SPOILER ALERT: We will be talking about things that happened in the book so if you have not read it and don’t want to know what happens, click away now.
Let me apologize for getting this post in a day late. Dealing with some monitor death issues. It should not happen again.
As the book opens, we read about the first meeting of Angela and Cait. We are told right away that Angela is attracted to Cait and that this is not a one-off attraction. We are then introduced to the other major players in Angela’s life. Her fiance, Keith who is no friend of Cait’s to be sure. Her best friend Mae, a buxom Southern woman trying to steer Angela in the “right” direction. Her mother Janet Wright, a local anchorwoman famous for letting her fro fly.
Besides the set-up, another major event in this part of the book is the Lesbian Sex Conference where Angela goes under the guise of working but really it’s just another opportunity to see Cait again. After a rather interesting workshop (Am I the only one who thinks that SuzyQ is based on Annie Sprinkle?), she sneaks into the transgendered “safe place” with her tape recorder to investigate the controversial decision to allow only bio women into the conference.
The overall feeling I get from the begining of this book is the trememdous amount of mental energy Angela has to put into being accepted by the very people who should accept her no matter what. It seems like every move she makes, what kind of clothes she wears, even what opinions she expresses, has to be filtered through a percieved black orthodoxy.
Some questions that came up while I was reading:
01. Why did Keith have such a viceral reaction to Cait when she entered the classroom. I understand they had some sort of academic differences but Villarosa makes of point of having Keith’s body language claim possession of Angela.
02. After his icy exchange with Cait, Keith states his indignation at gay people “appropriating” the language of the Civil Rights Movement. Do you find this feeling more or less pervasive than say, ten years ago?
03. Angela is facing pressure to set a date for her wedding. Am I the only one slightly annoyed by her weak response?
04. After observing the interaction in the transgendered trailer, Angela makes the following observation regarding the men and women there:
“She had all of the trappings but none of the history, a work in progress as far as her female authenticity. Despite their high-fem exteriors, Helen and the other male-to-females exuded a kind of pushy air of assumption that screamed, “I’m always going to be a man”. And Pat, though she had all the tough-guy accessories of a man, wasn’t wearing them well. She and the other female-to-males still possessed a mannered tennativeness that whispered “woman inside”.
So is gender as much culturation as biology? Is there ever a point when a transperson loses that masculine/feminine engery (for lack of a better word). Should they have to?
What to you all think? What has jumped out at you so far?