Monday, February 19, 2007

A rose is a rose is sometimes a peony

Today I noticed something interesting while driving in the hell traffic of 80/580 from the Bulb to avoid the San Pablo Avenue stop and go traffic. That worked really well. Not. Glancing up from my sock knitting (going slow in size 1 needles) I see a bright blue Mini-Cooper with a customized license plate. Not too long ago TGF had mentioned that she didn't see a lot of personalized plates in California and I posited that it could be that license plates stay with cars in this state. At least that's what I heard once upon a time. Struck me as silly especially since states usually charge extra for plates like ASTI4EVR (an actual plate). But this Cooper had one of those plates with the icons, in this case the heart icon with these letters afterwards Y-O-N-I (The link may not be considered work-safe for many folks though it is artistic.) My immediate thought was 1- how ballsy (no pun intended), 2 - must belong to a dyke. Yes I was stereotyping but seriously.

I mention the plate to TGF who turns to me with a bewildered look on her face. It occurs to me that she has never heard of yoni. Given my excursions into early lesbian/feminist writings, and my later explorations of eastern religions I was very familiar with both the spiritual as well as the more "we womyn are so peaceful and vegetarian, and sing folk music" (yep another stereotype but work with me here).

Once again I marveled at how different our exposure was to various lesbian cultural language, experiences, and readings. I devoured Lesbian Poetry, a book I have no recollection of buying but obviously I got it somewhere. It is still on my book shelf upstairs I believe. Quite the classic, I assure and nothing TGF would have ever read so really no surprise that the license plate was meaningless to her.

As the wikipedia entry points out yoni really means something different than vagina but the word has moved, in a fashion, from the sacred to the profane
(a book from my undergrad days that may also still be on my bookshelf) in meaning. Of course there is also the possibility that it means something else entirely for the owner of that car. But still. It's like Chevy Nova not working in Spanish language countries since no va means it won't go. Not a great label for a car. Akin to the Ford acronym created but anti Henry folks- FoundOnRoadDead. I used to have a file of all those car acronyms for car makes - cracked me up. Bet it's still on the web somewhere. But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, at how different the cultural references can be even inside of a subset of society, like lesbianism. TGF is not the first person who is a peer regarding age, age at coming out, etc with whom I had different reference points with. Music, writings, magazine, festivals can all differ even with several points in common. Fascinating, no? Okay, maybe just to me.

I grew up reading Ms. magazine while TGF probably barely even heard the word feminist even whispered in the hallways of home or school. I never went to Michigan Women's Festival but not because it was beyond my knowledge base or desire. TGF? I am pretty sure she found out about it around the same time I did, maybe even sooner, but so not her scene. She was far from the only young woman she knew who was sleeping with women in high school. None of my friends copped to it. Alix Dobkin is unknown to her, whereas I spent the night at her ex-husband's house, made friends with her daughter and heard her perform at some festival or other. I love learning where she and I intersect, where our cultural references are new pieces of information for the other one.

The driver, by the way, was apparently male.


louisiana swamp rat said...

Okay, the YONI link was interesting, but the snake in some of the pics...not so much - yuck!!

heather said...

i, too, did not know about yoni. =)

Jennie said...

MALE? Aw man, it would have been so cool for it to be a dyke.

goblinbox said...

I knew about yoni, with the various meanings you mention... but I converted to Hinduism a decade ago so that's why. Most people can go their whole lives without being exposed to much Sanskrit.

The yoni gallery is so great! I've forwarded the link to a few friends. I even liked the snake, 'cause it was little and cute. A big old anaconda would have wigged me out, though.