tl;dr here are some interesting things I’ve read this month!
One of the things I’d like to start doing is providing a short list of some interesting things I’ve read. Trying to make a difference is as much about sharing what other people are saying as it is about saying your own thing. All four of these articles are things that link to me personally through my interests, identities, or struggles, but are said in ways I could never do and written by people who can write these perspectives. This is super important. I don’t want to make long lists because I find them overwhelming and because I am a strong believer that really spending the quality time with one good reading is much more effective for learning than glancing over huge amounts of lists, but I hope, for anyone that wants a little more reading from a new perspective (or to just have an idea of the things I read that are stewing in the back of my mind while I write my blog posts), this can be a small, useful list of good reading.
It’s time for goth culture to embrace the identities of all of its members
“An aesthetic built on subverting gender norms also reinforces those same norms by constantly referencing them, and whether one’s gender presentation is read as subversive or subpar still depends on how digestible it is to mainstream society.”
As one of those trans people that found their gender presentation via the goth community and aesthetic (and then kind of left the space? I’m still not sure where I stand in terms of gothiness at the moment), this was a super important and meaningful read in my life and I figured it could be interesting to anyone else who happens to share even a little bit of gothiness.
Self love, body acceptance and other ways to get famous
“Whats often ignored by the cis, white, middle class, able bodied elite who make up the bulk of body bloggers is the ability to be body confident is often majorly affected by privilege, capitalism, access and hegemonic masculinity.”
Scottee is someone I’ve secretly admired from afar since I discovered his existence (and got a tiny one-week workshop with him, nowhere near enough time), so I highly recommend going and reading everything he was written ever. This particular post stuck out to me from my own experiences in how “trans visibility” on social media has often turned into a similar phenomenon – white, able-bodied, skinny, masculine-leaning, afab folks in sweater vests claiming they’re challenging gender by making people ask them if they’re a boy or a girl. It’s well-meaning, but reinforcing the gender norms they’re trying to challenge and has always made me feel like an outsider. As Scottee says, it’s time to up the game.
Refusing to tolerate intolerance
“Calls for ‘more speech’ also suffer from the misconception that we, as a society, are all in the midst of some grand rational debate, and that marginalized people simply need to properly plea our case for acceptance, and once we do, reason-minded people everywhere will eventually come around. This notion is utterly ludicrous. Prejudice and discrimination are not driven by rationality or reason.”
Julia Serano is another one of those people that I deeply admire (and have not had the chance to meet, sadly…someday…I can only hope). This is a response to conversations around “free speech”, particularly with awareness of Charlottesville and Milo Yiannopoulos and general current events (and our increasing failure to condemn hate speech). Serano has a remarkable ability to take things I know and turn them into things I can explain. So, if you’re like me and sometimes struggle to explain things like “Nazis are bad” because it seems so absolutely obvious (I mean, seriously?), this can break it down for you, deepen your comprehension of the issue, and give you fuel for fighting back.
Christine de Pizan’s The Book of the City of Ladies as reclamatory fan work
“By reframing these earlier works of literature as part of a longer history of women’s writing that also involves the works being done today within modalities of fan writing, and by reconsidering fan works as part of a historical continuum of women’s writing, we, much as de Pizan herself did, create a theoretical space that historicizes, contextualizes, and indeed valorizes women writers of both fannish and nonfannish works.”
Yeah, that quote is a lot of academic gibberish, but, truth be told, I found this article decently accessible in terms of language. As the nerd I am and the fan I am, I absolutely love the Journal for Transformative Works. Not only is it free academic articles about fanwork, which is pretty damn, it’s pretty radical in how it works to avoid the gatekeeping that is inherent in most academic work. I also have a weakness for women writers, particularly ones that go “fuck this man-thing, I’m going to write a better thing now” (someday maybe I’ll write out all my love for the original fairy tale authors of 17th century France). So, having never actually heard of Christine de Pizan (a travesty, I blame my terrible teachers from my undergraduate degree), this was probably the most exciting piece of academic literature I read this month. And, what this paper argues, is that applying new modes of study to look at older works by women offers a new perspective that we wouldn’t have otherwise, which is super important when we consider how many older models were developed to specifically look at male authors.