introducing hejemonster

hegemony do doo da-do-do hegmony do do da-do hegemony do doo da-do-do da-do-do da-do-do da-do-do do do do do do do do! (of course sung to the tune of me-nah-me-nah) in my vision of the world–hejemonsters uproot, expose, destabilize, and perhaps sing in the general direction of cultural, social, political, economic and other forms of hegemony. i am jen, a hejemonster.

of course, here is the trick…there is no outside of the hegemony, no distancing oneself from the norms that produce us, and the sociopolitical systems that surround and embody us. there’s no there there. what a f*ckin’ bummer! all of this has been said before by people much wiser than me. critical race theorists, critical feminists of color, transnational feminists, just super smarty pants kind of people, peace, love, and liberation love-nics, you know the types~resisters, liberationsists, transformers (not the robots), teachers, activists, artists, musicians, etc.

ok…so that’s my path…i’m jen, a hejemonster…not THE hejemonster, a hejemonster…and i’m committed to a daily, moment to moment, monstering of first and foremost my actions, words, deeds, and then those around me. when i say that, to some it can sound kind of arduous and boring! sometimes i feel boring and bored. however, the only spiritual path i understand to matter is that of love and connection. so…a hejemonster i am because it is the path to deconstructing hegemonic institutions and systems that police, define, and separate us (and by us i mean all human beings and the earth) and rebuilding love and connection that unify us. again, smarter people have said this…and anyone who has worked for social justice and triumphed…was led by love and peace.

so, blah, blah, blah, hejemonster, love, stuff and such. i also do, be, and think about other things too. i’m a white (german, english, french…little european hopscotch) 40-year-old gender queer queer person partnered to meg at grow&resist and the director of thisawesome place. i’m mama to one bad ass, amazing, funny, active, alive, curious, confident (and on and on I go) little girl. i’m a lifelong elite athlete who is not only aging, but dealing with a metabolic disorder that is testing my ability to understand myself as someone with a disability another disability. i’m a resistant perfectionist which means i understand that i am not perfect, believe i should not have to be perfect, and yet crave perfection and beat myself up with i am not perfect. i’m a stand up comic. i am entirely overly educated, which really means that I grew up upper-middle class with the privilege of going to college and the i meandered through two masters degrees until i figured out i really wanted a phd in social welfare…actually social disruption truth be told.

alright…this is getting super boring….so….i will stop here. i will now use the sexy line that snagged my partner and i hope it snags you too: if you are interested, maybe we can dialogue sometime.

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Queering Black History (cross post with qcenter.washington.edu)

It is Black History Month…otherwise known as American History Month (reclaimed). For all of us white folks who ask the question, “why do [insert name of group here] get a month when we do not get a month?” I simply answer, “we have had 6228 months.” It has been my 40 years of experience that the primary historical narratives celebrated, retold, taught, enshrined, and even re-enacted are those of European-descent Americans. While revisionist historians (used here positively) work to reinterpret historical events from a range of vantage points and enliven Black historical narratives; if one concedes, as I do, that institutionalized systems of interlocking oppressions continue to operate at every level of culture, then pointedly identifying a month to highlight, celebrate, and educate about Black history appears current and relevant. Whew! That was a long sentence…you might want to read it again! Basically, I am saying institutionalized racism (among other ‘isms) still persists and given that, Black history month seems like a good idea to me.

But wait…to queer things up a bit, Black history should NOT be relegated to this one 28 day month. Right?! As, I mentioned previously, Black history is American history. Just as queer history is American history. Just as Latino history is American history. Just as immigration history is American history. Just as the history of all communities and vantage points is American history. It is a both/and kind of situation my friends. Because of racism, we need the month. But, in order to eradicate racism we need comprehensive, complex, non-essentializing historical narratives. Let’s get to it! Celebrate, decolonize, and transform!

Ok, now let’s get seriously queer (…as sung to the tune of Billy Joel’s  We Didn’t Start the Fire circa 1989…youtube it people).

An original song by jen, erica, and sasha at the Q.

Bayard Rustin, Audre Lorde, Queen Latifah, Miss Major, Essex Hemphill, Lee Daniels, Gertrude “Ma” Rainey.

Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, RuPaul transforms views, James Baldwin, Richard Bruce Nugent, Lorraine Hansberry.

Little Richard, Wanda Sykes, Cathy Cohen (me likes), Wallace Thurman, Sherry Harris, Josephine Baker

Mabel Hampton, Bill T. Jones, Bessie Smith, Peter Gomes, Ruth Ellis oldest dyke (meant with power here), Angela Davis always fights!

We wrote the Fire!! It was always burning since the world’s been turning, but we wrote the Fire!! No we didn’t light it, but we can incite it!

Tracy Chapman, Sapphire, June Jordan, Pat Parker, Marlon Riggs, John Amaechi, Jean-Michel Basquiat

Johnny Mathis, Linda Villarosa, Sharon Farmer, Octavia Butler, Zora Neale Hurston, Jacqueline Woodson, Barbara Jordan, Pomo Afro Homos

Glenn Burke invents High Five, Whoopie Goldberg brings it Live, Mary Edmonia Lewis, Claude McKay, Alice Walker, Paris Barclay

Tevin Campbell, Me’Shell N’DeGeOCello, Nell Carter, Charles Pugh, Alvin Ailey, Luther Vandross,  Jackie Walker

We wrote the Fire!! It was always burning since the world’s been turning, but we wrote the Fire!! No we didn’t light it, but we can incite it!

Gladys Bentley, Sheryl Swoopes, Darryl Stephens, Felicia “Snoop” Pearson, Jewelle Gomez, Alvin Ailey, Soni Fashanu

Billy Curtis, Billie Holliday, Billy Porter on Broadway, Billy Strayhorn, Joe Beam, all the Billy’s in between

George Washington Carver, Cheryl Clark, Aviance, Sylvester, Kecia Cunningham, Maurice Jamal, Andre Leon Talley is the Vogue man, Jermaine Stewart, Miss J walk this way, we have so much more to say!

We wrote the Fire!! It was always burning since the world’s been turning, but we wrote the Fire!! No we didn’t light it, but we can incite it!

For more on Black History Month

The wiki list of LGBT African AmericansUnited Kingdom Black LGBT legendscompiled by the Zuna Institute,

While Ms. Coretta Scott King has not labeled herself as lgbtq, she has certainly been an ally for lgbtq people across communities.

Check this out for a bit of a list and some quotes.http://gsanetwork.org/BlackedOUTHistory

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Iron Eve

It is the eve of the Ironman and we have busily been trying to get all our gear in the right bag, placed in the right space, all while trying to predict the weather. I, for one, am a nervous nelly. I think race day is going to be super fun….but right now, nervous nelly.

I see all these fabulous bodies, fancy bikes, latest equipment…and it is a bit intimidating. But, what I have learned about these races (from watching Meg) is that this race is quite the equalizer. Fancy equipment only gets you so far, particularly if you bought all the gear instead of training. I’ll quit being snarky. It is intimidating to see 2200 athletes all ready to take this on for one reason or another…the stories I think might be the most interesting part.

I don’t have much to say….because I’m actually having a bit of an out-of-body experience. I’m doing this because I used to think it was the most physically impossible thing a person could do. I used to think that about marathons too…that is what got me into my first and second marathons. The learning from these events is definitely more emotional and mental than physical…at least for me. Although, this go around, I am having some incredible physical learning, such as…one can train 2-8 hours a day and gain weight….and it isn’t the “fault” of the athlete. It could be cortisol or leptin or adrenal difficulties. I am learning that I am not just feeling a bit bizarre and concerned about my body for no reason. I am learning that I am not a morally corrupt person because I haven’t lost weight in this process…in fact I’ve gained weight…with good medical reason.

Now, I am struggling with the fact that I have gained weight….because I have self-hatred that rears its ugly head and growls mightily with every pound. I have that misogynist crap I referred to back in the early days of the blog. And yet, I have visited an MD (Dr. Emily Cooper at Seattle Performance Medicine) that is going to work with me as she has with other athletes to re-balance and re-calibrate my body so that it deals with food properly.

People, my visit to SPM was the first time in my medical experience that I sat in a doctor’s office and felt met around the experience of my body, my weight, the seemingly inconsistent weight gain with my watching and counting of calories and extreme exercise. I can’t wait to get back and get this all figured out. Stress, cortisol, trauma, extreme exercise….all making my body feel like it needs to hold onto everything I put in it….regardless of what that is.

Anyway, all of this is on my mind on the eve of the Ironman because I am still struggling with feeling like I belong here…that I am an athlete (though I have been one my whole life)…..simply because I have more weight on my body than I’d like.

Well, tomorrow, I will be in my body, swim 2.4 miles, bike 112, and run (shuffle) 26.2 and I will be an ironman or ironperson or ironlady. I will work on letting it in.

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“Speak Truth to Power”

First posted on blogspot on August 15, 2008

It is no secret that we have been living under a regime of fear and jingoistic propaganda the likes of which have not been witnessed since our good friends in Germany strayed behind similar fascist leadership. Bush and Company did not invent the underbelly of America, they have just given it license to rule the day, and the last 8 years. I am tired of beating around the Bush both literally and figuratively. Let’s just call the current state of US politics what it is, cynical, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and just plain u-gly! And, in my opinion, a phrase that epitomizes this political cesspool-ness is: “Barack Obama is a Muslim.”

This flat-footed phrase in and of itself is not patently racist, ugly, or xenophobic, right? We can read this statement as simply declarative, much like “Jennifer is a gay.” And, just like, “Jennifer is a gay,” the intended meaning is far more sinister than the words convey; until you factor in our current fear driven “American” psyche and the “i’m-a-’patriot’-deathly-afraid-of-the-’other’-and-my-commander-in-chief” mentality. With this context taken into consideration, the deeper meaning is revealed. It’s anti-Obama effectiveness relies upon the understanding that certain assumptions are just “true.” 1. Obama is a liar who cannot possibly know his own faith. 2. Being Muslim is bad. 3. Not being a Christian is un-American. 4. Muslim’s are brown people. 4. Brown people are “other” or “Not American”. 5. Muslim’s are terrorists. This cynical syllogism goes something like this: Muslim’s are anti-American, brown, terrorists; Obama is brown; Obama is a Muslim; Therefore, Obama is an anti-American, brown, terrorist. 

This kind of embedded anti-logic requires us to engage with the statement in ways that do not uproot its true racism and xenophobia . Obama’s camp says, “he is not a Muslim.” Obama supporters say, “he is a Christian, not Muslim.” But wait! What is wrong with being Muslim? Much like “Jennifer is a gay,” the very identity of a group of a people is foisted as an insult (e.g. that’s so gay); and the identity then becomes the evil and must therefore be denied. Wrong!

We must take Bush, Fear and Co. out of the discursive driver’s seat. You do not get to define who is American! You do not get to define who is presidential! You do not get to define what it means to be Muslim or gay! And, to the rest of us, let us not engage with such clear racism and xenophobia without calling it out and refusing to engage the statement on their terms. If we let it rest, we lend it credence. If we do not ourselves question, “what is the problem with being Muslim? what are they getting at?” then we uphold the fear-laced embedded meanings.

Let’s start a new game, with new definitions, and a spirit of hope, that which Senator Obama so clearly wishes to offer.

 

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Baristas Are Not Neutral

Have I mentioned that I totally *heart* baristas? Of course living in Seattle if I didn’t love them, I’d be reducing my community-love options by about 60%, so it is rather a necessity of life here. That said, I choose to love baristas. It is not about the coffee…though coffee does rock. My love is deeper than the bean….my love is about the art of barista-ness.

On the surface one might think that being a coffee barista is simply about the taking of orders and the delivering of the coffee service. Wrong! Being a barista is much more complex and sophisticated than all that. A barista must not only take the order and serve the coffee, but in doing so said barista is interacting with people in need. I’m again, not talking about the coffee. Sure, we all WANT the coffee….who doesn’t want the coffee? The needs brought into a coffee-house by the masses of mocha drinkers are plentiful and unspoken. The barista must intuit these needs…and the barista as artiste and humanitarian does just that.

This morning, for instance, I went into Cafe on the Ave..because I love their coffee, but I heart one particular barista who talks with me every time I get my 16 oz. iced americano with room. I didn’t walk up to the cashier and say, “i’d love a 16 oz. iced americano, some compassion, and a little inspiration.” No, I just order the coffee….and a cookie. Anyway, this particular barista asked about my weekend. You know how people ask about your weekend in the elevator or other moments when we feel awkward and don’t know what to say? Well, this wasn’t what she was doing. Now maybe she didn’t really care what I did this weekend…but in true barista artiste form….she really seemed like she cared. So, I actually answered.

I am not a big fan of small talk and even a smaller fan of big talk about myself…so usually, I just mumble something about being busy or not remembering what I did and move along. Today, I was in need of connection, to myself, to her, to the world…to something…and my barista friend in her truly most soothing and therapeutic tone asked me about my weekend. So, I shared that my partner and I are training for an Ironman so we biked super far and ran 19 miles. She did the low whistle that people do when you tell them you are doing an Ironman and said, “wow, that’s great.” I heard this as “wow, you are ok.” And it was just the message I needed from the world this morning…that I’m ok.

But, the interaction didn’t end there. 16 oz. iced americano already in hand, she could have just turned her attention to the next coffee order, but she asked “when is it?” I heard, “you look like you are having a tough time. you are ok. when is it?” Projection? Transference? I don’t care what you call it…my barista friend was meeting this unspoken need.

“September 7th,” I replied. She said, “Oh, that gives me goosebumps. How exciting.” I heard, “oh, that gives me goosebumps. how exciting.” She reminded me of my own excitement about the event and how events like the ironman are inspiring for others. In that moment I remembered how I watched the ironman on television when I was a tweenager and how I thought it was impossible for me to do such a thing…even as I longed to be one of those athletes. I remembered Julie Moss ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRB1p89k7_I ) running, walking, stumbling, and finally crawling across the finish line. I remembered how I cried then and how I cried two nights ago when I watched that finish again on youtube. Sassy Femme wrote about this today…it is not the ability of a human to swim, bike, and run that makes me cry, rather it is the love, spirit, and connection to life that is made visible in these moments.

I mean really, who gives a hoot if I, Cookie the Monster, can swim, bike, and run? That really isn’t the point. The point is about connecting to something within myself and others that isn’t simply physical or mental…but really is a demonstration of what can be felt and done…and not by just the individual. In fact, naming ironman an individual endeavor completely obscures the privilege surrounding most of the athletes participating. Queer Corn and I are privileged with family who love and watch our little girl while we train. We are privileged with enough economic resource to join a gym, buy nice bikes, get good running shoes, go to physical therapy, eat healthy organic foods, purchase entrance into the race….the list goes on. Let’s face it, there are significant economic and social barriers to participating in events like triathlons.

I sometimes feel ashamed about all that privilege….all that access to resource that allows me to do this inane thing. But, my barista friend, a friend Jenn B., Sassy Femme, the Olympics, and remembering that white guilt or any other kind of guilt associated with privilege is really rather unproductive, have all reminded me that i can inspire myself and others to connect to that deeper love and spirit, something I believe our very young country needs desperately right now…and that is nothing to be ashamed about.

So you see, baristas are not neutral…none of us really are. And, none of us are truly disconnected from any other one of us. Every person in my life is in some way contributing to my ability to do this triathlon…have a baby…get a phd…think, feel, live. And hopefully in doing this little big race I will connect with that deeper love and spirit and send it back out.

Thank you baristas everywhere for delivering me with life’s blood…coffee, connection, and love. As my friend Ramona says….Love is Revolution!

While the race hasn’t happened yet….thank you to all of the folks in my world and beyond my immediate world who have made this possible: meg, lucy, zia, otter, jen, trina, mom, dad, robert, aline, pig and petey, the entire extended Reichenbach fam, bob, lois, meghan, gita, ramona, peris, morna, mary, charlie, doug, michelle, sam, everett, number 3, uma, jenn, jeannette, brook, baristas everywhere, the roadrunner, cookie monster, grover, ducky, jamie, kelsey, erica, the women of raising in the rain and first weeks, abba (yes, that abba), john denver (yes, that john denver), the Q Center students (www.qcenter.washington.edu ), the dixie chicks, regina, bell hooks, patricia hill collins, all women and gender queer athletes, judith butler, carla….and the list continues…more later.

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Are we there yet?

I’m ready to be done now…thanks for playing. 5 weeks out…so close, yet 5 seemingly endless weeks away. I am dead-on-my-feet tired. I can’t concentrate. I’m edgy and cranky and grumpy…basically all the shades of irritated one can be and still not quite be angry. Though sometimes I’m that too.

For instance, yesterday 7 miles into our 13.25 mile run, I was angry with the Admiral hill….it was longer than I had remembered it being and I didn’t think that was very nice of it. I wanted to punch that hill, but I was too tired. I just kept running up it instead. Meg and I ran every hill of that run…which Meg said made her feel proud and confident. I guess that is a better way of interpreting the events than being pissed at the hills for being there in the first place. I, however, opted for the latter.

I am actually beginning to feel a bit disoriented…do you think that means something…like I’m tired and should sleep? Perhaps. I also have been experiencing magical thinking. Example: I know that I have done all of this training….but sometimes I trick myself into believing that I haven’t actually done anything and that I am super out of shape. Did I really ride 205 miles in a day? Nah, no one could do that! Did I do that 18 mile run in 98 degree weather and humidity that made rain look dry? No…not possible! See…very tricky….disorienting even. Is 77 laps (up and back) in a 25 meter pool really 2.4 miles? Or is it just like 100 feet? I don’t know anymore.

I just keep moving forward…and I am excited about the race…even if I don’t care about it today or yesterday. I know this is “normal” (whatever the hell that is) at this point in the training. Training is just like the race….you have to face the moments when you are disoriented, edgy, cranky, crabby, tired and then just move forward. Well, I guess you don’t have to do that…I do.

Plus…I’m having this weird edema where my legs swell at night….swell up tighter than a drum….like someone pumped my lower half full of water or air….like they might split at the seams edema. It’s so very sexy…not to mention comfortable.

Blah, blah, blah, crank, crab, groan and moan. I just thought I’d share the under belly of this thing called Ironman training. I’m sure I’ll perk up…but right now I’m still wondering if we’re there yet.

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Seattle to Portland…merely a training ride: In three parts


Part I: The RideMeg and I rode (with our friend Meghan…see side bar) the STP in a day. This is a ride from Seattle to Portland and folks can do it in one day or two. We opted for the one-day version, a total of 205 miles…twice as long as my furthest ride and quite possibly my longest workout ever…perhaps with the exception of ultimate frisbee tournaments. But frisbee tournaments are always punctuated with short breaks, slamming oranges and bagels, and smoking pot, so the two really don’t compare unless you count the pot part. I’m kidding…I never ate the bagels.Anyway, there was no pot…we were definitely feeling the pain, after mile 150 anyway. Up till then, Meg, Meghan, and I were just zipping along (avg. 17.0 mph for the entire 205). We felt good, we took turns leading our pace line of 3 and joining on to others. It was really fun and great to be riding with two women who are competitive with themselves but are not about beating others. Just great! Meghan is a hell of a climber…kicking our asses up every hill. Meg is rock steady and is truly the energizer bunny….in fact I think she is still riding between the two cities. I’m not clear why…but I felt like a mother hen protectively watching over my chicks…sometimes riding in the back of the pace line to make sure all was well…that and that I got the best drafts of the day.I joke, but I really did want to make sure my besties were not being hit by all the riders (sorry fellas…but mostly you guys) who would pass within inches without so much as a chortle. ON YOUR LEFT….say it with me boys…three little words that could mean the difference between a great day riding and a traumatic head injury. I see you all Lance-Armstrong-wanna-live-strong-and-be-like-mike-boys trying to win a ride that a) is not a race; and b) did I mention it wasn’t a race? But really to what end are you passing so closely and saying so little?We rode strong and finished strong…if a bit snarky and a tad nauseated. But, 205 miles in one day….that my friends is 93 more miles than race day. I feel a distinct psychological advantage!Part 2: Lessons from the Road

1. We learned something about our need for better hydration…but we aren’t sure what we learned

2. Chamois butter (aka butt balm) is an ointment of the gods

3. Training for the event is better than not training for the event

4. 4 hours of sleep for 4 nights in succession may have a biblical ring, but it makes for a long ass bike ride

5. Chip seal sucks

6. Real food is better than fake food

7. 205 miles is 130 miles further than anyone really needs to ride in a given period of time

8. We are rockstars

9. The STP really only needs to be done once ever

10. We googled it (not from the road….but we thought about it there)….people actually compete in things called Enduroman competitions….these are Ironman x 2 or 3!! Seriously…look it up.

Part 3: Jen gets on her social justice soap box…again

Enough of the complaints….at least about the riders. I’m unclear as to why…but there is an ongoing conflict…war is too strong…perhaps an ongoing “police action” between cyclists and motorists….as if the two are mutually exclusive. I don’t know about you, but I also use a car as do the majority of cyclists. There are some folks who do not…and bravo to you I say! Anyway, most of us cross-over and can really relate to the frustrations of sharing the road from both points of view. When I’m driving…I sometimes don’t see the cyclists at night…or if they run a stop sign or if they are just doing everything right and are in the bike lane. Then…when I don’t see them and I nearly hit them I feel scared and want to lash out…at them…as if it is their fault that I nearly killed them. When really, I didn’t see them and am blaming them for my mis-step. Bad form, Jen.

When I’m a cyclist…I couldn’t be more irritated with the honking, the yelling, the gestures, the fake “loss-of-control-and-now-i’m-in-your-path,” the speeding, the opening of car doors to scare you, the not seeing you and then blaming you for not seeing you. These things bother me. So you see…I understand the tensions…but really, is there a need for a battle of the roads? Can’t we share? With the price of gasoline bicycles will soon be all any of us can afford anyway.

To add insult to injury…some (a small minority) of young white men seem to think it is their right, ethical duty, job even, to yell obscenities and threats at women cyclists. These are the same characters who likely feel that women’s bodies are theirs for consumption. And, sometimes they combine the two beliefs and yell things like, “I can see why you are riding a bike fat ass” (white male yahoo as conveyed to me on STP, 2008).

Now as my partner said…this is a bit like going to the Ironman and yelling at the women competitors…”You should be swimming, biking, and running you fat ass.” Doesn’t make much sense now does it? Let’s see….I’m swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112, then running a marathon and you are doing?? Oh that’s right…NOTHING.

But, it doesn’t stop the sting to have critical consciousness and an ability to outhink the yahoos, and some seriously snarky comments, does it? No…the sting of that sexism and the women-body-hating misogyny is no less…because the targets of forms of oppression end up doing some of the oppressor’s heavy-lifting…by internalizing the narratives. I’ve written on this before….and you know that I am the owner of 38 years of anti-women’s bodies narratives….all of which I resist and attempt to overthrow….and then a yahoo yells at me, and I am a pudgy 12 year-old believing that her very physical existence is an assault on what women “should be.” And, I even hate that pudgy 12 year old, and then I feel guilty for hating her, and then I hate myself for hating myself, and then I hate myself for hating myself for hating myself…and the spiral continues until my head explodes.

When this kind of stuff goes down it makes me want to hole up in the house with my girls and listen to Free to Be You and Me until…you guessed it…my head explodes. That the yahoos of the world can still reduce me to a pudgy 12 year old who didn’t deserve the shit she got in the first place…first pisses me off, then just saddens me. She was a cool kid…a smart kid…a great athlete who struck out all of those boys who called her names and had a hanging jump shot by the time she was 14. My body has worked for me…and it did again on Saturday and it will again on September 7th.

To all the yahoos: My body is not yours to consume for so many reasons…but mostly because you can’t f*cking catch me!

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