So… wow. i knew when i posted something in an “open letter” type format — especially with social networking — there would be ripples, but i had no idea shit was gonna blow up the way it did, for myself or the Mrs. folks (and i know a lot of readers are probably saying “well no shit!” right now, but this has been a learning experience for me on multiple levels).
i wanted to take an opportunity to clarify where i was coming from and address some of the common comments and concerns that i’ve heard, both in person and a great deal on facebook and other blogs. so much of this seems to be related to the gulf that can exist between the intention behind an action or statement, and the impact it has on an individual or community.
i would like to start by addressing what i see as some conflation happening in a couple different areas with regard to my initial writing. there seems to be an underlying assumption that by publicly sharing an experience at Mrs. where i perceived trans-misogyny to be operating, i was trying to bash or otherwise take down Mrs. or the folks who run it. my intentions were far from that — as i tried to make clear in my concluding paragraph — but i nonetheless want to offer my apologies if my language contributed to this perception. i’ll touch more on this later.
another misunderstanding i would like to speak to is the equivocation of me saying that i had an interaction with some individuals where i perceived trans-misogyny to be operating, with me outright calling those individuals trans-misogynists. as jay smooth so eloquently reminded us a few years back, the “this is what i heard you say” conversation is very different from the “this is what i think you are” conversation. the latter is never something i intended to have –or would even feel qualified having. i don’t know these individuals; only our interaction and my experience of it. and i know that no matter what your identity is, who your friends are, or what you consciously believe in, we are all steeped in dominant culture, and as such, are all still capable of — intentionally or not — supporting and perpetuating oppressive systems, even those that target us. that doesn’t mean we’re bad people; it means we’re humans living under multiple, often intersecting oppressions and we’re all working on our own shit, and we’re all bound to fuck up sometimes.
in that vein, i would like to speak to the issue of my being a white queer who labeled a song by a queer person of color misogynistic. (as i learned this weekend just prior to the meeting on saturday, the song that was played was “Ima Read” by Zebra Katz –i believe a remix of it. i have since read up on the lyrics and their intended meaning, the context from which the song emerged, and interviews with the artist.) of course, since we don’t exist in a vacuum — but rather a white supremacist state — i approached the DJ in a culture where white people regularly asymmetrically level charges of sexism against music produced by artists of color while giving white artists a relative pass.
i would like to own my cultural ignorance on the Katz piece, and to extend my apologies to the DJ with whom i had that racially loaded interaction. i can see how a DJ of color who is trying to promote the work of other queer PoC being approached by a white person who immediately labels the song misogynistic — ignorant of its context — and says it’s something they don’t want to hear in that space
could be is fucked up, and i can understand that individual’s dismissive attitude more. i’m not saying that i also didn’t still feel silenced in a gendered way based on his response to me –just that it seems both of us were having some real shit come up on the basis of our varied identities, and both are valid and worth unpacking.
and i want to make it clear to the folks who have a different relationship to traditionally misogynistic language and the Katz song, that i hear you. in that linked post, the author states that while i characterized hearing that song as a low point in my night, as a queer person of color in an overwhelmingly white space, hearing that song was a high point for them — the first time they were able to feel safe. and that shit’s real. and while personally, i am still triggered by hearing the repeated use of female slurs (whether by a mainstream white female pop singer or a black queer rapper), much of the feedback i have received regarding Katz and nearly everything i can find online about Ima Read has been enormously positive, and clearly it has particular significance among many queers of color. and that is not something i want to fuck with: had i known the context of Ima Read like i do now — while it doesn’t necessarily change my relationship to the language — it absolutely changes the way i view its presence in queer spaces and how i respond –or rather, how i wouldn’t have responded to the folks playing it. Continue reading