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The Journal Of The InnKeeper
Ranty Lessons by Joreth
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4th-Feb-2009 06:53 pm - [sticky post] Welcome Visitors!
photography, Self-Portrait, personal
 Welcome all visitors and newcomers to the Journal of the InnKeeper.  I thought I'd preface this with a little explanation of what this journal is, what the purpose is, and who I am.

I am Joreth, The InnKeeper, of The InnBetween.  As you can see on the left sidebar, I am an Atheist, I am Polyamorous, I work in the entertainment industry as a Camera Operator, a Stagehand, a Video and Lighting Technician, a Forklift Operator, a Boom Lift Operator, and a Spotlight Operator, and I am sex-positive.  I am opinionated and aggressive and passionate and I care deeply about humanity and my fellow companions on this planet.

This journal started out because I started dating tacit, who began referring to me in his journal.  So I created a profile here so that he could reference me with a link, instead of just S (the first initial of my real name).  I didn't figure I'd use this for anything since I have my own website where I can post whatever I want.  Mostly, what I wanted to post were pictures, and my website is much better for that purpose.

But then I discovered that my journal was a great way to post those stupid email forwards that everyone wants to send, filled with cute pictures and kitchy sayings or jokes, because I was pretty sure that, here, only people who cared what I had to say would see them.  I wouldn't be sending on unwanted junk email, because if people didn't want to read what I had to say, people wouldn't friend me.  Plus, I could put stuff behind cuts and then visitors would have to do double duty and actually CLICK on the stuff they wanted to see.  So nothing I posted was unsolicited.

But then I discovered the internet's second true purpose (porn being the first one) ... RANTING!

Keeping with my concern of bothering friends and family with unwanted email, I found I could blow off steam and rant here in my journal too, and just like with the email glurge, only people who wanted to read it, would.

Well, over time, it turned out that the things that most frustrated me, the things I ranted about most of all, were things that I (and my followers) felt would be a benefit to society to be heard.  I have always been an educator and a mentor.  I'm not particularly smart, but I do grasp concepts quickly and I can often (not always) find ways to phrase things so that people understand when they might have had trouble before.  At work, bosses routinely tell new guys to just follow me around in order to quickly learn the basics of the business.  I was a mentor, a math tutor, a lighting lab instructor, and a guidance "counselor" at various times.

I have also always been an activist at heart.  A passionate personality and an interest in education tends to pair up to become activist leanings, for whatever causes strike's the activist's heart.  The topics I was most passionate about tended to be the topics that frustrated me the most and ended up as a rant here in my journal.  So my journal took on an educational bent, for some definition of "educational".

I tackle topics that interest me the most, or that I have the most stake in the outcome of changing society.  I cover the most current news in STDs and sexual health, I cover gender issues, I cover netiquette, I cover polyamory, I cover atheism and science and skepticism.  These are topics I feel that people need to be educated about, and I do my best to provide one source of education, to those for whom my style of teaching works.

But, as I've repeatedly said, the topics that tend to get written about HERE, in my LiveJournal, are those that I feel most passionate about, which tends to lead me to feel most frustrated when they're not going the direction I think they should, which leads to most of my entries being rants.

And, to that end, Dear Reader, please understand that, although many of my posts are, in my opinion, educational in nature, they are also written from the perspective of a passionate, frustrated, human, who takes the term "journal" to heart, and treats this like a journal, not a "blog", or a news column, or a classroom.  I hope that people get something of value from my journal, that I can report interesting or relevant news items, and that I can teach people something, and I do offer more classic or traditional styles of education, such as lectures & workshops, but I also come here, specifically, to rant.

Journals are typically places where people can write their private or personal thoughts.  They were traditionally considered safe places to reveal one's innermost thoughts, perhaps even those ideas that could not be spoken aloud.  Well, we have discovered just how valuable revealing certain journals can be to society, usually after that person's death.  And the advent of the internet has created a whole new society whose private thoughts are more public than truly private.  We use the internet to share those personal, innermost thoughts, to reach out to people, to connect with others, when once we might have suffered in silence, in isolation, with our private, paper journals as the sole, compassionate listener to our most intimate selves.

So, here, on the internet, utilizing LiveJournal as a personal journal where I can write my innermost thoughts, perhaps the kinds of things I cannot verbally say in polite society or as a way to organize my thoughts for a more appropriate-for-public version later, you, my Dear Reader, can get a glimpse into the mind of the InnKeeper.

But note that this journal, like any other journal, is only a small slice of who I am.  I use this journal to vent, to rant, to let off steam, and these rantings have shown to have some value to those who follow it.  But this is not the whole of who I am.  This is Ranty Joreth; this is the Joreth who needs to vent; this is the Joreth who needs to blow off steam; this is the Joreth who says anything and everything that may not be allowed to be spoken aloud, in public, or to the intended recipient.

Joreth is ranty and frustrated and passionate.  But Joreth is also compassionate and caring and occasionally a little silly.  Joreth melts at the mere sight of her fluffy kitty and is often late to work because she can't bear the thought of disturbing her cat to remove her hand out from under the cat's head.  Joreth needs hugs and cuddles.  Joreth cries at sappy movies and whenever anyone around her tears up.  Joreth sometimes lets her emotions carry her away.  Joreth gets deeply hurt.  Joreth isn't happy with her physical appearance but is mostly content and accustomed to it.  Joreth secretly craves attention and adoration.  Joreth likes to sing, especially bluesy-country songs and showtunes, but is terrified to have people hear her sing, in spite of being a mezzo-soprano in a choir for 5 years.  Joreth is touched by tears glistening in her father's eyes when he's proud of her.  Joreth has a sweet tooth and can almost always be tempted by sugary desserts.  Joreth is a lot of things, just as everyone else is.  This journal, and the other online aspects of Joreth are not the totality of who Joreth is.  

You get to see a portion of me, and it is truly me, here in this journal, but it is, by far, not the only portion of who I am.  Do not mistake reading a journal, whose very purpose is to be an outlet for a very specific part of my personality, for knowing who I am or anticipating how I will behave or react.  Just as I show only a certain portion of myself at work, and I show only a certain portion of myself with biological family, I show only a certain portion of who I am here.  All versions of me are still me, and there is some cross-over, but they are not complete models of me by themselves.  Just like anyone else, I am a three-dimensional, multi-faceted, complex and dynamic person.  I care, I love, I laugh, I hate, I hurt, I crave, I desire.  Just like everyone else.
woo, stupidity, rants, Dobert Demons of Stupidity, religion
Hey Marvel films and other movie makers - the reason why your female-led action movies don't do well at the box office and the reason why women (who make up the majority of the gaming audience) don't much care for your movies and the reason why your attempts at giving your male protagonists emotional depth turn into SNL skits is because you're not Netflix original series writers.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed your fluffy romps with comic movies in the last bunch of years. But that's all they are - fluffy romps with little to no substance. They're trite and common. I'm not saying there's no room in the diversity of entertainment for trite. But if you want to increase your sales, then instead of "pandering" to your target audiences with naked hot chicks but no role of their own except to be rescued or fucked by the male protagonists, with the token female lab scientist or the token female ass-kicker, with dark and brooding action heroes torn up over the loss of their wife or child that shows their "sensitivity", start talking to the writers over at Netflix about how to show the humanity and complexity in a character that doesn't require lots of sex, lots of rape, lots of on-screen violence, or lots of dark, scowling white male faces contemplating the loss of loved ones.

And I'm not just talking about the action series either. Netflix is totally kicking ass at entertainment in general these days. Their series' present us with diversity in emotion, in response, in reaction. They don't rely on "something Bad happened, now the protagonist will sit, staring out at the moon or off in the distance while they prepare to make themselves into a bad-ass fighting machine for vengeance". They show anger. They show pain. They show walls. They show confusion. They show shame. They show remorse. They show internalized blame. They show characters bumbling around and making mistakes. They show lack of acceptance. They show redemption. But not all in the same character. Not even all in the same gender or race or orientation of character.

Sure, there are lots of things I could criticize about any given Netflix show - no media is perfect. But, just like the Bechtel test is best used in aggregate to show trends, looking at the trends of big box office movies in the last decade and the slew of Netflix originals coming out in the last couple of years, and it stands out in sharp contrast that Netflix has a handle on how to write interesting, complex, nuanced characters and plots whereas Hollywood is still leaning on tropes that should have been retired 30 or more years ago.
Purple Mobius, polyamory

* I am committed to protecting the safety of myself and my partners through informed consent and risk-benefit analysis of behaviour, prioritizing evidence-based reason above emotional justification.
This is deliberately vague. Most people like to put down in writing (i.e. stone) their safe-sex rules. I've written several times about my safer sex guidelines, from the classifications of sex categories based on STI risk to my preferences in when I decide to take those risks. But I have learned over the years that even prefacing all that with "guidelines" and "agreements" doesn't stop anyone from attempting to prescript behaviour, impose rules, or resist change. Sometimes shit happens. Sometimes Game Changers come along and change the game. Sometimes the risks are lower because of special circumstances. And, as I said at the beginning, this is not a contract between me and my partners. This is what I commit to myself. Which means that my agreements and arrangements may be different between myself and different partners.

I'm tired of trying to nail down every little detail for every possible hypothetical scenario. That's not realistic. This commitment is intended to cover all my partners current and future, which means it has to accommodate for different arrangements and different people. I've cut away all the extraneous details and just gotten to the point - the underlying goal for what all those rules and agreements and boundaries are supposed to be doing: I will protect my safety and my partners' safety by giving the information they need to give informed consent (thereby respecting their agency, autonomy, and personal sovereignty) based on their respective boundaries, we will use that information in an analysis designed to assess risk on a per-case basis, and I will not use sexual safety boundaries to mask emotional concerns or issues. If I am feeling concerned about a partner taking on a new partner, and my concern does not match the actual, evidence-based risk, then I intend to get to the root of the issue without using safer sex boundaries as an excuse or justification or a Motte-And-Bailey Doctrine.

I get it, really I do. I've been there myself. No one wants to look like they're cavalier about safer sex, so pulling out the "I'm worried about STIs so we need to have safe sex boundaries / rules / agreements" card is a great way to make someone toe the line. It's really easy to avoid looking deeper at an insecurity when that insecurity just gave us a perfectly reasonable distraction to focus on - sexual safety. I was once so bothered by a metamour's resistance to polyamory that I said I felt "unsafe" and instituted physical barriers and restrictions between myself and my partner. I now know that was the wrong way to handle it. I should have said that my emotional concerns are affecting my willingness to be physically intimate with him, and I shouldn't have hidden behind "safety". That would have been owning my shit. But I didn't, and I do not wish to make that mistake again. At the same time, though, I want both the freedom to pursue relationships as I see fit and to be the sort of person who feels a responsibility for how her actions affect her partners so that I will be considerate of the risks that I take with regards to how they impact others.

This commitment to myself seeks to find that balance between consideration for others and freedom for myself and honoring their freedom; between maintaining a rational, reason-based, evidence-based skeptical worldview and embracing opportunity, love, sex, relationships, being vulnerable, and other emotion-based actions that bring color and depth to life.
Super Tech, strong, feminism

Hey guys, stop fucking using women as threats to motivate other guys.  There is nothing shameful about a woman being better than you at something, and there is especially nothing shameful about a woman being better than you in her field of expertise that she has worked in for her entire adult life while you just started.

Him 1:  "You gonna let her beat you at that?"

Him 2:  "Hell yeah, she's better at me than this, and if I can't get it right here in a minute, I'm gonna ask her for help too!"

Look, I've been doing my job for twenty-fucking five years.  I'm damn good at my job.  I'm not "OMG why aren't you working for Spielburg?!" amazing, I'm just damn good (and I suspect that a good part of the reason why I'm not that amazing is simply because of untapped potential and lack of opportunity - I know I have more to me, if I could just find a way to express it).  I know a thing or two about my business and I have a few systems down pat.  Most of this shit I can do in my sleep.  In fact, during my rock-n-roll days when I was double-booking and averaging about 4 hours of sleep a night, I *did* do a lot of this shit in my sleep.  This is my job.  This is my field.  This is my expertise.  Of course I'm better at it than someone who just started, and of course I'm better at it than someone who's only been in the business for 3 years.


There is absou-fucking-lutely no goddamn reason why some dude should be naturally better at something than I am when I've been doing it for more than two decades.  And there is abso-fucking-lutely no goddamn reason why he should feel embarrassed or ashamed at hearing so.  Y'all just need to get over that shit and accept that you're not the fucking king of the planet and some people are just simply better at stuff than you are because they've been doing it longer, or even because they are naturally more skilled at that task than you are.  That's just the way things are.  Having a penis does not confer magical abilities to be the best at everything you do, nor even to be "better than a girl" at everything you do, including some of those things that you typically associate as masculine skills.

Stop using me as a threat.  I'm just going to be better than some of you at those things I do well, just as there are some people better than me (and some of them are also women).  And I do a lot of things well.  If your ego is so fragile that the thought of a woman who specializes in a particular industry and has done so for nearly as long as you've been alive spurs you into a competition with her because on noes, you have to be the best!!1! then honey, you don't belong in this business.  In fact, you don't belong at work at all, you belong back in daycare.

Accept the fact that some people are better than you at things, even at things you're not bad at.  Accept the fact that some of those people are women.  Instead of feeling threatened by that, or encouraging other men to feel threatened by that, you can use the talented and skilled women around you as resources to get the job done.  So stop poking other guys with us or having them stand on our shoulders to get up higher on the company ladder than we are.

demure, sad, polite, boxed in, Misty in Box

It's about time other people are making blog posts on this subject. I've been saying this for years (it's even the catch phrase for Miss Poly Manners), and a handful of people have been saying it in online arguments for years, but there aren't very many articles, blog pieces - reference-able statements that take this position. Some try to be too conciliatory, as if they're afraid to alienate or piss off the people who are using this phrase as a silencing tactic.

We need more literature on this subject, particularly by names with larger audiences, and we, as a community, need to show a growing awareness and a harder stance against abusive tactics. These tactics masquerade as "reasonable", which is how they get entrenched; they co-opt well-meaning but misguided or simplistic philosophies because people who are trying to be well-meaning don't generally consider how they can be taken advantage of by those who aren't so well-meaning. We need to be uncovering them, revealing them for the manipulation that they are, and eradicating them from our lexicon, our philosophy, our communities.

"And for many people who do polyamory in a way that harms others “there’s no right way to do poly!” has become a useful tool to shut down conversation and deflect attention. As soon as someone says “There’s no right way to do poly,” the person confronting them has to defend their right to express their concerns. The conversation becomes about polyamory theory rather than whatever is concerning the person who spoke up.

This tactic can be used to shut down a secondary upset with the way their voice is being silenced, a mono partner who has agreed to try polyamory and is uncomfortable with the direct the relationship is going, other people in the local community calling out abuse or unethical behavior, and much more."

Abuse in polyamory is also a theoretical discussion, and this phrase is a useful tool to shut down conversation about that. When we talk about abuse in poly abstractly or generally, not speaking about a specific relationship, inevitably, someone comes along with "there's no right way to do poly" to justify gaslighting, manipulation, disrespecting of agency in the form of rules & hierarchy, control, and unequal distributions of power, even racism and sexism and other -isms that find their way into interpersonal relationships.

We are too afraid to say "there are wrong ways to do this", and we need to get over that.

In this article that was referenced in the previous link, Jessica Burde illustrates Shea Emma Fett's lesson that being victimized by one's control is not the same thing as being victimized by one's resistance to your control.

"In dealing with abusive relationships, it is important to recognize that playing the victim can be an extremely useful tool for the abuser. A classic example of this in polyamory is when one person tries to control their partner’s relationships. When their partner objects to this attempted control, the abuser responds with, “There is no one true way to do polyamory—you are just trying to control me and force me to do polyamory your way because you don’t like rules.”"

I ran into this a bunch of times in my past, but my most recent brush was also my most obvious example. He was so good at manipulation that I couldn't tell that he was doing it to others. I was convinced that he was ... well, not a "victim" because he had built up such a comfortable little power dynamic that everyone within it enabled each other so it didn't look like anyone was a "victim" of anything, but I was convinced that he was not in the driver's seat when it came to who controlled the group.  Ask me about poly-by-hostage rules sometime.

So when he employed those same tactics on a new partner and there was more turbulence than their little insulated, co-dependent group usually gave back to him, I, along with everyone else, assumed it was the new person's fault. The new person was the disruptive one, obvs, because things were running smoothly until they came along.

But the new person made large enough waves that the red flags finally started popping up in my field of vision. Not quite enough for me to have recognized it, but enough to have *primed* me for when he finally had the opportunity to turn his tactics on me. It was only when he accused *me* of victimizing him for resisting his control that I could finally connect the dots and see what he was doing to everyone else.

The kicker for me was when my life was falling apart by events totally out of my control - my landlord selling the house after my lease was up and not giving me enough notice to move out, the person who "rescued" me by offering me a room until I could find a new place to live torturing my cats while I was at work, a new partner who I was deeply in love with and deeply insecure about deciding to move away before the relationship had even gotten established, shit like that - when things were out of my control and I was flailing around trying to hold onto anything that wasn't sinking, he said to me "how could you do this to me?" It was in that moment that I finally realized that this was not a case of two people with different but valid styles of polyamory. This was a case of one person trying to control another, and the other resisting that control, and the one person then crying "victim!" when he didn't get his way.

Every argument we had where I tried to explain how his rules were hurting other people, he responded with "you're just trying to make me do polyamory YOUR way - this way works for us!" Yeah, in the way that any abusive situation "works" for the people in it - the one in control gets to stay in control and the one being victimized gets gaslighted into thinking that they're being abused for their own good.

"You don't get to arbitrarily decide how to take new partners without my approval" - uh, yes I do. You have choices you can make based on how I decide to take on new partners, but those decisions aren't about you, they're about me. I do have full control over those decisions that affect me.

"You don't get to decide the terms of when I speak to you" (said to me when I told him he was not to contact me again unless it was to apologize for something) - uh, yes I do. Again, I have full control over decisions that affect me. I absolutely get to decide the terms of how you interact with me and you are not "victimized" when I resist your attempts to control me or your access to me. You are not a "victim" when I fall in love with someone new and our relationship moves at a speed and in a direction we didn't anticipate.  You are not a "victim" when you violate my space and I refuse you access to me without an apology for it.  You don't have to like my decisions, you can feel hurt by my decisions, but you are not *victimized* by my decision to not interact with you or when I resist your attempts to direct what I do with my body, my mind, or my emotions.

Things that I do with my body, mind, or emotions are not things that I do TO YOU. They can affect you (which is why I'm so adamant about building friendly, or at least civil, metamour relations), but they are not done TO YOU. They are not about you. They are things that are happening to me. And you have no right to control those things or cry victimization when you don't like what happens to me.  Manipulation, intimidation, and control are, in fact, the wrong ways to do polyamory.
statement, Kitty Eyes, being wise
In response to some comments I have seen on several other people's threads where they shared that graphic trying to explain that no one *owes* you their time, attention, love, sex, relationship, thoughts, etc. these blog posts are relevant.

Discussions about agency and abuse in relationships tend to get sidetracked by the minutia and strawman arguments of people pursuing *selfish* (i.e. not self-centric, but selfISH where it requires a lack of concern for how one's actions affect others) hedonism. In other words, there is some defense of "but if the other person is doing things for their own pleasure and it hurts you, that's not OK!" Of course it's not, but that's a different discussion.

"This is my experience. You can not know my experience.
That is your experience. I can not know your experience.
These are my choices. You are not entitled to control over them, you are not victimized by them.
Those are your choices. I am not entitled to control over them, I am not victimized by them."

"When we really understand the difference between these statements, we will understand how to support both survivors and abusers.

'I was victimized by acts of control' is not the same as 'I was victimized by the other person’s resistance to my control.'


And then in the article they reference:

"“An abuser’s behavior is primarily conscious — he acts deliberately rather than by accident or by losing control of himself — but the underlying thinking that drives his behavior is largely not conscious.”

What is this underlying thinking? Well, it’s all around you. It is the foundation of rape culture. It is the fundamental belief that women do not have a right to their own personal power. It is the fundamental belief that they can retain power over their bodies, minds and choices, only so long as we agree with those choices. It is the way in which we punish women if we feel they’ve stepped out of line. It is the way we always suspiciously ask “what is she getting out of this?” when a woman reports abuse, harassment or assault. It is the reflexive dismissal of female anger as irrational, and female pain as imaginary. It is the way we, all of us, men and women buy into the belief that we are entitled to women’s bodies, thoughts and choices. In polyamory, this belief makes it easy for us to treat our partners as things and not people


This part is relevant because most of the objection to that graphic is in the idea that someone just has the *right* to go off and do whatever they want to do. OMG what is the world coming to that anyone can just LEAVE whenever they want?!? What if I don't want them to go?!?

"It is the fundamental belief that they can retain power over their bodies, minds and choices, only so long as we agree with those choices". It doesn't matter if we think they are making a poor choice for themselves. It doesn't matter if we are hurt by their choice to leave us, stop loving us, not liking us, revoking consent to sex with us.

They do, in fact, have that right. They might be behaving like dicks about it, but they still have that right. If someone gets involved in an explicitly monogamous relationship and then decides to have an unsanctioned sexual relationship with someone outside of that relationship, their monogamous partner does not own their body and they have the right to do with their own body what they will.

They're being a dick and I will harshly criticize and name-call and publicly shame people for making choices that infringe on other people's right to consent. *That* is not what they have the right to do. The choice to *remain* in an explicitly monogamous relationship without giving their partner the information necessary to give informed consent is what they don't have the right for. But they, and they alone, hold the rights to what happens to their own body and mind.

That graphic does not address the content of the person's character when it says a person has the right to leave, to not love, to stop loving, etc. It only addresses the one seeking to exert control over that person trying to leave.

"Understand, that when your reasons for disrespecting the boundary become more important than the boundary itself, you are displaying a belief of superiority, entitlement and control, and these beliefs are the foundation of a culture that tolerates rape and abuse."

"But what if…
It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter whether it was unjust. It doesn’t matter if it hurt you. It doesn’t matter in reference to whether or not you respect the boundary. It’s their right to set the boundary because they are a whole and complete and autonomous human being. When you don’t respect the boundary, you are telling them in no uncertain terms, that you think that they are less than this.



Yep, it absolutely sucks to have someone want to leave a relationship that you want to keep. It absolutely sucks to have feelings for someone who doesn't reciprocate. It absolutely sucks to have a partner make partner selection choices that involve other partners who do not respect your own relationship with the mutual partner. They are still allowed to make their own decisions about their own body, mind, and emotions, just as you are allowed to make your own decisions about your own body, mind, and emotions, including whether or not to remain connected to someone whose choices result in your pain.
4th-Nov-2015 10:53 pm - Are My Rebounds Unhealthy?
Nude Drawing, sex
I've noticed a trend. Every couple of years, I seem to get this restless sort of feeling where I end up with a casual partner or two. Usually it coincides with a breakup, so I've been thinking that it's a rebound pattern of mine, but now I'm not so sure. I've always enjoyed casual flings, I just don't usually have the emotional resources for very many partners at once and long-term, deeply intwined relationships take up a lot of those resources all on their own. I'm actually quite fine with one, maybe even two long-term, intertwined, local partners tops (I've had up to 3 of those kinds of partners only when I mix long-distance in).  As I keep saying, being poly isn't about how many partners you currently have, but how you handle your partner's agency (previously stated as how you handle your partner getting other partners).  So I don't need a large number, just the freedom.  Plus, I know that I get insecure if my partners are into casual sex so I kinda feel like I shouldn't pursue a type of relationship that I would feel uncomfortable with my partners pursuing. So I end up either putting off getting new casual partners when I start seeing someone "seriously" or I let my existing casual partners fall to the wayside when I get a new boyfriend-type partner.

But, I think, instead of a rebound thing, it might be more like I get involved with guys who get really attached who have some buried mononormative assumptions or fears. Then, in a couple of years, when I start getting restless and more emotionall "available" for a casual sort of relationship, those more attachment-type partners of mine sense a change in the stability of our relationship that they've come to depend on. Like, whatever my configuration was when they started dating me, they assume it'll always be the same thing, even if they think they don't - or maybe they don't "assume" but they do get comfortable with it and feel uncomfortable when it changes. Both of my last "serious", long-term partners completely freaked out when I wanted to start dating someone new, even though they had both pursued other relationships in the interim after we started dating. It was like, now that we have a comfortable rhythm going, I feel confident and secure about this relationship, so I have the emotional resources now to divert to starting something new and they're going "hey, wait a minute, this isn't what I signed up for!  You billed yourself as a long-term poly, family-oriented partner, not as a swinger or someone who has side flings with people who aren't integrated into the collective network!"  Because it's true, my preference *is* for long-term, intimate partners who are committed to polyamory itself and who feel a part of my poly network and can develop close, independent relationships with their metamours, and I prefer those kinds of relationships to ones with partners who aren't interested in getting to know my other partners or my own metamours (who are family to me).  But having a preference doesn't necessarily mean that the less preferred option is an active dislike either.

I once had a partner who lived with me but I did the grocery shopping.  He told me that he "didn't care for" rootbeer.  I can't have caffeine, and since we were on a tight budget, I would rather spend our money on soda that we both liked because otherwise it was zero-sum.  So I stopped buying rootbeer, which I love.  Then I saw him drinking rootbeer at a party.  Feeling a bit betrayed, I cornered him and demanded to know why he was drinking rootbeer when he told me that he didn't like it.  He said that he never said "didn't like", he said "didn't care for".  To him, that meant that he had no active positive preference for it, but that he didn't have an active negative preference for it either and he would drink it if that's what was available and the other options were less desirable.  In his mind "to care for" implied an active liking, which he didn't have, but "don't care for" didn't imply an active disliking, which he also didn't have.

I think this exact communication error is what happens between me and many of my previous partners when I talk about my own relationship preferences.  I say that I prefer "boyfriends" and "family-oriented networks", and they hear "I ONLY like 'boyfriends' and 'family-oriented networks' and nothing else" and then when I get interested in something outside of my stated preference, they feel a sense of betrayal because their model of me was incorrect or incomplete and they feel that I misled them somehow when I feel that I was totally clear on the subject.  And for those who have unresolved insecurities or hidden biases rooted in monogamous assumptions of ownership or entitlement to one's partners, even if I haven't strayed outside of my stated preference but I have developed an interest in someone that doesn't mesh well with the group or that this partner doesn't like, it still feels like a betrayal because they have that incorrect model in their heads of who I am and what I want.

Even if I haven't started pursuing anyone in particular, I think my diverted attention catches their notice (probably on a level they aren't even aware of), and that's when, out of the blue, "insurmountable" problems arise that lead to a breakup (and a breakup can be initiated by either of us). So, suddenly I'm "single" right about the time I was starting to be interested in a fling anyway, and I just go out and find a rebound to play with until my next "boyfriend" comes along and I don't have the resources to maintain a casual, ongoing fling in addition to that more intensive relationship. And I think that I thought this was a rebound pattern, not perhaps contributing to my breakup pattern in the first place. Because things are going just fine with my current long-term partners, and there is a new possible relationship on the horizon that will probably be a more casual sort of arrangement only because of the distance but I sense the potential for something really "serious" if the logistics would allow it. So my relationships aren't on the verge of collapse and they're all taking up plenty of my time and attention and are emotionally fulfilling, but I'm starting to feel restless again and I'm starting to reconsider options that I dismissed previously because they weren't the more desirable big-R Relationship options even though I'm not "single".

In the past, I had worried that my rather predictable trend of a casual relationship with someone who is generally unsuitable for a poly arrangement but who was fine with accepting an open FWB or fuckbuddy type arrangement while they were "in between girlfriends" was an unhealthy rebound pattern that I ought to try to understand and fix.  These rebounds were a lot of fun in the beginning but not very emotionally satisfying for the long term, and I would start to fill unfulfilled and lonely after a while, which prompted me to become open again to more big-R type Relationships. Which then, of course, would take up my time and attention and I would let my casuals fade away.  But now I'm wondering if the unhealthy part wasn't the rebounds, so much, as the breakups or even relationships that superceded them?

Because most of my casual relationships ended amicably.  Even if one of us wanted to continue it when the other was ready to fade away, we still parted on good terms and maintained platonic friendships or acquaintanceships after the sex ended.  Many times, those casual sexual relationships got restarted a couple of years later when the cycle repeated, with a couple of them getting restarted several times over the years.  In my big-R Relationships, those only ended amicably when I was the one who initiated the breakup.  In those, I seemed to be able to recognize when it was time to move on and was able to extricate myself with enough compassion for my soon-to-be-ex that he wasn't put off at the thought of transitioning to a friendship with me, even if there were hurt feelings during the breakup conversation.

But the breakups where my partners did the initiating?  Those seemed to always be surrounded by hurt, trust-damaging accusations that I think indicate a fear of change or abandonment.  In those cases where I was developing a new relationship, the partners who broke up with me somehow managed to find fault with my character when they didn't see those supposed faults before, even though I have never shied away from showing my difficult side as early on in a relationship as possible.  So breakups happened with a lot of contention and deliberately caused pain because these weren't conversations about differing needs and expectations taking us on divergent paths but about suddenly, from out of nowhere, deciding that I am a horrible person in ways that they not only never had a problem with before, but in some cases actively celebrated in me before.  I spend a lot of time in breakup conversations asking "what part of that was a surprise to you?"  It may be true that I'm a horrible person, but these partners didn't seem to think so until a new potential partner came along to upset the routine.  Even when that new potential relationship had very similar beginnings to how the preexisting relationship began so it shouldn't have been a surprise when a new relationship started in that way.

In the cases where I didn't yet have a potential new partner to consider, my existing partners seemed to intuitively feel, without understanding why or being able to identfy any specific actions to point to, that I was freeing up some of my attention for something or someone additional and they would react to this observation by trying to grasp me tighter to keep me from "leaving", even if I had no intention of doing so.  This is when a partner would start asking for relationship limitations but I, because of my outward-directed attention, had little patience for entertaining.  In the beginning of a relationship, I might (rightly or wrongly) accept some agency-denying boundaries because I would be in the throws of NRC (or NRE) and also feeling a lot of compassion for someone who was new to poly or unsettled and insecure in a new relationship that hadn't yet found its stable ground.  But a couple of years in, and I might start to get tired of protecting them from their insecurities or fears and I would start to unshoulder some of that burden and just expect them to start carrying the weight of their own emotions.  So when they would try to tighten up the relationship boundaries, I was much less amenable to them because now I was directing my attention outward and on myself, instead of on them.

So I think this is where all the dysfunction is happening, not in the rebound or casual sex relationships but in the breakups themselves or perhaps in my partner selection or my method of dealing with partners' fears or biases which lead to breakups, which lead to me being "single and looking" for casual sex partners.  The dysfunction or unhealthiness of the pattern is different for different situations and different people, which is a whole other series of posts that I could go into with each individual case.  But the hypothesis that I'm currently entertaining is that my casual relationships that followed my breakups may not be, by itself, an unhealthy pattern.  And I think if I can learn to embrace the part of me that enjoys casual sex enough to insist on partners who can embrace that part of me too, rather than tolerate it or write it off as something I did in the past, then I think all the associated dysfunction can be addressed more effectively.  See, I *do* accept that I am a person who likes casual sex, but I keep compartmentalizing it in my head as something I only do when I'm "in between" big-R, local partners, which may result in me ignoring when I'm ready to accept a casual partner until after I've broken up with someone, which may lead to either resentment on my part or denying any changes a preexisting partner is noticing which could lead to conflicts that could lead to breakups.  I know that when I was only aware of monogamy as the sole option, my attraction to or interest in casual sex used to lead me to conclude that I must therefore already be "over" a partner and that the relationship needed to end if I was "moving on" to that other relationship.  So a faulty awareness of where the actual problem lies can harm relationships.  I need to restructure my own model of myself in my head as someone who likes casual sex irrespective of when I'm in a big-R Relationship.

Sure, I still don't have many resources for lots of partners, and I prefer to save those resources for the more fulfilling big-R Relationships, but a preference for one thing doesn't necessarily imply an active dislike for something else.  When my Relationships are stable and I feel confident and secure in them, those Relationships take less daily maintenance.  We have fewer Relationship Talks because we've worked out a lot of the wrinkles and now we just need the occasional check-in to make sure we're still both on the same path.  We may even see each other less often because NRC has ended we are confident enough in the relationship's existence that we can survive time apart without fear of that distance signifying the possible end of the relationship.  Or maybe we see each other more often because we've entwined our daily lives so we can afford to start spending more time apart because we're confident that the other will still be there when we return.

So, when the conditions are right, I may be open and emotionally available to divert some of my other resources to one of those less fulfilling but still fun casual relationships for a short time.  That's not necessarily an unhealthy rebound pattern.  It doesn't even have to be a "rebound" pattern at all, if I can just better arrange my Relationships to accommodate that this is a Thing for me, which will only happen if I rebuild my own internal model of myself to change it from "someone who occasionally choose unsuitable partners for casual sex after a breakup that might signify some kind of breakup damage to my self-esteem" to "someone who occasionally chooses casual sex partners who are suitable for casual sex but not more emotionally intimate or intertwined partnerships when she feels she isn't too encumbered by relationship maintanance from other relationships simply because they're fun and because all different kinds of relationships have value and someone being unsuitable for one type doesn't mean they're unsuitable for all types".
Nude Drawing, sex


"In order to raise a generation of kind and respectful men we have to stop telling our boys they're inherently bad (but it's not their fault because hormones.) In order to create a culture of strong and competent women who can save themselves, we must first stop teaching girls that they need to be saved."

"While the role of overprotective father is not a new one, it is a tired concept that needs to just die, already. Aside from the assumption that my daughter ... is incapable of good judgement and protecting herself and her standards, this ridiculous concept imagines my sons likewise incapable of the same good judgement and standards.

'But I've been/known a teenage boy,' You say. 'I know how they think.'

Which is total baloney. Because here's the thing -- thoughts are not equal to actions. And rationalizing that young men have overwhelming urges that cloud their judgement and force them to make poor decisions regarding young women is nothing more than excusing bad behavior. "Boys will be boys" needs to STOP. "

"It's not 'funny' to threaten my son. It's not 'cute' to treat your daughter as if she has zero common sense. "

"realize and come to terms with the fact that teenage sexuality is not a 'boy thing'. Teenage sexuality is a teenage thing. Young men and young women alike are going to be curious, interested, and looking to learn more about sex. Your daughter is just as curious as my son, I can virtually guarantee it."

I started exploring partnered sexual activity when I was 12. I started having penetrative sex when I was 15. I actively pursued each of my partners and they were not "boyfriends" - they were casual sex partners. My first "boyfriends" were guys who pursued me, but the ones I went for were not intended to be big-R Relationships. And, not only that, but the only reason I "lost my virginity" was to see what all the fuss was about and I deliberately picked a guy who would be leaving soon so that there was no chance of an ongoing relationship.

Teenage sexuality is a teenage thing. I was curious and interested in sex and I remain so to this day. But I was also well educated and practical and responsible. Well, I was well educated and responsible about biology. I knew all about safer sex practices and how babies were made and how to avoid making babies. I knew it so well that my church youth group asked me to give a safer sex lecture to the youth because the parish thought that an older teen would be listened to better than some cranky old adult.

But I was not educated about consent, other than the obvious and practically strawmanny stranger-rape scenarios. I knew, full well, that I could say "no" and I should expect it to be honored and I knew that I *should* say "no" whenever I didn't want to do something. By 16 I even had some self-defense lessons (taught to all sophomores by our school priest, of all people, who was a black belt in some martial art or another, and was part of our P.E. curriculum).

What I didn't know was that men could be assaulted too, and that much of what was taught to us about male / female relations leads directly to male assault. I was taught that "boys will be boys" and that "all men think about sex every 6 seconds" and that teenage boys especially were out of control and only wanted sex. With those kinds of assumptions, it leads naturally to the conclusion that if I was offering sex, then any male should want it. With romantic comedies and other media examples of "if you want your love interest, just be persistent and they'll eventually see that you're The One", that leads naturally to the conclusion that if any guy *did* put up any kind of resistance to my advances, it was his "higher brain" functioning in charge, but he really wanted it, deep down inside, so all I had to do was get past his objections, tap into his primal urges, and he'd "consent".

In other words, I was the sort of guy I now mock on the internet who thinks that "no" just means "try harder". Only I thought it was OK because I was a girl, and it doesn't count when girls do it because boys and girls were "different".  I do have memories of being in high school and telling other boys that I thought it was OK to be virgins, so I did have somewhere in the back of my brain the inklings of "consent".  I was aware that people had different rates of sexuality.  But I also had the conflicting message that "boys were horndogs", and that's the message that won out every time I was interested in a guy who wasn't equally as interested in me.  It was somehow *different* when I did it, because I was a Good Person, or something.

There *were* plenty of guys who would have been interested in sex with me, and even in sex under the circumstances that I was interested in (i.e. casual sex), and some of them were even in my age group. My problem was that I did not fully understand consent or sexism or patriarchy (and all the things that covers, such as the pressure for guys to have sex whether they want to or not and the overlooking of situations that violate male consent) or even entitlement. I wanted That Guy, so I was going to Have Him.  And of course it was OK because I was the girl, and all guys want all girls anyway, they just have to be made aware of it.

The things that I now understand about consent and agency needed to be taught to 10-year old me so that when I turned 12 and found my first sexual partner, I could have started off on the correct foot with negotiating what type of relationship we were going to have. He thought sex had to take place inside of a Relationship, so he would ask me to be his "girlfriend" on Friday, we'd make out all weekend, then he'd break up with me on Sunday so that he wasn't saddled with me as a Girlfriend at school. Because I was attracted to him, I fell for this more times than I can remember. I got my heart broken over and over again when, the reality is that if casual sex had been an option, I probably would have taken it. I was interested in the sex part, not necessarily him so much.

We were friends before puberty hit. We used to run from one house to the other, playing each other's Nintendo games that we got for Christmas. We would race our scooters down the street. We played basketball together at the end of our cul de sac. We did our homework together.  But we weren't interested in each other *romantically*. If FWB had been an option, our childhood friendship might have remained intact during our early sexual explorations instead of getting destroyed by heartbreak as he kept offering me things he had no intention of producing and I built up expectations that were never met. I kept getting hurt, and he kept getting that annoying girl mooning over him. But if we had the option back then of *negotiating* a relationship that matched our actual desires instead of the cultural script (and my reputation wouldn't have been stained because of it), it might have been much more fulfilling and beneficial to both of us.

Later, after I'd had a couple of penetrative partners, I had another boyfriend who was still "a virgin". He was fascinated by my sexuality, but he was also a little afraid of it. His hormones and his buddies were telling him to be interested in sex, but he wasn't really ready for it. Unfortunately, both of us thought "boys are walking hormones", so I pressured him into sex. I got him into a compromising position so that he wasn't really aware or able to not consent because it just "happened". Oops! My bad! We stopped, because he wasn't sure about it, but I should have had the lessons that told me that it was wrong to arrange that situation in the first place. After he went home, he freaked out about it and called me (several days later, which left me freaking out about his non-contact) to break up with me because he said he wasn't ready to start having penetrative sex yet. If we had both known that it was OK for guys to not want sex, and that penetrative sex wasn't some sort of finish line with all other sexual acts lined up in a hierarchy behind it, he wouldn't have suffered the pain of being pressured into something he wasn't emotionally ready for and I wouldn't have suffered the crushing weight of rejection that, to an introverted, shy, bullied teenage girl was *devastating*.

Telling boys that "boys will be boys", to pursue at all costs, that "no means try harder", that all men are walking hormones, that a Real Man has penetrative sex with Women (but only the right kind of women), that boys who have sex are Studs while boys who don't are Virgins (and that's a horrible thing for a boy to be, but the only thing a girl should be) - telling them all that leads to a culture of rape, a culture where boys AND girls violate people's consent and disrespect their agency and where boys and girls have their consent violated and their agency disrespected. And a culture where we shame boys and girls for having their consent violated, but we shame them in different ways - ways which do nothing to actually prevent the violations from happening in the first place.

It's been a very long time since I was that person.  I can only speak about it now, with this kind of clarity, because I feel so far removed from that teenage girl, that I feel like I'm speaking about someone else.  To me now, it's obvious how I was wrong and I can't even imagine doing something like that today, so I can speak candidly about my mistakes.  But I shouldn't need to have the perspective of being a middle-aged sex-positive, alternative sexuality activist to see how I was wrong back then.  I should have been given that perspective as a child, which means that it's the adults' responsibility to stop perpetuating exactly the sorts of beliefs that lead to exactly the sorts of scenarios these "keep your hands off my daughter" posts are trying to prevent.  Telling boys to "keep your hands off my daughter" did nothing to actually keep my boys' hands off me and it also did nothing to protect boys *from* me.  And it certainly did not help me to be my best self as a teenage girl exploring her sexuality.

But it did make me incredibly resentful of anyone thinking they owned my body, and it did drive a wedge between me and my otherwise loving parents that created tension and distance between us as I struggled to take control over my body away from people who never really had any control of it to begin with but who had enough power and authority to assume control.  My parents were mostly good parents and I love them.  I remain close with them to this day and I cherish my relationships with them.  But my entire adolescence was a power struggle between us.  In spite of not understanding consent and agency as it applied to other people, I knew that my body belonged to me and that I was my own person from the very beginning.  My parents' attempts to control me were seen as intrusions and violations (as they were).  Their misplaced fear and belief that parents "own" their children, and in particular that they had any say in their children's sexuality, caused rifts between us, as well as between them and my sister (but in different ways).  We all managed to survive our teenage years, but things could have been so much better, with fewer scars that inhibit our relationships to this day, had they not had the erroneous belief that parents were the owners of their children, as opposed to guides and mentors of individual, autonomous people.  There are lots of people whose familial relationships did not survive the teenage years, and others who did mange to but only because the harmful programming was successfully passed down, perpetuating yet another generation of agency violations.

We need to stop this cycle, and it starts with teaching children young that they are autonomous individuals with complex, often conflicting desires and emotions but that they are capable of making decisions that will benefit them after weighing all the options, and it requires us *giving* them all the options to consider, including biologically accurate safer sex and respect for agency and consent, and then trusting them to make those decisions and living with the consequences.

Flogging, BDSM
Dating Site Dude: Will you be my Mistress?

Me: What does that mean for you?

DSD: I dunno, like, be in control of stuff.

Me: What do you want me to be in control of?

DSD: Um...

Me: Do you want me to control what you eat? Tell you what to wear? Act like your mom and tell you to get off the Xbox and do your chores? Direct your career choices? Humiliate you? Do you want me to be in control of you in public? Just for a scene in a dungeon? All the time?

DSD: Tell me what to eat? WTF? No, I know how to feed myself! You're the Domme, you're supposed to come up with these things!

Me: Oh, I see. You've been reading 50 Shades. In the real world, it doesn't work like that. See, in *healthy* D/s relationships, the Dom might be the one crafting the scene, but the subbie is an equal agent in this collaboration and is required to provide the parameters. That's how the Dom knows what kind of scene to come up with and what things are off-limits.

DSD: Off limits? But you're supposed to dominate me! That doesn't make any sense if there are things I can tell you not to do!

Me: Oh, sweetie, if you think it's safe to give me complete and total freedom to do whatever I want with you without discussing limits and boundaries, you have a profoundly limited imagination. I guaran-fucking-tee you that I can come up with things that you will not want me to do. It's best that you decide what those things are *before* I do them to you.

DSD: But if I can tell you not to do something and you have to obey me, then you're not really in control of me!

Me: Give this boy a gold star! That's the difference between healthy D/s and 50 Shades. D/s is a mutually beneficial relationship between two (or more) individuals who all want to be there, choose to be there, and consent to every single activity that happens. The control is illusory. If you can't say no, then it's not consent, it's abuse, assault, and / or rape. That's what makes D/s a healthy expression of one's sexuality and not abuse - the ability to consent and to revoke consent.

DSD: But I'm consenting! That's the whole reason why I contacted you!

Me: You still haven't told me what you are consenting TO which, by inference, tells me what you're NOT consenting to.

DSD: I'm consenting to you controlling me!

Me: Do you mean that you plan to just stand there motionless while I position your body? What do you want me to control? And what happens when you try to resist my control or fail in your assignments? How am I supposed to punish you?

DSD: Now we're getting somewhere! Yes, punishment!

Me: But how? Impact punishment? Humiliation? Restraint? Silent treatment? Predicament scenarios? Erection torture? Forced delayed orgasm? Chastity devices?

DSD: I dunno, come up with something!  I don't even know what all that is!  You're the Domme!

Me: And here we go 'round again. If you can't understand the difference between abuse and consent, if you don't know how to maintain your own agency, then you are not safe to play with in a power exchange dynamic. You are unable to give consent.

Unlike Ana and Christian, a good Dom isn't in the relationship to work out anger and resentment at maternal figures of their past whether the victim likes it or not. A good Dom is an artist, crafting a scene like a playwright, designing the setting and costumes and dialog for their protege, their ingenue, their star. The "play" becomes the masterpiece intended to highlight and showcase the *star's* unique talents.  The star isn't acting exclusively for the playwright, the playwright is writing *for the star* and the star gets to stretch their skills, abilities, or interests.

But the Dom / playwright can't do that if they don't know anything about their sub / star. Are they a singer so they should craft an opera? Are they a comic so they should craft a comedy? What kind of comedy - high brow? slapstick? If this isn't a collaboration with the star being allowed to give input, telling the playwright and director when they feel uncomfortable, when they feel the character might do something different from what's written in the script, when they feel that their creativity is worn thin and they need a break to rejuvenate before they can bring their A-game back to the stage, when they have an idea of their own to add to the character or the dialog or the setting or the costuming - when the star isn't allowed to give that kind of input, then we have the sort of abuse we see in Phantom of the Opera. And look how well that turned out for everyone!

Power exchange only sounds like it goes in one direction to those who don't understand that it's an EXCHANGE. While the subbie agrees to voluntarily give up control in certain ways, they ultimately retain their agency and complete autonomy - that's what makes it not abuse. They have the right to say no at any time to any action, they have the responsibility of setting the limits, and they have the freedom to renegotiate the boundaries and details of the arrangement at any time in order to get more out of the experience.

While it's true that Doms do, indeed, get something out of being "in control", the sub is who drives the arrangement. If the subbie ain't happy, it ain't healthy. D/s is as much for the sub (if not more) as for the Dom. It's an equal partnership. You may be taking on complimentary roles, but both roles are equally important and equally present. A good Dom might very well enjoy controlling another human being, but a good Dom also takes pride in crafting excellent scenes that leave the sub feeling satisfied and content with the arrangement - sometimes even more than whatever that feeling of "controlling" might give them. And for that, the sub has to contribute, and has to retain their agency.

Which is why this is not like 50 Shades, why that whole series needs to drown out of our culture and be seen for the abusive apologia that it is, and why you are not currently capable of consenting to a D/s relationship and I will not even consider you as a sub until you can at least give some parameters to start with.

The sub may be "dominated" by their Mistress, but they also hold all the power over their own body and mind, D/s illusion to the contrary. Once that agency is relinquished, it is no longer D/s and it becomes abuse.
Purple Mobius, polyamory

* I am committed to taking care of myself so that I can be the best partner I can be.

I learned this one through "osmosis". I've always been a fan of letting other people learn my lessons for me. I don't need to burn my own hand just to learn that fire is hot. I became a fan of the Anita Blake series because I felt like Blake was all of my bad traits exaggerated and none of my good traits. So when I saw her get herself into blindingly obviously stupid situations that she could have easily avoided, I used her stupidity as a guide for What Not To Do. Similarly, when I saw my metamours bend so far over backwards to accommodate and enable their partners' dysfunctions, I saw that their lack of self-care directly led to the relationship's toxicity. When my metamours didn't take care of themselves, they were unable to provide the best source of support for their partners in need. When they didn't take care of themselves, they lost the ability to recognize unhealthy relationship patterns. When they didn't take care of themselves, they had no defenses for preventing others from harming them. It turns out that being a good partner, someone who has the emotional resources to care for and support their partners and who has the internal strength and fortitude to maintain good boundaries, requires being in a physically and emotionally healthy state - or as healthy a state as possible given any individual circumstances.

Taking care of myself should be a goal all on its own. But sometimes taking care of myself is a means to an end. Sometimes, some of us need to be in a good state for someone else's sake. My sister was on a downward trajectory involving drugs, alcohol, sex-too-young, and lack of education. But then she got pregnant. Suddenly, her own health became of paramount importance because she had someone else to care for. I'm not saying that my own health takes a backseat to how well I can serve someone else, but I am saying that my ability to be a good partner is related to how well I take care of myself, and these are a list of commitments intended to remind myself of how to be a good partner, so it's included because it's an integral part of being a good partner.
15th-Oct-2015 11:23 pm - On Partners Who "Meet My Needs"
Purple Mobius, polyamory
One of the things that makes me twitch every time I hear it is "different partners fulfill different needs". My partners are not need fulfillment machines. While it's true that I have certain emotional "needs" from my various relationships in order for those relationships to be maintained, it's not an obligation for my partners to meet them. That's my job. Plus, most of my relationships have overlapping "needs".

In my romantic relationships, I "need" to be listened to, I "need" to feel that I am considered, and I "need" for my partners to follow through with whatever things they say they are going to follow through on most of the time, like if they say they will attend a party with me, I expect them to actually attend the party with me barring some emergency. Without these "needs" getting met, I don't feel loved, and if I don't feel loved, then there's no point in being in that romantic relationship because, to me, a romantic relationship is about loving and being loved by someone. These kind of needs exist in all my romantic relationships - that's part of what sets them apart from non-romantic relationships.

But I hear way too often about how polyamory is how people get their "needs met". People basically build a Frankenpartner out of their various partners - I have a list of 100 needs, Bob meets 78 of them, which is a majority, so he's my primary, Steve meets 13 of them so he's my secondary, and Jim meets 9 of them so he's my fling on the side, and that way I get all my needs met. I set out to find people to meet those needs, and I have carefully screened all the applicants, and each one was hired for the role based on their ability to meet those needs. Should they ever cease meeting my needs to my satisfaction, they will be fired and I will replace them with someone who can do a better job.


I have some general "needs" - to be heard, to be seen, to be considered, to be accommodated, to be appreciated. Sometimes I have a romantic and/or sexual attraction to people who can do those things, and if so, then I find out if they'd be interested in some kind of romantic relationship with me. From there, we work out the logistics.

And it's these *logistics* that I believe are more like what most people are referring to when they say "meet my needs". I liking having people to dance with. I like having people who share my kinks. I like having people who read the same kinds of books as me. I like watching movies with people. I like engaging in philosophical existential discussions about science and the meaning of life. I like having rock climbing and belaying buddies. I like cuddling. I like sex. I like eating meals with people. I like crafting and creating projects with people.

These aren't *needs* in the same way that the above needs are. Those needs are things that my relationships must have to flourish. These are things that, the more of them a person has, the more entangled and intertwined our lives have the potential to become. None of my partners really "needs" to ballroom dance with me, even though I'd be happier if at least one of my partners shared that passion. None of my partners need to rock climb with me, although I'd be happier if at least one of them did. And if only one of my partners shared that particular interest with me, I'd probably be just fine that none of the others did. Kink is a good example of this one; if I have at least one partner who shares my kinks, I'm usually just fine with the other partners who don't because then I'm getting to explore my kinks *somewhere*.  You could say that I got my "need" met by this one partner, so I'm good and the others are off the hook.

And looking at these sorts of things as "needs" is what, in my opinion, contributes to people seeing their partners as need fulfillment machines: You are my Boyfriend; the Boyfriend Role requires that we go to parties together; therefore you are obligated, expected, and responsible for taking me to parties.  I think it would be healthier to come at the idea from the opposite direction:  You like going to parties with me, therefore your role, for as long as we are both happy with the arrangement, is the Co-Party Attendee Partner.  Should either of us ever no longer be interested in attending parties together, we can reevaluate at that time what kind of role we will each have in each other's lives without the shared interest in parties.

I have not found a way to articulate an alternative to this problem - something that still indicates the importance that any given activity might have to any given relationship role, but that doesn't include the implicit obligation of "meets my needs" ... that removal of a partner's autonomy and turning them into something that serves my interests. Until today.

I'm still not sure if this will work out long-term enough to make it into a permanent part of my language, but today I used the term "niche" in place of "need". My partners each fit into their own relationship niche, which includes movies with Bob but co-crafting with Steve and food exploration with Jim. Even if Bob and Jim both include karaoke, they still have their own niches where Bob has co-crafting and karaoke while Jim has food exploration and karaoke. Even if two or more of my partners have *exactly the same* list of logistical criteria in common, they all still fit into their own niche as individuals. Bob fits into Bob's niche, Steve fits into Steve's niche, Jim fits into Jim's niche. But, really, the odds of any of them having exactly the same criteria with absolutely no deviation? So highly unlikely as to be not even worthwhile of consideration. Maybe Bob and Steve share exactly the same interests in common with me, but Bob lives 2 hours away and prefers texting to phone conversations while Steve lives locally and still has a landline, or something.

So I'm gonna try replacing "need" with "niche" whenever the context of "different partners meets different needs" comes up in conversation and see how that goes. Each of my partners fills different niches, not "meets different needs".  My intention is to remove "meets my needs" entirely from my vocabulary but still make my conversation understandable by people who are not necessarily up on all the latest poly lingo, in much the same way that I am attempting to describe my relationships without ever once using the term "primary", even as a bridge term with caveats and explanations.

So let's see how well "niche" ... well ... meets that need :-)
Super Tech, strong, feminism

OTG FUCKING THIS!!!! Stop lamenting the demise of chivalry, YOU HAVE NO GODDAMN IDEA WHAT IT IS!

"The truth is, chivalry has basically fuck all to do with women, and everything to do with horses. ... See, the word “chivalry” comes from the French word “chevalier,” which comes from “cheval,” which means “horse.” Chivalry is literally just “rules for if you have a horse.” ... Chivalry was – and still is – basically a way of saying, “okay, I have an optimized death machine between my legs, maybe I should look out for people who don’t have one of these.”"

"Real chivalry is about noticing when you have a horse and somebody else doesn’t. It’s about being careful not to trample people just because you can."

"There are no prizes for being chivalrous, other than the prize of being a decent god damn human. ... They didn’t need to invent a complex code of ethics to justify getting shit for free, because they already had all the shit. What do you get for the man who has everything? How about some fucking morals."

"The main problem with chivalry, though, is that it can very easily cross over into paternalism, and nobody likes to be treated like a child."

"At this point, you may be thinking “hey, this is bullshit, these are just basic guidelines for not being an asshole!” and congratulations, you’re right. That’s all chivalry is: basic guidelines for how not to be a sack of shit."

And I have a newsflash for you - if you insist that "chivalry" has anything to do with men treating women a particular way, especially if you feel entitled to being angry or disappointed when any woman doesn't like being treated that way, then you are, in fact, a sack of shit and violating the moral codes of actual "chivalry".
Purple Mobius, polyamory

This is why I'm so adamant that poly lessons are very rarely ever *poly* lessons, and they're more like lessons for healthy relationships in general. This is why I can seem pushy about polyamory - I'm not out to "convert monos" because, frankly, I'd rather not have your monogamy baggage clouding up my dating pool. But I *am* out to improve the existing relationships of those around me, and it is my opinion that those lessons are most commonly found in poly circles.

Those lessons include advanced communication skills, but more importantly, consciously designing your relationships to meet the needs of the individuals, rather than trying to shoehorn people into a single relationship mold.

This is also the very foundation of why I am solo poly. Solo poly does NOT mean "unpartnered". It's not "being single" (although solo polys *can* be unpartnered, they're just not synonyms for each other). Solo poly means, to me, that I am an individual person, not half of a whole or a third of a triad or whatever. It means that all my partners get all of me as a whole and complete person, and each relationship is constructed based on that concept. Which further means that none of my relationships will look like the standard Escalator model, because that model hinges on the submerging of the individual into the group (or couple, in this case). It requires making the relationship more important than the individuals in it.

So I *might* someday have a relationship that superficially resembles an Escalator Relationship with some traditional markers of "couplehood", but the foundation of my relationships will always include the axiom "the people in the relationship are more important than the relationship". This leads, inevitably, to less traditionally structured relationships in order to meet the unique needs of the individuals in them. Like in the case of these and other parents who have figured out that they make excellent coparents but not spouses.

Build the relationships to meet the needs of the people in them. A marriage certificate is not necessary to create a healthy, fulfilling relationship, even one with a life-long emotional bond and children.

"Meshing your life with someone else’s is no small feat and the concept of marriage isn’t as simple as: Hey! We get along really well. We should live together forever! There are a million subtle nuances within every relationship that cause it to work or not to work, many of them only understood by the two people who experienced the relationship. I get along with my ex. I love my ex. That doesn’t mean we belong together." ~ Ditching The Escalator: Marriage does not have to be the only option; aka "it's possible to really and truly love someone and still not make a good partner for them" via tacit.

"Yeah, it’ll be weird, initially, watching my ex-husband with someone new, but I’d far rather adjust to that than maintain a very formal, even icy, existence with the father of my children and the woman with whom they’ll spend a large portion of their lives. ... I want to work with, not against, a woman who could potentially be the main female figure to my children when they’re not with me." ~ Metamour Relations 101

"Everyone is so caught up in defining family in this way or that way ... instead of just looking around at those people who are a part of our lives on a daily basis who love us and whom we love and being happy that so many people are present. The more the merrier. We are all family." ~ Consciously Designing Relationships

"The decision to end a marriage is not about quitting; it is about letting go of one relationship in exchange for another." ~ Polys Don't Breakup They Transition / aka our Breakup Workshop
Nude Drawing, sex
There is a special, sweet tension that comes with unresolved sexual attraction. There are several people I feel a strong sexual draw towards, whose personalities or other traits make them incompatible with me for any category of sexual partner - from one-night stands to full on Partners. Knowing this, I choose not to act on these feelings, not even to discover if they are returned, to avoid what will inevitably be a much more uncomfortable situation as the incompatibilities play out to a predictable conclusion. I would tell them honestly, if they ever wanted to know, but I have not been given any indication that they are curious, so I don't offer.

Actually, I find it increases the acuteness of the tension when we both are aware of the attraction and of the fact that it can't be acted on. The flirting takes on more nuance and is much richer when that happens. But many people find that knowing someone is attracted to them when a reciprocal relationship is unavailable (either because they're not interested back, or they are but I won't agree to one anyway) to be awkward enough to avoid wanting to know about it. Out of consideration for social mores, I generally choose not to reveal my interest in someone if I'm not at least willing to consider acting on it should they be so inclined. I don't like making people feel uncomfortable around me unless discomfort is my goal (I'm looking at you, misogynists, racists, & PUAs). Anyway, so I am attracted to certain people while simultaneously being repelled by the situation that acting on that attraction would create. Feeling this ambiguity creates a sense of tension that I have come to enjoy in a similar way to how people who like the pain of eating spicy food seem to enjoy that particular torture. Which makes my day when I have to work with one or more of those people very ... flavorful.

One of the effects of being able to experience physical attraction to people without requiring some kind of emotional or intellectual connection is that one might be attracted to someone who is not a suitable romantic partner of some stripe or another. And being attracted TO someone is not the same thing as finding someone attractIVE. I am perfectly capable of appreciating the aesthetics of a person without wanting to fuck them, or have some other sexual encounter with them. I find all kinds of things aesthetically pleasing, like architecture and sunsets and kittens, without wanting to have sex with them even a little bit.

The same goes for people. As a matter of fact, this created quite the dilemma for me just after puberty. As a photographer and an artist (although my proclivities in this area were as yet unrealized back then), I found lots of women attractIVE. Unfortunately, in the era and area in which I grew up, I was pressured by individuals and the culture at large to interpret this pleasure at seeing the female form as a *sexual* attraction, and I identified as bisexual for a few years. It wasn't until I actually started having sex with women that I was able to recognize a distinct difference in my attraction for women vs. my attraction for men - namely that I had no attraction *towards* women, just an *appreciation* for them. But, I digress.

Anyway, because I don't need to have some kind of emotional or intellectual connection to a person in order to develop sexual feelings for them, I can find myself desiring to have some kind of sex with a person who really isn't someone I ought to have a sexual relationship with. It could be that they don't feel any attraction in return. Or it could be that I might want a different style of relationship than they are interested or willing to engage in. Or it could be that they would be willing to have casual sex with me, but would then develop contemptible feelings towards me as a female willing to have casual sex because they have internalized the misogyny of our culture's attitudes about sex. Or it could be that they would be more than willing to have a relationship with me but they are not capable of having a healthy poly relationship (which is non-negotiable with me) and are either not able or not willing to do the work necessary to eventually reach that place. I am not a beginner relationship. If you aren't ready for the hard, advanced work, a relationship with me will be more struggle than pleasure and I do not believe in maintaining relationships whose risk-reward ratio is skewed towards the risk instead of the rewards.

It could also be something on my end. There are lots of traits that people can have that I find very off-putting, and I have discovered through trial and error that ignoring how the first rush of NRC (usually referred to as NRE) can make me overlook those things in the beginning always, and without fail, results in me developing contempt or disgust for my partner when that NRC wears off and my natural dislike of the trait reasserts itself. So, for instance, smoking; I absolutely hate smoking. I hate the taste, I hate the smell, I resent the addiction, and I tend to think less of people who are willing to harm their bodies in this way. I might be able to downplay all of these reactions in the beginning when I'm running on happy brain chemicals, but eventually my dislike of smoking will overcome the waning NRC. And as we know, contempt is the biggest predictor of a relationship's demise. I would rather remain friends with someone and maintain some platonic friendly emotional boundaries around them than engage in a relationship that will eventually trigger my contempt or disgust even though these negative feelings would be merely one of many feelings including many positive ones.

So I sit here, contemplating the tug-of-war going on between my body's sexual attraction and my brain's reminder that this will not end well, while a detached part of me watches all this going on and enjoys the tension it produces. It took me a long time to understand, accept, and lean into this tension. And it's still a balancing act - swing too far to one side and it reverts to that unrequited ache of a teenage crush (with a bit of self-doubt just to mix things up) but swing too far to the other and the body's urges take over and make regrettable decisions. I'm reminded of a comment I once posted on More Than Two's Facebook page, that they liked well enough to reproduce as its own post. I've been meaning to post it myself, so as to archive it, and today's contemplations on the subject are as good a time as any:

"The truth is, sometimes you fall in love with someone who’s a terrible fit for you. In polyamory, sometimes you fall in love with someone whose partner is a terrible fit for you. And sometimes you are a wonderful partner for somebody in one stage of your lives, but then things change, and you find after five or ten or twenty years that you’re holding each other back instead of helping each other flourish. None of these necessarily come down to mistakes; they’re just things that can happen, because people are complicated." ~ Louisa Leontiades' book review of The Husband Swap.

That's why I love tacit's aphorism so much about how sometimes we can really and truly love someone and still not make a good partner for them. We have to be able to see the end of a relationship as separate from the failure of a relationship and we have to be able to see that our feelings for people are not the same thing as our compatibility with those people.

The whole *point* of polyamory is to consciously design relationship structures that work for the people in them that break away from the "traditional" model. As long as we're admitting that the Flintstones model doesn't work for everyone, why stop there? Why not question everything about relationships, including the assumption that they're supposed to be forever, or that they're supposed to "be" at all.

The thing that liberated me from the devastating misery that is the unrequited crush (that, as a nerdy, bullied girl, was the majority of my early romantic experiences and the source of much later anguish and self-doubt) was the internalized acceptance that I could have feelings and that was all they had to be. I could love someone, or crush on them, or admire them, or have the hots for them, and the end goal for those feelings was to simply have them. *Doing* anything about those feelings, for example: pursuing a relationship, was a *different* issue. They might be related, but they are a *different* answer to a totally different question.

It's not "I have feelings, therefore...", it's "I have feelings - full stop." It's not even about not acting on the feelings. I'm not suggesting that we don't act. I'm suggesting that acting is *separate* from feeling. Fully recognizing that, perhaps ironically, opens up the possibilities for acting to include more choices. More choices, which might have more options for "success", if we define "success" as "the participants are happy / satisfied / fulfilled with the outcome of their choices" rather than merely "lived together until one of them died."

This is all a very highbrow, analytical, navel-gazing, philosophical essay to say, basically, that I lust after some people I know, including some coworkers, but who would make totally unsuitable partners, so I am not acting on my attraction, but I am enjoying the lustful feelings when I see those people.  If you have not yet learned how to lean into your discomforting feelings, such as desiring someone who doesn't desire you back or who would not make a suitable partner for you, I highly recommend learning how to do this.  In addition to merely removing the discomfort (and / or the drama that comes with poor partner selection), it also creates a new sensation to enjoy.  It takes a lot of practice and a lot of work on the self-esteem to do it, but it's totally worth it.
6th-Oct-2015 10:59 pm - But What About ME?!?!
woo, stupidity, rants, Dobert Demons of Stupidity, religion
T: Hey, so, you may not know this, but some of us are being bullied, harassed, and even killed, just because our harassers are confused by our genitals. It's even legal. It's called the Trans Panic Defense, and it basically says that someone can get freaked out by what our genitals are and how they don't match with his expectation of what people with those genitals are supposed to look like, and while freaked out, he can kill us and it's totally a justifiable homocide because we freaked him out.

C: OMG, that's terrible!

T: Yeah. But we've learned from research and from the experiences of the gay rights movement that simple exposure and normalization can help. People are afraid of things that they don't understand, and when they live in fear, they react with violence. So all we have to do is expose them to the concept of people like me and others with gender identities that don't match their expectations, and normalize them to the idea that we exist and we're human, and over time, people lose their fear. With their fear gone, they don't react with violence. When the society around them finds their fear to be the aberration instead of our existence, then even if they do still harbor some discomfort, they learn that they can't act on their fears or discomfort because the culture around them disapproves of it. So even if they still dislike us, we're safer from the possibility of violence because they'd rather not risk losing society's approval of them.

C: Huh, well, that's good.

T: So, we're asking those of you who aren't totally freaked out by us to help normalize us and help expose people to the concept of us. If you could start by not assuming the gender of people you meet, that'd be a big help. You can ask people what pronouns they want you to use for them, or you can just state your own as if it's a normal thing to state. You can also start using gender neutral pronouns and labels whenever there is one to substitute, like the singular "they" or "spouse" and "partner" instead of "wife" or "boyfriend", even when the people in question have a gender identity that matches what they were assigned at birth. This does 2 things: 1) It makes trans and genderfluid people feel welcomed and accepted in society when we hear it. We may be a small percentage of the population, but we're still a part of the population and we'd like to feel included in it. But more importantly, 2) it reinforces the idea that cisgender people are not the only ones out there, even if they happen to be a majority, by reminding them in casual ways that the rest of us exist. That's the normalization part.

C: Whoa now, back the boat up! You want me to *change* my speaking habits? Let's not get carried away here! I thought you were asking for *equality*, not special privileges!

T: It's not a special privilege. I'm just asking you to be a little more considerate in your use of language. It's literally the least amount of effort you can do for us. Just change a couple of words here and there.

C: But what about *my* feelings? What about how hard this will be *for me*? This is a lot of effort! I'd have to actually *think* about what I'm saying before I say it! You have all this talk about compassion and consideration for other people, but you're not really considering how hard this will be for me!

T: People are literally dying here. All we're asking is that you switch out a couple of words. You've done that before. You don't use the same slang that you used in the '80s. You're comparing changing a *habit* to people losing their fucking lives!

C: No need to get angry! It's really hard for me to take you seriously when you're bullying me like that. It sucks that the occasional person gets killed every now and then, but this is *my life* we're talking about! I'd have to *change*! I just don't think I can make it through a day of interacting with people without assuming their gender or using gender pronouns and titles. It goes against all of the English language! It's awkward and uncomfortable. No, that's too much to ask. People might get weirded out *by me*!

T: O.o

T: Having people who feel uncomfortable around you because you're doing something they're not used to kinda sucks, doesn't it?

C: Yes! Now you're getting it! So, sorry about all the murder-death-kills and all, but it's just not fair to ask me to put myself on the line for you. I have too much to lose! My friends would look at me funny, and that would ruin my life!

T: Have you ever been diagnosed with Irony Impairment?

C: Oh great, now you're going to go on a tear about whatchamacallit - ableism now, aren't you? Geez, just let up on the social justice warrior shit for a moment, will you? Can't you just relax and enjoy life for what it is? If you learn to just let go of things, you'll be a lot happier. Maybe stop reading all those social justice articles on the web and stick to cat videos, like I do. See how happy I am?

T: #FacePalm
woo, stupidity, rants, Dobert Demons of Stupidity, religion

This supports the comments I've been making about this issue - that the culture around Those Assholes* is the important factor, and the ideology merely focuses the targets for them. The underlying motivations for these sorts of tragedies are toxic masculinity, entitlement, and the glorification and celebritization of violent offenders. That's what they all have in common. They are ticking time bombs, all they need is some ideology to point them in a direction.

Even if this guy *was* truly atheist, and not one of those pathetic "I am chaos, the Devil bows before me" poser jackasses who chose Christians just because they have the most power in this country so they make the most high profile targets (and therefore are guaranteed to grant him the celebrity status he so obviously desires), we have that same dark underbelly in our own subculture. We have those same dark alleys of entitlement, toxic masculinity, and the glorification and celebritization of violent offenders and violence.

Those dark alleys have been spilling out their filth over the last several years. They're the reason I now identify as Feminist. I was one of those irritating Chill Girls who thought the gender wars were largely over and we had won, so I didn't need feminism. Until I joined the atheist community. Then I saw how bad misogyny still is and how much of it still reigns in our culture. That's how I became a labeled Feminist. Atheists turned me into a big-F Feminist.

If this guy really is an atheist targeting Christians, I won't pull the No True Scotsman card. Atheists can be assholes and atheists can be Assholes. Any woman who dares to criticize atheists on any topic, but particularly gaming, knows this, especially those women who have been forced from their homes because of the public threats of violence. This is why Atheism+ was born and why, even those who didn't jump on the + bandwagon are fighting from within our own ranks to clean up our atheosphere metaphorical "streets" of these dark alleys and the disturbing elements they produce.

But it sounds more and more likely that he wasn't atheist, and that he targeted Christians for their publicity power. Which brings us right back to the original point, that what those asshole atheists and Those Assholes, and This Asshole specifically, have in common is a deeply ingrained sense of entitlement, toxic masculinity, and the glorification and celebritization of violent offenders.

Gun Rights proponents like to trot out countries with high gun ownership, low gun restrictions, and still low gun violence. The *reason* why those nations exist like that is because their culture is different. They don't have the same entitlement and toxic masculinity permeating their culture. Sure "guns don't kill people, people kill people", but those people are products of their culture.

I was raised in liberal-but-rural California where guns were not glorified, but necessary for hunting. Guns were weapons to be treated with respect. They were not part of our identities, but tools - dangerous tools - to be used with caution and limitations. I was raised in a culture that does not produce mass shooters, racism, or the idea that violence is a solution to anything.

I was also raised in gang-ridden urban California, where guns were glorified as a status symbol and a means to power. I was within the physical boundaries of that culture, but I was apart from it, thanks to my family. I knew of children, my own peers, who had been caught in gang wars. I even dated someone who had been removed from the entire school district because he threatened violence on a teacher (which he gleefully admitted at the time). Violence was all around me and my family. Both of us - my family members and the gang members in my neighborhoods - had access to guns. One of us thought guns were a solution and the other saw them as a tool. Guess which of us has a higher incarceration rate for violent offenses?

The *culture* needs to be changed. And until it can be changed, it shouldn't have easy access to weapons. As a child, guns were kept out of my hands until I could understand and respect them properly. I was handling guns at a very young age, because I could understand. But my father would never have handed a loaded weapon to a 2-year old. He introduced them to me as I was able to understand and respect their inherent danger. Apparently, we need to treat our nation as a toddler prone to temper tantrums with no control and no higher cognitive functioning. You can't have the guns until you understand and respect their inherent danger. When you understand that, like your older sibling - the countries who don't have the same violent glorification tendencies - perhaps you can have them back.

I won't pretend to know which, specific, policies will effect the change I'm talking about. I am not an expert on legal policy, so I'm not proposing specific restrictions because I don't know which ones will work. What I do know is that the evidence increasingly shows it's the culture that's prompting these shootings. It's our *culture*. It's *our* culture. We need to stop promoting toxic masculinity, stop excusing entitlement and start owning up to it when we have it so that we can work on dismantling it, and stop turning these shooters into fucking celebrities. Regardless of their specific ideologies that chooses their targets for them, they choose acts of violence because they think it's a good thing to display anger and aggression and violence as signs of their masculinity and that this version of masculinity is something desirable. They choose acts of violence because they feel entitled to remove other people's agency. They choose acts of violence because they crave the fame, the notoriety and WE FUCKING GIVE IT TO THEM.

They achieve their goals. They choose acts of violence because they're fucking successful. And they're successful because we have given them a clear path to their success. WE have. Our culture. Our society. We gave them exactly what they wanted. The number of people they kill, whether they "get away" with it or not, that's all irrelevant. They've asserted their dominance and commanded our attention. They are successful. *We* are the ones who need to change because we are their final targets.

As an atheist, if any mass shooter is actually atheist, I fight to change our atheist culture so that we stop producing Those Assholes from within, not denying that they exist, not distancing myself from the responsibility of the culture that produced them. I don't see the gun nuts doing the same. I don't see men (who aren't already feminists or feminist allies and therefore largely shunned from masculine culture anyway) doing the same. I don't see theists doing the same when it's one of their own. 4-chan, PUA circles, Southern Pride groups - these types of groups are the tinder for these firebombs.

Our larger culture that excuses rape, excuses casual racism, excuses religious posturing, excuses homophobia and transphobia, excuses any sort of dehumanization, objectification, othering, and the removing of agency - our larger culture gives places for these cesspools to thrive and fester. Just like the guy who doesn't actually agree with rape but who laughs at rape jokes so that the rapist standing next to him thinks they are allies, our culture provides the hiding places for those among us who would do such harm. Our culture built those alleyways and is refusing to install safety lights. It's time to root out the dark places, and that starts with us.

*Those Assholes or That Asshole is the term I use in place of the name of any violent offender, as doing my individual part to deny them the celebrity status that is one of the main goals for their actions.
Super Tech, strong, feminism

To me, this furor over common core sounds an awful lot like anti-intellectualism that's been running our nation into the ground: "I don't understand this! Therefore you're stupid!"

"Instead of trying to figure out what his child was learning, Herrmann did what so many parents do these days: He complained about something he doesn’t understand.

I’ll be honest with you: I didn’t know what “ten-frame” cards were and I wasn’t sure what he was trying to write in his check. Then I spent a couple of minutes doing the research he couldn’t be bothered to do himself."

"what math teachers have realized is that kids who relied on memorization, algorithms, and calculators had a really hard time understanding math as they got older."

"The problem with the method people like Herrmann learned is that it didn’t work when the math got harder. Strong math students find ways around that, but many students just give up on math altogether."

There's an interesting thing about this "new" math that I was never taught and how I do math. I've said before in my previous posts on the subject that I could do algebra in my head and not show my work, and the more I read about this common core stuff, the more I go "oh hey! That's what I do!" I wasn't taught how to do it, but that's how my brain works naturally. So I was considered "good at math".

Kids were grouped into two categories when I was a kid - "good at math" and "not good at math". I was a math tutor, and I helped those "not good at math" kids to be better. I never believed people weren't good at math, I just saw kids who thought in different ways and the system wasn't reaching them. I was taught by that same system, and that same system wasn't reaching me either, but I saw the ways around it.

I've told this story before. My high school classes gave us a syllabus at the beginning of the semester. On it was the entire homework schedule, so I knew what I would be assigned for the entire semester on day 1. In math class on Mondays, I would do the entire week's worth of homework right there in class rather than listen to my teachers. Then I'd have no math homework all week and I'd have the rest of the week to read a book for that 55 minute period. Since I wasn't listening to the teacher, I was teaching myself algebra (and later calculus) out of the book. I didn't show my work, but I grasped the concepts intuitively. I knew how to manipulate numbers. It turns out that I was basically doing some of these common core techniques in my head.

Here's the interesting part. One of my favorite books as a child was Clan of the Cave Bear. In the book, and in the movie, the main character is part of our current line of human who gets orphaned and adopted by a Neanderthal tribe. They (in the book) have trouble with advanced concepts because of the shape of their brains. Counting, specifically, is very difficult for them. Only the most advanced of their holy men can count past a handful and just barely at that. But Ayla is human, and we excel at math - that's why we survived without claws and fangs and fur, because we are engineers who change the environment to suit us instead of the other way around.

So her holy man is her adopted father and, on a lark, he starts explaining some of their most sacred (and secret) counting methods. He's not supposed to, but he figures she won't get it so it won't matter. He gives her a pile of rocks and teaches her to count them by placing one rock near each finger, so that each rock is represented by a digit. That's about where he usually loses his neanderthal bretheren. But Ayla thinks abstractly. So she grabs the entire pile of rocks, breaks them up into smaller piles of 5, places her hand over each pile, and then raises both hands, fingers extended, twice to indicate 20.

This blows the holy man's mind! No one has ever counted that high before! He's the smartest of the smart and he can only just barely grasp what Ayla has done. She took a large group and broke it up into chunks to make it easier to categorize. She was able to quickly count to 20 because she counted 4 piles of 5.

This is common core.

I had no idea. But I read this book in kindergarten and I watched the movie every time it came on TV. This is how I do math. I haven't had a math class in 17 years and I don't use anything higher than geometry in my daily life, so I feel like my math skills have slipped a lot. I feel that loss. But the more I look into this common core stuff, the more I feel that, had I been taught this as a kid, there's no telling how far I could have gone. I could have gone into engineering or physics. Instead, I got swept up in the "I'll never use algebra or calculus in daily life, and I need to save my college credit hours for things that will help me in my career" - the kind of anti-intellectualism that led directly to a nation that thinks the appropriate criteria on which to judge the leader of our nation is whether or not we can "drink a beer" with him.

"Because, to people like him, ignorance is hilarious. He’d rather see his son learn math the old-fashioned way, putting him in danger of struggling in his math career as he gets older, instead of course-correcting early in his education when everything is still fresh.

To answer the obvious rebuttal, yes, a lot of adults are able to get through the day just fine even though they were never very good at math. But why wouldn’t they want their children to aim higher, understand things better, and think more critically?"

"I’m telling you this new way is so much better for students, but we need parents willing to get on board with it instead of complaining because it looks weird.

At the very least, it sends the wrong message to really impressionable kids."
Bad Computer!, anger
So first, some backstory.  There's this guy who used to run a hedge-fund who then purchased a pharmaceutical company which had just acquired the rights to a drug that wasn't used by very many people but those people were pretty damn sick. The previous company had changed its distribution setup so that distribution was very strictly controlled and you could only get this drug through this one path. OK, that happens sometimes, but if anything happens to that path or your specific case is outside of that path, you're pretty screwed. So this douchenozzle bought this company that had this drug and he promptly raised the price from $13.50 a pill to a whopping $750 per pill. You read that right; I did not drop a decimal point.

The internet exploded in outrage about price gouging and the lack of ethics in Big Pharma. And by "internet", I don't mean just those wacko Naturalistic Fallacy conspiracists who think "Big Pharma" is a single evil entity out to kill us all. I mean even rational, science-based people who support science and science-based medicine but who are willing and able to call out the actual flaws in the system when found. So I posted about that on Facebook, but I didn't bother to make an archived LiveJournal post about it. It was just sarcasm about the greed endemic to corporate America. That's also not a conspiracy story - capitalism and corporations are specifically designed to support greed, not the public good. Individual people aren't evil cardboard cutouts of power-hungry villains, but the system is not conscious and doesn't have human values like compassion. It takes actual people working against the system to keep the humanity in corporations. But I digress.

Shortly after I and many other people ranted about this jerkoff, I read an article that basically said "yeah, what he did was despicable but it's only going to affect people with enough money for fancy insurance policies anyway, so whatevs".

What we are all outraged about is not the number of people this will effect. It's the sociopathy and greed that a plan like this reveals. And when you give sociopaths power, they use it. Sociopaths and abusers, on a personal level, test boundaries. They check to see where they can get away with pushing in *just a little bit*. If you're somewhat flexible on some of your boundaries, probably because you're mostly a reasonable person who can make exceptions and can see an exchange of discomfort with another person who is operating with you on good faith as a net positive thing, then you might be willing to bend just a bit on this one thing that is less important than these other things. Because we often have to get burned before we can tell that someone is *not* operating on good faith - that's *how* we know that they're not, by the way they fuck us over.

And then the abuser pushes just a tiny bit more, which seems reasonable. And then he pushes just a skosh more, which might not quite seem reasonable but you've already bent this far, so not bending more kinda seems more unreasonable because it might feel hypocritical. And eventually, those series of tiny pushes and tiny compromises have you both so far inside of your boundaries that he entrenches himself and you can't get him out.

Now take that on a global scale. CEOs, by the very nature of their jobs (or maybe their jobs don't consider human impact because it's people who lack empathy who are attracted to the position?), tend to be more sociopathic and less empathetic than the average person. They push the boundaries to see what they can get away with. And then we let them because they rationalize it as "it's only going to affect this small number of people, and you don't really care about *those* people, do you?" or "but it's necessary for this particular outcome, and you want to help this outcome, don't you?"

The fact that this particular action will only harm a small number of people that we can justify hurting as "they can afford it" is exactly what makes this action so despicable. It's boundary pushing. He's seeing what he can get away with. And our fucked up medical / legal system provides enough loopholes for him to slide through.

Yes, I do sometimes take the stance that the rich can afford to pay more taxes so they should for the betterment of the rest of the country. I have done a risk-to-benefit ratio and decided that having one fewer yacht so that starving children can have one extra meal that they didn't "earn" is worth it. I do not think that the 1000 middle class people who won't qualify for the price-gouging safety regulations but still need that drug are an acceptable trade-off for making this guy even richer.

In this case, it's not the numbers of people who will be affected that makes this story so appalling. It's the inhumanity of the individual making the decisions that does. Patterns are important. This case is symptomatic of a pattern. And those of us who were horrified by the case saw that pattern. That's why it was such a big deal.
17th-Sep-2015 10:48 pm - Addressing Unconscious Bias
Super Tech, strong, feminism

This is actually a really good video. Lots of times, videos of this nature are hyperbolic, to make a point. But I didn't feel that there was anything exaggerated for humor's sake at all. I've had every single one of these conversations (except the one about maternity leave, since I'm childfree by choice).

The most striking conversation for me was the one entitled "wow, three men on one team!" I work in a male dominated field. It's heavy labor, mathematical, rational, engineering, technical - all stuff associated with men's interests. So, even though plenty of my coworkers state emphatically how much respect they have for women and tell stories about how much they prefer to work with women because we work harder and do our jobs better (seriously, that's what is said), there is still often surprise when women show up for work and especially when the number of women on a crew reach some magical critical number. Suddenly it's all "wow, so many women on the crew! That's amazing!"

Except women have been involved in entertainment, and in particular backstage work, for ages. Women quite often dominate lighting specifically, which is one of the more manual labor-heavy departments. I am quite often on all female lighting crews. Now, since there are like 5 other departments, the women might still be a minority when you add up everyone all together, but it's really not unusual to see quite a few women working backstage anymore. But the perception remains that backstage is men's domain and women who join it are aberrations.

And what many of my well-meaning colleagues don't see to understand is that this kind of singling out, even complimentary as it can be (see above women work harder comments) is part of what makes the environment uncomfortable for women. In order for a woman to make this industry her career, she has to be really passionate about what she's doing, to overcome all the little microaggressions and mini slights.

Because, you see, making a point to notice our gender makes many of us uncomfortable. And I'm not talking about eradicating flirting either, because a lot of women who are drawn to this line of work are drawn to the bawdy, rough-and-tumble environment. We like the dirty jokes and the flirting too, for the most part. Most of the guys I know flirt with each other on the job too, because it's a *joke* and not to be taken seriously. We all know that. No one is asking anyone to somehow *unsee* our gender or to treat us with kid gloves. But many of us would be a whole lot happier if you'd quit reminding us of our gender when it's not relevant. When I'm at work, I'm a stagehand first and everything else second.

There's a study going around that I don't have at my fingertips that shows that when women make up something like 30% of the group, men (and I think women too) see the group as being overrun by females, and when women talk something like 30% of the time, men (and I think women too) think that women dominate the conversation.

This is related. When the number of women reach a critical mass on the job, suddenly it's all "whoa, look at all the women around here!" Dude, just stop that. We make up more than 50% of the population. So yeah, some of us are going to want to work in thus-and-such industry. You don't need to point it out to us, just fucking treat us like colleagues.
woo, stupidity, rants, Dobert Demons of Stupidity, religion
With the whole Kentucky gay marriage license debacle currently unfolding (remember, she is an elected official at the county level who is currently violating a court order to perform the job duties she swore an oath to perform on behalf of the citizens who elected her), I want to remind everyone of the importance of voting at the local level, not just the presidential elections every 4 years.

Don't like any of the candidates? Don't see any difference between the two parties? Don't think anyone "deserves" your vote? This shit starts at home. This starts with school board elections. This starts with county clerk elections. This starts with local government.

The school board educates (or fails to educate) our children - our future voters. That local politician moves up to state politician who moves up to federal politician. Our mayors and city superintendents and police chiefs enact or fail to enact policies that affect us.

I qualify for Medicaid under the new Affordable Healthcare Act because the federal government expanded its scope. But our 'wonderful' governor refused the federal expansion mandate, so I STILL have no health insurance. At least the federal government acknowledged that it wasn't my non-compliance so at least I'm not being fined for it.

Pay attention to your local elections. They make a difference, and YOU make a difference.
Bad Computer!, anger
One of the things that bugs me about the "why should burger flippers get $15 an hour when soldiers don't?" argument is that it implies that there are people who deserve a living wage and people who don't. It ranks human beings into Worthy Of Survival and Not Worthy Of Survival and it categorizes these people, not on their character or how they behave in society, but on what kind of job they managed to obtain at this one particular point in their lives - a job, I'll remind you, that is one you would definitely notice if everyone who held that job suddenly stopped.

Because, you see, the only people who are making the assumption that demanding a living wage is reserved for one category of people (burger flippers) and not another (soldiers) are the people who think it's appropriate to rank those categories in the first place.

The people demanding the living wage are not saying other people should make less, or even equally low amounts. It's like the ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ crowd - we're highlighting one group who gets shit on because they need that attention right now but it doesn't mean that other lives don't matter. Those of us in support of living wages are not also prohibiting increases for those who already make living wages. "This guy deserves to feed himself and pay rent for working 40 hours a week" is not an argument that leads to or includes "but those guys don't." That is, as a matter of fact, the argument against living wages.

So why should a "burger flipper get $15 an hour when soldiers don't?" (Ignoring whether "soldiers don't" is even true for now). Why should they? I dunno, you tell me, since I'm not the one claiming they should. The question isn't why should one class of people get paid better than another class of people who are doing work that I value more. If that were the question, I'd be ranting about sports salaries vs. teachers, not talking about living wages. The real question here is why *anyone* should be allowed to starve to death or lose one's home when they're willing to put in as many hours as we collectively think is necessary for being "productive" in order to justify keeping those doing the work we *do* value at proportionally low wages.

If so-called "burger flippers" are making better benefits and pay than soldiers, then the people you ought to be mad at are the ones who decided to pay soldiers so little, not those who want to pay "burger flippers" enough to survive, since those paying the soldiers so little are the ones ranking human lives and compensation, not the people who give a shit about everyone being able to survive.
16th-Sep-2015 03:07 pm - The Ups & Downs To #SoloPoly
Purple Mobius, polyamory
There are benefits and drawbacks to being solo poly. Mostly I think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks by a wide margin, which is why I do it. But it's not a utopian state. One of the benefits is that I have the freedom to encounter and engage in a wide variety of relationships. Being poly, and specifically solo poly, means that I'm open to experiencing things that I might not otherwise be open to. I can go into my relationships with little or no expectations and to just let them be what they will be. That's incredibly liberating and incredibly gratifying.

The downside to that is that I may experience more goodbyes than other people. Since my relationships don't have to be one at a time, and since they're not expected to last "forever", I have had such a wonderful opportunity to meet and enjoy the company of amazing people whom I may only know for a short time.

Con hookups, for example. Unlike many I know, I don't have to be emotionally attached or intellectually stimulated by someone to be attracted to them. I can engage in casual flirtations (or more) with people whom I just find physically attractive, or with people I even like only in certain ways but am not compatible with in a "relationship" sense. This combines with my openness to experience relationships for just what they can be, instead of needing them to fit a particular mold, to provide opportunities to me like hooking up with someone at a convention.

The reason why I'm putting this in the "down side" category is because, sometimes, when the circumstances dictate a fleeting interaction, sometimes I discover that my attraction to someone may have started off as a physical attraction only or may have started off as a superficial or mild interest in them or as an interest in only a specific or narrow aspect of them, but then, over the course of our short time together it may develop into something deeper. Sometimes I find myself really interested in someone as a person, really interested to know them on more intimate levels, really drawn to who they are and how they think and the stories they have to tell and the experiences they want to have.

Which is wonderful and awesome and great ... unless I'm in one of those circumstances that dictates only a fleeting interaction. I mean, it's still wonderful and awesome and great, but it's also a little sad because I've been given a peek into what kind of relationship we *could* have, and then life butts in and shuts the window and pulls the drapes.

All of this is to say that I had an amazing time at DragonCon and for once, my introverted self is not relieved to be going home. I think this year is somewhere at the top of my list for best 'cons and I'm happy to be going home to my own bed and my lovely local partner, I'm grateful for the time I spent getting to know someone who's pretty amazing, and also sad to not being able to explore something that I think could be really incredible. I'm also going to be enjoying the memory of a really good kisser for a long time to come.

16th-Sep-2015 02:16 pm - The Ups And Downs To #SoloPoly
Purple Mobius, polyamory
There are benefits and drawbacks to being solo poly. Mostly I think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks by a wide margin, which is why I do it. But it's not a utopian state. One of the benefits is that I have the freedom to encounter and engage in a wide variety of relationships. Being poly, and specifically solo poly, means that I'm open to experiencing things that I might not otherwise be open to. I can go into my relationships with little or no expectations and to just let them be what they will be. That's incredibly liberating and incredibly gratifying.

The downside to that is that I may experience more goodbyes than other people. Since my relationships don't have to be one at a time, and since they're not expected to last "forever", I have had such a wonderful opportunity to meet and enjoy the company of amazing people whom I may only know for a short time.

Con hookups, for example. Unlike many I know, I don't have to be emotionally attached or intellectually stimulated by someone to be attracted to them. I can engage in casual flirtations (or more) with people whom I just find physically attractive, or with people I even like only in certain ways but am not compatible with in a "relationship" sense. This combines with my openness to experience relationships for just what they can be, instead of needing them to fit a particular mold, to provide opportunities to me like hooking up with someone at a convention.

The reason why I'm putting this in the "down side" category is because, sometimes, when the circumstances dictate a fleeting interaction, sometimes I discover that my attraction to someone may have started off as a physical attraction only or may have started off as a superficial or mild interest in them or as an interest in only a specific or narrow aspect of them, but then, over the course of our short time together it may develop into something deeper. Sometimes I find myself really interested in someone as a person, really interested to know them on more intimate levels, really drawn to who they are and how they think and the stories they have to tell and the experiences they want to have.

Which is wonderful and awesome and great ... unless I'm in one of those circumstances that dictates only a fleeting interaction. I mean, it's still wonderful and awesome and great, but it's also a little sad because I've been given a peek into what kind of relationship we *could* have, and then life butts in and shuts the window and pulls the drapes.

All of this is to say that I had an amazing time at DragonCon and for once, my introverted self is not relieved to be going home. I think this year is somewhere at the top of my list for best 'cons and I'm happy to be going home to my own bed and my lovely local partner, I'm grateful for the time I spent getting to know someone who's pretty amazing, and also sad to not being able to explore something that I think could be really incredible. I'm also going to be enjoying the memory of a really good kisser for a long time to come.

Swing Dance, social events, dance

Those of you who don't follow me on Facebook might not know about the Orlando Ballroom Dance Party Portal.  It's a website intended to encourage social partner dancing in the Orlando area, but it also has some good resources for general social partner dancing - like the playlists.  Every day on Facebook, there is the Song Of The Day - a post that highlights a particular song by linking to the YouTube video for it and suggesting a style of partner dancing suitable to dance to that song as well as linking to a related page on the website with the history and description of that dance style.  I repost all those music videos on my personal FB page but it's not on Twitter or Google Plus yet, so I haven't been reposting there because I could only link back to the FB account.  But the point here is that this week highlighted a song popular among the neo-swing culture called Zoot Suit Riot by Cherry Poppin' Daddies.  Some of you may have heard of it.

There is some interesting history behind the Zoot Suit Riot that is related to the ‪#‎SwingDance‬ culture that the zoot suits were a part of. Many people don't take the time to really listen to the lyrics and just enjoy the bouncy swing of the song, but it's actually about a very racially charged time in US history.

The basic story of the song is during a time when Mexicans in California were experiencing a lot of racism during WWII. White soldiers and sailors began assaulting Mexicans for what they perceived as a lack of patriotism in spite of the fact that Mexicans were over-represented in the military during the war, simply because of their attire (the zoot suits). In the media, these zoot suits became a symbol and a target of the racial tension and hatred by white servicemen. This lead to a series of riots that targeted Latino youths, and this song is about those Latinos taunting soldiers about to go overseas as sort of a rallying song supporting marginalized people.

As a Mexican American who grew up in California, this song has always struck a particular nerve with me because the racism that led to the riots was never eradicated. As a middle class white-passing Mexican in the '80s and '90s, I didn't bear the brunt of it like some of my more clearly ethnic neighbors did, but I saw it and I felt it.

My own grandfather (who was a teen & young man in the '40s and himself racist) refused to attend my parents' wedding because my mother is Mexican and his objections were things like he didn't want her Mexican family hanging around his neighborhood because the neighbors would see a bunch of hoodlums and thugs with their low-rider cars and Chicano clothes and Spanish language.

I was fortunate enough to not have to personally experienced any race riots, but I wasn't terribly far from where some happened in the '80s and '90s, and the culture I grew up in sprang from some very terrible historical riots that happened right in my own town and the racial repercussions reverberated through the generations.

So I very much understand the rage and frustration that can lead to an entire group of people doing things like taunting soldiers and burning their own neighborhoods. When everything is taken from you - your dignity, your money, your ability to succeed, your children, even your voice, all you have left is the rage to get the attention of your oppressors. Sometimes that rage turns inward, sometimes it turns outward, and sometimes it gets expressed in ways that people who don't feel it, who aren't subject to its causes, don't see as productive.

But, although it may seem to be self-harming in the moment, the long view of history shows that this rage and its expressions are what lead to change. Because the people comfortable at the top can't hear you when you ask politely. They only take notice when you scream at the top of your lungs and break things.

For more information on the Zoot Suit Riots, visit the wikipedia page at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoot_Suit_Riots, and while you're there, you might want to fall down the rabbit hole of wiki links that talk about all the related stuff like pachucos and the arrest that kicked the riots off.

16th-Sep-2015 01:39 pm - Poverty & Food Privilege Blindness
demure, sad, polite, boxed in, Misty in Box
Easy Recipes From Stuff In Your Kitchen For People Who Don't Have Time To Cook And Are On A Budget!

Um, I'm not sure what kind of people you hang around with, but I don't generally have fresh kale, skim ricotta cheese, or tofu just chillin' in my fridge. That's not exactly living "on a budget", nor are those the kinds of foods usually associated with just taking up space on my shelves. Those kinds of things go bad pretty quickly.

Low income people, contrary to popular perception, don't often have a bunch of free time from sitting on their couches all day. We're often running from job to job to daycare to grocery shopping to appointments. So it would be nice if more of those "quick meals" were targeted at people who either can't afford all those fresh and trendy veggies or who don't have the time to take the bus across town to the nearest Whole Foods or farmer's market (or didn't assume we could afford to even if we did have the time) since the store in walking distance is probably a Walmart.

If a recipe could tell me how to make something healthy out of stale bread, cheese wrapped in wax, canned peaches, and Fritos, in under 10 minutes including prep time, that'd be awesome.
16th-Sep-2015 01:35 pm - Frosting Experiments
Silent Bob Headbang, yay!, shiny, cool
I'm getting closer to perfecting my pudding-frosting recipe. I'm not a big fan of buttercream icing. It's OK, and I'll eat it, but I usually have to scrape most of it off and have just a touch of frosting on top for flavor because it's just *too* sweet and *too* overwhelming to taste anything else. So I've been mucking around with whipped cream-based frostings, pudding-based frostings, marshmallow-based frostings, whatever I could find that wasn't some variation of powdered sugar. To me, the powdered sugar frostings are best on sugar cookies, but even if fluffy and frothy, it's just too sweet for cupcakes and cakes.

The difficulty with the other frosting bases is in texture. While many of the other frostings taste great, they don't quite have that fluffy, spreadable texture that makes buttercream such a good frosting. It needs to be somewhere between Cool Whip and peanut butter. Puddings tend to be too ... puddingy. Not quite thick enough to form a nice, fluffy layer. It doesn't dribble down, but you can't build it up like a stiff buttercream either. The marshmallows tend to be hard to spread because of how sticky they are. The whipped creams are almost *too* fluffy, and not quite thick or substantial enough to carry enough of the flavor.

This time I tried one package of vanilla pudding, 1 cup of heavy whipping cream (instead of the usual milk), 1/4 cup of Baily's Irish Cream, and a carton of whipped cream.  Delicious! It's still just a touch too light, but the substitution of the heavy cream for the milk and the significant decrease in the amount of liquid both gave the pudding more weight and spreadability. Prior to adding the whipped cream, it was very similar to peanut butter, but I thought that was too dense for spreading on delicately soft cupcakes. The whipped cream lightened it up considerably and still allowed it to be thick and hold its shape.  And it turned out to be even better after the cupcakes had sat in the fridge for a couple of days (leftover cupcakes).  That frosting became almost the consistency of canned frosting.

The basic ratio that I'm going for is this - pudding calls for 2 cups of milk, so I take half that for milk or cream and make up the other half with whipped cream, even though 1 carton of whipped cream is more than 1 cup because the whipped cream is less dense than the liquid milk.  How much of the flavoring that I'm going to add depends on the strength of it.  A flavor oil only needs a few drops so the milk / cream amount doesn't need to be adjusted.  But something like alcohol is more diluted - less flavor per liquid volume and the alcohol is *really* liquidy.  So sometimes I might reduce the milk / cream by about a quarter cup or more and replace it with the the same amount of alcohol or other flavoring like juice.

I'll try experimenting with different flavors of pudding and different flavor oils to see if that helps make it taste more substantial.
16th-Sep-2015 01:25 pm - I Got The Boy
Purple Mobius, polyamory

There's this country song that's popular right now that is supposed to be kind of sad, bittersweet, but I think it's actually *almost* an understanding of how poly works.

It's called "I Got The Boy" and the chorus goes "I got the boy, she got the man". The whole song is about how the singer has this history with this man that the new girl will never have and how that makes what she had with him unique and special, while the new girl now has this future with him that the singer will never have.

It's supposed to be sad because the singer *only* has the boy and his past, and is no longer in a relationship with him now as a man. Not quite spiteful - it's not "ha ha, I got this part of him that you'll never have!" It's more like longing, where she fondly remembers what she used to have in the past and she envies what she will not have because this new girl is getting the future and it's so very different from the boy of the past because of how much he's grown and changed over the years.

But the only thing that I can think of when I hear it is "yes! That's the point! A new person can never come in and replace me because I have this whole history that connects us that she'll never have with him!" and "yes! The preexisting person has such power with the anchor of this shared history that the new person will never have! And I need to be ever-conscious of that as a preexisting partner to not wield that power over anyone else!"

Hearing this song is kind of like reading Heinlein, to me - it's like "yes, that's almost it, just a little bit further, you almost have it ... wait a minute, you're gonna stop there? But you're so close!"

This song comes so close to explaining why poly relationships work and why they're so special. It highlights that each relationship is different, unique, and that each person is going to share experiences with a partner that can never be duplicated or replicated with someone else, even if those experiences are similar. I don't like hearing this song because I want so much for it to be a positive celebration of the differences in relationships instead of this envy and regret for losing - losing to another woman, losing the future.

It's songs like these that really put it in sharp relief for me how lacking the poly community is in music and culture. We have lots of movies now, and books and comics, but we're still really lacking in the love songs, or even heartache songs (because poly heartache isn't quite the same as mono heartache). The possessive and mono-centric love songs remind me of this problem too but the songs that just almost-but-not-quite see the point *and are sad about it* (probably because they almost see the point but just miss the mark) are the songs that really make the lack of music something nearly painful for me.

Many people know now about my passion for movies, but I also have a passion for music. Before I let other hobbies take up my time and I fell out of practice, I played 3 instruments, began teaching myself another, and sang in a choir. I wanted to make music so badly that I taught myself how to read sheet music and how to play a double keyboard organ when my parents refused to "waste" money on lessons, all before age 10. The reason I got into film and video in the first place was to make music videos because I got influenced by the videos in the '90s that really brought the music video to a whole storytelling art form like a film short. My dancing is about more than just physical movement - it's about using the body as a visual representation of the music. I may not excel at any of my endeavors, but I am passionate about them.

And I feel a dearth, a loss, with the hole that the lack of music has left in our community and our poly culture.
16th-Sep-2015 01:15 pm - Not Fucking Off Should Be Illegal
Bad Computer!, anger
In general, I want less government involvement in people's personal lives, overall. But I'd really like to see more legal penalties for people who refuse to fuck off when told.

So, like, two people are in an online forum and get into an argument. One tells the other to stop arguing, but they keep arguing *in the forum*. OK, we can leave that for the moderators to handle.

But say that the forum gives the users the ability to block someone, and one person blocks the other. The blocked person then deliberately contacts them on another platform or using another medium, not to apologize, but to continue the argument that the first person is no longer interested in having. I'd like to see that, since it's text-based and time-stamped, maybe have like a $25 fine for the first offense with increasing penalties for repeat offenses.

Then, let's say that two people are walking down the street and one approaches the other. The other tells the first person to leave them alone, but the first keeps on with "why you gotta be like that? I'm just tryin' to talk with you! Hey, come back here, I'm talking to you!" That ought to be a misdemeanor of some sort too. Doesn't matter that the first didn't touch the other. The other wanted out and that's all that needed to be done.

Like, is it really so hard for people to understand that someone DOESN'T WANT TO FUCKING HEAR WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY? Don't answer that, it's a rhetorical question. Of course it's really so hard for some people to understand that, that's why they keep talking at people who have made it crystal clear that they don't want to hear any more.

And I'm not talking about the police busting down the door to arrest a parent telling their kid why they have to eat their veggies and the kid isn't having any of it, or a boss getting thrown in the clink for telling an employee something that he doesn't want to hear, or people using any sort of public platform for spouting their ideas and opinions to the general public. Don't strawman me or start Pedantically Missing The Point.

I'm talking about when an individual person invades the space of another individual person and deliberately disrespects personal boundaries by following after someone who has revoked or not given consent to the encounter. I'm talking about taking harassment more seriously. Because, legally, we don't give a shit about the guy emailing someone repeatedly using different email addresses or texting with different numbers or using a dozen different social media accounts after she has unambiguously told him to fuck off. We, legally, cared once that I know about, and it took years and his harassment of dozens (if not hundreds) of people with strict record keeping before the authorities finally took notice, and once he got out of jail, he just started up again (look up the saga of David Mabius if you're curious).

Because, legally, we only care about a dude harassing someone after he's killed her. And then we all moan and wail about why wasn't something done about it sooner? Because no one is willing or able to make harassment an actual offense with consequences. No, that would be too Big Brothery. Besides, it's just talking, right? Sticks and stones and all. Until it's not.

You are entitled to your opinions. You are not entitled to forcing me to hear them. I don't care if you don't like me, I don't need to be repeatedly told so, just LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE.
Super Tech, strong, feminism

Why I need ‪#‎Feminism‬:

My well-meaning family still thinks it's appropriate to tell *me* to "be safe" and change my behaviour when I complain about someone else harassing me online, as if it's my fault and as if there is actually anything I can do to stop it.

Stop being assholes online. That's how I can be more safe.

Why I Need ‪#‎Feminism‬:

Because some dudes still think that being a Latino male makes life harder than being a Latina, disabled, poor, religious minority, not-exactly-cis-female does and that being that horribly discriminated against Latino male entitles said dudebro to constantly seek out said female on multiple platforms every time she blocks him on one to tell her so.

Because his opinion must be heard, dontcha know. We can't live in a world where someone doesn't want to hear some dudebro's opinion on something.

PSA: When someone blocks you on social media, and blocks your phone number, and reports you to the authorities for harassment, if you find them on some other social media or some other location and try to initiate contact with them there, especially if your contact continues to include insults and attacks, YOU ARE THE BAD GUY. You are creepy and stalkery and a fucking asshole.

Don't do that.

Also, if I have had to block you and I see you on jobsite afterwards, I will tell our employer and ask for you to be removed for my safety. One block and you leave me alone? That's fine. But repeated contact after repeated blocking in multiple spaces? You are officially harassing me and a danger to my safety.

Also, you don't get to pull the race card in the Oppression Olympics when the only oppression you feel is because you're a Latino male.

I'm a minority in race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and in health. I'm not here to out-minority anyone because, together, we all make up the majority and we can wrest power away from the cis-white-rich-christian-male power structure at the top. But if you're gonna puff up your chest at me over your discrimination, I'm gonna win that battle right at the start.

frustration, ::headdesk::
I just *do not* understand why it's so important to some people that they get to address other people the way they want to address them. Like, of all the things for people to be attached to in society, how we address other people shouldn't be the thing we're fighting over.

Street harassment - it's really important that guys be able to say overtly sexual things to women on the street. Or to compliment them. Or to ask for a date. Or to talk to them, period.

Trans & genderqueer invisibility - it's really important to be able to call people "ma'am" or "sir" or other gendered names, labels, and titles.

Racism - it's really important to be able to call by certain terms that people of various races have asked not to be called.

As far as I can tell, the only time I've ever seen anyone say "actually, I'd rather be called this" and have absolutely 100% acceptance from everyone in society and all walks of life and all relationships from strangers to intimates is when a woman gets married and takes her husband's name (with the extremely rare situation where a woman's parents don't approve of the marriage and refuse to acknowledge it, but srsly, don't Pedantically Miss The Point here and derail). In every single other case, there's someone out there why has to say "well, I just don't want to have to change what I've been saying up until now, because I'm used to it, so I'm going to keep calling you X whether you like it or not."

Just ... fucking hell people, change your goddamn habits. It is literally not costing you ANYTHING. When a woman gets married, you learn to change what you call her. So I know you have the ability to do it. You just have to decide that there are other things worth putting in the same amount of effort as fucking remembering someone's goddamn married name and switching to that.
16th-Sep-2015 01:03 pm - Resting Bitch Face Is Not A Thing
Bad Computer!, anger
You know what pisses me off? That resting bitch face is a thing. You know why? Because only women have a term for what their faces look like when a smile is not their default expression.

Here's a little secret: YOU ALL HAVE RESTING BITCH FACE BECAUSE NO ONE (but my ex, silverdragon) SMILES ALL THE GODDAMN TIME. It's just that we don't expect men to smile all the time and we don't think there's anything wrong with them if they're not actively emoting joy at any given moment.

Since, y'know, happy feelings are girlie and negative feelings are manly and neutral is male and male is neutral. Or some shit.

Fuck you, I don't have resting bitch face. You who buy into that are the one with the problem recognizing that people have a full range of emotions and that women not being actively happy isn't being a bitch while men not being actively happy isn't an equal problem.
16th-Sep-2015 01:01 pm - Privacy vs. Transparency
demure, sad, polite, boxed in, Misty in Box
"How much privacy is someone allowed to have when they ..."

Gonna stop you right there because the rest is irrelevant. Privacy is a basic right of autonomy so they are allowed all the privacy they want. If what they want to keep private isn't acceptable to you, or they are using the word "private" to refer to things that affect your own right to give informed consent, you have the right to negotiate or leave the relationship.

Now, if you want to get into a discussion about what *I* think constitutes "your right to give informed consent", we can, but that wasn't the question. How much privacy are people allowed to have?

All of it.

What do you have to agree to? That's up to you. Are you "right" for not agreeing with this particular thing? That depends on the thing and what we mean by "right".

For more on this subject, read the article from More Than Two: Privacy & Transparency In Polyamory - https://www.morethantwo.com/privacy-in-polyamory
16th-Sep-2015 12:14 pm - Dignity Is Not Up For Debate
Bad Computer!, anger
I think I get one of the reasons why I lose my temper online, and I'll try to expand later (but right now I'm running late, as usual). The things I post are about people's subjective experience, their personal autonomy, their personhood, and their dignity. These things are not up for debate.

Yet people treat the posts in my feed as though it's a stage where two equal ideas with equal merit are to be weighed and considered. The counterpoint to the stuff that I post about does not deserve to share a stage with the stuff I post about. They do not deserve equal time, equal consideration.

My rage is part frustration that I'm not being heard and I'm not making myself understood, and it's also the sheer horror that anyone could even think that these topics are up for debate in the first place.

I post things for people's education and information. Which means that people need to *learn*. Learning involves listening, not talking back. People's autonomy, personhood, dignity, subjective experiences, the right to exist - these things are not up for debate, and if you think they are, you're a horrible person and I will not host a platform that helps spread your position. The Flat Earth "theory" does not deserve to share the stage with real science and rejection of other people as people does not deserve the same stage as respect for those people.
12th-Sep-2015 06:15 pm - Walking In Your Shoes
demure, sad, polite, boxed in, Misty in Box
"He immediately made a real effort to put himself in the shoes of others. It's just that he had trouble first taking off his own shoes. "

This is from an article that I'll be writing about later, but this sentence, out of context, is important. This is about empathy.

One of the biggest problems I encounter in other people is empathy - they are not able to put themselves in someone else's shoes. What happens, is that they imagine *themselves* in whatever situation we're talking about and conclude that they'd do things totally different *because they're themselves*. They have different feelings, different priorities, different experiences that all add up to different conclusions.

That doesn't help to see things from another perspective. When not-poor people give me financial advice, as I was saying in a previous post on FB about it, they give me advice from their own perspective - the one that says that there is enough money hanging around to open up that savings account or to count on coming in regularly enough to pay for health insurance or to buy those $75 boots that will last longer instead of the $10 boots for right now.

"Well, if *I* were in that position, I'd do..." No. It's not if *you* were in that position, it's if *you* were *them* in that position. They can't put themselves in the shoes of others because they can't take off their own shoes first. They keep putting *themselves* in someone else's situation.

And I'm *quite* certain that I do this too. After all, we're not talking about literally taking on and off shoes here. Removing our own expectations, perceptions, experiences, memories, and personalities isn't just difficult, it's often impossible. Sometimes, the best we can do is to just recognize that someone else is different, and their experience of the world will not match our own. Sometimes, all we can do is just *believe* them when they tell us how they are experiencing something, and feel compassion for them. We need to try to take our own shoes off in order to try their shoes on, and if we can't, then we just need to look at their shoes and say "yep, those are your shoes, and I hear what you're saying about them."

And that's empathy.
2nd-Sep-2015 03:30 pm - But It's Not My Job!
Bad Computer!, anger
*sigh* Sometimes I just want to smack people upside the heads. One of the arguments I've seen defending the Kentucky clerk for refusing to sign gay marriage licenses is that her job *changed*. She didn't sign up for a job knowing that she'd have to do something against her principles, that wasn't part of her job when she agreed to work. Now it is. The challenge was made that, should we now expect everyone to unthinkingly and uncritically follow blindly whatever our corporate overlords tell us to do because they're our bosses?

I just ...

Let's see if I can explain this in simple terms. Her job did not change. She was always expected to issue marriage licenses. That is still her job. What has changed is *who* is eligible for them. She has always, from the very beginning, been expected to issue those licenses to whoever qualifies for them, regardless of her personal feelings about the individuals applying. THAT IS STILL HER JOB. She has never been allowed to deny divorcees marriage licenses. She has never been allowed to deny people of color marriage licenses. She has never been allow to deny atheists marriage licenses. She has never been allowed to deny "mixed-race" couple licenses. She has never been allowed to deny Muslims marriage licenses. She has never been allowed to deny gay people marriage licenses as long as one of them is male and the other is female. She's never been allowed to deny 18-year olds marriage licenses. She's never been allowed to deny marriage licenses to one 18-year old and one 78-year old.

Any of these things she might object to. I have tons of opinions on who "should" get married. That doesn't mean that I can take a government job where it is my duty to issue licenses and to use my authority to impose my personal opinion onto those relationships. It is NOT HER JOB and never has been her job to allow her personal preferences to influence her ability to approve or deny marriage licenses. It is her job and has always been her job to approve licenses or deny licenses based on the official criteria given to her from her employer. Her employer, the government, can and does change who is eligible for whatever benefits and it is not within the scope of her job to refuse the mandate. Who is allowed to get married has changed many times over the years. Expecting the criteria for who is eligible to never change, or to retain the right to ignore the change, is not reasonable.

A pharmacist is legally obligated to fulfill prescriptions. What medication is legally allowable for a prescription changes all the time with new regulations and new medical information. A pharmacist is not allowed to take it upon themselves to decide, in contrast to the *law* and to the prescribing physician, what a patient should or should not have access to.  That is not their job.  Their job is to fulfill prescriptions and it's someone else's job to decide what prescriptions are allowable.

I am hired to run a camera. My job duties are to aim the camera and follow my director's direction. If, when I get there, the speaker has canceled and another speaker is replacing him, and I disagree with the speaker's speech, I am not allowed to refuse to aim my camera at him just because I don't support his message and I don't want to contribute to spreading it, and still expect to get paid for that gig. I was hired TO RUN A CAMERA, and it doesn't matter if the person scheduled to speak changes after I've been hired. If I don't like the new speaker, I can quit.  I've had speakers change, I've had entire performance formats change, I've even had which camera I'm told to run change.  I'm still expected to do my fucking job, which is to point the lens where I'm told to the best of my ability or I have to leave so that someone who can do the job can be brought in instead.

Or, as I have actually found myself in the following position, if I cannot afford to quit and I have to implicitly "support" a message that I don't believe in, I can show up for work, perform my job duties, and then spend my free time and disposable income fighting against that message elsewhere.

Now, what this *can* make a case for is getting the government out of the marriage business entirely. If you think "god's law" trumps the government laws, then that is a reasonable position for removing the government's ability to govern over marriages entirely. But until that day comes, it's still her fucking job.
2nd-Sep-2015 01:58 pm - Should We Stop Saying "Poly"?
Purple Mobius, polyamory
I've been seeing the "polya" abbreviation being used for a while now, and at first I thought it was just someone who didn't speak English very well. Then I started hearing rumblings in the community that some people wanted us to all stop using the abbreviation "poly" to refer to polyamory because Polynesian people also use the abbreviation "poly" to refer to themselves. I didn't get into those debates or follow them very closely, but what I was hearing was that the people who were espousing this change were also being mean to other marginalized identity people, so it didn't strike me as really anything worth following. What I *wasn't* hearing, was from the Polynesian community itself that this was a problem.

But now, apparently, someone has made a Tumblr comment asking polyamorous people to stop using the "poly" shorthand because it somehow harms Polynesian safe spaces. So now it's time for me to take it seriously, but honestly, I'm still having trouble with this. For me, the difference is that when asked to stop using other words, it's because those words mean *bad things* and the casual use of bad words normalizes the bad thing. In this case, "poly" doesn't mean anything bad in either context. It's *only* an identifier, and one that is still not in common use outside each group. But polyamorous folk are winning the visibility first. Both are marginalized communities, although we could get into a game of More Persecuted Than Thou, but I'd rather not.

According to the Tumblr comment, tagging your tweets with "poly" instead of "polyamorous" is invading a Polynesian "safe space" and harming aromantic or asexual Polynesian people and making it hard on them because they have to wade through tweets that aren't relevant to them and I'm having difficulty accepting that. Twitter in particular is a character-limited format, and insisting that all posts get tagged with the longer form makes it difficult for *our* communities to find *our* posts. What about *our* "safe spaces"?

I don't see this as the same sort of situation that generally calls for more sensitivity of language. There's no cultural appropriation happening, no normalization of slurs or hate speech, no casual acceptance of marginalization. It's just two different groups who happen to have the same Greek prefix that both use as shorthand for their identity. And both were arrived at independently. Simply establishing which is being referred to when in a confusing context should be all that's necessary. I don't see it as reasonable to prevent the use of similar words *just because* the word is already in use, especially when that word isn't a whole word but a shorthand or abbreviation.

I'd add the reminder that others have pointed out, that not only is the word not commonly used outside each group, but it's also rarely used within the Polynesian community for itself (as I am told), whereas it *has* been embraced by the polyamorous community. If anything, the word "poly" might have more cultural significance and weight to the polyamorous community than to the Polynesian community. But even if we don't try to quantify who has more cultural significance to the word, the point is that both groups do, not just one.

Part of the reason, I suspect, why there's such resistance to dropping the abbreviation isn't just about white privilege but because it's a case of culture clash. White people have a tendency to think of themselves as "without culture" (unless they claim an attachment to, say, Ireland, or something, but being *white* itself doesn't have a "culture", per se). Being part of a non-ethnic subculture like LGBTQ, goth, atheism, etc. gives people without any real sense of culture their own "culture". The poly community has decades of existence, is multi-generational now, and has its own music, art, and even parts of language. It is a *culture* now, along with everything that implies (including the fact that not everyone fits into the cultural stereotypes or molds and that there may be regional differences). For a lot of white people, this is the first time really experiencing what it's like to have a culture of any sort of significance. Being asked to give up that word because some other group "had it first" and doesn't even use it all that often can feel like being asked to give up a part of their identity. In fact, that *is* what is being asked, because that word is an identity label. But, let's not forget that, although white people may make up the majority (or possibly it looks that way thanks to media highlighting pretty, thin, white, middle class people), not all of us polyamorous folk are white. And we are using the shorthand "poly" too.

As I said above, this is not the same thing as asking people to stop calling those A-line tank tops "wife beaters" (a label that I find difficult to give up, btw, because of long-standing habit, but I'm making the effort). That label refers to an inanimate object and normalizes domestic abuse. It's *really* not a hardship for people to stop using it, other than they have to think about it for a while until they change a habit. This perspective on the "poly" shorthand is asking people who feel marginalized themselves, who have built a community and a culture *around that word*, to stop using the very label that they used to refer to themselves as people and to the culture that they've adopted (or grown up in).

Let me ask, would this be an issue if, say, a people from the Pacific Islands and an indigenous group from Australia, both of which were colonized by English-speaking Europeans, if they both happened to be named something similar and the shorthand or abbreviation was the same, would we still see one group asking the other to give up their label? Or is this only an issue because so many polyamorous people are white so we assume that they can't also be experiencing marginalization or cultural identity? When we stopped calling Native Americans "Indians", it wasn't because Indians said "hey, we had that name first!" It was because some Native Americans said "that's not our name for ourselves, stop calling us that!" Being white, sure, we should be cognitive of white privilege, but that's not the only power in play here. I'm *constantly* fighting for my own identity labels and frankly, I'm tired of other people telling me what I'm allowed to call myself.

I want to be clear that I'm not drawing a hard line here. I'm not taking the definitive stance "you don't own that word, so fuck you, I'm gonna use it!" I'm suggesting that this issue is more complicated than simply white privilege asserting dominance over a marginalized brown group, therefore a hard "you can't use that word, it's ours!" isn't applicable either. Some of us polyamorous folk are minorities in a lot of ways, and we're fighting for our own cultural identity and to be free of persecution on many fronts. I don't want to have to fight yet another battle on my identity. I'm a minority in gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, economic class, and even medically / health-oriented. I have to fight for my right to identify myself in every single area that makes up a person's identity. But, at the same time, I have privilege in many ways too because I can coast on my cis-gender, I pass as white, I can pass as hetero, I can pass as mono, my health issues are invisible a lot of the time so I can actually do quite a lot of physical activity, and my religious beliefs are not readily apparent unless I choose to make them so. This means that I do have to be conscious and careful when my resistance to acquiescing to another minority doesn't come from one of those internalized privileges.

I think that this is a complicated matter involving many crossed axis of privilege and oppression. As the arguments are presented to me right now, I do not believe it is reasonable to give up the prefix "poly" as shorthand for "polyamorous" in all contexts, and I think most people agree with that on both sides of the debate. The real question is in that word "all". If not all, then some. If some, then which ones? As someone who is vehement on clarity of language, and who has repeatedly taken the stance "you can define a word however you want, but if you use it contrary* to everyone else's understanding, then it's your fault for not being understood and you're in the wrong", if you were to find yourself at a Polynesian picnic, for instance, where your Polynesian friend invited you to a family gathering, then yeah, using "poly" to refer to your romantic life would be confusing and it would make you the more considerate person to alter your language for ease of communication.

But changing Twitter tags? Blog tags? These are *public* spaces. *Anyone* can click on a Twitter tag and see anyone else's tweets. It's not within the context of a poly *group*, where you have to deliberately join that group and it can therefore be assumed that you're aware of the context. I'm not going to argue against anyone who chooses to not tag their tweets with "poly" anymore. That would be telling someone else how they should identify, which is just as bad as telling them that they can't identify (both examples have exceptions, but generally not a good idea). But I don't see it as reasonable to *ask* us not to use those tags ourselves in public forums. An article defending the use of content warnings in class syllabi explained that the content warning wasn't to "coddle" students, but to place responsibility for their own self care on the student themselves. The content warning was to indicate to the student that they *would* face information that they might find difficult so that they could prepare themselves to address it in whatever way was best for them.

I see use of the internet as similar. I don't use reddit because I just can't handle the misogyny and racism found there. I keep getting told that I should just not read past the first 3 comments, but I have not found anything on reddit to be worth the effort my own self-care would require to wade into that cesspool. Anything worth seeing is often screencaptured and then posted as a meme on FB by people who I have deliberately culled to be people worth interacting with. True, I do not subscribe to the advice "if you don't like it, just don't use it" when applied to all of social media. FB and the like are often the only means of self-care and of contact for marginalized people. I approve of social media *controls* so that we can edit out the parts that are too difficult for us. I can block people on FB. I can choose to join only certain groups and not others. And if I have a traumatic trigger to the use of certain tags, I can choose to follow other tags.

So, for me, I do not see enough justification to give up the use of the poly prefix in polyamorous-specific spaces or in general public spaces and plenty of justification to defend its use. But I wouldn't insist that all Polynesian people adjust themselves to my use of the word "poly" while I'm in Polynesian-specific spaces and I'm just going to have to accept that I may have to wade through tweets that are not relevant to me or that actively engage in sexism and religious bigotry because those things are embeded in the background of colonized Polynesian culture just like they are in US culture (yes, it's true, reading the Polynesian-based poly tweets can be "unsafe" for some of us polyamorous people too). We'll just have to use context to figure out what people are talking about, just like we do for every other homynym in existence, just like we know that someone has rejected an offer even when they don't use the literal word "no" because of context, just like we understand the question "can I?" often means "may I?" instead of "am I able to?" in the right context. Context is important, and I believe that context is sufficient to allow both groups to use the shorthand so that neither is required to give up their own cultural identity.

I do not see this as a white privilege vs. marginalized people issue. I see it as two marginalized groups trying to find themselves and crossing paths. There are definitely some white polyamorous people who are being jerks about it, as there are always some white people being jerks about cultural sensitivity. I just think that cultural sensitivity has to go in both directions in this case, *even though* some people in one of the directions happen to be white because cultural issues are not always and only about ethnicity.

*By "contrary to everyone else's understanding", I am exempting those situations in which someone is attempting to *educate* others on a misunderstanding of a word. So, for example, telling people that you're monogamous but you have 3 live-in romantic partners who all know about each other and agree to the arrangement and insisting that others accept your use of the word "monogamy" is "wrong" because it's contrary to every reasonable and common use definition of the word. But explaining to people that the vast majority of the culture thinks "feminism" means "man-hating" when it really means "equality", that's an exemption. They're not insisting on using a word differently because they want to define words however they want. They're insisting on using a word "differently" because it's actually more accurate and they're trying to educate the population about a miscondeption of identity and oppression.
demure, sad, polite, boxed in, Misty in Box

Awesome article just got republished on Everyday Feminism​ by a terrific online blogger I discovered a year or two ago, Shea Emma Fett​:

"Gaslighting does not require deliberate plotting. Gaslighting only requires a belief that it is acceptable to overwrite another person’s reality."

"The distinguishing feature between someone who gaslights and someone who doesn’t is an internalized paradigm of ownership."

"Gaslighting Doesn’t Always Involve Anger or Intimidation"

"Losing spots in your memory makes it very plausible when someone tells you that they cannot trust your memory. It makes it very plausible when they tell you that you are abusive."

I once knew someone who was abusing his partner, and I knew the partner as well, but I didn't see the abuse. Because I couldn't see the abuse, I unwittingly enabled it, for which I feel deeply ashamed and guilty to this day. That guilt is a good deal why I write about abuse so much more now - to prevent anyone else from unknowingly enabling abuse.

One of the ways in which I enabled the abuse is because of this principle. As a skeptic, I am fully aware of how fallible our memories are. This often leads me to demanding proof before believing something. When it comes to real-but-invisible things like abuse or oppression, that's a dangerous mindset to have.

This abuser that I knew also considered himself a skeptic. So, naturally, we shared an understanding in the fallibility of memory. In fact, his memory was so fallible, that if it didn't exist in pictures or a chat log, his brain would erase the memory all together.

So, when he said that his partner was remembering things wrong, I saw no reason to contradict him. Of course she was remembering things wrong - we all remember things wrong! Except in this case, he wasn't being scientifically pedantic about memory, he was using her natural fallibility to *rewrite history* and therefore erode her own sense of self.

I remember one time in particular when she even came to me and told me that he was doing this. I had been in full protect-my-sister-empathize-with-her-fully mode, but then she brought up the memory thing. I instantly backpedaled and tried to "explain" that he wasn't gaslighting her, he was just being a good skeptic by reminding her of the fallibility of memory.

If I could go back in time and smack myself upside the head when I said this, I would. This was the equivalent of "oh, he didn't mean anything by it! He's harmless! You shouldn't feel creeped out by him inappropriately touching you!" I'm still working on the balance between scientific accuracy of how memory works and supporting victims of abuse. I have not mastered this trick yet.

"Change should make you bigger. It should increase your tank of self-love. It should make you stronger, clearer, more directed, more differentiated, and more compassionate. The pain of growth is different than the pain of destruction. One will fill you with love and pride, even when it’s hard, and the other will fill you with shame and fear."

"It’s ridiculous when someone tries to tell you who you are, what you feel, what you think, what you intended, or what you experienced. When it happens, you should be angry, puzzled, or maybe even concerned for them."

"You can solve a lot of things with communication, so long as the objective of both people is understanding. But the minute someone tries to replace your experience, it’s time to stop communicating, at least on that subject."
21st-Aug-2015 02:58 pm - Masculine Femininity
Super Tech, strong, feminism
To go along with another post I made recently about identifying as masculine but some people not seeing me that way, here's a video on masculine femininity:

The tl;dr is that, surprise! Just as there's no real gender binary between man and woman, there's also no binary single categories for what makes "masculine" and "feminine" in assigned-female-at-birth bodies. In other words, there's more than one way for a "woman" to be a "man". I don't have to be stocky with small boobs and short hair and "pass" as a guy to still be masculine-identified.

My preferred identity labels are those that include or imply ambiguity: tomboy; gender fluid, androgynous; "effeminate gay man in woman's body", gender neutral, etc. This video also just introduced me to the term MoC - Masculine of Center - and I kinda like that one too.

Because I like the mixture of male and female, I prefer male titles but female pronouns: "she is a good cameraman." I'm much more accepting of being misgendered with male pronouns than with female titles, though. However, I also can identify as cisgender woman on occasion, particularly when I'm talking about feminist issues or biological situations because my childhood identity was that of a tomboy with the attitude "this IS a girl thing because I'm a girl and it's my thing, therefore it's a girl thing!"
Super Tech, strong, feminism

I find this article interesting. I only recently added "I feel like" to my speech. I have always identified as more masculine than feminine, but I know some people don't see me as such. There are 2 reasons why people don't see me as masculine: 1) my physical appearance; and 2) I talk about relationships and feminism a lot.

1) I can't help how I was born, but I deliberately choose to not go butch because I like the androgyny - I like the mixing of feminine and masculine elements and of fucking with people's gender assumptions. I like that, when I wear men's clothing, I don't do so in a way to hide the female body underneath. I like that, when I cuss like a sailor, I do so in a clearly female vocal tone. I look "like a girl" but I act "like a guy".

2) First, the feminism is a new thing. Until a few years ago, I was squarely in the category of what the MRAs *claim* to be - defending men's actual rights. I just didn't understand at the time that those legitimate criticisms were the patriarchy backfiring on itself and that fixing feminist issues would, as a consequence, also fix those legitimate men's rights issues. Second, in my circles, talking about relationships is not the exclusive domain of women. It's true that the poly movement is led primarily by women, but all genders talk about relationships and communication all the time because that's what is necessary in poly relationships. Hell, my very male-identified boyfriend is one of the authors who literally "wrote the book" on how to have relationships! It's not the subject matter that makes someone a "guy" or a "girl", it's how they talk about those subjects that are delineated along gender lines.

For instance - I hear more men talking about shoes than women. Men talk about shoes all the goddamn time! But men are talking about the comfort and structure of boots and sneakers, so that often goes unnoticed as "talking about shoes" when people are mentally tallying up "girl subjects" and "guy subjects" (confirmation bias). I've been in FAR more conversations with men about the importance of shoes, the appropriate look of shoes, the comfort of shoes, where to get good shoes, than I ever have with women, and I usually end up in those conversations because I overhear a couple of guys talking about it and I butt in, as I am wont to do when I have an opinion on something (another "guy" trait).

So, it's not that I talk about relationships that makes me "girlie" - in my social circles, that's a topic that everyone is expected to talk about. A man who refuses to talk about relationships is generally considered a high risk partner and often red-flagged.  And women are just as likely, if not more, to complain about all the talking and to express a fervent desire to stop talking about "issues" and can't we just have sex now please?

But my *speech patterns* are "masculine". In the days before real name policies, I was constantly getting kicked out of chat rooms for being a guy who was posing as a girl. I was banned from more than half of my IRC groups on that accusation. And there was no way to prove the opposite because webcams weren't available. I speak in declarative sentences without qualifiers all the time, and I'm attempting to learn how to use those qualifiers more effectively only now.

However, just as this article points out, I *do* use those internal qualifiers like "perhaps" and "tends" and "often", etc. I believe that I picked that up from the science-based circles that I move in because it is more scientifically accurate to not use 100% declarations since very few things are ever 100%. But, since the scientific fields are so heavily dominated by men, those kinds of internal qualifiers are expected to be used by men and not counted as being a "passive" "feminine" speech pattern, so it's not surprising that they found their way into my speech as well.

When my gender is not known because I am presented only as text on a screen, I am almost always assumed to be masculine. It's partly why I am often received as being "aggressive" or "argumentative" or even "condescending". I mean, sometimes I am, but more often than not, the accusations of being upset or angry or aggressive or arguing are completely false, as those are subjective feelings that I am not feeling, but my pragmatic speech, in the absence of any other clues and/or with respect to the knowledge that a female is speaking, is often received as being such.

When I speak to people in person, I very rarely have these kinds of misassumptions and mistakes in conversation. With my words being tempered by a soft voice, passive posture, a very feminine appearance, and a much more expressive vocal tone and facial expressions, people are often less likely to hear my pragmatic words as "aggressive" or "angry" - words that are usually only criticisms when applied to females, of course.

So I feel like (see what I did there?) this article did 2 things for me - it reinforces the relatively new message that women's speech isn't "wrong" or a "broken version of being a man" and that, not only should they not be criticized for it but that everyone will be speaking like them eventually because they're leading the cultural linguistic shifts (which I had no idea about); and it reinforces my own identity as not-feminine because I identify more with the men in this article in terms of what my speech is currently like and how I gradually jump on the bandwagon in what seems like "after the fact" with respect to certain speech patterns.
demure, sad, polite, boxed in, Misty in Box

"Storytelling helps us all impose order on chaos—including emotional chaos. When we're in pain, we create a narrative to help us make sense of it. This story doesn't have to be based on any real information. One dismissive glance from a coworker can instantly turn into I knew she didn't like me."

Some of us do this all the time, don't we? It's implicit in the Passive Communication technique that some of us are taught, some of us do naturally, and women in general are expected to use (either we are told we should communicate that way, or we are assumed to communicate that way and our statements aren't taken at face value by people who hear them and assume there's some other intent).

"They can recognize their own confabulations and challenge them. The good news is that we can rewrite these stories. We just have to be brave enough to reckon with our deepest emotions. "

It was pointed out in the commentary from the post where I got this that we have to beware of putting too much emphasis on the consequences of storytelling, without addressing why we develop storytelling in the first place because we might end up giving too much shelter to manipulative behavior. I'm a huge fan of understanding the "why" of things.

Pointing out the consequences of storytelling is important because that's often how to get someone's attention and impress upon them why they need to change a behaviour. But it's also important to understand why someone is doing it in the first place. If the storytelling is a survival technique (you have to read into someone's words in order to anticipate their own passive communication so that you can modify your behaviour before the punishment happens, for instance), then altering the storytelling won't actually solve the underlying problem and, in fact, may make things worse.

I discovered that with the whole "girls don't respond to guys' OKC emails" thing - it turns out that girls get punished for responding even with good intentions if the response is not the one the guy feels entitled to. So I push for women to respond more often, but as long as women get socially punished for it, they're not going to listen to my advice. Society has to start punishing men for being entitled before women will feel brave enough to respond, or even to make first contact.

So the storytelling thing needs to be tempered with understanding the root causes. Yes, it's absolutely important to build a society in which people are less prone to storytelling and passive communication. But, as was pointed out, that assumes a baseline of good faith and direct communication on all people doing the communicating. So we also need to be aware of that baseline, which changes the course of action for what we should do when we learn to identify that we are, in fact, storytelling in this context.

But, y'know, examine your root causes for your emotional reactions. Barring manipulation, it'll make you a better communicator, a better partner, and a better person.
Purple Mobius, polyamory
* I am committed to supporting my partners in being the best version of themselves that they can be.
This one took a couple of revisions to get it the way I liked it. I tried something along the lines of "accepting my partners for who they are", but that led to either being resistant to desired change on their part or to accepting real, problematic flaws that need to be worked on and improved. An interesting bit of trivia about my and Franklin's relationship is that I originally first considered dating him for the purpose of improving myself. I had just read about the concept of New Paradigm Relationships, which advocated using our interpersonal relationships as vehicles for personal growth. I had also just become aware of BDSM and kink, and I was doing a lot of self-analysis and discovering some rather toxic and inhibiting behaviours of my own that I wanted to get rid of. I am deliberate in all things. When my phobia of spiders started negatively influencing my daily life, I decided to stop being afraid of spiders. When I recognized a terror of falling, I rode a free-fall ride in which I had to pull my own rip cord and cause myself to go into the fall. When I finally recognized that I had panic attacks, I chose to not have them anymore. Not everyone can do this, and I can't even do it for everything, but I am deliberate in who I am, so I do what I can to live with intention.

So when I decided that I was inherently kinky but had no idea how to explore it safely and that I had some relationship fears that were preventing me from experiencing a larger range of happiness in my relationships, and I met Franklin who was skilled in just those things, I told him that I was interested in dating him for the purpose of working on those issues with his help. What followed was a decade-long relationship (as of today) that is the healthiest relationship I've ever been in and the eradication or reduction of exactly those inhibitions that I felt were hampering my relationships. Dating Franklin has made me a better person and I'm very different in some key ways than I was 10 years ago, some ways I didn't even anticipate or set out to change. So I really don't want to cut off avenues, even implicitly, for personal growth in my partners. I want to encourage their growth.

But at the same time, related to the previous point, I can't stand the popular romantic ideal "I love you, now change". So when I rejected "accepting my partners for who they are", I considered something like "promoting growth and accepting change". But that led me too closely to "I love you, now change". I don't want to push my partners into being my ideal for them. I don't want a Pygmalion project. I don't view my partners as fixer-uppers and I most certainly don't want them to view me as such. So I ultimately came up with this phrasing that I hope will reinforce two conflicting relationship goals - to accept my partners for who they are without trying to change them into something that I want them to be; and to encourage and support growth and change without letting fear of the outcome of that change lead me to restricting them from things that are in their best interests (but not necessarily mine).
Bad Computer!, anger
I know this will piss some people off, but I firmly believe that everyone has a right to not have sex with anyone they don't want to have sex with, for any reason they have, or no reason at all. Even if that reason is stupid. Even if that reason hurts someone's feelings. Even if I think that reason is so full of shit that I want to physically and literally knock some sense into them. They have a right to say no and they have a right to revoke consent at any time.

What they don't have a right to do is treat that person any differently in a non-sexual context than anyone else, or harm them in any way, or participate in a system that discriminates against them or any of that other bullshit. But that's not the issue. Those are good reasons not to disclose private information to people who are not sex partners and it's a good reason not to take on certain people as sex partners (with the added bonus that you don't have to disclose to them). It is *not* a good reason to manipulate someone into becoming a sex partner who would not consent to that role had they known.

"But we can't read minds to know all the possible things that all the people in the world might possibly make them not want to have sex with me!"

Strawman argument. There are things that we know by virtue of living in our cultures what people are *likely* to object to. Just like I know what Christianity is all about, and what the experience of being a white male out in society is all about, and what mono relationships are all about - even though #NotAllWhateverMajorityDemographic, I know enough about those demographics because I'm steeped in the expression of the experience of those demographics every fucking day of my life. I know that if some guy hits on me while I'm walking down the street, there is a greater-than-average chance that he won't like me *because* of my atheism, my polyamory, my feminism, my job, my independence, and my gender identity even though I'm really not that far away from cis. Those things all go contrary to the cultural narrative, so I'm pretty sure that at least one of them will be deal-breakers for the average guy who thinks it's appropriate to hit on me while walking down the street.

But, on the very off chance that he might like me precisely because of those things, or that maybe he won't mind those things, telling him about it up front will be a bonus. It'll give him even more reason to be interested in me. But that's such a statistically unlikely event that it has never once happened to me in all my years of being hit on by randos on the street.  Excuse me, not minding the atheism thing happened exactly once, but he was not American-born and he was from a country where religion isn't a big thing, so I don't think it's really an exception to my point.

Now, disclosing all that shit to street randos is not what I'm advocating either - that's a personal call regarding safety. But by the time I've decided to accept someone as a sexual partner, and he has accepted the idea of me as a sexual partner, I know there are certain things that he is, by pure numbers, likely to have a problem with and could affect his willingness to consent.  Most of those things are actually related to the act of sex itself and are not unreasonable to want to know, even if their reaction to that information or their beliefs about that information are, in my opinion, unreasonable.

What I absolutely do not want, as a small female person, is to find out *afterwards* that he would not have given consent by *him* finding out afterwards and thinking that I betrayed him. I've actually already had that happen to me and I count myself damn lucky that all I got away with was a hurt pride and some temporary embarrassment at being shoved out the front door without all my clothes on. I know all the excuses - this was just for fun and not some long-term relationship, if that was a deal-breaker for him then it was his responsibility to ask about it, blah blah blah.

I know how mainstream guys (and a lot of poly guys) feel about the idea of putting their dick in somewhere that some other dick has already (recently) been. Telling them up front that their dick isn't the only one is the best way I've found so far of only fucking the guys who won't beat me for it later, and being open about that in general is the best way I've found to locate guys who actually think it's pretty fucking cool that they're not the only ones.

When someone finds out after they have already had sex with someone whom they wouldn't have had sex with had they known what they found out later, it doesn't matter how "wrong" they are for not wanting to have sex. It doesn't matter how unjustified they are for feeling betrayed. It doesn't matter to the people they kill, or beat, or humiliate. Being "right" doesn't save them that beating, that death, that humiliation, that heartache, or that disappointment.  Knowing that the potential partner is that sort of person is the kind of information you want *before* you fuck them and not to find it out the hard way.

It didn't feel great when I had to disclose to people who I liked that I had an STD.  It really hurt my feelings to have people I cared about be so afraid of something based on stigma, and not facts, that they were afraid to even touch me non-sexually even though it wasn't something they could catch that way and it wasn't even something that was likely to harm them.  But it would have hurt them more to have sex with me without the information necessary to give informed consent.  It was more than just physically harming them, because I disclosed my STD long after I needed to, long after it wasn't possible to pass it on, just to make sure they understood sexual safety.  Not giving them that information would have been robbing them of their agency.  It would have been manipulative, and it would have been making decisions for them - deciding what they "needed to know" on their behalf based on what *I* felt about that information.  Sure, *I* knew that the STD wasn't likely to harm them, but that wasn't my call to make.  They have the right to refuse sex with me on any grounds and to make decisions for their own participation based on their own risk analysis, not mine.

If the information that you're hiding (even passively) isn't a big deal, then it shouldn't be a big deal to disclose. This goes along with the Little White Lies defenses & tacit's post on truth and virtue- if someone is defending the secret that hard, then it's clearly not "no big deal". Remember, this isn't a situation where one partner is demanding to know something that isn't relevant and is attempting to violate another's privacy. This is something that could *change someone's consent* for having sex with you.

If you can't trust the person you're about to get slippery with to handle the information that you're keeping secret, then this is probably not the safest person for you to be getting slippery with either. If you fear for your safety, then don't take them as a partner. You don't *have* to disclose anything that will make you unsafe, but if you're unsafe with this partner, then choosing them as a partner was your first mistake (assuming you, yourself, weren't coerced or forced into the encounter in the first place - this whole rant is aimed at consensual sexual arrangements, not abuse victims keeping secrets from their abusers to prevent further abuse - again, go back to the truth and virtue post) and keeping the secret is the second in a list of mistakes.

This is about two things - 1) respecting your partner's agency enough to give them the information necessary for them to give consent. You can't read their minds to know that they would revoke consent if they found out that you once masturbated to a poster of the New Kids On The Block when you were a kid and they have an irrational fear of cooties from Donny or whatever the fuck one of their names was, but you can know that there are certain kinds of information that is culturally important and likely to affect someone's willingness to fuck you if they knew about it (and if you don't know that person individually well enough to know their specific deal-breakers, you at least know those culturally likely deal-breakers). Your partners are human fucking beings and deserve to be treated with no less dignity and respect than allowing them to consent to sex with you and I can't fucking believe this still has to be said;

And 2) saving yourself either the repercussions of being found out later, or of being a person who is not your best self. Sure, it's possible that person may never find out, especially if it's a one-night stand in a strange town and you didn't exchange names or phone numbers and have no overlapping social circles or interests to ever run into them again, even on the internet. It's probably even likely. But *you* know that you will have acted with the best of intentions and the highest degree of integrity. *You* will have been a person who respects your partner's agency. *You* will have been the sort of person that you ultimately hope your partners would be for you - someone who does not take it upon themselves to decide on your behalf what information is "necessary" when it's actually something that you think is not only important, but reasonable to be informed about.

This isn't about degree of severity.  I have two analogies I often bring out in this debate - murder and jawalking aren't the same thing and don't deserve the same punishment, but both are against the law.  A creek isn't the same as the ocean, but both will get you wet if you step in them.  I'm not talking about whose the baddest, most evilest, most terrible person out there and I'm not talking about stringing people up by their toenails even for minor infractions.  The guy who didn't dislose his HIV and had unprotected sex with a bunch of people, giving them HIV? Yeah, he was a monster, and I'm not putting him in the same category as someone who has a sort-of sexual partner with no arrangement of exclusivity not disclosing that person to a one-night-stand in another country on a business trip.  But both are still examples of not disclosing information that not only could affect one's willingness to consent but is *likely* to.  Both are still examples of not respecting the other person's right to not have sex, one example just has much more dire consequences than the other.

I'm far less likely to make a personal value judgement about someone who says "I've done some things where I wasn't my best self. I know my justifications for them, and I may even slip and not be my best self in the future, but I know that this thing is not living up to my highest ideals of integrity," than someone who tries to justify their actions, digging in their heels and doubling down on preventing informed consent with excuses, selfish justifications of "privacy" and "not my responsibility" and "too much trouble / effort."  Someone who says "yeah, I torrent big blockbuster movies.  I know it's wrong, but I do it," isn't getting the same kind of judgement from me as someone who says "I don't care if you're a starving artist, you OWE the world, and consequently me, the right to use your art without being compensated for it." (That's a real example, btw, not a strawman and not hyperbole).  This isn't about degree.  It's about being your best self and by doing so, treating those around you with the dignity and respect that they deserve, especially those you engage intimately with.

If I want to live in a world where I, as a woman, have the right to say "no" for any reason whatsoever and no reason at all, if I want to live in a world where my body is completely mine and I have ultimate authority over what happens to it, then I have to make that world by defending other people's right to say "no", even if I disagree with their reasons, because it's *not my place* to decide the validity of someone else's reasons for saying "no".  If integrity were easy, everyone would do it all the time.

"Ben, there's a story eating at you ... one you know you gotta tell."

"Not that simple."

"Telling the truth is never simple... or easy. Why only the best of us ever really try."
Nude Drawing, sex

"OMG, women like hardcore porn!"

Uh, yeah, no shit. This author makes the same mistake that I see all too often - they compare stats showing that women like hardcore porn to so-called "feminine porn" that's "soft focus" with slower sex scenes.

The mistake is that there is any kind of porn out there that is "for women". By that, I mean that people think there is a *type* of porn that having a vagina makes you more likely to like (conflating vagina-having with "women", of course - the rest of my rant will keep the gender binary because that's what the people I'm criticizing are doing). There isn't.

What "porn for women" tries to do (at least, those that aren't just as misogynistic as mainstream porn) is have representation of the *woman's experience* instead of catering to the "male gaze".

Here's what this means: Porn that is written and performed with the assumption that men like certain things and they want to highlight those certain things is what is called "the male gaze". Obligatory #NotAllMen here. Yes, I know not all men like those things, that's part of the problem with this shit. Moving on. They are made with the ASSUMPTION of straight male interest and the performers are performing for the pleasure of those men whom they are assuming are watching.

"Porn for women" isn't about there being two categories of sex acts for which men like one category (usually involving getting messy) and women like the other (usually involving perfect hair). Both and other genders like a variety of sex acts. This type of porn is about writing and performing stories that a woman-centric audience can *relate* to, vs. performing acts that men supposedly find attractive. There may be some overlap.

For example, I love giving blow jobs. According to the common misconception of "porn for women", none of my porn should have any blow jobs in them because only men get something out of blow jobs, so showing that act on screen is for men only. And, yeah, in mainstream porn, I hate watching blowjob scenes. Those women don't look like they're enjoying it. It doesn't look authentic. They do things that might look "attractive" to someone who has a penis and knows what a blow job feels like, but they don't do the things about blow jobs that make them so much fun for me to give. Things like, taking a flaccid penis and rolling it around in my mouth, gently squishing it between my tongue and the roof of my mouth, and gradually feeling the texture change from soft to hard.

"Porn for women" would show a blowjob like that. Porn that people who don't understand what "porn for women" is make for women (that is, when a person who doesn't understand that phrase attempts to make porn for a female audience) wouldn't show a blowjob at all, and if it did, there would be a soft focus on the camera, diffusion filters on all the lights, high key lighting, pastel colors, no actual images of oral penetration on screen, perfect hair on the girl, and the guy tenderly whispering how much he loved her. Blegh.

So, yeah, of course some women like hardcore porn and of course some women aren't interested in the fuzzy romance-novels-on-screen type porn. Women are interested in a huge range of sexual activity. What makes porn "for women" or "for men" is not the specific sex acts depicted in them, but in how those sex acts are portrayed and what assumptions that the performers and writers are making when they make their choices for portraying them. Is the sex act performed so that someone with a penis can have the view of those things it is assumed he will want to look at? Or is the sex act performed so that even someone without a penis can feel that their experiences or desires are represented on the screen?

A hardcore, explicit gangbang can be portrayed either way. And women who like gangbangs are probably going to spend plenty of time looking up videos with gangbangs in them, but they will probably *enjoy* watching the ones in the latter category more. Nowhere, on our Woman Membership Card, does it say that we can't like gangbangs or that we're betraying the sisterhood if we do. We just want to see gangbangs (those of us who like them) that take into account whatever it is we like about gangbangs, not see gangbangs that are nothing but posturing for the straight males watching. And only people who don't think of women as some Other species with a totally unique category Sex Acts We Like To Perform are going to know how to direct and write and film those gangbangs the way we like to watch them.

Or they might film it right purely by accident. Either way, of course women like hardcore porn. Why do you think fucking 50 Shades was so popular? It was crap, but it was told from the perspective of a woman experiencing "kink", rather than from the perspective of the Domly dom male.  We just need better writers.  When women's experiences and women's stories are represented, women attend those media in droves (Mad Max, anyone?).  They're even willing to spend fortunes on absolute shit examples (not Mad Max).  If we could just get some decent writing & production value, you'd see a new social wave of the Every-Woman (the female equivilent of the Every-Man) embracing hardcore and explicit sexual media like the Pope suddenly endorsed it.

statement, Kitty Eyes, being wise


I've started a massive social project - Eating 'Round The World. I will attempt to find a restaurant of as many different nationalities as the greater Orlando area offers, and have at least one meal there with friends.

I think this is a great way (for those who have enough disposable income to try it) for friends, families, and social groups to organize regular outings with each other. It exposes us to new cultures (even just a little bit), breaks us out of our comfort zones, and gives us an excuse to actually leave our houses (for those of us introverts who need strong motivation to do so). I seem to find more people willing to make it to social meals than to any of the more active physical activities that I do, like dancing. I heartily recommend people find an organizing-type person in your social or family set and try this.

This makes a good plan for friends, families, social groups and organizations that offer socializing as part of the group, and date night suggestions.  If I was still running the local poly group, I'd add this to our social events (along with my poly movie nights, dancing nights, and pub nights).

I've also found that making the goals for an event to be "I want to try something new" and "I want to socialize with awesome people" rather than "I'm hungry and want something good to eat" makes me much more willing to be adventurous and try a restaurant that I've never eaten at before. I can always get a burger afterwards if I didn't find enough food that I liked to eat. If you are hesitant to try new foods, you may find this trick helpful.

I've created a template map / itinerary to help people get started, especially for people who don't know which countries to search for or what order to go in. You will need to create your own account at Traveller's Point if you'd like save a copy of this map and edit it to your local area. Or you can just look at the list and use it to create your own list in your preferred format.

Basically, you go down this list, do a Google search for a restaurant in your area from that country (the best search I've found is "authentic [country] restaurant [your or nearest large city name]"), and when you find one that you want to visit, you can add in the details of that restaurant into the Notes field and add a "date of arrival" for the date you plan to eat at that restaurant.  If you can't find a restaurant that represents a particular country, then you delete that "stop" from the trip's itinerary. *Most* of these countries will not have a restaurant representing them in your area, so don't feel too daunted by the size of the list. I added every nation in the world*, just to cover my bases, but I'll be lucky to find 25% of them with restaurants here in town. At the end, you'll have an interactive map that shows where your group has "been", along with details of the restaurant, pictures if you'd like to add them, etc.

In order to make organizing easier, I have also started a Facebook Group, where I can create Event pages with the restaurant details, get RSVPs, share photos from the meal, chat with others who are interested in going, etc. I recommend doing the same, or using an email list or a Yahoo! Group or whatever platform you prefer that allows you to create an interactive group format with event information.

Happy dining!

I did not include the US, as I am based there.  Followers from other countries, if you add in the US, know that the various regions have their own food specialties that you may want to identify - some broadly regional, some very specific.  Just off the top of my head, I'd recommend the following:

TexMex; Californian; Midwestern; Cajun; New England; Southern; African-Southern; New York-style pizza; Chicago-style pizza; Philly cheesesteaks, Coney Island Hot Dogs;

Any other regional US food styles?

30th-Jul-2015 11:23 am - But Teach Him To Fish...
Super Tech, strong, feminism
"Cheikh Mohammed, do your friends give you gifts?" I started in Arabic, breaking off a piece of village bread.

"Of course, it's a friendly thing to do." He adjusted his posture on the scratchy woven carpet.

"Now if I'm coming from America to give you gifts, am I your friend?" ...

"You asked me if my friends give me gifts," he said. "Make sure that YOU are my friend. Make certain you understand me, first. Learn my strengths, my heart, my efforts. Once we are established in brotherhood, then yes, send me a present, one that won't hurt me to open."
The above conversation was an excerpt from an article I just posted about voluntourism - the pattern of relatively wealthy white Americans swooping into areas we considered "underdeveloped" and doing things that assuage our white, wealthy guilt, but that don't help those areas in the long term. But I found this conversation was a much bigger symbol.

This is the essence behind the Platinum Rule. This is the meaning behind feminism and feminist critiques of so-called "compliments". This is complaint behind racism. This is struggle behind poverty here in the US with the nation's refusal to provide healthcare and screening welfare recipients for drugs and concern trolling the grocery carts of food stamp recipients. This is what everyone who is oppressed and who speaks out against it is trying to say.

It is not a "gift" when it is not given out of understanding for the other person. It is not a "gift" when the reason for giving it is to make the giver feel good but doesn't account for the effect on the recipient. It is not a "gift" when it doesn't reflect the recipient themselves - their humanity, their feelings, their personhood.

When feminists complain about compliments or opening doors, the comments inevitably get bogged down with "but it's NICE to open doors and tell someone that she's pretty!" This is the very epitome of what's wrong and what this excerpt is trying to say. It's not about the opening of a door, it's about what the gift of opening the door says about the person opening it and the relationship to the person it is being held open for. Opening a door for someone is nice, unless it isn't. And it takes a deeper, nuanced understanding of the person, the culture, the circumstances to know if that gift of "courtesy" is one that won't hurt me to open.
"We are proud of this; we are empowered by this. Now, give a village man a handout? You've just weakened him. You've increased his dependency; diminished his sense of self-esteem. One of the most widely-accepted notions is that Westerners are the solution to African problems. This requires portraying us as helpless and endlessly recirculating images only of abandonment and violence, or innocence and primitivism." ...

[Give a woman a pedestal? You've just weakened her. You've increased her dependency; diminished her sense of self-esteem. One of the most widely accepted notions is that men are the saviours and guardians of women. This requires portraying us as helpless and endlessly recirculating images only of weakness and femininity, or innocence and infantilism.]

"You see, Heather," he set his meat down to look closely at me, "We are not weak. We are not underdeveloped. If you believe we must be helped, look more closely. We are content in our hearts, affectionate to each other, and attentive to our souls. Perhaps the greater need is for us to be helping you."
26th-Jul-2015 02:14 pm - Shut Up. You're Both Wrong.
Purple Mobius, polyamory

I really wanted to open this link and blast the author for their monoprivilege, their insecurity, or their discrimination.  Then I read the tagline "Those you pursue are humans who have feelings and needs and desires and don't cease to exist when you go home to your primary partner." and I wanted to herald this as more ammunition in my fight against couple privilege.

But by the time I got to the end, I wanted to smack them both.

This whole situation is filled with wrong.  Both sides are wrong, both sides are doing harm.  First, the couple *is* exactly what's wrong with couple privilege.  The author is completely right that "I told her I didn't like a man telling me what I could and couldn't do in my bedroom."  This is absolutely unethical.  It is ethically wrong and un-compassionate for people to decide what someone else can and can't do with their own bodies.  When the husband and wife decide, before ever meeting the author, that the wife will never spend the night and will never use dildos in her sex play with others, this is WRONG.  I have the utmost sympathy for the author being treated like a second-class citizen, like a need fulfillment machine, and for having her agency dismissed.

But the author isn't exactly on a moral high horse herself.  And no, it's not because "the fault is mostly [hers]" for failing to have seen the red flags.  She is right that the media portrays this couple privilege enshrinement as Just How Things Are Done and the media fails to explore how this affects everyone who isn't part of the primary couple.  So, much like people exploring kink and BDSM for the first time, she shouldn't be blamed for being thrust into a relationship style she had no knowledge of with shitty tour guides and then failing to know how to navigate it well.

No, her fault is that she didn't want to be poly in the first place.  She went into the relationship under false pretenses herself and now she's blaming all of polyamory for failing to consider her monogamous needs under our poly banner.  If this couple didn't have these kinds of rules, if they were truly egalitarian, truly open to others, not hiding behind their insecurity, the *author* still would have seen her relationship as being "loved by half of one".

"Sharing the person I loved most in the world with someone else was the most painful experience I've had as an adult. This is the nature of Polyamory, however. "  This is *not* the nature of polyamory.  This is a flawed premise.  In order for polyamory to work well, the participants have to drop the idea that people are things that can be "shared" in the first place.  Our partners are not toys that we share with others.  Our partners are human beings who share *their* time with us.

"The irony is that Poly people believe that they are somehow more evolved than their monogamous counterparts when in fact, they are quite often driven by selfish desires, a fear of true intimacy, and a need to feel validated by more than one lover at a time."  This is her mindset.  No matter how the couple handled their relationship, she was never going to feel valued or loved in a poly relationship because she is starting with the assumption that polyamory is selfish and for people who are afraid.  She is starting with the assumption that monogamy is the only path to "true intimacy".  With that assumption, everything else follows that her experience with polyamory is going to suck.

This article pisses me off because she's not wrong about how couples often treat their secondaries.  This is why I'm opposed to hierarchical structures.  But it pisses me off because I can't use it show couples how they're hurting others because she is exactly what those couples are trying to protect themselves from.  She is merely validating and justifying their use of unethical, selfish tactics because she is the exact thing that they are afraid of - someone who is really monogamous, coming into an existing relationship, developing feelings, and then wanting to destroy the preexisting relationship so she can have one of the partners all to herself.  And calling them "selfish" in the process.

There can be two "bad guys" in any relationship.  Both sides here are wrong.  Even if both sides are making valid points, both sides were still in the wrong.  Couples:  you can't make up rules that affect the new people without the new people's input.  You can't decide what they can and can't do with their own bodies.  You can't decide ahead of time the course a relationship will take.  New people:  you can't bring in your Monogamous Mindset into a poly relationship and expect it to work.  You can't expect to have your monogamy catered to in a poly relationship - that defeats the purpose of having a poly relationship.  You can't treat your partners like objects or possessions.  You can't hold onto your monogamous values about intimacy, sexuality, jealousy, time, and agency.  If you view everything through a monogamous filter, you will never find satisfaction or security in a poly relationship.

Both sides are actually doing the same thing.  Both sides are viewing the Couple as the pinnacle of relationship intimacy.  It's just that both sides think that their side is the one who ought to get the highest ranking.  The couple and the author are both viewing the wife as a piece of pie that they have to cut into pieces and share with each other.  The husband doesn't want the women to use dildos because there is something magical that happens when you put a penis in a vagina that erases all the specialness of any other relationships.  The author gets jealous when she thinks about her girlfriend going home and having sex with her husband because there is something magical that happens when you put a penis in a vagina that erases all the specialness of any other relationships.  The couple wants to protect their relationship from losing the ability to post camping photos or having to explain to others who is having sex with whom, so they keep the author hidden from public view.  The author wants the right to post camping photos or to have others know who is having sex with whom so she resents the couple's public identity.

Couple privilege & hierarchy in polyamory and the "cowboy" mono coming to "steal our wimmen" are two faces of the exact same coin.  This is why neither should be accepted in the poly community.
25th-Jul-2015 11:22 pm - Is It Really Poly If...?
Purple Mobius, polyamory
This is Jane. Jane is monogamous. She believes in the One True Love. She believes that there is someone out there who will compliment her, support her, bring out the best in her, and she will do the same for him. She believes in being sexually fidelitious to one person at a time, even if she's not yet sure if he's The One. She believes that, when you commit to someone, that includes prioritizing them above all others (except for children, of course). She believes that a good relationship is defined by more than just sexual activity, but also a strong emotional connection, common values, and shared goals. She believes that her partner is her sexual partner but also her best friend. Even though she also has best friends, the kind of best friend that a romantic partner is supposed to be is different, and it's not just because of the sex - there is a special connection between two people in a romantic relationship that doesn't match any other type of relationship. That's what sets it apart.

Jane is an adult in the modern age, so she doesn't necessarily believe in "saving yourself for marriage". She doesn't think there's anything wrong with being in romantic relationships and expressing yourself sexually even if that partner turns out to not be The One. She's not a virgin and she doesn't feel "damaged" about that. Sure, she's had some partners in the past who she regretted sleeping with, but she's also regretted some meals she's had and some hair styles she's worn. She doesn't take it as a personal flaw, she just accepts that sometimes she makes poor choices and she tries to learn from her mistakes.

Jane is a monogamist. She had her first boyfriend when she was 16. She was so deeply in love with him. She wrote her first name and his last name in her school notebooks. She tied up her parents' phone line for hours. When that relationship ended in senior year, she was devastated. Then Jane went away to college. She went on a bunch of dates with a bunch of different guys. Not all at the same time, of course. But she'd go on a date or two with a guy, decide that he wasn't right for her, meet another guy, go on a few dates with him, etc. Then she met another guy who turned into a boyfriend for a few years. When that one ended, she decided to focus on her graduate studies and just had friends with benefits for a while.

Jane had a variety of different kinds of relationships before she found someone to marry. And after they got divorced, she had a couple more different relationships before finding the man who would turn out to be The One. Each of her relationships looked different from the others. Some were longer term than others. Some were more emotionally connected than the others. Some were short-term but deeply, intensely connected and some went on for a while but didn't take up too much of her emotional energy or attention. Some relationships were slow and sweet, while some were fiery and passionate fireworks. And, of course, some of them took more conventional pathways - building at the socially acceptable pace, moving in the socially acceptable direction, hitting the various milestones in the socially acceptable timeframe and the socially acceptable order.

The reason why I'm telling the story of Jane is because most people can hear her story, her history with a high school sweetheart followed by a period of experimentation followed by a deep, committed relationship, followed by a more "selfish" phase, followed by another deep, committed relationship ... people can hear that story and they can hear me call her a "monogamist", and no one bats an eye. Within the boundaries of monogamy in a culture that doesn't enforce the literal translation of the term (one marriage, implicitly for life), there is nothing contradictory between someone who ultimately hopes to find a single partner to marry and be sexually and emotionally fidelitous to that partner, and someone who has relationships that don't look exactly like that description. A person can be a monogamous person based on the kind of relationships they desire or prefer, regardless of what their current or past relationships look like.

And yet, 25 years after the term "polyamory" was first put into print, we still debate whether or not someone is polyamorous based on the description of their relationships at the exact moment of the debate. Is someone still polyamorous if they only have one partner? Is someone polyamorous if they have casual sex? Is someone polyamorous if they take their opposite-sex primary partner to sex clubs to hook up with people they meet at those clubs? Is someone polyamorous if they're unpartnered? Is someone polyamorous if they haven't yet been in a poly relationship?

We're still debating whether polyamory is an orientation or a choice. The truth is that it's both and neither. The word "polyamorous" can describe either a person (orientation) or a relationship (choice). Just like the sexual orientation spectrum, people can be to one side of the line or the other, or they can be somewhere in the middle where they can choose to participate or not and still be happy in their relationships.

I'm sick of this debate. Unless someone specifically states that they're non-monogamous, we assume people are monogamous by default almost no matter what their current relationships look like. There's no cognitive dissonance in our collective minds between someone being monogamous and someone having relationship structures that vary. Monogamy encompasses a wide range of things. Even cheaters are still accepted (generally) as being "monogamous". They're probably considered to be fucked up, but still monogamous unless that person has a pattern of cheating or has more than their established partner and one "mistress" or other partner that they're cheating with (more than 2 partners total).

There are several discussions and debates in the poly community that I'd love to never see again. This isn't even one of the more aggravating ones. And I, in particular, like to categorize things and put things into boxes and draw lines around like-things. This is poly, this is not poly. But I'd love to see the end of discussions questioning whether someone can be poly who also happens to like swinging, or who also happens to have a fuckbuddy, or who only happens to have one partner right now. Of course they can. Their swinging relationships might not be poly relationships, but they can still be poly people. Their poly relationships are still poly if the people in those relationships also happen to swing. Poly relationships, because of the etymology of the word, assume some sort of loving connection between the participants. But, in my opinion, part of loving someone is in accepting them for who they are. And if who someone is happens to be a person who also likes casual sex, then I see no problem with someone applying the label "polyamorous" to either themselves or their loving relationships even though that person also has sex-focused relationships, or even if they find themselves polysaturated at one partner.

Sure, I can get behind questioning the validity of using the poly label for a relationship that explicitly forbids the development of emotional connection with anyone other than the one partner in that relationship, or that explicitly forbids any kind of sexual activity outside of the core dyad. But a person in one of those arrangements can still be polyamorous themselves even if they agree to a non-poly relationship. And there is also the question of where those limitations are coming from - a relationship in which one partner has the power or attempts to limit the other partner's behaviour or emotional state in those ways could have its poly label questioned, whereas a relationship where neither partner is limiting the other but they just happen to find themselves in those situations due to their own choices or their own limitations is less up for that kind of questioning. So, if my partner told me that he didn't want me to fall in love with anyone other than him, you could probably question whether or not my relationship was "really poly". But if my partner was totally fine with me loving other people, and I just haven't found anyone else to love right now or I'm too busy with other things to be emotionally available to develop a loving relationship with someone else right now, I don't think that questioning the poly label is appropriate.

So, my point here is that, in many ways polyamory is just like monogamy. We like to reinvent the wheel, for some reason. We keep thinking that we're special snowflakes who are doing these totally different, totally unique things that we need all new rules and structures to deal with, but we really don't for most things. Monogamy covers a very wide spectrum of relationship structures and styles. Healthy monogamy does, anyway. So does polyamory. It can cover closed quads, it can cover open networks, and it can cover a bunch of things in between and to the side. A person can be polyamorous no matter what structure their relationship happens to be, even if that relationship is monogamous in structure. I think it's very valuable to be able to say "this is definitely poly" and "this is definitely not poly". I think it's valuable to be able to define and explain what things are and what they're not. But for the stuff in the middle, I think we need to stop fretting about them and just let them be. If Jane can be a monogamist while she's focusing on her studies and just goes out occasionally with a couple of guys for now, then we can be polys even if sometimes we like to swing or if we have relationships that have a more developed sexuality than emotional connection.

I totally get why a lot of the long-time poly activists and more experienced polys stopped hanging out in poly-centric social circles. After almost two decades of hearing the same fucking debates just because each new generation of newbies thinks that they're the first ones to come up with these questions and they don't want to accept the answers the veterans have already figured out, I now completely understand poly veteran burnout. I just wish there was a primer of some sort that we could just give poly newbies that says "Hi! So you're new to polyamory! We've already had the discussions you're about to start in your new poly groups! Here are all the answers so you don't have to ask us anymore!"

Oh wait, there are primers like that.

This came from a comment I made in the Facebook thread where I posted this same content. It's relevant, so I'm adding it here:

This is a tough one, because so many people are unable to distinguish between categorizing for language and communication vs. boxing people in.  We have to be able to say "this is" and "this isn't" so that we can find each other, find ourselves, build solidarity, communicate, and yes, sometimes even "discriminate" (not in the sense of oppressing others, but in the sense of protecting oneself and/or one's community from those who would harm them).  But at the same time, we can't get so rigid about those category definitions and labels that we end up being the ones to do the harm. Taxonomy is important, but it's important to remember that taxonomy is also messy.

So, take my previous rant on cheaters calling themselves poly. A poly person can cheat. The *relationship* that includes cheating isn't poly and I think we would be doing harm to the community and the cheating victim to allow cheating under the poly umbrella. But the person participating in cheating can still be poly, depending on how they felt about the cheating.

For example, I believe that the reason why I used to cheat is *because* I am poly. I just didn't know how to go about it. Those were not poly relationships, and the unethical harm I was causing made me seek another way so that I could stop cheating. That sense of ethics, that integrity, is what made me "poly" even while I was fucking up.

There needs to be both "this definitely is but that definitely isn't" as well as "this is somewhere in the middle and you're still welcome in the club".
demure, sad, polite, boxed in, Misty in Box

Psychologists often talk about a quirk of human psychology called the fundamental attribution error. It's a bug in our firmware; we, as human beings, are prone to explaining our own actions in terms of our circumstance, but the actions of other people in terms of their character. The standard go-to example of the fundamental attribution error I use is the traffic example: "That guy just cut me off because he's a reckless, inconsiderate asshole who doesn't know how to drive. I just cut that car off because the sun was in my eyes and there was so much glare on the windshield I didn't see it."

We do this All. The. Time. We do it without being aware we're doing it. We do it countless times per day, in ways large and small.

For the last several years, since I first heard of this error, I've started catching myself when I, for instance, call people assholes on the road. I still do it, but in my head I remind myself that I'm just letting off steam and that they feel just as justified as I do when I do it to other people. I think it's helping me (and is entirely appropriate) to feel my feelings as they are and to be validated in my reaction to situations while still considering my opponents as "people". I think it's important to be able to be angry at someone for doing an assholeish thing, and even to judge people for their actions, while still keeping the situation in context that they are a complete person who believes they are the hero of their own narrative just as I do.

"I would like, therefore, to propose a radical idea:

The world is made of lots of people. Some of those people are different from you, and have different ideas about what they want, what turns them on, what is and is not acceptable for them, and what they would like to do.

Some of those ideas are alien, maybe even incomprehensible, to you.

Accept that it is true. Start from the assumption that even if something sounds weird, distasteful, or even disgusting to you, it may not be so to others--and that fact alone does not prove those other folks have something wrong with them. If someone tells you they like something, and you have no compelling evidence that they're lying, believe them--even if you don't understand why.

I've been trying forever to get people to understand this, and I started by getting myself to understand it. I know lots of people (myself included) who think they have The Answer to other people's problems. I know, for instance, people who get really upset when other people make career choices that are not choices that they would choose for themselves. These are usually people who pride themselves on their "work ethic" because they have bought into the erroneous tale that people who work hard enough will be rewarded with an increase in the quality of life based on capitalistic standards.

So anyone who is poor must not be "working hard enough". Anyone who is poor who turns down a job, or who gets sick and goes home instead of working through their illness, or basically does anything that they, themselves, think they wouldn't do in the other person's situation, those people (by this logic) deserve the poverty they get.

I know, I've had that same perspective myself for most of my life. It gets *really* tiring to keep explaining that other people are DIFFERENT PEOPLE. They have different limitations, different perspectives, different preferences, different goals, different priorities, different feelings, different abilities ... and all these differences add up to making different choices that people should not necessarily be punished for.

People who have lots of sex do not "deserve" to get STDs, or to be beaten up, or to be thought of as some kind of "lesser quality" of person. People who do not want to work 80 hours a week doing manual labor in two or three different jobs and still not get any medical benefits do not "deserve" to remain poor or thought of as "lazy".

We do not all need to have the same house, the same jobs, the same clothing, the same kind or amount of sex, or the same goals out of life. And yes, as long as we live in a scarcity-model capitalistic society, sometimes that means that some of us pay more in dollars than others for that right. But if that means that people get to live the lives that makes them happy (which, btw, ultimately *does* contribute back into society), then I'm all for that.

"Equality" does not necessarily mean or have to mean equal dollar amounts. It means equal opportunity for "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".
Purple Mobius, polyamory
I am committed to working through problems with my partners starting with the assumption that we love and cherish each other and are therefore really on the same side.
I've had people pay lip service to this one, so it is really important to me to be committed to this point and to include this reminder. There's a clip from Sex And The City that is applicable here.

I once knew someone who wrote a blog post all about starting with the assumption that partners are on the same side, and how much smoother conflict resolution goes with that premise. It impressed the hell out of me at the time. But then I got a closer look at how he actually handles conflict resolution in practice. Everything that his partners did that triggered a bad feeling in him was countered with "how could you do that to me?!" Notice I said "that triggered a bad feeling", not "that did something negative towards him". When his partners did something that had nothing at all to do with him, when they made choices that directly affected only themselves or themselves and other people, when they misunderstood something and then went out and did something based on their misunderstanding of the situation, when they didn't take him into account at all, or even when they did consider him and intentionally chose what they thought was the best possible option under the circumstances, if he felt wibbly about it for any reason at all, he interpreted the action as a conscious, deliberate attack on him. EVERYTHING was in opposition. As far as I could tell, he only believed that his partners were on his side if they happen to think, want, or do something that he thought, wanted, or did. It got to the point where the others in his family just stopped telling him when they disagreed because, as one said to me, "it's just not worth the fight". They didn't all agree to disagree; the others didn't let him know that they disagreed, so he thought they were all agreeing with him on things he felt strongly about when they weren't. Then, when someone new came along and didn't yet know how much trouble it was, he would talk to the others in the group, who wouldn't disagree out loud, and then go back to the one and say "we all think you're wrong," making the new person feel isolated and ganged up on during conflicts, increasing the feeling that they were not on the same side, but were in opposition.

Our insecurities have a way of getting control of our rational brains and steering us into the shallows with hidden reefs and rocks and the wreckage of past sunken ships now lying in wait to take us down with them. It's far easier to see someone with a different vision and believe that it's in opposition to ourselves than to take a look at all the underlying issues and motivations and biases and assumptions, where we might have to face that someone else sees things more clearly, or that we might have interpreted something incorrectly, or that we might not actually be on the same path with the person we love, or that sometimes shit just happens and we can't always have things match our idyllic utopian ideals, or even that we did the damage ourselves. It's very dificult to see someone with a different perspective whose very prespective might be different precisely because they have the same goals we do but different experiences telling them how to get there.

I've had a long history with partners who weren't on my side. I've dated a lot of people who really didn't like me very much. I was always some "hot chick" or some sexually adventurous chick that they were attracted to, or who made them feel awed that I might be interested in them, or who offered them an opportunity that they didn't want to pass up. And sometimes I was just a warm body with the appropriate genitalia. But I wasn't always someone who was compatible with them. And too many guys have tried to overlook that fact, leading to relationships where they didn't really like who I was and either hoped to change me or hoped they could ignore the stuff they didn't like in order to get the stuff they did like.

But taking the assumption that my partners don't really like me into my relationships from the beginning is kind of a good way to guarantee that we'll end up on opposite sides, one way or another. I've made it very difficult to get to know me and I put my worst foot forward, all to weed out those who don't really like me very much and to keep around only those who really are on the same side. So I want to remind myself that my partners love and cherish me, that they are with me because they want to be my partners, and that, even if we seem to be on opposing sides, maybe from their perspective, they are actually trying to accomplish the same goal, which is to find a way for both of us to be happy.
Super Tech, strong, feminism

OK, we need to talk. Parents, your fear of female skin is way out of hand. I don't think that any of the adults in this article have ever even seen the movie (except for the 1 parent who said she did).

1) The "for children age 4+" means that it's physically SAFE for children age 4 or above. It means that children under age 4 might choke to death on the parts. That label has nothing to do with the MORALITY of children based on age, it's for the safety of the product and nothing more. It's YOUR job as a parent to decide what's appropriate for your children to view and participate in.

2) When kids ask you why something happens or something exists, it's YOUR FUCKING JOB as a parent to have those answers, or to find them. That's your sole purpose in that child's life besides providing the actual physical necessities for survival. You are responsible for raising them and arming them with information about the world around them. So when a kid asks why this doll has a chain around her neck, making the doll cease to exist so that you won't get that uncomfortable question is not an appropriate response.

3) The answer to that question is actually an incredibly important teaching moment in a child's life, especially a female child. So if you haven't seen the movie, I'll give you the answer:

Princess Leia is a Senator. That's right, she's a government official and a leader of her people. All by herself. She's a leader. Later, when her entire planet is blown up, she stops hiding her involvement in an activist organization that seeks to overthrow a tyrannical government and becomes a full-time leader in that activist organization.

While performing her various leadership duties running the universe and fighting for justice, she meets a man and falls in love. But she remains independent and she keeps her job. In fact, he gives up HIS job to support hers.

Eventually, that man gets captured and she takes it upon herself to rescue him.

During her rescue attempt, she gets captured herself by the same evil mob boss that has her love interest. He attempts to demean her by stripping her of her more modest and functional attire and putting her in objectifying garments as well as chaining her to his side.

In the ultimate act of feminism and female empowerment, Leia waits for an opportunity, then with no concern for her appearance, takes the very chains of her enslavement and kills her captor. Using her own oppressor's tools of oppression against him, she wins her own freedom.

Leia's "slave outfit" and broken chain is more than just scantily-clad hot chick. It's a symbol of both her oppression and her triumph. It represents her empowerment and her independence. She reclaims what is hers - her agency and autonomy - and she uses the very objects used to steal them from her in the first place.

That slave harness and that broken chain are tangible reminders that it doesn't matter what we wear or how we are oppressed, we can overcome. We can break our chains and we can become free. Although the movement for more practical attire of our female action figures is important, in this case, the "immodest" clothing is important for the plot and shows us that revealing attire doesn't *prevent* women from still being heroes. If anything, being able to perform heroic feats in revealing or impractical attire makes the actions even more heroic (a la "Ginger Rogers can do everything Fred Astaire can do but backwards and in high heels").

Slave Leia is the ultimate symbol of feminism and female empowerment, and explaining that to your daughters is an opportunity you are wasting, for which your daughters pay the price. Of all the Disney Princesses, she is the one we should be encouraging our children to emulate. Not in spite of the slave outfit, but especially because of the slave outfit.

And let's just say you forget or disagree with all the feminism stuff symbolized by this outfit - the answer to "what am I supposed to say when my kids ask me about this chain?" is to begin a conversation about the objectification and sexualization of women in our society. Either way, this is a very important toy and you're failing as a parent if you think the answer is to prevent your child from seeing it.

This action figure should be proudly displayed on every child's shelf, along with the lessons of tyranny, slavery, freedom, autonomy, empowerment, and female strength. You should be more concerned with the symbols of violence in the toy aisle than your child possibly seeing plastic lady skin or having to learn a lesson about female subjugation and freedom.
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