I think it may be time to embrace the next wave of feminism. “Do we actually need another wave,” ponders D, “or have we evolved past the need?”
We need another wave. Feminism has absorbed most of its tail and is hopping towards a verdant central isle but we’re still just frogs, really, aren’t we.
4th Wave feminism is distinctly trans. I think when we no longer need gender identification at all we can thank the waves that washed us and our tender, rubbery limbs ashore, but until that time let’s surf this together, shall we?
Even I find myself, on occasion, thinking “just pick a motherfucking pronoun, will you!?” at my friends who refute this generic convention. I’m confused and that makes me feel small and small makes me act, well, incomprehensibly angry. Good, noted. So I engage my adult and tell myself: “Self” I say, “Self, your non-pronouned friend’s not responsible for how you’re feeling right now. You like to be clearly right and anything less than that is sort of challenging for you. Where you are clearly right is in your support for another human being’s desire to be whomever they chose.” And then I pat myself on the head for being such an evolved human and practice using that friend’s first name in place of a pronoun.
It gets cumbersome. I wish we could default to one sex. I don’t care which. In my head I call nearly everyone “he” because I’ve gotten accustomed to switching it for myself. So basically, in my head, you’re transitioning too.
Back to 4th Wave Feminism. The 4th wave is not generational. I was born in 1960, and was steeped the womyn-cast cauldron of 2nd Wave witchery; my first science-fair exhibition was a planet being explored by “all-women astronauts.” In space, no-one can feel the glass ceiling. I’ve absorbed the lessons of those important decades, and then sat at the feet of my younger, knitting sisters of the 3rd wave, gleaning wisdom from them as we needle-pointed Nico on a pillowcase while bending over our boyfriends. Even we codgers can move to the next phase, the dance floor where boi and grrl merge in a beautiful disco kaleidoscope, becoming something whose meaning resists translation, is so inscrutable it defies category, but whose moves, whether spastic or elastic generate the warmest rays of light.
Activists need to be Sagittarian by nature, always looking to hoof it, ready to trot to the next, better place. The dance hall beckons.
This new place requires a regular scan. Like the 70’s exhorted self breast-exams, 2010 urges intolerance appraisals. I am constantly mortified by what old, bad ideas have managed to creep back into my cupboard, or worse – prejudice gets like sugar ants in the kitchen: they find a miniscule leaving from a disgusted fruit and there’s a swarm. All of the sudden it’s okay for me to talk smack about fat people, or fags, and the next thing I know I’m having to Hazmat the entire storeroom.
3rd Wave feminism expanded the landscape, embraced kink, scraped off the mold of dogma, and explained how someone could dress like a little girl in public, be a Daddy in bed, and still be a feminist. Like the 3rd Wave adopted Betty Page, 4th Wave looks at the Daddy/little girl construct with hot nostalgia. We don’t discard - we use everything because we’re green like that. I’ll bust out my Daddy when appropriate, but my sexual gender is a mutant cephalopod, has more limbs than Kali-ma, and they all want to embrace and caress and beat you into a delicate froth of submission.
Transpeople are either mutants or the next evolutionary stage: either way it looks like it’s gonna be great TV. We best pay attention now and not tivo for later. Trans is here to blow the lid off, off the Tupperware container of marriage of any flavor, off the top of our sex-toy chest, off our insistence on four able limbs and two well-spaced eyes; it’s messing with our dick AND our pussy, the most mistaken-for-sacred idols the world has ever known, so if we’re scared, it is totally okay. We should be. I’m scared, and I have no idea what to wear to this shindig.
What I will do, however, is don some Capezios (the eighties ARE BACK, shut the hell up) and moonwalk (badly) out on the floor. You will slide out beside me, and take me for a dip and a spin. Then we’ll all open-eye meditate with each other and watch with delight as our upper lips grow moustaches, then split open and reveal full Marilyn mouths, pursed and sibilant, expressing a divine juice from a beyond-yonic mango in our foreheads, dripping down, coming on our eyelids, noses and cheeks, all good nourishment in preparation for what’s coming.
And what’s coming is something only you and I can create – so let’s make it with mercy, and compassion, and kindness, and beauty, and love. We’re all of us going to need it.