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Pre-2008 Posts

Gendercator Playing in Milwaukee July 29


When: Sunday Jul 29, 2007 at 6:00 PM
Where: Milwaukee Gay Arts Center
703 S 2nd St.
Milwaukee, WI 53204

The cost for this event is $5, and there will be beverages available for purchase as well. Facilitated by Jenny Curtis, the conversation is sure to be engaging and thought provoking – come share your experiences!

The Gendercator is a short satirical take on female body modification and gender. The story uses the “Rip Van Winkle” model to extrapolate from the past into a possible future.

In 1973 a group of hippie women are celebrating Billie Jean King’s victory over Bobby Riggs. They are partying in the rural woods outside of Bloomington, Indiana. Our heroine Sally is a simple minded, sporty type who overindulges at the party and passes out under a tree. Sally wakes up 75 years later in 2048 to discover (amongst other social changes) that feminism has failed utterly and completely. Sex roles and gender expression are rigidly binary and enforced by law and social custom. When Sally rejects the feminine hairdo and short skirt she is given, the doctor at the emergency room calls in the “Gendercator”, a government official who informs Sally that butch women and sissy boys are no longer tolerated – gender variants are allowed to chose their gender, but they must chose one and follow its rigid constraints.

Sally is baffled by this brave new world. All she wants is to “do her own thing” – but her own thing is no more. Sally is a simple-minded stoner, indoctrinated into 70s feminism. She is no poster girl or freedom fighter, just a gentle tomboy dropped into the future with a tendency to respond in slogans such as “sisterhood is powerful”.

Nurse Nancy locates some of Sally’s former friends – they are 100 now, but because of advances in the medical profession (cloning spare parts), they are still healthy and thriving. The friends tell Sally they heard she moved to California and that’s why they never looked for her. One of her friends appears to be a man and tells Sally, “They made me do it. They’ll make you too.” They explain to Sally that in the early 2000s the evangelical Christians took over the government and legislated their strict family values, legally sanctioning only “one man, one woman” couples. Advances in sex reassignment surgery have made it possible to honor an individual’s choice of gender AND government policy. Sally is comfortable in the middle of the genders, an unacceptable choice in 2048.

Director’s Note

Things are getting very strange for women these days. More and more often we see young heterosexual women carving their bodies into porno Barbie dolls and lesbian women altering themselves into transmen. Our distorted cultural norms are making women feel compelled to use medical advances to change themselves, instead of working to change the world. This is one story, showing one possible scary future. I am hopeful that this story will foster discussion about female body modification and medical ethics.

I hope women reading who live in or near Milwaukee will be able to spread the word about the showing of the Gendercator, which was recently canceled by Frameline in  San Francisco.  The boycotting of lesbian playwrights, filmmakers, writers, artists hurts women!  And lesbians in particular.  Consider that although the Michigan Women’s Music Festival is showing the Gendercator this year on womyn’s land, Catherine Couch could not, herself, afford a ticket to Fest!  Festies had to add her to the list of womyn who wanted to get to the Land but couldn’t without help (and she did get a ticket).

Thanks to Sister Medusa of the Fest boards for this heads up.




2 thoughts on “Gendercator Playing in Milwaukee July 29

  1. There are some really great women in this thread that I haven’t encountered in other spaces. I think some of you women might enjoy reading them!


    Posted by womensspace | July 27, 2007, 4:48 am
  2. They lost their venue. The “L” in LGBT needs to stand alone. The G, the B, and the T do not appear to be our friends.


    We’ve lost our venue. Please see the letter I received from the Milwaukee Gay Arts Center, and my response.

    CB wrote:
    > The private event scheduled for Sunday, July 29, including the showing of the film /Gendercator, /will not take place at the Milwaukee Gay Arts Center. Unfortunately, adequate assurances were not met to ensure a legal and LGBT balanced experience.
    > On July 19 MGAC was approached by an individual requesting the free use of its space for fundraising purposes. Since that initial request, questions concerning the non-profit 501(c)3 status of the beneficiaries of the event has forced MGAC to reconsider its decision. Additionally, as of this statement, legal rights to show the copyrighted film /Gendercator /had not yet been received by the individual producing the event. This decision has nothing to do with the film or its content, rather the legal questions described above.
    > MGAC recognizes the importance of diverse viewpoints of all sexual orientation and gender identification issues. Therefore, upon availability and legal permission, MGAC, under its own auspices, will schedule a viewing of /Gendercator. / Included will be a panel discussion involving the various viewpoints this film addresses. Additionally, an audience talk-back session will follow. MGAC will in turn donate all profits to the legally recognized 501(c)3 organizations participating on the pre-viewing panel. MGAC believes this the fairest and most non-partisan way to schedule this film.
    > Should your organization wish to be represented on the panel, please contact MGAC at (414) 383-3727, or . We look forward to your participation.
    > Board of Directors
    > The Milwaukee Gay Arts Center

    Dear Board of MGAC:

    I am deeply disappointed in your decision to revoke your permission for our use of your space on 7/29. A couple of clarifications. The use of the space was not, in fact, free, it was agreed that we would pay the MGAC 10% of door charges which are $5 per person, and that the MGAC was to provide a board member who would make concessions available to our attendees, with the proceeds going to the MGAC. As this is a private fundraiser, not a tax-exempt purpose nor protrayed as such, there was no need for there to be a 501(c)3 backing this effort.

    The film in question was donated to me by the director for the specific use we intended, and portrayed. Written permission to show the film was never requested from me, I learned yesterday evening about 6:30 that you needed such permission, immediately requested it from the director and received it last night, 4 hours after I learned of the requirement.

    The various viewpoints this film addresses include womyn, specifically feminists and lesbian womyn, the patriarchy, the religious right and the medical establishment. Please see notes (below) from the director on why she created this 19 minute film and what it’s about. While I agree that events being presented by the MGAC should be LGBT balanced, I would argue that there is no feasible way to ensure that every event at the MGAC is LGBT balanced, and that an event not being presented by the MGAC should not held to the same standard, as long as it falls within your mission.


    “Why did you make The Gendercator?
    I wanted to make a comment on contemporary social trends that we see around us everyday. I am not a theorist, I am not a scholar. I am a storyteller. I use image, plot, genre, and metaphor to communicate to an audience. I want this audience to experience and see the world through a character. In The Gendercator this character is Sally. I used the Rip van Winkle plot device as a shortcut in a short film to take Sally from the 70s into the future. Sally is a typical 1970s lesbian at the height of second wave feminism. This was an era in which people were experimenting with sex roles and gender expression. Feminists were calling patriarchy into question and asserting that no matter what kind of body you were born into, you had limitless potential – that both women and men could be anything, in any kind of body. Billie Jean King had just proved to the world that power and strength were not the exclusive province of men. The film begins in this moment of great possibility, but as Sally will discover, the future is not a utopia but a dystopia for women like her.

    The Gendercator is a satire. A satire is not a prediction of the future. It is a genre that takes contemporary social trends and extrapolates them to their extreme in order to reveal their underlying logic. With The Gendercator, I wanted to comment on three social trends:

    1) Most importantly, the political empowerment of religious fundamentalists. We see this happening in our own country and all around the world. We know that for fundamentalists, homosexuality and “traditional family values” are two central concerns. Homosexuality is considered a sin and fundamentalist governments have outlawed it. They are concerned to reinstate the “traditional family” meaning heteronormative sex roles and forms of gender expression. These two concerns (legally disenfranchising homosexuals and using government to reinforce heterosexual gender roles) are very clear in the debates about same sex marriage around the US.

    2) The increasing medicalization of our society. Not only have elective medical procedures become ever more sophisticated, but increasingly people are persuaded that elective medical procedures will resolve all of their “problems” (to the great financial benefit of those who offer such procedures).

    3) The emphasis on individualism in American society: the idea that the individual’s pursuit of happiness is a worthy goal in and of itself, and should not be questioned, and also the idea that the individual is the true locus of identity–that the individual freely fashions their own unique identity apart from any other social pressures or forces.

    What is The Gendercator all about?
    In the Gendercator, these three trends are taken to their logical extreme. (Is this a possible future? Yes. Is it likely? Probably not—there are many other social forces at play). The main character, Sally, a lesbian steeped in 70s feminism, passes out at a party celebrating Billie Jean King’s victory over Bobby Riggs. She wakes up, à la Rip van Winkle, 75 years later. The world has changed
    dramatically. As Sally later learns, the evangelicals have taken over and implemented their social vision through custom and law. Homosexuality is outlawed. However, because the individual pursuit of happiness is also a part of this culture, the individual homosexual can choose to change their sex in order to comply with the law of “one man one woman.” Medical advancements have made such surgeries undetectable (as suggested in the Mano, Lem and Tork scene), and have also extended life (as evidenced by Rachel and Linda).

    Sally is baffled by this brave new world, and its in habitants are baffled by her. The film is about this experience of not fitting in and the ways that people try to put other people into little boxes; the ways that society defines masculinity to exclude anything “feminine” and vice versa, and how this is an arbitrary process that can, and does, change over time. All of us are like Sally—we have both masculine and feminine characteristics—and it is the larger culture that we live in which determines which of these characteristics are acceptable and which must be repressed. The film explores the dystopian possibilities of the religious right co-opting gender play and trans-politics and forcing us into hetero-normative gender binaries.”


    As there IS no organization backing this effort, there is no 501(c)3 or organization to be represented on any panel for any showing of this film that you attempt to arrange.

    Again, I am saddened that the MGAC has used such frivolous reasoning to revoke my use of its space, but respect that the MGAC has that prerogative and will find another venue for my event.

    Posted by womensspace | July 27, 2007, 8:16 pm

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