Friday Night Fun and Culture: Summer of Love Edition

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Definitional Nonsense

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The Real Story of the Female Hunter of Delaware County

From The Advocate

Lucy Ann Lobdell quickly gained a reputation as a marksman during the 19th century. But after leaving home, Lobdell proved something different altogether — a transgender man.

BY Diane Anderson-Minshall
August 02 2012

Born in 1829 to a working-class family in upstate New York, Lucy Ann Lobdell quickly gained a reputation as a marksman, earning the nickname “The Female Hunter of Delaware County.” But after leaving home, Lobdell proved something different altogether: a transgender man. Now Lobdell’s distant relative, professor Bambi L. Lobdell, has written a fascinating account of Joseph Lobdell — who she calls Lucy-Joe — and what happened after he moved to the frontier, married a woman, and bucked 19th-century social restrictions and gender expectations. It’s a fascinating story of forced marriage, arrest, and incarceration in an insane asylum. Although 20th-century scholars have labeled Lobdell a lesbian, the author, while incorporating queer theory and Lobdell’s own writings, makes a fascinating argument in A Strange Sort of Being: The Transgender Life of Lucy Ann/Joseph Israel Lobdell, 1829-1912 that there never was a “female hunter” but really a transgender man who would eventually be locked away from society and his beloved for insisting on being a man.

The Advocate: I can’t help but notice you share a last name with your subject. What’s your relationship?
Bambi L. Lobdell: I am a distant relative — second cousin four times removed.

You write that Joseph Lobdell’s descendants sort of downplayed his story, reducing him to the “female hunter” at best, or erasing him altogether. Can you tell me more about that and how you heard his story?
For decades, Lucy-Joe was a skeleton in the Lobdell family closet, a bit of an embarrassment, mostly for the charge of insanity, which carries a heavy social stigma even now. When my family first came across information on Lucy, there wasn’t much to go by. Lucy’s autobiography, The Narrative of the Female Hunter of Delaware and Sullivan County, published in 1855, gives no indication of male identification or desire for women. The autobiography presents an intelligent and strongly worded feminist manifesto for equal pay and opportunities for women and a personal refusal to live an oppressed life in the domestic sphere; she also presents her bold plan to seize freedoms and opportunities that women did not have legal rights to at the time by going out into the world in men’s clothes. The few newspaper articles available were modern retellings of older newspaper articles that often only featured Lucy as a woman who refused to stay in the place society set for her. When this lack of information was combined with a general cissexist ignorance of transgender identity that is still common, the first stories out of my family were not complete.

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XX vs. XY

From Huffington Post:


“When did you know for sure?”

Everyone we meet wants to know the answer to that question when they hear we have a transgender child, some because they want to calm unspoken fears about the possibility that their own tomboy daughter or feminine son might be gender-variant, perhaps, but most because they are genuinely interested in a subject that is still a mystery for so many.

I remember Sam always gravitating toward traditional male activities, male friends, and male play, from Matchbox cars and toy CAT bulldozers to baseball jerseys and Bob the Builder reruns. Sam was all boy. When he was 3, a well-meaning preschool teacher sent a photo home with him. The woman was just as pleased to share what fun our child was having at school as Sam was to be hand-delivering a picture that was sure to make the refrigerator wall-of-fame. As I studied the photo of three young children playing house, a sick feeling began to grow in my stomach. In front of me were two girls engaged in traditional-gender-role play, happily assuming the coveted parts of mother and child, and then there was Sam, complete with a fake beard, sportcoat, top hat, and a grin from ear to ear.

When I asked Sam what role he was playing, his tone, more than the answer, caught me off guard. With a confident, don’t-you-get-it-Mom inflection in his voice, Sam proclaimed, “I’m the dad!” An even more incredulous tenor ensued when I asked why he was playing that part. “Because that is who I am!” he explained with frustration. I was hoping the answer would have been, “Because they made me be the dad,” for I would have much rather dealt with a daughter not standing up to her classmates than a child who was starting to tell us, in the only way a child of that age knew how, that there was a disconnect between mind and body.

The early years were filled with more of these types of anecdotes than I care to remember, each one providing varying degrees of uneasiness for my husband and me. But it was the revelation Sam came home with in third grade that provided us with that proverbial “aha!” moment. In third grade students at our local public elementary school get their first lesson on the subject of chromosomes — nothing too complex, mind you, just the basic information. As it turned out, that day proved to be a monumental one for Sam, who jumped off the bus in the afternoon eager to share something important.

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Disney Princesses Circa 2012: I’m Too Sexy For My Gown?

From Peggy Orenstein:

Peggy Orenstein
August 2nd, 2012

So, while we’re on the topic of how the Disney Princesses–the brand that parents go to to stave off premature sexualization of their innocent girls–are changing, let’s take a look at Belle. Recall that the message of “Beauty and the Beast” is that true beauty comes from within (though you could also argue it teaches that if you hang out with an abusive guy long enough he turns into a prince…). Now let’s look at how Belle has changed since her debut in 1991.

Here she is in the movie, just a girl and her book, singing, as one does:

Here she is, also in the movie, in her iconic yellow gown, the one that has made countless preschool girls rip the necks of their t-shirts because “princesses don’t show their shoulders” (people tell me that all the time):

Now here is the BRAND NEW BELLE circa 2012 from the Disney store site, pictured on a girl’s nightie:

Whoa. Hotsy-totsy. Like  I want my 4-year-old wearing pajamas with THAT expression on them.

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Pussy Riot are a reminder that revolution always begins in culture

From The Guardian UK:

Vladimir Putin is right to be frightened by Pussy Riot. They are essentially a concept and you can’t stop a concept, Wednesday 1 August 2012

Some people have their eyes on the prize. A prize beyond medals. That prize is freedom, freedom of expression, freedom to protest. I am talking about Pussy Riot, who are drawing the eyes of the world to what is happening in Russia. Pussy Riot – crazy punks, yeah? No, they are not crazy, daft or naive. They are being tried for blasphemy in what is still, nominally, a secular state. They are highlighting what happens to any opposition to president Vladimir Putin and, indeed, they do look fabulous. If you want to see protest as art or the art of protest, look at these women and their supporters.

Described as punk inheritors of the Riot Grrrl mantle, they are so much more. They are now on trial in Moscow for a crime that took 51 seconds to commit. Please watch it on YouTube. They mimed an anti-Putin song in the main Orthodox cathedral wearing their trademark balaclavas and clashing colours. For this “hooliganism ” and “religious hatred”, the three women have already served five months in jail. They now face a possible seven-year sentence, in a country where fewer than 1% of cases that go to trial end in a not guilty verdict.

Pussy Riot function symbolically as the head of a protest movement in Russia that is being shut down. Bloggers have been arrested, and people are scared to express any anti-Putin sentiment. Only state-sanctioned demonstrations are allowed. The slide into dictatorship is apparent and, significantly, one of the biggest benefactors has been the church, which has performed a massive “land grab”. Pussy Riot exist to draw attention to precisely what is so disturbing, a totalitarian nation where the church and state are become one. Some have warned that Russia is becoming a new entity, a Christian fundamentalist state. Members of the Orthodox church have said the separation of the secular and the spiritual is “a western idea”. This what Pussy Riot are up against.

The women have been called Satanists by state prosecutors and various priests, though their supporters paint them as sweet young mothers. Doubtless they are, but they are also cleverly using long-established forms of anonymous anarchic protest. The balaclavas mean anyone can be Pussy Riot. The Guerilla Girls in the Art World did this. An anarchist “strike” once involved all of us writing with the byline Karen Eliot. Occupy does it. The dull and respectable left too often ignores the genius of these forms of dissent.

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See Also:

Pussy Riot members ‘deprived of sleep and food’ during trial

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Amway faces boycott over donation to anti-gay group

From Raw Story

By Eric W. Dolan
Thursday, August 2, 2012

LGBT rights activist Fred Karger announced Thursday a global boycott targeting the direct-sales giant Amway over its founder’s contribution to an anti-gay group.

Tax records obtained by Karger show that Amway president and owner Doug DeVos donated $500,000 to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) Education Fund through his Douglas & Maria DeVos Foundation.

“I have been closely tracking NOM for over four years,” Karger said. “NOM always tries to hide the names of its donors and often breaks state election reporting laws in the process. NOM is currently under active investigations for election law violations in Maine and California”

“I imagine NOM leaders Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown thought that no one would uncover the huge Amway contribution which appears to be the largest family donation to NOM in its history. Only the Catholic Church’s political arm the Knights of Columbus has given more to the ‘Hate Group’ NOM.”

NOM was formed in 2007 to pass Proposition 8 in California, a constitutional amendment to prohibit same sex marriage. The organization has fought against proposals in numerous states to legalize same sex marriage and allow same sex couples to adopt children. NOM came under fire earlier this year when strategy documents released as part of an investigation detailed the organization’s plan to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks.”

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