Purveyor of Pleasure

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

Tag: labels (Page 2 of 3)

Gender Exploration: Femme Fagette

I’ve been gravitating toward a much more “masculine” gender expression lately, really since we moved to Seattle. I’ve been slowly making my way over, though it’s only selectively masculine, it’s my fagette persona, my feminine masculinity that I’ve been working on developing.

Like my transition from bottom to Top to switch I believe this gender exploration will bring me from femme to fagette to femme fagette. Just as I knew I would end up a switch I had to explore the individual parts of that identity expression before I was able to really claim switchness for my own.

I believe in order for me to truly embrace all that is my gender identity of femme fagette, my own gender phrase and identity, I will end up never staying still in one gender for too long or coming to rest, much like switch is it’s own identity along with being Top and bottom identities and various other aspects of power and sadomasochistic and any other sexuality aspects thrown in. I claim femme fagette in the same way I claim switch, as a identity in perpetual motion, forever morphing and changing to fit my current desires.

The fagette aspect of my gender identity is somewhat femme in and of itself, so the two really are tied up within each other no matter what I do. I have days where I want to pack, wear a binder, and walk with a swagger and other days when I feel like putting on a ruffled skirt, corset, and a wig, and those days might not coincide with the identity automatically assumed.

My gender definitely has to do with both masculine and feminine energies but also a purposeful queering of those energies as much as possible. I often feel the most feminine when wearing traditionally masculine clothing, and visa verse. For me it is less about the specific gender expression than it is about playing with gender and experiencing it in a way that jives with me, however that might be.

As I mentioned in my last post I’m a bit of a chameleon, which is why, I think, I cling to such transitory identities. I enjoy labels, as I’ve gone on about ad nauseum, but the labels I end up claiming tend to be ones that are fluid such as queer, switch, poly, and femme fagette/multigendered/gender fluid, each of these can mean different things depending on the day and my mood.

One thing I worry about with terming myself “femme fagette” is that damned gender binary.

I recently opened FetLife and Twitter accounts for a “masculine” persona, Quyn or Quyntin Ari St. Syr. It was somewhat of a spur of the moment thing and inspired by Mina Meow and her persona Aiden. Ever since I’ve been thinking about what that means to have the two accounts and I know I as a whole am not fully represented now by either Scarlet or Quyn, but I wonder if I’m even partially represented.

I don’t feel like I have split personalities, both Quyn and Scarlet are me but are aspects of me but not the end all and be all of me either. There’s something missing there, and maybe that’s the complexity of how the two personae interact and feed off each other and there may be another aspect of me not yet fully grasped. I occasionally toy with the idea of getting rid of the Scarlet persona and expanding the scope of Quyn, but Scarlet has been such a part of me for so long.

I worry, however, that splitting the personae up in to, basically, a “masculine” and a “feminine” persona isn’t doing justice to what I’m actually feeling and is just working to reinforce the gender binary, as if in order to express an “other” gender identity I have to break it down into accepted gender norms. Though it could have the opposite effect, I suppose, since although I am setting up these two personae I think what I do with them could be potentially gender explosive and bust through the confining ideas of binary gender. I guess it all depends on how it’s perceived and what I do with it more than anything.

I’m still exploring and getting used to my newly embraced identities and I’m excited to see how everything progresses. I have had a lot of time recently to think about myself and my genders are something that I am working on figuring out more.

Polyamorous to Polyfidelitous

If there were a Venn-diagram for non-monogamous relationships it would probably start as a big circle for non-monogamy. Inside that would be polyamory and inside that would be polyfidelity. Each of these circles would be blurry or maybe dotted lines instead of hard ones. Each circle would overlap with multiple other relationship configurations and various other types of relationship orientations and… well, maybe a Venn-diagram isn’t the most helpful illustration.

When defining a term that has to do with relationships or personal identities in any manner there is always some level of fluidity and openness to take into account. You may know this already, but I’m starting with the basics.

In the book Opening Up Tristan Taormino defines polyfidelity as “a multipartner group of three or more people who have made a commitment to each other to be in a primary relationship.” This can be different or exactly the same as polyamory simply depending on the identification of those within the group. There are no hard and fast lines here, and the terms really just depend on what the people within the relationship are most comfortable with.

Despite the “fidelity” part of the term, which makes most people think of having closed sexual conduct polyfidelity does not always exclude other relationships outside of the polyfidelitous group. Fidelity essentially means “faithful” and doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with sexual faithfulness (though it can). Taormino describes two types of polyfidelitous groups: closed and open, meaning closed or open to new relationships outside of the primary. Not all members of a polyfidelitous group have to be sexually involved, either.

While I dislike the terms “primary” and “secondary” or so on and I think maybe a better way to describe it is that everyone in a polyfidelitous relationship is committed to everyone else. Even if there isn’t a sexual or romantic relationship between the individuals there is always an emotional one and a commitment to being with the other in some way shape or form.

As I mentioned, this could look identical to polyamory or it could look completely different, it just depends on how the individuals want to identify.

So, why am I writing all this about polyfidelity? I will probably be using it in the future and now I can reference this post whenever I mention it.

I posted a while ago about our transition from mono to poly to triad and Not long after that I brought this difference up to Marla and Onyx and we all agreed that the definition for polyfidelitous fit our relationship.

Generally speaking the term triad is used to describe a polyfidelitous relationship between three people, so we had already kind of figured that out but at the same time I’m a sucker for semantics and finding new terms and labels to describe myself so that I can add them on to the long list of labels I already embrace to make such a long string of labels I eventually essentially become label-less again, though that’s another post.

Another term Taormino mentions in Opening Up is “trilationship” which is fairly self-explanatory I think. I pronounce it similar to tree-lationship so it sounds similar to relationship only different–also because pronouncing it try-lationship is kind of awkward. This is another term I will be using in the future.

Terms Don't Dictate a Relationship

I’ve been trying more vigorously to finish Opening Up by Tristan Taormino which, if you don’t know, is all about non-monogamy. I started it months ago but have yet to finish it because I keep picking up other books in the meantime (mostly ones I have to review).

In Opening Up defining a relationship is emphasized, but not in order to box in or pin down a relationship (because the ability to revise or change the relationship at any time is also emphasized) but in order to make sure that everyone within the relationship is in agreement and happy with where it is and how it’s progressing and feeling and working.

Basically, communication is key, and though that’s true in every relationship it can be exponentially trickier in non-monogamous relationships to make sure that everyone is happy with everything that’s going on.

Part of successful communication can be coming to agreement on terms and labels used for certain interactions and activities. I like labels as long as they are recognized as flexible and subject to change. While terms don’t dictate a relationship one can use terms to define a relationship as close to accurately as possible.

Sometimes defining a relationship is a useful tool to use to check in with everyone in that relationship and make sure everyone is on the same wavelength. I’m over-explaining a bit, I realize, but I have a point to make, promise.

The reason I bring this up is because this morning I changed my FetLife profile information from reading “Polyamorous with Onyx93” and “It’s Complicated with MarlaSinger” in the “relationship status” portion and “Switches with Onyx93” and nothing defined with MarlaSinger in the “D/s relationship status” portion to what is below.

fetlifestatus

Little changes on social networking sites like this aren’t really a big deal in some ways, but they definitely do mark a change in the way I’ve been thinking about our relationship that I’m able to actually put that we’re in a relationship quite solidly. I do feel like we’re more solidly in relationship territory rather than the “getting to know you” or “friends who are interested in each other” territory which is where we’ve been for a while, even without the presence of gettin’ down and dirty.

I’m not really sure what the distinction between “In a Relationship and Polyamorous with Onyx93” and “In an Open Relationship with MarlaSinger” really is but I think it has something to do with the stages each of those relationships are in.

Onyx and I are very much set in our relationship, though that’s not to say we’re stagnant or unsatisfying. We’ve been together for about four years and have been living together for over two and a half of that. While we still have our bumps and explorations for the most part we’re really very solid in where our relationship is, which is also why we’re able to start branching out into other relationships. I am in a relationship with him and we are also polyamorous, that’s just how I see it.

Maybe part of the difference too is because Marla and I are long-distance and still exploring the beginning stages of our relationship. To me, indicating that we are in an open relationship also indicates less permanence in our relationship as opposed to being polyamorous in a relationship. That’s not to say our relationship isn’t permanent but it’s not as set as my relationship with Onyx because we are still discovering nuances and facets of each other that are new and unexpected and discovering the ways in which we fit together.

These are just the distinctions my brain is making between the two terms, of course, and I wouldn’t force these definitions on anyone else, they’re just what work for me.

We are still slowly progressing in our own long-distance way, which is really enjoyable and wonderful but also frustrating because, well, it’s long distance.

We’re constantly getting more sexual with each other, getting to that next step, moving beyond the “abstractly sexual” talk of toys and such to much more personal talk of desires and where we think we fit together. It’s fantastic, and I find myself fantasizing about being with her (my latest Microfantasy Monday post was in many ways inspired by her) but I’m also getting anxious for the next sexual step.

Neither of us seem terribly desirous of engaging in sexual activities online or on the phone, preferring to wait until we meet to explore the physical sexuality with each other, but the desire and the drive to do so is slowly becoming more and more apparent. This is definitely a good thing, but also a frustrating thing.

I’m confident that it will unfold in a way that works, though, and really have hardly any doubts or worries about the relationship and how it is progressing. It almost seems too easy sometimes, too perfect for my overlyanalytical brain to handle, but it felt like this with Onyx as well and look how that turned out…

Also, Marla wrote a delightful, adorable, and fantastic post on her blog that you should read in the same style as my five things that make me constantly and undeniably happy.

Protected: Indiscriminate Niceness is Overrated*

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Protected: My Gender and Language Limitations, Or: A Big Miscommunication

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Size & Sexuality

The Full Body Project by Leonard Nimoy
From The Full Body Project by Leonard Nimoy

I’ve been thinking a lot about size in general, both big and small and everywhere in between. Chicory (who I met face-to-face yesterday and is fantastic!) and I have been conversing about it, via email, comments, and in our meeting yesterday, and inspired by Thursday’s Child’s Sex and Intimacy Project I want to pose some questions to all of you.

Size acceptance is coming to be an issue I am passionate about. I’ve forever had the same hangups as, well, just about everyone in this culture. The same negative feelings towards my size. Though it’s important to distinguish between health and size, even though our society does not really view it that way. We are told that thin equals healthy and fat equals unhealthy, though I know plenty of thin people who eat much much worse than I do, and yet. But I digress.

The questions I want to pose have to do with the intersection of size and sexuality in your life. They may have no intersection at all, or you may have never thought of the intersection, but either way I want to hear about it. This may seem obvious, but the most interesting aspect, I believe, will be to see how everyone differs and what similarities there are, as well as being able to get a glimpse of the person within their answers.

Weight and size are touchy subjects in our culture, as is sexuality. Both have to do with the body and have moral judgments thrust upon them. Both are aspects of the self that are extremely personal and also that have strong cultural expectations and meanings. Both affect the way we present ourselves and think about ourselves.

The Size & Sexuality Study is a series of interviews highlighting real people’s answers to the questionnaire below. At the end of the posting of interviews (end date not known) I will post my own reactions to the study as well as my own answers, and how reading the feelings and thoughts of all these interesting and informative people has affected me over the space of the study.

Want to answer the questions? Fill out the questions below and send them to me: scarletsexgeek AT gmail DOT com

In order for these interviews to be what I would consider successful I need you to be completely honest. This is about real people talking honestly about their bodies and their sexuality, recognizing what society tells us about our bodies and recognizing how that affects our own ideas about how we should or should not act. If you wish you thought one way but really think another I want to hear that, not just what you wish you thought.

The focus of these questions are not just on large/fat/plus-sized women, I’m interested in answers from everyone of all sizes, all genders, all sexes, and so on. If you want to answer them, please do!

Feel free to skip any of the general info questions you are not comfortable answering, but please do answer all of the others. The more in-depth the answers the better, but in-depth and lengthy are not always the same thing (though they can be).

General Info
Name (what you’d like to be called):
Age:
Gender identity and presentation:
Sexual identity:
Relationship status:
Blog/Website (if you have one):

Publishing
Can I publish your answers on my blog?
If so, can I use your name or would you prefer to be anonymous?

Size & Sexuality
What size is your body (you can use dress/pant sizes, a general description, anything you’re comfortable with, though remember that not all terms mean the same thing to the same people.)?
How comfortable are you with your body both in general and your body size specifically?
How has your relation with and attitude toward your body and the size of your body changed over time?
How important is sexuality to your life?
How has your relation with and attitude toward your sexuality changed over time?
How comfortable are you with expressing yourself and your body sexually?
How comfortable is society with the idea of viewing your body as sexual?
Through answering these questions and/or thinking about your relation to your body and your sexuality, have you noticed any links or similarities between the two? If so, what?
Anything else you would like to add?

Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments or via email, but please don’t answer the questionnaire in the comments. sizeandsexuality AT gmail DOT com

Kinky vs. Queer vs. Straight Sex

Something I’ve been thinking of a lot lately has been the differences between “types” of sex and sexual intimacy and encounters. It’s something that both The Leather Daddy and the Femme and PoMoSexuals made me think about a lot, because they both talked about male-female sexual interaction in a non-straight or non-hetero way. They recognized that males and females can interact sexually with each other in a queer way.

One of the main purposes of queer theory is actually to highlight and embrace the fact that no sex is normal/vanilla/straight, or, really, the opposite is emphasized: that all sex is queer. Very little aside from heterosexual missionary for-procreation-only sex is considered acceptable by our fucked up society, while the majority of people have sex that could not be categorized within that extremely narrow social definition.

Granted, ideas of acceptable sexuality have been evolving lately, but I wouldn’t say other types of sex have become any more acceptable, they’re just recognized as “what everyone does” which isn’t exactly an endorsement, though I’ll admit that my vision on this may be skewed by the last two years living in Utah. However, I really don’t think it’s just Utah talking.

So what’s the big difference between queer sex and straight sex? Aside from the usual definition of the sex of the partners (but that also brings into question is it the sex or the gender that matters?) it’s subtle, and may have a lot to do with intention. Can queer hetero sex include missionary sex? I say of course! The wonderful thing about the orbit(/label) queer is that it is very open to interpretation.

Most often the participants of queer sex are queer people, but that brings into the question of what makes someone a queer person. I’d argue that anyone outside of the norm of society is queer in some way, although not everyone would see it that same way. Queer is an important label for same-sex/gender-loving people to embrace, definitely, but I also think queer moves beyond that label as well.

If we define queer as what it’s not, meaning not normal, just about everyone would be able to be labeled queer. I’m not sure if I’ve ever met a normal person in my life, society perpetuates this idea of normalcy, but that doesn’t mean it exists anywhere, and usually those who think they are normal would not be considered normal by others, so where does that leave us?

Personally I dislike the term ‘normal’ for a variety of reasons, including the fact I have a degree in Psychology, but also because I have never believed that normal exists. People are just too damn individualistic for anyone to fit into a stereotypically cookie cutter image of what we are told we should be. Granted, this is a very western concept.

Back to queer sex vs. straight sex: personally I believe there is a different feeling to queer sex than there is to straight sex (though I try not to have straight sex at all, but every once in a while my sex slips into the realm of less-queer). Queer sex just feels a little, well, queer. It feels subversive and non-normal, even if it is normal to us and our bodies and desires. That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with non-normal, quite the contrary, I think it’s necessary.

Queer sex, to me, can happen between people of any sex or gender. The times I feel my sex is slipping into less-queer territory are those instances when Onyx and I have had quickie sex in nearly missionary position (I say nearly because my legs are up and not flat) with little foreplay and sometimes little attention paid to me. This has only happened infrequently, and usually when we’re both tired but wanting sex. I consider it far from the queerer sex we have which includes toys, various positions, or me fucking him rather than him fucking me.

That’s not to say that just anyone who doesn’t have missionary sex is having queer sex, although that is one possible definition. As I mentioned above I believe there has to be some sort of queer intent, though that is a very broad topic and definition. Also, I think queer sex must also occur between queer people, though that definition is also very broad and open to interpretation.

Now to throw kinky sex into the mix. Kinky sex can be defined in a similar way to queer sex in that it can be defined by what it isn’t, and what it isn’t is vanilla, or normal, but see my dialogue about normalcy? Is there really any such thing? What do we consider to be not kinky?

Perhaps I should define kinky in a way other than exclusion, though I’m not sure how to do that because it is also subtle and it depends entirely on perspective and personal definition. I posit that just as most people could be deemed queer due to having anything other than narrowly-defined non-queer sex that most people could be deemed kinky for having anything other than narrowly-defined non-kinky sex.

That, or we just need to get rid of these labels all together, but that brings me to another theory on labels: that we must define them then broaden them in order to be able to abolish them, so perhaps that’s what I’m working on doing right now!

And what about the quote in the image above? Is anything you do really only kinky the first time, because after you do it that desensitizes you to it, making you think less of the kink factor of it and more of the enjoyment of it? That makes sense in some ways, and it’s been my experience that people tend to measure others against their own experiences rather than the so-called “normal” experience expectation.

However, what constitutes kinky sex? For some it would be using toys and props such as dildos, vibrators, restraints, or blindfolds; for others it would be engaging in “extreme” activities such as S&m, D/s, watersports, or enemas; for others threesomes, foursomes, and moresomes are kinky. Just like queer sex, there is a wide range of what could be considered kinky sex, and it all depends on the person putting that label on it. I do believe that kinky sex has an intention behind it, just like queer sex does, but it is also just as difficult to pin down.

What I’m trying to say is that there are definitely differences between these three “types” of sexual interaction, and none of them are better or worse than others as long as you are interacting the way you enjoy and desire to interact. I’m not saying that straight sex is bad, though I do wonder how many people actually have it. I am saying that more people have queer sex than most people may think, but I’m also saying that labels and definitions such as queer and kinky are difficult to pin-down, and perhaps shouldn’t be pinned down.

Semantics: In General

Hello merry readers, guest blogger Onyx back with a small piece I’ve been meaning to write for a while on the subject of semantics.

Those of you who’ve followed this blog for a while knows that Semantics is something that Scarlet often brings up, both through her Semantic Sunday posts, as well as her many posts about labels and identity and the difficulty she often faces trying to explain herself and her ideas to others.

In a couple recent posts Scarlet has done an excellent job discussing labels, their use, their limitations and why she’s a fan of them. I’m going to expand on this and offer some reasons why I feel that labels so often are misused or downright abused and some ways I feel we can remediate this.

I do not claim to be the originator of the ideas and concepts I will discuss. They were thought up by greater minds than mine and all I can hope to do is to communicate them in a clear and understandable manner. My main influence comes from the school of General Semantics, originally espoused by Count Alfred Korzybski and elaborated upon by writers I respect greatly such as Robert Anton Wilson, as well as ones I hold in much lower regard such as L. Ron Hubbard.

To go into depth about all aspects of General Semantics would require a book, or perhaps a number of books. Briefly speaking it can be said to be a discipline dedicated to increasing awareness of how our use of language informs our thoughts and ideas, especially what one might call “common sense assumptions.” Korzybski taught that words always seem to fail to fully describe any situation, object or action and sought to help us avoid the linguistic traps and manipulations we’re all too often subjected to.

Perhaps this can best be described by one of General Semantics’ key phrases “The map is not the territory. The word is not the thing defined.” Our language is unable to ever describe anything in a comprehensive way; instead we describe various aspects of something, small bits and pieces of the whole.

One of the most dangerous aspects of language Korzybski warned is any variation of the verb to be, to say that anything is anything makes us to grossly oversimplify reality and leads us into dangerous thinking. To illustrate let’s look at stereotypes and prejudices that most of us will have observed at one point or another.

“Black people are criminals”
“The Irish are hard drinkers”
“Queers are immoral perverts.”

Feel free to exchange these for your favorite stereotypes if you wish. The point is that these stereotypes gain their power from the verb to be. Statements such as these assign labels to groups in an absolute manner that grossly oversimplifies reality. Sure we can find partial truths in such statements; we can’t deny that some black people commit Illegal acts, or that some queers violate SOME people’s standards of morality, but the oversimplification forced upon us by the verb to begets in the way of a more detailed and accurate understanding

Any description of an object will vary based on circumstance and time, and if we can train ourselves to recognize this we can avoid the largely emotional responses often triggered by this particular linguistic trap. If we can translate the phrase “Blacks are criminals” into the more abstracted phrase “A portion of blacks have at some point in their lives committed an act considered illegal at that point at that point in time and space” we will almost certainly have a far less emotional response and have a better understanding of the nebulous group known as “blacks”.

Of course, these concepts do not only apply to groups, but to anything we choose to describe. Any time we use any form of to beto describe something we run the risk of oversimplifying our thought process and make potentially very flawed assumptions. (Hopefully I haven’t lost you at this point with my simplistic explanation of General semantics, I do have a point, and I’m getting to it, I promise!)

This brings me back to labels. Most people I know seem to have an aversion to labels and will say they avoid them or don’t want labels applied to them. In my experience this seem a result of the how people fall into the to be trap. We often feel that if we accept a label we have to be whatever we think that label describes, and that we can’t be anything else.

If one adopts the label of “submissive” by saying “I am submissive” we oversimplify and limit our ability to fully express ourselves. If instead we adopt the label by saying “I feel submissive” or even “At this point in time I choose to explore and express myself in a submissive manner” we are no longer bound by the label although we can still use it as a means to communicate and express ourselves. Thus the label itself is not the problem, but rather the verb we use to tie the label to ourselves and our identities.

The mental discipline Korzybski sought to instill can be hard to attain in full. Most languages that I’m aware of, English among them make heavy use of to bein various permutations. Likewise our culture seems very devoted to these oversimplifications, perhaps because it seems easier, more convenient. It takes less effort and mental agility to think of things in fairly rigid absolutes. One might ask whether our cultural attitudes were shaped by our language or if our language was shaped by cultural attitudes. Korzybski believed that language at the very least reinforces these unhealthy thought patterns and that they key to overcoming them was to change the way we use language.

Some students of General Semantics such as D. David Bourland have sought to do this by creating a brand new form of English known as English Prime or more commonly E-prime which seeks to do away with the verb to beentirely. Others have argued that we do not need to eliminate to beentirely, but rather simply become more aware of how we use the verb and more careful with its application.

An interesting experiment I propose you try is to go for a day or even longer trying to avoid using to bein any of its forms or at least marking down every time you do it, and then give some thought as to how it oversimplified or even misrepresented the thing you were seeking to describe. I have found it to bea fun and useful exercise that helps me view the world in new and fascinating ways.

Cisgender and Getting Rid of a "Safety Blanket"

Sinclair brought up a great point the other day in his post define: cisgender that I want to touch upon and explore. Now, I’ve had cisgender in my lexicon since I started this site, and have been in the process of reading the book Sinclair mentions in his post, Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity for longer than that (though am currently starting it over now that I’m not in school and can devote more attention to it). Whipping Girl is also where I got the definitions of traditional vs. oppositional sexism used in my definition of femmeinism. Needless to say, I think it’s brilliant, and look forward to finishing it.

For those of you who have not read Sinclair’s post (though I highly encourage you to), here is a definition of cisgender: people whose gender aligns with the cultural expectations of their sex and who have only ever experienced their subconscious and physical sexes as being aligned (e.g. feminine female, masculine male). “The word has its origin in the Latin-derived prefix cis, meaning “on the same side” as in the cis-trans distinction in chemistry.”

Now, back to the point. I have used the term “bio-female” in my gender/sexuality/general description for quite some time, and quite purposefully. Ever since reading Sinclair’s post I have been questioning this, and as you may notice I have taken it out of my description on the sidebar and in my about page. I have done this for a number of reasons.

First, however, I would like to explain my initial reason for choosing the term bio-female when I have been fully aware of the terms cisgender and cissexual for quite some time. What I realize now I meant was assigned-female-at-birth, as opposed to cis-female, because I have never quite felt cis-female, my gender has always been a little (or a lot) queer. Not only am I not cis-female because of my femme identity, but then when other identities are taken into account they dispute this as well. While I often do appear to the casual observer to be cisgendered, there are also plenty of times when I do not.

Sinclair’s post got me wondering: why do I have that in there? Why does it matter what I was assigned at birth if I don’t believe in binary genders or sexes? What was the reason for me to include this in my own description? The only answer I came to was that I didn’t want my sex misinterpreted. When I realized this I mentally laughed at myself. I realized it was a safety blanket, my version of a blue-blanket, and something I didn’t need anymore (perhaps never needed).

Because of that realization as well as the realization of the incorrectness of the term “bio,” for as Sinclair put it “there’s nothing non-biological about trans folks,” I decided to take it out of my description. I simply don’t need it anymore. Obviously at one point I thought it was necessary, I felt threatened that I would be assumed for anything other than female. I say this with a little bit of shame, it was my own internal cissexism rearing it’s ugly head. Despite being a decidedly fierce trans supporter and advocate for years I am still subject to my internalized cissexism, but I’m working on it.

There were two distinct times I can think of where I was “mistaken” for a male queen. These were both many years ago during high school. Nowadays I would be rejoicing for such a reading of my sex and gender, but in those days I had not gone through much if any gender revelations and while I wasn’t disgusted or outraged I was confused and taken aback (mostly because my boobs were huge and in both instances I was wearing a low-cut top, in one instance a corset). I think my original adoption of “bio-female” was in part due to those instances.

I have more thoughts about the differences between femme and cis-female, but will have to save them for another time.

On Being a Label Fetishist

After my stint with labels a while ago, it’s time for me to revisit them as they have been brought up a lot lately. While I did revisit my queer label more recently in a post about my queerness and I have been using my Semantics Sunday posts as a way for me to explore my individual labels, I want to go back to the more general subject of labels.

I want to start by saying this: I love labels. I would even go so far as to say I have a label fetish. This, in many ways, informs a lot of what I do, and there will be more on my label fetish later. As I’ve said before, basically any noun and most adjectives are labels. The problem with labels is that we need to realize that labels are useful tools but do not speak of us as a whole.

From my last post on labels:

An example: you order a burger at a restaurant. While this is a burger, it could be made of beef, turkey, chicken, soy, vegetables, black beans, or something else entirely. It could come with: lettuce, tomato, onion, mushrooms, pickles, garlic, pastrami, bacon, swiss cheese, cheddar, pepper jack, provolone, smoked gouda, or any number of toppings. It could also have: mayo, mustard, ketchup, ranch, hummus, barbecue sauce, or any number of sauces. It could be served on: whole wheat, white, sesame seed, rosetta… I think you get my point. These combinations create an almost infinite number of variations under the common label of “burger.” So it is with any label.

We call both garden burgers and buffalo burgers “burgers,” but they are radically different entities, and are often not (though sometimes are) consumed by the same people.

A lot of people dislike labels because they are limiting or because they believe if they choose to embrace a label it is then expected that they will never deviate from that label or appear in any way contradictory to it. This is part of the reason why I embrace a whole string of labels–femme and boi and faggette and genderqueer and drag queen to name a few… and those are just my gender labels–because if I present myself as a whole large group of labels it’s hard to push me into one box, because I’m already spreading myself across a thousand. By embracing a multitude of labels I am also trying to change the way we think about labels, because I can’t be pigeonholed into one label if I openly embrace multiple labels. How could someone choose just one label to put me into?

But I’m a rare case, though not as rare as some may think. Most people are not as comfortable straddling multiple labels, or orbiting multiple identities in the gender galaxy or any other galaxy. My multitude of labels enables me not to be shoved into one box, but how does that help those who don’t feel the pull of multiple identities, or who feel mostly one gender and a little another but who don’t want to embrace the second label fully?

That’s where realizing that while labels have the ability to box you in, they also have the ability to free you so that you have a better idea of yourself but also so that you can figure out the way you think of yourself, or what you think of yourself as, and then be able to move within or beyond that. Labels don’t have to be permanent nor do they have to inform who you are at every moment, just who you are at some moments or most moments or different transitive parts of you. The “problem” with labels can be “solved” by the realization of impermanence and fluidity, and that even if you embrace a label that does not mean you have to fit anyone’s definition of that label but your own.

I am aware that not everyone is obsessed labels in the same way I am (nor have they fetishized them). I don’t mean fetish in the sense of something that I need to get off, though it can in the right context, it’s more of an obsession or a desire. Perhaps more accurately it is actually a language fetish, theory fetish, or analyzation fetish… and there I go trying to nitpick my label of my fetish into something more precise).

Like I’ve said, I believe labels can be extremely useful when thought of in the right context. Labels are also extremely important, they can bring us together as much as they can tear us apart, the problem is so many focus on our differences instead of our similarities.

And I’ll leave you with a quote from The Leather Daddy and the Femme:

You want me to say I’m bisexual because you’re a woman, okay, I’ll say it. It’s no skin off my ass. But I don’t love women. I love you. Far as that goes, I don’t like most men all that much either. But I’d die for the guys in my tribe. Now are you beginning to get it? … See, it’s all well and good to call yourself whatever. I answer to faggot and gay male and leatherman and all those names, but if answering to a name means I can’t do something I decide I want to do, fuck it. And if someone wants to give me shit for what I decide to do, it’s their problem. … some rules exist just to prop up somebody’s prejudice, and they’re bullshit just like any other rule that’s meant to ensure conformity. … I’ve begun to wish more women were like you. Then maybe calling myself bisexual would make sense. Because believe me, if I had any objection to fucking pussy I never would have fucked yours, dear. I did not just screw you that first night to be polite. [bold emphasis added]

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