Monday, October 27, 2008

Tag. I'm It.

Usually when I receive a chain email I conveniently forget it, which is probably why I'm not rich and haven't made whoopie in a while. This morning, however, I was "tagged" by Nichole and challenged with the following:

Where Would Your 8 Homes Be?

List them. You don’t have to list your reasons, but if you do at least for a few of them, it would be more fun. And remember that the only rule is: the homes must be within the borders of the United States of America or else, within the borders of the country you live in, so as to utterly emulate the McCains. When you’re done, tag 8 people, so that they may join in the self-indulgence, forgetting about the crappy property market and the equivalent of The End of Pompeii on Wall-Street. You could spend your time hammering your doors and windows shut in preparation for the apocalypse instead, but it would be much less fun.

Well okay, I said. I'm willing to take this on. I want to take any chance I can to write. What's this got to do with transgenderism? Not much, but I recently wrote more directly about a transgender subject and am still getting the taste of crow out of my mouth. Now here's the fun part: did you see the line about sending it to eight other people? From what I can see, this blog still being in relative infancy, most of my readers are also people to whom I would be sending this, so if you are reading this, consider yourself tagged. (Now wasn't that simple?)

Now to it.

First of all... well poop! It's got to be in the US. Not that I have anything against the country of my birth, but I know where my dream home is. Deep (depth depending upon my degree of pissiness and misanthropy at the time I'm asked) in Bodmin Moor in Cornwall: a little thatched stone cottage with an unwalkable path. I'll be the crazy old lady in tweeds. Depending upon my mood either ask you in for tea and scones or fire some rock salt and bacon rind in your general direction.

OK. That's over.

1. I really don't have to go to Cornwall to find a stone cottage. There are plenty of viable alternatives in the Pasadena area, not to mention some pretty cool craftsman and mission revivals. One takes it for granted, but I really do enjoy this area of California. It's gorgeous on clear days looking north toward the mountains. If you're not from here, and you've seen Pasadena when the Rose Parade is televised, let me assure you that the town is every bit as pretty as it appears. I particularly love it around the time of the Rose Parade. The winds have blown the smog away for a while, the air is crisp, and the sun is bright, making me thank my luck to be born seeing in color. So I'll take one of any number of 1920's faux English cottages between Cal Tech and the Huntington Library.

2. As long as I'm in the neighborhood, I'll drive a few miles south to the Silverlake and Echo Park areas. There are parts of the Los Angeles area which are becoming "gentrified." The unfair aspect of this is that these were once areas which were affordable to low-income families, and I am sad to say that many Latino neighborhoods have been broken up because of higher rents. I don't think the current drop in the housing market is going to change that. That being said, these neighborhoods are shabby-chic with a lot of art and music going on. I recently helped the niece of a friend move into an apartment in Echo Park and was struck with envy. I want to be a twenty-year-old girl sharing an apartment with a couple of friends while I try to get my acting career off the ground. Don't we all? Except I don't want the apartment. How about that house/studio that Emma Thompson had in Dead Again? Ooh! While we're at it, can I be Emma Thompson?

3. Douglas Adams once called Malibu the only place in the world where someone would pay millions of dollars to live in a shack on the beach. And having driven the coast road during summer all I can say is, "Keep looking at that ocean view, sweetie, 'cause you aren't going to be able to get out of your driveway until after ten tonight." But if I turn inland from Pacific Coast Highway and drive north on Topanga Canyon Boulevard, I'm in just that: Topanga Canyon. Remember the opening sequences of MASH, with the helicopters against the mountains? Those shots and much of the show were filmed in that area. This is a place where people play with their homes. It's not clogged with "McMansions." And though it is pretty upscale, it still retains much of what it was back in the sixties when the "commune" scenes in Easy Rider were filmed there. This is where I'd like to build my own stone cottage: stone siding, but actually constructed from either hay bales or insulated concrete forms for energy efficiency.

If you're saying, "Hey, what's all this California stuff?" I must make a confession. I'm better traveled outside the country than in, and I can give a better account of California than anywhere else. I've was born in Tucson and lived in Phoenix for six years, and with all deference to Lori and Abby, I couldn't take another Arizona summer if my life depended on it.

So let's get on with some pipe dreams:

4. A few years ago I took my daughters on a trip to San Francisco. We stayed near Union Square, and I had decided to do a pilgrimage and walk the labyrinth outside Grace Cathedral. Following the map, it seemed not that much of a walk. I'm from LA; I didn't know Grace Cathedral was at the top of Nob Hill, across from Mark Hopkins. They were troupers, though and remained so as we tromped through China Town and over to North Beach. We saw the back of Lawrence Ferlinghetti's head at City Light's Bookstore (he was going out the door; it wasn't on display). This was another place I wanted to live: North Beach in San Francisco, still thriving with artists and poets and not commercialized. Give me a slightly crumbling one-bedroom here.

5. OK. Out of state. Six years ago, I spent a week with my dear friend Stacy, guest lecturing to her psych classes at the University of Minnesota at Duluth. It was early March. Once I learned that one does NOT put one's tongue on the flagpole, I was right at home. I was charmed, really. It was a bit like a smaller, homier, Mid-Western San Francisco. I would love a big, old, hard-to-heat Victorian on the banks of Lake Superior.

6. I've got to say it. I quote Thoreau and Emerson too much not to say that I'd love a 200-year-old farm house in Concord, Massachusetts. Having not visited there, though, my images are shaped by calendar photographs and Currier and Ives engravings. If you're from there, please don't tell me that the area is all covered over with shopping malls. Leave me to my dreams.

7. Twenty years ago, my ex and I to a trip to Vancouver and then over to Victoria. I'd never seen forest extend all the way down to the sea. I've just looked at a map of that area, and there seem to be enough islands to accommodate one little English-style cottage.

8. There's an unassuming, white 1947 clapboard bungalo in San Gabriel, California... I wish the circumstances were such that it had never been necessary to leave. Two people I love very much still live there. The third is across town in Santa Monica, in her first apartment, making her way in the world.

I'm glad I took this challenge. It's nice to go home.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Rethinking

I love this community. I have never known a sweeter, kinder, gentler group of people, and I have been gently upbraded for my previous posting by Lori and Kathryn. Please read their comments.

I wrote the last post fresh out of bed, still in nightgown, housecoat, and pink fuzzies, and without the benefit of a cup of English breakfast tea. (I confess: I'm a tea junkie, and don't even get me started on Nutella.) I'd just read another blog regarding sportswriter Christine Daniels' transition back to Mike Penner, and my posting came undiluted out of my head and into my blog.

I wasn't very generous.

My point of view was formed from a literal and pragmatic view of the role of reporter and writer. It did not take into account the human being in question. It took the gentle comments of two very wise women to broaden my vision. My assessment of the journalistic integrity of closing down Christine Daniels' LA Times blog may have been accurate from an editorial point of view, but in light of what may have been some very painful realizations on that writer's part, it was mean-spirited and short-sighted.

I want to thank both Lori and Kathryn not only for their comments, but for their compassion and empathy. These are aspects of the eternal feminine and may we all be blessed with them.

I also would like to apologize to Mike Penner, whether or not this reaches his eyes. He has shown personal courage that has exceeded anyone's rightful expectations, and it would be unfair of me or anyone else to ask more.

You Knew the Job Was Dangerous When You Took It, Chris

It's not like I've got a lot of room to talk. I'm not officially "out" to most people I know. I'm not going to transition or even go full time. But I've got to do a bit of grumbling.

I've received about half a dozen articles from Transgendered News regarding LA Times Sportswriter Christine Daniels' re-transition back to Mike Penner. About a year and a half ago Christine came out to her readers and began a transition blog on the LA Times website. There was a lot of support and a lot of derision, but the Times supported her. Now Christine is Mike again and is quietly back at the Times, and Christine's blog has been taken down without comment.

Preparing to come out and then actually doing it has got to be one of the most harrowing times in a transgendered person's life. For someone in my position, coming out selectively to people I know I can trust is bad enough, but to bare one's soul to the world takes guts, plain and simple. And that's just coming out; actually presenting as the woman or man one truly is - that is a public action. A lesbian or gay man can, if they choose, keep their sexuality private. A transsexual, by definition cannot. If I commit to being a woman, I will present as one. And it's belaboring the obvious to say that this will effect a radical change in my appearance and behavior. (Given my readership, I've been belaboring the obvious from the beginning of this paragraph, but keep with me.) For the average person, this public change, as I said, takes, perhaps, more courage than facing the surgery which will confirm the change. (Heck, I've read the words of women who looked forward to SRS as if it were a debutante ball. I've had a bilateral hernia surgery and gall bladder surgery. Surgery is sugery and post-op pain is post-op pain.)

So when a man who is in the public eye, and one who (unlike, say, Alexis Arquette) is not someone you'd expect, comes out, takes a new name, and begins to present as a woman, notice will be taken. That woman will be under public scrutiny.


If that person commits to a blog which is sponsored by a major newspaper and implicitly promises to share with the public the vicissitudes of this transition, that person has taken on a responsibility to her readership.

I read Christine Daniels' blog from the beginning and, along with many others, sent her my best wishes and admiration. I continued to read her blog for a few weeks until two things happened.

1. Sports started creeping in. Yeah, I know this is a sportswriter we're talking about, but I can safely say that, being a person who would rather watch paint dry than sit through the Superbowl, I would never even have paid attention had she not been a tranny.

2. I began to get the impression that her transition was somewhat superficial. I can't go back and check this because the blog entries have all been quietly taken down, but I remember that after several postings about shopping, social events, and being accepted by other trannies, I started to get bored. I do remember some about being accepted by coworkers, which were good to see.

The capper for me, though, was this: twice, after Christine had written in rapt wonderment about how well things were going, I had posted comments asking about how her family was accepting the transition. My comments were never posted, much less acknowledged. I really wanted to know. One of the major factors that has and does keep me from transitioning is family. (Of course, the very fact that ANYTHING keeps me from transitioning tells me that transitioning is most likely not in my cards.) A major part of transitioning deals with how we interact with others: how we are treated, how we react. And our family or lack or loss thereof is part of the definition of who we are. By not acknowledging my questions regarding family (and, as I understand it, the questions of others, because at least one columnist complained that such questions were taboo in interviews) Christine robbed her blog postings of a major part of their meaning and usefulness. I got tired of the sweetness and light and stopped reading.

Now, without a word of explanation, she has transitioned back to Mike, and I want to know why. Part of me says that it's none of my business, but that's the sweet, understanding part that recognizes that Mike Penner let the cat out of the bag and is now having to stuff it back in. Apparently Christine flunked her Real-Life Test. But another part of me is loudly quoting Super Chicken: "You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred." When Christine started her blog, she took the responsibility I've already described. She made a deal with me as a reader. Part of that deal was to honestly report her progress and, as part of that, the lack thereof. Mike Penner owes it to his readers to let us know what happened.

I read a blog the other day complaining about the Real-Life Test, how it was so unfair and cruel or some such rot. From what I can see, the Real-Life Test is a vital component of a transexual's transition. It lets that individual know firsthand whether or not a whole life transition is feasible or advisable. And the fact that it encompasses a year is of vital importance. A few years ago, I spent a week in another town as Gillian 24/7, as a guest speaker in a friend's psychology classes. The feeling of euphoria was overwhelming. It took the wise words of my friend Ally, who had been through it all, to bring me back to reality: I had been in a rarified atmosphere. "If you have any doubts at all," she said, "DON'T." This is not to say that the thought of transitioning still doesn't come to me, I often find that I get a lot more satisfaction as Gillian that otherwise, but that is also because most of the more mundane and distateful tasks are left to my male alter-ego. (I'd make an analogy to marriage, but the ghost of my mother, a 1950's and 60's housewife and stay-at-home mom is shouting, "Don't you dare!" in my ear.)

The point is, by starting her blog and making it as public as it was, Christine Daniels made a contract with the rest of us that she would let us know how things went. Apparently things went south. That does not give Mike Penner permission to breach the contract. This person has a responsibility to the rest of us to let us know what went wrong. It was part of the job. The fact that this information might help the transitioning person know what might be ahead is very, very important, but of more importance is honoring the debt owed to one's readership. I know it's snide to say it, but the fact that Christine was never totally open with us (and since, as I said, I stopped reading the blog after a while, I hope I'm wrong and she did open up a little more) I'm not surprised that Mike is keeping quiet about what went wrong.

I feel compelled, then, to make this deal with my readership: I'll keep this bolg up as long as I have ideas that are worth writing about. I'll be as informative and entertaining as I can be. I will honor all comments and questions. But if I ever feel it incumbent upon myself to take this blog down, I will let you know exactly why. Of course, I'd already made that deal with you when I wrote my first posting.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I've Got My Fifteen Minutes of Fame - How 'Bout You?

A minute or so ago I uploaded Sunday's Doonesbury strip which makes a sapient comment upon blogging. While admiring it on my page, I had one or two sapient thoughts about copyright laws. Not wanting to get on the wrong side of either Mr. Trudeau or his syndicate, I'm posting a link instead: Doonesbury. It's not as attractive, but it's safer.

Now I think I'll go read a book.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I have annoying epiphanies. It’s not the epiphanies themselves that are annoying; it’s what I do with them. I file them away in my journal or in the inner reaches of my consciousness, and when the same epiphany presents itself to me a while later, I shout “Eureka!” (figuratively, at any rate) and then go and confide it to someone who will (usually with a bit of annoyance) remind me that I’ve had that same revelation at least once if not three times within recent memory. I’ll then thumb through my journal and there it is. I’d put it down to creeping age, but the same damn thing was happening to me when I was twenty. (It’s cold comfort, but I’ll take what I can get.)

So I had a recurring epiphany a few days ago as I was posting a comment on Abby’s Course in Miracles blog. The revelation was hammered home, when a bit later she honored me by writing a post about my comment. (Mind you, I’m still new to this blogging thing, and being mentioned and quoted in a post is about as thrilling as opening on Broadway. My friend Gillian_y just gave me a stellar review and I’m thrilled.)* The comment in question contained a passage from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay, “The American Scholar”:

The sacredness which attaches to the act of creation, the act of thought, is transferred to the record. The poet chanting was felt to be a divine [wo]man: henceforth the chant is divine also. The writer was a just and wise spirit: henceforward it is settled the book is perfect; as love of the hero corrupts into worship of his[/her] statue. Instantly the book becomes noxious: the guide is a tyrant. The sluggish and perverted mind of the multitude, slow to open to the incursions of Reason, having once so opened, having once received this book, stands upon it, and makes an outcry if it is disparaged.

My epiphany is attached to the second sentence: “The poet chanting was felt to be a divine [wo]man…”

Several years ago I was part of a Zen Sangha in Pasadena, California. We’d sit in the basement of a metaphysical bookstore on Monday evenings and meditate. It being a Zen sit, founded in the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, there would be no chanting; we’d listen to ourselves breathe.

Of course, I had terminal monkey-mind. During one meditation the Jamaican bobsled team came into my consciousness and refused to leave until they’d instilled in me a desire to watch Cool Runnings and cook up a batch of jerk pork.

At the end of one meditation, when we compared notes, a young Australian man related how an altar had fallen down at his home and how after an initial bit of annoyance he and his life partner had set about repairing and reconsecrating it. The incident had been foremost on his mind before he had meditated, and now he was able to step back and review it. His last remark was, “It’s odd, but this whole thing didn’t have any meaning to me before I talked about it here.”

The epiphany came like a brick to the back of my head. This was the poet chanting. This was the “why” of all literature – and “illiterature” too: written and oral tradition. I went back to “The American Scholar” and found that Emerson had had the same realization:

The scholar…received into him the world around; brooded thereon; gave it the new arrangement of his own mind, and uttered it again. It came into him life; it went out from him truth. It came to him short-lived actions; it went out from him immortal thought. It came to him business; it went from him poetry. It was dead fact; now, it is quick thought. It can stand, and it can go. It now endures, it now flies, it now inspires. Precisely in proportion to the depth of mind from which it issued, so high does it soar, so long does it sing.

Nothing has meaning – not unless we talk about it. That is the purpose of the playwright, the poet, the journalist, the diarist, the historian, the singer, the blogger, and the storyteller.

The ubiquitous bumper sticker was right: shit happens. Both physically and mentally. But the act of a human being reflecting upon and relating the occurrence transforms it into matter of meaning. The act of a human being taking random motifs of action and image and forming and shaping them into a narrative or lyric is the creation of literature.

It’s all just a lot of stuff until we shape it into a story, a poem, a white paper, a song, a letter, an essay, a prospectus, or a joke.

So that’s just one of the many epiphanies that come around every so often to visit. But yesterday, at the storytelling stage at the Taste of Encino festival in Encino, California, her sister epiphany sat down next to me and gave me such a nudge with her elbow that she nearly broke a rib. My friend True Thomas took the stage and told the “Lay of Thym” with such boisterous humor and detail that I was indeed hearing it for the first time. He was the poet chanting. Through True’s voice, gesture, and detail, Thor, Loki, Freyja, Thyrm, and the rest all took life for the space of twenty minutes.

Storytelling, as True practices it (and as I pursue the practice of it) is like verbal jazz: the words are not memorized, but the story is a part of the teller. The teller sees the story in his/her mind’s eye and tells the audience what that mind’s eye sees. The dialogue comes straight from the teller’s ear. When the teller is in that transported state of mind s/he and the audience share an experience that is both auditory and visual – and it is spontaneous and extemporaneous. It is life on a higher level of consciousness.

Is it any wonder that the griot, the bard, the skald, the scop, the shanachie, were considered treasures?

Every so often, I have to get reintroduced to this and my other epiphanies. Every so often we need to remember just why it is we do what we do and love what we love.

*I had more than one professor in college who complained that I used too many parenthetical statements. What can I say? I’ve got ADD.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Legacy of Divisiveness

I’m having Gilgamesh withdrawals right now. Let me explain: for the last decade I have taught the Sumerian epic as part of the Mesopotamian unit of my Humanities/Expository Composition class. For a number of reasons, all of them positive, I’m not teaching that course this year. I miss it and Gilgamesh. And I’ve been meaning to explore a particular meaning it has for me as a transgendered woman.
Right: The original Macho Man. Gilgamesh wrestles a lion in a statue in the Louvre.
In a nutshell, Gilgamesh is the story of an obnoxiously arrogant king to whom the gods want to teach humility by giving him a friend who is his equal in all things – his exact double, in fact, in all but a few details – and taking that friend away, causing Gilgamesh to vicariously experience his own death. Gilgamesh loves his friend Enkidu as he loves himself, and together they fight and kill the giant Humbaba, the guardian of the Cedars of Lebanon, and when Gilgamesh spurns the advances of Ishtar the goddess of fertility, love, and war, and patroness of his city of Uruk, and she sends the Bull of Heaven to destroy him, it is Enkidu who throws the Bull’s severed haunch into the Ishtar’s face. And it is not long afterward that Enkidu sickens and dies, sending Gilgamesh into paroxysms of grief and causing him to undertake a quest for his own immortality. Ultimately, Utanipishtim, the Mesopotamian equivalent of Noah, who survived the great flood and has gained immortality from the gods, and thus is the object of Gilgamesh’s quest, teaches him that immortality is not his, that even though he is two-thirds god, Gilgamesh will, at his death, go to the underworld with every other mortal and eat clay for eternity. Through realizing his own mortality, Gilgamesh gains the humility he needs and returns to his city of Uruk a better king.

Not much to do with transgenderism here. Are Gilgamesh and Enkidu archetypal gay lovers – a Sumerian Damon and Pythias? Is this story, in part, Brokeback Mountain set between the Tigris and Euphrates? Dense as I am, it took me years to realize it, but – yep.

But much as I honor that, that’s not the purpose of this blog, and I must admit that on the surface there is little in the main story of Gilgamesh that sheds light on the transgendered experience. But I think the story holds an important key to the disenfranchisement of both natal and transgendered women. I’m referring to the section of the epic in which Ishtar approaches Gilgamesh and offers to take him as her consort.
Right: Voluptuous Ishtar in a Mesopotamian statue.
"Come here, Gilgamesh," Ishtar said,
"marry me, give me your luscious fruits,
be my husband, be my sweet man.
I will give you abundance beyond your dreams:
marble and alabaster, ivory and jade,
gorgeous servants with blue-green eyes,
a chariot of lapis lazuli
with golden wheels and guide-horns of amber,
pulled by storm-demons like giant mules.
When you enter my temple and its cedar fragrance
high priests will bow down and kiss your feet,
kings and princes will kneel before you,
bringing you tribute from east and west.
And I will bless everything that you own,
your goats will bear triplets, your ewes will twin,
your donkeys will be faster than any mule,
your chariot-horses will win every race,
your oxen will be the envy of the world.
These are the least of the gifts I will shower
upon you. Come here. Be my sweet man."

[Gilgamesh, never a paragon of tact, replies hotly:]

"Your price is too high,
such riches are far beyond my means.
Tell me, how could I ever repay you,
even if I gave you jewels, perfumes,
rich robes? And what will happen to me
when your heart turns elsewhere and your lust burns out?

"Why would I want to be the lover
of a broken oven that fails in the cold.
a flimsy door that the wind blows through,
a palace that falls on its staunchest defenders,
a mouse that gnaws through its thin reed shelter,
tar that blackens the workman's hands,
a waterskin that is full of holes
and leaks all over its bearer, a piece
of limestone that crumbles and undermines
a solid stone wall, a battering ram
that knocks down the rampart of an allied city,
a shoe that mangles its owner's foot?

"Which of your husbands did you love forever?
Which could satisfy your endless desires?
Let me remind you of how they suffered,
how each one came to a bitter end.
Remember what happened to that beautiful boy
Tammuz: you loved him when you were both young
then you changed, you sent him to the underworld
and doomed him to be wailed for, year after year
You loved the bright-speckled roller bird,
then you changed, you attacked him and broke
and he sits in the woods crying Ow'ee! Ow'ee!
You loved the lion, matchless in strength,
then you changed, you dug seven pits for him,
and when he fell, you left him to die.
You loved the hot-blooded, war-bold stallion,
then you changed, you doomed him to whip an
to endlessly gallop, with a bit in his mouth,
to muddy his own water when he drinks from a pool,
and for his mother, the goddess Silili,
you ordained a weeping that will never end.
You loved the shepherd, the master of the flocks,
who every day would bake bread for you
and would bring you a fresh-slaughtered, roasted lamb,
then you changed, you touched him, he became a wolf,
and now his own shepherd boys drive him away
and his own dogs snap at his hairy thighs.
You loved the gardener Ishullanu,
who would bring you baskets of fresh-picked dates,
every day, to brighten your table,
you lusted for him, you drew close and said,
'Sweet Ishullanu, let me suck your rod,
touch my vagina, caress my jewel,'
and he frowned and answered, 'Why should I eat
this rotten meal of yours? What can you offer
but the bread of dishonor, the beer of shame,
and thin reeds as covers when the cold wind blows?'
But you kept up your sweet-talk and at last he gave in,
then you changed, you turned him into a toad
and doomed him to live in his devastated garden.
And why would my fate be any different?
If I too became your lover, you would treat me
as cruelly as you treated them."
Gilgamesh: A New English Version by Stephen Mitchell. New York: Free Press, 2004

In effect, Gilgamesh is refusing the honor of being a sacrificial king. Mythographers and anthropologists from James George Fraser to Jesse L. Weston to Joseph Campbell to Marija Gimbutas have told us about the dying and resurrecting king. It’s the basis of Greek tragedy and of Christianity (not to mention the religions of such broad ranging cultures as the Egyptians and Mayans). In an agrarian society, the king is equated with the crop. As the crop goes through a birth, death and resurrection cycle, so must the king. As the Earth is constant, so is the queen. The king often becomes king by marrying the queen. (Ever wonder why Penelope in The Odyssey has all those suitors hanging around waiting for her to declare Odysseus dead and remarry, when she has a perfectly good son moping about the palace?) The king rules for a period of time and then, while he is still potent, is either sacrificed or dies in a ritual fight defending his kingship from a successor. The true power actually lies in the queen, who is an embodiment of the goddess.
Right: Artist's rendering of Ishtar's temple at Uruk.
In denying Ishtar, Gilgamesh is making both a political and spiritual move: he is taking the constant power unto himself. With this action he is refusing to be the sacrificial victim and asserting his political might. In doing so, he is relegating the goddess/queen to a lesser position and inaugurating an era of patriarchy. Part of the Mesopotamian legacy, then, will be femiphobia, for men, who have taken the power unto themselves, will constantly be glancing over their shoulders, worrying whether women will try to get the power back – whether it be in the household, business, or politics. Physical force will take precedence over intellect and spirit. And women themselves will be relegated to the position of possessions and children. Thus any male who is compelled to emulate a woman or identify as one will be relegated to a lower position, since he is deliberately discarding his power.

Please keep in mind that I’m not saying that this was the literal action of the historical Gilgamesh (and there was one). It is very hard to pin down just when the shift to patriarchy occurred. I am saying, however, that this scene in the Gilgamesh epic can be seen as a milestone in the mythic consciousness of Western society in which the divine feminine is repudiated rather than embraced.

I don’t miss Gilgamesh as a character; he’s a jerk, and there’s too little of the reformed Gilgamesh at the end of the epic to admire. It’s good to see him get his comeuppance, though. No, what I miss is bittersweet. I’m seeing the start of it all. In rejecting the goddess, Gilgamesh has taken on a mantle of power so great that it has for centuries made men suspicious, violent, cold-blooded and unimaginative. It is the beginning of what has for millennia kept my natal sisters in subjugation and what has made my transgendered sisters and me a source of derision and fear. I miss showing this to my students and chipping away at a six-thousand-year-old edifice of femiphobia.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Jill Gets Political Again

Listened to the Vice Presidential Debate this evening. I must say that my view of Sarah Palin has changed; given the right set of circumstances she might make a passable small-town mayor.

Just so long as it's not in my town.