(Question asked anonymously to Enoch. This is hir answer.)
“Well, I can’t tell you exactly what a dyke is because it’s an identity like any other, and it’s about a personal feeling that a label applies to you. I used to think dyke was a look, a style of dress, and that only lesbians could be dykes. I don’t think that anymore.
To me, the major differences between dykes and lesbians are that a) dykes are not necessarily women and they don’t necessarily date exclusively other women, and b) dykes are queer, community-seeking, focused on woman- or female-solidarity, and are politicized by their queerness. In my experience, lesbian-identified folks are not necessarily community-seeking or political.
I identify as a dyke because of all the reasons I listed above and because I feel very strongly that I relate to womenfolk who I date in a queer female-centered way.”
So goes the ecstatic shriek at the pinnacle of Bikini Kill’s punk girl-power anthem “Rebel Girl.” Released at least three times between 1991 and 1994 — including one version produced by Joan Jett — the track was a fight song for Riot Grrrl, a punk feminist movement of young women that flourished across the United States, and in Canada and the U.K., in the early and mid ’90s.
Riot Grrrl had its roots in the punk scenes of Olympia, Wash., and Washington, D.C. It spread first through the music of all- or mostly female bands based in these two towns, including Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and Heavens to Betsy. (Kathleen Hanna, the lead singer of Bikini Kill, later went on to front the feminist electro-pop band Le Tigre; Heavens to Betsy’s singer-guitarist, Corin Tucker, co-founded the power trio Sleater-Kinney.)
The movement was about far more than music, though. In the early ’90s — a time of Anita Hill and Tailhook, Rush Limbaugh and parental-consent abortion laws — affronts against young women’s dignity seemed endless. Riot Grrrl swiftly crystallized the anger and frustration of a whole generation of young women. Daughters of second-wave feminism, these girls had grown up on promises of equality that seemed to dissolve sometime around adolescence, when the endless opportunities allegedly available to girls in “postfeminist” America began running aground on the realities of constricting gender roles and beauty standards, sexual harassment and assault. These contradictions were enough to make a girl want to scream.
And once Riot Grrrl began, thousands upon thousands of girls did scream, in myriad ways. They picked up electric guitars and drumsticks for the first time. They organized meetings and festivals and conventions. They wrote handmade zines and built underground self-publishing networks to distribute one another’s writing, art, music, and videos.
Days like this is when you leave the drama, madness and stress and go take a nap with your girlfriend and leave a few tear marks on her shirt so you can wake up feeling a little better. But I don’t have time to sleep and all I have is a sweatshirt.
The members of UCLA’s Gamma Rho Lambda acknowledge that the terms “LGBT” and “sorority” don’t necessarily go together for a lot of people. But they hope to change that.
According to Sonali Kohli of the Daily Bruin, the LGBTQQIA (lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, questioning, queer, intesexed, allied) sorority, open to anyone who identifies as female, gained chapter status at UCLA this spring. With half of its ten members graduating, it’s starting to look for new recruits. But, writes Kohli, there are obstacles:
That the title “sorority” is attached to the group provides one major challenge in recruiting, said chapter president Amy Franklin, a third-year sociology student. In addition to the $140 quarterly membership fee and the high number of LGBT groups that already exist on campus, the queer community generally shies away from the Greek community because of the stereotype that the culture of Greek life is largely based on heterosexuality, Franklin said.
Given stories of hazing and members told to out themselves, it’s no wonder sororities aren’t necessarily seen as inclusive, safe spaces. But members say Gamma Rho Lambda is just that. Vice president Jeanette Zuniga tells Kohli,
It’s really important to break the stereotype of what Greek life is […] I was opposed to Greek life. I heard they were sexist, homophobic, and I didn’t want to associate with that because I identify myself as a feminist.
However, she says, she decided to join Gamma Rho Lambda because “I needed an organization to belong to, needed somewhere to call home.” This sense of family and home is something many people say they love about the Greek system, and while many schools do offer other groups for LGBT students, it’s worth thinking about whether LGBT chapters could actually improve Greek life. Some fraternities and sororities do have sexist or homophobic cultures, but it’s possible that integrating LGBT organizations into the Greek system might force these groups to take another look at their prejudices. Perhaps by creating, in founder Amanda Murrillo’s words, “a safe haven,” Gamma Rho Lambda’s members are helping fight against the problems some of them saw with sororities in the first place.
October may be GLBT history month, but last week was definitely “apologize for ignorant, hurtful statements about the LGBT community” week. New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino started things off on a piss poor note, with that bumbling pseudo apology. Not only was he insincere, he also negated the entire thing by admitting that his sweeping feelings about the gay community are based on some isolated incident at a gay pride parade ten years ago. Just when I thought you couldn’t dig yourself any deeper, Carl.
Then came the apology from Senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett, who made a poorly worded statement about Justin Aaberg’s suicide, discussing his parents’ support of “a lifestyle choice.” Her apology was nothing more than the blah blah I didn’t mean to disparage the gay community, I fully support you, my best hair dresser is gay back-peddling doled out by anyone caught with their uninformed foot in their mouth.
In a continuing effort to reassure his gay constituency, the President addressed these statements in a town hall meeting for MTV & BET. “You know, I am not obviously — I don’t profess to be an expert. This is a layperson’s opinion. But I don’t think it’s a choice. I think that people are born with, you know, a certain makeup… We don’t make determinations about who we love. And that’s why I ink that discrimination based on sexual orientation is wrong.”
This is seemingly a big deal, the President publicly supporting the idea that one is born gay. As a Constitutional scholar he certainly understands the legal consequence of such a statement (mainly that sexual orientation is immutable and should be treated like race or gender for equal protection purposes). As a politician, he appreciates the consequences of making such a statement. Knowing all that, he made a statement that we should be treated equally.
The real question is, so what?
There is a rift in the gay community, those who believe that the President is working hard on our behalf, and those that believe he hasn’t done nearly enough. It’s not easy having a friendly administration. The expectation of immediate results, of complete intolerance for any discrimination, sweeping reform and celebration in the streets is a nearly impossible one to meet. But shouldn’t he be doing something other than making statements on MTV?
In my very humble opinion, what we have right now is a President who believes in democracy, and in the democratic process. And the democratic process rarely provides quick results. Despots provide quick results. Dictators provide quick results. George W. Bush ignored the democratic process in favor of implementing his every whim, stomping over the judicial and legislative branches in the process. And I, for one, despised him for that.
We all wish the President would sign an executive order killing DADT once and for all. We all await the day Congress kicks DOMA to the curb and passes ENDA. And those days will come. The steps already taken — LGBT folks working in the White House, legislation passed over the past year and a half — deserve attention and applause. For some, it’s not enough. But to have a President, soon to be a Presidential candidate again, state that being gay is a legitimate part of a person, that we are all born God’s children, and that discrimination based on sexual orientation is not an American sentiment should not be dismissed as empty political pandering.
Their closet can have skirts and pants and pretty dresses and leather jackets and combat boots and embroidered gloves. Their room will be their favorite color and not “pink for vagina, blue for penis”.
I’ll tell them about how there are some people who feel like boys or like girls, or like both or like neither, and it has nothing to do with how they look. Instead of telling them the difference between boy parts and girl parts, I’ll tell them about outies and innies, and that some people are born with a little from column A and a little from column B and that’s fine too.
I’ll ask them how they feel. Maybe I’ll ask them every morning.People can be old-fashioned about gender, I’ll tell them. Today, do you want to be my daughter, son, or kid?
If they say “daughter” I’ll call them she and if they say “son” I’ll call them he and if they say “kid” I’ll call them ey, but they can still wear skirts or pants or pretty dresses or leather jackets or cowboy boots or embroidered gloves, because nothing needs to be “boy clothes” or “girl clothes”. They’re just kid clothes.
And if my son is wearing a dress and embroidered gloves and someone says “what a lovely daughter you have there,” I’ll say, “yes, my son is very pretty today.”
And if my daughter is wearing a leather jacket and combat boots and someone says “what a fierce son you have there,” I’ll say, “yes, my daughter is very handsome today.”
And if my kid is wearing anything and someone misidentifies them like that, I’ll go, “Yes, they’re a great kid.”
And when I talk to them about sex, I’ll talk to them about liking boys and girls or just people, and I’ll talk about what parts people might have and how they work, and how outie + innie causes pregnancy but innie + innie and outie + outie do not. I’ll ask them if they’re happy with the parts they have and I will be crudely honest about anal sex and strap-ons as alternatives to having innies or outies, and if that’s not enough I will be crudely honest about bottom surgery and let them decide for themselves.
And if they bring home a boy, I will wish them the best. And if they bring home a girl, I will wish them the best. And if they bring home a person, I will wish them the best. And if they don’t bring home anybody at all, I will wish them the best.
‘Cause really, let’s cut through all the bullshit: a kid is a kid is a kid, and I don’t give a fuck what they do in bed or with who as long as everyone’s happy, and I don’t give a fuck whether they’re a he or she or ey - and if a bizarre upbringing like this saves my kid from even one tiny moment of hating themselves then it’s worth it.
Also I would like to name them something nice like Elliot because you can always shorten that to Ellie. Elliot is a badass name.