MHM Ep 8: Femme-inist Masculinity

Good Morning REVOLUTIONARIES!

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You may have been wondering where we skipped off to last week. We were enjoying ourselves at UC Riverside’s Trans* Asterisk Conference and, in truth, didn’t quite recover in time to sing it’s praises last Monday morning during the Mash-Up! Nevertheless, we couldn’t let such an amazing weekend go unsung!

Today’s intersection is FEMME-INIST MASCULINITY! You might think that sounds like a contradiction, and while it might be rare, we assure you it exists. We saw it, felt it and engaged in it at the conference last weekend and it was utterly magical. A unicorn glittered demonstration of community building, space making and dialogue.

sunset

We got to spend some time with old friends, had serendipitous run-ins with folks swirling in nearby communities and gathered more new crushes than we can count! So many amazing hearts and spirits and utterly fabulous accessories! We were absolutely impressed by the warm and efficient organizing and honored and flattered to be among the ranks of the other speakers. Our only regret to participating was that presenting kept us from attending other workshops! However, with all of these other wonderful pieces what will shine the brightest in our  memories was our spontaneous extended workshop turned community summit!

We were so excited to run Taming the Hulk: Temperance for the Transmasculine Journey and will likely post some of the activities at some point. As we got going on planning and prepping we quickly realized that time was short and our activity list grew/shrunk as we discussed and organized. We did the math and figured, maybe 30 folks at the most? We spent some time thinking, okay, if 10 folks show up for this gig can we still do our activities? Would the processing exercises resonate for folks that were unfamiliar with gender deconstruction? Were we offering real tips for temperance or were we just echoing the narrative that finding and remaining consistent with our own versions of masculinity was an uphill unsupported cultural battle?

Needless to say, we were pretty blown away when we returned to our room to find that there were already about 40 participants waiting for us and participants continued to roll in for the next 10 minutes until we were up to probably around 60-70! As these things go, we scuttled about, took a breath, re-routed where we could and then just surrendered to being around and in such amazing community. We tried to sink into the fact that in a lot of ways this gathering in itself was a movement towards transmasculine temperance- that folks were seeking out space to come together to find balance in this journey often wrought with extreme ups and downs.

The participation and experiences that got shared in our workshop were already more than we could have hoped for but as we took final comments we were again pleasantly surprised. Folks voiced that there wasn’t as much deconstruction as hoped and that they wanted to know if there was more space to keep the conversation going. Participants went to speak to the conference organizers, found us an empty room during the final workshop slot and spread the word. As we rolled into Taming the Hulk Part Deux, we were again floored as a good 30-40 magnificent humans came in to discuss and deconstruct the narratives of masculinity that support us and constrain us. With very little facilitation the group made space for each other’s voices, witnessed and validated each other’s stories and generally commiserated and problem solved around the hulking presence of masculinity in all of our lives and gendered journeys.

It brought me an intense feeling of Kim Katrina Crosby’s prezi on Femme Science and Community Based Research in action. I implore you take a look at it, take it in and add Laura Mvula‘s That’s Alright to your conquer the day playlists! As a community we took on the community agreements that Crosby discussed:

Community Agreements

Express care, concern and consideration to yourself & others.
Speak for yourself.
Protect each other & yourself.
Examine your prejudice.
Share your needs and give ample space for others to do the same.
Treat others the way that they want to be treated. Ask.

Another’s experience does not invalidate your own,

but it should and necessarily does complicate your own.

We were so thoroughly grateful for the heart opening and intuition practice that we experienced at the conference, that drew folks to our workshop and that left space for folks to take and create what they needed. A lot of the discussion surrounded the struggle of binary systems, the way that accessing masculinity sometimes felt mutually exclusive from feminine energy/nurturing/space and the loss of one identity/community as another solidified. Folks voiced the desire to be conscious of the unique nature of this journey into privileged space and were desperately seeking ways to honor it as they also took on masculinity in ways that felt holding to them.

It felt like we not only started to “Tame the Hulk” but that we started to build a framework for “Femme-inist Masculinity.”

Even with our extended time together, we know that we’ve just barely scratched the surface. We’re figuring out what would feel like the best ways for us to continue the conversation and we’ll leave more information here as it comes. If you would like to be a part of this continued conversation please shoot us an email to compassionaterevolt@gmail.com.

In COM|PASSionate REVOLUTION,

Skye + Traci

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Skye is a youth worker, educator, activist and white transmasculine human. Traci is a therapist, yoga teacher, educator and queer vegan femme-inist of color. They reside, practice, navigate, process, survive and flourish in the Southern California area.

Isn’t it Queer?: Poetry Soup for Achy Souls

BannerWe may be living in a culture that worships doctors and Barbies. It may be kind of shitty. We are perpetually inundated with media that is “by the cis-male for the cis-male,” “tits, ass and football!” and trying to live and thrive as a marginalized identity can lend itself to feeling lonely, invisible, disenfranchised and ostracized. Sometimes our ability to swiftly jump the gender binary, despite us knowing how talented and strong that makes us, can instead make us the target of unnecessary scrutiny by the painfully uninformed. Sometimes being a person of color who embraces your hair and the darkness of your skin, rather than adopting white norms of beauty can make you an outsider, rather than the fashion pioneer that we know you are.

For those of us that work in industries where the main topic of conversation with co-workers is barely able to surpass the Super Bowl commercials or whoever is currently arguing with Kim Kardashian on Twitter, it can leave us hungry for more substantial interactions and more meaningful dialogue. This is especially true for those of us living alternative lifestyles because we are already combating an un-inclusive cultural environment on top of the job problems, the I-had-a-fucking-crazy-childhood-problems, and the I can’t-fucking-afford-gas problems, that everyone else is dealing with. We all need small talk to blow off steam, don’t get me wrong, but how often is that small talk affirming of our non-cis, lgbtq, or poc identity? Never? Yeah me too. So for today’s episode of, Isn’t it Queer? I will be showcasing poetry exclusively from women of color, queer/trans/non-cis individuals, and individuals with alternative love preferences, with the intention of bringing healing food to your achy soul. Poetry is the keyhole we peer into, to find where our soul hides out when it is injured. These poems come from the pain, passion and struggle of their authors and are born with a variety of intentions. Poetry can be built with the intention of healing, of commiserating, of illuminating or of vocalizing a point of view that is overlooked by the mainstream ear. So, with love and compassionate revolution, I bring you poetry to sooth of the achy soul:

 Donna Kate Rushin

I highly recommend that every person on the planet read this incredible, groundbreaking collection of poetry and essays. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. Here is a sample by Donna Kate Rushin, The Bridge Called My Back:

I’ve had enough 
I’m sick of seeing and touching 
Both sides of things 
Sick of being the damn bridge for everybody

Nobody 
Can talk to anybody 
Without me Right?

I explain my mother to my father my father to my little sister 
My little sister to my brother my brother to the white feminists 
The white feminists to the Black church folks the Black church folks 
To the Ex-hippies the ex-hippies to the Black separatists the 
Black separatists to the artists the artists to my friends’ parents…

Then 
I’ve got the explain myself 
To everybody

I do more translating 
Than the Gawdamn U.N.

Forget it 
I’m sick of it

I’m sick of filling in your gaps

Sick of being your insurance against 
The isolation of your self-imposed limitations 
Sick of being the crazy at your holiday dinners 
Sick of being the odd one at your Sunday Brunches 
Sick of being the sole Black friend to 34 individual white people

Find another connection to the rest of the world 
Find something else to make you legitimate 
Find some other way to be political and hip

I will not be the bridge to your womanhood 
Your manhood 
Your human-ness

I’m sick of reminding you not to 
Close off too tight for too long

I’m sick of mediating with your worst self 
On behalf you your better selves

I am sick 
Of having to remind you 
To breathe 
Before you suffocate 
Your own fool self

Forget it 
Stretch or drown 
Evolve or die

The bridge I must be 
Is the bridge to my own power 
I must translate 
My own fears 
Mediate 
My own weaknesses

I must be the bridge to nowhere 
But my true self 
And then 
I will be useful

 I personally adore this piece because of it’s affirming nature. The message that we are not obligated to be people’s interpreters or curators but they are instead obligated to research and explore the things they do not understand. Sometimes I read this one mid-workday to remind me not to take on other people’s ignorance as my personal battle.

 Janani Balasubramanian

Now, dear readers, let’s hear some spoken word. Go on Poet, don’t be nice! Poet and author, Janani Balasubramanian’s, “trans/national,” illustrates the plurality of masculinity through his family’s response to his transition, he ties in colonialism, white masculinity, and misogyny and in general just kicks a bunch of ass.

Balasubramanian’s visceral expression is a powerful commitment to resist male and white privilege, to hold and embrace his culture and family, and to be authentically him. What commitments do you own enough to announce them boldly?

 Nayyirah Waheed

Holy Shit buy Salt, by Nayyirah Waheed. I was introduced to this incredible woman’s poetry by my co-blogger Lyneonme. Her poetry has the purifying power of it’s clever title and it will open and heal you. Waheed’s, Salt, is a series of short poems that builds a fertile soil for your empowerment and personal growth, and if ever there was a poet that will incite your healing, she is that poet. With gratitude, I bring you a few of her gorgeous missives:

“if 
the ocean 
can calm itself, 
so can you.
we 
are both 
salt water 
mixed with 
air.”

“i love myself.’

the 
quietest.
simplest. 
most
powerful.
revolution. 
ever.” 

“remember,
you were a writer 
before
you ever 
put 
pen to paper.
just because you were not writing 
externally. 
does not mean you were not writing
internally.” 

“you
not wanting me
was
the beginning of me
wanting myself
thank you” 

“expect sadness
like
you expect rain.
both,
cleanse you.” 

 -To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,

Cory

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Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and they aim to lead by example by bravely living an examined lifestyle.

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”

Audre Lord

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