I’ve received a few asks lately wondering why I customarily use feminine pronouns - i.e., she, her, etc. - when talking about hypothetical individuals.
Now, I could claim that it’s about representation; that gender-neutral pronouns are a fine thing, but even so, we’re left with a situation where hypothetical individuals in everyday speech are often masculine or gender neutral, but rarely feminine, so an imbalance remains; that I’m just doing my own little part to redress that imbalance.
I could claim that.
If I’m being honest, though, at this point it’s mostly about spite. I use the “hypothetical she” specifically to annoy the sort of person who gets annoyed by that sort of thing.
That autism feel when autistic boys who excel at art, and imitation on canvas get lauded for their ‘talent’, and even get TV shows about it - but autistic girls who use that flair for recreation and imitation when applying makeup are ignored/dismissed entirely because autistic girls just can’t wear makeup because all of them must have the exact same sensory issues!!
Homosexual: attraction to the same gender (this is known as gay or lesbian)
Heterosexual: attraction to the opposite gender (this is known as straight)
Bisexual: attracted to two genders, most often boys and girls.
Pansexual: attracted to all & any genders.
Omnisexual: equal attraction towards all genders (this is different from pansexual because with pan, you can have preferences but with this you’re attracted to all equally)
Skoliosexual/Ceterosexual: attraction towards nonbinary individuals
Polysexual: attraction towards more than two genders, but not all
Demisexual: can only be attracted to someone after they’ve made an emotional bond with them
Asexual: no sexual attraction
Gray-asexual: seldom feeling sexual attraction. people who are gray-ace will likely feel sexually attracted to less than 5 people in their lifetime
Cupiosexuals: (part of the asexual spectrum) someone who doesn’t feel sexual attraction towards anyone, but still wants sexual relations
Lithsexual/Akiosexual: (part of the asexual spectrum) people who feel attracted to others, but don’t wish for the attraction to be reciprocated or to act on their attraction
Recipsexual: (part of the asexual spectrum) experiencing sexual attraction only after realizing someone is sexually attracted to you
Androsexual: attraction towards masculine individuals (mostly used by nonbinary or genderqueer individuals, as they don’t really have “opposite genders” so they can’t say “homosexual” and such)
Gynesexual: attraction towards feminine individuals (mostly used by nonbinary or genderqueer individuals, as they don’t really have “opposite genders” so they can’t say “homosexual” and such)
Romantic orientations: similar to sexual orientations, but romantic. So you could say you’re a panromantic lesbian and mean that you are interested in romance with people of any gender, but only sexual relations with other women.
(Feel free to add any I may have missed!)
A different male coworker always calls me the “marketing girl,” and it really rubs me the wrong way. So why is the word girl so demeaning?
I don’t really think it’s because girl refers to the female gender. Rather, girl refers to a female child.
Child, in this case, is the key word.
Chances are, if I were male, … he might introduce the male version of me as the “marketing guy.” But there’s a big distinction between “guy” and “boy.”
In the dictionary, boy is defined as a male child, just as girl is defined as a female child. Guy, on the other hand, refers to a man. So, no, “marketing girl” and “marketing guy” do not have the same connotations.
The use of “girl” to refer to grown women has always bothered me, and this article did a great job expressing why.
TYEF Board Member Dr. Forcier discusses transition and concerns parents may have.
The kids love her! She has a clinic at the Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence and she teaches at the medical school at Brown University. You can even meet her at camp this summer.
What if we gendered people according to their behavior? What if gender shifted over the course of a lifetime – what if someone began life as a boy but became a boygirl and then a boy/man? What if some males are ladies, some ladies are butch, some butches are women, some women are gay, some gays are feminine, some femmes are straight, and some straight people don’t know what the hell is going on?
“Women presented wearing cosmetics were perceived as healthier and more confident than when presented without. Participants also awarded women wearing makeup with a greater earning potential and with more prestigious jobs than the same women without cosmetics.”
@raesnerdyartblog thank you so much for sharing, and for giving me permission to publish your ask! <3
I’m so happy that my art has been able to help you! It means a lot as a creator to know that what we do can have such a positive impact on those who see it. Gender bias is a tricky thing in clothing, and I can’t even begin to imagine how much harder it must be to navigate a largely binary market as a NB person. I hope you can continue to grow more comfortable with your fashion choices, and thank you so much for the compliments! I hope to continue making content for everyone to enjoy and hopefully spread more positivity <3
If Cecil can rock it, you can rock it… and believe me, Cecil can rock absolutely anything.
Delving into Divers: “Waltz of the 101st Lightbourne”
Rachel and I tackled “Waltz of the 101st Lightbourne” separately and this entry in our “Delving into Divers” series is not as much of a conversation as our other entries. But I know we will probably tackle this song again in the future, once our brains are less on fire, and we can possibly do a redux of sorts with “Waltz.” We also especially want to hear what our readers think about this one, too! So, please reblog with commentary, submit commentary, ask us questions! This is such a massive song. We love it.
Before I begin, a confession: I almost cried trying to figure out “Waltz of the 101st Lightbourne” over three hours after a long day of teaching. But it was also so much fun. My brain was on fire, but it was fun. As I was analyzing this song, it was helpful to me to refer to readings on time travel and the multiverse and what Joanna has said about this song in interviews. I was very invested in trying to figure out the narrative line by line, verse by verse, and then overall. I want to share what I learned about the fourth dimension, time travel, and the multiverse and then do a reconstruction of what I think the song’s narrative is, before I even start talking about its themes (particularly the engendering of Space and Time) in much depth. Hopefully this our readers find this helpful!
Humans, in our reality, have successfully conquered the three spatial dimensions of nature. The three wars the narrator discusses in “Waltz’s” first verse could be actual wars, but the wars also refer to the figurative conquering of the three dimensions, the fourth “war” being the conquering Time (the war that was “carelessly” done). We (meaning the humans outside of Joanna’s foray into sci-fi) have not conquered the fourth dimension of Time. This means that we are always in the present with the past always behind us and the future always ahead of us. If humans acquired the ability to manipulate and control the fourth dimension as the humans in “Waltz” do, that means that Time has, in effect, become spatial (as if it has coordinates), it is almost flat, and the present, past, and future can be viewed as always happening at once. There is constant tension in Divers between Time and Space. From the very first song, there is emphasis on the difference of “wherever you are” and “when are you from.” The three dimensions versus the fourth. As I will explain below, I think this tension is very gendered.
But “Waltz” becomes even more complicated because these humans have not just conquered the fourth dimension, but in doing so they have gained the ability to traverse the multiverse. The multiverse hypothesizes that there could be infinite universes, and that if there are infinite universes, one of these alternate universes inevitably would be very much like the other, maybe even a copy. Within such an eerily similar universe, there could be another Earth and another human race. When 101st Lightbourne Elite leave their Earth (for the 101st time?), they are looking for another “Earth.” They are looking for simulacreage: land to exploit on Earth lookalikes. The tragedy and horror of the song lies in the fact that they do not realize the real consequences of the multiverse and their access to it. They could be going to an “Earth” that is very similar, in every way, to theirs (although, I am not convinced Highlands Earth is an exact copy). Meaning they could go to an “Earth” with the same level of technology, not one less advanced. Or an Earth, like Highlands, could come to them because of their own understanding of technology. As the 101st Lightbourne Elite go out to colonize, they too can be colonized by the New Highlands Light Infantry. If you are invading an almost replica of “Earth,” they could also be in the process of invading you. (N.B. The “stack of slides” image we see in the penultimate verse of the song is a visualization of the flattening of time and also a visualization of the multiverse.)
The 101st Lightbourne Elite’s Earth has been devastated by invasion(s) and this has prompted them to develop and use technology to Time Travel to look for another “Earth.” (They could have possibly been invaded by other “Earths.”) The entire song is told from the perspective of one narrator—whom I believe to be a woman (see below)—who witnesses the departure of the 101st and awaits their arrival back home. Her lover, John (which, as Rachel brilliantly suggested previously, could be a version of John Purroy Mitchel; naming is very specific on Divers and it is no coincidence that there is a John in “Waltz”), is one of the men who has left to go to Highlands Earth. She begins to recount in the first verse how and why humans turn to Time Travel and the multiverse and by the second verse, she knows it is a mistake and that it can only lead to death, destruction, and misery. She describes how humans came to understand that “Time is taller than space is wide” meaning that their access to time travel has opened them up to infinite possibilities for terrestrial colonization (quite a cynical comment from Joanna that Time Travel is used solely for this purpose). They are not restricted to their three dimensions on their Earth any longer but have access to many Earths. In the fourth verse, she describes what it was like before the humans on her Earth could control and manipulate Time. Before that, they could board the “ship” of Time (so to speak) and be “lashed to [its] prow,” but not steer it. They were constantly bound to the present (“Before you and I ceased to be Now”). But Time Travel has made Time spatialized in that they are now “right here” in “inches and miles” and not “years.” “Now” means something very different when temporal boundaries have been collapsed. Because of their understanding of Time Travel “a new sort of coordinate awoke.” Time to them has become a “tenant,” but one which is in “the war between [them] and [their] ghosts.” When Time flattens, your past is always with you, your ghosts, but this line could also forecast the war they will have with their Highlands “copies,” the regret they will experience once they realize what they have done.
The fifth verse is troubling to me and I sense there could be a shift in the narrator. But here’s what I think (for now): this verse is still from our woman in waiting, but she is possibly envisioning what Highlands Earth looks like and also is possibly omniscient about it in a way. But it reads to me more like she hopes that Highlands is an earlier version of her Earth, still in a “Golden Age,” an earlier version of her Earth, but then it becomes clearer to me later in the song that Highlands is just as advanced, just as desperate, and possibly just as destroyed as her Earth. She wants it to be “pristine” and “unfelled” and maybe we do, too, but I do not think we ever truly see Highlands: only the men they sent from the New Highlands Light Infantry. I do not think we see her version of Earth either, or at least directly. We see in her dreams that her Earth is ruined (“I had a dream that I walked in the garden/Of Chabot, and those telescope ruins”).
When she awakes from the dream, a war “in eternal return and repeat” has begun. The infinite regress. They are fighting a version of themselves and they will do so forever…because multiverse. The New Highlands Light Infantry actually expect the 101st Lightbourne to be on their own Earth (“Calling, ‘Where in the hell are the rest of your fellow/ One Hundred-One Lightborne Elite?’/ stormed in the New Highland Light Infantry”). They expect them there because the invasion’s happened before and it will happen again. Or it’s possible that they expected them to be there because they are them (and I must say this very possibility is too much for my tiny brain and I have been trying to avoid this concept my entire essay).
In the penultimate verse, the narrator calls out to John hoping that this looping reality of invasion can somehow cease. There is now regret in humanity’s knowledge that “Time is taller than space is wide.” And then finally, in the last verse we learn that the 101st Earth will never be able to escape their current circumstances. Their Earth will always be destroyed, they will have the same “round desert island” before them. The narrator will always wonder what has happened to John, and John will always be going to the Highlands to colonize (“Have they drowned, in those windy highlands?/ Highlands away, my John”). (And maybe from the perspective of every version of Earth, the “other” Earth is always the Highlands.)
And now that I have gone through the song verse by verse, I want to explain how I think this song demonstrates the engendering of Time and Space (something I have been hinting at in my previous pieces on Divers and finally feel I can go wild with). The narrator of “Waltz” must wait on her version of Earth as her male lover, John, goes to Highlands Earth, travelling through Time to arrive there. She is the sci-fi Penelope sending off her Odysseus. The woman in “Waltz” is fixed to a location, a Space, she is immobilized while the man can move, be active, transcend boundaries, and even control Time. I think this is also the case in “Sapokanikan” as John Purroy Mitchel leaves his wife behind before he boards his plane and transcends the Earth, this is the case in “Divers,” while a woman waits on the shore, remembering and a man dives into water and crosses boundaries, creating culture and memory. Time vs. Space, rather than just Immobilization vs. Crossing/Creation of Boundaries, however, is more prominent in “Anecdotes.” (There is reason that “Anecdotes” and “Waltz” were my immediate favorites: they are so connected). I have the sense the person—who wants to stop time in “Anecdotes,” who can travel through Time with his bird army/army made up of people named after birds, who wants to get back to his family—is a man (although I consistently used the pronoun “they” to refer to the narrator in my response to the song). It may be because of the World War I imagery in “Anecdotes,” the very traditional imagery of “family” at the end of the song, but that gender hunch and my gender hunch for “Waltz” is ultimately founded in my belief that Newsom is exploring a Barthian principle (found in A Lover’s Discourse, 1979) on Divers. In literature Man is often shown to be active and moving, while Woman is often shown to be immobile and attached to a place (e.g., as we have seen, men go to war, women wait). If we expand this beyond Barthes’ immediate words and also add in a little Simone De Beauvoir and The Second Sex, it, to me, means that Man is transcendent and Woman is immanent, it means that Man in a way creates memory and Woman is the repository of memory, and it means that Man is Time (something constantly moving) and Woman is Space (something fixed). In “Waltz,” our female narrator can comment on the motives, apparatuses, and consequences of Time Travel, but she can never control Time herself as she is fixed to the Earth. All she can do is watch her Earth’s dissolution through endless and cyclical copy wars as John always leaves for the Highlands.
Melissa’s incredible research into and analysis of “Waltz of the 101st Lightborne” is probably one of my favorite things that has ever been posted on Blessing all the Birds. Her insight into fifth dimensional existence and the multiverse sheds so much light on the themes of both the song and the album. My own analysis focuses on the imagery of the song and on the literal narrative of the work. After reading Melissa’s piece, however, I have such a richer appreciation of the song, that I almost feel the need to revisit my entire piece. For the sake of my sanity, I will probably hold off on that for the time being, although I anticipate revisiting this song many, many times before I fully understand this album as a whole. Eternal return and repeat and all that jazz.
Waltz begins on the “eve of the last of the Great Wars.” The identity of the wars, as well as the identity of the enemy, are left ambiguous, although the reference to “Great War” calls to mind World War I (and our hero, John Purroy Mitchel, who departed for the “Western front” so many years ago). Regardless, we know that there have been a total of four wars. The fourth Great War is the focus of this song and a battle fought for control and colonization of Time, the last remaining dimension.
It is a doomed war from the beginning. Our narrator concedes, it was “carelessly done” and “a mistake.” There is a sense permeating the album that any attempts to control either Time or Space are futile—that the quest to colonize both will only end in the inevitable: Death. This is clear in the narrator’s observation that the “clouds draped like a flag across the backs of the fleet,” calling to mind the image of military funerals and the customary flag draped across the casket. The Hundred First Lightborne Elite, in their attempt to circumvent the inevitability of Time (and mortality), are reminded horrifically of nature’s cruelty—that nature itself is Death.
The speaker of the poem, who seemingly speaks for all humanity, recounts the moment that mankind realized the potential to colonize Time, after having already colonized Space and realized its “limits.” The opportunity in Time is characterized as “unlimited simulacreage to colonize.” Of course, “simulacreage” is an example of Joanna’s beautiful relationship to words and her ability to choose just the right one. If the right one does not exist in our lexicon? She will create one! The philosophical implications of this word are huge and play into the repeated motif on the album of doubles/twins/mirrored images/mirrored light. I hope to explore these ideas more in a future piece.
The speaker goes on to lament a time where mankind did not have such control of Time, when we were “lashed to the prow of a ship you may board, but not steer.” Thankfully, we have put Time in its place, making it “just another poor tenant” in the “war between us and our ghosts.” In other words, Time has become a pawn in humankind’s attempts to escape mortality and the inevitability of Death.
There are many references in Waltz to sites along the western coast of North America—the Bering Strait, the Golden Gate bridge, the mention of Chabot, the Great Divide (which, in addition to being a common term for the barrier between life and death, is also the most significant continental divide, separating the west from the east at a geological level). I’m interested in these references not only because they help formulate the album’s specific geography, but because they represent multiple things to me. First, the focus on divisions and barriers, as well as the bridging of those divisions, is important to me. The Bering Strait and the Golden Gate are both bridges, in a sense. This idea of division is explored further in Divers, where the division is one along gendered lines. Secondly, the west has always represented the dreams of Manifest Destiny, the movement west to find pristine lands and form new settlements. The allusion to figures like Chabot (Anthony Chabot, who went west to develop innovations in the mining industry, the water industry, and who is also the namesake of a telescope at the Chabot Space and Science Center), recalls the innocent optimism of the 101st, of John Purroy Mitchel and of all the other soldiers who enter wars that cannot be won, as no war can.
The song is a tragic one. As we have known from the beginning, our brave soldiers are doomed. We soon learn, as a new brigade marches in (The New Highland Light Infantry), that the 101st have all been lost. Bravery and heroism are both short lived, quickly replaced by the next wave of brave and heroic souls.
The mournful conclusion of the song, with its sampling of the traditional folk piece “Lowlands Away,” reinforces the notion that time is forever repeating itself, that what has happened in the past will happen again in the future, that the bravery of John Purroy Mitchel and others like him, will forever drive us towards better and brighter futures, but that we are all doomed to “drown in those windy highlands.”