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Free Thinking : The city

From Liverpool, playwright Esther Wilson

'The Great Make-Over'.

  • Esther Wilson
  • 25 Oct 06, 04:14 PM

Mandy Romero

Another guest blogger for your perusal.

Mandy Romero is a Live Artist, working in the area of transgender and based in Liverpool. She is the self-appointed Liverpool Queen Of Culture and her recent book, “The Great Make-Over”, a free limited edition art-work, can be obtained by visiting her web-site at mandygirl.


The men are at it again! Ranting across the divides of the world, threatening each other with their dangerous toys, preaching division, or unity as long as it’s their unity.

Oversensitive, aggressive, self-pitying – why do we bother with them? The answer is ancient – they help make babies.
It seems that genetic engineering may eventually relieve them of even that useful function.
It seems to me that as America slowly slides from domination, we are in danger of being crushed under the collapsing body.
I can see the Bush boys working so, so hard to make masculinity work, and the more they try the less they succeed. “Being powerful is like being a lady, - if you have to say you is, you ain’t”, as I believe Jimmy Hoffa once said.
And with the realization that violence and coercion aren’t bringing results we have a further male nightmare, the Man As Victim.


Many a woman-abuser now cries into their lap at their terrible sensitivity to their situation – it was the drugs/society/my mates which made me do it. I was defending my sensitive soul. I can’t cope any more – pity me, and pass me the rolled-up bank-note.

Lord help us! – it’s now our fault it’s their fault. Talk about fighting a rearguard action. Or getting your retaliation in first.

Actually it’s gender which is in trouble, the gender which is bi-polar, either-or, male-female. While we’re stuck with a divisive gender-idea we shall always be fighting ourselves.
Those scare-you-off-the streets hen-parties are as much a product of masculinism as soldier-boys and gangsters.

Those of us working in transgender have our work cut out, but we’re going to persevere.

Not terrorists and governments, but humans and their environment – that’s the drama of our times. And Earth has been defined as a woman, our original Mother, by the Gaia fraternity, but maybe (s)he’s beyond gender. I have feeling she’s into balance.

If America’s fading slowly and painfully then China is the new global culture. You can’t move for China-pundits these days. What ever the truth I’m glad to know that the basic belief systems of China are formed round the idea of balance – yin and yang – and cycles – the Tao and Buddhism.

It would be nice if the emergent Chinese taught us how to live that way. They could spread a new civilization. But they could, in the process of replacing America, learn some bad old imperialistic ways.

That paranoia about Taiwan sounds very USA-Cuba to me.

Everybody, rising power or falling star, hen-party terrorizer or scally-victim, needs to start thinking outside of conventional gender limits. We need real this-is-what-I-am individualism not choice-based consumerism. It’s surviving the crash not avoiding it which we will need our capacities for.

I’m based in Liverpool where the crisis of masculinism is very intense, but then the men-work-rule thing has been undermined for rather longer here. So the aggressive-defensive attitude is strong hereabouts. So are the women. It’s all in a poem which I included in “The Great Make-Over”,-

old stones
in
a tent

in Tahiti
an old stone, a figure cut
half man half woman

we go back a long way
we are everywhere

old stones here
older than transition
women gossiping on the street corner
of history

we are the foundation

history is what, here? – since the city began to fatten on the trades
of far come near, since the streets filled out, filled in and
spread onto the hill and beyond, since the carrying and slaving
and slaving and banking and shifting started in earnest?
Three centuries?

Three centuries of man-driven, man-striven, man-directed, man-
managed management, ending in an empty era
low tide on the shores of history

But the long time belongs to women
they are the real rulers
the backbone of an otherwise broken life-time
in the wash-house, the street-shadow, the kitchen, on the
shore, in the off-licence, the in-store cafeteria, the hospital, the
council-chamber, the typing pool, the congregation, the queue
for the night-club, on the shore

and if transition has now slipped out of the hands of men and women
we are still here
more visible now
the transitioneers
the odds in the pocket
the loose change

scholarship records
that we held together
innumerable communities everywhere

and now are here
to ensure
an everlasting city

the gay stonemason raves on, coke-restless, eyes my legs
we are not grave-stones

The answer, for now, is visibility, as so often in this mediated world, so long as you don’t rely on the journalists to write your story and show your picture for you. If we are visible in our individuality we do what anyone can do, while the governments fight amongst themselves. We might open a few minds. Now that’s what I call free-thinking.

MANDY ROMERO

Comments

  1. At 09:39 PM on 26 Oct 2006, Roberto Carlos Alvarez-Galloso,CPUR wrote:

    For me, USA/Cuba is an arrangement between Republicans, Democrats, and Communists. The World will be at peace when people accept each other for what they are and the vestiges of the Cold War [Republicans, Democrats, Communists] are consigned to the trash can.

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  2. At 11:26 AM on 29 Oct 2006, Peter wrote:

    Mandy, there are many in the wide world who will see, and agree with, your argument about masculinity - the damage the boys and their toys do to life on Earth - but maybe we have doubts about your in-our-face approach.

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  3. At 02:44 PM on 29 Oct 2006, esther wilson wrote:

    But she's a performance artist....looking specifically at transgender.
    I've seen her perform a few times - her observations on humanity are quite illuminating and beautiful. In Mandy's shows we see things which are not normally 'out there on show'.

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  4. At 05:31 PM on 29 Oct 2006, Peter wrote:

    I sense I would very much enjoy one of her shows - she's got some insight. What nags at me is whether the feminine side's strutting its stuff (and I include my own granny-influenced writings) really reaches the hearts of these troubled men.

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  5. At 12:14 AM on 30 Oct 2006, Peter wrote:

    RAILHEAD

    You're handing me an idea
    that I can decide;
    but I want you to have a white light
    in the back of your mind to guide.

    Oh, I wish you were a dish
    to pull the coldness out,
    set the day for your friends to see
    that we might have scattered this pepper
    better and better.
    Hot stuff.

    You know your Liverpool.
    I know my Bush.
    We have to know this moment belongs to neither.
    Kisses are cheap if it's not realised how wide,
    how broad, the consequences.

    So, for now, one after another walks the
    pathway of words. The zipped up concepts wrestling
    them to the ground. It's beyond me to stop it.

    The cauterised no-man's land that you can lie on,
    a building site, a green-towelled tent,
    breath which won't come spinning in the pool.
    Guaranteeing what? That the end
    is communal -- maid in England?

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  6. At 08:44 PM on 30 Oct 2006, esther wilson wrote:

    'I sense I would very much enjoy one of her shows - she's got some insight. What nags at me is whether the feminine side's strutting its stuff (and I include my own granny influenced writings) really reaches the hearts of these troubled men.'

    Surely the artist shouldn't concern 'himself' with that, at all? Otherwise where would it stop? Censor oneself in case of....or to suit, or...in the hope of....?

    I've always found it weird when people in the theatre say 'Oh we can't do that....it would be offensive to...' or 'such a person/critic says we should cut it because it's too short/long/grim/light/heavy...' What's that all about? How can that ever be productive, artistically?

    It's just one person's opinion.

    The artist should only to be loyal to the art.

    Otherwise we get manufactured pulp.

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  7. At 11:30 PM on 30 Oct 2006, Peter wrote:

    I'm not very pure. Even after a lifetime, I'd still like to change things. If something rings with a true note, well and good -- but I'm not doing it for the ringing note.

    It's not to offend, or not to offend, either. Pushing boundaries is boring.

    Like with the environment argument becoming economic, IF you want to change these men you've got to start grabbing something they care about.

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  8. At 05:22 AM on 31 Oct 2006, fitz wrote:

    Looks more like transvestite to me rather than transgender.

    We can all make a point, but I doubt in this debate many will give it a second glance and will simple consider it as a small fringe form of entertainment.

    That there are individuals who have issues with their own gender have been around since the dawn of time - doesn't make them the majority though.

    heterosexual, homosexual, transgender, transvestite - we are all entitled to are little spot in the sun but it doesn't mean we can change the world or are even entitled to try.

    I used to visit an inner city cafe once, run by homosexual gentlemen who would dress in drag and put on an evenings entertainment - and the cafe was so small the acts were really in your face all the time. Not Peter's cup of whatever I imagine.

    but it was fun and entertaining - but I probably wouldn't have wanted to attend every week - I have a catholic taste in etertainment and music too!

    Introducing transgender entertainment to big butch men will just do that 'entertain' them and make them gaffawke - not change.

    Introducing it to transvestites and transgender persons will do the same thing - entertain and perhaps cause them to 'snigger' rather than garffawke.

    but heh let's let live and enjoy life whatever our persuasion

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  9. At 10:20 AM on 31 Oct 2006, andrea Earl wrote:

    'I’m based in Liverpool where the crisis of masculinism is very intense'. what does that mean? Sounds to me like you are a man hater? I've nothing against a man in a frock, in fact I have some very good friends who enjoy living this way. But why do you turn that into man bashing? Men's sexuality is by its nature aggrassive because they have testosterone surging around in their bodies. And if women can and do use PMT as a defense against criminal actions then why can't we look at male hormones to explain thier behaviour. I like being a woman and I like my husband being a man. I like what makes him male as much as I find some of it irritaitng, and I know that he finds some of my femaleness irritating, but we accept each other for what we are. And as for embracing 'this-is-what-I-am individualism' how does that fit in with a sesne of community? I'm all for live and let live but please don't ask me to live like you, and don't ask my husband to put on a frock, although when I come to think about it.....

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  10. At 11:01 PM on 01 Nov 2006, Mandy Romero wrote:

    Far be it for me to stretch the discussions of my blog but maybe something needs to be clearer here.
    Masculinism is unproductive and runs counter to the needs the world has now. It's a counter-measure to the growth of more inclusive and organic ways of running things. Men and women are capable of masculinist behaviour and actions. The "shading" of gender to allow us all to read ourselves and others as expressions of uniqueness in identity is what we need. That way the big dramas of conflict are defused.

    As it happens Liverpool as a city and the people in it are often not very good at the neither/either uniqueness approach, - they've been powerful or in opposition for too long - so the situation is intense.

    I don't want or need anybody to be like me. I exist through my very particular performance work as a question which might open up a new way of thinking. I hope i don't parade for the converted or the unconvertible. "The Great Make-Over" has been received and appreciated by many who don't fall into either category. And this blog has reached beyond stereotypes.

    For the purposes of free-thinking let's try thinking "beyond gender" - now why didn't the organizers of the Festival take that for subject to debate?

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  11. At 04:29 AM on 02 Nov 2006, Fitz wrote:

    Yes there is a beyond gender existance for me but very rare on this planet. On the other side in all the readings and research I've done - gender doesn't exist - there is just spiritual identity and the degree of progress is displayed in a variety of colour forms!

    However for those over there who still feel comfortable in a particular gender uniform that is still available for a while.

    The buddhists also teach that true meditation to high levels transcend feelings and needs of gender.

    so yes on a spiritual level - bingo - but trying to sell the idea on this dark planet to the masses - hardly profitable!

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  12. At 02:50 PM on 03 Nov 2006, Stephen wrote:

    Get it off your chest girl! Don't know what your point is but you sure can rant. Feel better now dear?

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  13. At 06:19 AM on 05 Nov 2006, Fitz wrote:

    all I know is that I am getting sick and tired of that garish face starring at me everytime I open this site - maybe different poses from time to time might lighten our load?

    could someone enlighten us to what the stare is all about, or does she/he always look like that?

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  14. At 10:52 AM on 05 Nov 2006, Peter wrote:

    Now, now, Fitz, she might bite you! Thought you Aussies believed in giving everyone a fair crack of the whip?

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  15. At 11:23 AM on 05 Nov 2006, Peter wrote:

    "Masculinism" isn't a word I've encountered before but I get her drift. Listen to Radio 3's Wire "DJs, Doormen and Dealers" for an example of how it thrives on -- even in the mobile-phone generation.

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  16. At 11:56 AM on 05 Nov 2006, Fitz wrote:

    well if she was cracking a 3whip in the right places I wouldn't mind so much and a bit of whipped cream might go down ok too!

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  17. At 01:08 PM on 05 Nov 2006, Peter wrote:

    Be careful she doesn't invite you on her show, kept at bay with a chair! (I'll write the dialogue.)

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  18. At 10:01 PM on 06 Nov 2006, estherwilson wrote:

    Now now boys - your prejudices seem to be creeping in a little bit here....

    ....in the spirit of 'freethinking' maybe you could try looking beyond your usual constraints?

    If not, then at least try harder with the 'jokes/jibes' - otherwise you're in danger of descending into the 'hello sailor' archaic level of insult which, way back then, at least had a whiff of the contemporary about it.

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  19. At 11:36 PM on 06 Nov 2006, fitz wrote:

    at least change the picture that might help - a bit of fishnet perhaps?

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  20. At 12:24 AM on 07 Nov 2006, Peter wrote:

    Interestingly, Mark Ravenhill [in Sunday's broadcast from the festival] was saying that COMEDY writing was alive, well, and standing up to political correctness (in Britain) whereas drama was timid. He cited Little Britain, Ricky Gervais... (DO, DO listen-again to what he said. As a potted cultural history of our last thirty years it's V. V. good.)

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  21. At 09:50 AM on 07 Nov 2006, Peter wrote:

    Fitz had been sent to see Miss Wilson, headmistress of St. Blog's. He had been doing his usual trick of shaking his head - to everything - waving his corks about and upsetting Mandy, who was in the next desk trying to write her thesis on masculinity.

    Peter, as usual, had sneaked on the pair, telling Miss Wilson how they were fighting and upsetting his attempts to bring civilisation to Cheshire (it having been turned over to gay abandon since Roman times).

    Anyway, it was being eyed for its green and pleasant fields now, frenzies of development popping here and there. Miss Wilson was undecided whether or not to expel the lot and send them to a building site. Mandy could be forewoman and Fitz could dig up the past. Peter could contemplate his navel, and consider marching on Gaul.

    None of this happened of course. They all got extra work writing a hundred lines before sundown (and another two hundred after). Fitz said he'd rather go hunting crocodiles with his uncle in Australia than sit next to Mandy. Mandy thought he WAS a crocodile and wrote her thesis accordingly. Peter is currently playing the accordion near a building site somewhere in the 'Pool. He felt a fool but that was long ago and he doesn't talk about it.

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