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So there’s this JAKEtalk (like a TEDtalk, but really gay) and I haven’t listened to it all the way through, because he opened his talk with a quotation about Gay Assimilation into the Het world, and then spoke briefly about the Queer Bubble, about increasing (ish?) acceptance of The Gay[1] in mainstream[2] society, and what that means, or could mean, when it comes to maintaining a Queer Identity when that identity is no-longer based on, or reliant upon, being The Other or being an Outsider.
 
Which seems very strange to me, at first blush, so I thought I’d ramble a bit and see if I can parse it out. (The JAKEtalk intro is being used as a jumping-off-point here, rather than this post being an actual response to anything in the JAKEtalk).
Onwards!
 
So, look. I’m a weirdo. I spent my teens and early 20s wearing All The Velvet and All The Eyeliner because (a) PRETTY!, but also because (b) I figured out fairly early on that, at 6’4”, there is no protective colouration that will make e look “normal”, so I might as well (i) wear what I actually like, and/or (ii) give them something to fucking stare at.
So I’m fairly well-versed in Identity As Defined By Otherness, even if it’s on the relatively shallow level of being an unusually shaped/sized cis chick. I’m pagan – in the “Bioregional Animism” and “Ancestor Veneration” senses of the word, rather than the more widely recognized “Wiccan Offshoots” sense of the word (thank you gods, for a country where we have “Freedom TO”-based freedom of religion), and I’m a poly, kinky bi-dyke femme. A lot of my personal identities/labels/shorthands-for-what-I-am are frequently explained by highlighting the ways that they contrast with more mainstream/normative/normalized identities.
BUT that doesn’t mean that my identities can’t exist without that opposition.
Being married to my wife doesn’t make me Not Queer. Or “not queer enough” for that matter.
One of my poly-leather family members once said (gods, lifetimes ago now, back when my wife and I hadn’t even been dating for six months yet) that being a “married queer” didn’t change the way that she built family, that she didn’t stop being poly (or kinky, or anti-o, or a TIFD) just because she was also a Nice Jewish Girl with a ring on her left finger.
This has stuck with me for years now.
 
I love my Bubble. My kinky, poly, trans-inclusive dyke bubble is awesome. But, specifically because it’s so awesome, I kind of wish 100% of humanity was in here with me. Not in here diluting the awesomeness with their hetcis-normative expectations, with their “stay out of my bathroom” and their “I don’t understand how that kind of relationship could be anything but abusive”, their “porn is the theory” and their “multiple concurrent relationships are a sign of emotional immaturity[3]”, their “you’re in love with your own oppression” and their “you just haven’t found the right man yet”… No. I mean I want 100% of humanity in here with our norms and ideals and social expectations[4] which, largely, boil down to “Your kink[5] is okay, whether or not it’s mine” and that the more options we have, and can put words around, the better.
 
I don’t think that we stop having our identities just because more people accept, normalize, and celebrate them.
 
My wife is not “less poly” just because her mother is happy to meet her many partners, and to have us in attendance for her 65th birthday. I’m not “less queer” just because my own gay auntie paved the way for me in our family, or because her parents responded with absolute love (I know, because she read the letter from them, responding to her coming-out letter, at my wedding) when she came out decades ago. My friends are not “less trans” because zir mom took zir shopping for more gender-appropriate clothing, or because her nieces call her their favourite auntie; and they’re not “less kinky” because they can talk about their desires and relationships with their vanilla friends.
We do not stop being what we are just because the Normal People still love us, or let us on the PTA, or look to us as part of our faith community. Being unwanted is not a prerequisite for being us.
 
It’s sucks beyond all possible measure that any of my poly friends have to keep coming out to their families-of-origin, have to worry about how said relatives are going to handle it when they bring their multiple people home for the holidays. It sucks beyond all possible measure that my family members have fam-of-o or (extended-community-members, for that matter – get with the program, y’all…) who keep getting their pronouns wrong even though it’s been YEARS since they came out. It sucks beyond all possible measure that any of my dyke Fam has to deal with out and out hatred as part of “being a good daughter”.
I know that we face this stuff, that our bubble is (our bubbles are) how we protect each other, hold each other up, keep each other safe, help each other heal. And I don’t want to lose the love that comes with building our own families in spite of the Charmed Circle wishing that we weren’t around being our fabulous, unapologetic selves “at” them. But we don’t have to lose it.
We don’t have to stop being big-hearted and open-hearted with each other just because we’re gaining the chance to be open-hearted with the people we came from, too.
 
 
TTFN,
Ms. Syren.
 
 
[1] Less-so The Trans, so let’s keep pushing for that one, shall we?
 
[2] Meaning heteronormative, cisnormative.
 
[3] TRY IT SOME TIME, I DARE YOU, KIDDO.
 
[4] Which, full disclosure: I ain’t perfect yet. None of us are. But I know where I’m going.
 
[5] Gender / family-structure / body / employment situation / sexual identity / etc – Choose your own adventure(s).

13 Observations in 3 Parts

syrens:

The Politics of Indigeneity (by tequilasovereign).
Accademic Feminists, in particular, please go read.

Originally posted on tequilasovereign:

Anti-Racist Feminist Allies and the Politics of Indigeneity

Part I

1) Everyone has a basic human right to identify themselves (who they are) and their membership in groups and polities (who they belong to). But self-definition and governance do not operate in a historical or political vacuum.

  • What it means to claim or be perceived as Indigenous is historically, socially, culturally, and spatially politicized.
  • Historically, individuals who identified as or were perceived to be Indigenous were targets of gang rape, physical assault, harassment, discrimination, and murder. Groups who identified as or were perceived to be Indigenous were sexually assaulted, enslaved, forcibly removed from their lands and homes, and subjected to brutal assimilation programs.
  • Historically, non-Indigenous individuals claimed Indigenous identity in order to stake a claim on Indigenous lands and resources. These fraudulent claims were often supported by U.S. government officials and the courts as a means to strip Indigenous peoples…

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Hi, folks!
So it’s catch-up week at KotW, and the most recent prompt has been corsets. Consequently, I’ll be talking a bit about them in this post.
 
Look. I love how a corset – an underbust, a plastic-boned bodice, even tight-lacing – looks. I recently did a portrature sitting where I deisilpunked it up as an alternate-earth WASP in her leather & pvc dress uniform. (I wore my Unholy Harvest dogtags, for those keeping track). Wish I had a photo to show you, ’cause I swear I felt like Amanda Fucking Palmer in that getup. :-)
I love the way a nipped-in waist – whether through actual hardware or just through wearing a fitted top – can accestuate my already-fairly-hourglass figure and play up my awesome shoulders and hips. I love the feel of the fitted, structured fabric. I love the way my hips and ribs feel moving against it.
But.
I kind of loathe the sore back that comes with wearing boned articles of clothing. Sorry folks. My fetwear is more likley to be a sarong and some gladiator sandals, even if the aesthetics of giant high heels + heaps-o-boning totally turn my crank.
Alas.
I am, occasionally, a practical girl.
 
That said, I do have a tonne of the things – mostly the plastic-boned kind that you can get on ebay for $9.99 – that I use primarily for modeling jobs (see above re: portraiture class, for example). Because they’re not understood, these days, as “underwear” (sexwear is a different story, mind you), and because our contemporary clothing tends not to be particularly structured (even a lot of business-formal-style “blouses” are actually knits these days), the boning and obvious shaping of a corset (or similar item) tends to lend an element of instant formality to a given outfit while also playing (however inacurately) with anacronistic themes. They’re a useful thing to have in a work-wardrobe when your job involves bringing fantasy to life – or at least depictions of same. Case in point:
 
Pixie x1
 
 
So those are my thoughts on corsets.
&hnbsp;
Kink of the Week
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.

So someone on Twitter asked who-all was going to attend this evening’s Day Of Pink Gala (hosted by the CCGSD, formerly Jer’s Vision), and I responded, this morning, with one word: Nope.
While the sentiment was definitely clear, I did feel like I was being a bit misleading. So, as is my wont, I wrote a blog post to talk about this a little bit more.
 
Look. The truth of the matter is that I’ve never gone to a Day of Pink Gala. Even though it’s a free (iirc) party, and even though there’s a good chance that there’s free food at said free party, and even though I am exactly the kind of broke artist who will show up at a stranger’s vernisage specifically to eat the free cheese while trying to get a modeling job… I never went to DoP. For Reasons. Put it down to my being a home-body and big crowds making me nervous.
 
In previous years, this wasn’t anything to Make A Statement about, so I never did. At most, I’d shrug and go “Meh. I think I’ve got something else on that night” and not mention that “something else” was probably “youtube videos”. But then this happened: The CCGSD appointed Laureen Harper as their Day Of Pink ambassador. Now, on her own, Laureen Harper is just… some chick. Google her, and pretty-much all you’ll find is her connection to her husband, the current leader of the governing party of Canada.
You know, the biggest bully in the country.
(Okay, he might be tied with Don Plett, but every slime-ball needs a wingman, amirite?)
 
So here’s the thing. It is (technically) possible to have a lasting, loving relationship with a partner whose politics differ radically from your own. At least in theory[1]. So this would be a completely different situation if Laureen Harper’s youth-advocacy work involved being vocally and publically supportive of the rights of specifically queer and trans students to a harassment-free learning environment.
But, as far as I can tell, she’s not doing that. Sure, she talks about how it’s important to support diversity in schools, but in Ottawa, and in Ontario more generally, we’ve been watching state-sponsored English-language Catholic schools insist on the term “diversity” as a way to specifically refuse to support, or even recognize, their queer and trans students. “Diversity” in and of itself is great – the Pagans have a saying, “Strength in Diversity”, that references how much healthier a tall-grass prairie is to a monocrop, for example, how many voices singing in harmony with each other are way more powerful, more moving, than one voice shouting all alone – but “diversity” isn’t great when it’s co-opted by people who are actively trying to force you back into a closet.
 
Also, something worth noting: Pink Shirt Day was originally a campaign started by two rural Nova Scotia 12th-graders in support of a ninth-grade student who was hit with specifically homophobic slurs when he wore a pink shirt to school one day. Day Of Pink is a national upshot of youth-for-youth solidarity and, importantly, of youth standing with peers who face violence specifically because their gender presentation and/or sexual orientation is, or is perceived to be, outside of what’s considered “normal”.
So here’s a story from my own childhood:
I didn’t know “bisexual” was a thing until I was sixteen, and it took another year for me to figure out that “bixsexual” was a term that applied to me. But I didn’t need to be “out and proud” or even just “visibly queer” (as a cis, femme, little girl, the only things that marked me as “other” were my height, my music, and – unexpectedly? – my insistence on wearing dresses) to face homophobic bullying. Nobody beat me up, but my fifth grade was all about getting swarmed by mobs of classmates jeering “Are you a lesbian? Are you a lesbian???” (if you were wondering about where that fear of crowds came from…), stealing my shoes, being told that people being “different” was fine just “Not when they’re different like you”. It was my teachers being deeply unsettled to see me doing a Fred and Ginger dance routine with another girl in my grade.
I know damn well that I was not the only turned-out-to-be-queer kid in my class. Not just statistically, either (Ottawa’s a small town, for a place with a million people). Given that none of our teachers were saying “there’s nothing wrong with this, stop being a douche-canoe”, I can’t say I blame them for letting me draw the fire, if they’d even figured themselves out yet, which isn’t necessarily the case. But if they knew? If nine and ten year old kids knew they were One Of Us, and knew that to keep themselves safe they had to laugh at the (other) faggot right along with the Normal People… do you really think they wouldn’t?
I’m not typically one to quote Ivan Coyote, but they said something on facebook a while back, after having seen a high school teacher wearing a pink t-shirt that read “The Pink Shirt Says It All”. What they said on facebook was (I’m paraphrasing, I think) “The pink shirt means fuck-all if it’s not backed up with action”.
 
Look. There are things that CCGSD does that I really, really like. I love that they hold national conferences where high school students can learn how to advocate for themselves and their peers with a specific focus on gender and/or sexuality minorities and youth of colour. I love that they run Rainbow Write, locally, which is a program that bring queer and/or trans writers and, frequently, specifically queer and/or trans writers of colour, to Ottawa to do writing workshops with queer and trans teens[2] (and, if space allows, Rainbow Brights of all ages). But Day Of Pink is supposed to be about stopping specifically homophobic and transphobic bullying; about making schools and, more broadly, the world safer for our children; for sending the message (and backing it up with action, folks!) that this particular type of cruelty – which is used to police gender and sexuality at every age and regardless of what a given targeted-person’s gender and sexual orientation actually are, but which always, always hurts OUR kids, no matter whom its directed at – is absolutely not okay. Deciding that the appropriate ambassador for this message is someone who will actively dilute it, who is someone with deep and personal ties to a party that is clearly dead set against all of us who live outside of that tiny, narrow charmed circle? My dears, that was the wrong decision.
 
Those feelings of rage and betrayal that are flying all over twitter right now? Those feelings are real. Some of us believed you had our backs. But getting popular with the powerful crowd by betraying those who are already getting stomped on?
Honey… that’s what bullies do.
 
 
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Although, I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how. That is a hell of a hard road to walk, even when your partner’s hateful, fear-mongering politics aren’t routinely being rammed into actual federal laws.
 
[2] The second time I came out – as kinky and poly and queer-femme – as an adult with my own place to live, it was queer (and frequently kinky and poly) femme poets who got me through my divorce, helped me see my reflection on paper, and helped me find my voice as a writer. I can’t imagine how much more of a huge fucking relief it would be for a queer and/or trans kid, a teenager who might be afraid of getting kicked out of their home if they’re open about who they are, to meet and be mentored by adults who are just like them and who get it.

syrens:

Go read this post by Moontime Warrior on the subject of gendered colonial violence in/by Canada.

Originally posted on Moontime Warrior:

Today is April 2nd, 2015 and across these lands, gatherings will be held for Cindy Gladue.

Cindy Gladue was an Indigenous woman, mother, and sex worker. The man charged in her murder was recently acquitted after a dehumanizing trial involving the showcasing of Gladue’s intimate wounds as evidence.  Just today, it was announced that the Alberta Crown has launched an appeal. For those of you unfamiliar with the case, I suggest articles by Sarah Hunt and my dear friend Naomi.

In helping to organize the Saskatoon event and communicating with organizers across the country, I am reminded that the women and two spirits organizing these actions are the same women who organize everything in our communities. The women who carry the burdens of so many and often find ourselves exhausted. The ones who are on the frontlines, who never step back from “the work” because the…

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syrens:

Woohoo! (Birth announcement via one of my other blogs). :-D Welcome to the world, Nibbling-of-Mine! :-D

Originally posted on Urban Meliad:

My sister gave birth to her first child today. The “official” (read: roughly when said baby was all the way out of my sister’s body) time of birth is ~10:45am Calgary Time (AKA 12:45pm, where I’m at).
This child’s name is a deliberately unisex name. Whether this is because the parents are clueful enough to prep for the possibility that their new-born son may turn out to have been their new-born daughter all along, or just for the sake of some other sort of convenience, I have no idea, but this Big Gay Auntie is happy to see that choice regardless.

I finished my nibbling’s baby blanket today, sitting on the back porch in the sun(!) on the first really beautiful, honestly warm day of Spring. New life into the world. Persephone comes above ground again, and this baby came with her. <3 (Granted, I doubt my non-practicing-but-technically-Abrahamic sister would…

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H’okay. So C279, which started out pretty decent, is getting worse and worse. Now they’re trying to ammend it so that trans people[1] would have to carry their surgery-status papers (wtf??) with them just to use a fucking bathroom. Um, hello? The whole point of the bill was to PROTECT the human rights of TRANS PEOPLE!
AUGH!!!
God. That hateful man’s granddaughter is in more danger from him – statistically, if for no other reason, since he’s an adult relative – than from some random perp who decided that jumping out from behind a bush was too passé and that going through the effort of dressing in drag is totally the new wave of victim-accosting[2].
Eugh.
 
Anyway. Thinking about this, and having read Jeana’s post about Indiana (where she lives), I’m starting to wonder what we can do in terms of checking with businesses (I’m thinking in particular public pools, spas, gyms, yoga studios, etc) locally regarding what their policies are.
While yes, in Ontario, trans people’s human rights are protected by Toby’s Law, and Provincial law does take presidence over Federal under these circumstances, (a) the law isn’t necessarily reliably upheld in, for example, court situations[4], and (b) it’s only Ontario. BC has a similar law[4], and so does the NWT, BUT outside of those jurisdictions, everyone else doesn’t even have a matchstick to hold up. As someone living on the border with another province, it would be really nice to be able (to pick a swanky example) to do an informal Dyke Day at Le Nordik without worrying that the trans women among us would be open to that much more potential harrassment.
 
So, here’s what I’m thinking: Let’s phone/email our local community centres, spas, gyms, etc and see who will pull a Planet Fitness and support trans people using their facilities and, therefore, who does (and, incidentally, who does not) deserve our money. Okay? Okay.
Go.
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Which would disproportionately effect trans women and trans-fem-spectrum people, for all the usual reasons, which can be case-in-pointed by how the focus of these idiots trying to ruin C279 boils down the “ZOMG MAN in DRESS! My delicate masculinity is afeared[3]!”
 
[2] FFS. Look. The whole business where predators – rapists who rape adults, rapists who rape kids, you name it – “jump out from behind a bush” or “hide in a dark alley” or otherwise attack people who are not both already vulnerable AND known to them?… We’ve known that this is bullshit for AGES. Everyone knows that predators are lazy. Attacking a stranger in a bathroom or a locker room takes effort. It’s risky, in that public locker-rooms and rest-rooms are well-lit, typically well-populated, public places, and it’s risky in that most people in thse well-lit, well-populated public spaces aren’t already incapacitated in some way. It’s unlikely to work. Even without having to buy special clothes[1] to do it, it’s still WAY easier to attack someone who already trusts you, with-whom you have a visibly possitive, or at least social/familial, relationship, so that nobody will believe that you did it even IF your victim believes it themselves and starts telling people.
 
[3] Which I wish was as easy to laugh off as I’ve written it, but seriously, this is the root cause of the murder of SO MANY WOMEN. Another black, trans woman was murdred – by police, fyi – just yesterday. Her name was Mya Shawatza Hall (please read the whole thing).
 
[4] For “Reasons”, mostly, but also because “gender identity” and “gender expression” weren’t explicitely define and, as such, a given judge could theoretically choose to interpret the terms using a super-narrow, genitals/medical/surgical-based definition (as has been the case in BC, for example).

Hey folks.
So someone tossed up a beautiful piece of piercing performance on twitter today, and it reminded me of the thrill of threading sharp objects through other people’s bodies. The kind of rush you get – or at least that I get – from doing that is a bit of a trip. I need to be careful about shaking hands. It makes my stomach lurch the way too much rich food, too fast, will make my stomach lurch (advice I need to take: Remember to pace yourself as a top – get your breath back under you before you drive that next spike in…). But the payoff, when your Person goes Under, when her breath deepens and her body turns liquid-boneless in your arms… Guh.
I want it.
I want more.
 
To that end, I’m just going to drop these three little videos (neither by me in any way, shape, or form) here for future reference. None of them are how-to videos, I don’t think. But they’re worth a look, none the less.
 

 

 

 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.

Hey, folks.
 
So Parliament is going into (I think) Reading #2 of Bill C-51, the so-called “Anti-Terrorist Act”, which proposes a bunch of heavy-duty changes to Canadian law and to our national security infrastructure. A lot of these changes would negatively effect the rights and freedoms of Canadians (which is bad enough, honestly, BUT there’s more) without any sort of follow-through in terms of actually improving public safety (in fact, there’s a been a few annalysts who’ve pointed out the ways in which it does the opposite – give this a read for those details). This article breaks it down. If you’re hazy on the details of what the bill actually does, or are looking for a quick reference to use while composing a letter to your MP (or ALL the MPs, for that matter), I suggest that you give it a read. NOTE: You can also check out this Storify which has LOTS of links and information on the bill.
 
If you’re in Ottawa, you may want to participate in the Day of Action to Stop Bill C-51 as well. Click on that link to find events happening this Saturday (the Day of Action in question), as well as related events happening through the month of March.
 
Please do what you can to stop this bill in its tracks.
Thank you.
Ms Syren.

So this week’s Kink of the Week Prompt is Begging. I’m kind of uncomfortable with begging, at least in the hyperbolic, incessant-until-they-get-what-they’re-asking-for sense of the word. I feel an unpleasant mix of put-upon and embarrassed, like I should probably give in and do whatever-it-is just to shut them up.
And yet… There’s something about “please”, about “let me?”, about that vulnerable voicing of want and hunger combined with the holding back, with not just taking… Now, that I love.
I fantasize about that stuff. About being the kind of top who doesn’t just listen with her skin, but with her ears, who makes sure this, or this, or this is wanted; about hearing please gasped breathless and half-involuntary by someone yearning for my hands, my mouth, all over her lit-up body; that makes me shiver all over, that makes my breath go shallow and my blood race.
But, too, there’s something about hearing it coming from someone who’s buried her face in my neck, who’s risking the terror of letting her own hunger show, hesitant and hopeful as the brush of fingertips along my lower back, breath whispering over my skin. There’s such a delicious power in that, in the inviting and the allowing, when it works, when trust is the right way to go. And I want that, too.
I want it all.
 
Kink of the Week
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.