Monday, May 03, 2010

In Which I Share Some (Re)Sources

I'm prepping for my Construction of Femininity class and one of the things I want to explore is, what happens to women who don't meet the definition of feminine? How do they negotiate femininity, masculinity, the pressure to be either/or and external and internal pressures? What social sanctions are imposed upon them?

As one source for these kinds of reflections and life experiences, I wanted to read what butch/stud/aggressive lesbians had to say about their experiences as children and adolescents. I wanted information shared by these women, not written about them. I didn't find a lot with my own (probably clueless) searches or in academic databases. So, I wrote the organizers of the Butch Voices regional conferences and pleaded for help. They responded quickly and wonderfully. I have a few books to begin with--a number of them seem to be fiction, but historians can use that (and my class is a multi-disciplinary topics course)!

I also was given a link to a website about the Kicked Out Anthology. A description:
In the U.S., 40% of homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ). Kicked Out published by Homofactus Press brings together the voices of current and former homeless LGBTQ youth and tells these forgotten stories of some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. Diverse contributors share stories of survival and abuse with poignant accounts of the sanctuary of community and the power of creating chosen families.
And I really want to share the video below, called "Tomboy" with y'all. It's geared towards kids, based on the book Are You a Boy or a Girl? by Karleen Pendleton Jimenez, but I will use it in my college classroom to prompt my students to talk about what they saw/experienced as youth and how they see the same lessons being perpetuated today.

Because it is for kids, it has some simple, generalized language and characters we'd probably question: "boy things" and "girl things," for example, and the girl who is "traditionally feminine" is a villain of sorts, a complete tool of the patriarchy. That in particular reminded me of the questions Gwen at Sociological Images asked here:
How do you reject the trappings of that socially-approved version of femininity without devaluing femininity, girls, and women themselves?


My students who are trying to distance themselves from ideas of passive femininity often disparage “girly-girls,” those they see as unambiguously accepting pink culture. Thus, wearing a sparkly barrette or painting your nails pink becomes inherently problematic, a sign that you must be boy-obsessed, dumb, superficial, and so on.
That being said, here is the video:

Tomboy from Barb Taylor on Vimeo.

And if you have more suggestions for resources, please drop them in comments. I am looking now for non-fiction adn film. The discovery of this video led me to another book by Pendleton Jimenez, "Unleashing the Unpopular": Talking About Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity in Education. I am about to beg the history department (I'm exaggerating--no begging required) to get me an exam copy as it looks as if it could be really useful to me as a professor.
Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...