The gender workbook update is written and laid out in a final draft—everything but the acknowledgements. Since this is a crowdsourced book, I've thanked YOU in the dedication—yep, it's dedicated to twibe. Now, I'm asking for your input one last time: who deserves thanks?
You helped teach me, so now I want to know who taught you, because I want to thank them properly too. Please leave a SHORT comment here, or better yet tweet me with names of people—they can be friends, professors, parents, siblings, novelists, pornographers, SciFi show, storytellers, mentors, alive, dead, or in some other state of existence we don't know about yet. Angels, saints, and demons count. So do friendly faeries, elves, hobbits and so on. Who helped you on your sex and gender journeys?
Wow. It's all done except for this.
So, please: let me know who I should be thanking for the awesomeness that is YOUR fabulous sexuality and gender. Clock is ticking. Deadline for thank you's is noon (EDT) tomoro, Saturday, July 7. If you tweet your answer, please use the hashtag #MNGW (My New Gender Workbook).
This blog is part of a series I'm writing while I'm updating the fifteen year old "My Gender Workbook" for Routledge Press. I'm asking for your voice to be included in the spiffy new version, because you are so much more than the first version of the book could have predicted. Every couple of days, I'll be posting a new question for you to ponder. If the question tickles your fancy, by all means please speak to it. For more about this update, check out the original blog. Thanks for your help.
In the original version of My Gender Workbook, I sent out a request for identities. I wanted to show the vast number of ways that people define their gendered lives. A lot of people wove their gender and sexuality identities together. Many included race, age, ability and class as more or less primary gender modifiers in their lives. Some gender outlaws broke rules of gender in simple yet profound ways.
You can take a look at the current list of 101 Gender Outlaws answering the question "Who am I" on pages 80 to 89 of My Gender Workbook. But there's no need to look at the list to describe yourself, right?
So now... how about yourself? Please write me a couple of sentences that describes how you break the rules of gender along with the influence of any number of the following factors:
race — age — class — religion — sexuality
humanity — looks — ability — mental health
family/ reproductive status — language
habitat— citizenship—political ideology
These factors are in no particular order, and the list is by no means complete. But a lot of our gender is dependent on modifications from at least a couple of factors from this list. I'm calling them vectors of oppression or, more benignly, spaces of regulation. Each of these factors privileges us or limits us or regulates our lives. And each of these factors has a direct impact on our genders—making us gender outlaws.
You DO NOT have to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer — there's LOTS of other ways to break dominant culture's rules of gender. Please tell me yours!
NEW EXPANDED SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR THIS QUESTION ONLY
Twitter is the very best way to answer. Response length is maximum 420 characters, THREE tweels maximum for this particular question. Your tweets do NOT have to be addressed to me, but DO remember to put the hashtag #MNGW on ALL your tweets about this or any other gender-y thing that might pop into your adorable li'l head.
If you're so amazing and/or complex that it's going to take longer than three tweets, that's just fine. You can answer in the comments section of this blog, or you can email your answer to mynewgenderworkbook at gmail dot com. Please do try to keep it to a couple of sentence maximum.
I've been tip-toeing around the idea of a politic of desire, and I just started to get a handle on it when I spoke last November at the Transcending Boundaries Conference (TBC). They'd asked me to talk on the conference theme which was, that year, "beyond the binary." I was in the throes of deadlines for my memoir, and I had no fucking idea of what to write. The night before I was supposed to give my keynote, I skipped out on a performance by my friend, Kelli Dunham, and sat in my room writing notes on hotel stationery until maybe three in the morning.
The next day, I got dressed in my Battlestar Galactica Colonial Fleet fatigues—I was being old lady Starbuck—I needed her madness and her courage to help me get through the talk, which I delievered haltingly. It was new, and I was saying some of these words for the first time—or they were going in the order they were going in for the first time. I needn't have worried. The audience at the conference could not have been more encouraging or welcoming.
Much of what I talked about in the keynote is going to wind up in My New Gender Workbook, due out from Routledge Press in November 2012. Short deadline. So I'd like to have a conversation with you about this notion of a politic of desire. Yes, I'll check this blog at least once daily and I'll dialogue with you about the subject. I think it's an important one, and I think your voice is going to be instrumental in making the notion real and accessible.
OK—let's give it a stab at talking together, here in the comment section. Be gentle with me, it's a way early draft. And thank you for your participation.
I’m thrilled to write that I’ve been asked by Routledge Publishing to update my fifteen year old book, My Gender Workbook. We struck a deal, I’ve got the green light, and I’ve begun writing My New Gender Workbook. I’m so excited!
WHY AN UPDATE?
I’ve been in touch via Twitter, my blog, and YouTube with a lot of people who regularly read and use My Gender Workbook both in class and daily in their lives. It turns out that people really like the principles of the book—but that many of the cultural references and contexts—even the way some quiz questions are phrased—are out of date, and this sometimes gets in the way of grasping the important stuff. So, an update would involve a page by page combing out of outdated references. For example…
WHERE DO YOU COME IN?
As in the original book, I’ll be looking for a great many voices other than my own. In the original, there were hundreds of voices other than mine, appearing in lists, text boxes and call-outs. In the new version, I’m aiming to include even more voices. My idea is to maintain a running commentary of multiple voices all through the book.
All submissions for the workbook should be in the form of tweets, or at most double tweets—that is to say, all submission should be no longer than 140 to 280 characters, including the mandatory hashtag: #MNGW (My New Gender Workbook). Why so short? The very best voices in the original workbook were short, articulate, and right to the point.
SO—WHAT DO YOU WRITE ABOUT?
Any gender-related topic you damned please.
However, over the course of the next 4-6 weeks, I’ll be asking specific questions on this blog and on Twitter. There’s going to be a new question every couple of days. But you don't have to wait for the questions. If you’ve got anything to say in 140-280 characters, I WANT TO READ IT, and I promise I will.
HOW DO YOU SEND IN YOUR SUBMISSION?
The best way is to use Twitter. Remember, two tweets maximum. All submission tweets must include the hashtag #MNGW or they very likely will slip through the cracks and we most certainly do not want that!
You can also post your answer on this blog. If you do, make sure you give us a way to reach you if we need to.
Or, you can email your submission to: mynewgenderworkbook at gmail dot com.
Please note that we will use no one’s words without their express permission.
Finally, there's no promise that your name will appear next to your words, or that your words will be used. Everyone whose words are used will be credited with the name of your choosing in the acknowledgements.
There’s only one more rule for submissions: don’t be mean.
ENOUGH ALREADY—HERE’S THE FIRST QUESTION
What’s your gender?
I cannot WAIT to see your kickass smart answers to this simple li'l question.
Please do retweet and repost and link to this blog to as many places as you can—even the surprising places.
Thank you in advance for all your help and support.
I put the question out on twitter: how do you spot a bully? what is it that bullies do that makes them instantly recognizable as bullies. I'll be using these answers in a new book I'm working on, but I think the way articulate feedback I got is important enough to share right now, along with the twitter names of the folks who wrote them. Some folks, including yours truly, came up with several ways to spot them.
So... watch for these signs:
@katebornstein: They hurt/pick on/target ppl who aren't in a position to fight back. Like #BofA charging $5 a month to use yr debit card.
@katebornstein: They ask you either/or questions, eg my way or the highway.
@katebornstein: They shout you down, don't let you speak your ideas or opinions.
@mary_menville: They believe that the only way to meet their needs is at the expense of yours
@msmanitobain: stare at you; mutter derogatory names at you as they pass by
@musingvirtual: the more subtle ones gaslight, reference "Are You Being Gaslighted"
@UrbanRoguery: They make 'you' statements bc its easier to attack than reflect and hear. They fight to 'win' not solve.
@fgg23: they think laughter is a weapon in itself, and sometimes it works
@fgg23: They are always SO SURE that they will get away with everything.
@fgg23: They use ignorance to their benefit. "I don't understand you" = "You're wrong"
@blurabbit147: they laugh at the suffering of others, not from a place of relating, from a place of cruelty.
@sbearbergman make themselves feel big by making you feel small
@AHaefner: ad homenim attacks (eg: They attack your words instead of responding to your point)
@SaraEileen: They belittle your emotions / opinions / sense-of-self by insisting you can't understand them, or yourself.
@Siniful They spread misinformation, for either their own gain or to put down others. They thrive by ignorance.
@LauraVogel They put forth their views in a way that make you feel dumb for disagreeing. "I'm right, you're stupid."
@supermattachine They insist they know you better than you know yourself.
@AliceSinAerie: they use you to make themselves look/feel more important
@AliceSinAerie: they intentionally embarrass you in front of others
@heavenscalyx They hurt you (physically, emotionally) then claim it was a "joke". Or maybe that's #howtospotanabuser
@BigDaddyKeltik: they'll test you, see how you respond, if you show weakness, you become a target. They'll test with little attacks, comments, questions, and it'll build from there. Whatever your weakness is, thats what they exploit
@danielsiders: references NY Times article "Why Cyberbullying Rhetoric Misses the Mark"
@MSvairini: They act like they have nothing at all in common with you. Not even humanity.
@NJrugger45 almost nothing stops them. Not ignoring it, not talking back, not crying. Usually takes someone to intervene
So, wow, right? These seem pretty spot on to me. If you have any to add, please do so in the comments section below.
Wishing you safe bully-spotting.
I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist writing that sentence. OK, it's out of my system. So, really... what does mean mean? What does it mean to say Don't Be Mean?
I’ve been telling people for nearly four years that the only rule in life they need to follow is don’t be mean. It's not even a rule. “Don’t be mean” is a value, meaning it's something you can apply to every choice you’ll ever make for the rest of your life. If one rule can cover that much ground, I think that the rule deserves to be called a value.
So, we’ve got a value of don’t be mean.
So what, because what does mean mean?
And what did I mean when I wrote the damned thing in the book?
And why didn't I simply write, be kind. I almost did.
But people have ruined that word by calling for a kinder, gentler nation and then effecting a nation that's very close to the opposite. Another example: someone could consider truthfully that they're being kind to you when they stop you from being a homosexual… because then you won’t go to hell. It's become too easy for people to convince themselves that they’re not being mean when they simply call themselves kind. Nope, the word kind can be stretched way out of shape. So, be kind couldn’t be the rule.
But… don’t be mean? Aw man, I thought I’d nailed it. I thought everyone knows what mean is, right? Mean old man, mean girls, and hey… you’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch. But those are all pop culture constructs, not real meanings. And that brings us to the dictionary. You’d think the dictionary would provide some definitive clarity. Nonsense. Go ahead, look up mean in the dictionary. Mean can mean so many mean things, it’ll make you mean dizzy.
Failing to come up with a simple, satisfactory answer to the question, what does mean mean, I did what I always do when I don't know something... I asked my twibe on Twitter.
RT @katebornstein: Twibe: re "Don't b mean," peeps hv bn asking what mean means. Thoughts? Must it include intent to harm/steal/enslave? Hashtag #mean pse.
Here, click to read through this sampling of responses from my twibe. See what you come up with.
Pondering many points of view on the word mean helped me realize that mean is undeniably subjective. Nonetheless, we know what it feels like when someone is mean to us. Mean is a word we all learned as kids. It’s a word that holds a great deal of emotional power and history.
So, I don’t think it matters what mean really means in order to embrace the value, don’t be mean. I’m thinking now that it's enough that we care enough to ask the question, what does mean mean. I don't know for sure, but I'm willing to bet that mean is something we spend our entire life learning what it is... if for no other reason than to stop ourselves from being mean.So, until it runs out of juice, I’m going to stick with using the word mean. And I'll say it once again:
Please... do whatever it takes to make your life more worth living. Anything. Anything, my darling. Only one rule to follow—only one value you need to embrace—to make that blanket permission work: Don’t be mean.
Yep that works just fine for me. And it'll work for you. I promise. There's no need to fry your brains, trying to figure out mean. It's enough if we all just try not to be mean. Eventually we’ll all get a better handle on it. And I think that’s about as much as anyone can ask for.
Now... go, play nice with your friends.
The reviews are coming in on Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation: one a day for the next nine days. Seal Press is the publisher of the new anthology. Their slogan is Groundbreaking Books, By Women, For Women. Well, they're stretching that slogan all out of shape. They came up with the fun idea to arrange for a tour of reviews from nine different corners of the feminist/trans/trans-friendly/and genderqueer blogosphere.
I've already had a chance to read the first posted review today. It's by Everett Maroon, and it's up on I Fry Mine in Butter. No puff journalism, this. It's a wonderful essay. I've posted a comment to the blog, and I hope to read and comment on each of the reviews as they're posted.
(Oh! I'm enjoying this almost as much as I enjoyed working with S. Bear Bergman and Seal Press to put this anthology together in the first place!)
So, here's the rest of the schedule. Enjoy the perspectives!
We take the weekend off, and continue the following Monday.
and we close our blogging tour of GO The Next Generation with...
I'll be tweeting each stop on the tour as it goes up. So... enjoy the next couple of weeks of binary-blowing gendernalysis. And please do join in the conversation along your way with comments on each of the reviews, and right here if you like. I am SO all aquiver!
Thank you for your continued or new interest in my work.
For the past fifteen years, I've been touring college campuses, conferences, and rallies with pieces that have focused primarily on deconstructing sex and gender binaries—and more recently, I’ve added suggestions on how to stay alive once you've done that. I’m adding layers of social justice, coalition-building, and laying open the very real heart connection that can be found in putting queer theory into practice.
With the publication of Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation (co-edited with S. Bear Bergman), up-to-date information on the ever-changing state of gender is yours to study, experience, and have fun with… right now! I understand that this isn't necessarily good news for everyone. It's hard to be the new kid in the clubhouse. What's more, the presence of new identities within a group puts a strain on the group's values and definitions. Oh, what to do!?
By combining what I've learned through writing Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and other Outlaws with what I've learned from all the amazing contributors to Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, I've been able to come up with a perspective and point of view that fosters inclusion over exclusivity, trust over suspicion, and compassion over bullying.
To that end, I've put together an all-new touring catalogue for 2010-2011, which includes several new lectures and talks, including my shiny new workshop, The Outlaws Are Coming! The Outlaws Are Coming! with which I hope to co-create with you a safer space for you and other teens, freaks, and other outlaws.You can peruse the PDF right here, right now:
That's my work these days. That's what I'd like to help you with on your campus, at your conference, in your town, business, or place of worship. I hope to see you soon.
With love & respect, Kate
I've recently completed a non-stop four day visit to Philadelphia as "visiting scholar," guest of the Pennsylvania State Higher Education Women's Coalition. Six colleges and universities in three days. On the fourth day, I was to deliver a keynote address to the Women's Consortium's annual shindig being held at West Chester University. I wrote the address the night before I delivered it at the Consortium's luncheon (pictured here), so the talk was about as close to extemporaneous as I allow myself to get while I'm out speaking. I promised my Twitter twibe that I'd post it here if it worked. It worked, so here are my notes for that talk.