Thursday, February 25, 2010

i should be so lucky/confront

Today on Facebook I linked this heartening story from the NYT regarding the fact that Maryland, the state I grew up in, is recognizing gay marriages performed in other states. (It's a step in the right direction, at least.)

The picture accompanying the article in the link was from another NYT article, which I skimmed with mild disgust, about a woman who moved from Park Slope to Clinton Hill and was faced with the oh-so-daunting task of "bring[ing] a contemporary feeling to the rooms without losing touch with the building’s history." As interested as I am in design, I am also repulsed by articles like this that continue the narrative of pure consumption/consumerism, sans context, as desirable. It's nice to have the luxury of designing your own apartment when you have the money to do that and support a child (and you've chosen to put your money in that particular basket), but what about the millions of families that don't even have a home they feel comfortable in because they can't afford one? What are they supposed to feel when they read this article?

Anyway, the juxtaposition of the wrong picture with the article I linked was particularly amusing when one takes into consideration other narratives about homosexuality and design sense, in which are contained truths and falsehoods, as any generalization will. Oh, NYT. Way to perpetuate.

I had a bunch of thoughts floating around in my head already from reading about the ghettoized bullshit condescension of Vogue Curvy (note that there is also a Vogue Black, because apparently women of all colors and sizes aren't "legitimate" enough in the eyes of the fashion industry to appear in the same magazine - only very particular "large" women and black women are represented, too).

I am a consumer, of course. I try to think about my consumption habits and make decisions that are at least rationally and politically informed about my spending, but sometimes I fall short of that goal, as we all do. Sometimes I forget about how capitalism has been ingrained into my body, my being, my gender presentation, my sexuality, my idea of self-worth. I still think it's important to examine the ways in which we personally interact with capital (and in which capital attempts to partition or label us because we're easier to sell to that way), and I think that sometimes radical feminism/queerness as a movement forgets about it too. The sheer weight and frustration of all of it is often too much, but we have to keep pushing if we truly want to effect real change.

When I was young I wanted so desperately not to look like I do; I wanted not to be an outsider. I wanted to be popular and accepted, and that also meant being taller and skinnier and looking less "ethnic." It meant not speaking up about certain things I cared about; it meant playing the right roles and the right games. I still have twinges of those feelings, because even though I am generally content these days with myself and my life, my environment never stops reminding me of the many ways in which I deviate from the norm. We all experience this pressure, even though I am pretty sure that those of us who are further from the norm are consistently reminded of it in different ways than those who are closer to it.

In short: this is my reminder to myself to keep questioning systems of power and the stories they spin, even when/especially when they produce emotional resonances. This is my reminder to myself to keep challenging the movements I am a part of as well as the greater mainstream society/culture towards greater social justice.

Friday, February 19, 2010

good thoughts, bad thoughts

I've been using the Internet too long. This is like my 800th blog at this point. I've been out of the habit of writing daily. Part of me feels guilty for not completing projects (as if something like this could ever be 'complete'); part of me feels like I'm leaving diaries in the garbage for the general public to find. For a while I was private-journaling only, but the major ghosts have been exorcised at this point or at least whittled into more manageable forms.

I am listening to Funkadelic and thinking that there are moments on their records that I wouldn't let other groups get away with.