Making fun of lesbians for “embodying” stereotypes that were unilaterally and unfairly imposed upon them by cishet people is lesbophobic.
Butch lesbians aren’t a stereotype. They aren’t overrepresented - in fact, they’re underrepresented. They are also constantly villainized.
Butch lesbians who are fat or hairy or trans or all three deserve all the love in this world and deserve to have loving, meaningful relationships, and they do not deserve your ire, your jeering, or your mockery.
Butch lesbians don’t have material privilege over women who aren’t butch lesbians, and claiming that they do is lesbophobic and erroneous.
Butch lesbians aren’t your oppressors or your enemies.
Butch lesbians do not have one “look” to them and they aren’t a monolith. Butch lesbians of color deserve to be supported and cherished. Fetishizing butch lesbians of color is extremely racist.
Saying that “I’m a feminist but I’m not a lesbian” is lesbophobic. It’s fine to clarify what your sexuality is, but acting like being called a lesbian is a heinous crime or insult is lesbophobic. There are feminists who are butch lesbians, and you aren’t superior to them if you shave or conform to gender or are straight. In fact, can you really call yourself a feminist if you distance yourself from marginalized women in such a way?
Butch lesbians have unique experiences and don’t all have the same connections to gender (and its performance/identification).
I started thinking about the beauty procedures and products that had seemed normal to me growing up - padded bras, control tights, anti-wrinkle this and that, fake tan, make-up, shaving. Every time my friends and I bought these products we received a free gift at no extra cost: insecurity. We learned that without fake tan our skin was the wrong colour, without padding our breasts were the wrong size, without shaving our legs were unfeminine and without control tights our tummies were too big. We learned, in short, that our bodies needed fixing.
The theory of gender performativity presupposes that norms are acting on us before we have a chance to act at all, and that when we do act, we recapitulate the norms that act upon us, perhaps in new or unexpected ways, but still in relation to norms that precede us and exceed us. In other words, norms act on us, work upon us, and this kind of ‘being worked on’ makes its way into our own action.
Judith Butler, “Performativity, Precarity and Sexual Politics” (xi)
In addition to being thin, women (particularly in the west) are expected to maintain the illusion of hairlessness. Any sign that puberty might have bestowed upon us a spray of fuzz beneath our arms or a thatch of fur between our legs has to be eliminated immediately. Waxing, shaving, plucking, electrolysis - women have to fork out precious financial resources just to achieve what is then laughably passed off as a ‘natural’ state. For men and women similarly invested in maintaining patriarchal notions of gender performance, hair on women seems to be oddly terrifying.
Certainly, we can and do try and discern various strategies that might contest dominant gender norms, and those strategies are essential to any radical gender and sexual politics. But we should doubtless make a mistake if we thought that we might remake our gender or construct our sexuality on the basis of a deliberate decision. And even when we decide to change gender, or produce gender, it is on the basis of some very powerful desires that we make such a choice. We do not precisely choose those desires.
Judith Butler, “Performativity, Precarity and Sexual Politics” (xii)
Queer Self-Presentation and Burlesque Auto-Sexuality in Yuri Plisetsky’s “Welcome to the Madness”
PHEW! It’s finally ready for ya!
Thanks to everyone for patiently waiting. I was overwhelmed with the response to my teaser post about this meta. I’m sorry it took so long to finish… I had to write the academic version for class, then rewrite it to be tumblr-appropriate (I’m still not sure that it is, constructive criticism is welcome!)
I’m hoping that this will contribute to the ongoing conversation about underage characters in fandom, and am looking forward to your asks. I’m a little nervous to be tossing my hat into the Otayuri discourse, but I hope I won’t catch too much hate.
I took out footnotes but included the bibliography at the end. If you have any questions about specific references, send me an ask or DM :)
I’ve been thinking about how Arya is more comfortable around people who are of lower birth than her because gender roles are less strict for the commonfolk of Westeros. The bar for performing gender is set higher the higher up you go in class because women are valued on their ability to obtain an advantageous marriage so the performance of femininity needs to be perfect (see Brienne). In contrast, women who have to work for a living can’t afford the kind of femininity meant to convey delicacy. This is why Arya is more comfortable around women like the prostitutes in Braavos.
Then I was thinking about how Gendry’s perception of Arya changes when he realizes that she is high born. There is Gendry’s obvious disdain for the upper classes, understandable since he’s been a victim of classism. But there’s also the subtle sexism in the way his demeanor changes from learning she’s a girl, to learning that she is a high born girl.
Because high born girls are held to a higher standard of gender performance, their femininity is seen as more delicate and in need of protecting. Witness the way Gendry demands for Arya to prove that she’s a boy when he correctly guesses that she’s a girl, but a lowborn girl, or so he thinks. He knows she’s a girl, and intentionally teases her using coarse language, telling her to “pull out your cock”. Then when he learns she’s high born, the tune changes.
“You were a lord’s daughter and you lived in a castle,
didn’t you? And you … gods be good, I never …“ All of a sudden
Gendry seemed uncertain, almost afraid. "All that about cocks, I never should have said that. And I been pissing in front of you and everything, I … I beg your pardon, m'lady.”
All of the sudden, Gendry becomes embarrassed. He had no problem talking about cocks in front of Arya when he thought she was a peasant, but ladies are not supposed to be exposed to such things. I think there’s also something to be said about how the highborn performance of gender is supposed to be asexual. Highborn women are sexual objects but are not sexual themselves. This is seen in Sansa’s naivete about the actual act of sex. She’s been told only what she needs to know to be available for a husband.
In contrast, lowborn women are seen as more sexual, more experienced, less in need of protection. When she is living as a peasant girl, Arya experiences sexual harassment and in ACOK she is disillusioned of the idea that knights will protect her because she no longer looks like the innocent high born maid that Westeros puts on a pedestal.
Only when you learn to stop reading aesthetic presentation as a rigid series of gender codes can you truly begin to appreciate and explore it as the medium of highly personal artistic expression that it is. Liberate yourself from that way of thinking. A painting is more than its subject, as I am more than a breathing set of prescribed identity markers. I am more complex than that. We are so much more complex than that.
Hi River! Can you link us to some meta, analysis, commentary, or basic evidence of Sherlock being trans, particularly in BBC Sherlock? I just haven't really read anything in depth about this so I'm interested to know more. Thanks!
so firstly, most of the canonical evidence is in s3 and tab but i thought i’d start with something that caught my attention in the great game
here, sherlock is excitedly giving his deduction about the golem
and john, pressed about the earlier confrontation he had with sherlock about moriarty, and impatient, replies with this
which leads sherlock and lestrade to have these reactions:
now QUITE obviously sherlock and lestrade know something here that john does not. lestrade looks down and away immediately after john’s comment and sherlock looks at lestrade with a look which vehemently reads “don’t say anything, he doesn’t know”
to me, this is an extremely obvious misgendering of sherlock that john does ignorantly and unintentionally because he honestly doesn’t know, and i can adhere to this personally because it has happened to me on multiple occasions
now, throughout the next 10 minutes of the episode sherlock distances himself from john by telling him that they should split up to get more done, which isn’t an unusual occurrence but it is DEFINITELY unusual when john is doing something that only police should be doing (interviewing the dead man’s roommate)
i see this as sherlock needing to distance himself from john for just a little while because of the earlier instance. he’s obviously not mad, just a bit upset and jarred but as you can see by the end of the episode everything between them is completely fine again
in s2 there isn’t much in the way of physical evidence like above, it’s more subtextual, in asib it is brought up at least twice that i can remember that sherlock is a virgin
“sex doesn’t alarm me” “how would you know?”
“he calls you the ice man and the virgin”
this can be attested to that sherlock is just a genuinely awkward person and uncomfortable with contact as such but it can easily be read that because he is trans that he experienced and experiences body dysphoria which would lead to him not being comfortable with his own body, let alone allowing someone else to be with it so intimately
“but what about top surgery scars?????” you may ask
not all trans people get double mastectomies!!! some of us don’t ever get surgery! but sherlock could have easily had the key hole operation which would not leave the double incisions on the chest that you see on many trans men
sherlock having little to no body hair is also incredibly telling, as many trans men, even on testosterone, are unable to grow it and if they do it’s usually patchy
in both thob and the google maps of 221b, there is an injection gun sitting on the table
injection guns are used to inject medication accurately and frequently, and, sherlock constantly on the move for cases, would need to administer his testosterone quickly and efficiently
now, in The Trans Sherlock Show (s3) there is so much evidence that he’s trans it makes my head spin
the VERY first scene we see sherlock in, he has absolutely no facial hair, yet, the hair on his head is literally down to his shoulders
where did he find the time to shave yet not cut his hair??? he didn’t
sherlock was unable to have access to testosterone in the field for 2 years is what happened, so it stunted his facial hair growth
there is literally no other explanation for this like
moving on to tsot
sherlock loves dancing and always has which isn’t that unusual for men anymore, but his love for dancing does not explain the fact that he can do a pirouette perfectly? he would have had to go through extensive training to complete such a move, and many parents put their “little girls” in dancing lessons
during the stag night and sherlock and john’s drinking game, sherlock drunkenly asks questions that john answers to validate him, not the person on his head
“am i human?”
“am i a man?”
“am i important?”
“do people like me?”
sherlock is obviously seeking validation from john, and he just wants to know what he is to people and how people see him
later in this scene sherlock also says “beauty is a construct based entirely on childhood influences and role models” which is a really… trans thing to say. he’s talking about beauty and looks but those are as performative as gender, gender is literally performing a look, how you want to be perceived and how you want others to perceive you
as a little aside and a line that i always laugh at anderson asks sherlock if he has “one hole or two” and sherlock abashedly says “sorry?!” and obviously they’re talking about the gunshot wound but it’s just a funny trans joke to me
anyway! “how can sherlock be trans if he is clearly a little boy in his mind palace!!!” sherlock can imagine himself however he wants in his mind palace folks and children are mostly androgynous in formative years so this could have been how he looked or he’s picturing himself as such
now the 2 hospital scenes, one with janine and the deleted scene with magnussen
first the janine scene:
“you lied to me, you lied and lied”
“just once would have been nice”
sherlock, awkwardly, “i was waiting until we got married”
“you shouldn’t have lied to me, i know what kind of man you are. we could have been friends”
now this can be read as both a reveal of sherlock being gay AND trans
“but it can only be about him being gay!!!” you might say
then explain the magnussen scene:
magnussen, a man who blackmails people for money, is blackmailing sherlock about his “musician’s hands”
but this comment quickly turns into calling them “woman’s hands,” and sherlock looks at magnussen in fear - he knows his secret
this deleted scene completely explains sherlock’s vehemence toward mycroft near the end of hlv when mycroft asks sherlock why he hates magnussen so much
and finally the tarmac scene, when sherlock says “sherlock is actually a girl’s name”
this can be interpreted a couple of different ways in terms of him being trans
sherlock could be saying here that sherlock was his birthname and he wanted to keep it, but needed a masculine name on legal documents, hence william sherlock scott holmes, because sherlock is quite an androgynous unusual name
or, he could be saying that he was born a “girl,” and that his being carries along that sentiment even though he had chosen sherlock during his transition. either way, he’s literally saying he’s trans
sherlock has no facial hair at all, yes he could be cleanly shaven, but as this is the 1890s hrt doesn’t exist yet so he wouldn’t be able to actually grow it
sherlock, perhaps having noticed, or not caring to notice because hooper is in the same predicament as him, has not said anything about the fact that hooper is, for lack of a better term, “a woman dressed in man’s clothing”
hooper could be a trans man just like sherlock, hence him not saying a single thing because he himself is trans as well and would not dare to out hooper
I LITERALLY HAVE NO COMMENT????? THIS IS THE MOST TRANS LINE I HAVE EVER COME ACROSS IN CINEMA
in the end scene, when sherlock tells john that he “would be very much at home in such a world” and that he’s always been a man out of his time, it’s fairly obvious that sherlock knows he could better himself in current day, that he could be the man he wanted with access to what he wanted in the 21st century (testosterone, surgery, etc)
and finally after all of that! the big doozy of yesterday in which we all learned that sherlock literally leaves his t needles all over 221b! a major thank you to @sidryan for that!
anyway that’s all! sherlock is trans thanks for coming to my ted talk
Excerpted from: Do Rozario, Rebecca-Anne C. “All That Glitters: The Winchester Boys and Fairy Tales.” In Supernatural, Humanity, and the Soul, pp. 125-138. Palgrave Macmillan US, 2014.
The problem identified in “Season Seven, Time for a Wedding” – that either Winchester brother’s relationship with a woman ultimately destabilizes the performance of masculinity – is partially solved through the performance of Charlie’s queered femininity. Charlie shares Dean’s sexual desire of women. In “The Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo,” they share an attraction to Scarlett Johansson. This initial bonding develops in “LARP and the Real Girl” (8.11), both checking out female LARPers and, in unison, mistaking Belladonna the poison for Belladonna the porn star. In fact, the show uses their relationship as a handy means of cross-gendering Dean. In Charlie’s first episode, she is on a mission to break into the e-mail of the season’s ultimate bad guy, Dick Roman, leader of the Leviathans, and encounters a security guard. She does not know how to flirt her way past a man. Dean feeds Charlie the necessary flirtatious banter through an earpiece, but he also performs accompanying feminine expressions, even though Charlie cannot see him. Dean immediately enforces a silencing of this performance, saying to Sam, “this never happened.”
Queering and cross-gendered performance continues in “LARP and the Real Girl.” Sam and Dean trace a series of inexplicable murders to a local LARPing (live action role-playing) group and their game, Moondor. Arriving at the field where Moondor is enacted, the brothers witness a sword fight between role-playing knights, visors concealing their faces. The victor takes off her helmet and shakes out her long hair – an exaggerated performance of the feminine that reintroduces Charlie. Although cross-dressed in masculine faux-medieval costume, she is clearly a woman. Cross-dressing is a common fairy tales theme used to destabilize gender categories. Charlie continues this destabilization, responding to the fallen knight’s profession of love, she quotes male romantic lead, Han Solo, from The Empire Strikes Back (1980), “I know.” As the role-playing Queen of Moondor, Charlie usurps the male lead. She discovers that behind the murders of several LARPers is a captured fairy, forced by her master to kill, and announces, “I’m the one who saves damsels in distress around here.” She then makes out with the fairy, unlike Dean who nukes fairies in the microwave. Charlie also designates Dean as one of her handmaidens, smoothly drawing Dean again into her crossgender-performance.
This is all possible because, of course, the entire story is set in a LARP game in which everything is performance and play. The episode even begins with Dean expressing a desire to take time off from their real life of fighting demons and monsters. Good fairies and the performance of the feminine itself can exist, because they are on a “break” from Supernatural’s construction of reality. Charlie herself is not real, since she has assumed the name Charlie Bradbury and she consistently quotes popular culture, adopting, in effect, a fictional voice that draws on fairy tales like The Princess Bride (1987). By the episode’s conclusion, Dean is leading Charlie’s troops and delivers a stirring rendition of Mel Gibson’s speech from Braveheart (1995), interrupted only by a stray frisbee. Charlie has since become a reoccurring character, even going to Oz as a friend of Dorothy in the season nine “Slumber Party.” Her disruptions to the performance of the masculine are contained, but perpetuated.
Supernatural rejects the performance of the feminine as inauthentic, relying upon the performance of the masculine to verify the truth of the lore on which the series is based. This is, in many ways, the series’ vulnerability. While the Winchester brothers can battle vampires, djinn, archangels, gods, demons, and all manner of other strange monsters, fairy tales and fairy lore remain elusive and imaginary interludes.
No offense to any other queen but Sasha is literally going to take drag to the Museum Of Modern Art, and that’s what the new lgbt+ generation needs to see. She is the future of drag with her artistic talents and intellect. I don’t need to go in details about her education or achievements in art and literature, because you can use google for that. All I’m saying is that she is going to do so much, and I’m just so overjoyed that now she has the chance to show the world a new political and Artistic aspect of drag. ALSO let’s not forget that she is not cis. Sasha is a gender fluid person who mostly goes by female pronouns. She is here. She is queer. And she is going to tear down gender one phenomenal performance at a time. *screams*