I decided that I would reprint a recent exchange that I had with an individual in the comments section of an article that was published in The Daily Iowan, the student newspaper at the Unversity of Iowa.:
STRUT-ting In The Park:
Individuals of all shapes, sizes, genders, and sexual orientations strutted down a runway in heels in Hubbard Park on Thursday night for a good cause.
STRUT, a fashion show sponsored by Gamma Rho Lambda, University of Iowa Trans Alliance, Delta Lambda Phi, oSTEM (Out in STEM), and Spectrum UI gave people the opportunity to compete in a fashion show, with proceeds going to support United Action for Youth, a nonprofit that provides youths with a safe space and support in the area and have specific support for the LGBTQ community.
Individuals could pay $3 to wear heels and walk the runway or pay $10 to compete in categories including Hawkeye Pride, Executive Realness, Futuristic Fantasy, Throwback Thursday, Frightening Fierceness, and Glamazonian Glitter Extravaganza.
“We were actually inspired by a documentary, Paris is Burning. It’s a documentary that follows this idea of ball culture, which is a piece of queer history,” said Ben Ross, the president of Delta Lambda Phi. “Basically, people would get together and perform in various categories in celebration of being queer, and the documentary kind of profiles that.”
Ross said the other events of the week have been well-attended and supported.
“We connect teens to the community through art and music, and we provide a safe space — a place where people can express themselves and feel safe doing so,” said Jamie Ellis, a youth-development specialist for the United Action for Youth.
Ellis said it’s important to provide support and listen to LGBTQ youth, because it can be a challenging time in life.
Lydia Zhu, the winner of the first part of the STRUT competition, said she came to the event to support a good cause and a great community. It was not her first time on the runway.
“I was part of the Walk it Out board for the past few years at the University of Iowa, so I have some experience with stage walking,” she said.
Her best advice to people ready to strut down the runway is to “Be confident in yourself, because it shows. As long as you’re confident, other people will feel it, too.”
This is my comment and replies to my comment:
I am a 63 year old grandmother. In 1985 I sued my father for sexually assaulting me for the first 12 years of my life. I lost the suit in courts run by men, but I went to the legislature and changed the laws on child sexual abuse. I was part of the movement to shelter battered and raped women from the 70’s onward. It’s from this perspective that I am writing.
I wonder how the college and Iowa City community would feel about a group of white men who dressed in blackface and sang spirituals and ragtime all the while saying it was a celebration of their own culture. I believe people would find it offensive to celebrate the oppression of former slaves and current victims of police violence.
The stereotypes that this group is so cheerfully co-optating and celebrating are formulated by men to suit men’s tastes. Male privilege is what determines fashions and appropriate behavior for females. Male privilege creates and enforces what is known as “femininity.” Being feminine has nothing to do with being female. The “fashion” of high heels is all-of-a-piece with the “fashion” of female footbinding. We used to call high heels “rape shoes” because they impede a woman’s ability to avoid assault by running away.
Rape culture is rampant on college campuses. I am wondering why it’s ok to celebrate rape culture and the fetishization of female body parts. This type of display by groups that are supposedly all about sexual freedom makes me believe that it’s just the same old patriarchy in a dress. In order to create sexual equality between men and women so that gender roles become irrelevant we need to work toward the passage of an Equal Rights Amendment for women, ensure equal pay, childcare and reproductive freedom for women, and an end to rape culture. It’s time to shrink male privilege, not put on high heels and stagger down a runway.
Nolan Petersen: Vice Chair at Delta Lambda Phi Alumni Association:
This event was sponsored by a number of organizations, including organizations of women. Additionally, heels are not exclusively female, and to present them as such is ignorant of the history female impersonation and cross-dressing have in the queer community.
And finally, this was a fundraiser for a local youth organization which supports young people in the community who are gender or sexuality minorities, and if you have a problem with a drag show for charity then perhaps you are the one with priorities in the wrong place.
Also, as someone who wants to say that being feminine is much more than fashion, you are putting a lot of emphasis in how wearing heels is co-opting femininity, when in fact many of the gay men of which put together this event wear heels in their personal lives because gender normative clothing is an exhausting and outdated cultural restriction.
I don’t disagree, though, that men have put expectations on women and the female body in the form of fashion ‘rules’ and expectations, which have harmed and assaulted women for generations. This event, however, was pulling from the gender queering of drag, not the normative and damaging aspects of male-dominated ‘women’s fashion’s.
Nolan Petersen ,The fact that women were involved just proves Mary Daly’s contention about female tokens, i.e., fembots who parrot the patriarchal line: “Look! They do it to themselves!” And thus men are absolved of their responsibility for rape culture.
Editor Ruth Barrett writes: “This anthology brings together voices of more than forty six contributors celebrating female embodiment while exploring deeper issues of misogyny, violence and sexism in gender identity politics today, demonstrating the intentional silencing and erasure of living female realities.
These perspectives come at a time when gender politics and profits from an emerging medical transgenderism industry for children, teens, and adults inhibits our ability to have meaningful discussions about sex, gender, changing laws that have provided sex-based protections for women and girls, and the re-framing of language that erases females as a distinct biological class.
Through researched articles, essays, first-hand experience, story telling, and verse, these voices are needed to ignite the national conversation about the politics of gender-identity as a backlash to feminist goals of liberation from gender stereotypes, oppression and sexual violence.”
In different voices, this compendium of articles shows how transgenderism is erasing the reality of what it means to be a woman. There are some marvelous essays in Female Erasure that make this book the recent go-to analysis of gender identity as “an inherently misogynist idea.” Read the writings by medical and psychological professionals who tell us about the wrongs their professions have inflicted on transitioners, including children; the accounts of women caught in the vicious cycle of transitioning and the stories of young lesbians pressured to be ABF (Anything But Female); and the narratives of wives of men who would be women, wives who learned the hard way that “women are [not] actually real to these men.” These are only a few of the meaningful essays in this anthology that address the current travesty of gender identity orthodoxy. ~ Janice G. Raymond
You should have said thank you to Jeanne. Thank you Jeanne for advocating for and supporting the many women you have over the years. Thank you Jeanne for ensuring that women were safe.
Thank you Jeanne. It is our fore sisters that have allowed current women to continue to fight patriarchy. Thank you. From one sister to another.
Transplaining? Yeah, your erasure of Trans identifies and Trans women in history is so progressive and ultra feminist of you. And Michelle, I only thank people who don’t insist on erasing the existence of my queer Brothers and Sisters to make a point–which Jeanne couldn’t help herself from doing. I won’t stand by and let bigoted womyn ruin an event which was created to celebrate diversity, support young, queer youth, and pay homage to the fashion and performance of drag for decades before either of your crusty bodies came into this world. If you can’t respect queer bodies and queer people, then your opinion on this matter is truly irrelevant, as this event is about queers supporting queers in queer spaces doing queer things–none of which needs your validation to do the good work it does. Enjoy your crusty existence supporting the structures of privilege that keep men in power and keep queers (and women) quiet, you despicable excuse for a feminist.
Nolan Petersen I would not risk subjecting myself to this kind of abuse if it weren’t for the fact that gender-identity ideology is erasing women and the work we have done to protect ourselves from the effects male privilege and it’s enforcement corollary, male violence against women, and effeminate men who violate the “man box.” And what is being done to non-gender-conforming children is just horrific. Children are being given hormones that cause cancer and mitochondrial damage in order to make them conform to the heterosexual sex caste system, along with mutilating surgeries which have their own set of risks.
And why do “queer” people have a special right to their own spaces when women apparently do not have that right within the gender ideology universe. I am a student at UI and I have been trying to find safe space for women and it does not exist. When I type “women” into the UI search engine what comes up is the alphabet soup of LGBTQ. Women are being erased because gender ideology erases the distinction between biological sex and the gender roles that are violently imposed on boys and girls as they are growing up within this rapist culture. Sex is not gender. Sex is a physical reality, gender is a social construct. Nobody is born with the wrong social construct in their brain.
I looked up the Women’s Resource and Action Center and learned that “people of all identities” are welcome. Which means men who changed their surface appearance in order to look like the stereotype of the rapable sex class. They talk about “violence” and erase the fact that the violence is overwhelmingly done by male against females with the intent of keeping females subservient and afraid. I went to the Rape Victims Advocacy Center to find support for my post-incest issues and was informed that I have to share my support group with men who were raised as members of the rapist class who superficially look like women. When I write to these agencies or to the “Gender Studies Department” (women deleted, violence mentioned generally and not attributed to males and male privilege with women as the target) or the Daily Iowan to ask what the fuck is going on I am not even afforded the dignity of a reply. Who is silencing whom here?
I like people who aren’t hetereosexual. I don’t want anyone to be harmed by male violence, by not fitting into the “man box.” I am not the problem. I did my work to dismantle the sex caste system But, I don’t like it when gay men co-opt female culture, especially the parts that symbolize our slavery, and fetishize parts of female bodies in order to objectify and degrade females.
Have I made myself clear?