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« Lesbian poet laureate illuminates life | Main | Gay Holy Week readings start today »

March 16, 2009

Comments

pennyjane

i think where a lot of people might get confused is comparing gay sex to loose sex. just because one might not believe that gay sex is an abomination doesn't give freedom to any and all sex.

where a lot of gay people lose there spiritual connection to sex is overreacting to the idea that gay sex is not sinful. many of us have come to the realization that who we have sex with is not nearly as important as why we have sex. sex as an expression of love and profound respect is hard to view in a negative light among almost anyone, however; sex for no more then the sake of "getting off" might be a little more difficult to reconcile with all those old traditional conceptions most of us share.

if you are having sex for no more then satisfying a carnal need, whoever you are having sex with, homo, hetero, bi or whatever, in my opinion, you are devaluing sex, your partner and yourself. it can and should be much more.

just because all gay sex isn't sinful doesn't mean some of it isn't.

much love and hope. pj

Avostarfish

I think there is a profound difference between gay male ideas of sexuality and lesbian ideas of sexuality, so you can't really equate the two at all.

Are you looking at sex and spirituality from a male or a female perspective?

And also, if you use the word "sex" you kind of talk about acts rather than relationships.

And then when you talk about this from a transgender point of view, you get a whole new philosophy.

What queer culture often lacks is a sexual ethics all its own. The idea many gay men had was ok, the church condemns gay sex, so let's throw ethics out the window. There are very few gay or even lesbian venues that really talk about responsible sexuality, or that even honor the few committed couples out there.

It is a moral void that few seem able to address.

pennyjane

i don't think i was looking at sexuality from any particular gender perspective, just a generic observation.

i think we could just go ahead and say there are major difference between any male and any female perception of sex...generally speaking of course. i don't find the gay male attitude much different than the straight male attitude.

i think we agree that it has to partly be a result of the overall condemnation of gay sex that drives gay male promiscuity even harder though.

and i think you are right...until we get our chruches out of the dark ages and willing to address gay sexuality in the same breath as straight sexuality we're not going to have much moral guidance. that's going to take a lot of us kicking in the doors of those churches and forcing the issue. squeaky wheels getting the grease and all.

though i don't consider myself transgender, i am transsexual and i'm not sure what you mean about having a whole new philosophy. please understand that gender identity and sexual orientation are very different things. transsexuals are as varied in our sexual orientations as are non-transsexuals. so, i guess if you take transsexuals out from under the transgender umbrella you might say that....what's left are the fetishists...that's a form of sexual orientation all it's own....but not related to the transsexual.

much love and hope. pj

Avostarfish

pennyjane,

I think the main issue here is that gays and lesbians receive NO meaningful guidance on sexual ethics from churches. There are no mainstream churches sponsoring marriage workshops for gay and lesbian couples, for example. This seems like an odd oversight given that gay and lesbian marriage has become a major issue these days.

Since gays and lesbians are outsiders, I think you get a good window to the behavior of men when they have no sexual ethical guidelines, and you can compare how lesbians behave with the same lack of understanding.

As for transsexual and transgender, it is a big leap to be married heterosexually, then transition and be in the same relationship, only to have it be considered lesbian, for example. Or the opposite.

So churches can heal the damage they've done for centuries to women and gays by engaging this issue head on.

pennyjane

hi avostarfish.

i think we are in total agreement about the lack of guidance we recieve from our churches. since gay sexualality is not addressed in any manner at all it naturally follows that moral guidance is just as absent.

solution: we must each, in our own church's, insist the subject be addressed. in conversation first, then with formal programming. for instance: i became active as a member of the adult education committee at my church. when i felt i had developed enough integrity among my peers i began suggesting more and more looks at relationships...then sexual relationships...then reconciling "gay" with scripture.

this summer we will have a program looking at same sex marriage. the progam is not going to be adversarial...we have decided not to have proponents of any point of view at the forefront...we want to get as close to a subjective view of how God might see the subject as we can. after this we intend to conduct a congregational conversation on the subject. a bit late, but better late then never.

in my chruch the whole thing has come as the result of one congregant getting behind the idea and influencing the leaders to take action. it can be done, and i believe it's the best way to do it.

and too, i admire your insight into trans-marriages. i hear how disconcerting it seems to you hearing these formerly "heterosexual" marriages now being termed "lesbian". i share your dysphoria.

in the beginning we (my annie and me) referred to our marriage in that way. i think that was the result of a bit of wish fulfillment on my part. as we grew and looked at it with a bit more of a critical eye, we both decided that was an entirely unrealistic description of our relationship. she is definitely not lesbian and i, too, am not comfortable with carpetbagging the term. we call our marriage now, "same sex"

i cannot repeat enough, gender identity and sexual orientation are entirely different matters. the terms "lesbian" and "gay" mean a lot more than who one sleeps with. i cannot define a lesbian by who she sleeps with, that defines her sexual orientation but does not fulfill the lesbian experience in my way of seeing things. there's more to it than that...and since i cannot put my finger on very much of it, i won't call myself lesbian...eventhough i do consider myself female and what sexual attraction i have would be directed only towards women. that qualifies me as homosexual, but not fully lesbian.

because there are no absolutes in our human paradigm doesn't mean there aren't relative truths...those are the things we can and should deal with.

Avostarfish

It seems that churches simply have a lot of catching up to do pennyjane and I salute your work in this area on the education committee. I like creative educational approaches rather than having marriage being called "political." Which in my opinion it isn't... marriage is the conservative choice.
I sometimes feel ambivilent about lesbians and "marriage' being out there since marriage is such a contaminated patriarchal concept... but.. well another topic :-)

I'm with you pennyjane on gender identity and sexual orientation being different. And I would certainly object to any labels that further sexualize women. We have enough of that in male supremacy as it is. It's why gay men and lesbians are not the same group being lumnped together as "gay." A lot of the guys still are pretty clueless when it comes to this, and I don't find it worthwhile to educate them.

The church will have to deal with the unhappy past of marriage -- women being made the property of men, and its whole sorry history of 2000 years. Remember, individuals can try to change, but social structures are harder to change. Just ask any African American about the legacy of slavery that supposedly ended over 140 years ago.

I like your approach to the use of the word "same-sex" marriage, because it honors both your transexual self without colonizing lesbian experience. Lesbian sexuality in its purest form is about freedom from any male sexual colonization whatsoever, and us purists are very proud of this. We believe that the most horrendous forms of sexuality-- torture, S & M etc. came into the lesbian community as a result of male rape, child rape and abuse of girls. So our sense of integrity is that male sexuality is in and of itself colonizing of women's full potential in the world.

A sexual ethics in the church is a challenge, but I believe worth attempting. There are still many young gay men who get thrown in with the wolves. There are way too many young men still getting HIV and still creating a degraded and vulgar culture that goes unchallenged in the gay male world.

It's one reason why I think lesbians and gay men are completely separate groups, and why I don't even like to be in a room talking about sex with men present to begin with.

Could a church sponsor a series on lesbian sexuality and ethics for lesbians? Could there be a unity among transexual women and lesbians? Or how about a sexual ethics in which all women come together to talk about this within a Christian context? I've never seen any churches in the area advertise this, but it certainly would be more interesting than carrying signs with "No on 8" on them!

pennyjane

hi avo...

i think there is something to be said for safe space...that is space shared only with others of like frames of reference. i find myself devoting time to such space with other transsexuals. i also find it annoying when people other then transsexuals, such as transvestites, drag queens, autogynephilics, shemales, panty fethishists....all those others who share the "transgender" label, push their way in and as you say...attempt to "colonize". no matter how much they wish they were, or how much they actually think they are...they are not us and their presence de-sanctifies our space....so i have some empathy for how lesbians react to us...transsexuals with same sex sexual orientations. i am aware of and respectful of their private space.

however; i don't think it's all that helpful to baricade ourselves into that safe space and not venture out; or to confront the space of others with hostility. the majority of the limited space in this world should be designated for use by all, that is sharing. being a victim is pretty much a state of mind by the individual. we are all victims of this or that, no one is spared...but holding onto our victimization is largely a matter of choice, in my opinion.

i choose not to be a victim, rather to be a full fledged, integrated, participating member of my larger society. personal animosity and hostility would be no more then another barried to that goal, so i accept those things i cannot change and work like heck to change the things i can...my successor hopefully will have wider options. dialogue doesn't mean aquaesing to anything. we don't have to honor our adversaries to communicate respectfully with them.

i wouldn't have invited rick warren to give the invocation at the presidental inaguration, but i would go to his church and look through the scriptures with him in an effort to understand and communicate. i am not his victim, i am his adversary....i am not his friend i am his colleague.

much love and hope. pj

Avostarfish

I think pennyjane that all of us are out in the world all the time. But it can be exhausting. Think of all those white men in HIStory who holed up making laws in colonial America -- white straight or (closeted) men with no qualms of setting up separate little clubs for their own advancement, property ownership and slave holding profit making.

When a minority wants space to itself, so that a solid discussion can insue, this is looked on as suspect.

We need similarity as much as diversity. There are coalitions, and then there are groups with similar ideas. You can't have a discussion about radical feminism with men. Doesn't work. They haven't done the required reading, get too defensive when women stomp on patriarchy, and well it's a waste of time.

But there are places where people can really come together... there's trans hall meetings, where everyone is welcome. Perfect opportunity for allies to support trans-people, there is PFLAG which always has the best people, and other people who like each other and can have fun.

But... and I know this is asking a lot.... is it too much to ask for a 5-star lesbian restaurant that I can go to on Valentine's Day with my partner so I don't have to deal with the hetero-high holy day of hate? Just asking...

pennyjane

nope, not asking to much at all. open one.

but i think we're saying pretty much the same thing.

those "trans-hall" meetings you talk about, if i'm hearing you right, turn out to be a place where men go and talk about girl things....you're right, they haven't a clue. i've heard it all..."of course i'm a woman...i have my hair and my nails done once a week and carry a tampon in my purse...just in case someone should ask."

bizarre. you are right, asking a man to think like a woman is like asking a roach to roar like a bear. but, the male is the yin to the female yang...without them there would be no us.

the "t" in the lgbtq..etc...political alliance refers to men...the "transgendered". transsexuals are no more then the pretty face. we have no clout, no respect and absolutely no understanding. the "alliance" to us is no more than illusion, there's nothing there for us. the interests of the transgender and the transsexual diverge at the beginning and grow apart from there. we share no more with them then any other group of men....but they continue to use us to give their face respectability...even if it ain't much, it's all they got. they drag us through the sexual fetishist garden with them and then stand on our legitimacy.

men!

Avo

I guess I really don't know the difference between transgender and transexual. I thought it might be a more archaic usage of Transgender, kind of like the use of homosexual to refer to gay men today??

As for transgender town halls, they just started earlier in the year at the LA gay and lesbian center, and seemed mainly political to me. I rather liked the academic nature of the trans-lesbians-- academia mind you.

So the "T" in LGBT is MTF, and that would illustrate an underlying male privileged self? The child is raised to be entitled, and can't just throw this conditioning out the window because of elective surgery, anymore than a girl who grew up considered "ugly" for decades, then gets face lifts, but still has the internalized contempt of American beauty norms within?

This is convoluted. But still, immigrants to a new land, unless they are very small children, still carry traces of their culture of origin. So men who transition to female, still retain male supremacy within them, and this will cause inevitable conflict with radical lesbian feminists who won't tolerate any male supremacy whatsoever. Not on topic... but it is a real issue within feminism. Feminism is about the benefit of women, and it doesn't involve any benefits to men -- it can by accident, but the point is for women to achieve liberation and not be saddled with caretaking for men yet again.

It's a pretty serious issue, and one that needs to be honestly addressed, otherwise LGBT is nothing more than male supremacy with a new name.

pennyjane

yes it is quite convoluted...sometimes i think by design.

first....let me assure you without a shread of doubt...a transgirl grows up with a lot of things...a sense of male entitlement is definitely....most assuredly, positively...not one of them. suicide is the most common means of death among young trans-women....that doesn't say much for a sense of any entitlement.

you miss the boat completely. you cannot make a boy out of a girl...you fall into the old trap of believing that genitalia is the definition of gender identity...nothing could be further from the truth. genitalia is a fairly accurate indicator but says nothing to the facts. gender identity is determined between the ears, not between the legs.

you cannot socialize a girl into a boy...it's been tried 'till we're all blue in the face...it doesn't work. gender identity is settled in the child by about age three...it is no longer negotiable, all the socialization in the world gets you nowhere. a girl can have penis' growing all over her body, she is still a girl, she still will identify as a girl. period. that cultural sense of entitlement you talk about is bunk...pure and simple. you cannot instill a male sense of entitlement into a girl, she won't buy it.

the "t" in lgbt stands for "transgender" which is an umbrella term, it encompasses almost any gender variance. most gender variance is in the psychology of the individual. transsexualism, or hbs is not a psychological condition...it is an intersex pathology. it speaks specifically to people born of a biological sex that is diametic to their gender identity. males born with female biology or females born with male biology. it's not about how you think or how you act or how you dress or rather you sit down to pee or not...it's about your core identity, what climbed out of the womb with you. just as you didn't decide to be female, or to be homosexual, neither did i, it's who i am, not what i have become.

i wonder.....how different is the lesbian sense of entitlement then the male sense of entitlement? from this perspective over here, they're looking pretty much alike.

pennyjane

everyone needs to try to understand, it's not that complicated if you will lose your own predjudices and personal bias.

trans-folk are not people who were born wishing they were the other gender. we don't come to a point where we think we'd be happier if we were the other gender. we aren't mentally ill and we are not freaks.

it's quite simple and can easily be made sense of by the sensible. our gender identity, that is who we are in the case of gender is inacuratly represented by our biology. think for yourself...if you are a woman....is it your vagina that makes you one, or is there perhaps more to it then that? if you are a man...is it your penis that makes you one, or is there more to it then that? the law is simple minded, rendered down to the lowest common denominatior so even the most unenlightened can understand....the law says...now that i have a vagina instead of a penis between my legs...i am a woman. it assumes that it was the vagina that made me a woman...mindless...i was every bit as much a woman the day before surgery as i was the day after. i guess you would have to be smarter then the average legislator to make that connection...who could that leave out?

the genitalia can, and often is, a component of gender identity, but not always and is rarely THE determining factor. we aren't socialized into anything, no one has that kind of power. if socialization could even put a dent into gender identity then i'd be among the most masculine of men. my parents, my siblings, my peers and my environment went to insane links in an effort to make a man of me. all was an exercise in futility. all the kings horses and all the kings men cannot make a boy of a girl...it ain't optional.

i never, never...not once...ever thought of myself as a boy. in my intimate encounters with men assuming they were with their own, all i ever got was embarrassed...way too much information. all their intimate talk as one to another just made me blush and leave the room. their inner workings are as much a mystery to me as they are to any other woman...even if, in my case...the mystery holds not much in the way of allure.

i, frankly, resent the hard core feminists among us who refuse to accept my legitimacy. their response is just as ignorant and unenlightened as the ones they criticize so violently. it's the same dynamic..."you aren't real, i am." you act as if you own the feminine gender and have some right of veto..."you aren't woman enough to join my club."

bunk! bigotry is bigotry however you dress it up. you are just as bigoted as the rick warren's of the world...you and your exclusivity!

fortunately, most women aren't of that ilk. i have found that the majority of women are far more enlightened...they don't base their femininity on their vagina, but on their character, their personhood. they are smart enough to realize that they don't have the power or the insight to determine such intimate things as gender for another, it's not in their paygrade...difference between them and you...they know it.

so, joining your angry and bitter club is not something i really aspire to. i'm not too good to be in the room with any other human being...male, female, androg, smart or not so smart...we're all creatures of the same God and we all have a long way to go to even get close to His nature.

much love and hope. pj

Satsuma

Kind of proved Avo's point in the last sentence pj.

pennyjane

thanks, satsuma....my point exactly. one cannot "prove" others, only themselves. absolutists are always disconcerted by relative truths...but, hang in there...you never know.

as is common, my last sentence:

(wishing you) much love and hope. pj

pennyjane

ok, seriously, satsuma....i know your objection...my reference to "God" and not "Goddess." again, that's something learned, your limited frame of reference will not permit anything beyond an either/or dynamic.

you very ignorantly presume that my femininity is impuned by my unwillingess to politicize my God. that is your perception of womanhood...not mine...and not most people i know...a vast majority of women in my church refer to God as God, not Goddess. according to you, they aren't real women either i guess.

again, you don't own the feminine gender...you don't get to pick who is or who isn't...it's not your presonal little club. your rejection of me just points out what a limited view you have of women, how constrained you are by your preceived victimization. women are bigger then that...i know...i am one who is.

(wishing you) much love and hope. pj

Satsuma

As I said QED.

Satsuma

I believe people have a right to be fully whatever body they want to be, but surgery doesn't make you Chinese, and it doesn't turn anyone from male to female or female to male. In the past, men chose to be eunichs or two-spirited, but one does not create a woman out of a man's body.

It is a new kind of appropriation, a kind of tresspass on the female world, and it seemed to gather steam in response to the rise of feminism. It is the appropriation of people who don't have all the money or all the power or even all the control over culture.

The damage this does to women's communities is greater, than the damage female to male transgendered people will ever do to male supremacy. Again, it's always easier to colonize those with less power, to appropriate their cultural traditions, to invade, barge in, aggressively demand acceptance and demand to be something that they aren't.

Gender itself is about hierarchy- with males considered the real human beings and females considered less than male beings. Whether you undergo a surgery or not, the gender hierachy of male superiority and female inferiority doesn't change.

Female to male transgendered people seem to have a little bit more of a clue about appropriation. They may have lived as lesbians in a real lesbian community before their transition, and thus, have a good and respectful idea of women. Never having been born and raised with the male arrogance, they are more respectful. Many of the female to male former lesbians still have ties to the community and are accepted. Male to female transgendered persons are not very accepted in lesbian groups, and I think, once again, it's because the male arrogance and entitlement that is the gender hierarchy doesn't just disappear after surgery. The mind remains largely the same, and the desire to keep the world view of male superiority and female inferiority intact is still there. It's ultimately as conservative a choice as say a fundamentalist christian view of males as representatives of Christ, and females as helpmeets of the male. No real change at all there.

pennyjane

well, it's clear that in your insecurity your mind is completely closed. i can only say again...victimization is a state of mind. you can escape your victimization if you want to...but you do have to be willing to grow, to get out of your old, closed minded, battoned downed paradigm and make an appearance into the new, the open, the wonderful world at large. hiding behind the defensive walls of tired old platitudes can only reinforce you sense of seige. step out...join the fray...it's really wonderful out here in the light where we don't just talk about the equality of all, we live it.

much love and hope. pj

Satsuma

I think we're on different planets, but hey, each to his own :-)

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