Ain’t I a woman?

There’s a lot I have to say about what came up in yesterday’s post. Those who asked for a longer essay might get it, when I have more time, which may be when I’m dead. But I think I should at least clarify a few things in the meantime:

— I was, in fact, not thinking only of or even primarily about burlesque.

— Burlesque is one of the tropes I’m thinking of, but again, not the only one.

— Women get objectified. Period. Whether we’re dancing on a box at Pop Roxx or are on a stage at Hubba Hubba Revue. The difference? How we use that space, how we subvert that objectification. I don’t think it’s accurate to say that burlesque is just about naked girls.

— I was thinking also of some of the reasons I didn’t go to the Femme Conference a couple years ago–I don’t feel particularly reflected in that identity as I’ve seen it defined, discussed, or presented.

— I remember going to the Great Dickens Fair with whittles and being disappointed during The French Postcards that the whole theme was about imperialism and exploitation of the “exotics” of the East. I mean, yes, in Victorian London, that would have made sense, but honestly–at this point, can’t people come up with something smarter, wittier, more subversive, especially in a national climate where people from the Middle East and South Asia are already being exoticized and dehumanized?

— One of the problems with things retro is that shit used to be a lot more blatantly racist and sexist. So, if you can’t find a way around that, you might want to leave the past in the past.

— I’m thinking of conversations I’ve had with trans women about other trans women who they didn’t think “worked hard enough” to pass–by not doing things I don’t do, not because I don’t “have” to or haven’t been told to but because that’s not how I choose to construct my identity as a woman, especially when it means denying my identity as a black woman.

— I participated in the Big Bad Blond Wig Bar Crawl… in the Marina a few months ago. It was fun, and as much as I thought I’d feel like a punchline wearing a Marilyn Monroe wig, I didn’t. I rocked that shit.

— And while I respect Dorothy Dandridge and Josephine Baker for what they accomplished when they accomplished it, I also am aware of the sacrifices they made. I don’t want to straighten my hair, lighten my skin, or wear a skirt of bananas. And in 2008, I shouldn’t have to.

— I really, really, really wish Harlem Shake Burlesque were still an active troupe. I do look forward to seeing how Alotta Boutte interprets the 80s theme at the next HHR.

— I have an idea for a Diana Ross act.

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