Wednesday Warriors – Kat Blaque

I…love Kat Blaque. Like so much. Because 1) her style is A+, and 2) all of her videos are poignant and insightful. She has made me understand things and change my views over and over again through her education. She is unapologetic and amazing.

Is this post just going to be me gushing? Maybe. I love her.

Kat Blaque is a black trans woman YouTuber. Her YouTube videos focus on race, gender, and social justice issues, and she contributes to a bunch of websites including one of my faves, Everyday Feminism.

Kat really speaks best for herself, and I recommend watching her videos. Here is one of my favorites:

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Wednesday Warriors – International Women’s Day 2017

It is Wednesday and you know what that means. Welcome all to our little world of activism and badassery! This week’s rendition of the Wednesday Warriors series is a big round of applause and general worship of all the women who have ever, in big or small ways, fought for justice and equality.

I’m not here to emphasize binaries and exclusivity in the world, I’m here to share with you some inspiring people who battled for human rights.

So, to start your day off right, please find below some inspiring content for your viewing and subsequent awesomeness boost. You’re welcome.

Movie Time

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A movie about the Suffrage movement in the Great Britain and another about Lili Elbe, one of the first identifiable recipients of sex reassignment surgery (if you would rather not support this Hollywood rendition, which is understandable, please read her autobiography, Man into Woman). Sit down with your placards and tissues at the ready.

Poetry

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You can listen to Maya Angelou’s beautiful and empowering poem, And Still I Rise, in her own voice here.

Painting

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Artemisia Gentileschi faced torture for not denying that she painted Judith Slaying Holofernes. Enough said.

Music

Billie-1050x700.jpgIn addition to being one of America’s favorite singers, Billie Holiday sang Strange Fruit (although not written by her) protesting racism in America. It’s creepy, condemning, and positively crucial to any activist’s playlist. Enjoy.

Wednesday Warriors – Yayoi Kusama

This one is a bit sentimental, since Danny and I did a team project on this lovely lady back in the days of art history classes. I don’t remember what grade we got on the project, but we certainly had a good time making it.

I freaking love this lady.

Yayoi Kusama, also known as the coolest Japanese grandmother living across your street, has been influencing the New York and world art scene with her psychedelic, culture-normativity-warping physical exhibitions as well as interactive and performance art. In the ‘60s, she hosted happenings, or “social demonstrations” as she called them, usually involved painting nude people in polka dots around targeted monuments such as the Statue of Liberty or the MoMA, to promote an anti-war, anti-capitalist, and a free love agenda. Polka dots have remained a theme in her canvas and sculpture artwork, and so have penises.

You read that right. I said it. Penises. Phallus’ covering chairs, walls, step ladders, and more. Feel free to peruse here. They’re shocking, embarrassing, downright hilarious, and ultimately you’re not sure what to think, but you leave the gallery feeling better about life and yourself. It’s a perfect balance of taking a taboo thing, breaking down its parts (no pun intended) and questioning its place, role, and status in society. Particularly something that has held power and control, and associating it with banal items like chairs and ladders.

Yayoi has been around for so long and is so prolific, that attempting to capture the full aspect of her body of work is, well, unadvisable. She’s involved in fashion, art in countless mediums, literature, and film, with pretty much yearly new material for our general enjoyment, we just can’t get enough.

To end on a more personal note, Yayoi grew up in an abusive and restrictive home. She has openly written and spoken about struggling with mental illness her entire life. In 1977, she checked herself into a mental hospital, close by to her studio, where she has lived ever since.

Oh, and if you’d like to purchase (and then gift to me, her biggest fan) some polka dot goodness to lift the spirits of your office or home, see here.

Overcoming the Threat of Anachronism

In “Epistemology of the Closet”, Eve Sedgewick put forward these questions:

“Has there ever been a gay Socrates?

Has there ever been a gay Shakespeare?

Has there ever been a gay Proust?”

She follows with her own answer: “not only have there been a gay Socrates, Shakespeare, and Proust but … their names are Socrates, Shakespeare, Proust.” The suggestion is that the gay readings of texts akin to those in the canon must be the gay readings of the texts that are in the canon. This I want to broaden to any queer reading, gay, lesbian, transgender, nonbinary, and so on. The only way to find readings useful to this community in the canon is to find them in the texts already in the canon, as it is unlikely—well, I might as well say what I mean, impossible—that we will dig up any comparable texts from the same traditions and give them the historical prominence of these ones any time in the near or far future. Queer readers must be allowed queer readings to keep a canon useful to them, and as the world moves ever onward, the canon remains only useful to us so long as we find the relevance of our world in them, and if this is by necessity anachronistic, then so be it, but I really don’t think it is.

Readings biased toward queerness may be a necessary balance to a plethora of readings biased toward heteronormativity. The proposal of an unbiased reading of any canon text producing the true sexual orientation and gender identity of the players is at best overly optimistic (and at worst intentionally ignorant) in a hetero- and cis-normative world.

I’m picking Chaucer here mainly because he’s my man and I’m writing a thesis on him (whoops, I’m showing you my biases). If I want a gay Chaucer, a queer Chaucer, a nonbinary Chaucer, or a Chaucer who thinks gender is Fake and Not Real™, then I’m going to get him, and if these are anachronisms I have news for you: the idea of a heterosexual, cisgender Chaucer is just as anachronistic, because those categories do not exist until they exist to overpower the minority group. But you don’t hear anyone complaining about heterosexual, cisgender readings of Chaucer, do you? No, you don’t even hear them called heterosexual, cisgender readings, those ones are just called “readings”.