black women invented the over the top, boisterous, ultra femme, glitzy, big voiced, big haired diva.
thats why all the white gay men wanna be us.
h8 on h8rs.
WHITE GAY APPROPRIATION OF BLACK FEMALE IDENTITIES
You guys, you can appreciate Beyonce or Diana Ross or Tina Turner or Whitney Houston as much as you want, I love the hell out of all of their work (although Beyonce especially has problematic stuff happening) and consider them vitally important to queers in certain specific contexts, but that doesn’t mean that they belong to me or that their styles and presentations and ways of being belong to me.
If I hear one more white gay guy pull out “OH NO YOU DI’NT” or “GURL” in what is essentially a minstrel show parody of a black woman’s voice, I am going to lose it
the white cis gay male founder of the “campus pride” organization, is very invested in this style of “camp” and uses it to “explain” gay identity to collegiate audiences
i mean tons of people do it but it’s particularly egregious in situations that are supposed to be “educational”
man, there is so much to say about this
i think a lot of not-primarily-masculine white gay men make this connection between their own marginalized queer femininities and black (and sometimes other non-white) femininities that could be really worth thinking on more - like why is this white queerness so invested in picking up non-white marginalizations as rightly its own? or at least eager to presuppose a connection between (imagined or experienced) marginal femininities that somehow transcends other differences
differences that are, as above, often about race but that can also be about gender itself sometimes; one thing i’m thinking here of discussions about queer femininity/femmeness that can play out in some circles in ways that ignore more material differences between the things that feminine women tend to have access to vs the things that femme men and other non-woman feminine people tend to have access to, both in and outside of queer/gay spaces
i also suspect that the racial dynamic, among other things, way has to do with the way that a lot of ‘rad’ white-centric queer communities claim queer-of-color, woman-of-color, and people-of-color struggles as a source of legitimacy, too
(like acting as if the existence of anti-trans oppression means all trans people face a level of profound economic and social violence that is in reality largely faced by lower-income trans women of color; and like a white queer femme trying to school a gay man of color on the racism of militarism - lots of people have written and acted well on this shit, saltmarshhag comes to mind as a blogger who’s talked about this, and a big project of the campus african-american glbt group at my school a couple of years ago was making connections with and supporting people-of-color-centered and POC-run anti-army-recruitment organizations in order to better give lower-income and non-white high schoolers more knowledge about and access to non-military careers, rather than just acting like all or most queers in the military are stupid racist ~assimilationists~ or something)
so even when there might be articulated differences between the white gays who tend to be all uncritically OOOOH GURRRLLLL BITCH DIVAAAA and the white queers who become so invested in anti-racist allyhood to the point of wholesale (and stupid) appropriation, i do think there’s some cultural continuity there
(Source: bad-dominicana)from besttumblr
from an intro to women’s studies personal response essay i was photocopying today
If it were possible, I would be a girl but without female problems. I know I am not the only girl that feels this way.
made me kind of sad, because i think it’s very true many girls feel this way
made me think of some of the discomfort i’ve had around some radical faries and folks with related gender politics, where there’s this centering of the fun parts of femmeness coupled with a marginalization of women and of conversations about misogyny as such …
a friend of mine posted the following on my facebook wall the other day, probably in response to this post of mine
I saw on your tumblr that there are some problematic issues surrounding white cis queer folk using the term “fierce”. I tried to look up why that would be but didn’t really find anything. I was wondering if you had the time/inclination, could you maybe explain why that is to me? I’m totally not doubting you or trying to imply that a lengthy explanation is needed before I stop using a term that’s problematic, I just am kind of curious and would like to know more.
i wrote the text quoted below in reply, and i think it gets at most of what i think about the term - though there’s a lot more to be said about the specifics of what’s happening with the way that a lot of white queers variously fetishize and hate on non-white femininities, especially black femininities (at least in the south)
i feel like in a lot of white-centric queer spaces, particularly gay male spaces, there can be this weird mix of on the one hand outright declaring non-white (and often working-class) femininities to be nothing more than tacky failures to be appropriated for campy humor, and on the other hand i think there’s more complicated white guiltish stuff going on, especially when white gay men appropriate styles and cultural codes they associate with non-white femininities because they feel an emotional or cultural connection with racially marginalized femmenesses due to the marginalization of their own queer femininity
plus there’re all these narratives/stereotypes that are like ‘black women are so sassy and in-charge and sexual’ or ‘latinas are so tough and loud-mouthed and brassy’ etc converging with gay male identifications with a certain construction of strong sexy women
thank you for asking! i’ll try my best to think this through:
many uses of the word ‘fierce’ are in my experience strongly associated with gay/queer/trans communities of color, and are particularly linked in a lot of people’s minds with more femme-gendered black gay men and black trans folks, especially not-wealthy ones
and i often see white queers - mostly but not only gay men, some of them middle-class or wealthy and some of them not so much, many of them them openly racist or at least not really interested in thinking about how racism benefits them in and outside of queer spaces - who i feel are deploying the term in a particular way to kind of, hmmm, either to derisively or “affectionately” mock what they see as the campy ghetto-fabulous tackiness of such folks (which is clearly racist and classist and often straight-up misogynistic and anti-femme)
or to do this more complicated appropriation thing where white queers use the word in an attempt to signal a knowledge of or connection to PoC/black queer cultures because they want to kinda go culture-slumming and feel like they’re part of something cool or trendy or exotic etc - without actually giving much of a shit about racism or capitalism or gay/queer/trans people of color
and also there’s this thing a lot of white culture does where white folks can deploy what they accurately or inaccurately imagine to be black vernacular in order to construct themselves as being down with black people, and thus reassure themselves and others that they’re cool good white people and couldn’t *really* be racist (even when they, well, emphatically are)
i don’t think all uses of the word ‘fierce’ by white gay/queer/trans people constitute an attempt to mock or appropriate - but i do think creepy racist sexist classist uses of the word aren’t that uncommon
femme dudes of color
There are scores of femme FTMs representing on Tumblr right now. Where are all the femme trans men/gender-variant folx of color?
You can submit here.
holy crap yessssss
the standards/practices/cultures of femme for trans guys are, good lord, so fucking white - as well as being so skinny, able-bodied, young …
eta: also complicated interactions with mainstream and cis-centered queer/gay male femme culturesfrom chronicallyqueer
trans women & fantasies of radical abjection: another long post
so this has been on my mind for a long while, and the current controversy over the admins at FYCTC choosing to not encourage/allow female-assigned-at-birth people who ID as trans women to submit photos, as well as recent and upcoming interactions i’m having with the local radical faeries, have prompted me to want to write through it a bit
i’ve been thinking a lot recently about the, the, i suppose i mean this certain fetishizing/glorifying construction of trans female experience (and some other things that get elided into that) which i think is really really common in a lot of queer spaces - and also not entirely absent in actual trans female spaces, either
basically - i mean julia serano’s had a hell of a lot of influence in a lot of trans spaces over the years, and a central argument of hers is that trans men and masculinity get coded in many spaces as cool and radical and powerful and subversive and freeing etc while trans women and femininity get coded as stodgy and conservative and weak and conformist and repressed etc
and this is a shitty sexist construction that happens, for sure! but there’s also this other construction that serano dosen’t really touch on which i think is very common as well, albeit in a somewhat different queer community - serano is a dyke talking mostly about dyke spaces so it makes sense that she’d be a bit less familiar with this other thing that largely happens, IME, in faggier spaces
this thing i’m thinking of is this construction of trans womanhood - which, in this model, usually gets linked with drag queen experience and with general male femininity, which can obvs be pretty fucked - that kind of celebrates ‘trans woman’ identity/experience as exactly the most subversive, cool, radical, ‘fierce’ (and i really wanna have a conversation about the way that word gets used by white and class-privileged queers …) thing out there
i think this stems from some sort of unspoken and maybe unconscious recognition that trans-specific misogyny is a serious fucking thing: MAAB women (and many feminine and/or female MAAB non-binary folks) often get a hell of a lot of terrible shit for their genders/sexes, in a way that trans men and FAAB non-binary people very largely do not; there are real and concrete ways in which the sexist violence against trans women (especially and importantly trans women who are not white and middle class) marks them as particularly threatening to and despised by a cissexist and misogynistic - and racist and classist - social order
and a whole lot of queers and queer spaces and activitsty scenes and (largely white) youthy cultures in general just have this thing for ‘subversion’, right? the coolest kid is the most ‘radical’ and ‘resistant’ and ‘subversive’ kid - under a certain specific and usually unspoken standard of measure
so it kind of makes sense that is fetishization has happened, particularly given that a lot of the folks in the scenes where this goes on have access to academic spaces and discourses which have traditionally objectified trans women and drag queens, particularly urban and non-white ones, as being the tragic and abject heroes of gender resistance
for instance: i think this is part of the reason why so many young cool queer trans men and FAAB non-binary folks are so attached to using the word ‘tranny’ in reference to themselves, despite the fact that a lot of trans women have very reasonably objected to this, correctly pointing out that ‘tranny’ is overwhelmingly a violent slur directed at trans women: it is a slur directed at trans women, and as such it’s become a symbol of difference from cissexist misogynistic power structures - a symbol which maybe feels more pleasantly subversive for non-trans-female folks (especially race and class privileged ones) to wear because they don’t face the same threat of violence and marginalization
they just kind of get to keep the word’s feeling of [cool edgy rad] outsiderhood without actually having the same level of exposure to lasting harm
also see: the wild popularity of hedwig and the angry inch in a bunch of trans male and dykey and faggy spaces
and it’s not like actual trans women don’t have complicated relationships to this: i remember this one time i was talking with a genderqueer femme trans woman friend about the film, saying i was kind of uncomfortable with it and the way a lot of queers uncritically identified with it, and she was actually really upset when we talked about why and she found out that the writer of the film was a cis gay man metaphorizing his own experience, and not a trans woman - she had felt a sense of identification and connection with the character of hedwig, and felt really surprised and hurt that the actual maker of the film was not a trans woman creating for herself
so it’s not like trans female people and MAAB non-binary people never identify with this construction or find it useful or compelling, but also it can really suck to ID with something and then find out the creator’s intent or meaning behind it was potentially very different to and contrary to your own, esp if that creator is privledged over you in some ways important to the piece in question
also i think a lot of rad queer spaces have a thing for being-an-entertainer/performer, too, and the fact that trans womanhood and femme maleness and drag queenship kind of all get amalgamated in this model i’m talking about adds to the fetishization going on
also this thing for being-an-entertainer/performer has all sorts of unacknowledged race and class histories going on
plus all these other constructions that designate (certain types of) femininity as more of a performance / construction than masculinity in general etc
so, yeah: this thing happens where [specific constructions of] trans women (and drag queens and femme males and etc) get positioned as the very best possible symbols of queerness and outsiderness and subversion and fierceness and coolness and even of abjection itself, and then this kind of disembodied sense of radness gets taken on by other folks, very often trans men and fags (both trans and cis)
and i mean fags have done complicated things with femininity for a long time, and there’s a lot of stuff going on there: i think sometimes in fag spaces, identifications with and performances of femininity can come to stand in for radicalism and difference in interesting and sometimes pretty fucked ways
see: john waters and pink flamingos and the fag fandoms around them and all the things going on there
like, i’ve been disappointed a lot with the radical faeries i know around me, because while it’s pretty cool to be in a gay male space where femmeness is accepted and proliferated and celebrated - i’m a faggy effeminate male person and i like my gender pretty well and i like being liked by others! - sometimes this identity-politicsy identification with femininity-as-radicalness and femininity-as-subversion and femininity-as-resistant-outsiderhood lets conversations about the other power dynamics going on get totally put aside (and i’ve met a whole lot of economically conservative/neoliberal and racist and sexist faeries)
all of that