Saturday, 31 December 2016

Reading S. Bear Bergman.

So that was 2016. Brexit, MSM, PLP, Trump, As my pinned tweet says: “ffs”. This time last year I wrote that “it seems 2016 is starting with uncertainty”. This year it seems 2017 is just going to be fucking chaos. Dystopian, corrupt, neo-fascistic chaos.

Except that I was talking about my own gender before, not about the world at large. And my gender hardly seems as if it matters anymore.

As I said, I've been reading S. Bear Bergman, rereading S. Bear Bergman. Specifically, hir book ‘The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You’, which was the November choice for our non-binary FB book club.

It felt different reading it again. Different things stuck out, or stuck out more strongly. Have I changed since last time I read it? Or (echoing someone else's sentiments) did the book itself contribute to a change which is now being reflected back? It's hard to know for sure. Probably both. Certainly Bear's writing about borders resonates more:

I get a lot of questions, these days, about whether I'm still a butch or if I am now a transman. Truthfully, it's hard to say, a statement I make knowing full well that it just caused hundreds of readers to say, “Well, if you're not sure if you're a butch, you're not”; and further hundreds to say the same thing, but substituting “transman” into the equation. I have to say, from where I'm standing, the lines are not nearly as clear as some people would prefer them to be, and the longer I hang around at various crossroads and deltas of gender, the more I notice that nothing is clear enough to be easy. Nothing about gender, or orientation, is clear enough to police or defend without circling the wagons so tight that we're all pissing in our own front yards within six months.

Maybe that's because I've since written about borders myself. And going wider again: “circling the wagons” and “pissing in our own front yards” is a pretty fair summation of Brexit as well.

Bear favours open borders:

Perhaps the first topic related to the Border Wars I want to take up is: please stop treating gender as though it were a set menu. Gender is an à la carte arrangement, even though the macroculture rarely realizes this and doesn't usually act accordingly. We are all, I firmly believe, in charge of our own genders. We can choose to have the final say about what they do or do not include, and we can make changes to those things if we want to and decide we can afford them (afford, that is, in terms of cash, or relationships, or values, or the approval of those in our lives). But because the cultural message we're all steeped in is that gender is a fixed arrangement, even the most politically progressive among us — and I include myself in this — can forget or overlook how very variable gender can be when we want it to be.

I agree with that so much. And:

Even if the border were really that well-defined, border crossing is rather a queer specialty, ain't it?

But the sentence that stuck out the most this time is this:

Is it terrible if I say that I'm exhausted with talking about my gender? These days it's only so interesting, and only for so long, and the interesting part is over very, very fast.

I don't personally do much talking about it. But thinking... I'm tired of thinking about it. Genderqueer, femme – terms I associate with open borders – I'll stick with those. Otherwise:

“I'm gonna blow this damn candle out. I don't want nobody comin' over to my table; I got nothing to talk to anybody about.”

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