A mountain, a bird, and misogynist discourse

A mountain
As Sassy-Femme noted, we rode up Mt. St. Helen’s to get our climbing legs on. For me, the ride was great for many reasons: 1) SF and TT (their longest and steepest ride ever) showed incredible endurance and mental toughness getting up to the top of that ride; 2) it was beautiful and you could see the mountain (which is more often than not, not the case); 3) i was riding with my sweetie who has a depth of stamina that buoys and astounds me; 4) TT followed her intuition and her body so that we all stayed safe, healthy, and happy; and 4) i felt really strong.

I am excited about the bike portion of the triathlon and know that Meg and I will have a strong race. We plan on doing the entire race together, pushing and/or pulling each other to the finish. When Meg did her first IM two years ago, I saw a couple doing the whole thing together and it was just really sweet and powerful to watch them support each other through the physical, emotional, etc. ups and downs of the race. The race as a metaphor is not lost on me.

A Bird
Update on Jeoff, who we are now simply calling the Roadrunner because I don’t know how to pronounce both of the F’s in his name: We went back to his spinning class last week, even though I had not forgiven him for smiting my compliment. Meg decided that the Roadrunner must be loved for his performance and not for his interpersonal skills. He should be watched and not spoken to. He should be theatrically enjoyed and not befriended. Sage advice…so I will be content to spin my little legs off and simply bird watch.

Misogynist Discourse
I have an issue with my body….have since I was a kid and I come by it honestly. My mother thought she had a “weight problem” as did both of my grandmothers….perhaps their mothers before them. Shocking! A woman, with a hang-up about weight? Really, in this country?

Yes, as trite and platitudinous (so not a word) as it is…I have always struggled with my body image. Now, I have been thin, chubby, awkward and round, curvy, muscular, lean, flabby, and somewhat overweight…but always powerful, athletic, and able to take up physical space. Through all of those shapes I have thought the same thing: “I am fat. I am not what a woman should be. I am not what a woman should look like. I am fat.”

OK people….i have internalized this misogynistic discourse not only at the hands of my mother and my mother’s mother and her mother’s mother’s mother. Notice how we hold the women responsible for perpetuating misogyny. This fat discourse is really a U.S. fairy tale and not the good pro-woman kind like where….hmmm….are there good pro-woman fairy tales?

So, I learned this disgust for my body, my fat, my “bigness,” and I continue to struggle to find both my strength and my beauty. As a kid, I thought that I was in the wrong kind of body because I loved baseball, basketball, running around, getting dirty, climbing trees, digging holes, making forts. I learned my gendering properly and thought there was something wrong with my “girl-ness.” I was that girl that everyone called tomboy and I mostly wore the label with pride. But, I thought inside, “I’m not what a girl should be…and I’m fat.” I know this is not a unique story…I think in some regard that is exactly my point. It isn’t unique because the misogynist discourses surrounding gender and weight are pointed and purposeful, these discourses police us. Yeah, yeah…Judith Butler says it better…so go read her blog.

You know what….now that I’m into this discussion this far….I don’t have the wherewithal to continue. I think my point is….I continue to struggle with this…even though my body is going to move 140.6 miles in one day in three different kinds of events and sometimes all I can think about is how fat I might look in the damn wetsuit.

more on this later….i will just continue to subvert these discourses even as they inhabit my body.

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Week 11…13 More!

So excited to be blogging! Today Meg and I had a fabulous workout…a mini-triathlon in and of itself. We started with an hour swim.

Now recently my swims have been feeling great, smooth, fast, tireless, and other great swimming adjectives. Apparently, however, that was so last week because this morning I had forgotten how to swim. My head was moving all over the place, my hips (which you should know are made of stone) were not even rotating as miniscule-yas they normally do, my hands were entering at bizarre angles, and I kept getting other people’s hair caught in my nose clip (yes people, a nose clip…i keep all the orifices plugged during the swim). It was really just wrong. Meg and I were splitting a lane and I kept thinking, “she’s kicking my ass, swimming like a freaking sting ray (you thought I was going to say dolphin…but that was just too obvious). Anyway, 30 minutes in we decided to do some 50 meter sprints. This seemed akin to asking our 5 month old to do a series of crawl sprints given that she doesn’t even turn over yet. Remember, I had forgotten how to swim!

The sprints went well, I remembered how to swim, yada yada yada, we got out of the pool. Yeah, I know, a lot of story build up for a really awkward and disappointing punch line.

Next we were off to our 1 hour spin class…with Jeoff (clearly a gay boy because what straight boy spells Jeoff with an O?). He was AWESOME! It was seriously like Queer as Folk meets American Flyer-er Breaking Away (whichever 80’s cycling movie you prefer) meets A Chorus Line! This is the only spin class with three acts, people! This guy is a true performer and a kick ass trainer. And, let me just share that the class was full of all his wanna-be ‘fag hags’ (which i say with all the love, respect, admiration, and campiness that both fags and hags deserve)…so much fun! Anyway, he was as you would expect of a white, gay boy trainer in his late 30’s….super-buff, cut, tan, fun salt-n-pepper spiky hair, great dancer, and high-high energy! The music was great…Cher (of course), club music (unrecognizable to this 38 year-old once-lesbian-identified queer girl and mommy), and a sweet 80’s rock mix. He began the class, or should I say his opening number, was dancing through the rows of the 20 of us, bouncing up and down, and pouncing onto his spin bike with the agility of a puma, and then proceeding to pedal in a way that can only be compared to the blurry circle that is the Roadrunner’s legs.

And with a Meep Meep….we went from 0 to ‘oh-my-god-i-fucking-want-to-die-but-he-is-so-fun-that-i-want-him-to-like-me-and-be-my-best-friend-so-i’ll-keep-pedaling-even-though-my-power-bar-is-going-to-make-an-uncredited-appearance’ in 60 seconds. The class was great…I left wetter (from sweat) than I was when we were swimming. And, then came our mistake. We thought that his performance meant he was nice, kind, perhaps humble and would maybe even be polite to someone paying him a compliment. What made us think this? We are part of many queer and straight communities….we’ve seen boys like him before. He was performing, performing Jen…and now the performance was over, AND SCENE! He could not have been less interested in our feeble attempt at becoming his best friend and the worst part is, I (a pseudo-intellectual, doctoral student, with a penchant for words) said “funnest” in a sentence. All we could do was shamefully leave the spinning theater and hold onto the genius that was his performance.

Then we ran for 20 minutes….no great stories…I partially blame Jeoff for my lack of creativity during the run.

Tomorrow….we rest…actually Meg works, I take care of the Baby Lady, and the parents arrive on the scene. Until then…

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2004 Election Blues & Lessons from a PFLAG mom

11/8/2004

Dear Queer Folks and Social Justice Allies-

After Tuesday’s events, I wanted to run north to Canada, curl up in the fetal position, and practice saying “eh.”  But, I thought better of it and felt compelled to write a letter to our communities.  Regardless of political affiliations, I know many among us are disheartened and scared by the passage of 11 state Constitutional bans on equal access to marriage (known in the main stream as ‘gay marriage’).  The implications of those results impact us here in Washington, though we are a state on the brink of creating legal access to marriage for queer folks.  While marriage may or may not be the top of our personal political agendas, the passage of these amendments was a clear sign that queer-baiting, homophobia, and heterosexism are alive and well and used as political tools.  This election also brought us the age-old tactic of race-baiting and racism.  It is easy in the wake of these steps backward to feel hopeless.  Our grief, anger, and frustration can, however, be tools of action to move us through this reactionary time.

I thought I’d pass along some wisdom my PFLAG president mother brought home from the National PFLAG conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Here they are, the Top Ten Things to Remember in social justice movements as seen through the lavender eyes of a PFLAG Mom.

10.  Duh!  The conference was in SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, how’s that for progress?

9.    Always lose forward…even in losses gain ground.  We have done this.  The concept of two people of the same gender sharing a life together and having it sanctioned by law was fantasy a mere 5 years ago.  Now, nearly half the people in this country believe that equal access to marriage is the fair and right thing to do.  And, that my dear friends, is without much of a public education campaign.

8.  Always guard your silent auction item intently because some PFLAG parents will knock you out to win a bag of triangle shaped rainbow pasta.

7.  It is only for now.  (Actually, this tid-bit comes to us from Avenue Q)

6.   Be sad, mad, afraid, and then get on with the work of social justice.

5.   Never be late to meet Esera Tuaolo.  I mean, he does not want to hear about it and he is still pissed about the rainbow pasta!

4.   Our wins are always more important than our losses.

3.    PFLAG parents and allies love queers more than others hate us.  And if we could just get organized, there are more social-justice loving people in this country than hate extremists. “So the question is not whether we will be extremists but what kind of extremist will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice–or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?”  (Martin Luther King Jr., April 1963)

2.     Just because you have a queer child does not give you permission to throw about the word fabulous as if you invented it!  I’m queer; not you Mom!

And the number 1 piece of social justice wisdom my mother brought to me from the Salt Lake City, Utah (a red state) National PFLAG Convention was:  If your mission can be accomplished in a life-time, you are not dreaming big enough!

To those on the University of Washington campus who might take the election results and mistakenly believe that those 11 states know something about you that you do not, like maybe you are not worth equal rights or your family is not a “true family,” do not buy the hype.  If we voted on the Bill of Rights today, it would likely fail by a similar margin.  Please know that your worth and value as a human being is not a vote-able issue.  It is not up for debate.  And, never, regardless of how many times humans will fail to recognize our fundamental error and repeat horrors of history, never is anyone ever less than human, less than worthy of equality, respect, dignity, and honor.

This is just one of many battles allies for social justice have faced, just one of many stands in the fight for civil rights for all.  Let us remember that 35 years ago queers were still being arrested for wearing the “wrong clothes” and now we openly debate our access to marriage, which in itself is a courageous act (whether you believe in the institution of marriage or not…it is inherently courageous to speak a truth to power).  I’m reminding myself and you as I write.

I just wanted you to know that the Q Center is here on campus for you, though not yet in our space, we are here in energy and we support you.

In Peace and Respect-

j

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