Got bag troubles? Don’t know how to carry around your gender bc you’re a person always on the go? Here’s an idea! The portmanteau . The portmanteau is a richly-gendered bag. It is both masculine and feminine, if you think about it. The construction is heavy in the conventional ‘manteau — leather edges & handle create structure just as conventional masculinity can. In balance to this are the aesthetics of the bag, a dialogue of texture, complexity, sense — these balance the portmanteau as it travels global circuits. Understanding gendered embodiments through this metaphor is interesting to me. Clothing and garments work for us — I find myself humbled to this complicated show of generosity. Not all portmanteau’s are leather — as in the picture above. There is great diversity in the combination of structure v. texture , hard v. soft out there in the world of bags. So with bags, too with people, right?
The portmanteau has a French-sounding name. While we understand that “the portmanteau” has lived in France for some time, we don’t think that means it is superior. Professor of anthropology and Asian American Studies educator Dorinne Kondo has warned against the over-determination of “all things French” within the global fashion order. Kondo makes it clear that the fetish of France as the language of fashion masks the neo-colonial relations which privilege France as the cultural and geographic authority on global taste, especially haute couture fashion.
Still, Queerture lived in France when they were a young adolescent. We have a kind of “resonance” with “portmanteau” that is also familial — in a way, it is part of our pheonetic ancestry. We remember learning to roll our “r’s” as a young tomboy. Still, privilege layers disenfranchisement. Language is a song of myth and war, too.
P – O – R- T – M – A – N – T – E – A – U
The portmanteau comes in a diverse array of sizes, shapes, and abilities. Some have the most excellent snaps (woop!), other show strength to the touch and still others offer the right blend of colors — feeding our eyes and mind at the same time. The portmanteau as a design principle (bringing two elements together into one) has materialized through a range of fabrics — felt, plastic, leather, & tweed .
About Sound – this is fascinating! The portmanteau combines two separate elements: it merges meaning (in part, not whole) with sound (in part not whole). You heard it here! So “carry” (French: porter) merges with “coat” (manteau) to raise the roof, just as “mom” merges with “pop” to make “moppa.” ps The fact alone that children can give birth to their parent through language is itself amazing (hello Donna Haraway) —> kudos Transparent cast and crew!
We are adopting the portmanteau as our Queerture company metaphor. It is versatile and sonic. To us, it is a symbol of queer and trans* modalities for liberation/s — how we have made ourselves out of the binary gender system into something far more fabulous! Does this metaphor work for you?
Peace out – thanks for reading — QT