Anonymous said: do you have a question
Heh, I often wonder what the weirdest ways people find my blog are. One person told me they found it by looking for the style of dress in Benin, Africa…
I guess I also want to know if I’ve made any sort of a difference…but that’s sort of conceited.
But here’s the good one: Why don’t companies market skirts and dresses to men? Why don’t they try it? Men buy women’s clothes way more than people would guess; I know because I ask how often other guys buy the “women’s” clothes. So why not actually market it? Advertisement influences, creates, and enforces gender stereotypes more than it ever gets credit for. It doesn’t matter how much equality we legislate, the real change will come when the media decides it can profit off of marketing the femme to the men as it already does with the masc to the women.
Anonymous said: I still think you in a bra would complete your look.
I’ve tried bras before. Heck I have a really pretty push up bra that I’ve worn in the past, but it’s never really felt…right?
I dunno. A friend once told me I should get a sports bra so my nips don’t show, but I sort of like the twist that female nipples are a big ol’ scandal, but mine can show because I’m just a male in a dress. I noticed a lot of well coordinated exposed bra straps this summer, in addition to those which showed through somewhat sheer tops and really liked the style. But I still don’t think it’s my thing.
One of my main points about wearing femme stuff is that I’m not trying to pass; heck, I couldn’t if I tried! So doing something like wearing a bra with fake boobs would sort of make what I do seem a bit to comical. To me at least. I get asked if I’ve lost a bet enough as is :P
The other concern is that all the cute bras are expensive and I’m sort of an odd shape for bra shopping, big around, but small in chest. Anyway, I’m not saying never, just not for now.
Anonymous said: have you ever felt uncomfortable being queer in the Jewish community?
Talk about hard questions! I’m going to say yes, but that this feeling is changing as I become more of a queer presence in my Jewish communities. (Religious wrestling first, then personal experience.)
As a Reform Jew, I find it my responsibility to take the words of the Torah, written by men with a prerogative 3000 years, and to find my own meaning in them today; a meaning which will help me to be a positive force in the world. This means wrestling with the parts of the bible that don’t seem to ring true in my life, to seek to understand them, and to live my life regarding them if not following them literally. As my Rabbi says, “We do not take the bible literally, We take it seriously.”
There are a few things to consider when crossing queer with Judaism, especially in my world. The first is Leviticus 18:22- 'Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.' The second is Deuteronomy 22:5 “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this." (Those two are not the be all end all, but they are common hurdles.)
To the Leviticus 18:22- How could one ever sleep with someone of the same sex as they do someone of the other sex? Never thought of that one did you? And with that understanding, the commandment becomes (to me) a reminder to treat ones sexual partners as they are and not how you might assume them to be or how you might want to treat them. Simply a reminder that the physical bodies of men and women are different and call for different attention.
To the Deuteronomy 22:5- I struggle with this passage a lot, and while I can simply fall back on an old Eddie Izzard bit “These aren’t women’s clothes, I bought them, they’re my clothes.” I don’t feel like that really answers the commandment or my issue with it. I encourage any woman who doesn’t want to be an abhorrence for wearing pants or a man who doesn’t want to feel detested for wearing a dress to investigate the Rabbis’ opinions of the generations. It’s a hard law that is incredibly vague in terms of why it’s in the Bible (is it a don’t be like those other people law, does it avoid idolatry, does it have a purpose in separating sexes?) I sometimes argue that wearing a dress I am closer to the garb of the ancients than a guy in pants, seeing as they didn’t even have pants in the bible. Other times I pull up Deut 22:11 “ Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together.” as comparison - If I don’t struggle over not following that, why should I struggle over crossdressing commandments?
At the end of it, I still struggle with the law with no satisfactory answer. I find more connection to and freedom in the world around me in a dress than tight jeans. I find that if I pray in my prettiest outfit I am fulfilling “HIDDUR MITZVAH” or “beautifying the mitzvah.” I am more myself, my heart is more open and ready to connect with the unknowable greatness of the universe. We all have mitzvot that we struggle with, we all should struggle with them; it’s how we find the lives we want to live, the terms that give our lives meaning.
Now that we’ve looked at the books, let’s look at the people!
I’m a Reform Jew, and the Reform movement has been accepting and encouraging of the queer community since the ’70s. This does not, however, mean that we are always if ever vocal about this platform. The fact that being queer has never been made a big issue where I’m from is one of those things that made me feel uncomfortable breaching the subject. I keep my nail polish on when I teach 5th/6th graders, but I haven’t been able to wear a dress unless for a lesson with my 9th graders about gender identity. I would like to feel comfortable and accepted wearing a dress to my temple’s Shabbat services some day, but it’s going to be a bit…At the moment I’m satisfied with nails that match my shirt and the discussions that inevitably rise with my students.
(Not as important religiously, but certainly validating: I chaperoned a Jew Camp (NFTY) event back in May of the type I had been a part of in high school. I had this really nice red nail polish on and wore a lot of matching shirts. Compliments from teen girls are a sort of prize, maybe because only doing all this gender queer stuff in college I missed out on a lot of that adolescent girliness. Anyway, I got a bunch of love and while it made me feel accepted, I also regretted not presenting more queer back in my own day.)
Just a few weeks ago, I went to my campus Hillel in a dress for the first time. I picked a conservative gray w/ black cardigan outfit to enhance my “I’m not trying to be showy, just me” stance. Around 40 people crammed into our Reform Service room and everything went wonderfully! I only got compliments and a couple “why”s! For once I felt as comfortable and accepted as I always wanted to be in a dress in service. So I signed up to lead the next week.
As it turned out, the next week’s Torah portion was actually the one that contained Deuteronomy 22:5! So I put on an even lovelier dress (The Black/Blue mullet one featured recently), and my Kippah/Yarmulke and led away with my favourite tunes for 20 some students and a few parents with kids under age 6. When I got to the sermon part, I read the bible quote, had every women wearing parts own up, and asked the congregation if we were “abhorrences to G-d.” The talk went wonderfully and many of my own conclusions were found independently by those in the discussion. The message, naturally, is that as Reform Jews we must wrestle with our faith, we cannot get complacent and let someone else tell us what to believe and how to act. We must find the way to make Judaism most meaningful to us, and connect to our higher power and community in our most fulfilling way.
I hope I’ve been able to give you what you wanted out of this answer. My main point is that there is a lot to struggle with as a queer Jew in the bible itself, let alone the actual communities. The more a queer Jew struggles for acceptance, however, the more it seems to appear. More than any law, Leviticus 19:18 rings out: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” And hey, maybe if I keep doing what I’m doing, the next generation of queer Jews won’t need to question if they’re allowed to. They’ll know what what you wear is nowhere near as important as what you do while you’re wearing it.
lc707 said: So been following you for a while and how long you been wearing dresses?
Thanks for following!
I guess I used to wear them as a kid secretly, so maybe age 7? Then I took a break from in high school times. The summer after freshman year of college I dug back in and started gaining a wardrobe and public confidence through my sophomore year. I started this blog around February of my Sophomore year, and really started wearing dresses and skirts around and about in that summer. Only last October did I start wearing dresses to class, so that’s going on a year now!
Hope that answered your question!
lovelylittlelizzy said: Look! I'm actually using this blog again! Anyways, I suppose I could've texted you, but I figured I'd tell you that our dearly beloved Modcloth not only currently has a huge sale that includes swimsuits, but should probably be putting even more on sale, what with the end of summer coming and all.
Woohoo!! Everyone follow LIZ!!!!
Thanks for the tip! Modcloth always makes me weep of lack of funds, but dayum do they have some cute stuff :P Also, gotta love the little stories…
Anonymous said: when you get married will you wear a wedding dress?
I’d most certainly love to! I’ve been thinking about this more recently, although marriage has got to be years from now, but yeah, I’d love one of those 3/4 sleeved, lacy, traditional Jewish wedding dresses. Just gotta find someone who’ll marry me it in it and someone to marry us with me in it! :P
Thanks for your questions, Mx. Anon!
Anonymous said: what do you wear to sleep?
Nothing, haha, who needs clothes when they sleep?
Not that I don’t have a really comfy piece of lingerie for when I need to night gown it up…. I think if you dig far enough back you can find it; it’s red.
Anonymous said: what do you wear swimming?
Heh, I’ve been wanting to get a cute one piece for the beach for a while, but I haven’t been able to just blow money on a nice one. As it is now, just dude swim trucks, I know, not very exciting…
saritasobrevive said: (I talked to you in your neighborhood about miniature tigers - I hang out a lot with Angela, Mark, Jess & Andrew across the street from you) OMG Ben! I saw you were gender-non-conforming in person but I didn't know you were THIS cool. Haha anyway I just started coming out as genderqueer like earlier this week haha
Oh yeah! I remember, you were on the porch across the street last week!
Haha, why thank you, Sarita :D Psyched to have a new GQ friend- We should hang out sometime, go do queer things!!
Also, do you follow the tumblr, genderoftheday? Highly recommended for gender discovery…sorta
Anonymous said: Thank you Ben. I'm a straight make but thanks to you I had the courage to buy my first ever dress. At the minute I'm only brave enough to wear it around the house. But if I hadn't found your blog I never could've taken this rep. :)
Congratulations!!! :D You’ll get more comfortable with the whole thing. Tell some good friends and go out with them for support. It’s a process, keep it up :)
Being told that I’m an inspiration, or that I give people confidence, never fails to make my day. I’m just a hairy queer who loathes pants and loves dresses- I never expected any of it to mean anything to anyone else; I’m rather glad it does :D
Anonymous said: Have you ever had a boyfriend?
I seem to have spaced on this anon a while ago! I have not, a few girlfriends here or there, but no boyfriend, which is a real shame, they sound pretty fun :) Why, you trying to audition? ;P