Gendered Politics

drieux (drieux@WETWARE.COM)
Mon, 1 Jun 1998 00:51:42 -0700 (PDT)

] I'm looking for information on the shunning of butch/femme and switch to
] androgyny during the 60s and early 70s due to the belief that it was sexist and
] imitated heterosexual roles.
] Annabel Kornblum

prolegamena: allow me to begin by noting that what follows may not
at first appear to be (a) sixties oriented, (b) directly related to
what Annabel specifically references. But I will beg the indulgence
of the reader and the reviewers as I attempt to tie both threads
together in my traditional hypster style.

First off allow me to cover the points raised in another posting
from paul and paula - like as I am sweating that victor/victoria
angstfest that the 'editors' are slipping subliminal subtexts....

p1: Yes, I read Sam Keen's "fire in the belly" and unfortunately
I am less than impressed that I can actually distinguish it from
what I consider to be the background noise of the 'men who beat
on drums and bond' material that has not been all that useful
in helping me resolve how to deal with a civilian population that
has NOT come to terms with its "subconscious" attachment to it's
"warrior" past and yet remains painfully clueless of the substantive
consequences of living out that 'lifestyle'. So that you understand
why this is significant, allow me to point out the 'horror' I am
dealing with as I come to understand/accept that I really did cut
myself off from basically everyone I knew 'before' for "reasons
of national security" and still have a hard time coming up for
'normalcy' and so find myself doing what I can because it really
is what I want to do. My housemates are rather tolerant of my somewhat
different lifestyle - so manage the fact that while on the one hand they
find me out back polishing my shoes in the old school navy way, shooting
for that 'parade ground' gloss spit polish shine, I can also turn to
ruth and ask her to cut my hair, as was the way in the old days, when
one asked one's friends to be cool about something. Ruth and I had a
lovely chat and watched the comedy of how things had changed from the
days when it was merely worrying about 'split ends' on really long
hair, through 'corn rowing' to that whole 'punk thing' - which I basically
consider a bit over the edge, but at least "conformed" to the social
process of primates hanging around and sorting out 'fur politics' as
it were. Ruth may have a point, and it might be time for me to try to
manage the idea of a 'professional' cutting my hair, since I have not
let anyone but friends and lovers cut it since I was getting it cut at
the marine corp barrack barber. This is NOT the sort of cultural melieu
that Sam Keen was really ready or able to address in his basically interesting
but to 'civilians' conversation about some set of ideals about 'masculinity'
unfettered by our inhumanity to each other that actually occurs when the
drums stop and the Killing Begins.

p2: Just so that paula understands, I am NOT at all interested in
trivilizing anyone's 'political commitment' merely because they happen
to follow basic primate reactions while in the middle of that process.
What does concern me is that we as the 'sixties' generation seem no better
at resolving the basic struggle and complications that go with the process
of dealing with the history handed us, and how best to resolve the dialectic
between being mere primates and being an alledged 'higher order of intelligence'
than either our predecessor, or the kids who have followed after us. So that
folks can 'properly contextualize' my tale about visiting D.C. it would help
folks to understand that the gentleman I was with had been a charming summer
fling, and we were able to get beyond it all to be amused by the spring
adventures of HappyHets trying as much to BE HETS as to balance the need of
not compromising some obscure set of political ideals. Fortuitously we opted
not to go for the Obvious Intervention and Note,

In a Hundred Years, Who's going to know,
and more importantly, who is going to care.

Since clearly that was a problem for them to resolve and work out to
the best of their abilities.

p3: Allow me to turn now to this dialectical tension that I wish to thank
annabel for raising, but which I really DO wish to steal back from the
jaws of mere Lesbian Feminism and raise as the larger contextual issue.
It was with no small amount of personal pleasure that a young lady of
my acquaintance showed up this evening to fetch home a pair of jeans I
had patched for her last weekend, and for her to ask for both more
patching material as well as some white thread, since she was going to
be so BUTCH about patching her own jeans. On another list, when I raised
this basic problem, the HomeBoys noted that only Old Women and G.I.'s
know how to mend. But it remains something that is a bridge to an older
day, when we would actually sit around and patch Jeans, because we really
DID have to make them last another season, since we did NOT have the
disposable income to simply throw them away and buy more. I have fought
it out with the HomeBoys about the fact that we do NOT have the nice
civilian luxury of simplistic gender based stereotypes, since part and
parcel of the 'chain of command' process is that we MUST be nuturing
and supportive of our subordinates, so that we can grow them into being
our replacements.

I must confess that it is not easy for me to write an article on
gendered politics from a house where Andy Cooks, drieux sews, and
ruth does the 'girl bits'.... since we do not so nicely fit into
the specified roles we inherited from our elders, save that Andy
apprenticed in a French Restaurant, I served for "god and country"
and ruth was a jock who would play 'paint ball'.

SO a part of why I wonder about the limitation of Annabel's general
thesis is the problem that we all saw as we rolled OUT of the sixties
into the 'androgyny' of the seventies and eighties as the whole
"david bowie" thing became more than just a popular craze - but a part
of the gender politcs of trying to implement a gender-neutral approach
to our personal relationships in compliance with our political ideals.

Once again the media pops up from time to time speaking, no longer of
mere androgyny, but of trans-gendered, and even more Hip Phrases. Have
we yet resolved the dialectical tension between reasoning and mere being?
Some of us will always be Hetro, Some of Us otherwise, and yet the same
dialectical tension will exist between 'I and lover' that has been in the
process from time long before the sixties. So the real issue of value will
be what were the actual and substantive ideals that we can derive from the
sixties that transcend mere place and time, and are actually worth passing
along to our children.

Also from this evenings amusement, in true 'guy' fashion, I invited my
lady caller up to my digs to see my new 'toy' - a short board for ironing -
and she asked me, "I hope that this is not contagious...." since she has
spent most of her life becoming an engineer and 'revolting' against her
mother's effort to turn her into a proper young lady.... And what did I
have to offer her, but that I finally figured out why we always put the
creases in our uniforms that we did in the fleet - It was all we could
practically do given the resources of ship board life.....

So does her learning to sew, and perchance to iron, mean that she is
more femme for the doing? Or More Fleet in the being?

OR is it just the case that once again I have failed to fully
understand the civilian sensitivities in these matters of drawing
the dialect between 'gender definers' rather than my more 'traditional'
process of counterpoising civilian v. military.....

but then again, the mother of my children was first

Shipmate, Lover, Mother

as was the maxim of West Point

Duty, Honor, Country

a parrallel of triads unmistakeable.

Hum, what good IS a history based upon 'being there'
but that we are in the NOW that we live?