I know how the conservative right wing bond. They bond over what they don’t like, bond over what disgusts them, bond over what they find stupid and immoral. It is easy for them to find a shared enemy and believe that is connection enough.
In my experience, women bond over what they love. One of the best ways to start a conversation with another woman is to tell her that you love something she has chosen; a lipstick colour, a shoe or a cell phone case, for example.
Grown up women come to a point where they can easily say “That would never work for me, but I love it on you!” That’s a point that transwomen often find difficult to engage, being so focused on their own desires that they have trouble embracing choices made by other women that they would never, ever make for themselves.
You may never want to date someone like her boyfriend, for example, but unless you understand why she finds him hot, you will never be able to connect with her. Understanding and affirming the choices that other women make out of their own love, their own excitement and their own desire is the essential key to bonding with women.
I was at the supermarket tonight and the gal behind the register — who called me “hon” — said that she had forgotten her work shirt today.
“I’m guessing you’d rather not be here,” I offered.
“I want to be home with my family, doing anything,” she told me. “Playing X-Box, even listening to Britney Spears,” she said.
“But those bills still come due at the end of the month,” I said.
“Ain’t it the truth,” she agreed. “That’s why I’m here!”
I needed to understand what she loved, her family to connect with her. And by understanding that, I also understood her choice to be behind the register tonight, to take care of that family.
By understanding what she loved, I understood her choices and we could find common ground.
All too often in the interlocking communities around transgender, we are asked not to come together around what we love but rather to come together around what we hate. We are asked to share in a sense of rebellion and oppression, asked to stand for rejection and for isolation rather than to stand for connection, caring and love.
I don’t really know how to do that anymore. When I meet someone who wants to bond over how bad the world is, over how shitty life is, over how love is always wasted and futile, I have no idea how to connect with them. I know that when I get a phone call from someone who wants to explain why change is impossible, why hope is daft, why love is a dead end that I have no chance of really connecting with them.
This is, I know, part of the essential craziness of women, this notion that love is potent and magical, that love (and the right beauty preparations) can really change everything.
The deep networking and relationships between women would be impossible without believing in the power of love, even the power of love for things that don’t really appeal to us or fit us. If our sister loves someone, that’s gotta be good enough for us, even if we secretly believe that she will wake up someday and see what we see. We do this because it isn’t the object of her love that makes her our sister, it is the power of her love that makes her real in the world, the truth of her love that binds us together.
Women bond over love, over the power of enacting love in the world, over the feminine need and craving for love and connection.
Does this make us crazy, trusting love, even the love of silly and irrational fashions?
Well, yeah, maybe it does. But trusting love is definitely the kind of crazy that I want in my life.
I love because I can love. And I love people who love and people who love the fact that I love.
As a transwoman, I need more faith in the power of love and less in the call for rationality and sensibility. Truth is always stranger than fiction because we feel a need to impose a kind of order on fiction that makes it feel probable. The improbable, though, the impossible and transformative, well, that’s where magic lies for me.
I don’t want to bond over some rational sense of oppression and rejection.
I need to bond over some transcendent sense of love and possibility.
And if that means you need to call me a crazy broad, well, you know, I’m really fine with that.