Belenen (belenen) wrote,

TBC 2014: workshops 2, 3: "what about the men?" and "writing for our lives"

The second workshop I attended was one called "what about the men?" and I only went because it was lead by one of the people in the disability panel and they explained it (including that the title was a joke) at the end of that panel. It was about the perceptions of men with regards to masculinity and femininity, discussing the queer norms. My biggest takeaway from that one was that queer policing is regional; apparently up north the queerest ones are the cis women, and femme men are rejected and devalued; in the south the queerest ones are the femme men. It was interesting to realize that I had been universalizing my understanding of queer culture. Though I'm still pretty sure that there isn't anywhere where I would be the queerest. I always feel like I have to aggressively out myself in order to be understood as queer, because femme+female appearing is read as gender conforming and straight-acting. The talk actually was a little true to its title, but it created some great conversation, and I think challenging the white-cis-female exclusivity of the queer culture in the north is important work. But it desperately needs to be about POC and trans women as much as it is about men, because they are excluded at least as much.

Next I went to "writing for our lives" which was a workshop by arjuna greist on writing poetry. I went to this without really planning to, partly because Adi was going, not expecting to get anything out of it. I was blown away! Arjuna talked about how as activists we want to write about things that matter to us like racism, sexism, etc, but that people take it in better if it's written as a story. Ze quoted "an editorial in rhyme is not a song." Then we were given an exercise: pick a social justice topic, then write down the top ten words or phrases most used in relation to it, then write a poem avoiding all of those words. I chose a topic and then wrote a poem that ended up feeling just right. I felt so validated in my writing when I read it out loud and people had strong emotional responses to it (despite my shaky rushed reading). I wish I could write music, because I could do this. I also felt reinforced in my understanding of art as world-changing. Here's the poem (not yet edited from original draft):

You stick me in the window
"don't move" as you cover my belly, my chin, my thighs
"smile" as you coat my face, snatch out my eyebrows
"lean forward" as you glaze my breasts
"no" when I am hungry, when I need to pee
"shhh!" when I whimper from stiff muscles
"I don't care" when I say I want to get down

I can't leave this glass box with glaring lights
I've grown into this shape
my pupils cannot expand
where could I go? another window?
Tags: poetry, social justice / feminism, tbc, writing

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