February 6, 2012 § 4 Comments
Across the different blogs I perused for this assignment, one theme tended to stand out particularly: Anger. Anger at the injustice experienced by the authors or by other marginalized groups. Anger at the status quo. Anger and a commitment to fighting what seems to amount to an information war. This anger is useful; there is certainly a need for it, and if channeled properly, with enough people and resources mobilized, hopefully one day all of the just anger on the part of gender, race, etc. activists will bring about the changes our society so desperately needs.
But anger can also obscure reality if taken too far; it can alienate potential allies, misrepresent day-to-day life, and occasionally be used to over-amplify small battles, which may ultimately demean the larger ones. I feel that some of the best ways a little-known, little-understood, marginalized lifestyle can gain broader understanding and acceptance are through open dialogue, positive depictions in the media, and genuine representations of the lifestyle through its adherents. The blog Femulate (www.femulate.org) accomplishes all three of these tasks.
Stana, the author of Femulate, does not dismiss the struggles of trans-gendered folk. S/he acknowledges the difficulties of being trans-gendered through her thoughtful and heartfelt responses to the messages of her readers, many of whom are trans themselves, and want to know, for example, how to “pass” in public. But she does not allow struggle to define her blog. Stana’s blog is unique in its ubiquity. It is flirtatious, funny, gossipy, and engaging. At the very top of the blog, Stana acknowledges her uniqueness (“Femulate: the web pages of a woman who found herself in a male body”), but even the presentation of this fact is, from my reading, less assertive than it is engaging. She personalizes her experiences and so invites readers to look into her life, presenting her identity humanistically rather than politically or sociologically.
The blog addresses not only the experiences of a trans-gendered man-to-woman, but also, somewhat indirectly, the separate gender expectations and stereotypes associated with both men and women. Stana takes on other issues as well; a brief blog on femme invisibility nestled between the birthday announcement of trans Richard O’Brien (Riff Raff from “Rocky Horror”) and a re-post of Ms. Eng’g Womanless Beauty Pageant. However, the tone is definitely more conversational than revolutionary .
Stana is white, was born male in the United States, is obviously somewhat privileged as s/he appears to have reliable access to a computer, and looks to be early middle aged. These could all be factors which contribute to her blog’s sense of comfort and humor. Certainly, she appears to have several advantages in her “invisible knapsack”. However, when she describes her forays “en femme”, she does not hide the fact that people give her strange looks, or that she fears discrimination, accusation, and being “read”. She even briefly mentioned that she once feared going to certain places because of her appearance and dress. Her decision to adopt the clothing, secondary sexual characteristics, and mannerisms of a woman have marginalized her despite the advantages tied to her birth. One wonders how much of this marginalization is because of her gender switch, and how much is inherent in society’s construction of womanhood, which she, having lived as a male in the past, may be more sensitive to? Excellent, light-hearted blog with a fascinating perspective and an engaging style of writing!