Tuesday, May 28, 2002
I just read a characterization of Amber Hollibaugh as someone whose work was informed by middle-class activism and the economic necessity of sex work. I wonder how she would take that description? "Middle class" would be the last two words I would link with her work--really, if you flip idly through My Dangerous Desires, you're going to find a lot of passages that specifically distance her from the middle class (economically, ideologically, sexually). In fact, there's not much of me in her work--I'm the person she chastises for not having to work hard enough to survive, for not having to suffer enough to be a dyke. I'm probably only one step into the middle classes, up from the farming/laborer class, but I see myself not at all in her work (other than in a general way, as I think her voice is important as a feminist).
I think there's a big gap between me and the women of her era--old school butch/femme, '70s radical feminism--almost as big as the gap between me and the new generation of 'zinesters. I also think there's an "urban" element to Hollibaugh's writing--the issues she was dealing with as a high-femme, former sex worker, radical seem to be more relevant if you're trying to find your identity in opposition to someone else. If you're living in isolation, in a rural locale, butch/femme isn't the question--it's still straight v. gay, or passing v. non-passing, I think. Maybe you have to throw your lot in with other queers to start sorting yourself out in queer terms.
I have no butch/femme identity, nor does Catherine (which may be why we get along so famously together). When I lived in L.A., I felt butcher than butch, but that response was as much to the "oh, I'm working on a screenplay" straight women as it was to the high-femmes of West Hollywood. It was straight women who kept me out of the women's bathroom, not lesbians, and it was straight people who called me "sir," not any glbt person. Once I left L.A., my supposed butchness evaporated, because I looked like every other outdoorsy Pacific Northwest type.
Okay, I'm just about done being gay for awhile (it was a long weekend!). One last item on this subject before I write an entry about how I spent my holiday:
Where in this list of categories do I belong (it's all about me, all the time, doncha know)? This is a group of links from the sidebar of lesbian.com.
Arts and Muses
Dykes w/ Disabilities
Lesbians of Color
And what the hell is a "land dyke"? Are we still doing the collective thing? No one sent me that memo. Let's assume I might follow the "activism/politics" link at least once, and probably the "anti-oppression" link at least once. Maybe hit the "gender" link once or twice if I'm looking for something specific. If I'm trying to fool my boss into thinking I'm working, maybe I'd look at the "computers/tech" link (I did this weekend, it didn't take me anywhere interesting).
If this is what being a lesbian is all about, I clearly am not dyke material. If it has the word "muses" or "spirituality" in it, I'm way out of there. Business? Families/parenting? Home/gardening? As if. I'm not deaf, I'm not a crone (yet), I don't have a disability, I could stand to lose a few pounds, but I'm not so freaked about it I would go join a fat dykes club, I'm not Jewish, I'm definitely not a "land lesbian," I don't wear motorcycle leathers, my only colors are pale and pink (or red when I'm sunburned), I should probably actually watch TV before following the media link, I'm comfortable in my sexuality, I hate softball, I've never taken a "gay" vacation, and I'm not a youth.
All of which is to say, my, we're a fragmented bunch these days. Just when you think you have all the categories figured out, new ones pop up. What I need is a link leading to "lesbians of no particular distinction." I'd *definitely* follow that link.
Posted by JR at 2:56 AM