I am torn. On the one hand, I want to keep my kinky lifestyle private, because it is private. I want it to be something shared only between me and A. But on the other hand, at this moment in time (and at most other moments in history), sexuality is so political. The personal is political, the sexual is political and that means that the kinky is political too. Arguably more political.
Part of me wants to only read the book I just bought, Slavecraft: Roadmaps for Erotic Servitude (a grateful slave and Baldwin, 2004.), alone in my room, talking to A. But another part of me wants to read it on the subway, at school, on the streetcar, sitting in a park. Because I want BDSM to not be so…looked down upon. I want it to be “normal”.
I recognize that this is perhaps one of those battles that I may never win, that I will never be able to decide whether to be public or private, or worse, that BDSM will continue to be the shunned turn-on of society.
I realize that this is quite a useless post. But I don’t know what else to say today.
We are in a world that is in a great and profound time of change. Our economy is falling back even though we, as a global community, are moving forward. We have fewer dollars in our pockets, but more reasons than ever to give to people who are in more need than us. All around us, new words are being given to identities and ideas that have always existed. We are searching for moral and legal escapes from our day-to-day realities, but we have no money with which to experience these escapes.
Now, more than any of us have ever seen, people are taking as much control of their lives as they can. People are coming up with new words to describe how their identity is different from the identities of the people who came before them. And perhaps the way they live their lives even seems new to some people. All of us, however, regardless of where we stand on how things are changing, must recognize that they are changing. And there comes a time when we must change with them.
Usually, with tradition, we keep going until we notice that something is going wrong. We don’t fix things that aren’t broken, and that makes sense. Sometimes though, we don’t realize that one of our traditions is broken. This lack of attention to failing practices can become harmful. Especially if the tradition in question has become a system.
Now, for this to continue to make sense, I must state that my definitions of both ‘tradition’ and ‘system’ may be different from what you are used to. I must then define my interpretations of these words. For the sake of this argument, tradition is anything that is an inherited pattern of thought or action. A system is anything utilized to maintain a piece, or pieces, of a society, government or way of life. It must be understood that systems can be, and often are, interlocked and intertwined. Now, assuming these definitions are understood, let’s continue.
S. Bear Bergman, activist and author of Butch Is A Noun (Bergman, 2006.) wrote, “We talk about ‘man’ and ‘woman’ like we know what these things mean.” This statement speaks of our tradition of assuming we know what everything is and that definitions, identities and cultures are universal. Now, this is partly not the fault of generations that are at all recent. Much of this eagerness to, and this tradition of, categorizing things originates in Ancient Greek philosophy. Some of it, though, is only the fault of recent generations. Regardless of whose fault it is, we go about our lives assuming who is a man and who is a woman, and we are basing these assumptions on inherited patterns of thoughts and actions. We are making these assumptions based on tradition.
A lot of the time, one of the first places we notice a tradition or system going wrong is in our schools. One of these traditions is a disturbing pattern of gendered harassment in schools, in workplaces and in the streets. Elizabeth J. Meyer writes, in her paper, Gendered Harassment in Schools: Understanding Teachers’ (non) interventions (Meyer, 2008), “What became clear through the course of the three interviews was that these teachers did not feel that they could put a stop to gendered harassment in schools.” She found that the persistence of obstacles and barriers outside the teachers’ control made their efforts futile. Eventually, the teachers no longer attempted to intervene in sexist, homophobic and transphobic behaviours, patterns and language.
In a recent report titled, Gender Defiance and Discrimination: A study (Zimmerman, 2009), 20 self-identified gender-variant individuals were surveyed. In the final report, 19 participants stated that they had experienced discrimination based on their gender identity and there were a reported 11 cases which took place in schools.
The same report also surveyed the queer community. 17 out of 20 self-identified queer participants reported having been discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation. According to the participants’ responses, school was the place they most often experienced homophobic harassment, followed by the street, home, work, bars and around family.
A number of female queer-identified students, who participated in Zimmerman’s research, responded to the homophobia they were experiencing in their schools by dropping out and enrolling in a queer-inclusive and positive school. 10 of the respondents reported having intentionally missed school to avoid gendered harassment based on their sexual orientation.
90 percent of transgendered, transsexual, gender-queer and gender-varient participants reported that they had, at least once, refrained from disclosing their gender identity because they feared discriminatory consequences.
In my own research, (Gowland, 2008), it was found that language is one of the strongest tools we, as a society, use to build masculinities and femininities. This language is tradition, but it is also a system used for social organization. By constructing standard moulds of masculinity and femininity with our use of language, such as gendered adjectives and pronouns, we restrict the individual’s ability to define themselves. Language acts as a barrier to those falling outside the standard moulds by restricting the room they have to move around inside, or between, the moulds.
In schools, these barriers become not only especially apparent, but also extremely problematic. According to Meyer’s research, teachers did not feel supported by their school’s administration when faced, in their school or classroom, with issues of homophobia and gendered harassment. This is a major contributing factor to students experiencing more acts of homophobic, transphobic and genderist discrimination in schools than any other place. If a group of discriminatory students is allowed to continue inherited patterns of policing the borders of heteronormativity, they will do so, out of tradition. Such behaviour makes students of gender-deviant identities obligated (given the fact that in Ontario, school is mandatory until age 18) to place themselves, repeatedly, into situations which are, or are perceived to be, unsafe and in which there has been an established pattern of discriminatory behaviour. Many students are subjected to this behaviour at such an early time in school (some participants of my study claimed being called a ‘fag’ as early as grade two) that by the time they reach secondary school they have been in an unsafe environment for not just days or weeks or months but year, after year, after year and have grown, through conditioning, to fear school. These students often tally up absences, lates, skipped classes and low grades because of avoiding the discriminatory behaviour of other students. This behaviour includes, but is not limited to, sexual assault and harassment, verbal harassment and abuse, physical assault and abuse, emotional abuse and psychological abuse. This harassment and abuse comes in the forms of beatings, threats, intimidation, isolation, humiliation, name-calling, rape, physical violence, ambushes off of school property and many other acts that seek to traumatize, bash, exclude, berate and psychologically impair the perpetrator’s victims.
Because teachers’ non-interventions are, in themselves, tradition, students who are victim to gendered harassment are unlikely to report this harassment to administration and staff of their schools. Many feel as though it would be a futile effort as the teachers would not intervene, and many too have been made to feel, in the past and present, as though gendered harassment is their fault and is only because they “choose” to be gender or sexually ‘deviant’. In most cases, either through an active effort on the part of schools’ administration, or through a passive effort on the part of the harassed student, the student facing a barrier is removed, instead of the barrier being removed from the student.
If this discriminatory and harassing behaviour, by students, staff and administration, is allowed to continue, the effects may grow even more disturbing and traumatizing than they already are. Direct, persuasive, confrontational and persistent action must be taken against these traditions, which make it so accepted for violent, damaging behaviour to continue, in order to combat the horrifying trend of traumatized, neglected and failing students who fall victim to the school system that claims to benefit them all.
Bergman, S. Bear. Butch Is a Noun. New York: Suspect Thoughts Press, 2006.
Gowland, Aidan. “Language as a Barrier and Aid to Masculinities and Femininities.” Thesis. Independent, 2008. firstname.lastname@example.org
Meyer, Elizabeth J. “Gendered Harassment in secondary schools: Understanding teachers’ (non) interventions.” Gender and Education 20 (2008): 555-70
Zimmerman, Quentin T. “Gender Defiance and Discrimination: A Study.” Thesis. Independent, 2009.
Gowland, Aidan. “Gendered Harassment and Discrimination Faced by Ontario Secondary Students.” Ontario Trans Students’ Coalition 1.3 (2009): 17+. Print.
I am a queer trannyboy subswitch activist.
What the fuck does that mean?
Well, I’m a boy who was born a girl who likes boys and girls and genderqueers and genderfucks and *whew* well, I guess that’s it. I’m also submissive in the bedroom (and in relationships and in the street and in the car and in the supermarket if the person I’m with allows). I’m also dominant in the bedroom. I also sometimes kind of get a bit of a kick out of being made to wear womens’ clothing. (But we won’t tell my girlfriend that, will we?) So I switch. Because I am usually submissive in my relationships, I call myself a subswitch. This is a word I made up for myself to categorize myself. Because I like labels. (Sorry all ye people who don’t like them, they’re useful for finding community).
I’m an activist for many things but most notably:
- Animal rights
- Feminism and Womens’ Rights and equality
- Transgender/Transsexual Rights and equality
- Artists’ Rights
- Peace through understanding
So I’m done telling you about myself. That was the introduction. However, now I’m going to tell you
How To Use This Blog
There are a few tools, tricks and techniques I’m going to use to keep things organized.
1. Bullets, numbering and dashes will signify a list or multiple points.
2. Bold words will symbolize that there will be definitions in the “Glossary” located at the end of every post that has bolded words.
3. Italics will indicate the title of a book or a film. I’ll use MLA formatting to let you know where I’m getting it from.
4. @soandso means that I’m talking about someone on Twitter. If you’re on Twitter, go find them. If you’re not, get on Twitter and go find them.
It’s 4:30AM and @mischief_femme and I have no good to get up to.
genderqueers, genderfucks - people who fall between the lines of the gender binary. Some genderqueers and genderfucks identify as both male and female, some identify as neither, some do their own thing completely. (Sex is between the legs, gender is between the ears.)
submissive - a term used in BDSM to describe someone who likes many things. I would argue that the three “keywords” (as in, if I say these words you’ll know what I’m talking about, not as in “you need to like all these things to be a submissive”) for this term are “bottoming”, “taking” and “slave”.
dominant - the opposite of submissive. I would argue that the three “keywords” for dominant are “Master”, “topping” and “owner”.
subswitch/domswitch - an identity I came up with to describe myself (subswitch) combining the words “submissive” and “switch” (as in someone who switches roles in the bedroom).