January 20, 2010
The title of this blog is “if i can bake a cake, i can build a bomb“, which is one of those tenets I have heard and seen around anarchofeminist circles for many years, and it’s one of my favorite maxims (obvi, or i wouldn’t have named my blog this). It has many meanings to me.
If I can bake a cake, I can build a bomb. If i have the intellectual capacity to learn baking, i have the intellectual capacity to learn electrical wiring. (And vice versa, fyi…one of my parents is an electrician and a kick ass chef .)
The overarching meaning for me is that I contain multitudes. My gender, sexuality, affections, emotional attractions, physical attractions, hobbies, academic interests, the kinds of culture I consume, my political ideas– I am all over the map. I am not just one thing, and the many things I am also contain multitudes.
I’m a serious music lover. I am happiest when music is on– I listen to headphones all day at work, I listen to music at home, and in the car, and on the bus, and when I’m walking around Minneapolis. (I do not listen to headphones while I’m riding my bike because it’s unsafe, in my opinion.) I have so many favorite bands and songs and albums that I could never just choose one favorite band or one favorite song– my love is infinite. Asking me to choose one favorite band or one favorite song would be like asking me to always be the exact same person, each and every day in and day out– and sorry folks, that’s not going to happen.
The other day I sat at a little round coffee shop table with my friends KJ and LE, and we discussed how the internet has us listing all this stuff about ourselves– our favorite movies, books, hobbies, bands– on dating profiles, on facebook– and we do such work trying to paint these pictures of ourselves that we leave so few surprises for when we actually get down to the business of actually getting to know a person. Our attempts to taxonomize ourselves have left us moving through the world as bodies covered in labels and lists. [And I know from taxonomy-- I'm a virgo who does analysis for money.]
I’m feeling sad and frustrated by what seems to be the perennial explosion of “it’s done like this!” There seems to be a lot happening in what i’m about to call the Butch Blogosphere that feels a little bit unforgiving and inflexible– and I struggle with reading some of the stuff that’s been going around.
I want to say that:
1) I believe there are at least as many genders as there are people– and then times it by about a zillion, because i think each person has the capacity to express many variations on gender– and that’s what I mean when I say gender is fluid. Bond writes about diversity– well, I think there is fluidity and diversity. [Bond--I love your blog and I'm not trying to start anything-- just saying what I believe based on my experience.]
2) I believe there are as many ways to perform various largely recognized categories of gender (i.e. butch or femme) as there are people who self-identify with those genders. I reject the notion that I am less butch than someone else because I do not bind. I reject the notion that I am more butch because I have short hair. I reject the notion that I am less butch because I sew, or that I am more butch because I can grill up some tasty food outdoors.
When I see people simultaneously fighting for gender and sexuality liberation– be those people queer or straight, trans or cis, then policing each other’s gender and sexuality expressions, i experience cognitive dissonance. How can we say “I want to be free to be myself, but you are not free to be yourself?”
I came out 15 years ago. It’s been a roller coaster (you can read some of that here) and through most of that, I have expressed a butch gender identity– with the exception of some times when I was with my ex-husband. [Yes, I mostly wore women's clothes then, and sometimes wore make-up. I was still way closer to butch than femme in a lot of ways.] I have absolutely been guilty of judging others and trying to police the identities of others– but as I get older and give less of a shit about what other people do and think in general, I have realized how sick it is to fight for liberation without including everyone’s expressions in that.
So I’m just stating my opinion– there are billions of ways to perform gender, billions of ways to be queer. Thank you, universe.
[And thank you to Bevin who helped me expand on a few ideas.]
[Also, to anyone skeptical about my baking skills? I said I can bake a cake-- I never said I could bake a vegan cake.]