binary subverter

it’s actually queerer to date a man than it is to date a woman. by engaging in a relationship traditionally viewed as heterosexual, im queering the sexual binary and subverting heteronormative stereotypical commonplace sexuality through an inherently queer and revolutionary ace-inclusionary view. thus, out-gaying the gays and making me fundamentally gayer than a performatively homonormative gay.

Respect my Ratchet: The Liberatory Consciousness of Ratchetness

Recently someone interviewing me asked me to define ‘ratchet’, but I couldn’t at that moment. A few days later though, I found myself urging a group of Black students standing in solidarity with Mizzou to be free and embrace their ‘ratchet’. Both of these incidents made me think a lot about what I mean when I say I’m ratchet. Today in a Black feminist panel discussion with the nonpareil Dr. Linda Carty, I figured it out: ratchet is the embodiment of Black femme liberatory consciousness.

Academics like Barbara J. Love define liberatory consciousness as the ability to live life in oppressive institutions with intentionality and awareness, rather than internalizing the socialization those institutions have imposed. A liberatory consciousness enables us to maneuver through oppressive society without giving in to self-pity and dejectedness… and if that aint ratchet…. What is!??

Being a Black woman in a white patriarchal society positions Black women and femmes in unique relation to power and privilege. Being seen as attractive, professional, intelligent, or successful is a fight when those attributes are saturated with Whiteness, maleness, and heteronormativity. In order to find some piece of acceptance into these systems, Black folks welcomed respectability politics – basically values and beliefs that police ourselves in an effort to impose dominant White values. You know them: dress nice, work harder, pull your pants up, don’t eat watermelon in public, close your legs, get a perm, speak like you got some sense, tuck in yo Blackness! These politics are especially impossible and violent to Black women and femmes who are most regulated and silenced by them. Respectability leaves Black women and femmes walking a tightrope of trying to appear worthy of being respected by Black men and everyone else. It’s a suffocating place to be, and as a fat Black lesbian, I fell off of that tightrope a long time ago. What was the safety net? RATCHET!

Originally posted by fiercegifs

Awareness is the first element of a liberatory consciousness. Ratchet awareness? CHECK! From the moment I stepped foot into a college classroom I was aware of how I was different and why. My hair, my clothes, my skin, my growin up in the hood… and the way I talked! When trying to change all that failed, I embraced ratchet. I repped Queens harder than I ever had, proud of Sutphin Boulevard that equipped me with a language my white classmates couldn’t understand and my English professors tried to erase. I learned quickly that under white supremacy, Black English must be devalued – relegated to ratchet. If we laugh at and devalue the way Black folks talk, we internalize that we don’t have our own language… but we do! Yeen never seen a white muh fukka try to figure out what the hell we talmbout? They be lost! And beyond that, awareness is the ability to notice, paying attention to our language. Ratchet makes room for the art of shade, a good read, and all the other nuanced ways we communicate as Black folks. Ratchet is also the undercurrent of awareness of other black folks. How is it that we ALL know the electric slide? The Cupid Shuffle? To close grandma’s door because we ‘lettin her good air out ‘cause we don’t pay no bills round here’? It’s the ratchet! The awareness and ways of knowing we hide from the white gaze.

Analysis is the second element of a liberatory consciousness. Ratchet analysis? CHECK! Analysis is all about ways of being that will yield the best results in a given situation. That’s that code switchin’ that is embodied in the ratchet. I can always tell who my momma is talking to on the phone based on her voice – white voice, the power company; loud voice, her sister. We don’t talk to hegemonic institutions the same way we talk to each other. Within community we have freedom to show our range of true selves – laughing, crying, twerkin, sewing our bundles in. We feel the liberation we strive for as a people and we run wit it!  This element of ratchet allows for creativity in the way we express ourselves, body positivity, and subverting gender binaries. Ratchet analysis tells us we can behave however the fuck we want and switch it up whenever we damn well please – because we are free. Big ole booties, crooked smiles, rainbow bangs, all excluded from the hegemonic standards of beauty that tell us our bodies are wrong. Ratchet makes room for it all, telling us our bodies aren’t wrong, they just is what they is.

And there’s something particularly feminist about being ratchet. It’s not a term I hear ascribed to men or used too often by men – even though it leaves room for expressions of masculinity that respectability just won’t rock with – like Young Thug. Ratchet asserts that women don’t have to be Michelle Obama or Janet Mock to be influential, feminists, or revolutionary. Ratchet allows Cardi B to be just as influential and feminist – wholly embracing sexuality, herself, and other women makin’ shmoney however they can.

Originally posted by thatblasiangirl

Ratchet is revolutionary in the way that it does not play to being palatable for whiteness. Unlike respectability politics, ratchet is attainable for black folks of all social class. Ratchet provides the space for Black folks – women and femmes especially – to subvert the white gaze and explore the presentation of self that they truly feel comfortable with. Ratchet is the freedom to laugh out loud, dance in public, cuss somebody’s ass out, bring your entire self into all you do. Ratchet is knowledge that can be shared across Black communities and is not bound by geography, social class, or level of traditional education. So why are Black students, activists, and student activists so afraid of ratchet? Because white hegemony has told us we can’t love ourselves or be free to be who we are and respectability still has us falsely believing that if we are good enough negroes, we will ‘make it’. We know that respectability fails us… so what do we have to lose from forgetting that shit and defining ourselves? I’m here for embracing the gutter glam liberation of ratchetness. 

My dog is a communist feminist icon because despite the binary forced on women to be either hardworking housewives devoted to their husbands and children, or hardworking ambitious career women who don’t care for family whatsoever, she subverts the binary by choosing neither, rejecting the capitalist system and instead napping all day.

Time to tally up the score: 

  • The masculine / boyish lesbians finished with 57 points

  • The feminine / lipstick lesbians finished with 62 points,

  • And the binary subverters finished with…..136 points (which is more than the other two categories combined)!

So, I guess that makes them the winner today (; But really you’re all just winners just by being yourself!

One more special shout out to those of you who participated. Thank you for being such lovely lil’ rock stars. Until next time ~ 

xoxo

S

…in the ‘masculinization’ of the surviving female [Final Girl] lurks the specter of the lesbian. Lynda Hart argues in Fatal Women: Lesbian Sexuality and the Mark of Aggression that representations of violent women are steeped in anxieties about lesbians. Because violence is gendered male, the violent woman is defined as masculine… As a woman who usurps the masculine prerogatives of aggression and the gaze, the surviving female shares an affinity with the lesbian.

In a male-dominated social order only men do the violent things the surviving female does; therefore, within the terms of hegemonic discourse she is not really female. This is what compels [Carol] Clover (Men, Women, and Chainsaws) to read the Final Girl as a male in drag… Hart continues: “What is it that we are seeing when we see women who are not really women but are perhaps 'really men’? One answer,’ Clover’s answer, 'would be the projection of male fantasies,’ but another answer is that women who are 'really men’ are lesbians.

What is at stake when the femaleness of the survivor is reduced to her display of abject terror, and agency is relegated to masculinity? Nothing less than the impossibility of female agency within this formulation. Clover’s reading builds on the work of [Laura] Mulvey and others who ground their analysis of film on a psychoanalytical model of sexual difference that defines heterosexuality as the norm. Within the binary logic of this framework, active female desire can only be defined as a masculinized position. The upshot of this model is the erasure of the lesbian ('women who are not really women but who are perhaps "really men”’) or any active female subject.

Patricia White questions feminist film theory’s slavish devotion to the heterosexual binary and suggests at what price this allegiance is maintained. She notes with dismay that when theory is caught within the 'binary stranglehold of sexual difference’ the female subject of film is reduced to what Mulvey calls the 'masculinization of the spectator position.’ By describing the surviving female as masculine Clover capitulates to the 'binary stranglehold of sexual difference.’ But more importantly, by characterizing her as a boy in drag, Clover reinstates female viewers who identify with the (for once) female agent of violence as male-identified.

Although Clover acknowledges that women may read the films in a more female-empowering manner than her reading allows, she too uncritically accepts the literary model that 'those who save themselves are male, and those who are saved by others are female’. If a woman cannot be aggressive and still be a woman, then female agency is a pipe dream. But if the surviving female can be aggressive and be really a woman, then she subverts this binary notion of gender that buttresses male dominance.

What makes gender trouble so suitable for the horror genre is its commitment to transgressing boundaries. Horror blurs boundaries and mixes social categories that are usually regarded as discrete, including masculinity and femininity. Thus the surviving female is coded ambiguously, as 'feminine’ through her function as object of aggression and 'abject terror personified,’ and as 'masculine’ through her exercise of the controlling gaze and ability to use violence. Moreover, the slasher film breaks down binary notions of gender narratively and stylistically. Narratively, women use violence against men effectively; men are symbolically castrated. Stylistically, women exercise the controlling gaze; men function as objects of aggression. Furthermore, the shift in [point of view] shots from the killer to the surviving female promotes cross-gender identification in the audience.

By breaking down binary notions of gender, the horror genre opens up a space for feminist discourse and constructs a subject position for female viewers. What is at stake for the female audience of the slasher film? Consider how the genre violates the taboo against women wielding violence, supplies excessive narrative justification for the surviving female to commit and the audience to enjoy the violence, and puts it in the capable hands of the surviving female who becomes a powerful source of identification and pleasure for female viewers.
— 

Isabel Cristina Pinedo, Recreational Terror: Women and the Pleasures of Horror Film Viewing

long but important read, one of the few opening toward a (trans)gendered analysis of the slasher film