Fissures and friendships: how I became a woman of colour.

13 Jan
Sisters, 1930s Shanghai
Sisters, 1930s Shanghai
(courtesy Natalie Z Drieu)

My article for Asian-Australian arts and culture magazine, Peril, is now up on their website. It’s called “Fissures and friendships: how I became a woman of colour” and it deals with how we come to identify ourselves and each other as women of colour, and what that means. I also talk a little about visibility and representation.

None of my women of colour idols are Chinese-Australian, much less Shanghainese-Melburnian. I notice people of colour everywhere I go, or at least I think I do. I am less colour-blind than ever and maybe more race-blind, now that I understand race as something else, something that isn’t always inscribed on someone’s body, face, name, voice. Finding other women of colour makes me feel stronger. Often neither their bodies nor their lives are like mine. It’s important to recognise each other. I am trying to explain the difference between sight and recognition. It’s not enough to see someone. I want them to look back. I want a conversation of gazes.

I hope you enjoy it as I’ve enjoyed reading all the other pieces in this issue. Peril #10, Skin, also includes an interesting article about Filipino racialisation and interviews with Melbourne comedy duo Fear of a Brown Planet and gay Indigenous artist Gary Lee. I’m proud to be part of such a great publication which supports lots of people of colour artists and performers.

In other women of colour news, I asked academic, blogger, zinester, fashionista and bonafide supergrrrl Mimi Thi Nguyen from Threadbared for her 1998 piece “Hair Trauma” which I wanted to pass onto a dear friend. She kindly reposted it for me — if you haven’t already read it, you really should. Such a rich tangle of thoughts about ethnicity, gender, sexuality, subculture, appearance and authenticity. For an illustrated discussion of dyke hair issues, check out Dykes and their Hair, a sweet little zine by Teresa Chun-Wen Cheng. You’ll hear more from me on beauty, fashion and appearance soon.

Also, a while ago I wrote a piece for The Scavenger discussing the ideology behind women-only spaces, and in particular how trans and genderqueer folks fit into play parties for “past, present and future women”. I don’t think it’s very interesting but I thought I should index it here for future reference.

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2 Responses to “Fissures and friendships: how I became a woman of colour.”

  1. nix Thursday 13 January, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    ooh, thanks for all these links!

  2. Clare Flourish Thursday 19 January, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    I would be interested in your views on trans women in women’s space, but the link no longer works. I am plucking up courage to try the Quaker Lesbian Group in the UK.

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