Sunday, July 28, 2013

It Won't Go Away Because You Refuse To Acknowledge It

Ignoring the effects of racism and sexism won't make them less harmful and it won't improve our relationships and interactions with other people. I think it's better to be serious about recognizing power imbalances inherent in a capitalist, colonialist society.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

My People

It still makes me shake my head when I see white people who get indignant when mixed race folks dare to say anything about our heritage. It makes me even more sad when people of color treat me that way. Even if I could ignore white people who conveniently "forget" that there are mixed race people in this country, it's just incomprehensible when people of color do this.

A few days ago, I was talking to some fellow WOC about how nice it is to be able stand up against baseless charges of racism when random white people decide that simply saying ANYTHING about race makes us racist. I always feel like it's my responsibility to use my (relatively) privileged background to point out that it isn't just Black people or Latin@s who hate white people that feel this way. These challenges that WOC face are also shared by those of us who, through choice or ancestry, share our private lives with white people. I actually feel glad about being able to stand up and support other POC.

Then, I have days like this, when my own people of color make me feel like I should just go ahead and give into the "Tragic Mulatta" role where a person feels like they can't even get other people of color to have their back when crazy random white people pop up in start in with the silly claims that we're being racist. Even after all of these years, it still hurts.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Androgyny Issues

Sometimes it's difficult to love my androgynous body. Other times in my life, I've loved it. When I was young, I engaged in a lot of genderbending. It wasn't really political beyond the extent to which the personal is political. It was mostly to show my friends that I could. It was great fun to draw on a mustache and use the boys bathrooms. I was already dressing pretty butch, so it never took much for me to step over from trying to be perceived as a girl to showing just how seamlessly I could blend in with bodies perceived as belonging to boys. It was a thrilling feeling, but I never thought about why I could do it more successfully than most of my girlfriends.

While I was in college, I did start to wear more dresses and I never stepped out without a full face of make-up, but the majority of my wardrobe still consisted of shorts and jeans and t-shirts. That was my preferred style and maybe the cosmetics "softened" my look enough that my identity as a woman was never challenged. I didn't even give much thought to the idea that my body wasn't exactly curvy. I don't think I even noticed yet.

In fact, I don't think I allowed myself to even consider my androgyny until a couple of years ago. It's still a sensitive subject for me. I am a woman. I've never had any doubts about that. However, if I'm honest with myself I have to admit that my body just doesn't look like what most people associate with being a woman. Besides having a vagina, there really isn't anything that does make my body look anything different from what you'd expect from what's usually perceived as "male".

This is especially true since I had my surgeries (for the cancer in my chest). In the process of de-bulking the tumor, they had to remove some of the breast tissue on the left side. I was left with most of the nerves severed and that affects how it appears at any given time in comparison with the other side of my chest. I wish I had the courage to show just what I'm talking about, but I'm just not the kind of person who feels comfortable sharing pictures of my body  with strangers. My breasts were always small enough to look best in a training bra. Any sort of built in cup was either uncomfortable on the left side or too tight for the right side.

Anyway, that's that. I'm at the point where I have to decide how to feel about my body, because these things are not likely to change. I'd never consider breast implants, because I don't believe in elective surgery for myself. I feel like it would be a disrespect to my body to put it in danger needlessly, especially after all of the trauma that it has had to endure.

I can do things to make myself look more femme. I hadn't really bothered with anything beyond my daily lipstick and eyeliner routine until I separated from my partner. I'm not sure whether it's good or bad, but he'd never cared about what I wore or even how I looked. However, when I became single again, I started giving serious thought to how people would perceive me. I do dress a bit more femme now. I'm not sure if it's because I want to attract people or a sign of how I'm trying to figure out just who I am now that I'm no longer a part of a couple.

I have to admit that the idea of anyone seeing my body in the future does make me feel a bit anxious. What will they think of my body when they see my chest? Will it be a non-issue, because it doesn't look as bad as I think it does or because the person just doesn't care about how bad it looks? What if I can't bring myself to show it to them? Is it okay for me to refrain from ever showing it to them?