Bren: Hey there, Maddie! Have you heard about that thing that happened, that all the dykes are talking about?
Maddie: Oh hey, Bren! Well, let’s see.
Dykes in my world are mostly talking about wedding season and Rachel Maddow’s book tour… could that be what you mean?
Bren: Oh, how I wish. No, I mean this thing that happened and is not nearly so adorable.
Have you read it? I mean, whatisthisIdon’teven.
Maddie: Oh, yes, there’s been some buzz about that as well.
I have read it.
Bren: That screeching sound we’re hearing is lesbians being set back about 50 years.
Maddie: I was in denial about it being as terrible as they all were saying, because Staceyann Chin is a known BAMF whose writing and performances have moved me a lot in the past. But after the first half of the piece when it turned into a manual for How to Exploit Your Good-Looking Friends into Having Sex with You that They Might Not Want Except in the Midst of Severe Emotional Turmoil, I couldn’t really maintain the denial any longer. Sad face.
Bren: I thought/hoped that this was actually a parody, and she would be all “PSYCH! Gotcha. Don’t actually do anything of this, y’all, ‘cuz it’s awful,” but that didn’t happen.
I mean, I guess maybe I would expect this from a newly-minuted 16-year-old babydyke with something to prove in the swagger department, but Staceyann has been in the scene for quite a while now, correct?
Maddie: Wikipedia has confirmed that she is not 16 years old, correct.
Bren: Well then, I can’t for the life of me figure out her motivation here. Is she trying to be funny? Edgy? Or is she trying to be like, “dykes can be sexual predators, too?” That’s really what I got out of it.
For example, this sentence when she talks about how seducing straight women makes her feel: “you are the chosen one, the messiah, the mandate that pulls her, magnetic, toward her most hidden desires.”
Um, am I crazy or does that sound like a dude describing going out with a virgin?
Maddie: I hear that, and it’s a disturbing tone in her article.
If we’re looking for an answer to the WHY, STACEYANN, WHY, though, I’m checking this paragraph, talking about the only-in-the-dark-of-night relationships she had with college classmates in intensely homophobic Jamaica: “I spent many evenings and many cracks of dawn in the narrow beds jammed against the white walls of the tiny dorm rooms, listening to Sarah McLachlan with some girl I hoped would be moved enough to actually become my girlfriend. None of them was moved enough, or had courage enough. It was definitely a bit of a trip to lie naked with these women by night and be ignored by them in the light of day. Even now, I still get a little excited about the memories before the anger and shame and angst come rushing back.”
So, you know, maybe there’s an element of reliving the excitement and exorcising the anger and shame.
Maybe she has some kind of grudge against straight women.
Bren: Could this be a revenge post, then? A “look how much power I have over these straights” when she was the one feeling powerless back then?
Because if so, then OK, that sounds like a sucky experience, but this is not the most mature way of dealing with that.
Maddie: I mean, I’m wondering if that’s part of what motivates her to seek out similar relationships—not just what motivated her to publish a piece about it in the Guardian.
But I think “revenge” is well-put, because… well, because the second half of the piece sounds like a way to take revenge on someone who has hurt you.
Bren: I’m not sure if it’s a great excuse, if it is her excuse. I mean, I’m pretty sure 99% of us have crushed on a straight girl at some point in our queer lives, by mere virtue of them BEING EVERYWHERE.
And it’s very calculated, emotionally-manipulative, super-mega-creepster revenge.
I mean: “You should laugh when she confides in having a crush on some boy. Offer advice on what she should wear when she goes to see him. Be supportive of her relationship. Become her friend, first. Work very hard at being her very best friend. Always remember, you’re only her friend. You are not allowed to bend that rule for at least three months.” WHAT?!
Maddie: Let me be clear that I’m not offering her an excuse. Am I trying to reconcile the artist I admire with the person who wrote this piece? Absolutely. But without qualification, I think the behavior she describes here is reprehensible.
Maddie: I do think, though, that oppression breeds oppression.
We’re still personally and individually accountable for our own actions, but they do not take place in a vacuum.
Bren: Yes, and here we have a great example of an oppressed group trying to oppress another oppressed group.
Oppression within oppression. OPRESSCEPTION.
Maddie: …And if that doesn’t blow your mind enough already, it’s also an example of an oppressed group reenacting oppression on an oppressed group that does at times take part in the oppression of the first oppressed group.
Well put, Keanu.
Ya know, this reminds me of how absofuckinlutely bezerk I go when I see a young butch saying things like “femmes should do the cooking and cleaning, I wanna watch the big game, femmes are too emotional, Ugg make fire cook meat,” etc.
Taking on the worst behavior of your oppressor doesn’t make you any cooler or any less oppressed.
As Cady Heron once said, “Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. And ruining Regina George’s life definitely didn’t make me any happier.”
STOP RUINING REGINA GEORGE’S LIFE, STACEYANN.
Maddie: Well, it sure doesn’t make you any cooler, and, you’re right, it doesn’t have much of an impact on the forces that are already pushing you down, but when we’re short on power in society and interpersonal relationships, I think we tend to look for it where we can get it. And sometimes do bad things to get it.
Bren: Well said, my friend.
Maddie: And sometimes enact oppressions on others to get it.
I think it’s also worth accounting for the ways we contribute to the disempowerment of others—sometimes innocently, sometimes stupidly, sometimes out of self-preservation—and how that can turn into a cycle of retaliation.
Bren: So basically, this is Staceyann’s Guide To Making Straight Women Hurt As Much As You Do. That’s cute.
Maddie: I’m not comfortable claiming I actually know her mentality and motivations, but that’s how I read it, I guess.
Bren: What do you think about people’s comments on the article saying that if it were written by a straight dude about seducing dykes, it wouldn’t have been published?
Maddie: So, I can’t help but resent those comments just a little.
Straight men have a social license to operate in bordering-on-(if-not-fully-)predatory ways.
Lesbians are widely seen as available for sex with men under the right circumstances…and are constantly having to defend against that myth.
Bren: Gross, yes.
Maddie: The power relationships involved change dramatically when you swap “Staceyann Chin” for “some straight dude” and “straight-identified women” for “lesbians.”
So I think in some ways making that switch confuses the issues more than it illuminates them.
Bren: It operates on the notion that all parties in this Mad Lib are of equal social power.
Maddie: That said, the article DOES describe a predatory approach to sexual relationships reminiscent of things we despise in dominant, misogynist narratives.
Bren: Yes, yes it does.
“If you really want a shot at getting close to this woman, you have to wait until there is a crack in the lack of respect her boyfriend has for her. Watch for when he is late, or disrespectful, or inconsiderate. Casually mention that you would never treat a woman like that. Reinforce how she deserves so much better. Store the details.”
The narrative has now, apparently, become about how to steal someone’s GF by pretending to give a fuck about her emotions, when you’re actually storing up her intimate, trusting revelations to you in some “To Fuck Later” database.
COOL STORY, BRO.
I’m sure that emotionally-fragile individual will not suffer at all when she realizes her supposed friend was only there for her for the sake of winning a tumble in the hay. Nope, not at all. Never mind how much the anti-gay powers-to-be will appreciate one of our own delivering “recruitment” propoganda to the masses. Oh, what a clusterfuck.
Maddie: I’m also interested in addressing the “recruitment” criticism of the piece, actually.
Bren: Please do!
Maddie: Because in reading it, it actually makes something of an argument against the possibility of recruitment.
She doesn’t make it sound like she’s out there minting new lesbians.
Rather, she’s going in with the assumption that it’ll be short-lived. In her own words, “maybe you will teach her something new about gender-bending and multiple orgasms. Maybe the experience will teach you something about loss. But you must remember that most straight-not-so-straight girls are often unwilling to make the dive into lesbian sexuality permanent. Sure, some are moved enough to dip a hand all the way in, but most of them are only experimenting with the tide.”
Not that there isn’t plenty in there a homophobe could run with, but the whole thing reads as a contemplation of relationship fatalism, not a recruitment manual.
Bren: That’s a good point. Maybe less recruitment propos than “how to taint nice heterosexual women with your icky homo germs” or something. I’m sure Focus on the Family could work something out.
Am I alone is really hoping she’ll do some sort of follow-up or clarification piece? I mean she has to know how many waves this has made.
Maddie: You are not alone!
I have been hoping the same thing, that she’ll give some recognition of how it came off and how that wasn’t the piece she meant to write after all, or something.
I do think you can read a lot of sadness into the piece. I just wish it weren’t so creepy at the same time.
She’s not known for shyness about controversy, though, so I’m not sure we’ll get that from her.
Bren: Welp, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. I guess at the least, she’s sparked some interesting conversations.
Maddie: …WHICH WE HOPE YOU HAVE ENJOYED READING!
Bren: ‘Til next time, readers, keep over-processing!
Maddie: Keep over-processing, and avoid manipulating people into sexual contact with you.
Which means all the time.
Because it is always possible to not manipulate someone into having sex with you.
RULES TO LIVE BY.
Bren: Knowledge is power.