Because I Said So or: The Rise of One Million Mommies
Last week, I received an email from FemmeCon, informing me that my workshop, Mommy Will Take Care Of It: Channeling a Dominant Femme Identity Into Organizing, had been accepted for the 2012 conference. I’d been called up to the majors!
At last! My genius recognized! Presence acknowledged! Why, after this, I could retire from activism! Move to Santa Cruz. Start a Pinterest. Set my email account to auto-reply to everything with “Ah yes, those were the days, weren’t they?”
Alas. Indefinite tours of duty lie ahead. After careful consideration of the logistics (i.e. writing Cost of traveling to Baltimore for weekend > Bank account on a sheet of notebook paper and staring at it intently until my staff meeting was over), I had to decline the invitation, as I lacked the resources to make the trip, and being steadily employed, I did not feel comfortable beseeching the community for assistance.
This may have been for the best. Right as I was writing my email to FemmeCon declining their invitation, I received an email from them, asking me if I would address the de facto assumption of “Mommy identity” in femmes and how some are not comfortable with that label put upon them.
This is a fair request. Perhaps the fairest of them all.
I still couldn’t do it, though.
I mean, I could start my workshop by saying “hey, you know, the mommy identity is something that is thrust upon a lot of women and femmes, and I just want to acknowledge there is some tension and discomfort there for some”–
But the moment anyone asks me to elaborate on the discomfort or how do I reconcile that with being a radical queer and a feminist and did I transition just so I could assume traditionally patriarchal roles of womanhood OHMYGODIWASNTPREPAREDFORTHIS!
Maybe it’s best if we just hash this out over the course of the next few months, in a series of controlled environments (see also: blog posts where I am the sole contributor of content), and once I’ve processed my excitement and angst around my identity, tart it up, make a zine out of it and let people digest my ideas in a a proof-read flavor.
I can’t separate my Mommy identity from my trans, woman, or queer activist identities. They are not different facets of the same jewel, but, essentially, different names for the same thing.
I had “crossdressed” for much of my adolescent and adult life, and though I had always known I would, one day, need to break down the closet door or return to Narnia, the urgency with which my female identity needed to be validated was not apparent to me until my then-bottom began referring to me as “Miss” and “Madame” within a scene. I discovered and explored my womanhood in a dominant context, and for me, they are forever linked.
This is not to suggest I am not also submissive. The shit I want done to me gets me kicked out of IRC chatrooms. I do not, personally, subscribe to total power exchange or consensual non consent, which you can read more about in my acclaimed novel I ACKNOWLEDGE THESE THINGS EXIST AND WORK FOR OTHER PEOPLE BUT IT IS SIMPLY NOT FOR ME THANK YOU OKAY. I am very specific about I want. I want you to do this. And this. And that. And I want you to say this, in this tone, and if I react this way, please do this. Cis straight doms have a term for it, not a real a submissive, which translates, roughly, to “IN MY PENIS WE TRUST”. To me, having such specific terms for the scene is a display of dominance, because it asserts that not only do I know and deserve what I want, but that I can handle it BECAUSE I’M A BIG GIRL AND CAN MAKE MY OWN FUCKING DECISIONS THANK YOU OKAY.
I’ll pause this record and play another one, as I don’t want to get too involved in my sex practices because that is not what I want to see reblogged on tumblr.
The moral of the story: I’M A WOMAN AND MY SEXUAL ORIENTATION IS I GET WHAT I WANT.
Mommy is intertwined with my womanhood.
Because for the longest time, I did not know why I was a woman.
I just knew that I was one.
I mean, I wear dresses, paint my face and go by she/her. But I know masculine-identified people who do that too.
I know why I’m a Mommy.
I’m a Mommy because I like to read aloud to lovers before they are tucked into bed. I make their favorite comfort food when they’ve had a hard day. I bestow gifts of coloring books on holidays. I swell with pride on the anniversary of the day they’ve stopped self-harming, and will continue to do so after we’ve broken up and stopped speaking to each other.
(Just so you know it’s not all about the sex.)
I spend about 90 to 95 percent of my daily life feeling invisible, in some way or another. On the bus, in the office, at a party, nobody sees me the way I see me. Some of that is not being read as queer/trans, some of that is being systemically ignored/silenced as a woman, and some is just the widening of the gap between ourselves and everyone around us that comes with growing older/experience/aliens.
But when I am called Mommy by someone I, despite my aspirations of ice queendom, am compelled to love–
I am seen. In my entirety. I am suddenly visible. I am whole and tangible.
It’s math. I do these things. Mommies do these same things. Ergo, I am a Mommy.
It was through the arithmetic of my Mommy-ness that I was able to find a list of objectives that allowed me to understand why I’m a woman.
A woman feels like a woman (whatever that means to her) when she does what she does, wears what she wears, fucks who she fucks.
I feel like a woman when I wear a dress, write poetry, receive an injection of estrogen, climax. Ergo, I am a woman.
Without realizing why I’m a Mommy, I would not have realized why I was a woman. That food is touching and can never un-touch.
Not to suggest that they neccesitate each other.
I know men who identify as Mommies.
I also know men who want me to be their Mommy.
I know a lot of people.
Is what I’m saying.
My Mommy identity is intertwined with my activist identity.
I reject this notion that it is up to the individual and the individual alone to provide their own “care” while engaging oppression. That shit comprises the essential privileged indifference that patriarchy and oppression needs to start its day.
If you sincerely believe that it’s a failing on my part if I am unable to provide adequate self-care while organizing queer spaces/events, and think it unreasonable or wrong to reach out to others to ensure my needs are met, then tear down your Pride-approved vendor booth, drop out of your support group, and take down your Facebook event for your top surgery fundraiser.
We’re either in this together or we aren’t.
A better, more articulated argument on that can be read here.
My weapons of choice in the seemingly endless PvP game against the patriarchy are foot rubs, scrambled eggs, and owning a bed that is large enough for another person to sleep in it with me without us having to touch, if they need a place to stay for the night/week and do not wish to be cuddled to unconsciousness.
When you are in my neck of the woods, I will give you a place to crash and make sure you’ve eaten. I do this not only because we are friends, but to enforce solidarity, trust, and love within our community.
It’s good for business.
This morning, at 8:30am, my friend LB came over to my house for breakfast. I made them eggs, toast, and fruit. My friend LB has a car. We know many queers who do not own a car. They ask LB to take them places. My friend does it because they care. They want to help out. Give what they can, though they are rarely, if ever, fed or given money in return for their help. It is very taxing. By making sure they’ve eaten breakfast every day, thus allowing them to do what they do for the community, I’m doing my part in helping the community help itself.
And yes, LB does drive me to work in the mornings. And we are best friends, so there is definitely something more to this relationship than communal supply-and-demand. But if you came to my house in the morning, I would feed you too.
Because I can. Because it gives me joy.
You think that’s not caring for the community? You think that’s not radical enough? That it’s too domestic?
Go run and tell that shit to someone who hasn’t had a home-cooked meal in a week. Ask the anti-transphobia blogger with the paypal donation button or the event organizer running their operation on their lunch break because they don’t have a computer at home what they think about a hot meal or a ride to the grocery store as community support. See if they’ll sign your petition.
I feel so strongly about this I have considered quitting my day job to host DIY skillshares and make zines on low-budget vegetarian cooking until I run out of money, get a job to pay the bills, rinse and repeat forever.
It does not demean my womanhood or my feminist rhetoric to put on an apron and make sack lunches for people attending a queer event–WHICH I HAVE DONE–but rather speaks to your internalized shame and phobia surrounding your gender politics.
You may think you’re being helpful or socially conscious when you “warn” queer and trans women how their being too femme, too butch, too stereotypically girly or too non-normative is feeding the propaganda machine and impeding our efforts to be taken seriously.
You’re wrong, in the same ways that believing that trans men belong in women’s spaces and trans women do not is wrong. The same way making excuses for trans men accused of rape is wrong. The same way believing Kirk was a better captain than Picard is wrong.
Implying that to wear an apron and answer to Mommy/Mama, something that makes me feel empowered and secure in my identity, is in some way playing to the patriarchy, is in fact a powerful means of enforcing patriarchy.
Sometimes an apron is just an apron.
Scrambling an egg, fashioning a care package, rubbing a back–that is my activism.(As is performance art, organizing safe spaces for trans people and hosting workshops. Just making sure nobody thinks I’m retiring from those other things.)
Those are also things that Mommies do.
Vis-a-vis, I am not an activist who likes to play Mommy.
I am a Mommy activist.
(Though sometimes I’m unsure about the term “activist” because I feel that simply leaving your house and being visible in the world is activism, and I’m unsure of how me doing what I do makes me so special I deserve the title and others don’t.)
And reckon. We are everywhere.
Having craft nights. Exchanging recipes. Picnicking on the beach.
Leading safer sex workshops. Advocating gender neutral bathrooms. Dancing.
If the American Family Association believes in a loving God, it should pray it never meets One Million Mommies. Don’t think we won’t come up there and put ya’ll in time out.
I lack a womb and yet am every bit the mother you say I can never be. I don’t need your permission.
I am creating something from nothing. Growing a new family tree in place of the many that bigotry, hate, and patriarchy (another example of different words for the same thing) had chopped down.
Creating something new, something stronger, to replace what is broken. Which is just another way to say “revolution”.
Revolution is the family business. I am a revolutionary.
And business is picking up.
I’m not going to find a better way to end this piece, will I? I should just end on that, yeah?