TRANSPARENT recap: “Man on the Land”

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Idyllwind Wimmin's Music Festival

This episode confronted the issue of what makes a woman a woman.  Was it purely a matter of reproductive organs?  Was it a way of moving through life that was felt and distinct from a male way?  Was it some combination of the two?  For Maura the question was poses as can a transwoman ever be a “real woman,” or were they merely men exercising male privilege against women by intruding into women’s sanctuaries?   As the women gather for their festival they were on display in all their stunning variety. (Though I do have to note that it was overwhelmingly white women.)  They had come for freedom, safety, and sisterhood.  Or to quote the words that were sung at the opening “so, go into the forest and menstruate on a stick….”   The qualifications for entry were clarified, as Maura was to find out. 

 

Welcome home ladies, said the bearded lady

As Maura, Ali and Sarah entered the grounds and made their way through the waves of women, clearly they were in a fantasyland in their eyes.  The amazement and joy on their faces summed it all up.  Soon Ali was putting up a tent by herself as Maura and Sarah were seated and discussing the workshops and programs being offered.   They were discussing going to an intention circle.  They were all smoking pot, as Maura said, “don’t tell your mom.”  Ooops the outside just intruded into the sanctuary.  There was singing, dancing and joy all around.

The three Pfefferman women gathered at a table and began to eat a mystery meal, which turned out to be nut loaf.  Maura was not a prospective vegan, as soon became clear.  The three of them began to separate, as Maura said she was going to stay there for a while.  Ali went to find “the poetry thinghy” where Leslie was doing a reading.  Sarah set out in search of a spiritual experience with Crying Bear.  The three of them had officially begun their adventures at the festival.  In this exploration they would each learn much about themselves.

 

Forget Yourself

As usual, Sarah was only thinking of herself and would remove herself from involvement with Ali and Maura when her sexual fantasy came true.  While walking at the festival she suddenly found another parent from the school, who proudly said, “Laura McFarland and I left our husbands for each other.”  Sarah made it about her, “seriously, I’m not like the only outcast…”  The friend then basically told Sarah to get over herself.  “Nobody cares about what you do.”  Stop with the poopy face that nobody wants to see.  “Forget yourself, it’s ok move on.”

 

Crying bear

Sarah finally located the teepee of Crying Bear and approached where she was anointed.  Inside Crying Bear was starting her spiel about “being there to mourn the death of your femininity.  Some of you, I know from my drumming away racism group.”  Sarah stopped at the entrance, as she caught sight of a dominatrix carrying a paddle leading a woman on a leash.  “I think I have the wrong tent,” said Sarah as she turned from releasing “some deep emotion” with Crying Bear.

 

Woof

When next seen, Sarah was mesmerized as she headed toward the dominatrix area.  She was lusting for the paddle.  Sarah saw the woman that she was pursuing.

“Did I just see you leading that woman around on a leash?” asked Sarah.

“Yeah, she’s my naughty doggy,” came the answer as the dominatrix broke into a big smile before she continued, “my plaything.”

“Plaything, yeah,” echoed Sarah.

“Consensual power exchange.  Role playing, You interested?  You interested?”  the dominatrix inquired twice.

“Woof,” came Sarah’s response.

Toward the end of the episode Sarah would reappear bound to a tree with

her panty covered butt exposed being whipped, as she moaned in ecstasy.  Her festival had been a rousing success.

 

Mind if I ask you a question?

Maura had found her way over to the marketplace and was admiring some feather earrings.  Here she would meet Vickie.  They briefly admired some owl feather earrings, when Maura wondered aloud if they were “age appropriate.”  Vickie stated that Maura didn’t look like a person “who lets people tell her what to do.”  A friendship began to bud between the two of them.  It turned out Vickie owned a cheese shop with which Maura was familiar.  Other pleasantries were exchanged about unplugging and how fabulous it all was.  Then with a great deal of hesitation, Vickie opened the door to what was about to become a nightmare for Maura.  She asked, “mind if I ask you a question?  Are you trans?”

Proudly Maura stated, “I am.”

“That is awesome,” responded Vickie.

“Thank you,” came Maura’s joyful reply.

That is so cool that you don’t give a shit about the dumb policy.   You know a woman born woman policy.  All that bullshit.”

Maura in a flat monotone voice asked, “there’s a policy?”

“You have every right to be here,” said Vickie, as she quickly tried to make amends.

“Excuse me, nice to meet you,” Maura said as a distressed look came over her face.

As Maura left, Vickie called after her, “no, you don’t have to bolt.”

Maura walked away looking left and right.  Her face showed the distress and even a feeling that she was not welcome here at the woman’s sanctuary.

 

Oh shit

Meanwhile Ali found Leslie doing her reading.   Once she was through, the two of them began to talk.  Ali mentioned that she had seen Bella, Leslie’s young friend, walking around with a giant parasol.  Leslie said matter of factly that they had split up.  And soon Ali revealed that she and Syd had split up.  Ali then said that she had come with her sister and Moppa.  Leslie stopped short and exclaimed.  “Oh shit.  That may not have been the brightest idea you ever had.  This festival is founded for women born women.  They just don’t want transwomen around.”  Ali was astounded because everyone was so relaxed.  Leslie explained further that some women saved up all year to come here and feel protected, and “they end up spewing hate.”  With that Ali and Leslie set off to find Moppa.  They were next seen at the notice board where they posted that Moppa should join them at the Sojouner Camp.

 

Man on the land

Maura waited in line to use one of the port-a-potties.   A clown approached and offered to perform for a fee.  Then up the road came equipment and a service crew.   The call “man on the land,” erupted and swelled in volume as they came nearer.  Maura was puzzled, “what’s going on?”  The clown explained that they were men who were “to take our shit away.  So everybody goes man on the land and nobody gets triggered and….”  Maura then asked if there had been “a problem with the employees?”  Another woman answered that the problem was “that they are men.”  Maura suddenly left and looked very wary of her surroundings.

Maura looked increasingly concerned as she was joined walking the festival in search of Ali and Sarah.  You could almost hearing her thinking, “do they know? And I being clocked?”  She finally arrived at the information board and found the Moppa note from Ali.  Then her problem was where the heck was the Sojourner Camp.  She walked away calling for Ali and Sarah.  This continued, as it began to get dark.

 

We are specks of dust

Leslie’s acolytes were gathered by a fire.  As Leslie mused that they were merely specks of dust, a plain spoken women said, “oh, here we go.”  Leslie continued that she was there with her “chosen family” and Ali was beaming.  Ali offered a toast to being specks.  Leslie continued, “I never felt totally free until my first summer here.  Walking around buck naked in the woods.” 

Ali echoed, “so true, so nice here, incredibly no predators. “

“Except the goddamn mosquitoes,” Leslie quickly added.

Ali continued, “Awful that every woman in the world is just walking around with this load of anxiety.”

At this point Maura walked up.  Ali was relieved to see her.

“I want to go,” Maura said.

“What?” asked Ali.

“I want to go home,” came Maura’s statement.  She held a finger in front of her mouth in the shhhh position.  “I’m going to find Sarah and then we are going to go.”

Ali implored her to stay and just have one beer with these “nice women.”  To just have a seat, Leslie joined in and finally Maura relented and sat down.

 

What is the festival policy?

Leslie was still holding court and mentioned that there was going to be a town meeting because “the S&M tent got too big this year.  Fucking extremists.”  They drank to the extremists.  Leslie continued, “Sandy, just don’t start any shit because Ali and Maura had no idea about the festival policy.”  And we’re off to the shit.

“Hey Leslie, what is the festival policy?” asked Maura.

Another woman answered, “it’s very simple.  Women born women.”

Quickly Maura countered, “I don’t mean to be rude, but what does that mean when you say women born women?”

Sandy, who had just been warned to not start any sit, but Maura did it for her,  “it means people who were born with a vagina and a uterus.”

Now Ali joined in, “first of all, a hysterectomy makes you not a woman?”

Back to the plain spoken woman, “bingo!  Here we go with the hysterectomy.”

Ali came back with, “come on she was just saying having a uterus grants you entry into this place.”

“Look, I drove the plow.  We cleared these woods with one thing in mind that we women could have one goddamn safe space in the world,” the plain spoken woman explained.

“No one is trying to take your woods away from you.  I just feel I have a right to be here as a transgender woman,” reasoned Maura.

Now a third woman, seeking to smooth things over, joined in, “I think this is more about the nudity and the showers.”

Maura’s rejoinder, “nudity?”

Then Sandy got to the crux of the matter, “ a lot of people here are triggered by penises.”

“Why?” replied an amused Maura.

“We have all been raped,” came the reply from the Sandy.

“Everybody?” came Maura’s Jesuitical reply.

The woman seeking to smooth things over said, “well, no.”

Sandy forcefully stated, “well, I was raped.”

“I didn’t rape you,” claimed Maura.

In a feeble attempt at levity, Ali added, “It’s true.  She stopped raping long ago.”  But, it was too late.

The plain spoken woman explained, “see, this is where it gets really weird, you know.  Because suddenly the conversation is all around you and all of us are trying to make you comfortable.”

“You’re trying to make me feel comfortable?” came Maura’s response in a “oh really” sort of tone.

“Yeah!”

“You’re trying to make me fell comfortable?” Maura said again in a credulous condescending voice.

“We’re trying to explain it to you,” added Sandy.

“I don’t give a shit about your goddamn penis.   It’s about the privilege,” chimed in the plain spoken woman.

A hurt Maura questioned, “what privilege are you taking about?  I was in way too much pain to experience what you are calling privilege.”

Patiently Leslie tried to reason with Maura, “your pain and your privilege are separate.  And Berkley was a great example.”  (You will recall that while in pain, “Mort” had a position of power that allowed him to block women from advancing, including Leslie.)

Now Ali joined in, “Right.  Even though you were suffering privately, which of course you were, you were still compensated as a man and you owned the house.  Your name was on the house and mom was the one who had to leave.

Maura took umbrage at this, “that’s what this is about the house and mom?”

“No” said Ali.

Maura stood and said, “I’m leaving.  I’m going. Bullshit!”

“Oh, there it goes, the privilege bullshit,” observed the plain spoken woman.

Maura then turned on Ali, “are you going to stay here with your uterus or are you coming with me?”

“Ali’s a big girl,” offered Leslie.

Maura left and soon after Ali left also.

“Shit,” summed up Leslie’ view of the conversation and its consequences.

 

Man on the land—ha!

Maura got back to the tents and gathered her things to leave.  She rattled Sarah’s tent, but there was not answer.  She then wrestled with her tent and finally managed to pin it to the ground.  She then danced and waved her hands in the air while mockingly chanting, “man on the land” repeatedly.  Whoo hooo!

 

Jew shoes

Ali was walking with a lantern on her way to join Maura.  She heard a jingle and when she looked down she had on the Jew Shoes complete with bells.  Suddenly, the mother of her grandmother Rose passed her going in the other direction.  Then there was a flashback to Magnus’s Institute as Magnus and his entourage, including Gittel were sitted in the library.  Through the windows on the front of the house the Hitler youth could be seen;  freshly scrubbed faces of young German men in white shirts and ties.  They were accompanied by a few men in SS uniforms.  The youth were pushing the queers aside and taking the books out to burn them.

Ali appeared close to the pile of burning books as the queers were being rounded up.  She saw her grandmother Rose, as a young girl, and Gittel.  Gittel was seized and taken by the SS.  Ali stood holding Rose’s hand.  And thus another chapter in the how did Gittel’s ring get to America without Gittel came to a close.

Ali returned to Leslie’s tent and they began to kiss and well you can guess the rest.

 

Feminist fuckhole

Intercut with this scene was Maura leaving the festival yelling as she went, “this ‘wo-man’ is leaving this feminist fuck-hole.  Thank you for your kindness and fuck you.”  Her feelings were devastated because she felt that she was a woman.  And now because she lacked the correct plumbing; she had been expelled from the woman’s paradise and would have to seek her place in the world elsewhere and she was not happy about it.

She continued walking along the road with her suitcase rolling behind her.  A white SUV appeared and stopped.  It was Vickie, “get in.”  And just like that Maura was off on a new adventure.  It seemed all three Pfeffermen women were getting lucky as a result of the festival.

 

 

 

See also:

TRANSPARENT recap: "Oscillate" (season 2 episode 8)

TRANSPARENT recap: "Man on the Land" (season 2 episode 9)

TRANSPARENT recap: "Grey Green Brown and Copper" (season 2 episode 10 FINALE)