Regarding The 'Genderfloomp Party'
Had a conversation with a good friend who managed to put to words some of what I was feeling and helped me sort out a portion of my WTF. Appropriation doesn't seem at first glance like the right word, but it's about what is being appropriated. Appropriation has the impact I want. I am concerned about people getting to play dress up in regards to gender as if such an act is a free act and something to take for granted. And if it is 'club performance' that's some privileged shite right there, because there are many people who don't suddenly stop being transqueer or living lives on the border when they 'leave the party' and 'wipe off the makeup'.
I recognize that's likely not the intent or goal of the party. But many insensitive things in this world aren't intended to harm or oppress but they do. The fact that the people participating can't grasp the oppression doesn't make it any less real or mocking.
If it turns out to be a space where some folks feel free to express who they are, because they're hiding among 'revelers' and so technically 'they could be straight, cis, whatever' because 'it's a party' - I can't and won't begrudge them that; it's an odd broadening of the closet for a few hours. For me though, the very fact that it's a 'dress up party' - not a 'We're having a party and we've decided that prescribed gender roles can kiss our ass - dress how you want' - that disturbs me.
I recognize now, as well, how I saw it presented; that isn't it amazing that so and so has put their costume together and looks fabulous - that upset me too. Again the best phrase I have for it is that 'Someone's life shouldn't be your play space'. That's where the word appropriation feels most apt. That's where I start thinking about headdresses and culture and white folks dressing up as slaves and or confederate soldiers etc for a ball - because it's just for fun. Context? What context?
This isn't the same thing as drag - which is a distinct style of performance with distinct rules and roles. This is clearly a costume party and the theme is gender. And it freaks me out that it's this party version of the argument; all gender is performance and socialization and isn't real, therefore anyone can put on or take off anything. Which is often used as a tool of oppression.
And none of this even gets into the self appointed gate keepers in the world who demand certain dress to either prove or disprove a thing and the people who, for their own lives, can't dress as they would like. It was still appropriation for non NDN folks to dress up using certain feathers and certain designs even when it was illegal for NDNs to practice their traditional religions. It was still playing dress-up as if it had no context, no history, no pains.
Again, I'm sure the organizers will take care to gate keep the party and try to keep absuive elements from crashing the 'fun'. But that isn't the same thing as a safe space to me.
Someone in my comments talked about PoC feeling unsafe when everyone around them is being culturally appropriative. But what about someone who is trans, being surrounded by people treating gender and gender fluidity or androgyny etc as a costume for the night - thinking it's giving them great insight. Is that safe? Are you sure that other people deciding when it's a great idea to 'play with gender presentation' and when it's not, isn't oppression?
We already know that just because something is run by feminist white women, doesn't mean it's got intersectionality automatically in the bag.
ETA: To those of y'all who've met me - you know how I treat crap/abusive comments.