Archive for gender

3. Always

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 4, 2008 by alexis
slips in meaning

slips in meaning

Always. Like the word between love and your name in a love letter. Always. Like the pastel plastic promise that your period can become cute. Always. Like an ahistorical historicization. Like the production of eternity without witnesses. Like a recurring nightmare of hoping you exist.

The word “always” can be used to create a history where there was nothing but disbelief. It can also be used to make it seem like something is natural, just because it happens to have been going on for a long time. The Combahee River Collective Statement uses the word “always” to establish a tradition of black feminism that predates the work of the women in the collective, AND some folks have found fault with these statements about what black women have “always” been doing, because it seems to suggest that there is some sort of natural standard for black women’s behavior.

How do you (want to) use the word “always” in your movement work?
Use the space below to make 5 sentences that use the word “always” (or don’t) to describe the tradition and vision of your work as honestly as you can. You may notice that the word “always” has different meaning every time.


for more!

A Reflection from Noah Blose:

Pauli Murray is from Durham North Carolina

Pauli Murray is from Durham North Carolina

Michelle L. told me that Pauli Murray was trans.  S/he was a founder of
the National Organization for Women.  How do we know when to name/claim
our own, and why do we or don’t we do it?  How and why do we rewrite
histories to see ourselves there?

Download this activity as a (double-sided) worksheet here!


15. Masculinities

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 4, 2008 by alexis

“We have a great deal of criticism and loathing for what men have been socialized to be in this society: what they support, how thy act, and how they oppress.  But we do not have the misguided notion that it is their maleness, per se -i.e., their biological maleness-that makes them what they are.  As Black women we find any type of biological determinism a particularly dangerous and reactionary basis upon which to build a politic.”

People sometimes think that gender is biologically based. that being a “man” in the way that society values a particular kind of masculinity is rooted in DNA, programed into our very beings as humans. The collective isn’t so sure. If you look around the world and the country you’ll see all different ways that masculinity is performed, not just by men but by so called biological women as well.

What does your culture or community mark as masculinity?

What do you think about the markers? Are they only for men? Are they useful characteristics for men to possess?

How would you want masculinity to look?

Is this different from what femininity should look like?


What do we actually have to do if we say that biological maleness and masculinity are not the same thing?

What new models of masculinity do queer and trans masculinities open up?

C. Riley Snorton is a radical intellectual

C. Riley Snorton is a radical intellectual

C. Riley Snorton, a scholar, activist and filmmaker who engages queer masculinities in his work provides the following thoughts:
Masculinity is always an unstable term–its relational nature suggests that it shifts and moves differently across communities and cultures.   Its instability also relates to the ways in which various cultures and communities seek to produce, maintain, and police masculinities even as any definition of the term dissolves under closer scrutiny.  For example, in many societies, there is a collapse in distinctions between “male,” “man,” and “masculine.”  These collapsed designations play out in encounters with medical personnel or in one’s local barbershop.  Similarly, societies organized under heteropatriarchy are interested in proscribing and circumscribing articulations of femininity—that is to say that controlling women becomes part of the project of stabilizing masculinity.  Hence it is often important to refuse conversations that assume (without problematizing or critique) the need to rescue the always-already black man in crisis.  These types of conversations do in fact draw on both a politics of respectability and forms of racialized nationalisms that seek to regulate and control (often through disavowal) gender multiplicity, femininity, and gender non-conformity.  Queer and trans masculinities do not presume a feminist politic, but are surveilled and subject to similar regimes of power that seek to constrain women’s lives.

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