Purveyor of Pleasure

Pleasure is my business, my life, my joy, my purpose.

Tag: gender (Page 2 of 4)

The Language of Gender

I’ve recently begun leading classes and workshops on gender. I have a degree in Gender Studies and am a theory lover and this is something I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time but only recently did I get in touch with the right people here in Seattle to make that dream a reality. The more I think about gender the more I realize there is no basis for gender, the more I try to grasp and understand gender the more I realize there is nothing there to hold.

Now, this is not a new concept both in general or to me. As I said, I’ve got a degree in this and I’ve read quite a lot of gender theory and I know the concepts of “gender is constructed” and “all gender is drag,” but for the longest time that didn’t stop me from trying to figure out what gender is. How can we figure out what something is when there is nothing there in the first place?

I’m sure some would say that it’s obvious, that masculinity has to do with maleness and femininity has to do with femaleness, because that’s what we’re told, and that’s supposedly how the world works, but I (and hopefully you) know that is just not true. If it were there would be no instance of female masculinity or male femininity or genderqueerness or third gendered identities or all the other options that we now have words for. If it were true there wouldn’t be examples of trans* people throughout the entirety of human history and pre-history (or at least people who we can put our label of “trans*” on even though they may or may not have had a similar concept).

In looking at, studying, teaching about, dissecting, and attempting to put my own gender back together like some sort of Frankenstein’s Monster creation I came to the only reasonable (in my mind) explanation of what gender is: self expression. But I mean the core of the self, in the same way that art is or can be self-expression. And therefore too, perhaps, is gender art.

Whether or not a gender preference is inherent in all of us could easily turn into some sort of nature vs. nurture debate, but really, since gender is a language and gender changes throughout cultures and time periods there may be activities that we all have some sort of draw to, but I can’t say where that originates.

All I know is that gender is tricky and complex. If we look at it as a language as Riki Wilchins says (“Gender is a language, a system of meanings and symbols, along with the rules, privileges, and punishments pertaining to their use—for power and sexuality (masculinity and femininity, strength and vulnerability, action and passivity, dominance and weakness). Since it is a system of meanings, gender can be applied to almost anything” – Queer Theory/Gender Theory p35) then I think hegemonic socialization only knows enough for us to scrape by, it knows enough to survive but it doesn’t know how to write poetry, and I want to write poetry.

There are new gendered words springing up all the time these days, which I think is wonderful, and anyone constructing their own gendered way of living in the world is doing the work of learning the language, no matter how that gender ends up looking. We are starting to create the rest of the language that we have been missing, or discover the bits of language that have been relegated to the shadows for years. Because of this it is becoming easier to learn how to create our own conscious gender presentations so there are more people doing just that.

Living in the Void

I’ve been thinking and talking a lot about gender lately. My last class went swimmingly and left me with a lot of things I want to write about on here when I have the time, which seems like rarely. Gender seems to be coming up more and more in everyday conversation, or perhaps I’m now just around more people I can talk about it with. Gender and kink seem to be pretty damn central to my life, including my sex life, right now, which makes sense since that seems to be the only things I can actually post about.

I’ve been dissecting these desires that keep popping up in me to transition, and I think the cause behind them is primarily wanting my gender attribution1 to be something other than woman or female. This has been making me ask myself why I care to be seen that way, and that I’m not sure of yet other than the fact that I don’t identify with those terms and haven’t for quite some time. Some days I am comfortable being seen as I am not, others I curse the limitations the societal concept of gender forces upon us, all days I want to help others understand this world of gender that I live in and help them chuck those societal concepts to the curb.

My bodily sex and gender desires keep fluctuating, as always, but the lack of identification with most things female, womanly, or feminine save for femme is pretty constant. I’ve said for years that the femme gender I am drawn to for myself is that which is difficult to attain on this body, it is a femme that is generally seen as reserved to those assigned male at birth. It is a drag queen femmeininity, a glitterfag femmeininity, a femmeininity I’ve been told throughout my entire life doesn’t “belong” to me. But what if it does? I’ve been exploring this a lot lately.

At the moment I’m happy being somewhere other than “male” or “female,” “woman” or “(wer)man,” “masculine” or “feminine,” even though it means often not being seen and having to explain myself over and over. I enjoy playing with those concepts but do not fit into any of them any way except for queerly. I’m actually okay with that, or at least most of me is, but part of me is desperately trying to figure it all out. I’m letting that part of me relax and become comfortable with not knowing but it’s taking its sweet time getting there.

And so, I wait. I meditate on otherness, on rarely if ever fitting in to any box, and I become at peace with it. For a little while, anyway, until the next misgendering, the next microaggression. I meditate on what it means to be other gendered, to be genderqueer, to inhabit a genderqueer body rather than a male body or a female body. I meditate on gender and I come up with and/or expand on models that help me explain the exciting and swirling complexness that is gender, and I realize I am okay being in a void, even if that often means I am just fumbling around in the dark.

  1. The gender that other people assign onto us, the gender we are perceived as “being” due to the other person’s understanding of gender. []

By Any Other Name

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I call myself, the names I go by. Scarlet Lotus (St. Syr1) for some things, Scarlet Sophia for others, and Scarlet Tai elsewhere. When giving my name I usually say “I’m Scarlet” as opposed to “My name is Scarlet,” a subtle but notable difference. Scarlet is less of a name to me than a title these days, which may sound a little absurd, but that’s how I feel about it. That is a whole other post, however.

The more I think about it the more I wonder about having these different names. I’m beginning to think I just need one that I use for everything, but at the same time that thought makes me nervous. I’ve also begun thinking I need a name for my growing male side. At one point I started using Quyn, but I don’t feel it fits anymore.

In all this thinking I was reminded of a post by Aiden Fyre aka Mina Meow titled What’s in a Name? where they talk about having been born with a bi-gendered (or, other-gendered) name and wonder about that chicken and egg aspect of their gender journey. I was also born with an other-gendered name of which Tai is a nickname, a nickname I’ve been called most if not all of my life. Most people hear the name as Ty, but either way it is usually masculine-gendered. My full name is exceptionally unique easily searchable so I’m not yet comfortable disclosing it on here, perhaps one day that will not be the case.

Point being, however, that Tai feels like home, but now so does Scarlet. I don’t just use Scarlet online, either, most of the people I know here in Seattle know me by that name. At this point I kind of see myself as having a feminine-gendered name of Scarlet, an other-gendered name of Tai, and in need of a masculine-gendered name. Part of this desire for multiple names may be to act as a cue to aid others in understanding my gender at that moment, but at the same time I’m not confident that this is a good idea. It seems like too much work in some ways. At the same time, though, I like the idea of having different names.

I’ve also been feeling a lot more of my male side lately. With the rise in my sex dissonance I’ve come to realize my lack of masculinity. I’m not that interested in being butch or masculine, but I’m interested as presenting as a male, specifically a femme male. I’m feeling more like a femme trans man than I ever have before, and I want a name for that other than Scarlet or Tai. Though maybe I don’t need one.

This all is basically me thinking and analyzing through this post, it’s not any sort of conclusion, just musings. I don’t know how I feel about all of this yet. I don’t know how everything is going to play out yet. I don’t know where this gender journey will lead me. I do know that I have been binding more lately, I haven’t been feeling female but I’ve been exploring the femmeininity that comes up in me when I feel male, which is extremely different. I’m not interested in passing as a woman, in fact I’m sick of it. The problem is that I’m separating maleness from masculinity and that is difficult to present.

I don’t know what to call myself anymore, the name dilemma is only part of the problem. I have been fantasizing about so many new things lately, almost to the point of uncomfortability. I’m still trying to figure it all out.

  1. though I am moving away from using this as my last name []

International Transgender Day of Visibility

March 31st was the first International Transgender Day of Visibility and I hope it won’t be the last. While I don’t exactly identify as transgender1 I think this was a wonderful idea and want to help it spread for next year!

It also happened to be the same day that I got my first official binder. After some work to get it on, for which I enlisted Onyx’s assistance, I wore it all day long, including to class that evening. I’ve been wearing my makeshift binder around lately but I needed an upgrade, and this definitely is one. It doesn’t exactly make my large chest go completely flat, but it does what it can.

Here is what I wrote on my non-blog-related Facebook wall for the day: “March 31st was the first International Transgender Day of Visibility and I want to make myself visible. I currently identify as genderqueer, an identity I have claimed for quite a few years. I love that a day like this now exists and want to take a moment to extend heartfelt gratitude to everyone in my life who have supported me on my gender journey, and those who will (continue to) support me in the future as I continue on my path. I also want to take the time to thank the trans* and otherwise gender-variant people that have influenced me, both those I have met face-to-face and who I’ve only me through their writing or video, especially those that came before me and made it that much easier for me to discover my own gender. Without all of you I would not be who I am today.

I didn’t get any responses, but I got a whole lot of people who liked the post, so that was good enough for me. It’s not something I usually talk about so openly, especially on the FB profile that has my family and friends from High School on it and such, but I was happy to do it, and for a reason to do it beyond just my own desire to come out.

I look forward to having the opportunity to be visible again.

By now, most people are aware of the Transgender Day of Remembrance that happens every November 20 to memorialize the people we’ve lost.

Over the years, there have been calls by some trans people to make the TDOR a more happy-happy joy-joy event, to which the founders and others have resisted. TDOR does serve an important function in terms of focusing attention on anti-transgender violence.

Rachel Crandall, the head of Transgender Michigan is one of the people who asked why couldn’t the trans community or someone start an event that celebrates who we are?

Then she asked the question that led to the formation of this event, ‘Why isn’t that someone me?’

Hence the first annual International Trans Day of Visibility was born.

  1. though I am starting to think I should more and more []

KASB: Gender Talk

Okay, so I’m only kind of cheating this week because I’m not exactly going to be talking about things that I learned from the videos I watched this week, although I will be talking about some awesomely fantastic videos. My life for the last week revolved around my first public workshop, which was on Thursday. I was presenting on the topic of gender. For most of the week I was gathering data and information from both books and web sources to be sure that what I presented was the latest and most up-to-date gender theory that I could be presenting.

Part of the reason why I want to write about this and these videos this week is because I want to bring attention to them. It is easy to focus on kink when looking at videos on Kink Academy since, well, it’s right in the name and there is a vast library of videos to choose from. While gender can be a kink for some (it certainly is for me–but not in the sense that I fetishize gender-variant people, in the sense that I get off talking about gender and gender theory–but I digress) that doesn’t mean that everyone is open to talking about it.

Learning about gender should be something required for everyone, not just those who are gender-variant or don’t fit within the gender binary. Everyone has a gender, but often people who are cisgendered (their sex and gender align with what they have been assigned by society) are forgotten when talking about gender because people who fit into the norm often do not get discussed because we assume that everyone knows what that means. However, I also think it is necessary for us to talk about cisgendered people to attempt to un-other gender-variant people, but that is a whole other topic. […]

Read the rest on the Kink Academy Student Blog!

Read all of my Student Blog Posts here

Why Do I Do It?

The day of my first public workshop on gender came and went so I’ve been thinking a lot about why I want to be an educator. It was just a couple months shy of a year ago that I wrote “I want to be an educator, to teach topics that are interesting, to help expand people’s minds and knowledge base on a wide variety of topics.” In some ways I’ve been doing that for a while on here, expanding people’s minds and knowledge base on a wide variety of topics, but it’s definitely not the same as teaching a class on gender or sexuality out there in the big bad world.

So, what calls me to it? It’s not the money. It isn’t exactly a wildly lucrative job. Sex educators are not making money hand-over-fist, in fact many of us do not make much money at all doing what we love. It’s not the fame. I don’t see myself becoming an internationally renowned sexpert or anything like that, not that I would be against it should that happen, of course. It really is all about spreading the knowledge.

I really love sharing knowledge. Turning people on to a new fact, concept, or idea and/or expanding their consciousness and awareness is extremely gratifying for me. It is something I’ve always wanted to do. It is something I am called to do.

Really, I’ve already been doing that on this blog and my other projects for years online and now I’m overjoyed at this new step in my path: actually teaching classes and workshops. I will probably be teaching about one class a month as part of The Living Love Revolution1 which is seriously fantastic. I have many ideas for the future as well, including teleclasses and doing more skype and phone consultations for those who want coaching from me.

Speaking of, I’ve been working on a new professional site2 in the last few weeks and I’ve been working on writing a mission statement. I want it to express what I’m about and my purpose for doing what I do. It’s still in the works, being crafted by my mind one word at a time, but when it is ready it will be up on Joyful Pleasure.

  1. I redesigned the site, also, have a look! []
  2. it’s not done yet, but you can go look if you want anyway []

Aphrodite Temple

Life is moving along at such a pace lately that it’s difficult to keep up with writing about all the things I want to write about. Not that I’m complaining, really, but this hasn’t happened to me in a while. Nearly a month ago Onyx and I attended a Living Love Revolution Aphrodite Temple. It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind, but in a wonderful way. The temple was absolutely phenomenal and transformational in so many ways.

This was a two-day retreat, essentially, at a remote location outside of Seattle. There were somewhere between twenty and thirty of us there. We had been told about it before we went, of course, including having some of the activities described in a good amount of detail, but I don’t think either of us were really prepared for everything that occurred. In a good way.

I could feel a very noticeable energy shift in me from before the temple to after. I have felt far more open as well as more radiant, which often go hand in hand. I feel less timid about expressing myself however feels authentic for that moment, less anxious about what other people will perceive and more content with what I have to offer. I feel in touch with love, which was at least part of the point.

There was great emphasis on embodiment, autonomy, safe consensual touching, and getting what you need. It is all about getting your needs met and learning about how to ask for those things you need. It is about finding the beauty in yourself and everyone around you. It is also about Aphrodite, of course, and all these activities just aid in connecting with her more.

While we were there I felt somewhat disconnected with Onyx, or like I had to disconnect with him in order to be seen the way I wanted to. It’s something I didn’t experience at the play party we went to on March 4th 1, which says to me I may getting through that little blockage. It’s something I’ve held on to for quite some time, this notion and worry that I will be seen as less queer because I’m with him, when that’s really just silly. I have tried not to be ruled by it, but at the same time I have been.

I wasn’t opposed to the disconnection in the moment, exactly, but I saw it as a necessary part which irritated me. I think going through the experience of the temple, though, allowed me to let go of that and be able to connect with him more ever. I’ve been allowing my shy masculinity to shine through ever since I wrote about it and more and more since the temple itself. I think I experienced what it was to be seen for me in the moment which has just made me want to be seen like that more often.

I also didn’t experience any jealousy or anxiety about being disconnected and each of us being touched and caressed2 by other people, which was fantastic. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do with that going into it. It was remarkably easy, and though we were in the same room we rarely interacted with each other during the activities. I’m excited to see what happens in the future.

I loved it so much I’m now in the Priest/ess training program for it and Onyx and I will be going to the one being held in April. I want to go to the July and November ones as well, and would be surprised if that didn’t happen. I’m beginning to work quite closely with the high priestess, not just for the training but doing classes and workshops with her as well as working on websites for her. This is only the beginning.

  1. yet another thing I should write about… that one might fall through the cracks, though. We’ll see. []
  2. and in his case a little more than that []

Owning It

I seem to have gotten past the point of trying to nitpick my identities and settled into a space of simply sitting back and enjoying them. That’s not to say that I’m not still analyzing and overanalyzing my identities at the same time, but I’ve gotten out of the “but what does it all mean?” funk that I seemed to be in for the better part of the last year or more. Instead of being obsessed with being seen by others as whatever given identity I want them to see me as I’ve settled into the realization that it’s not a failure on my part if I’m not seen a certain way.

Gender was a great source of questioning and anxiety last year in particular, before that it was my power/bdsm identity, and it seems as with my switch identity I have settled happily into a fluctuating identity. My genders seem to fluctuate greatly, there are times when I feel extremely compelled to present femme, which has been recently, and other times when femme just doesn’t fit as well and I lean toward the boi and fagette. I’m coming to feel like fagette is my home planet and femme and boi are the two I take frequent jaunts to on my spaceship (see: Gender Galaxy), which kind of makes sense in that fagette feels to me to be more androgynous, something else entirely, and closer to my core genderfluid identity than the presentation of femme or boi.

Overall I’m genderfluid, genderqueer, or any of the other words used to describe a non-fixed-in-the-ever-pervasive-binary and non-fixed-in-general gender. I enjoy playing with all types of gender expression. My gender is play. My gender is drag. While gender is definitely more than the clothes we wear that is a huge identifier and I do tend to dress femme most of the time, mostly because skirts are just damned comfortable (especially when you have long labia and multiple labia piercings). I also find it easier to find plus size feminine clothes that I like than plus size masculine clothes that I like. I have these damned hips to thank for that.

Instead of looking at presentation as a way of limiting myself by being unable to present the multiplicity or fluidity of my being I’m simply letting go of those worries about what others might possibly think of me and contenting myself in the knowledge that no one can have a whole idea of who and what I am because that is constantly in motion and constantly changing. If someone chooses to latch on to the idea of me as a fixed identity that is their problem and not mine.

I can content myself in the knowledge that I can be the inspiration for new and ever changing thought processes in others and in myself simply by being myself and allowing myself to be at every moment. I allow myself to simply embrace my identity at any given moment without the hangup of what I felt the last moment or what I might feel a moment from now. It’s truly freeing and inspiring.

National Coming Out Day

Yesterday (October 11th) was National Coming Out Day. If I had been on top of things this post would have come out then, but I’m a little bit behind on just about everything at this moment. I used this day to reflect on my identities. Here are some of my thoughts.

I’ve been out for quite a while. Unless this is your first time here and/or you haven’t read the about page yet you should already know that I have a long string of labels I like to use in order to describe my identities. I am a genderqueer fat femme drag queen fagette and pomo queer intellisexual polyamorous switch. I am also an occultist, sacred whore, astrologer, and all manner of other things. Specifically NCOD refers to coming out of the proverbial closet, or LGBT(QQIA) people coming out, so I focused on my identity string.

I’ve talked about this before, but the main reason why I use so many identity words strung together like I do is so that it is nearly impossible to pigeonhole me into one identity or another. Instead, it forces people to acknowledge the way the identities blend and interchange between them, and how my identities are fluid. At least, that’s my theory.

I don’t really have a story of coming out to my parents. I remember being a teenager telling my mother I was bisexual. Her response? “Oh. I thought you were a lesbian.” And that was it. During the triad with Marla I told both of my parents about her and our relationship configuration and they both responded without judgment, just asked practical questions about the situation.

Coming out, ultimately, is an ongoing process both for me and, really, for everyone. While there are people who fit into the stereotypical way that a certain identity or another looks there are just as many if not more people who are not so easy to categorize with a look. For those of us who are not blatantly obvious we have to come out over and over again, to just about everyone we choose. This is compounded by the fact that I present femme most of the time and have a cisgendered male partner so we are often mistaken for a straight couple even though neither of us is straight.

This isn’t to say I walk up to new people and give them the string of identity words I used above, but it does mean that there are times I have to come out, sometimes coming out multiple times to the same person.

It can be exhausting, but I appreciate the ability to live stealth as well, so I can be privy to those possibly bigoted conversations and attempt to put in my own two cents, and as a result maybe change some minds.

One thing that continues to amaze me is the ability someone has to be an inspiration for others simply by being themselves. By doing what is right and good for you others can be inspired to do the same for themselves, and I love this. Every time you come out is an act of courage. Feel free to come out in the comments.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

More thinking about my post Tired from the beginning of the month has lead me to this: if you don’t know, ask. Don’t ever be afraid to ask. While it’s not always enjoyable to me to explain how I identify to someone that doesn’t mean it’s not highly appreciated. I would much rather have an hour long conversation (or even five-minute) about my identities than have my gender, sexuality, spirituality, or anything else assumed. You know what they say about to assume…

For the most part I’m pretty open when asked a question directly. I don’t skirt around things and I will take a question at face-value and answer exactly what was posed. I might not offer up additional information, but I am not shy about answering questions when asked directly. While I don’t always enjoy talking about myself (I know, that may be hard to believe considering that’s most of what I do on this blog) that doesn’t mean that I would rather not be asked about something. If I can clarify something or explain something I am always happy to, as long as I have the time. I also try not to assume that the other person will know what I’m talking about.

This doesn’t mean I think they are stupid, but because I use terms in mostly academic ways and since I don’t know if they have read something I’m referencing in my identity or explanation I try not to make assumptions either way and opt to ask questions myself. “Have you heard of…”” “Have you read…?” etc. If not I try to explain as fully as possible, and even if so I often will still mention some of the basic ideas of what I am referencing to make sure we are on the same page. I do not assume anyone is on the same page as I am, but that doesn’t mean they are not as smart as me or any other nonsense like that. Knowledge on one specific subject has nothing to do with intelligence.

Specifically what I was referencing in Tired had to do with two types of people. People with whom I have had conversations regarding identity who then turn around and seem to ignore everything I have expressed about my identity regardless. Or people assuming they know my identity without asking or having a conversation about it. It is difficult for me in either of these situations to come out and say “I don’t identify that way.” I’m just not a confrontational person and it is often difficult for me to assert my identities. I realize not being able to do that is my problem, but I do think that making assumptions about someone else’s identity is never a good idea. Similarly, disregarding a conversation about an identity is also not a good idea.

It’s hard work to have identity conversations in general. I realize this. It’s difficult to ask someone a question about their identity, you can’t always know how that question will be reacted to. Just keep in mind that when you ask make sure to ask something regarding identity rather than pinning an identity to it already such as “how do you identify?” versus “are you a [insert identity here]?” You can use specific terms such as “What is your gender identity?” “What pronoun do you prefer?” “What is your sexual identity?” as well, though the slightly more open-ended “how do you identify?” may get you the widest variety of options.

Please, ask questions, ask clearly, ask for definitions of things if I or someone else uses a term in a way that is unfamiliar to you. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. It is far better to ask than to assume. While there may be the occasional person who is offended that you would ask or who doesn’t think it is any of your business that doesn’t mean everyone would be. That said, also think about what you are asking and of whom. Should you be asking complete strangers about what genitals they have (though this isn’t the same as gender identity discussed previously) or who they like to fuck? Maybe it is, depending on the context of wherever you are at the moment, but maybe it’s not. Be smart about it, segue into it, make sure it is appropriate, but don’t be afraid to ask if you sincerely want to know and don’t.

Similarly, if you identify with something out of the norm please don’t scare people away from asking questions, if they’re asking that’s at least a step above assuming your identity and questions are an excellent time to educate them and open their minds. Who knows what kind of chain reaction you might set off. If they ask in an inappropriate way then tell them so politely and educate them as to how to ask in a better manner next time. I can’t say I’m perfect at this, but I’m trying.

It is not easy on either side of the conversation. Sometimes I just wish I could fit into societal standards in one way or another and not have to worry about things like this, not have to figure my identities out in order for me to enjoy them and understand them. I get tired of explaining the same thing over and over to the same people, sometimes I’m tired of explaining in general even to new people who are genuinely interested, but that doesn’t mean I would rather not be asked. I’m glad to challenge normalized ideas and maybe, just maybe, open a mind or two.

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