I don’t read the comments on my articles, but I’m told that someone took issue with the phrase “dancefloor yiffing” in my previous article, leading them to assume that I don’t really know what I said. I would totally agree with them, except for the fact that they’re not right.
I do know that “yiff” refers to the conjugative act between furries. (Speaking of conjugation, let’s! yiff, yiffed, yiffing, to have had yiffed. Please write your own on the chalkboard.) I also know that words have different meanings in different contexts.
I was fully clothed with ears and tail, and my yiffing partner was fully fursuited, all large eyes and floppy ears and a ginormous marsupial tail.
In the context of Frolic, second Saturday of the month at The Stud in San Francisco, yiffing does not require any kind of nudity, nor does it require penetrative sex or even direct rubbing of genital bits without some degree of faux-fur between them–and, really, going too far in that particular direction would miss the point.
What’s more, The Stud being pretty much as gay as you might expect a bar in San Francisco called The Stud to be, there often is a fair amount of partial-to-total nudity at Frolic–though not as much as on non-furry club nights, for obvious reasons–nor is it the kind of place where somebody’s going to get kicked out if’n they do rock out with their cock out. All that said, I was fully clothed with ears and tail, and my yiffing partner was fully fursuited, all large eyes and floppy ears and a ginormous marsupial tail.
When writing the essay I did consider phrasing it as “dry-yiffing” just on the off-chance that someone would get confused, but that extra syllable threw off the rhythm of the sentence, only a Sith deals in absolutes, and besides, I can only bend so far backwards in anticipation of anonymous Internet criticism. This is also why I rely on my friends to tell me if there’s anything interesting in article comments, and why my online diary has been flat, comment-free HTML since ’99. If anyone has anything to say about what I write in it then they can jolly well email me, and the extra clicks and keystrokes required to do so are usually daunting enough to make them reconsider.
But, jeez–words, right? Y’know what I mean? Seriously. (I promise I’m not going to say “yiff” again in this essay, by the way.) I can tilt at windmills while mixing metaphors with the best of ‘em: I once complained about this new form where two songs are squished together being referred to as “bootlegs,” because that word already means recordings which are neither sanctioned nor released through official channels. I got slapped down by someone who pointed out that they do in fact meet that criteria, and what’s more, the existence of two-songs-one-cup compilations with names like The Best Bootlegs In The World Ever meant that it was the official lingo, so I’d best just talk to the hand.
What bothered me was the newly emerging “bootleg equals song-mixed-into-each-other equals bootleg” usage, which I perceived as an attempt to redefine the word rather than simply expand it. I was willing to accept when you push one song into another song it can then be referred to as bootleg because of the whole copyright violation business, but not that all bootlegs were now, by definition, two songs squeezed into each other. I tells ya, it was on the verge of being the most worstest thing to happen to the English language since when those faggots ruined “gay,” which used to be a perfectly good word! Thankfully, another word ended up entering the vernacular to refer to the end result of two songs being smooshed together, though for the life of me I can’t recall what it is.
Segue time! My Google Alerts include the following: “call for submissions”, “‘dark room’ ‘bad movie night’” “gender outlaws: the next generation”, “sherilyn connelly” and “unthology unthank”. Kinda covers all the bases: direct references to me me me!, references to my show, mentions of books that I’m in (which hopefully include references to me me me!, because as a print snob I consider book reviews to be legitimate in a way that comments are not, even online reviews), and calls for submission for books and stuff which I can submit to and which will eventually result in Google Alerts for reviews of those books that reference me me me!. It’s the circle of Sherilyn–which is also a scene from Pasolini’s Salo, if I’m not very much mistaken. [you are very much mistaken. - red and tom]
In the first few months after it was released, Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation got a ton of alerts as reviews cropped up all over the blogosphere. Very few of those reviews mentioned me me me!, which was no great shock. I’m still surprised and honored that Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman included my essay “The Big Reveal,” it being something of an anomaly in the book’s overall theme of smashing the gender binary and creating new identities.
The essay is in praise of porn, and not only porn, but shemale porn, and how it taught me as a closeted teenager that it was possible–and maybe even okay!–to be a sexy girl with a penis. (Though I don’t watch it anymore, my affection for the disreputable genre continues to this day, since it contributed far more to my future positive self-esteem as a trans woman than anything in the commercial media ever did.) Since it’s about my teenage years, “The Big Reveal” is necessarily about the stuff that was out there in the Bush / Clinton years, long before the current wave of politically conscious porn made for those who don’t want to lose their political straight edge just because they’re getting their rocks off.
It’s a scary enough topic that one of the reviews that did discuss my essay started with a disclaimer that it “includes the discussion of an anti-trans pejorative word that is used in a positive, reclaimed way within queer literature,” and that those who find the presence of such words emotionally triggering ought not read further, lest they be triggered. I’m very glad they did that, because, I have no desire to intentionally trigger anybody. Honest.
(By the way, that disclaimer goes double for the rest of this article. If you don’t like reading words that you don’t like, then don’t keep reading, because it’s a minefield from here on out.)