femmes, elf stuff, and bi things

119 views
Skip to first unread message

Elise Matthesen

unread,
Jan 5, 2001, 3:35:22 AM1/5/01
to
After reading various things about the Sydney Mardi Gras ban on
bisexuals, and the thread about butches and femmes, and so on, I am
moved to post the following here. It is copyright Elise Matthesen 2000,
and was my keynote speech for the BECAUSE conference held in St. Paul,
Minnesota, this past spring. (I co-keynoted with Carol Queen, which was
great fun. We interviewed each other at 9 in the morning, on the theory
that neither of our internal censors would be awake that early. Worked,
too. <grin>)

Anyhow, here's the speech. The next BECAUSE conference will be held in
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a few months from now, and I hope to be there.
(I'd better be, because I'm doing some programming for them!)

I hope this proves useful/interesting. I feel a little ...um, I'll shut
up now, says the Lioness, feeling the spectral form of Pat Wrede advance
upon her and warn her sternly not to disparage her writing or make long
strings of apologies.

Elise,
upshut and grinning.


Speech by Elise Matthesen for BECAUSE, held in St Paul, 2000

--------begin---------

Female-to-Elf?

If bisexuals are people who are attracted to both genders, then I am not
a bisexual.

We’ll come back to that statement later. In fact, we will travel a
meandering, spiraling, labyrinthine course from here to there, a path
that might take a while. A straight line may be the shortest distance
between two points, but I’ve never done real well following straight
lines, and speaking as someone who rather enjoys a rich and varied
pageant of life, I think short-cuts are vastly overrated. I find much of
the richness in the journeying itself, not just the pot of gold at the
end. Gold can be valuable, and sometimes extremely useful (not to
mention deeply satisfying for us metal-bending artisans to play with)
but gold is, after all, only one color. A rainbow is lots of colors. And
a pot of gold doesn’t fill up the sky with joy like a rainbow can.

Our theme is “Celebrating Our Stories,” so here’s my story. Stories,
plural, actually; I don’t have just one. My observation of my own life
is not monocular, or even binocular; it’s more like a multi-eyed
examination from many perspectives at once.

I was raised in a fundamentalist Lutheran church. Having multiple
viewpoints is *not* looked upon as A Good Thing there, to say the least.
That particular sect is very into having The Right Answer. Everything is
dichotomous, there are only two choices, and one is right and the other
one‘s wrong.

I wasn’t very good at that. I kept thinking too much. “Such men are
dangerous,” said one of Shakespeare’s characters. Probably true.
Shakespeare didn’t say “Such women are dangerous,” or “Such people are
dangerous,” but one could make a case for either -- in addition to the
case some have made that “men” and “people” are equivalent terms in this
construction.

I’m not going to get into the whole grammar and pronouns and linguistic
history and sexism thing, because I’ll end up quoting the Sapir-Whorf
(no, *not* the Star Trek one!!) Hypothesis, probably inaccurately, and
we’ll go on all night. But one thing I have rarely spoken of is that, in
addition to sharing concerns about sexism in the language, I have always
suffered a profound and specific unease about trying to sort things into
two piles marked “men” and “women.”

I’ve never had an urge to go in either pile.

I have never responded with an internal feeling of “That’s me!” I never
“felt like” a woman. People have made statements over the years about
What Women Are Like. None of them ever seemed to have enough room for
me. I figured I was probably not a woman. People, sometimes the same
people, made statements about What Men Are Like. More traits there
usually fit me than did traits in their Women category, but I didn’t
feel any pull towards Men category either. No feeling of recognition, or
of having been recognized.

Okay, I thought, that’s interesting. What was even more interesting was
that I didn’t have a sense of loss about not being a woman or a man.
You’d think that if I really needed that kind of identification I would
miss it if it were gone. Uh-uh. Bewilderment, sure. Gender identity
seemed to be really crucial for a lot of people. I didn’t get it.

They told me when I was little that I was “a little girl.” Oh, I
thought. Ohkaaaay... When I was seven or ten or so, I used to get out
of the bathtub after my bath and go to the mirror. With my hair slicked
back from the bath, I would peer into the mirror and look for the boy
who lived in there. He looked a lot like me. The only time I could see
him was when I had just gotten out of the bathtub. We used to look at
each other a lot. Some times we waved at each other. I thought that
maybe there was a world on each side of the mirror, and I was “a little
girl” in this world, and “a little boy” in the other one.

But since it was such a high-octane topic, and since non-conformists
got all sortsa stuff done to them that didn’t look like any fun at all,
I decided to keep my experience and perceptions to myself.

So I pretty much did. And although I eventually entered the discussions
about “What Women Are Like” and “What Men Are Like” and examined how
sexism works, and all sortsa stuff like that, I never really felt, deep
down inside, that when people used the words “men” and “women” they were
talking about me.

Much, much earlier, one day when I was very small, I had already found a
word that *did* fit.

But we’ll get back to that. First, I want to tell you about my hair,
and some women who were patrolling against “male energy,” and my
humorous shorthand version for explaining myself.

When I first entered the wee-moon’s community in the Twin Cities, my
hair was very long. When I would say I was bisexual, the wee-moon would
look at my hair and say, “Oh, bullshit, why are you calling yourself
bisexual? You’re really straight,” and turn their backs on me. Then one
day in the eighties I cut my hair off. I went from elbow-length ringlets
to a lemon-yellow flat-top half an inch long, and they suddenly
switched to saying, “Oh, bullshit, why are you clinging to this bisexual
crap? You’re really a lesbian, just get *on* with it and drop this
bisexuality nonsense.” Now the only thing I had changed was my haircut.
This was totally weird. It was goofy. I never knew hair had such power
to cloud wee-moon’s minds.

Some of the flak I took when I had long hair was femmophobia, and some
was anti-straight woman stuff, and some more was misdirected but
understandable anger against a system that defined “beauty” and
“womanhood” in painfully narrow terms, and then tried to coerce
participation. Some overlapped. The whole thing got pretty nasty at
times. I consoled myself with the bitter thought that it was a lot
easier for people angry at the heteropatriarchal system to make a target
of someone like me than to confront the entrenched, homophobic,
misogynist pillars of the system, who have considerably more power than
one scared bi babe with long hair, or with short hair but dressed
femme-y, who was hoping for a few hours of respite at the Womyn’s
Coffeehouse. I didn’t think the wee-moon’s community needed saving from
the likes of me, but, apparently, some disagreed.

Then, if some people were capable of hearing that I considered myself a
femme, and they were okay with that, we hit a different snag when they
found out that not only am I a femme, but I am a femme who likes femmes.
That was just toooooo weird for most of them. Perverse, even. I was
routinely shunned by lesbians for the heinous act of being a femme, and
worse, an unrepentant femme-loving femme. I guess I was just too damn
queer.

“Ick!” they cried. “Icky dainty helpless useless femme!” I pointed out
that I was from working-class roots and had probably worn more flannel
shirts in my life, stacked more wood, worked in more hard-hat jobs,
loaded more railroad cars, and so on, than any of the women saying
“Ick!” No use. I mentioned that I had been the self-appointed and much
appreciated fish-cleaner in my family since my grandfather and my father
had taught me how when I wasyoung, and I challenged them to prove
*their* utility in similar circumstances. Still no use. They repeated,
“Icky fluffy dainty yucky helpless useless femme! Femme cooties! Girl
germs!” and turned their plaid flannel backs on me en masse. Sigh. It
was kind of like, “You *can’t* be a real woman -- you’re wearing a *dress*!!”

My enjoyment of fuss, feathers, dramatic flair, and a big ladle-full of
camp sensibility were liabilities. Camp sensibility? Hey, my barbie
doll I had when I was little is now up in my attic, standing at the door
to my workshop, looking real goood in a police uniform that Mattel had
mislabeled as belonging to Ken. It’s obvious, to me at least, that this
uniform was meant for Barbie. She looks great. The shoes tend to fall
off unless you pad the insides with tape, but the hat and the Ray-Bans
just really make it. Officer Barbie: whoa! Mmm-*mm*! What’s that you
say? That’s a butch look? I refer you to the following lines from my
poem, Femme Thang: “Real femmes aren’t afraid to act butch/because we
know it looks attractive on us.”

Perhaps you can see how I didn’t fit in very well in a wee-moon’s
community that was busy purging anything that smacked of “male energy”,
whether it was straight male energy or gay male energy. (They didn’t
believe in bisexual males, so purging bi male energy was not on their
list.) We’re talking the kind of people who considered Tinkerbelle a
pawn of the patriarchy for saving Peter Pan, okay? Anyhow, so what with
all that, I finally came up with a funny line to explained my viewpoint.

It goes like this: just about the only explanation I could come up with
that ever made any sense was that in my last life, I was a really really
good little drag queen who said, “Please, God, next time I wanna be a
blonde with tits!”

It was a joke, but like a lot of jokes, it had seriousness inside it.
I like stories that contain humor and truth, sorrow and joy.

When I was growing up, I was a good kid, or at least I tried very hard
to be a good kid. And I was a smart kid. This was not an easy thing to
be; smart kids where I grew up were definitely targets. My identity
there became that of someone who wasn’t understood, not even by the
adults who were nice to me, and certainly not by any of my age-mates. I
was very lonely. Books, the cat next door, who seemed to like listening
to me read to her, and a willow tree in the back yard were my closest
friends. Books were where I learned what I could be.

Was I going to be a character in a morality story about good little kids
and bad little kids? That didn’t sound so good. Most of them died in
the end. I did like some of the stuff in Little Women, but I didn’t fit
any of those models very well, although I had bits of all of them: I
was the oldest like Meg, I wrote like Jo, I was shy like Beth sometimes,
and I certainly had Amy’s vanity and fondness for ribbons. I also liked
Laurie a bunch, but he was the one character *really* out of reach, by
virtue of his social advantages and being stinking rich and all that .
I just didn’t fit, much as I would have liked to be either Jo or Laurie
or both.

Besides, my choice was elsewhere, and earlier. And, possibly, inevitable.

My sister and I were talking recently about communication styles as they
sometimes are linked to gender. She was talking about a specific way of
giving information that many women, particularly (in my interpretation)
many straight, fairly conformist, pretty much mundane women use. This
manner is full of little reassurances and other emotional/social
expressions (“You want to know how you fill out this form? Oh, okay.
It’s really easy. Here, I’ll get... it’s really easy, you just fill it
out, you can do it, it’s not hard, it’s so easy, you just sort
of...well, here...it’s easy....” interspersed with a lot of
hand-waving). My sister said this particular approach does not work
well for her. She’d rather have somebody say, “Oh, that form? Okay,
now, what you do is you take a pen, not pencil, a pen, and you fill in
these five lines here; the categories you use are in this book over
here; so, okay, you fill those out there, skip these three, fill out
this entire section here from that other source of documentation, and
then you sign that part there, fold it in thirds, and put the whole
thing in this box at precisely four o-clock.” When she hears that, she
feels comfortable; she feels like she knows exactly how the task is
supposed to be done. When she hears somebody telling her, “Oh, it’s so
easy, you’ll do it just fine,” she can get really crabby, and I can
understand why: she didn’t *ask* for emotional support and a bonding
experience of female fluffy solidarity. She asked how to fill out the
damn form. *Her* ability to do so was not the question, and by bringing
it up, even though they would say they were just being helpful and
friendly and supportive, the women who use the “female style” of giving
directions were invading an area of personal turf, when she was asking a
professional question. Makes perfect sense to me, and it might drive me
up a tree too.

I asked her, when she told me this, if she had bad experiences getting
directions from me, whether she had that kind of trouble with how I did
it. She replied immediately, “You? Oh, no. But you’re not a.......”
Her words slowed down. “...a woman.” And we both said “Hmm.” And then
we started talking about gender stuff and how we were raised.

When my friend Barry, whom I miss working with very much, did a photo
session of me once, he had two talented fellows spend hours making me up
and getting my hair just so. At one point in the session, Barry and Daak
and David had arranged me on a divan, on a bed of flowering spirea
branches and other flowers, with my hair twining around branches
radiating in all directions.

“Okay,” said Barry,” now when I say, you rise up out of the branches.”
We did that over and over, Barry taking picture after picture, trying to
get just the right instant of motion and gravity and flowers and face. I
could feel the weight of the flowers pulling at my hair as I rose. I
remembered rising from the bathtub, all those years ago, to go look for
the boy in the mirror.

All of a sudden, Barry popped out from behind the camera and said in a
mildly startled voice, “I know you probably are going to think this is
very weird, but I just.... I just suddenly noticed that you have this
really strong boy-energy in this pose.” He shook his head a little, and
said, “Huh.” Then he said, “Well, I don’t know. Anyhow.....” and went
back to taking pictures.

Barry saw boy-energy. My sister thinks I’m not a..... woman. The
wee-moon in the wee-moon’s community seemed a little dubious on that
point too. And, truthfully, so was I. But I didn’t like the other end
of the dichotomous choice, the one labeled “man,” any better. For a
while I called myself a conscientious objector in the war between the
sexes.

Now. Here we are, finally, come ‘round again to what I said at the
beginning of the talk? “If bisexuals are people who are attracted to
both genders, then I am not bisexual. “

How much does a definition of bisexuality depend on a notion of two
sexes? Or even a notion of two genders? As for gender itself, I
commend to you the work of Raphael Carter; see me later for the
bibliography that goes with this speech.

Okay. So I have real reservations about the utility, not to mention the
accuracy, of a two-choice gender system. And yet I use the word
“bisexual.” I DID feel identification with it when I heard it. It sits
mostly pretty securely on my head, at those times when I am wearing
labels like hats. It helps me find other people who are considering and
puzzling over some of the same things I am. And I have often felt that
the concept of bisexuality sometimes just pisses off all the right
people. Also, I said once, the way that people said bisexuals didn’t
exist made bisexuals sound like mythical creatures. Kind of like
unicorns. *I* believed in unicorns, though. A lot more than I believed
in men or women, at least.

Unicorns... mythical creatures.... Hmmmm.........OK. Remember the drag
queen explanation? I know drag queens can come in a lot of different
flavors, but when I said that, I meant one particular flavor: a
wonderful beautiful gorgeous femmy faggot drag queen. A real fairy.

That’s right. I finally figured it out. I am fairy-identified. Fairies,
the Fair Folk. The Alfar. Elves. I’m an elf. I’m elf-identified. An
elf-identified bisexual.

Somehow, one day, when I was really little, I noticed that I had a
choice. I could choose what kind of story my story was going to be. I
chose -- surprise -- fairy tales. Elfland. We would now call what I
chose “fantasy literature,” or possibly “speculative fiction.” At
various times we might have called it “folk tales” or “tall tales” or
“legends” or possibly “mythology.” I wanted to live in stories of magic
and wonder, where things hidden would come to light later and turn out
to be important, where people’s position in society might radically
shift.... Kind of like growing up, in a way; passing the threshold
between childhood and adulthood. Or between one gender identity and
another. Or between one class and another.

Did you ever wonder if Cinderella kept any kind of a working-class
consciousness when she married the Prince and became Princess-Consort?
I think about things like that a lot. Maybe I’m weird -- well, OK, I
certainly am weird, and a good thing too -- but even in the land of
story, the land of fairy tale, I do not accept an easy, surface reality
in the tales. Maybe I believed a little too well when the stories taught
me that what is hidden away, disowned, will eventually be brought to
light, and will assume a place of importance at the center of the
narrative. I assumed that not only was the goose girl going to wind up
taking care of a kingdom, after being finally recognized and
acknowledged and rewarded, but that her goose-girl knowledge was *also*
going to be rescued from the place by the dungheap or in the ashes where
the disowned and shunned huddle in the first part of every story.

I guess I got it wrong, if those stories were meant to be an image of
changing class, of transcending class, of shedding a “lower” and
inappropriate class-self and “rising” to one’s “true self” in the new,
higher-class setting, because I didn’t understand the disowning part
very well. I got the moral instead that the people who were raised in
the noble class were lacking something very important, and that a
goose-girl was just exactly the right sort of person to help them to
figure it all out, to show them by example how power can be responsibly
used. A goose-girl knew more than they did, because she had been on the
other side of a lot of transactions with the noble and middle classes of
people, which tend to provide an indispensable education in the
nitty-gritty workings of a class society -- and by the same token, the
day she forgets she was ever a goose girl is the day she stops having
access to the resources and skills that make her a good ruler. The other
thing I figured would give her an advantage is that I have seen
decision-making bodies and people who hold office, and they do seem to
have a whole bunch in common with geese sometimes.

Elfland was the place where all the stories I really loved came from.
I chose Elfland. Elves were.... different. I was different. It was
understandable to figure that I might be an elf, then.

Another reason Elfland made sense to me as “my” “real” home is this:
tales from Elfland are fairy tales. In Upper Midwest farm-towns in the
nineteen-sixties and -seventies, “fairy” had a distinct and
unmistakeable meaning. Perhaps this explains the sense of kinship I
have always felt with fairies and faggots.

Another really important thing about Elves is that Elves do not do
gender the same way as humans do it. And I sure didn’t do gender the
same was as other people around me.

In some people’s stories, Elves can shift genders. According to others,
Elves, like Angels, have no gender. My answer, if you asked, would be
“Maybe we do, and maybe we don’t. Who wants to know?” If you asked
again, my answer would be, “Which Elf, and when?” My third would be,
“Depends. Will having gender or not having gender lead to a merrier
chase?” Ever heard of being pixie-led? People who want the straightest
distance between two points might not enjoy folk-dancing very much,
either.

If bisexuals are people who are attracted to both genders, then I am not
a bisexual.

I have deep reservations about any system for classifying sexual
preferences that requires definitions of both the desirer and the
desiree in a binary, pick-ONE, model of gender as a basis for
identifying sexual orientation or affectional preference. “What is your
sex -- M or F? What is your partner’s sex -- M or F? “ I think these
questions, like many of the questions on the census, are broken. They
just don’t work. If life were a bowl of soup and those questions were
spoons, you could starve to death.

And I have met more than two genders, so the “bi” part of it is
insufficient as well.

As for bisexuals being people who.... well, is an Elf people? I dunno.
Am I an Elf? I felt like one when I was little. After I had my
hysterectomy and salpingo-oophorectomy last year, and was freed from
years of recurring severe pain (multiple fibroid tumors -- benign, but
in the way -- *and* ovarian cysts *and* endometriosus -- and we will now
take a short pause for anybody who has personally experienced one or
more of these to make an appropriate noise --) I felt like I got my body
back. And it was my Elf body. I hadn’t even realized how much I had
missed it.....

But if we say that Elves are people too, can there be such a thing as a
bisexual Elf? Can there be a bisexual female-to-Elf person who doesn’t
believe that there are only two genders and who doesn’t keep track of
love that way anyhow but who still feels more at home in the word
“bisexual” than in any other word of its ilk? If a bisexual
female-to-Elf person can be that, then that might be what I am.

Female-to-elf..... When I told my friend Rachel that phrase, she loved
it. She had given me the compliment that when I referred to her a
transwoman, she felt that I truly meant all parts of the word and did
not privilege one over another, or require her to pick one subset and
stick to it. She said that was nice to be around. I said *she* was nice
to be around. She’s a storyteller, like me. I’m a magic person, like
her. And both of us know that realities can shift, that truth can lead
to deeper truth, and that following rainbows is generally worth it.

You remember when I said earlier that gold was only one color? Well,
that’s not true. Gold can be a lot of different colors. Black Hills
gold, for instance, can be yellow, or pink, or green. The pot of gold
might not be monochromatic after all.

And who keeps that gold? Leprechauns. The Little People, who are also
Fair Folk. Who are, in some parlances, Elves.

I should note here that there are two kinds of gold: there is the kind
that is for tricks, that turns back into oakleaves the next day, that
can vanish from the purse of the person who receives it and return
magically to the pocket of whichever of the Fair Folk paid for something
with it. Those particular gold pieces are trickster coins. I think that
perhaps the words “men” and “women” and “gender” and “sex” and, yes,
even the word “bisexuality” are trickster coins, are magical
homing-pigeons, are the shillings-on-a-string that bounce right back out
of the purses that accept them. And you know what? For a lot of the
things we are told to pay for in this world with words, and I am
thinking specifically here of things in the medical and legal realms,
I’ve come to the opinion that paying with Faerie gold might be
devastatingly appropriate. A lot of people asking questions,
especially the people asking questions on printed forms, are not making
them essay questions, if you know what I mean. By asking those questions
as admission tests, or loyalty oaths, or proof of capitulation to
somebody’s power-over game, and by trying to use these categories for
their own ends, I feel that they just might be usurping a ritual role
that is a whole lot older than their degrees and their diplomas and
their professional organizations. I think maybe that they are entering
the circle of the trickster, and once they enter that circle, it’s
Caveat Emptor, let the buyer be wary. But I do counsel any fellow
tricksters to look to your fleetness of foot, as well as fleetness of
wit, when paying with enchanted gold. An oak leaf, like the word “Mu,”
may really be the perfect answer to your interrogators’ question, but
that doesn’t mean they’re gonna like it!!

Okay, so that’s oak leaf gold. The other kind of gold is the true gold.
The tales say that Fair Folk always know where true gold can be found.
They always have some of it about them, and access to more. Often, the
tales say, they keep it in very special places.

And how do the tales say that people may find those special places?

You follow the rainbow, that’s right --but mind, now, to reach the pot
of gold, you have to follow it all the way.

The tales carefully do not say, explicitly, which is likely to be your
dearest treasure: the gold, the journey, or the rainbow itself. Or
possibly something else, like finding the Good Folk. The tales leave you
wondering, especially the tales that seem simple on the surface. They
don’t give you answers.

In keeping with the traditions of my kind, neither will I.

I hope I leave you with many questions and at least a little confusion.
Treasure these things. May they bring you good luck, and sharp enough
wit to recognize the same. I bid you good evening; and fare well,
wherever you fare.


[Open the floor to questions, if there is time.]

----end----

Teal

unread,
Jan 5, 2001, 6:25:05 AM1/5/01
to
Elise Matthesen <el...@lioness.net> wrote in message
<3A55874B...@lioness.net>:

>After reading various things about the Sydney Mardi Gras ban on
>bisexuals, and the thread about butches and femmes, and so on, I am
>moved to post the following here.

<snip speech>

Like, wow.

That is so cool.

Teal, who's added it to the "keeper" file
--
My website: http://tealspace.chromatic-dragonfly.com/

--

Woody36

unread,
Jan 5, 2001, 7:34:32 AM1/5/01
to
Elise, could you enlighten us on the next BECAUSE conference, and explain a
little about what it is and what to expect?

I would have LOVED to had been in your audience!!!

Cat

unread,
Jan 5, 2001, 8:59:50 AM1/5/01
to
>Elise Matthesen el...@lioness.net writes:

<snip wonderful speech>

:::applause, applause!!!!!:::::

Simply wonderfully put!! I agree that some of use may be Elves. ::shakes hair
down over slightly pointed ears yet again::

And some of us are undoubtedly reeking of "delicate little fluff-chick femme"
as I kept getting labeled.....and I wasnt even acknowledging that I found some
women sexually appealing at the time. (I find all people can be attractive,
even beautiful. I just dont find myself sexually attracted to all of them.
Male or female.)

I'm happy for you that you're finding yourself! Yay!!

Cat
----------------------------------
Who am I? Mother, Daughter, Spouse, Lover, look into my eyes and see if you
can see....the real me.

Bearpaw

unread,
Jan 5, 2001, 10:26:49 AM1/5/01
to
Elise Matthesen <el...@lioness.net> writes:
> ...

Oh, *very* nice. The concept of gender and orientation labels as
fairy gold is particularly inspired, I think.

Thanks!

Bearpaw

--
~~~~~~~~~~~ bea...@shore.net ~~~~~~~~~~~~
"When you pass the buck, don't ask for change."
- Solomon Short

Mary MacTavish

unread,
Jan 5, 2001, 11:17:33 AM1/5/01
to
On Fri, 05 Jan 2001 02:35:22 -0600, Elise Matthesen
<el...@lioness.net> said:

>The next BECAUSE conference will be held in
>Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a few months from now, and I hope to be there.
>(I'd better be, because I'm doing some programming for them!)

When's "a few months"? I'm planning to visit a friend of mine in
Wisconsin in a few months, and could possibly adjust the timing. The
exact dates aren't planned yet.

.
Mary MacTavish
http://www.prado.com/~iris

Aahz Maruch

unread,
Jan 5, 2001, 11:51:43 AM1/5/01
to
[posted & e-mailed]

In article <3A55874B...@lioness.net>,
Elise Matthesen <el...@lioness.net> wrote:
>
> [...]

Yay! Thanks for posting this!

A little aside on formatting: for some reason, all the apostrophes came
through on my system as periods, so I'm guessing that you cut'n'pasted
that from something like Word without converting it to plain-text. If
you're going to post that elsewhere, some people will find it easier to
read if you convert it to plain-text.
--
--- Aahz (Copyright 2000 by aa...@pobox.com)

Androgynous poly kinky vanilla queer het <*> http://www.rahul.net/aahz/
Hugs and backrubs -- I break Rule 6

"This is Usenet. We're all masturbating in public places." -DH

RJ

unread,
Jan 5, 2001, 11:58:48 AM1/5/01
to Elise Matthesen

[p&e because I still don't trust my newsfeed]

On Fri, 5 Jan 2001, Elise Matthesen wrote:

[a bunch of stuff that, if I had in bound paper form I would stick
it on the shelf next to my copies of "Zen & the Art of Motorocycle
Maintenance", "Godel Escher Bach", "Zen Flesh, Zen Bones" and other
books that Mean A Whole Lot To Me]

}The tales carefully do not say, explicitly, which is likely to be your
}dearest treasure: the gold, the journey, or the rainbow itself. Or
}possibly something else, like finding the Good Folk. The tales leave you
}wondering, especially the tales that seem simple on the surface. They
}don’t give you answers.

Parallel evolution strikes again.

I was born in Gary, Indiana in the early 60s. I grew up around
black folks, people of color, african-americans, take your pick for
whatever fake-shilling term you feel most comfortable with. When I
went to work at Time-Life Libraries the office population was maybe
about 95% african-american. I got to listen to a lot of discussions
about Not Being The Dominant Cultural Paradigm.

I was always confused by a couple of things. The biggest one was,
"Why, if you think caucasian culture is so fucked up, do you want to
become a part of it? Or if not a part of it, why do you want to
merely reverse roles with The Man, rather than change the game
entirely?" To that end I thought the NAACP was a cool idea, insofar
as it went. In case you don't know that is the National Association
for the Advancement of Colored People ("Colored" in this case
meaning "black" or "african-american").

I mean, why not an international association? Hell, I'm a science
fiction fan, why not intergalactic or even pan-dimensional? And why
just one group of one species? (Yes, I know why in the case of the
NAACP, and I am not refuting its purpose) But I wanted a word that
could cover a lot of ground non-pejoratively.

"A-ha!" I thought, I've got it.

So, back in about 1993 (give or take a year), I decided that I
wanted to belong to the Pan-dimensional Association for the
Advancement of Folks. See, anyone or anything could be recognized
as "folks." The word knows no gender, race, age, or class. It even
(as a bonus) has a comfortable, informal quality... it sounds like
the kindof word that removes walls in a gentle and peaceable fashion
rather than errecting new ones or tearing old ones down with great
amounts of sturm und drang.

And, again, anyone could be recognized as folks. You, your sister,
your father, your cat (maybe especially your cat)... it didn't
matter. Just so long as you didn't chastise someone for their
definition of who or what counted as "folks."

(I amended that last idea to include public chastisement. I thought
that having a correctness police was a bad idea for the
PAAF. Frankly, folks are big-hearted enough to disagree with
someone without behaving disagreeably.)

So. That's the memory journey your post set me out on this morning,
Elise. Thanks.

--
RJ Johnson \\ I don't write .sig files...
Meme Wrangler \\
r...@xocolatl.com \\ I write the things that make .sig files _better_.

Elise Matthesen

unread,
Jan 5, 2001, 1:50:00 PM1/5/01
to

Teal wrote:
>
> Elise Matthesen <el...@lioness.net> wrote in message
> <3A55874B...@lioness.net>:
>
> >After reading various things about the Sydney Mardi Gras ban on
> >bisexuals, and the thread about butches and femmes, and so on, I am
> >moved to post the following here.
>
> <snip speech>
>
> Like, wow.
>
> That is so cool.
>
> Teal, who's added it to the "keeper" file

Thank you!

My favorite part personally is having snuck in yet another coming out:
femme-loving femme. Which is a concept that makes some people's brains
explode. The most telling comment, as it bears strong resemblance to a
comment made about women-loving women in general, that I have heard on
the subject from people who didn't get it was "But what would two femmes
*do* with each other?" Aargh.

Elise,
shaking head at the lezbeans who said that. Sheesh. Have they no
herstory awareness?

Aahz Maruch

unread,
Jan 5, 2001, 2:15:25 PM1/5/01
to
In article <3A561759...@lioness.net>,

Elise Matthesen <el...@lioness.net> wrote:
>
>My favorite part personally is having snuck in yet another coming out:
>femme-loving femme. Which is a concept that makes some people's brains
>explode. The most telling comment, as it bears strong resemblance to a
>comment made about women-loving women in general, that I have heard on
>the subject from people who didn't get it was "But what would two femmes
>*do* with each other?" Aargh.

Huh. In an odd way, I seem to "get" on an emotional level butch/butch
and femme/femme far more than I "get" butch/femme.

Elise Matthesen

unread,
Jan 5, 2001, 2:18:41 PM1/5/01
to

Bearpaw wrote:
>
> Elise Matthesen <el...@lioness.net> writes:
> > ...
>
> Oh, *very* nice. The concept of gender and orientation labels as
> fairy gold is particularly inspired, I think.
>
> Thanks!

Glad you like it, and you are quite welcome!

Elise,
grinning at Bearpaw

Elise Matthesen

unread,
Jan 5, 2001, 2:27:49 PM1/5/01
to

Aahz Maruch wrote:
>
> [posted & e-mailed]
>
> In article <3A55874B...@lioness.net>,
> Elise Matthesen <el...@lioness.net> wrote:
> >
> > [...]
>
> Yay! Thanks for posting this!

You're welcome!


>
> A little aside on formatting: for some reason, all the apostrophes came
> through on my system as periods, so I'm guessing that you cut'n'pasted
> that from something like Word without converting it to plain-text. If
> you're going to post that elsewhere, some people will find it easier to
> read if you convert it to plain-text.

Ack! I thought I converted to .rtf before cutting and pasting, but I
guess I goofed someplace. I'm sorry.

Elise,
shag greened again mildly

RJ

unread,
Jan 5, 2001, 2:48:57 PM1/5/01
to
On Fri, 5 Jan 2001, Elise Matthesen wrote:

}Teal wrote:
}>
}> Elise Matthesen <el...@lioness.net> wrote in message
}> <3A55874B...@lioness.net>:
}>
}> >After reading various things about the Sydney Mardi Gras ban on
}> >bisexuals, and the thread about butches and femmes, and so on, I am
}> >moved to post the following here.
}>
}> <snip speech>
}>
}> Like, wow.
}>
}> That is so cool.
}>
}> Teal, who's added it to the "keeper" file
}
}Thank you!
}
}My favorite part personally is having snuck in yet another coming out:
}femme-loving femme. Which is a concept that makes some people's brains
}explode. The most telling comment, as it bears strong resemblance to a
}comment made about women-loving women in general, that I have heard on
}the subject from people who didn't get it was "But what would two femmes
}*do* with each other?" Aargh.

Um, fuck one another? Take turns fisting each other in a lovely,
color-coordinated room? Sit around reading quietly in each other's
company?

That sounds like a snippet from a Susie Bright essay, but damned if
I can remember which one.

}Elise,
}shaking head at the lezbeans who said that. Sheesh. Have they no
}herstory awareness?

Lezbeans and wee-moon. You crack me up, Elise.

Cat

unread,
Jan 5, 2001, 3:45:04 PM1/5/01
to
> Elise Matthesen el...@lioness.net writes:


>My favorite part personally is having snuck in yet another coming out:
>femme-loving femme. Which is a concept that makes some people's brains
>explode. The most telling comment, as it bears strong resemblance to a
>comment made about women-loving women in general, that I have heard on
>the subject from people who didn't get it was "But what would two femmes
>*do* with each other?" Aargh.
>
>Elise,
>shaking head at the lezbeans who said that. Sheesh. Have they no
>herstory awareness?

What would two femmes *do* with one another??

well.......

<g>

Cat

unread,
Jan 5, 2001, 3:47:34 PM1/5/01
to
RJ r...@xocolatl.com writes:


>Um, fuck one another? Take turns fisting each other in a lovely,
>color-coordinated room? Sit around reading quietly in each other's
>company?

owwwwwwwwwww

dammit milk hurts when coming out through the nostrils...

Metal Fem

unread,
Jan 5, 2001, 7:43:18 PM1/5/01
to

Cat wrote:

> What would two femmes *do* with one another??

> well.......

> <g>

I don't know where you're coming from on this Cat so I'm sorry if I
missed something - but the way you've framed this question actually
bites my arse when I read it in conjunction with your reply to RJ. I
feel a cringe b/c of my alliances with fem/fem girls but also b/c I'm a
b/f fem. I'll try and explain why without buttoning off into the ether :)

Two fems "do" much the same as everyone else does, there are few
activities that aren't available to any sort of gendered or sexed
configuration with a bit of imagination and a few well chosen
accessories.

I thought RJ's response was sensible rather than funny.

The reason why this question is problematic is b/c it is often used to
illustrate an acceptance that fems in general are invisible in bed
except as something to be "acted on". The question would not be
possible unless there wasn't already an overriding set of values about
fems that Elise has already outlined. So, I'm not saying asking a
question if one doesn't know the answer is a bad thing in of itself, but
this one is definitely a button thing for a lot of fems.

And - this question actually forms part of a popular dyke joke.

The standard answer to the "joke" is of course "Each others' make-up".
But that's only funny to me in certain circumstances.

If makeup is read by the person telling the joke as something powerful,
fun and erotic then it can be quite an affirming girlie subversion of
the usual fesbian leminist attitudes to fem/mes. If "makeup" is used in
the joke as a device to illustrate that fems are pathetic girlies who
can't manage to be proper feminists or "good" in bed then it sucks rocks.

I've heard it told both ways.

Mf

Cat

unread,
Jan 5, 2001, 8:58:15 PM1/5/01
to
>Metal Fem meta...@webone.com.au writes:

>> What would two femmes *do* with one another??
>
>> well.......
>
>> <g>

>I don't know where you're coming from on this Cat so I'm sorry if I
>missed something -

I snipped it off of Elise's post ::abashed look::

> but the way you've framed this question actually
>bites my arse when I read it in conjunction with your reply to RJ. I
>feel a cringe b/c of my alliances with fem/fem girls but also b/c I'm a
>b/f fem. I'll try and explain why without buttoning off into the ether :)

and I'm sorry about the button, but I'm a rather femme
sometimes-attracted-to-women-who-happen-to-be-femme-also.

I was joking more poking fun at myself and my own leanings than trying to push
anyone's buttons...

>Two fems "do" much the same as everyone else does, there are few
>activities that aren't available to any sort of gendered or sexed
>configuration with a bit of imagination and a few well chosen
>accessories.

: ) yes. and it works very well.

Elise Matthesen

unread,
Jan 6, 2001, 12:45:39 AM1/6/01
to

Metal Fem wrote:
>
> Cat wrote:
>
> > What would two femmes *do* with one another??
>
> > well.......
>
> > <g>
>
> I don't know where you're coming from on this Cat so I'm sorry if I
> missed something - but the way you've framed this question actually
> bites my arse when I read it in conjunction with your reply to RJ. I
> feel a cringe b/c of my alliances with fem/fem girls but also b/c I'm a
> b/f fem. I'll try and explain why without buttoning off into the ether :)

I bet I'm going to like your post, but I wanted to say before going any
further that I suspect Cat put the <g>-for-grin in there because she's a
femme too.


>
> Two fems "do" much the same as everyone else does, there are few
> activities that aren't available to any sort of gendered or sexed
> configuration with a bit of imagination and a few well chosen
> accessories.
>
> I thought RJ's response was sensible rather than funny.

I thought it was sensible, charming, and sounded like a fine start, but
(as RJ himself would agree, I suspect) in no way exhausted the
possibilities. (Or the femmes. [I like your spelling too, by the way. Is
it how most folks by you spell it? And fem/mes is kinda cool, too.])

> The reason why this question is problematic is b/c it is often used to
> illustrate an acceptance that fems in general are invisible in bed
> except as something to be "acted on". The question would not be
> possible unless there wasn't already an overriding set of values about
> fems that Elise has already outlined. So, I'm not saying asking a
> question if one doesn't know the answer is a bad thing in of itself, but
> this one is definitely a button thing for a lot of fems.

Yup.

I think Cat's probably in the club, there, though, unless I
misunderstood her posts.

>
> And - this question actually forms part of a popular dyke joke.
>
> The standard answer to the "joke" is of course "Each others' make-up".
> But that's only funny to me in certain circumstances.

Yeah. Urgh. I never heard that one before. Sigh.

> If makeup is read by the person telling the joke as something powerful,
> fun and erotic then it can be quite an affirming girlie subversion of
> the usual fesbian leminist attitudes to fem/mes. If "makeup" is used in
> the joke as a device to illustrate that fems are pathetic girlies who
> can't manage to be proper feminists or "good" in bed then it sucks rocks.

Through a straw. Badly.

>
> I've heard it told both ways.

Eesh. I'm sorry to hear that people have done that. Not surprised, and I
kinda wish I were, but sorry nonetheless.

Wouldn't it be cool if nobody had to tell mean jokes that put other
kinds of people down in order to put themselves up?

I know, I know, I'm a starry-eyed cynic candidate, huh?

Elise,
who really really really liked going to a femme slumber party a few
years ago, and who is tempted to Arrange Something. (Reminiscing: we
even had a totally supportive -- and good-looking -- butch ftm who
cooked a scrumptious breakfast and served it to all of us. oooh! heaven!)

mathgoddess

unread,
Jan 6, 2001, 3:20:23 AM1/6/01
to
Cat <lady...@aol.comnospam> wrote:

> Simply wonderfully put!!

Seconded and then some. Thank you _very_ much for sharing that, Elise.

> I agree that some of use may be Elves. ::shakes hair down over slightly
> pointed ears yet again::

I currently have hair nearly down to my waist, and am considering
cutting it short-short (but not butch--see below). The only requirement
of my new haircut is that it cover the tips of my ears, to maintain my
elf-in-hiding look. *)

> And some of us are undoubtedly reeking of "delicate little fluff-chick femme"

That would be me. I don't love it--though that's not why I'm getting my
hair cut; a "butch" cut wouldn't flatter me at all, so I'm leaning
towards "gamine"--but the fact is that I'm short and slender with fairly
delicate features and small hands and a big arse and I just am not
butch; I adore my body, including all of the above-mentioned features,
but it's inherently femmy. Not to mention that my Helen does butch much
better than I will ever be able to, and has told me so, in so many
words. I think I finally managed to explain to her that it really did
hurt and she hasn't said a word about it since, but it mostly hurt
because it's true and I _hate_ the idea of things that I can't do,
especially WRT things my body is simply not capable of.

And I will never be able to pass as a boy, which is all I ever wanted to
do in that respect (i.e. no desire to pass as adult male and
_definitely_ no urge for surgery); the day a drag king friend said "Oh,
it's easy to hide your hips, just hitch your jeans down a bit to bring
out your waist" I almost cried. I don't want to change or disguise my
body: I want my body to sometimes be one way and sometimes be another
way. After all, my self is sometimes one way and sometimes another
way... I just wish my skin could somehow reflect that. I _love_ being a
slender woman. I would _love_ to be a slender boy. Increasing or
emphasizing my waistline to "match" my butt is not exactly on the
agenda.

So someone tell me why, the day that I really deep-down accepted all of
this, I picked up the phone and placed an order for a whole bunch of
guy-garb and can't wait to wear it to Faire this summer? Maybe I can't
pass as a 14-year-old boy, but from the back I'd probably be more or
less gender-unidentifiable, which is good enough for now. I guess
accepting what isn't possible and setting it aside, rather than fretting
over it, helped get me started on doing what _is_ possible. It's a great
idea, right? Too bad I can't apply it to more of my life, though I'm
doing much better than I used to.

--Rose

--
"Teacher," she said at last, "how do I learn... to be?"
--Gael Baudino, _Strands of Starlight_

For my real email address, visit http://i.am/rwp

Andrea Merrell

unread,
Jan 6, 2001, 4:44:37 AM1/6/01
to
Elise Matthesen wrote in alt.polyamory:

<snip wonderful post>

That has gone into my "saved to be read again and again" file. Elise
thank you for posting that, it was wonderful.

Andi
--
Andrea Merrell, the fluffKitten.
a ratbag scruffy femme,
caffeine addict and known hater of mornings.


RJ

unread,
Jan 6, 2001, 7:37:34 AM1/6/01
to
On Sat, 6 Jan 2001, Metal Fem wrote:

}Cat wrote:
}
}> What would two femmes *do* with one another??
}
}> well.......
}
}> <g>
}
}I don't know where you're coming from on this Cat so I'm sorry if I
}missed something - but the way you've framed this question actually
}bites my arse when I read it in conjunction with your reply to RJ. I
}feel a cringe b/c of my alliances with fem/fem girls but also b/c I'm a
}b/f fem. I'll try and explain why without buttoning off into the ether :)

"Buttoning off into the ether"... I like that phrasing. :)

}Two fems "do" much the same as everyone else does, there are few
}activities that aren't available to any sort of gendered or sexed
}configuration with a bit of imagination and a few well chosen
}accessories.
}
}I thought RJ's response was sensible rather than funny.

My first thought was, "I was trying for both." My second thought
was to quote the part that reads "I thought RJ's response was
sensible" and just save it. :)

}The reason why this question is problematic is b/c it is often used to
}illustrate an acceptance that fems in general are invisible in bed
}except as something to be "acted on". The question would not be
}possible unless there wasn't already an overriding set of values about
}fems that Elise has already outlined. So, I'm not saying asking a
}question if one doesn't know the answer is a bad thing in of itself, but
}this one is definitely a button thing for a lot of fems.
}
}And - this question actually forms part of a popular dyke joke.
}
}The standard answer to the "joke" is of course "Each others' make-up".
}But that's only funny to me in certain circumstances.
}
}If makeup is read by the person telling the joke as something powerful,
}fun and erotic then it can be quite an affirming girlie subversion of
}the usual fesbian leminist attitudes to fem/mes. If "makeup" is used in
}the joke as a device to illustrate that fems are pathetic girlies who
}can't manage to be proper feminists or "good" in bed then it sucks rocks.
}
}I've heard it told both ways.

Now I get to the part where I try to ask sensible questions again.

I guess I should preface this by saying that I have never been a
part of what Elise so wonderfully called the "wee-moon's" or
"lezbean" communities. I don't think I ever will be, either. I am
powerfully curious about why they make some of the choices they do
(both the groups as groups and the individuals who comprise those
groups), but then I am powerfully curious about why anyone or any
group behaves in the fashion they do.

So, my question is this: With regard to 'privileged language' why is
the intent of the teller of the tale such a big deal to how the
listener interprets the offensiveness of the tale? I hear a tale, I
go (in a simplified universe), "I think that's offensive" or "I
think that's inoffensive." Why should the intent of the speaker
have any role in which of those answers I choose?

Cat

unread,
Jan 6, 2001, 9:48:37 AM1/6/01
to
Elise Matthesen el...@lioness.net quotes Metal Fem and me and writes:

>> I don't know where you're coming from on this Cat so I'm sorry if I
>> missed something - but the way you've framed this question actually
>> bites my arse when I read it in conjunction with your reply to RJ. I
>> feel a cringe b/c of my alliances with fem/fem girls but also b/c I'm a
>> b/f fem. I'll try and explain why without buttoning off into the ether :)
>
>I bet I'm going to like your post, but I wanted to say before going any
>further that I suspect Cat put the <g>-for-grin in there because she's a
>femme too.

Yes...this would be me : )

>I think Cat's probably in the club, there, though, unless I
>misunderstood her posts.

My Lady-Sweetie and I have had this long ongoing conversation about this. She
and I are both what would look like "femme". Her orientation is
bi-more-attracted-to-women-than-to-men, mine is
bi-more-attracted-to-men-than-to-women. We were referrring to Wolf as "our
husband" the last time we warbled at each other, and that felt good. : ) And I
just found out that she will be here for 2 weeks this summer WOOHOO although
she told Wolf first and he didnt mention it to me at all... : (

>
>Wouldn't it be cool if nobody had to tell mean jokes that put other
>kinds of people down in order to put themselves up?
>
>I know, I know, I'm a starry-eyed cynic candidate, huh?

If that is the case.....put me down as a candidate too. I keep expecting
people to tell me the truth if I ask them to, expecting happy endings to all
love stories, and am quite convinced that happily ever after does exist..

Ruth Lawrence

unread,
Jan 6, 2001, 11:26:06 AM1/6/01
to

"Elise Matthesen" <el...@lioness.net> wrote in message
news:3A55874B...@lioness.net...

<snip wonderful speech>

Thanks so much for sharing
this really excellent Work
with us.

Ruth, who (wryly) knows lesbeans
who would miss the point entirely

and who realised the boy in her
head was gay when she was 14
(just so y'all will know there's
lots'n lots of us)


Aahz Maruch

unread,
Jan 6, 2001, 11:32:30 AM1/6/01
to
In article <Pine.BSF.4.21.010106...@mleko.xocolatl.com>,

RJ <r...@xocolatl.com> wrote:
>
>So, my question is this: With regard to 'privileged language' why is
>the intent of the teller of the tale such a big deal to how the
>listener interprets the offensiveness of the tale? I hear a tale, I
>go (in a simplified universe), "I think that's offensive" or "I
>think that's inoffensive." Why should the intent of the speaker
>have any role in which of those answers I choose?

It's like "queer" or "slut".

RJ

unread,
Jan 6, 2001, 2:32:30 PM1/6/01
to
On 6 Jan 2001, Aahz Maruch wrote:

}In article <Pine.BSF.4.21.010106...@mleko.xocolatl.com>,
}RJ <r...@xocolatl.com> wrote:
}>
}>So, my question is this: With regard to 'privileged language' why is
}>the intent of the teller of the tale such a big deal to how the
}>listener interprets the offensiveness of the tale? I hear a tale, I
}>go (in a simplified universe), "I think that's offensive" or "I
}>think that's inoffensive." Why should the intent of the speaker
}>have any role in which of those answers I choose?
}
}It's like "queer" or "slut".

If I wanted more examples, Aahz, I would've asked for examples.

I asked for the reasons or rationalizations.

Aahz Maruch

unread,
Jan 6, 2001, 3:06:05 PM1/6/01
to
In article <Pine.BSF.4.21.010106...@mleko.xocolatl.com>,
RJ <r...@xocolatl.com> wrote:
>On 6 Jan 2001, Aahz Maruch wrote:
>}In article <Pine.BSF.4.21.010106...@mleko.xocolatl.com>,
>}RJ <r...@xocolatl.com> wrote:
>}>
>}>So, my question is this: With regard to 'privileged language' why is
>}>the intent of the teller of the tale such a big deal to how the
>}>listener interprets the offensiveness of the tale? I hear a tale, I
>}>go (in a simplified universe), "I think that's offensive" or "I
>}>think that's inoffensive." Why should the intent of the speaker
>}>have any role in which of those answers I choose?
>}
>}It's like "queer" or "slut".
>
>If I wanted more examples, Aahz, I would've asked for examples.
>I asked for the reasons or rationalizations.

Are you saying that you don't understand why "queer" and "slut" get
treated differently depending on who says them? (I'm sticking with
those examples because I think they simplify the discussion over using
"tales".)
--
--- Aahz (Copyright 2001 by aa...@pobox.com)

Nicole

unread,
Jan 6, 2001, 4:01:44 PM1/6/01
to
hey elise,

i just finished reading your wonderful speech... i forwarded it to my
beloved. he's a musician, and in his most recent song, he sang:

"i have no gender inside"

he sang it because it's his truth. later, we found out that patty smith is
quoted as saying that, which was really cool.

anyway, thank you for the wonderous gift of your writing and your sharing.

nicole

--
music: www.k23.org
art: www.ocella.com

look carefully around you and recognize
the luminosity of souls. sit beside those
who draw you to that.
[Rumi - Joy at Sudden Disappointment]

RJ

unread,
Jan 6, 2001, 5:33:05 PM1/6/01
to
On 6 Jan 2001, Aahz Maruch wrote:

}In article <Pine.BSF.4.21.010106...@mleko.xocolatl.com>,
}RJ <r...@xocolatl.com> wrote:
}>On 6 Jan 2001, Aahz Maruch wrote:
}>}In article <Pine.BSF.4.21.010106...@mleko.xocolatl.com>,
}>}RJ <r...@xocolatl.com> wrote:
}>}>
}>}>So, my question is this: With regard to 'privileged language' why is
}>}>the intent of the teller of the tale such a big deal to how the
}>}>listener interprets the offensiveness of the tale? I hear a tale, I
}>}>go (in a simplified universe), "I think that's offensive" or "I
}>}>think that's inoffensive." Why should the intent of the speaker
}>}>have any role in which of those answers I choose?
}>}
}>}It's like "queer" or "slut".
}>
}>If I wanted more examples, Aahz, I would've asked for examples.
}>I asked for the reasons or rationalizations.
}
}Are you saying that you don't understand why "queer" and "slut" get
}treated differently depending on who says them? (I'm sticking with
}those examples because I think they simplify the discussion over using
}"tales".)

*sigh* No, I'm asking folks who do make the intent distinction
*why* they make the intent distinction. Whether I understand the
reasonings (or not) id immaterial to my original question.

Bruce Baugh

unread,
Jan 6, 2001, 6:08:00 PM1/6/01
to
In article <937hau$687$1...@panix2.panix.com>, aa...@panix.com (Aahz
Maruch) wrote:

> >think that's inoffensive." Why should the intent of the speaker
> >have any role in which of those answers I choose?
>
> It's like "queer" or "slut".

Speaking purely for myself here, I've become increasingly uncomfortable
with the whole notion of language that is okay or not depending on who's
using it. I don't particularly like having to apply algorithms to
evaluate intent, and I _especially_ don't like having to do based on
characteristics that, frankly, I don't feel an urge to know about other
people most of the time. I can't help noticing external characteristics
- in person, and at that only apparent ones, as opposed to the results
of processes not readily visible to me - but I would prefer not to have
to think "is this person a member of that group and therefore in some
sense entitled to use that sometimes-derogatory term without me needing
to feel the urge to point out that it is in fact derogatory and
unwelcome?"

I admit to being way out toward the privacy pole. I choose the terms on
which I share my life, and I wish that more people didn't feel an urge
to make so much of theirs an issue for me.

To forestall the inevitable response from someone: yes, I _do_
understand the logic behind reclaiming terms of abuse, and it makes a
great deal of sense to me. To say that I dislike one consequence of it
is not to say that I disapprove of the underlying impulse, think there's
no point to the action, or anything liek that.

--
Bruce Baugh <*> bruce...@sff.net
Writer of Fortune
I'm a professional vulture/haruspex, presenting pop culture's entrails
to the world as nicely arranged hors d'ouevres. Er, I mean, I'm a writer.

Aahz Maruch

unread,
Jan 6, 2001, 6:39:02 PM1/6/01
to
In article <bruce-baugh-0B84...@news.spiretech.com>,

Bruce Baugh <bruce...@spiretech.com> wrote:
>In article <937hau$687$1...@panix2.panix.com>, aa...@panix.com (Aahz
>Maruch) wrote:
>>
>> It's like "queer" or "slut".
>
>Speaking purely for myself here, I've become increasingly uncomfortable
>with the whole notion of language that is okay or not depending on who's
>using it. I don't particularly like having to apply algorithms to
>evaluate intent, and I _especially_ don't like having to do based on
>characteristics that, frankly, I don't feel an urge to know about other
>people most of the time. I can't help noticing external characteristics
>- in person, and at that only apparent ones, as opposed to the results
>of processes not readily visible to me - but I would prefer not to have
>to think "is this person a member of that group and therefore in some
>sense entitled to use that sometimes-derogatory term without me needing
>to feel the urge to point out that it is in fact derogatory and
>unwelcome?"

The way I think about it, during the time in which a word is in the
process of being reclaimed, people who use the word should make a point
of using it in contexts where the reclaimed (rather than the insulting)
meaning will be understood. If for some reason they use the word in a
context where the reclaimed meaning isn't clear, they should graciously
accept correction from onlookers; if they choose to proselytize the
reclaimed meaning, they should do that graciously, too.

Does this address your issue(s)?
--
--- Aahz (Copyright 2001 by aa...@pobox.com)

Bruce Baugh

unread,
Jan 6, 2001, 11:06:18 PM1/6/01
to
In article <938aam$c1o$1...@panix6.panix.com>, aa...@panix.com (Aahz
Maruch) wrote:

> Does this address your issue(s)?

Some. Not a whole lot.

I'm not mounting a big crusade here - it's not a huge issue for me. It's
mostly a nuisance at times when I am cognitively impaired [1] and having
trouble keeping even obvious things straight.

[1] Among the things that I finally got confirmed with testing lately is
that my body over-produces several of the enzymes which help break down
neurotransmitters. My brain runs out. When metabolic deficiencies which
lead to underproduction are also active, the world can become a very
confusing place.

Stef Maruch

unread,
Jan 7, 2001, 12:15:28 AM1/7/01
to

>So, my question is this: With regard to 'privileged language' why is
>the intent of the teller of the tale such a big deal to how the
>listener interprets the offensiveness of the tale? I hear a tale, I
>go (in a simplified universe), "I think that's offensive" or "I
>think that's inoffensive." Why should the intent of the speaker
>have any role in which of those answers I choose?

For me, offensiveness depends on my guess as to the intent of the
speaker, my relationship to the speaker, my relationship to those spoken
of, my culture's view of the speaker and those spoken of, and the
mainstream culture's view of the speaker and those spoken of.

All of that, of course, is internal to me, but those are factors that go
into the result whether I find something offensive or not.

My degree of crabbiness at that moment is another big factor, as is
whether I'm in the mood for finding offensive statements funny (which I
sometimes am).
--
Stef
** rational/scientific/philosophical/mystical/magical/kitty **
** st...@cat-and-dragon.com <*> http://www.bayarea.net/~stef **
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Be sure to evaluate the bird-hand/bush ratio.

Stef Maruch

unread,
Jan 7, 2001, 12:25:42 AM1/7/01
to

>Speaking purely for myself here, I've become increasingly uncomfortable
>with the whole notion of language that is okay or not depending on who's
>using it. I don't particularly like having to apply algorithms to
>evaluate intent, and I _especially_ don't like having to do based on
>characteristics that, frankly, I don't feel an urge to know about other
>people most of the time. I can't help noticing external characteristics
>- in person, and at that only apparent ones, as opposed to the results
>of processes not readily visible to me - but I would prefer not to have
>to think "is this person a member of that group and therefore in some
>sense entitled to use that sometimes-derogatory term without me needing
>to feel the urge to point out that it is in fact derogatory and
>unwelcome?"

Pardon me for butting in if you aren't wanting "geek answer syndrome"
applied to your complaint. But -- if I felt the same kind of discomfort
you did, I guess I'd ask myself whether I do in fact have to take on the
task of evaluating another person's use of terminology in light of their
group membership or intent. I think am not obligated to take on the role
of Language Cop (or Language Judge or Language Jury or Language
Prosecuting Attorney).

I will take on those roles over terms that I am fussy about, if I am
feeling proactively fussy...but most of the time I'm more of an
observer.

--
Stef
** rational/scientific/philosophical/mystical/magical/kitty **
** st...@cat-and-dragon.com <*> http://www.bayarea.net/~stef **
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Time is what keeps everything from happening all at once.
-- bumper sticker
Apparently, sometimes Time goes down. -- SJM

Elynne

unread,
Jan 7, 2001, 5:06:19 AM1/7/01
to
*read, wow, save*

...

... maybe this is part of why I rarely identified myself as human when I
was small. Well, there are other reasons (which are massively off-topic
here), but I remember being presented with the problem of not really being
*either* girl *or* boy. I ducked the question: I followed my plumbing,
and the stronger and more conventional of my attractions, and filled out
the forms as "female" and "heterosexual" (although I did hedge that last
one, once I found out that there was such a thing as being not completely
straight but not completely queer).

I've been told that I am very feminine. I've been called "sir" in stores,
by salespeople who have seen me from the front (I tend to wear bulky
clothing). I've been told that I "walk like a guy." I've been told that
I would be impossible to mistake for a man.

None of these things has ever really registered, somehow. I have the
"female" plumbing - so I'm "female." To me, that means that if I'm not
careful, I might breed. It also has a few interesting social advantages
and disadvantages, and affects how I get to play some of the reindeer
games. But in my head I'm always, primarily, essentially, just me.

... I loved that essay/speech, Elise. I was tempted, several times, to
write bits in my quote book, but then I realized that it might just be
easier to print the whole thing out and put it in my quote book entire. :)

Elynne, when she was in grade school, looked forward to a time when toys
wouldn't be marketed as "for boys" or "for girls" but just "for kids," and
now wonders if that time will ever come...

--
My web-page-esque-thing: http://www.tomorrowlands.org/elynne/index.html
"It's one big Turing Test, and we're all going to fail."

Elynne

unread,
Jan 7, 2001, 5:15:58 AM1/7/01
to
On Fri, 5 Jan 2001, RJ wrote:
<snips>

> And, again, anyone could be recognized as folks. You, your sister,
> your father, your cat (maybe especially your cat)... it didn't
> matter. Just so long as you didn't chastise someone for their
> definition of who or what counted as "folks."

Yah... I like it. I tend to use "people," but most people are so
programmed that "people" means "homo sapiens" that it can get difficult
trying to explain that cats are people too. OTOH, if somebody is
programmed that way, calling cats "folks" might not make the
difference... but I agree with the idea. :)

Elynne admits that she's a bit stumped by the "inanimate objects are
people too, just slower" idea from _Skinny Legs And All_, but she thinks
that there's a big grain of fundamental truth there

Elynne

unread,
Jan 7, 2001, 5:22:25 AM1/7/01
to
On Fri, 5 Jan 2001, Elise Matthesen wrote:
<snip>

The most telling comment, as it bears strong resemblance to a
> comment made about women-loving women in general, that I have heard on
> the subject from people who didn't get it was "But what would two femmes
> *do* with each other?" Aargh.

... when I first read that, I could not parse that sentence. It's
meaningless to me, as meaningless as "But what would two X-type people do
with each other?" Well... they'd do whatever they wanted to do. There's
this huge vast array of things that two people of X variety could do with
each other. I finally got the idea a couple of posts later... and I'm
kind of squicked by the idea that people actually think - "that" way.

Elynne has degenerated into hand-waving incoherence in trying to express
this idea, and will stop typing about it now

Ben Okopnik

unread,
Jan 7, 2001, 12:08:29 PM1/7/01
to
The ancient archives of Sun, 07 Jan 2001 10:22:25 GMT showed
Elynne of alt.polyamory speaking thus:

>On Fri, 5 Jan 2001, Elise Matthesen wrote:
><snip>
>The most telling comment, as it bears strong resemblance to a
>> comment made about women-loving women in general, that I have heard on
>> the subject from people who didn't get it was "But what would two femmes
>> *do* with each other?" Aargh.
>
>... when I first read that, I could not parse that sentence. It's
>meaningless to me, as meaningless as "But what would two X-type people do
>with each other?" Well... they'd do whatever they wanted to do. There's
>this huge vast array of things that two people of X variety could do with
>each other. I finally got the idea a couple of posts later... and I'm
>kind of squicked by the idea that people actually think - "that" way.

- "Sir, your cranial X-ray shows an Elynne planted squarely in between
your hemispheres. Is that, uh, standard for you Martians?"

>Elynne has degenerated into hand-waving incoherence in trying to express
>this idea, and will stop typing about it now

You speak MSL (Martian Sign Language) with a charming and clearly
comprehensible accent, Madame. I, for one, understand you perfectly.


Ben "really liked the riff on 'In my head, I'm just _me_', too" Okopnik

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
It seems that 'national security' is the root password to the Constitution.
As with any dishonest superuser, the best countermeasure is strong
encryption. -- Phil Karn

Stef Maruch

unread,
Jan 7, 2001, 3:09:24 PM1/7/01
to
In article <Pine.LNX.4.21.010107...@eris.io.com>,

Elynne <ely...@eris.io.com> wrote:
>On Fri, 5 Jan 2001, Elise Matthesen wrote:
><snip>
>The most telling comment, as it bears strong resemblance to a
>> comment made about women-loving women in general, that I have heard on
>> the subject from people who didn't get it was "But what would two femmes
>> *do* with each other?" Aargh.
>
>... when I first read that, I could not parse that sentence. It's
>meaningless to me, as meaningless as "But what would two X-type people do
>with each other?" Well... they'd do whatever they wanted to do. There's
>this huge vast array of things that two people of X variety could do with
>each other. I finally got the idea a couple of posts later... and I'm
>kind of squicked by the idea that people actually think - "that" way.

Here's what went through my head when I read it:

Q: "But what would two femmes *do* with each other?"
A: "The same thing that the 600 pound gorilla does."

--
Stef
** rational/scientific/philosophical/mystical/magical/kitty **
** st...@cat-and-dragon.com <*> http://www.bayarea.net/~stef **
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

It is the duty of the artist to survive: Sometimes genius is 90%
respiration. -- Arthur D. Hlavaty

RJ

unread,
Jan 7, 2001, 3:21:12 PM1/7/01
to
On Sun, 7 Jan 2001, Elynne wrote:

}On Fri, 5 Jan 2001, RJ wrote:
}<snips>
}
}> And, again, anyone could be recognized as folks. You, your sister,
}> your father, your cat (maybe especially your cat)... it didn't
}> matter. Just so long as you didn't chastise someone for their
}> definition of who or what counted as "folks."
}
}Yah... I like it. I tend to use "people," but most people are so
}programmed that "people" means "homo sapiens" that it can get difficult
}trying to explain that cats are people too. OTOH, if somebody is
}programmed that way, calling cats "folks" might not make the
}difference... but I agree with the idea. :)
}
}Elynne admits that she's a bit stumped by the "inanimate objects are
}people too, just slower" idea from _Skinny Legs And All_, but she thinks
}that there's a big grain of fundamental truth there

Table legs and other furniture corners get lonely in the middle of
the cold, dark night. That's why they reach out to tap your toes or
shins.

They just don't have much practice, so they misjudge how hard they
need to tap you.

RJ

unread,
Jan 7, 2001, 3:30:53 PM1/7/01
to
On 7 Jan 2001, Stef Maruch wrote:

}In article <Pine.BSF.4.21.010106...@mleko.xocolatl.com>,
}RJ <r...@xocolatl.com> wrote:
}
}>So, my question is this: With regard to 'privileged language' why is
}>the intent of the teller of the tale such a big deal to how the
}>listener interprets the offensiveness of the tale? I hear a tale, I
}>go (in a simplified universe), "I think that's offensive" or "I
}>think that's inoffensive." Why should the intent of the speaker
}>have any role in which of those answers I choose?
}
}For me, offensiveness depends on my guess as to the intent of the
}speaker, my relationship to the speaker, my relationship to those spoken
}of, my culture's view of the speaker and those spoken of, and the
}mainstream culture's view of the speaker and those spoken of.
}
}All of that, of course, is internal to me, but those are factors that go
}into the result whether I find something offensive or not.
}
}My degree of crabbiness at that moment is another big factor, as is
}whether I'm in the mood for finding offensive statements funny (which I
}sometimes am).

Okay, so if I am reading and interpreting your meaning at all close
to correctly, all of your offensiveness determining factors are
internal to you. And that's cool.

I guess my problem with the generalized privileged language
arguments is that most of them seem to be an attempt to apply a
person's or a group's internal decision to other people.

RJ

unread,
Jan 7, 2001, 8:02:48 PM1/7/01
to
On 7 Jan 2001, Stef Maruch wrote:

}In article <Pine.LNX.4.21.010107...@eris.io.com>,
}Elynne <ely...@eris.io.com> wrote:
}>On Fri, 5 Jan 2001, Elise Matthesen wrote:
}><snip>
}>The most telling comment, as it bears strong resemblance to a
}>> comment made about women-loving women in general, that I have heard on
}>> the subject from people who didn't get it was "But what would two femmes
}>> *do* with each other?" Aargh.
}>
}>... when I first read that, I could not parse that sentence. It's
}>meaningless to me, as meaningless as "But what would two X-type people do
}>with each other?" Well... they'd do whatever they wanted to do. There's
}>this huge vast array of things that two people of X variety could do with
}>each other. I finally got the idea a couple of posts later... and I'm
}>kind of squicked by the idea that people actually think - "that" way.
}
}Here's what went through my head when I read it:
}
}Q: "But what would two femmes *do* with each other?"
}A: "The same thing that the 600 pound gorilla does."

I'm confused, Stef. The 600 pound gorilla is a femme?

<g>

Vicki Rosenzweig

unread,
Jan 7, 2001, 8:10:05 PM1/7/01
to
Quoth amer...@mpx.com.au (Andrea Merrell) on 06 Jan 2001 09:44:37 GMT:

>Elise Matthesen wrote in alt.polyamory:
>
><snip wonderful post>
>
>That has gone into my "saved to be read again and again" file. Elise
>thank you for posting that, it was wonderful.
>

AOL!

I don't really get the butch/femme thing, perhaps because of the ways
in which I don't quite get gender. But I wouldn't dream of telling
people who do find it real or fun or useful that they're wrong--how
could I, when I can't see what they see? It would be like a color-blind
person telling me that I'm wrong to like purple.

I'm wondering whether fairy gold is another name for consensus
reality: those oak leaves are valuable as long as you believe they
are, and gold as long as you don't put them under a microscope.
--
Vicki Rosenzweig
v...@redbird.org | http://www.redbird.org
The statement "I feel more passionately about this than you
do" may be a fact, but it is not an argument." --Molly Ivins

Elise Matthesen

unread,
Jan 7, 2001, 9:38:56 PM1/7/01
to

Aahz Maruch wrote:
>
> In article <Pine.BSF.4.21.010106...@mleko.xocolatl.com>,
> RJ <r...@xocolatl.com> wrote:
> >On 6 Jan 2001, Aahz Maruch wrote:
> >}In article <Pine.BSF.4.21.010106...@mleko.xocolatl.com>,
> >}RJ <r...@xocolatl.com> wrote:
> >}>
> >}>So, my question is this: With regard to 'privileged language' why is
> >}>the intent of the teller of the tale such a big deal to how the
> >}>listener interprets the offensiveness of the tale? I hear a tale, I
> >}>go (in a simplified universe), "I think that's offensive" or "I
> >}>think that's inoffensive." Why should the intent of the speaker
> >}>have any role in which of those answers I choose?
> >}
> >}It's like "queer" or "slut".
> >
> >If I wanted more examples, Aahz, I would've asked for examples.
> >I asked for the reasons or rationalizations.
>
> Are you saying that you don't understand why "queer" and "slut" get
> treated differently depending on who says them? (I'm sticking with
> those examples because I think they simplify the discussion over using
> "tales".)

I think he's saying that he asked for reasons or rationalizations.

Elise,
watching.

Elise Matthesen

unread,
Jan 7, 2001, 9:49:58 PM1/7/01
to

Nicole wrote:
>
> hey elise,
>
> i just finished reading your wonderful speech... i forwarded it to my
> beloved. he's a musician, and in his most recent song, he sang:
>
> "i have no gender inside"
>
> he sang it because it's his truth. later, we found out that patty smith is
> quoted as saying that, which was really cool.
>
> anyway, thank you for the wonderous gift of your writing and your sharing.

You're welcome. If you would forward my appreciation to your musician
beloved, along with a request for a copy of his lyrics, I would be very
grateful and pleased.

Oh, for the record, in case anybody else wants to forward a copy to
friends and lovers, who then might want to get ahold of me, here is the
boilerplate that people from this newsgroup are welcome to use when
making copies of that speech text for their friends and beloveds and so forth:


---begin appropriate boilerplate-----
You may forward this speech to your friend/beloved if you would be so
kind as to attach the following:

This speech is copyright Elise Matthesen 2000; reprinted here by
permission of the author. To inquire regarding permission to reprint,
please email el...@lioness.net. Making one copy for yourself or a friend
is fine with me, but I make part of my living as a freelance writer, so
please do not republish this piece without permission; I make a practice
of retaining copyright on my work so that I am able to grant permission
to reprint to non-profit organizations or other amiable groups of
constructive people, like this one comprising people who read
alt.polyamory. ( The other reason asking permission is good is that it's
always neat for me to see who read a particular piece and thinks it's
good enough to ask to reprint!) Paying customers are also very welcome
to inquire. <grin> Thank you for helping me with this, and I hope you
find the speech useful. -- Elise Matthesen, Jan 7, 2001

----end appropriate boilerplate------

Elise,
who is glad that people have been liking the speech, and who is
beginning to think that zie will do well to put together some chapbooks
of zir stuff again.

Andrea Merrell

unread,
Jan 7, 2001, 10:51:09 PM1/7/01
to
RJ wrote in alt.polyamory:

> On 7 Jan 2001, Stef Maruch wrote:
> }Q: "But what would two femmes *do* with each other?"
> }A: "The same thing that the 600 pound gorilla does."
>
> I'm confused, Stef. The 600 pound gorilla is a femme?
> <g>

If she says so I'll believe her. :-)

Elise Matthesen

unread,
Jan 8, 2001, 1:19:34 AM1/8/01
to

Elynne wrote:
>
> Elynne admits that she's a bit stumped by the "inanimate objects are
> people too, just slower" idea from _Skinny Legs And All_, but she thinks
> that there's a big grain of fundamental truth there

<grin>

If you'd like, I could show you a little bit about how that idea has
some very practical applications in beadworking.

Elise,
looking even more forward to a.p.7, if such a thing were possible.

hazel

unread,
Jan 8, 2001, 2:56:21 AM1/8/01
to
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----

In article <km4i5tc0t6bgj0kb9...@4ax.com>, Vicki Rosenzweig wrote:
>
>I don't really get the butch/femme thing, perhaps because of the ways
>in which I don't quite get gender. But I wouldn't dream of telling
>people who do find it real or fun or useful that they're wrong--how
>could I, when I can't see what they see? It would be like a color-blind
>person telling me that I'm wrong to like purple.
>
>I'm wondering whether fairy gold is another name for consensus
>reality: those oak leaves are valuable as long as you believe they
>are, and gold as long as you don't put them under a microscope.

<G> *Yes!* Fairy gold, leaves that you buy things with, turns back into
paper at the drop of a stockmarket... I like your way of putting that.

I never did understand gender roles (mostly because I wasn't paying
attention), and so found issues like butch/femme very confusing, people
getting all worked up over apparently illusory things. But when
I started paying attention, well, these are illusory in the same way as
religion, science, or the English language. Common constructs for
understanding people. And flexible, too; you can more or less choose your
place on the butch/fem or manly/effeminate spectrum. And since these mean
a lot to many people, you can choose the place that communicates what you
want to communicate. Whether it be an old role (masculine man, feminine
woman), a new one (butch woman, swishy man), genderfuck, or some new place
of your own.

On the Net, of course, nobody knows you're a dog.

Hazel

~~~
This PGP signature only certifies the sender and date of the message.
It implies no approval from the administrators of nym.xg.nu.
Date: Mon Jan 8 07:56:18 2001 GMT
From: ha...@nym.xg.nu

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
Version: 2.6.3in
Charset: noconv

iQCVAwUBOllypMasoPEC0e2BAQEh8gP/cBJlm2XPChMQB4js5ZeMiD7jmS9WuOSY
Sg6k2n8iQe+4PGETT4BiY+KYe4AzpFEoTHR9o6XRP8hMpVFQQUta2PwvfCOoVIfH
LidLEPWYRPtbpYddtcu2iBx4ZU6b4mGkOEe635nnCAtEUDD9h46EHCZ4ed3Qmzyg
3Kp3S96yiRs=
=g2Tc
-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----

Elise Matthesen

unread,
Jan 8, 2001, 3:52:00 AM1/8/01
to

RJ wrote:
>
> On Sun, 7 Jan 2001, Elynne wrote:
>
> }On Fri, 5 Jan 2001, RJ wrote:
> }<snips>
> }
> }> And, again, anyone could be recognized as folks. You, your sister,
> }> your father, your cat (maybe especially your cat)... it didn't
> }> matter. Just so long as you didn't chastise someone for their
> }> definition of who or what counted as "folks."
> }
> }Yah... I like it. I tend to use "people," but most people are so
> }programmed that "people" means "homo sapiens" that it can get difficult
> }trying to explain that cats are people too. OTOH, if somebody is
> }programmed that way, calling cats "folks" might not make the
> }difference... but I agree with the idea. :)
> }
> }Elynne admits that she's a bit stumped by the "inanimate objects are
> }people too, just slower" idea from _Skinny Legs And All_, but she thinks
> }that there's a big grain of fundamental truth there
>
> Table legs and other furniture corners get lonely in the middle of
> the cold, dark night. That's why they reach out to tap your toes or
> shins.
>
> They just don't have much practice, so they misjudge how hard they
> need to tap you.

Oh, great; now when I walk into my furniture, I'll think that I really
ought to stop and try to straighten out the miscommunications and
assumptions that are leading to these relationship problems....

Elise,
amused, and with bruised shins.

Elise Matthesen

unread,
Jan 8, 2001, 3:50:35 AM1/8/01
to

Stef Maruch wrote:
>
> Here's what went through my head when I read it:
>
> Q: "But what would two femmes *do* with each other?"
> A: "The same thing that the 600 pound gorilla does."

"...Anything they want to."
<throaty chuckles>

Oh, I *like* that answer, Stef!

Elise,
deeply pleased.

Elise Matthesen

unread,
Jan 8, 2001, 4:36:44 AM1/8/01
to

RJ wrote:
>
> On 7 Jan 2001, Stef Maruch wrote:
>
> }In article <Pine.LNX.4.21.010107...@eris.io.com>,
> }

> }Here's what went through my head when I read it:
> }
> }Q: "But what would two femmes *do* with each other?"
> }A: "The same thing that the 600 pound gorilla does."
>
> I'm confused, Stef. The 600 pound gorilla is a femme?
>
> <g>

Hey, if zie wants to be, zie can be.

Elise,
sure about that.

RJ

unread,
Jan 8, 2001, 8:45:12 AM1/8/01
to

What can I say? Credenzas need love, too.

Elynne

unread,
Jan 8, 2001, 11:41:15 AM1/8/01
to
On 7 Jan 2001, Ben Okopnik wrote:
> The ancient archives of Sun, 07 Jan 2001 10:22:25 GMT showed
> Elynne of alt.polyamory speaking thus:
> >On Fri, 5 Jan 2001, Elise Matthesen wrote:
> >The most telling comment, as it bears strong resemblance to a
> >> comment made about women-loving women in general, that I have heard on
> >> the subject from people who didn't get it was "But what would two femmes
> >> *do* with each other?" Aargh.
> >... when I first read that, I could not parse that sentence. It's
> >meaningless to me, as meaningless as "But what would two X-type people do
> >with each other?"
> - "Sir, your cranial X-ray shows an Elynne planted squarely in between
> your hemispheres. Is that, uh, standard for you Martians?"

*gigglegigglesnortgiggle* Oh, the mental images... *gigglesnort*

> >Elynne has degenerated into hand-waving incoherence in trying to express
> >this idea, and will stop typing about it now
> You speak MSL (Martian Sign Language) with a charming and clearly
> comprehensible accent, Madame. I, for one, understand you perfectly.
> Ben "really liked the riff on 'In my head, I'm just _me_', too" Okopnik

*mrrr* Thank you! :) I'm very glad that I was being comprehensible, at
least to other Martians. ;)

I live in a generally androgynous household. The one really firm dividing
line between the "male" and "female" parts of the population is that the
male parts are more likely to play Warhammer, while the female parts are
more likely to go utterly bugnuts about sparkly stuff. And the females
are more statistically likely to wear skirts, though W and I do our best
to break that curve. Aside from that, anything else fluctuates on a purely
personal level, and is virtually impossible to derive gender distinctions
from.

Elynne re-reads that last sentence and decides that she maybe needs coffee
now...

Elynne

unread,
Jan 8, 2001, 11:43:10 AM1/8/01
to
On 7 Jan 2001, Stef Maruch wrote:
> In article <Pine.LNX.4.21.010107...@eris.io.com>,
> Elynne <ely...@eris.io.com> wrote:
> >On Fri, 5 Jan 2001, Elise Matthesen wrote:
> >> the subject from people who didn't get it was "But what would two femmes
> >> *do* with each other?" Aargh.
> >... when I first read that, I could not parse that sentence. It's
> >meaningless to me, as meaningless as "But what would two X-type people do
> >with each other?"
> Here's what went through my head when I read it:
> Q: "But what would two femmes *do* with each other?"
> A: "The same thing that the 600 pound gorilla does."

... and the first thing that went through my head when I read that was
that old Samsonite luggage commercial with the gorilla, and I had a
moment of wondering "WTF??" before remembering the punchline to the
joke. :)

Elynne, frequent participant in Free Association Theatre

Elynne

unread,
Jan 8, 2001, 11:48:39 AM1/8/01
to
On Mon, 8 Jan 2001, RJ wrote:
> On Mon, 8 Jan 2001, Elise Matthesen wrote:
> }RJ wrote:
> }> Table legs and other furniture corners get lonely in the middle of
> }> the cold, dark night. That's why they reach out to tap your toes or
> }> shins.
> }Oh, great; now when I walk into my furniture, I'll think that I really
> }ought to stop and try to straighten out the miscommunications and
> }assumptions that are leading to these relationship problems....
> }Elise,
> }amused, and with bruised shins.
> What can I say? Credenzas need love, too.

:) :) I like that much better than the interpretation that my best friend
from high school used, that inanimate objects were trying to kill him. I
once saw him walk across a room with two desks in it, tangle his foot in
one of the desks somehow, go sprawling on the floor and hit his head on
the leg of the *other* desk in the room which had to have been at least
ten feet away. After that, I was more likely to believe that he was
right - but it's so much more amusing to consider that the desks were just
trying to be *friendly*... :)

Elynne doesn't have any particular problems with furniture these days,
though she has noticed that some of the furniture seems to have more
personality than other bits...

Stef Maruch

unread,
Jan 8, 2001, 2:57:12 PM1/8/01
to
In article <2001010807...@www.xg.nu>, hazel <ha...@nym.xg.nu> wrote:

>I never did understand gender roles (mostly because I wasn't paying
>attention), and so found issues like butch/femme very confusing, people
>getting all worked up over apparently illusory things. But when
>I started paying attention, well, these are illusory in the same way as
>religion, science, or the English language. Common constructs for
>understanding people. And flexible, too; you can more or less choose your
>place on the butch/fem or manly/effeminate spectrum. And since these mean
>a lot to many people, you can choose the place that communicates what you
>want to communicate. Whether it be an old role (masculine man, feminine
>woman), a new one (butch woman, swishy man), genderfuck, or some new place
>of your own.
>
>On the Net, of course, nobody knows you're a dog.

Or a Butch Kitty.

--
Stef
** rational/scientific/philosophical/mystical/magical/kitty **
** st...@cat-and-dragon.com <*> http://www.bayarea.net/~stef **
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

An expert is someone who can take something you already knew and make it
sound confusing.

Nicole

unread,
Jan 8, 2001, 9:13:51 PM1/8/01
to
> Nicole wrote:
>>
>> hey elise,
>>
>> i just finished reading your wonderful speech... i forwarded it to my
>> beloved. he's a musician, and in his most recent song, he sang:
>>
>> "i have no gender inside"
>>
>> he sang it because it's his truth. later, we found out that patty smith is
>> quoted as saying that, which was really cool.
>>
>> anyway, thank you for the wonderous gift of your writing and your sharing.

then elise wrote:

> You're welcome. If you would forward my appreciation to your musician
> beloved, along with a request for a copy of his lyrics, I would be very
> grateful and pleased.

done! and *i'm* pleased now!

> Elise,
> who is glad that people have been liking the speech, and who is
> beginning to think that zie will do well to put together some chapbooks
> of zir stuff again.

ooohhhh! i want one! (though, what specifically are "chapbooks?" are they
kinda like a zine, or self published mini book?)

i'll trade ya some art... "yes, that's right, several of those books and um,
that necklace please, right, here's your painting!"

nicole
who loves trading stuff

--
music: www.k23.org
art: www.ocella.com

Be thirsty for the ultimate water,
and then be ready for what will
come pouring from the spring.
[Rumi - Joy at Sudden Disappointment]


Elynne

unread,
Jan 8, 2001, 11:22:16 PM1/8/01
to
On 8 Jan 2001, Stef Maruch wrote:
> In article <2001010807...@www.xg.nu>, hazel <ha...@nym.xg.nu> wrote:
<context snipped>

> >On the Net, of course, nobody knows you're a dog.
> Or a Butch Kitty.

Or a dragon. :)

Elynne really enjoys that aspect of Usenet, in fact...

Deirdre Clyde

unread,
Jan 9, 2001, 6:26:46 PM1/9/01