The paragraph at the end that I have bolded is why I stay cool on Janet Mock.
Do you think of desire as a social thing? A lot of people talk about desire as a personal thing — “That’s just my preference!” Obviously it is personal, but I think there are social and political dimensions to desire that we don’t really discuss.
I think it’s both, like how you were breaking it down. It is something that’s deeply personal, and we may not have language to describe the things that we want. For specifically the Dick Ford character, he can’t put exact language to why. He’s like, “I don’t know why my dick gets hard knowing that yours is in the room. And maybe it’s because I like knowing that I’m getting away with something that no one knows about.” So that means being with a trans woman that you can walk out into public with and not have your masculinity and your sexuality checked. It’s not just a girl you’re keeping in the dark. It’s a girl you have a life with, who has this piece of her body that is really the gateway into why you are with her.
And I know this as someone who engaged in the sex trade — what I learned from the girls who went before me, taught me, who informed me and shaped me — they had conversations about the body: “Girl, ain’t no man gonna wanna be with you once you get … then you’re just like any other girl. You’re just not special. We’re goddesses, we’re queens.” I would always say, “I don’t wanna be a goddess, I want to be a girl.” Everyone had different ideas around that, and so I only learned about specifically what I want through this community of women. And then on top of that, we then are being informed through media, through what the men we are sleeping with think about us and our bodies.
Their desires, too.
Yes, and their desires. They desire trans women, or — let’s be more specific — trans women with penises. And there’s no space in our culture to discuss that and to create a space for what that is. There’s not even terminology for us to say what that is, because I believe terminology like “they’re trans attracted” feels not specific enough. I’m trans, and they’re not attracted to me because I don’t have a penis. And so the specificity of that is what we try to break down in that episode as much as possible. And to show two different men, a grown fucking man who has had two marriages, who knows what he wants and has exactly the dream girl that he wants. Now, is it a fully formed, even, reciprocal relationship? No, because she has to compromise. But we compromise in relationships, I get that.
So like, my sisters’ ideas about what they desire are informed by these men and what they desire. If white cis straight men are on top of the power structure, and there’s no one public who is with a trans woman, which we still have not seen, the day will be when Indya Moore is walking on the red carpet with fucking, you know, Zac Efron [laughing]. That’ll be our Ellen moment. I feel like that’s uncharted terrain in that way.
This is white supremacist thinking. This thought of like, If a white man chooses me I WILL HAVE MADE IT. It truly makes my skin crawl. If I as a woman of color, specifically a black woman, am only desirable, beautiful, and worthy of love and protection if a white man has deemed it so. Then fuck all this shit. Throw it away. It’s trash.
And I’m glad that there are groups of people who are pushing back against this idea more and more. And although I know we’ve canceled Junot Diaz, it makes what he says about the necessity of narratives where people of color choose each other, so important more than ever.
Other than that this whole interview about Pose on Fx is really great and you should check it out.