Patriarchy Causes Insomnia

PM Feminism

I imagine this new writing space as a place where, among many things, I can call an impromptu write-all-night because of

patriarchy sleepover.

If I were in that space now, I would be hitting up your cell phones hella hard tonight.

I remember that at some point during my graduate program I wrote

“Patriarchy causes insomnia”

on a light pink, flower shaped post-it note, folded in half and push pinned it to my desk. I don’t remember why I wrote it, but I do remember it moving around the room and then into a box and making its way to several other apartments after that.

Tonight I just finished studying with one of my football player students. We were studying for a final in which two readings were mentioned, one by Lakoff and one by Deborah Tannen. I remember her full name because of how much I dislike her. Lakoff talked about the “question tag,” as in that inquisitive little punctuation mark that women are taught to put at the end of their assertions, so as not to push their opinions on others, to push anyone out of the conversation, to exclude anyone, to step on anyone’s toes- so as to be POLITE. My fists ball up as do my insides and I say, ” I hate this shit.” It’s the sort of hate that can only be felt so sharply and distinctly because of it being a hate within that manifests as the fucked up thing you don’t want to be a part of but are.

I did this, just last week. Because I wasn’t drunk enough to get loud and talk over people yet. Because I wasn’t drunk. Because it was a white people party dominated by males and when one guy explained that he started a company, other guys asked him about it and wanted to know more. When I said I am starting a

feminist writing space in Oakland

they said ummmhuuummm and didn’t want to know more. So I was conscious of being the feminist in the room. As well as I was conscious of the blonde pointing at me for wearing feety pajamas when the invitation called for “outer wear,” and the drunken excommunication behind the pointed finger of the words “disqualified.” As I was aware that I wasn’t having fun, should leave, wasn’t leaving, hoping the night would be redeemed, I was having conversations with the guys on the back porch. Or rather I waited until there was a sip of beer being taken and I posed questions. I fucking did exactly what she said. I started my strong opinion with “don’t you think…?” As if handing them my assertion to co-opt, to remember later as being of their own origin. Though half of me said it sarcastically, as if to say, you fucking dumb ass, did you consider this glaringly obvious point that you aren’t making, about this topic you know nothing about but feel you can talk about because of your privilege?

Card available at E.M. Wolfman in Oakland

Card available at E.M. Wolfman in Oakland

As I walk out of work tonight, done learning my students’ material by proxy, I am thinking about work in the context of the history of my work and the guys there. I am considering the guys who have made passes at me at work. The one who drove me home, letting his hand linger on my thigh and tried to convince me to come home with him because he owns a house, the one who waited until two glasses of wine were drank to let his hand linger on my thigh without asking, the one who dropped me at the bart, after an attempt at getting me to hug him, after telling me on day 2 of working this job that he was willing to leave his wife for me- and I’m getting mad. I’m in heels and I’m hardly ever in heels because I used to think they were stupid. Now I think they are kind of sexy and I think about stepping on men’s balls with them whenever I feel a man is looking at me as an object because I am in them. Both times that there was a hand on my thigh I kind of liked it. The first time, I was so disgusted with how persistently he talked about why I should come home with him that I was no longer interested. When he got to my house and tried to force his tongue in my mouth, I closed mine and got out of the car, slamming the door, and went inside. I had said I am not sleeping over about a dozen times on the ride home. All I know is if he had shut up, we’d probably have made out for a while. IF he shut up and then asked if I wanted to fool around or what made me feel good, I may have done more than make out. What made me disinterested was his assumption that he had a right to me and that the way to get in my pants was coercion and not permission. Then the other guy- why use the guise of two glasses of wine? We may be slightly giddy but hey, it’s just awkward to let your hand linger and not ask, at this point. I mean, I know it is there. Time isn’t slowed down or anything. It’s just a little funny. I might have said yes, keep it there, or do you want to make out? Or what do you think about being casual? But instead I didn’t say anything. Instead, I asked that lecturing white boy a question. Why didn’t I just get in my car and go? The pull of these mother-fucking standards is strong.

While I make progress, purposely interrupting men when they are going on and on, to say something that shuts them up like “it is pretty self explanatory” or asking clarifying questions when the only male in the room that has the same job title as me is asked to speak for all of us, such as “is that question just for so-and-so or can I answer as well?” I find myself still perpetuating these subservient, polite, non-confrontational norms even though I go home and feel like doo-doo after I participate in them.

But back to why Deborah is so dislikable. She basically said that men are complimenting women when they interrupt them and challenge them because that is how they converse with other men they respect, so we should just learn to be men more in our conversation styles.  Is that what I am doing by cutting people off or asking if I am allowed to answer as well? I don’t want to converse in a combative style all the time. I don’t want to nurture everyone’s opinion all the time either. Sometimes I really care about what someone is saying. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes they are someone I have to talk to because I work with them or someone I feel obligated to be cordial with because someone I do like cares about their dumb ass. However, I am feeling less and less like that is necessary. I don’t like to leave a social outing feeling icky. I don’t have to convince everyone that I am compassionate, passionate, strong or able to do combat.

On the car ride home, my woman Sara Bareilles broke it down:

You can be amazing

you can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
you can be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
or you can start speaking up

Show me-  how big your brave is.

In case that isn’t how you want to end your night, here is the piece I wrote about that guy who told me he’d leave his wife for me.Let’s just call him Jafar.

(Imagine images added, or even better, animations, for the underlined parts. If you are interested in illustrating\animating this piece, let me know.)

jumping the gun award big daddy jockface

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December “ALL POINTS READING” Rescheduled for Monday 22nd

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dec flyer

Free writing workshop at 7 PM Led by Gina Goldblatt
Reading Starts at 8

Readers this month are:

Jenee Darden- Journalist
Jeneé Darden is an Oaktown native and award-winning journalist. She has reported for NPR, Time magazine, Marketplace, and Huffington Post. She covers issues related to women and culture on her website CocoaFly.com. Jeneé is currently working on a book about the history of black erotic literature. Visit her website CocoaFly.com to read a portion of it called “Under the Covers: The Popularity and Debate Over Black Erotic Literature.” Jeneé Darden has a bachelor’s degree in ethnic studies from UC San Diego and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Southern California. She is a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority.

Rebecca Checkouras
Chekouras, an Oakland resident, has appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Magazine, Narrative Magazine, Curve Magazine, and the online zine Pure Slush. Her work has been anthologized by The University of Wisconsin Press and Pure Slush books. She is a 2013 Lambda Literary Foundation Fellow and was twice short listed for the Astraea Foundation Lesbian Writers Fund fiction prize. In 2014, Chekouras helped launch The Basement Series with writers from McSweeney’s and the San Francisco Writers Grotto. She joins the Tin House Winter Writer’s Workshops in 2015.

Liz Green
Liz Green is a writer, performer, and educator based in Oakland, California. As a performance poet, she has featured at slams, special showcases and workshops in middle schools, high schools, colleges and open mics across the country. She was on two national slam teams: San Francisco in 2004 and Berkeley in 2005. As a playwright and writer/performer, she has had her work produced at multiple local and national theater festivals. She received her BA from Vassar College and her MFA from Mills College in Creative Writing. She was a 2010 Lambda Literary Foundation Emerging Voices Fellow in Fiction. She attended the Tin House Writers’ Workshop in 2012 and was a Catwalk Artist in Residence in 2013. Liz is a long-time advocate of radical, critical pedagogy and was lucky enough to work with Augusto Boal on several occasions. She integrates his legacy and the work of Paulo Freire into her college English curriculum. She teaches English, Writing, and Literature at San Francisco Art Institute and De Anza College. You can read more about her and check out some of her work at lizdemigreen.com

Sandra Wassilie will be reading in January! Date TBA

Visit the Facebook event!

AM Feminism: Holiday Significant Other-lessness

AM Feminism, Uncategorized
Break-up Kitties

Break-up Kitties

I had a good conversation about gender last night. A good conversation about gender involves wine and pizza. We all were able to contribute and listen and be heard. (Well, I may have talked too much.)

We talked about femininity in the work place. The other woman present is often read as feminine in a typical sense. She is petite. She has long hair. She wears make up and earrings. She is pretty and put together. I am kind of disheveled. Some days I straighten my hair or put on jewelry. I hardly ever wear make-up. I tend to speak up when I disagree with things. She is silent, not engaging with their ignorance. She tells me that sometimes she takes out her earrings, because she feels she looks too feminine and that the male -dominated environment makes her very aware of her gender. We talk about how femininity is seen as incapability, how women are so often still defined through the men they are with.

We talk about families. My siblings just let me know they are all getting together for Christmas, without the parents. My brother adds, “add four significant others are coming.” That leaves me and my sister with a one year old to be the two that are significant otherless. I am the oldest. I imagine part of the narrative they have is that I went out to California to become a lesbian, that I have worse daddy issues than everyone else because I took it the hardest and I’m too sensitive. All these typical arguments for why women are “damaged” or unable to find someone who will be with them. I also note the fact that coming from a younger male sibling, everyone will get together, but when I tried to do the same exact thing the year before, they weren’t willing to come together. I have done enough therapy to hold space for the idea that they just weren’t ready, that they couldn’t hear it from me because of the role of mini-mom that I played in my family, but it stings.

I get defensive. I could be in a relationship. I can find men who will not only “put up with me,” but adore me. There are men that do. I don’t want to be with them. I haven’t found my equal. I haven’t found someone who can see and treat me as an equal. I am also not ready to have the type of relationship I want to have. I am in a place emotionally where I still want a man fix. When I am sad, I want to curl up in their arms and cry and indulge in this mutual cling, this mutual giving up to a big scary world beyond that facilitates isolation, hibernation, eating, smoking, languishing. I don’t want that. I want productivity. I want self-sufficient. I want strength and assuredness. I want drive. I want an upbeat energetic individual. That fuels me. That inspires me. That helps me distance myself through their example of healthy self-time. Then I can see what they are doing and the importance of it and the need to respect that space. Then they are also busy! And I won’t be their everything! I won’t be a source of shame because of my ambition.

(So many people are busy. But are they doing anything?) But anyway, I had a 24-hour period of time where I felt very inadequate. In which I wondered if I were actually un-dateable. If a man would never find me truly lovable. Then I did some silks, some writing, talked it over with people, cried and cuddled with my breakup kitties in bed and got over it.

Yoda’s Style and Joy this weekend!

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‘Style and Joy’ sells gently used women’s clothing with a strong dose of fashion and positivity.  Treat yourself to both at the pop-up shop this Saturday, 11am – 6pm@ Regina’s Door, 352 17th St in Downtown Oakland.
In addition to gorgeous clothes (Topshop, Calvin Klein, BCBG etc) jewelry and accessories for you and your loves, come to support ‘Yodassa’s Goddess Tour’ a social enterprise that aims to build confidence in young women. (https://www.facebook.com/events/578046208964101/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming)