing.

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