daughter – youth

Thank you to Stella Star for sending me this.

Shadows settle on the place that you left
Our minds are troubled by the emptiness
Destroy the middle, it’s a waste of time
From the perfect start to the finish line

And if you’re still breathing, you’re the lucky ones
‘Cause most of us are heaving through corrupted lungs
Setting fire to our insides for fun
Collecting names of the lovers that went wrong
The lovers that went wrong

We are the reckless
We are the wild youth
Chasing visions of our futures
One day we’ll reveal the truth
That one will die before he gets there
And if you’re still bleeding, you’re the lucky ones
‘Cause most of our feelings, they are dead and they are gone
We’re setting fire to our insides for fun
Collecting pictures from the flood that wrecked our home
It was a flood that wrecked this

And you caused it

Well I’ve lost it all, I’m just a silhouette
A lifeless face that you’ll soon forget
My eyes are damp from the words you left
Ringing in my head, when you broke my chest

And if you’re in love, then you are the lucky one
‘Cause most of us are bitter over someone
Setting fire to our insides for fun
To distract our hearts from ever missing them
But I’m forever missing him

And you caused it

the woman in my life – playing with the concept of the feminine

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Rapunzel

Grabbing my identity by the throat has allowed me to play with other identities in the space of play and performance. Being more secure in how I identify in terms of gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation has allowed me the freedom to explore my boundaries: what I’m comfortable with and how far I can push myself.

Up until two years ago I found the feminine cloyingly repulsive and unnatural. My mother’s attempts to feminise me always left me feeling exceedingly uncomfortable, and I clearly remember the hideousness of my matric dance outfit and how I felt like a drag queen, and yet not, because it was an enforced drag, not the drag that stems from a place of play and a sense of security in one’s own gender.

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Playing the Femme Fatale, I

Since beginning the photographic project of documenting my play with gender, I have experienced conflicting emotions and reactions to placing myself within a feminine frame. Firstly, I found myself approaching the feminine from the space of play, experimentation and boundary testing. The idea of donning the feminine has been more exciting and less frightening, and I’ve truly had fun with and loved the experience of seeing the photographic results. The artistic process has thus been very revelatory and enjoyable.

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My Greta Garbo Moment

The physical experience, the experience of my self apart from the artistic process, has been difficult. I’ve been able to perform the feminine to the extent of playing with costume, props and make-up, but have been unable to perform feminine characteristics, behaviours, mannerisms and poses. Along with the wigs, dresses and shoes, I am still visited by those old feelings of intense discomfort, a sense of not being me, of having an otherness enforced on me. Even in the privacy of my own home with only me to witness my transformation, I am unable to express a femininity that stems from me rather than the costume. One interesting thing, though, is that when I’m playing the feminine and photographing myself, I’m able to smile (almost unable not to), while in my other self-portraits smiling feels unnatural and uncomfortable. In the blurb to this blog I say that, “I approach other spaces through fearlessly exploring inner space.” Sometimes the exploration is more brave than fearless. A lot of the time my performances touch a nerve, pointing to something I still need to investigate further, approaching it more carefully in my next encounter with it. Because sometimes when staring into the looking glass, it’s not only unexplored selves that stare back. Sometimes there are demons.

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Not Gay as in Happy, Queer as in Fuck You

Looking back on these photos and experiments, I’m very happy with the results, because they denote a bravery that was previously unavailable to me; a sense of adventure I never had; and, a sense of playfulness I’m so grateful to have found.

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beatific

© Germaine de Larch Images. First published on www.life-writ-large.posterous.com

alan moore’s invisible girls and phantom ladies (1983)

During the afternoons I teach a small group of highly susceptible kids. They are easily influenced because of their age, which is around 9-12 years. Besides Thursdays and Fridays I have a group of only boys. I have my hands full, but a lot about the male specie becomes clear to me as I watch these boys.  They are forever ranting about Comic Books. Of course I share this passion, so we often discuss certain comic book characters etc. I always tell the boys that violence is bad (I mean, when I give a piece of clay to a girl, she will start kneading it and start problem solving about how she would produce a beautiful item. When I give a ball of clay to a boy, chances are he would threaten to throw another boy with it,or, like one boy actually did, start throwing it to the floor as hard as he can to see if he can flatten it in that manner.) One boy said he is going to draw `Thor´ for me, so I asked if there are no female characters he can draw for me and he replied sure, he´ll draw ´Invisible woman`. I am trying to find ways to teach these boys to become real men. And I´m not so sure the comic books are helping. I really love the work of Alan Moore, and recently came across his Invisible Girls and Phantom Ladies.

In his essay ‘And all right, we need a woman’: victimized heroines and heroic victims in Alan Moore’s quasi-Victorian graphic novels`,  Maciej Sulmicki writes:

“Moore has long ago declared an interest in the image of women in comics books and recently confirmed that he has always felt ‘that [women’s problems] was an area that needed to be addressed’. 25 years ago, in a three-installment essay in The Daredevils he wrote of ‘Invisible Girls and Phantom Ladies’, i.e. sexism in comics. Although the text is written in a jocular tone, the main message is quite serious: that comics are rather fueling sexism and gender inequality than combating them. Women in mainstream comics are said to serve primarily as decoration, especially in visual terms, this being the case even when the female characters have something important to say. Such an approach to the visual presentation of females is a continuation of a long-standing tradition, visible as early as in comic strips from the first half of the twentieth century. Moore claims, however, that graphic depiction is not as important as the type of character as which the woman is presented. Both ‘helpless quivering victims’ and pale copies of female superheroes, as well as examples of rough ‘Marvel-style’ feminism serve to fuel stereotypes. In the case of the first two, scantily-clad and often captured and tied up heroines are accused of fueling ‘sordid adult fantasies’ and ideas such as women enjoying being raped. In the final installment of the essay Moore opines that the masculine world of comics is unlikely to significantly change its approach in favor of equal rights unless it is motivated from the outside – by the readers.”

Moore´s Invisible Girls and Phantom Ladies: Originally published in The Daredevils #4 – #6 (Marvel UK, April – June 1983)

PART I

Okay. Seeing as this is such a sticky subject suppose I’d better lay my cards on the table straight away.

I’m a wimpy, indecisive, burned-out woolly-minded liberal old hippy who eats quiche, saves whales, is friendly to the Earth and subscribes to Spare Rib, The Black One-Parent Gay Catholic Gazette, and Animal Welfare Against Nuking the Nazis Quarterly and if anybody wants to make anything of it, then I’ll quite cheerfully butt them in the face until their nose is flat enough to rollerskate on.

The reason I’m prepared to make such a candid confession is because I’m pretty sure that after reading the article in hand most of you will be saying pretty much the same things about me anyway and I thought it’d look better if I got in first. And the reason I’m donning my Sou’Wester in preparation for a torrent of abuse is because this feature concerns women, and women don’t seem to be a very popular topic nowadays. There are a couple of possible reasons for this sad state of affairs.

The first is that a small but vocal percentage of feminists are quite obviously as mad as snakes and have hopelessly damaged personalities. They pounce with demented glee upon increasingly trivial and unimportant examples of ‘sexism’, they make outrageously twisted and generalised statements to the Press along the lines of “All men are rapists“, and in general make themselves very difficult to like.

The problem arises when these foaming maniacs are presented in the media as being a representative cross section of the women’s movement, thus reinforcing the image of feminism that most men are only too eager to accept as the truth: an army of crop-haired Amazon gargoyles who chainsmoke untipped Woodbines, shift cement blocks for a living and have a physique somewhere between that of Popeye and a Commer van.

The other reason is that men, over the last few thousand years, have come to enjoy the perks and privileges that are part and parcel of being born into the male gender and are very reluctant to give them up. Men in general are a pretty insecure bunch and when they start to feel threatened by something they tend to respond by hurling forth salvoes of scorn and contempt, or, failing that, they refuse to take the issue seriously at all.

Even generally broadminded people who believe that the abolition of slavery in America was by and large a good thing seem to get very defensive and hysterical when it’s their Sunday Lunch that’s being threatened by the Women’s Movement. My guess is that if these gentlemen had been Southern Plantation owners they’d have felt the same reluctance in forgoing the pleasures of their Negro house-boy bringing them a Mint Julep on the veranda.

All right. So that’s the basic situation, and it’s one that is obscured by a lot of bluster, silliness and ratbrainery on both sides. But once you’ve swept away all the damned lies and statistics, it becomes plain that there really is a serious problem under there somewhere. Women in general are not really getting a fair suck of the sauce-stick, and it’s not just in obvious areas like equal pay for equal work and who brings up baby.

These areas are obviously important, but they’re all symptoms that spring from a central illness, an illness that affects the way it which we see women and the way we treat them in our largely male-oriented society.

The media presents us with a number of different stereotypes to choose from when forming our ideas of womanhood. There’s a wide variety of different designs, and they’re all about as palatable as a lobster with skin cancer. Continue reading

two english poems by jorge luis borges

I

The useless dawn finds me in a deserted street-
corner; I have outlived the night.
Nights are proud waves; darkblue topheavy waves
laden with all the hues of deep spoil, laden with
things unlikely and desirable.
Nights have a habit of mysterious gifts and refusals,
of things half given away, half withheld,
of joys with a dark hemisphere. Nights act
that way, I tell you.
The surge, that night, left me the customary shreds
and odd ends: some hated friends to chat
with, music for dreams, and the smoking of
bitter ashes. The things my hungry heart
has no use for.
The big wave brought you.
Words, any words, your laughter; and you so lazily
and incessantly beautiful. We talked and you
have forgotten the words.
The shattering dawn finds me in a deserted street
of my city.
Your profile turned away, the sounds that go to
make your name, the lilt of your laughter:
these are the illustrious toys you have left me.
I turn them over in the dawn, I lose them, I find
them; I tell them to the few stray dogs and
to the few stray stars of the dawn.
Your dark rich life …
I must get at you, somehow; I put away those
illustrious toys you have left me, I want your
hidden look, your real smile — that lonely,
mocking smile your cool mirror knows.

II

What can I hold you with?
I offer you lean streets, desperate sunsets, the
moon of the jagged suburbs.
I offer you the bitterness of a man who has looked
long and long at the lonely moon.
I offer you my ancestors, my dead men, the ghosts
that living men have honoured in bronze:
my father’s father killed in the frontier of
Buenos Aires, two bullets through his lungs,
bearded and dead, wrapped by his soldiers in
the hide of a cow; my mother’s grandfather
–just twentyfour– heading a charge of
three hundred men in Peru, now ghosts on
vanished horses.
I offer you whatever insight my books may hold,
whatever manliness or humour my life.
I offer you the loyalty of a man who has never
been loyal.