Saturday, September 12, 2009

Transmen & Masculine Females: a Radical alternative to patriarchal masculinity

Erica, a presenter at this years ButchVoices conference, uses bell hooks' theories on white male supremacy and black patriarchy to analyze, re-position and re-conceptualize female masculinity and transmanhood, in general, black female masculinity and black transmanhood, in particular. She states: "...personally, as a black lesbian I...have...felt a need to construct a radical alternative to patriarchy and to patriarchal masculinity...transgender men, doms, studs, I think all of us...have a powerful..position in terms of reframing this discussion around what is black masculinity."

My comment: While I have thought of my gender experience and gender expression as a butch identified woman -- in explicit terms -- as a tool to subvert patriarchy, in particular, white male supremacy -- I hadn't thought of my gender experience and gender expression as a butch identified woman as a "radical alternative to patriarchy" -- as Erica brilliantly and eloquently states.

Right on, brother! Optimism inspiring stuff:)

Erica's suggestions on how to accomplish the goal of resisting complicity in and subverting patriarchal norms, and thus, constructing a radical alternative to patriarchy:

1) Fully embrace one's masculinity and femininity

2) Context helps define masculinity and femininity -- and the degree to which one's gender expression is masculine and feminine.

My comment: With statements 1 & 2 Erica was saying (I think) that there is no one way to be butch, stud, dom, a masculine female, a masculine person (etc.,) -- therefore, the spectrum, variations and differences in queer expressions of masculinity need be embraced, affirmed, validated and respected (as long as these expressions are not tied to the abuse of another person -- like misogyny and sexual violence directed at femmes, non-"masculine" people, and masculine people, for example.)

3) Interrogate one's emotions (in defiance of masculine gender norms). Engage in self-analysis or introspection -- in so doing, I believe we honor and respect our emotional experiences. Patriarchy teaches men to repress emotions that render a man vulnerable -- like sadness, for example (I think patriarchy encourages, validates and awards male expressions of anger). Erica encourages masculine females and transmen *not*

4) "Develop a healthy relationship to our own power and authority and our own power in the world." -- which means *not* abusing one's power as a stud, dom, transman or masculine person

Thanks, Erica!

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