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.
I'm working on a collaborative project with my ex-sweetie involving breaking up. Tell me your breakup stories and preferences? Good breakups, bad breakups, and why were they good or bad? Did you do the breaking up or did they? How often do you do the breaking up vs. get broken up with? What do you wish you had done differently? What do you wish your ex had done differently? How was overlapping social circles handled?
I don't need to hear any details of the relationship or why the breakups happened or even who was involved other than what the connection between the players was, but the breakup actions and what followed the breakup are relevant. It doesn't even have to be limited to romantic breakups.
No names at all will be used without permission in my project and even most anecdotes will be lumped together to illustrate types and trends rather than specific examples.
Responses can be posted here, privately messaged to me, or even told to me in person if we know each other IRL.
How does an anti-thest, anti-traditionalism, anti-consumerist, anti-obligated-gift-giving atheist celebrate the winter holiday season?
I celebrate Newtonmas
which, for convenience's sake, looks exactly like Christmas celebration complete with wishing people happy holidays, giving gifts without obligation, wearing red and green, and singing songs specific to the season, decorating with pine trees, tinsel, little colored lights, fuzzy red and white peaked caps, and eating ALL THE THINGS but especially the things with cinnamon, apples, chocolate, and lots of sugar (sometimes all in the same dish, but not necessarily).
The only difference is that, in my mind, the birthday I'm celebrating belongs to a different historical figure - one that I know for a fact existed - Isaac Newton. And I'm not so much celebrating his birthday specifically as I am celebrating what his birthday respresents, namely science. All the gifts, all the food, all the time spent with family, all these things are reminders to me of how much science has improved our collective lives.
I live in a time and place where even those of us below the poverty line have such wealth and abundance compared to our past generations, that I can afford to bitch about consumerism on a laptop using high speed internet access in a house with central air conditioning. I live in a time and place where visiting loved ones 3,000 miles or more away is an actual *possibility* (even if an unrealized one at any given year).
I celebrate on an arbitrary day that happens to numerically match up with the day a historical figure was born (if you do some more arbitrary numerical fudging) because that figure is one of many who represent all that has made my life possible. I choose that particular arbitrary day because everyone else collectively chose that same arbitrary day for pretty much the same reasons but with a different central character, so it becomes convenient to take advantage of the national acquiescence to allow us all to celebrate. In other words, no one puts up a fuss if I take time off or spend the day celebrating or wear clashing colors or weird accessories because they're all doing the same thing and it would be strange if I did otherwise.
I won't take offense if people do not wish me Happy Newtonmas instead of Merry Christmas, although I do appreciate the "Happy Holidays!" effort made by those to acknowledge that there are other holidays being celebrated during this season by trying to include their holiday of choice even if one doesn't know what that holiday might be. But if anyone was curious what a person with different values might do during this time when it seems as though one set of values is being pushed onto an entire planet regardless of personal holiday preference, well, this is what one person with different holiday beliefs does.
There is no war on Christmas. There is only a desire to experience our own holidays in our own way. This is how I experience mine.
I have a lot of issues surrounding cultural obligations of gift giving. A lot of it is internalized so it's not necessarily that any specific individual is making me feel obligated. But those feelings are there nonetheless.
Many years ago, I made a personal pact not to exchange holiday gifts with anyone except my parents (who still buy me lots of stuff, making my life considerably easier, which is a huge relief to someone living below the poverty line) and my nephews (because they're kids). It has always been my extended family's practice to stop buying gifts for family members when they turn 18, so I had some precedence to mitigate the social pressure to give gifts.
But as I dated, that pressure to exchange gifts grew, the more people I dated. It was always there in monogamy, because it's part of the social expectations wrapped up in being in a relationship and in being female (I just could not get it through my male partners' heads that I did not want them to buy me flowers or jewelry because they could not let go of the cultural trope that women like flowers and jewelry even when one of them says she doesn't). But as I started dating poly people, people who are already deliberately bucking the social conventions, that pressure didn't lessen.
As I said, it wasn't necessarily direct pressure from individuals. Because of my difficulty with gift-giving, I tried to date people who had similar issues, so that I could escape that pressure within my relationships. But when I started building large, multi-adult poly families, certain traditions were held by some people with a ferocity that brought all those social obligations roaring back, whether they intended it or not.
When there would be a holiday party, inevitably someone would bring someone a gift. I get it, it's a wonderful feeling to see someone's face light up with pleasure at something you did for them. I enjoy giving people gifts. But I'm dirt poor and I just can't afford it. So at these poly family and extended poly social gatherings, someone would be really into gift-giving. They might say "I just like giving gifts, no one has to get me anything" and they might even mean it. But some people would feel obligated to return the gesture. And others would likewise enjoy giving things. And sooner or later, we'd have a poly holiday gathering where everyone but me was exchanging gifts, and yet I would still be receiving them.
So I could continue to just accept gifts. Or I could make a fuss and reject all the gifts on principle. Or I could bow to the (usually unintended) pressure to return the gestures. Between socialization as a woman not to make waves, to go along with the crowd, "when in Rome", be polite, etc., and the genuine desire to do nice things for the people I love, as well as feeling left out that can be such a danger in polyamory in general, eventually that pressure builds, regardless of the well-meaning intentions of everyone else.
And forget giving gifts to just some people and not others. In a family where "honey, what's for dinner" can lead to a week of relationship triage emails and a panicky
group IM chat, deliberately leaving someone out of what is supposed to be a beloved tradition expressing love and happiness is a social minefield.
So now, although I still have a poly family and I still have core partners (my replacement word for "primary" because I refuse the hierarchical power structure
but still have emotionally intimate connections and long-term commitments), being a solo poly or someone with a singleish poly lifestyle, I am missing that sense of obligation with regards to gift giving. I feel a huge relief as I look at my meager checking account and tally up all the bills and eye my empty work calendar and I realize that I don't have a dozen other people to buy gifts for in the next two weeks and I don't have to deal with the crazy, hectic consumerist shopping trauma that my life always entails because I'm always too busy with work in the months leading up to December so I only have a couple of weeks before the holidays to even start thinking of gifts. And I know I could make gifts that would be cheaper, but then I have that whole time issue thing.
So, I'm thankful that I can build deep, intimate, loving connections with my partners, and even to create our own traditions, but can also have the kind of structure that makes it *look* like I'm a single person, which allows me to discard certain other traditions that don't work for me without hurting people's feelings or raising too many eyebrows.
I deal enough with poly education of my monogamous circles, that sometimes it's a relief to do something that I don't have to explain or justify, even if they accept it for the wrong reasons. They all think it's totally reasonable that I wouldn't have anyone to buy gifts for because I'm "just dating around" or "single", but when I have a partner that passes for an escalator relationship partner
, and I talk about how stressful gift-giving is, that's one more battle I have to fight to make people understand alternative relationship options.
There are a lot of obligations and expectations that I feel free of by identifying as a solo poly or as poly singleish. There are other things I struggle with, other downsides, other expectations. But this is one I am happy to be free of. And it doesn't mean that I dislike receiving gifts, or giving them for that matter. It just means that I feel some relief of this particular pressure to give, that really comes from several places and is a very complex issue for me.
I was too busy and sleep deprived and just fucking exhausted to get online yesterday, so happy belated anniversary to my sweetie tacit
! 9 years together, I can hardly even believe it! I wasn't sure where our relationship would take us when we started. You were so different from anyone else I had dated before and I wasn't sure our slightly different relationship styles would mesh well enough to find a common thread.
But I tried a new (at the time) tactic of just jumping in and seeing where things would go without trying to prescript our future, and also allowing our relationship to change and flex with circumstances instead of holding onto a particular structure and then giving up when circumstances change. And that seems to be the successful strategy.
You "get" me unlike anyone else, you inspire me to be more than I am, and you always seem to come up with some nuanced philosophy that so clearly expresses views that I, myself, am just developing or being introduced to, unintentionally providing me with such a clear roadmap, lighting my path and showing me the way I wish to travel.
Thank you for always being there for me and for taking so many years to get to know me and evolve along with me. I look forward to sharing many more years, many more shared projects, many more conversations, many more debates, and even many more chagrined moments as I realize that I have gradually approached a perspective that you held for some time and that I argued against at first but have eventually come on my own to see.
Some time ago, I had the occasion to connect with Michael Chapman, filmmaker and creator of the movie The Ledge
. Because of that connection, he started following me on Facebook and has seen me rant about the 50 Shades of Grey
pieces of shit
er, I mean novels. Now, it turns out that the actor who played the lead in his movie, The Ledge
(alongside Live Tyler), has been positioned to play the lead character in 50 Shades
, Christian Grey, in the upcoming movie version of the book. So Chapman has even more of an interest in the new movie. And he asked me my opinion on whether or not the new movie has any hope of being good.
Flattered that an actual filmmaker would seek me out for my opinion on the subject and kind of shocked that he was even aware I had one, I thought about it, and wrote him a long response, trying to summarize my feelings for this book and its sequels into a single email. It's a lengthy response, but I still think I only barely scratched the surface of what I was trying to convey.
Nevertheless, he liked my response so much that he asked if he could publish it on The Ledge
's Facebook page. Naturally, I said, of course! I hadn't written it with a public post in mind, so it's clearly an email response to a question, but he was welcome to post it if he wanted. So, he did, and it has now been read by over 6,000 people all around the world (The Ledge
apparently has quite the international following, considering it's a movie with an atheist protagonist and a Christian is the bad guy, and theism vs. atheism is a big part of the conflict). This is the largest platform I've ever had for one of my opinions. So I'm pretty stoked! If you're on Facebook, you can see the post and like it and offer your own perspective: https://www.facebook.com/theledgemovie/posts/598254666879883
. If you're not on Facebook, here's what I wrote:
I think the only way a good movie can come out of that book is if it keeps just the title in common and basically becomes a whole other movie, without the author's "creative" input. There are no redeeming features of that book.
Now, whether it will make *money* or win the cast and crew some acclaim is a different story. But the very premise of the story is that it romanticizes abusive relationships and reinforces the "if you love him he will change" trope, all with very boring, unkinky sex and a lot of really bad writing. It's Twilight fan-fiction for fuck's sake.
It's very premise is flawed, and if the story foundation is bad, there's nothing you can do to dress it up and make it better. Keeping the title and changing everything else about it is common in Hollywood, but it might piss off the book fans. The best thing that anyone in the kink community can say about that book is "at least it got mainstream people talking about BDSM, and maybe, because of their interest, they'll research the healthy ways to do kink." I think my favorite criticism I've heard so far was "It angered both the librarian and the pervert in me", but I don't know who said that.
I think anyone involved in filmmaking as an artform would do well to pay attention to the BDSM community's view on the book. If they are part of a film for the art of it, then 50 Shades is not a good choice. But anyone wishing to earn a little notoriety and be shocking would probably get something worthwhile out of being affiliated with the movie, because it will get attention.
The "big strong domly man trains a submissive woman who just doesn't know she's submissive yet" storyline is one of the most common kink storylines ever. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of books with that same plot. Any of them is going to be better written than 50 Shades, and at least some of them are going to be written by people who actually have some experience in the kink community, unlike the author, James.
In fact, I'll recommend one right now. It's called The Training of Eileen and it's available on Amazon - Elicitation
is the first book in the series. It's the same plot - rich guy finds innocent young wife and trains her to be his sex slave. But the difference is that he wasn't abused and raped as a child and who now takes out his sociopathic rage towards women on his partners. This main character is caring and loving - he does what he does because *the submissive likes it*.
It uses the "she just doesn't know it yet" trope, but in this case, it's not a rapey excuse, it's that he paid attention to her early on and detected submissive tendencies in what she revealed about herself. In this story, it's all about giving the submissive what she wants and giving her permission to want it. In 50 Shades
, it's all about what the dom wants (to beat women) and the power struggle between him and his girl who wants to "fix" his broken kinky ways.
So, my opinion is that there is no salvation for this movie. It cannot, by virtue of its source, ever become a good movie without doing the Hollywood bait-and-switch - capitalizing on the name but completely rewriting it from the ground up. But it *can* become a money-maker and it *can* catapult the cast and crewmembers into some measure of fame by association. The question is, is that the kind of association one wants to be known for? The kink community does not support the book, except to for those who welcome *any* conversation-starter, even bad ones. Since I have enough trouble getting trapped by men (as I am a single heterosexual female) who think that "coercion" is merely another word for foreplay, to say that I am not one of those who even welcomes it as a conversation starter is an understatement.I'll leave you with some chapter-by-chapter reviews of the book, if you're interested to hear exactly what is so wrong with it and why:http://collegeatthirty.blogspot.com/search/label/fifty%20shades%20of%20greyhttp://jennytrout.blogspot.com/p/jen-reads-50-shades-of-grey.htmlhttp://zephyrscribe.tumblr.com/tagged/50+Shades+of+Greyhttp://theramblingcurl.blogspot.com/2013/02/need-more-evidence-that-50-shades-is.html
Saw a sitcom the other day where a girl got jealous of her boyfriend hanging out with his ex. The guy showed no sexual or romantic interest in the ex-girlfriend, and even seemed to completely miss anything that could have been an innuendo from the ex (and it really was "could have been" - she seemed equally as oblivious to any innuendo and did not appear to be behaving in a predatory or inappropriate way). He behaved, in my opinion, in a way that, if you cut her out of the scene, you wouldn't be able to tell the gender or the past relationship from his actions.
The girlfriend told him that she was uncomfortable (which, honestly, is a step up in the good relationship skills department for a sitcom), but he tried to assure her that she had nothing to fear. She tried to make him understand by threatening to hang out with her own ex and he said he wouldn't mind if she did. So she did. She very deliberately chose a good looking ex and very deliberately chose a setting designed to increase the discomfort. The only flaw in her plan, I think, was in choosing an ex that she actively despised, so if her boyfriend really had a reason to worry, this would not have been the guy to worry about. She also proceeded to avoid her ex as much as possible, not doing anything flirtatious or to lead him on in any way. She explicitly expressed her distaste to her ex and was honest about there being no interest there. The ex, similarly, did not flirt with or hit on the girlfriend or behave in a way that would make her uncomfortable, other than the fact that he was a general sort of jackass and she just didn't like him.
The sitcom then showed the boyfriend getting along rather well with the ex-boyfriend, much to the girlfriend's annoyance. It looked like her plan was going to backfire and that he really was secure and she really was in the wrong. I would have loved to have seen a sitcom that took that track. But, 'twas not to be. In the end, he confessed to feeling uncomfortable around the ex, he was just being socially polite, but that he'd rather not have her spend time with the ex anymore - even though she loathed the ex and would stop seeing him the second her point was proved or she had lost the argument. The couple ultimately both agreed that they shouldn't hang out with exes anymore so that neither would have to feel uncomfortable.
What a lost opportunity! What a great chance to highlight trust and security in a relationship! What a perfect time to illustrate good communication skills, personal growth, and the amazing strength a relationship can have when those in it have unshakable trust in each other. Without even broaching the subject of open relationships or changing the plot at all! Since we never actually witnessed the boyfriend behaving jealously, they could have altered that final conversation just a little so that he said "see honey? I'm not worried about him being in your life because of how much I trust you and how much faith I put in our relationship," and she could have said "you're right, dear, I see how solid our relationship is and how much trust you put in me, and I will work to be worthy of your trust and to be as trusting of our relationship, to honor the love you have given me. The love you have for me is so amazing and so strong, that I want to gift you with a love as equally amazing and strong, and I will strive to do just that."
One paragraph of dialog changed, only slightly, could have made such a huge change in the tone of the show, while leaving everything else exactly as the mindless-sitcom watching audience apparently would have wanted. I'm willing to bet money that a sitcom that left in all the standard, silly hijinks that this episode included, and ended with a reinforcement of monogamous values, but that just happened to not reward jealousy, would have been well received - or at least gone unnoticed. I'm willing to bet that there would not have been any outrage at a sitcom that ended with a monogamous couple not cheating, not opening up their relationship, and upholding their commitment to each other to be faithful in a relationship so strong that no outside influences could tear them apart, even though the sitcom also didn't encourage insecurity as a way to make that commitment to monogamy.
I'm reminded of the time when I was at a party with my high school sweetheart (in a monogamous relationship), and we both kind of separated to hang out with our respective friends at the party (physically went to different places, not had a romantic separation), and a girl who had a crush on him started following him around. My friends who witnessed it spent the whole night coming up to me to tell me about it. No one could believe that I was truly OK that he spent time with her.
The thing is, I absolutely trusted him. There was nothing she could do at all that could *make* him violate our relationship agreements without his participation, and I fully believed, with my whole heart, that he would not violate our relationship. She could stand there, stark naked, and say "take me now!", and he would just say "um, wow, uh, I gotta go." She could touch him and he would move away. There was NOTHING she could do. Even if she raped or molested him, it would, by definition, be without his consent, making her the bad guy, not him. Oh, I have no doubt that she could have set up a situation where he might have actually gotten aroused, but I fully believe that he would never have DONE anything to violate our relationship agreement of monogamy - that he was fully capable of controlling his actions in spite of any feelings that might, ahem, arise, and that he is not an animal who, once turned on, must sate his lust no matter the consequences. I was never under the illusion that he didn't find other women attractive. I just believed he could have those feelings and not act on them, or that if he felt he had to act, he would break up with me first.
And if he DID do something to violate our relationship, that would have been HIS decision, not hers. If he really wanted to violate our relationship, keeping him away from *her* would not have stopped him. He would have found some other way. Either I would be unsuccessful at keeping him away from her specifically, or he would find another girl whom I wasn't trying to keep away from him. As a former cheater myself, I knew better than anyone that a person who wants to cheat will, no matter what they agree to or how hard their partner tries to stop them. Perhaps ironically, being a former cheater in no way lessened my ability to trust my sweetheart, but does make me extremely hostile towards those who justify cheating now that I have relationships that are set up so that I don't feel that I have to cheat to get what I need out of relationships. If I'm not getting what I need from a relationship, I adjust the relationship parameters so that I can get what I need (namely, freedom and independence). But that's a whole other discussion.
My first fiance and I had a similar situation. He had an evening planned with his best friend, his "big sister" (a slightly older girl he thought of in a sister way) whom he hadn't seen since she went off to college. Most of the evening was in public with their mutual friends. 2 girls, one who wanted to hook up with me and one who wanted to hook up with him, started calling me at home to tell me just how chummy my fiance and his friend were being - the point was to sow dissension and distrust so that we would break up & be "free" for each of them to move in on us.
I was not bothered at all by anything they were saying. I already knew they were "chummy" and I trusted him. I finally had to go down to the restaurant where they all were just so that the girls would stop calling me. But I didn't confront him about his dubious behaviour, I told him that the girls were pestering me and that I trusted him to honor our relationship. I asked him to address their accusations, and I found his explanations to be completely reasonable. I had no problems with him hugging his "big sister", with her kissing him on the cheek, with them sitting next to each other in the booth, or with them poking and tickling each other. All of that were completely normal things for siblings to do and I was similarly affectionate with my platonic male friends.
As a monogamous teenager, I had nothing to fear. I was absolutely confident. At a time when most people are at their most insecure, most needy, and most lacking in relationship skills, I had nothing to fear. He would be faithful to me or he wouldn't. In either case, that was something between us, not me and her.
As someone who also has felt the twinge of insecurity that comes when another person of the appropriate gender enters the picture, it seemed to me as a hormonal teenager and it still seems to me now that if you can't trust your partners to behave themselves just because someone of the appropriate gender is nearby, then your relationship has bigger problems than an old friend or ex hanging around.
Believe me, I do completely understand feeling insecure that is triggered by the presence of another person. I have, in the past, even asked partners to refrain from being romantically involved with particular people because I was afraid of how their presence would affect our relationship. And you know what I found out? That my original teenaged position was validated - either he would be with her or he wouldn't, no amount of me placing restrictions would change that, and that ultimately, the problems caused by his interest in another woman were really problems between he and I that restricting his behaviour would not have solved. There comes a point at which you just have to let go and trust in your partner to make decisions that will not harm you, and to trust that, when he or she does (because no one is perfect), the two of you can find a resolution and overcome the hurt that was caused. Because without that trust, your relationship is doomed (or dysfunctional, which one could technically call "doomed" but which could also last a very long time, even until death).
Did you know that STD screening only requires a blood & urine test? No invasive procedures, no penis swabbing, just a blood and urine sample. That's it! And did you know that they ONLY test for the specific STDs that you're paying them to test for? Nothing else. No "everything" test, no drug test, no genetic defect test, just the specific STD tests that you request. NOTHING else will show up on these tests.
Which means that you have to request specific STD tests. You can't just ask for "everything". They can't test for "everything". If you ask for "everything", they'll just give you those tests they think you ought to be tested for, which actually leaves out quite a few STDs because most clinics don't think you need to worry your pretty little head about silly things like STDs unless you're showing symptoms.
Also, you can get the most important tests at your local Planned Parenthood (while offices are still open, which won't be for long if the Rethuglicans have their way - PP is my primary health care provider, which means I'm screwed if I move to an area where the offices are getting shut down) or county clinic for fairly low rates. For a little more, you can get even more tests from several online services that will just send you to a local lab for your convenience.
All sexually active adults should get tested regularly, just the way we do other regular maintenance tests. If you're in a long-term monogamous relationship and you're not showing any symptoms, then your maintenance schedule will be different from someone with multiple partners, someone showing symptoms, or someone with shorter-term relationships.
My personal recommendation is to get tested prior to engaging in sexual activity with a new partner, and then again 6 months after first contact with a new partner. I also recommend actually trading test results with your prospective partners. After that, consult with your doctor about what kind of maintenance schedule is right for you. In most cases, women will only need a pap and HPV test about once every 2 or 3 years (guys can take their HPV status from their female partners) and that's it until/unless there's a change of partner or you're showing symptoms.
Speaking of HPV, ask your dentist about oral HPV screening. It's an important first defense in catching throat and mouth cancers caused by HPV.
Speaking of specific STDs, here's the bare minimum that I recommend getting tested for, all of which are available at PP, and the first four (what I call The Big Four) are usually available at your local county clinic:
~HSV 1 & 2 (you have to specifically ask for both 1 & 2 or they won't give you 1)
~HPV for people with a cervix (no test for cismen except orally at the dentist)
If you haven't ever been tested for it, you might want to get tested for Hepatitis just to start out your record keeping with a full baseline set of records, but unless you're showing symptoms or think you've been exposed, this does not need to be done as often as the others.
I also recommend getting the Hep A&B vaccine, as well as the HPV vaccine if you can afford it. You can still get the HPV vaccine even if you're over 30, you just have to pay for it out of pocket and probably will have to go to a private physician instead of a clinic. The only reason the FDA approved it for under 30 is because it loses effectiveness if you've already been exposed, and if you're over 30, then you've probably been exposed. But that doesn't mean it's worthless.
The diseases with the highest mortality rate (i.e. likely to kill you) are also the easiest to avoid by using condoms and not sharing needles. Everything else is manageable, so don't stress out about STDs. Get tested so that you know where to start from and keep records just like your other health maintenance routines. It's nothing to freak out about, but it should still be done, just like going to the dentist or changing the oil in your car. It's better to know what your status is so that you can make appropriate decisions about your personal health practices. Routine maintenance for the responsible, sexually active adult.
To follow-up on the PSA about STI testing, here's a Sexual Health & History Disclosure form that's useful for helping you keep track of your sexual health records: http://www.theinnbetween.net/sexual_health_and_history.pdf Right-click on the link and save the file to your computer. From there, you can fill it out and save and/or print it.
Even if you never share this with anyone and just use it to keep your own records, it's important that you know your medical history, and sexual health is just one aspect of your medical history.
This applies even to monogamous people, although if you've been monogamously married for a whole bunch of years, it's probably less important to share this with your partner, as I'm assuming you have already shared this info with them at least at some point over the years. But, as I know people who think "what happened before we met doesn't count", that's probably not a safe assumption for me to make.
It does count - get tested!
Read the profile.
Seriously, what makes anyone think this approach works? Just, "hi". It's not as offensive as some of the others, but probably about as effective. Could he possibly have put any less effort into contacting me? If he made any less effort, he's just be a drive-by - y'know, where you just look at the profile and move on. After all the work I put into my profile, to explain the important aspects of who I am, to help us both not waste our time by weeding out those clearly incompatible, this is the amount of effort he extends to me? Hi.
I've already put forth more effort into him, specifically, than he bothered to put into me, what with this rant and all. I bet he gets complaints a lot from his exes that he doesn't show them his feelings or that the relationships feel one-sided.
And, because this is essentially the exact same thing, I'm pasting it here rather than making another entry for it:
May 10, 2013 – 2:46pm
Sent from the OkCupid apphelloSent from the OkCupid appReport this
0% Enemy0% Friend10% MatchMessage from danj101
Read the profile.
Jun 26, 2013 – 6:46pm
Hello, Report this
Great profile and great photos. I run an international logistics firm; travel a great deal. While travelling I am very involved in the cuckold lifestyle as a Bull. I'm fun, safe and fit. completely straight, but will appreciate your power over your cuck and allow him to eat my cum of of or out of you.
I began with this hobby while in college, there was no Viagra back then. I would frequent a few very selective swinger parties where husbands and wives would invite me to fuck wifey while the husband would watch. I enjoyed it and the hobby grew.
I'm sure we could work out a special trip where I could get you off while your little husband was restrained, denied and forced to watch.
Please contact me. I look forward to serving you,
33% Enemy49% Friend83% MatchMessage from Goodfriendnate
Read the profile.
And never send another offensive form letter like that to anyone ever again.
Let's be clear here. It's not the cuckold fetish that bothers me. It's the fact that he DIDN'T FUCKING READ THE PROFILE, sent a form letter, and thought that a FIRST CONTACT email was an appropriate place to sexually proposition someone.
I can't tell you how many times I've tried to correct people on the "protect the existing relationship" that once you introduce someone(s) new, there is no longer any "existing" relationship - it's a whole new thing that has a whole new dynamic with (perhaps only slightly, perhaps massively) different needs and priorities.
New partners are not patches to be slapped onto an old pair of jeans - intended to add onto and improve, but not otherwise significantly change the original garment. They are a completely unique element unto themselves that changes the entire ensemble - sometimes in complimentary ways, sometimes in unflattering ways, sometimes merely altering the tone but sometimes changing the whole look and feel of the outfit.
Like my black slashed t-shirt that I made for a 7 Deadly Sins party one year, where I dressed as Wrath. With the leather pants and chain mail skirt and creepy fire eye contacts, I looked like Wrath. But paired with a black fedora and short flirty skirt and hi-top Converse, the black slashed t-shirt looked totally '80s hip hop dancer. Vastly different outfits because I swapped out other elements.
Then, for my Victorian ballgown, that's clearly a historical looking outfit. But I can take off the outer blouse and skirt, and just wear the corset and underskirt, and I get a Victorian-themed ballroom dancing outfit or add a mask and I got a kink-appropriate Masquerade outfit. Leave the whole thing put together and add some jewelry made of gears and I get a Steampunk Victorian outfit. Leave the fantail down and I get an extravagant gown that needs an assistant to move around or pin the fantail up and I get a much more practical gown that I can walk around in. Same outfit, different tones and feelings with different elements.
So stop trying to "protect the existing relationship" and start asking "exactly what kind of team is this anyway, and what will it be with me as part of it?"
For the last several years, I've maintained a Group Me for conventions. This is a web-based service that allows you to enter your phone number, join a particular Group Me (or be added by the moderator), and then send a regular SMS text message to the Group Me phone number that will then be relayed to everyone else in the group. They have the option to do the same. This has come in handy for sending a single message out to everyone to say "I'm going to eat at the hotel restaurant, anyone else free and want to share a meal?" and "Party tonight is in room 465!" and "Sorry, have to cancel the party - roommate is sick. Please don't show up tonight!" I send one message to one phone number and reach everyone who needs that information. Everyone else can send a message or reply to mine and everyone else gets to see it too.
Some people have suggested that Facebook or Twitter is the same thing, or good enough, for this purpose. But I don't agree. For one thing, it requires that everyone whom you wish to speak to has a FB or Twitter account. Second, it requires that you be friends with those people. Third, it requires that you have the ability to access FB or Twitter whenever you want to send that message. For some people, this is all true.( But not for me. And here's why...Collapse )
Group Me allows you to join yourself or have the moderator add you to the group. No one else will see your phone number unless they already have your phone number in their phone's address book, so it protects your privacy. It allows you to choose your display name so you can use the name that people can use to find you online or not, as you prefer. It removes me as the central organizing point and gives everyone else on the list some degree of control or participation. It works for all phones that have SMS capabilities (and if my ancient clam-shell dumb phone can do it, then every cell phone can do it). It does not cost anything except whatever your current text messaging plan is. If you have limited text messages, you can turn it on and off, and you can also check messages at the website with a computer or other device with internet access.
If you have no internet access and no or limited texting capabilities, then it's true, this service will not work for you. But I'm also at a loss as to how to include you on con' plan coordination at all in this case if I can't text or send you internet messages. So, sorry.( Here are specifics on how to join & use the GroupMe...Collapse )
So there's a guy who pissed me off recently and I want to delve into it to process the incident. As ya'll know, I do a form of ballroom dancing that's called "social dancing". It's basically people who have learned at least a little bit of formal ballroom, Latin, and/or swing dancing who then go out either to public venues or to ballroom dance studios and other dance spaces and just do what they do. Sometimes we learn something new, but mostly it's about having a good time and practicing or expressing whatever amount we *have* learned. Social dancing tends to focus on being good leaders and followers - on good communication - rather than perfect form or memorizing a lot of patterns (specific dance steps within a dance style). Many people only know a handful of patterns for each dance style that they've learned. It's about communication and connection and physical activity more than excelling at a physical art or sport. Perhaps not coincidentally, that also sounds like romantic relationships - being about communication and connection and physical activity.( Some background on the kind of dancing that's related to the incident.Collapse )( So back to the incident...Collapse )( Now I have some things to say about that...Collapse )( Video of the danceCollapse )
"In narrative terms, agency is far more important than “strength” – it’s what determines whether a character is truly part of the story, or a detachable accessory. ... Their strength lets them, briefly, dominate bystanders but never dominate the plot. "
I love female characters who are strong. I think of myself as strong, so a female character who is strong makes me feel represented in the film - she's someone I can relate to, can emphasize with. But being able to throw a punch is not enough. A cardboard cutout with kung-fu grip isn't something I can relate to, emphasize with. She still has to be a *person*, and the Disney princesses and other pandering female leads are not good enough.
My favorite male characters are complex, with flaws. My favorite female characters are also complex, with flaws. But I also want female characters that I *don't* like - because I want there to be so many female characters, in such diversity, that I can't possibly like them all. I want there to be so many female characters with such diversity that the very idea of inserting the "obligatory strong female character" becomes as nonsensical as it currently is to consider throwing in a "strong male character" just to keep the male demographic happy.
I don't want writers to throw in a female character, strong or otherwise, to make us damn uppity feminists shut up and I certainly don't want writers to throw in a female character to give the guys some eye-candy to sell movie tickets. I want there to be female characters because women are interesting, complex protagonists, antagonists, and side characters who have interesting stories to tell."In narrative terms, agency is far more important than “strength” – it’s what determines whether a character is truly part of the story, or a detachable accessory. ... Their strength lets them, briefly, dominate bystanders but never dominate the plot. "
I love female characters who are strong. I think of myself as strong, so a female character who is strong makes me feel represented in the film - she's someone I can relate to, can emphasize with. But being able to throw a punch is not enough. A cardboard cutout with kung-fu grip isn't something I can relate to, emphasize with. She still has to be a *person*, and the Disney princesses and other pandering female leads are not good enough.
My favorite male characters are complex, with flaws. My favorite female characters are also complex, with flaws. But I also want female characters that I *don't* like - because I want there to be so many female characters, in such diversity, that I can't possibly like them all. I want there to be so many female characters with such diversity that the very idea of inserting the "obligatory strong female character" becomes as nonsensical as it currently is to consider throwing in a "strong male character" just to keep the male demographic happy.
I don't want writers to throw in a female character, strong or otherwise, to make us damn uppity feminists shut up and I certainly don't want writers to throw in a female character to give the guys some eye-candy to sell movie tickets. I want there to be female characters because women are interesting, complex protagonists, antagonists, and side characters who have interesting stories to tell.
So many people have such a narrow view of what it means to be a man, completely ignoring the diversity that exists. They miss the complexity, the nuance, the depth of the range of humanity. They miss different cultural perspectives, they miss historical differences, they miss individual tastes. They miss out.
To me, men are beautiful. Sometimes they are beautiful because they have what are considered "feminine" features. Sometimes they are beautiful because they are so "masculine".
Men are beautiful in their harsh lines and soft curves, in their hard rage and their tender love, with their smooth skin and hairy bodies. There is no "softer sex", there is only beauty in the human form - in all its forms as is or modified. Beauty is not limited by such arbitrary designations as "feminine". It's too bad people are.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/19/nir-arieli_n_3767849.html
( In which I ramble nearly incoherently about entitlement and agency and autonomy and other buzzwordsCollapse )
So, in case it hasn't occurred to you yet, the tl;dr version is this: communities and groups of like-minded people are not a convenient location in which we have rounded up a bevy of people for your attention or perusal. Even those groups for which the purpose *is* whatever you're looking for (i.e. a dating site), the group members are not there for you
specifically. Do not treat such groups and communities as your personal pool to fish from, stocked with said fish for your pleasure. Being part of a "singles" group, or a submissive group, or a childfree group, or a poly group, or a kink group, or a whatever group, does not mean that the group exists for you to use as a collection site like a temp employment agency. Being part of one of those groups does not mean that the members are there for you
. Even being sexually available does not mean that they are sexually available to you
And for fuck's sake, stop posting personals ads on the internet unless you're specifically signed up for a personals ads service! Just have a fucking conversation with people, and through those conversations, you will eventually find people who are compatible enough with you to consider the sort of relationship you're looking for (or even a whole new kind of relationship you hadn't considered before, but you'd never have known that you'd be open to it if you hadn't just fucking talked
to people first).
This article reminds me a lot of tacit
's post on honesty (http://tacit.livejournal.com/373355.html
) and strikes a particular chord in me because of current life circumstances. In the example of a boyfriend telling his girlfriend about spending time with a female friend, where the girlfriend accuses him of cheating, I particularly liked the line: "In this scenario, the girlfriend is telling the boyfriend’s primate brain that she thinks he’s been cheating. What she’s telling his lizard brain is this: “When you are honest with me, you can expect hostility in return.” That is a very bad association to create."
What this means is, and what tacit
broached in his article, is that a lot of people prefer the Little White Lie method because they don't feel safe in being honest. There is fallout for telling people something difficult. tacit
champions the Path Of Greater Courage (http://tacit.livejournal.com/90763.html
), which is, essentially, the idea that truth itself is not necessarily a virtue to be held at all costs, particularly at the expense of compassion. Which path takes greater courage - telling someone the truth that they need to hear even if it's hard, or lying to save yourself the trouble of dealing with their reaction? Which path takes the greater courage - telling someone the truth that will get an innocent person killed, or lying about their whereabouts to protect their life?
Where things get fuzzy is in relationship "truths". It's not a matter of life or death, and the fear of dealing with someone else's bad reaction is all too easily masked under a false sense of "compassion" for not "hurting them". So, although I still advocate for truth being generally the better policy, and protecting someone's feelings is not a good enough reason (by itself) to lie, it makes perfect sense to me that the idea of telling someone a truth that might hurt another can be a very scary idea to contemplate if the other person does not make it safe for you to tell them such truths.
It can make a person wait for "the right time", or make them clumsy with their words, or timid, or preemptively defensive, or any number of other things that might actually change the reception of that truth to an even stronger negative reaction, which will then only reinforce the idea that “When you are honest with me, you can expect hostility in return.” It then becomes a vicious cycle, being afraid to tell someone the truth which leads to the other person interpreting the fear as signs of deception and reacting with hostility which leads to being more afraid to tell the truth, etc.
My position is to muscle through the fear of the negative reaction and tell the truth anyway (assuming the Path of Greater Courage, of course). But it's not easy, and I understand the *impulse* to avoid the negative reaction. I'm positive I've failed in being courageous myself here and there, so even if I disagree with taking the easy road, I do understand the motivation to.
Someone told me recently that I seem really happy and wanted to know what my secret was. How do I work in the stressful environment I work in, how do I deal with the people I deal with, how do I live in the world we live in, and still be happy? I have 2 "secrets" to being happy. They may or may not work for anyone else, but this is what I do:
1) I follow my passions. I am dirt fucking poor. I live below the poverty line and require government assistance on a quasi-regular basis. I'm one month away from total disaster at all times. I've been stuck here in this state when I really would rather live elsewhere for a decade past the point I had originally planned to leave because I can't afford to move. Why? I have skills in several job categories and could make a decent living. I used to do a job that paid me $25K a year entry salary, with health benefits, 15 years ago and could be quite comfortable if I had stayed there with various promotions and raises over the years. I could move up in my current job into management or equipment/personnel coordination, with either a salaried position or lots and lots of hours at a good hourly rate. I'm poor because I love my job. It's my passion. I don't work in the other industries because I'm not passionate about them. I don't move up into management in my current job because I like, as I usually put it, playing with my toys and getting dirty. I'm merely a technician.
Don't get me wrong, even my lowly technician gig pays me very very well, per hour or day and plenty of people make good livings doing what I do. But I also don't work as often as I should. Sometimes it's because I take time off for my other passions, like relationships or hobbies or vacations. Sometimes it's because I suck at the work-politics game and I don't know how to schmooze the right people to move up the corporate ladder. Sometimes it's because my job is more about who you know than what you know. And sometimes it's because I failed to keep up with changing technology and have trouble finding mentors to bring me up to speed so I can't always compete in the job market.
But the point is that I love my job so much, I'm willing to live in below-poverty conditions to keep doing it. I do what I have to in order to survive, including taking other kinds of work. But it doesn't make me happy. When I'm gigging, I'm happy. When I'm costuming, I'm happy. When I'm dancing, I'm happy. When I'm photographing, I'm happy. When I'm creating, I'm happy, and that's what all my passions have in common - creating something. When I take the time to indulge in my passions, no, to pursue my passions with a ferocious intensity, I am generally happy with life itself.
2) I find outlets for those things that make me unhappy. Like ranting on the internet. Most people who know me primarily online think I must be profoundly unhappy because all they see are my angry posts. But I make those posts in order to get the thoughts out of my head, where, if I didn't get them out, they'd just run around in circles all day, every day. They're like music earworms, sorta. Some people have to listen to that very song in order to get it unstuck from their heads. I have to rant about whatever is pissing me off in order to let it go and get on with my day getting back to the business of being happy.
People who know me in real life first, who then find my online profiles, feel a little jarred at the difference. I don't seem like "me" to them. But if you were to ask most of my coworkers who have either not seen my online profiles or who don't read much of Facebook or Twitter or LJ even if they have a profile there, if you were to ask them to describe me, "happy" is a common descriptor. A boss once quipped something to the effect of not recognizing me without my smile, or if I'd lost my smile, something must seriously be wrong. I don't remember the exact line, but the occasion stuck out in my memory because I had just lost my place to live because I was "always angry" online, even though I'd never had a harsh word IRL with that person and, in fact, had been told when we first met that he had a crush on me because he so loved how often I laughed around him. So when that boss remarked on how being unsmiling was a rare event, it struck a chord with me.
I have periods of depression. I get overwhelmed by stuff and I start to withdraw into myself. I stop reaching out to my friends and loved ones, I stop going out, I start to cry more easily, and I can start to say and do things that, to someone who doesn't know what's going on, may seem out of character because I stop being able to express myself clearly. Being a generally happy person doesn't mean never feeling any other negative emotion.
But, in general, I think I'm happy. I love life and I think it's worth living. I feel that death is the enemy and I can't even comprehend the idea that there might come a day when I'll be tired of life and voluntarily want to end it, even when I think of living for hundreds or thousands of years. I joke easily and I laugh often. Even when I'm in the depths of a depressive episode or feeling particularly down, I know, with every fiber of my being, that it'll pass and I'll be happy again. Sometimes I even willingly indulge in periods of sadness, knowing that it's just part of the range of human emotion and expressing it can be part of getting through it. I never need to be told after a breakup, for instance, that things will get better and I'll find someone new. I know that, and I don't stay sad for very long. I pretty quickly bounce back to being happy. Even when Misty, my cat, died, I was able to be at work the next day, laughing and joking as usual with my coworkers. I'm very much still in mourning for my cat, and I still cry at the drop of a hat when I think of her. But the joking around at work the day after her death was not a mask I had to wear in order to get through my day. I was genuinely happy to be working and to be with my coworkers. And I'm creating a memorial for her, which goes along with my first point about creating making me happy. Sadness doesn't overwhelm me and life goes on, dragging me along with it.
And I think that's essentially why I'm generally happy. I follow my passions and I allow myself to express the negative emotions so that I can get through them and get on with the business of being happy. I remember trying to suppress my negative emotions for a while. I had a very troubled adolescence and, for a time, the only thing I wanted was to stop hurting. But, even in that first depressive episode, suicide or self-harm was never a serious consideration (although I did consider them). I shut off the negative emotions so that I wouldn't hurt. But then, one day, I realized that I wasn't feeling any of the positive emotions either. Well, that's not entirely true. I still felt all my emotions, but they were all very, very muted. I didn't feel strongly about anything. I spent many years trying to turn back on the positive emotions without turning on the negative ones, and I failed every time.
Eventually I embraced the idea of feeling because I wanted to feel happy again. Feeling sad on occasion was just part of the price to pay in order to feel happy. I don't like the idea of an emotional roller coaster. I know some people that swing from extreme to extreme, and I've heard of those who are basically emotion junkies. And I'm not talking about any of that. I just feel happy in a general sort of way, with moments of elation and joy, and, fortunately rare, moments of sadness. Every couple of years I go through a depressive stage, but then I pull back out of it again. To me, depression is not a "normal" state to be in. Like my moments of sadness, it's something I have to occasionally go through, but those moments are like islands dotting a mostly placid but occasionally excitingly active, sea of happiness. I'm not sure I could answer definitively about whether the chicken or the egg came first here, but I believe following my passions and allowing myself the opportunity to express and feel my sadness or anger in a controlled manner, are what cause me to be happy in life. It could be that I have a "happy nature" and that's what gives me passions in the first place, or makes me seek out these outlets for my anger or sadness to expunge them. But when I'm feeling down, if I can somehow find the motivation to get out and dance, or take my camera somewhere new, or get inspired by a new costume design, then my depression or anger or sadness usually lifts. So I *think* the causal relationship goes the other way and it's that my happiness is caused by the things I do.
At any rate, I've found it to be a self-perpetuating cycle. The more I dance, the happier I get. The happier I am, the more I want to dance. Same with work, same with costuming, same with photography, same with picking up some new skill or hobby even if that particular one turns out to be a phase that I drop later and never get back to. Work is where I feel most like "me", where the most number of facets of my personality get to shine at once. Dancing and my other hobbies are opportunities to focus on a single facet at a time; to really give each facet some undivided attention and undiluted expression. Sometimes, that hobby is pure emotional expression, like dancing. I was told not too long ago that he was sorry for staring, but even though he was surrounded by dancers, many in much less clothing than I, he couldn't help watching me dance. I hadn't ever been told that before. I've been told that people enjoy dancing with me, or they are impressed when I do a structured dance that they don't know, like swing or Bollywood, but not that my dancing was so sexy and beautiful that he couldn't help but stare. And he wasn't hitting on me. When he mistook my enthusiasm for dancing with him as a more personal interest, he was quick to back up and tell me that he was in a monogamous relationship. He just genuinely felt drawn to me when I danced and was willing to tell me. I know I'm only a mediocre or intermediate dancer, and that's OK. I dance for myself, for the sheer joy of feeling my body move. I dance as though my body was an instrument to join in the song.
And I think that's what people see when they say they like to watch me dance, because my technical skills are, well, they're above average but not particularly exceptional. Because that's what I see when I feel compelled to watch someone do what they love. I once watched an artist while he sketched me. There was something in his expression, something I can't define, that changed everything about him. When he concentrated on turning the visual signals he received from looking at a subject to a physical representation on paper, he was pursuing his passion. And it showed on his face, and it made him compelling. I think I almost fell in love just a little with him right there because of that expression.
My high school sweetheart is a performer. He is never better than when he is performing. He is always amazing. His passion for his art is one of the reasons I fell in love with him in high school and one of the reasons I continue to love him to this day, even though we are no longer romantic and not even the slightest bit romantically compatible. Back before I realized my stalker was, in fact, a stalker with Nice Guy Syndrome, back when he was just my best friend, I would sit at his feet or hours and watch him play music. His preferred instrument at that time was guitar, but he could play anything except piano (for some reason, he couldn't put the two hands of a song together on a piano). He put his soul into his music. I loved another guitarist too. He was blind, and he interpreted the world primarily through touch and sound. Which meant that his playing was exceptional because it was the very essence of how he experienced life. Not coincidentally, I met him at the same time that I met my high school sweetheart. In fact, my first introduction to them was the guitarist playing accompaniment to the performer singing. Two such passionate boys expressing themselves through their passion - it's no wonder I could never really choose between them, and it was only circumstance that kept my relationships with them separated by a decade. tacit
is passionate about life itself, and consequently is one of the 3 or 4 happiest people I have ever known. My Darling Boy also has many passions and is one of those people whose very presence in a room make it seem brighter, as though the sun through the window just came out from behind a cloud at the moment he walked in. He's passionate about flying (he's a chopper pilot) and rigging and music and, like tacit
, about life itself.
I surround myself with passionate men - men who are intensely, maybe in some cases obsessively, interested in something that makes them happy to experience. I find this trait to be more compelling in a person than any other trait. It might not be sufficient, on its own, to sustain a meaningful relationship with that person, but being passionate about something is a necessary element to being able to love them, for me. That's the best thing that anyone can do to attract a romantic partner, or even friends, y'know - be passionate about something. People who do interesting things are interesting people, and others are attracted to interesting people. It doesn't work if you just try to do something with the goal of attracting a mate. You have to actually feel passionate about that thing, and your passion will make you attractive - far more attractive than any nice clothing or nice car or slick pick-up line will make you, and it'll last longer than a superficial sheen's attractiveness too.
So, if you're still searching for the meaning of life and how to be happy or make your life look the way you want it to look when it doesn't, that's what I suggest you try. It may not work for you. Unlike those self-help books like "7 Tips Of Successful People" or whatever that try to boil life down into a series of steps guaranteed to make you rich, good looking, and happy, I'm not saying that my method will work for everyone. But if you don't know where to even start looking, I think these two things are good to try. Find something to feel passionate about and pursue it, and find an outlet and allow yourself to express the negative emotions every so often. I'm not saying to revel in sadness or self-pity or anger. I'm saying that repression of negative emotion may result in a difficulty or inability to also experience those strong positive emotions that are necessary for passion and happiness.
You may need to learn how to feel sadness or fear or anger, and consequently how to manage and get through it, before you can feel passionate about something else. A lot of people try to manage their bad feelings by orchestrating their lives largely to avoid feeling bad feelings. Then, when something inevitable comes along to make them feel bad, they lack the familiarity to recognize the early warning signs and the tools to manage it productively. This can spiral, I think, into a never-ending cycle of always feeling bad and not knowing how to feel happy anymore.tacit
says that life rewards the path of greater courage. I think that's essentially what I'm trying to do with my two happiness tips. I'm certainly not claiming to never fail or fall off the path. But I think it takes courage to feel bad and to get my hands right up in those bad feelings like mixing bread dough and really examine those feelings and deal with them. And I think it takes courage to leap head-first into an endeavor, which is what I feel that "passion" is - feeling so strongly about something that I just leap into it, giving myself over to the creative process and rolling around in the joy of creating. Passion, even though it's a positive emotion, can be scary. It can put us in a place of vulnerability. It can leave us open to criticism, condemnation, mocking, and separation. You have to really put yourself into whatever you're passionate about, and a negative reaction about what you're doing can feel like the most intimate, fatal, of attacks. But being passionate about something, at least for me, means that I can't help but to leap into it.
So I think my reward for pursuing my passions and for exploring and expressing the negative emotions is that I feel that I am generally happy with life. I am rarely without romantic or sexual partners, except by choice, I often have a handful of people I can count on to be there for me when I need someone, and I enjoy life even when others might look at my situation and think it looks hard or uncomfortable. My life, overall - the big picture - looks mostly like it does because of deliberate choices I made to make it look this way. I'm not "lucky" to have multiple partners, or to have any specific partner. I have these relationships because I arranged my life in such a way as to make these relationships possible. I'm not "lucky" to be working my dream job. I made choices that allowed me to pursue my dream job, and those choices have had some consequences and drawbacks that are part of it. You can zoom in on any part of my life or history and find low spots or difficult spots or places where I didn't make the best choice in hindsight. But when I pull back and look at my life as a whole, I'm generally happy with it, and the places on the timeline where I'm the most happiest are the places where I expressed my two tips the best. I don't think that's a coincidence.
OTG YES! Dirty Dancing is such a complex, multi-layered piece of art that had such a huge impact on me and several facets of my various world-views that it's hard for me to emphasize its importance enough. This article only addresses 4 points, but I think that's just a starting point, although a very strong starting point. The article covers having an awkward heroine who never turns into the "beautiful, popular girl" to win the guy, having a "hot guy" like the awkward heroine for who she is as a person without being blind to her until that magical "ugly duckling" transformation, giving "the sheltered 17-year-old all the sexual agency", class politics, and illegal abortion. Set in 1963.
It's not a "chick flick" or a rom-com, or even your typical "coming of age" story. It's a sociopolitical commentary on class struggles, women's rights, sexual agency, gender relations, communication, trust, and personal growth. Baby remains one of my all-time epitomal characters that helped to define who I am, and Johnny remains the ideal romantic partner to whom I compare all my potential partners. It's not just because he has a nice ass and abs, it's because of his integrity, his character, his personal struggles, and his values.
Dancing, to me, is not just a fun physical activity. It is a vehicle through which we can achieve personal growth and relationship enhancement, as well as a story-telling device that we can use to address controversial and taboo subjects. And this movie combines everything that I find valuable about dance - the fun, the storytelling, the catalyst for growth, the beauty, the pain, the personal expression. I don't think it's even possible to truly "get" me without understanding this movie. That doesn't mean that you have to have watched it in order to get me, but that you would have to be the kind of person who *would* understand this movie if you saw it in order to understand who I am as a person. But watching it helps.
Maybe, in my copious free time that isn't today, I'll write my own full post enumerating the points and analyzing the movie the way the article does.
One of the more common topic discussions in poly circles is how to "convert" someone to polyamory. The vast majority of poly veterans will tell you that you can't "convert" someone, you can only offer polyamory as an alternative, explain what it is, and let them decide if they want to try it or not. We all know the experience of banging our heads against a brick wall trying to "change" someone into being the person we think they ought to be. It's an exercise in frustration, pain, and heartache ... on both sides. But more than just being a pain in the ass to drag someone, kicking and screaming, into a poly relationship, I think it's inherently a devaluing and dismissive perspective.
There seems to be this either/or false dichotomy thing happening every time the subject of "conversion" comes up. I usually see only 2 options being presented: 1) "explain" polyamory to people who don't get it; 2) "convert" people who aren't poly into being poly *with you*. Very few people seem to have any motivation to "convert" people to being polyamorous whom they have no personal interest in dating. The first option, I have no problem with. In fact, I'm a pretty strong advocate of the first option. The second option seems to have the underlying assumption that if one falls in love with a mono person, one must necessarily change that person into a poly person because the only option is to date them.
*That's* the part I'm having a problem with. One of the things that I dislike about monogamous culture is the devaluing of all relationships that aren't on-the-way-to-marriage-romantic-relation
ships. If you're not on that "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage" track, that relationship doesn't "count" or is less or something. That very idea is exactly why I'm poly in the first place. I'm seeing that same sentiment in poly circles every time the subject of "conversion" comes up.tacit
says "it's possible to really and truly love someone and still not make a good partner for them." I've seen more unnecessary heartache from people trying to force their relationships into something it doesn't want to be, than from any other thing that people do to each other in romantic relationships. It is inherently disrespectful, which, IMO, is incompatible with "love".
If you want to explain polyamory to people so that they'll understand you and who you are, great. I'm all for that. I expend a great deal of my time and efforts doing just that. If you meet someone who has never heard of polyamory but, after learning about it from you, thinks it's something he wants to give a try even though it might be hard work on his part, great. I support people exploring themselves and challenging their assumptions.
But I do not agree with the idea that we have to date everyone we take a fancy to just because we fancy them, I do not agree with the idea that when we love someone, there is only one kind of relationship we absolutely must have with them or else we'll die of longing, and I do not agree with trying to date someone who *fundamentally* wants a different relationship than you are willing to offer. I don't agree when monogamous people date polys for the purpose of trying to convert us back to monogamy (cowboys) and I don't agree when we do it to them. We do not have to force everyone we like into a relationship that doesn't fit them, i.e. a romantic relationship.
Turn the scenario around. How many of you, who see nothing wrong with using your infatuation with someone to justify trying to shoehorn them into a relationship that you want, but they don't, how many of you would feel totally OK with a monogamous person trying to do it to you? How many of you do NOT think "it's just a phase, eventually you'll realize that I'm enough for you and that I'm The One" is disrespecting or dismissing your poly nature and your own desires for what you want out of a relationship (remember, the assumption is that you *inherently* want polyamory, not that you can do either/or - if you could be happy with either, then you are not equivalent to the issue at hand)? I would posit that those who are both OK with trying to remake their partners into their own ideal image of a poly person and who also have no problem with their partners trying to remake them into the ideal monogamous person have some serious problems with identity or self-esteem or insecurity - problems that are too big for me to address in a LJ post or comments thread. I would also posit that such a relationship would be fundamentally combative and contentious. I would then further suggest that those are people whose ideas for relationships are not people we should be heeding if we want healthy relationships.
If you truly value them as a person, then find a relationship that FITS. If that means you have to be friends with someone because they are neato but not poly, then maybe they'll change their minds after a few years of observing how well poly works for you, but at least you won't be playing Pygmalion and doing the bullshit "I love everything about you, now change the very core of who you are for me" game. I hate it when monogamists do it to each other, I hate it when women do it to men, I hate it when men do it to women, I hate it when monogamists try to do it to polys, and I hate it when polys try to do it to monos.
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DATE EVERYONE YOU FIND ATTRACTIVE, and I would suggest that attempting to do so would fall under a pathology, similar to believing you have to date everyone who is interested in you. Explain, offer resources, assist when assistance is requested. But don't try to *change* someone unless they have specifically asked for your help in changing. I'm hard-pressed to come up with anything more disrespectful and devaluing than trying to "change" or "fix" someone who isn't actively involved in their own self-growth process, short of actual abuse.
Show people a possible path, and let them stroll down it, or not, as they see fit. Hand them a water bottle, recommend a good pair of walking shoes, suggest a walking stick, but don't stick a gun in their back and tell them that they must go down that path because that's the path you're on, and YOU want them to walk with you. That's not a companion, that's a hostage.
"I acknowledge that my white privilege has meant that I’ve been given hella opportunities, and am now in a privileged position to be able to sit here and write these ideas. But part of dealing with privilege is working actively to dismantle it. If I didn’t use my strange combination of oppression and privilege to openly question, critique, and start conversations, I’d just be playing into the system that benefits from Native subjugation and white privilege–and that would be something to be concerned about." - http://nativeappropriations.com/2012/07/real-indians-dont-care-about-tonto.html
Replace the word "Native" in the last sentence with any subjegated, oppressed, or discriminated group, and the word "white" with any majority or otherwise privileged group, and this is exactly my position on activism and why I'm "out" as all the minority groups that make me who I am and why I open myself up to criticism and discrimination by claiming those labels and being public about them and talking about them in spite of my natural tendency towards privacy.
Privilege and oppression are rarely binary states. There's a whole field of study on intersectionality, but when trying to introduce or explain the concept of privilege to someone who has it or doesn't get it, we usually reduce it to people who have it and people who don't, for simplicity even though the reality is that almost everyone has some of each. But I can use my privilege to support and assist those of less privilege, including myself. My white-ness and educated status can help my poly, atheist, and female status while my poly, atheist, female, and Latina statuses can all inform the direction my privilege should take in helping.
We are not a nation of Privileged People at the top of a mountain and Oppressed People all at the bottom, with every Privileged Person having an equal panoramic view and every Oppressed Person being buried under the same size rocks that come crashing down, dislodged from the uncaring feet of the Privileged at the top. We are people, in various places along the mountainside, some with easier paths than others, some higher up than others, and all with the opportunity to reach down a helping hand to those below or on rockier paths, while at the same time accepting those helping hands from above or suffering on our own paths while those above refuse to look down and assist, maybe even kicking a few boulders onto our path for good measure.
So, where my path is secure, strong, stable, I'll reach out my hand or lower a rope to help those who need it. Where my path is rocky, tenuous, slippery, I'll call out for a safety line from those above or for someone below to catch me if I fall. Even if they're technically below me, their path might, at this point in time, be more stable than mine, and we can help each other.
Privilege does not make you a bad person, nor does it mean that you never suffer. It means you are part of a group that has been given SYSTEMIC assistance in making life easier, even if you, personally, didn't get a hand on that rope. Maybe no one lowered down a rope to your path when it got rocky, but someone built the path there for you in the first place, for instance. It also means that you have a stable part of the path that you can use to help someone else up. It also means, in my opinion, that you have a responsibility to use that stable part of the path to help someone else up. As someone who also has rocky portions of the path, that ought to make you more sympathetic to the people below who need your help, not less.
Seriously, people, you have GOT to let people get out of discussions (i.e. arguments) when they become too emotional to be productive. Even better, let them get out before they become too emotional if either of you can see the warning signs. If they're not the type to recognize that they've lost too much control to be effective, then you may have to request that they take a break for them.
There's this weird fetishization of "communication". I put that in quotes because, in this context, it's not used in the sense that I usually use that word. To me, communication is an exchange of ideas, or, if not an exchange in two directions, at least the ideas flow in one direction and are actually received. To me, communication does not include one person talking to oneself, two people shouting at each other and not listening or "hearing" each other, or anyone shouting at what amounts to a brick wall. Nor does it include someone spouting gibberish or obscenities with no real content (as I have been known to do).
No, to me, communicating means that the ideas shared are actually shared, implying that there is someone on the receiving end actually getting the signal. So when it is no longer possible to share those ideas - when someone is no longer either transmitting clearly or receiving clearly and/or there is no attempt to discuss or debate in good faith, then there is no more communication happening. Insisting that the two sides remain locked in combat with each other past that point is not advocating communication.
I'm all for communication. Hell, I give workshops and private unofficial "counseling" sessions exploring alternate ways of communicating to improve relationships. But I do not agree with this "communicating" that means "talking at each other regardless of how each participant feels during the discussion and insisting that the talking continue indefinitely while accusing any attempt to end the talking as being censorship, silencing tactics, or blocking communication". Bonus points if you can accuse the person trying to end the talking of being a hypocrite for claiming to advocate communication but not wanting to talk about this *right now*, for insisting that the other person "teach" you why what you did was so wrong *right now*, or for using their own emotional state as a weapon against them, discrediting them and their position simply for their inability to keep their cool.
I get it, it's frustrating to be trying to express yourself and have the other person just end the discussion, without letting you get in the last word or to "be heard". But keeping that other person there is not the way to accomplish that goal. However, neither is ending a discussion at this point "censorship", "silencing", or a position against communication. In many cases, ending a discussion before it becomes contentious and tabling it for better circumstances is one method for salvaging the communication.
Often, when a person has reached the point that they are no longer able to communicate effectively (hang on here, I'm going to get complex), they have reached the point that they are no longer able to communicate effectively. Whoa, mind blown, right? This means that they may not be able to explain why they're so angry, or to patiently and calmly explain that they need some time apart to compose themselves and come back to the discussion later. They are angry, upset, hurt, emotional. So their request for time off may similarly be angry, upset, hurt, or emotional. At this point, stopping whatever is hurting them is the primary objective. It is not reasonable to expect them to be compassionate, respectful, articulate, or willing to teach you all about their emotional responses in a tone that panders to your own issues.
If someone needs to stop, just fucking stop. Recognize that they are upset and let it the-fuck go. Sometime later, you can ask them to explain what happened and how you can work with them to avoid a repeat performance. Sometime later you can explain that their reaction to stress is hurtful to you and you want to find a compromise between their need for space and your desire not to be hurt by their need for space. Sometime later you can address if this seems to be a pattern and what that means.
Get your head out of your ass and let go of your own inflated sense of self-importance and look at what's happening. Supposedly, you're the rational one here, right? I mean, you're not the one throwing the temper tantrum and storming off in a huff, so that must mean you're the rational one, yes? Someone is hurting and someone is acting out in their pain. And if you're not actually causing it, you're at least in the position to be perceived as having caused it, or contributed to it. So take a fucking step back and let the other person breathe. Give them the space necessary to calm down and come back around in a more rational frame of mind. Perpetuating the cycle will not achieve communication, no matter how much longer you manage to bully them into continuing the talking (or shouting).
Some things that can increase the odds of reaching this non-productive state are:
- Starting the argument late at night or keeping someone up past their natural (or necessary) bedtime to talk about distressing subjects.
- Starting the discussion or argument before they have to leave for another obligation, such as work, where they have to either choose to be late or end the discussion before you're ready to end it (and whatever consequences you might apply for doing so).
- Starting the discussion when hungry or not breaking for food when they become hungry.
- Starting or continuing the argument/discussion in front of other people where they might become embarrassed on top of whatever other emotional reaction they have to the topic, or where they might not feel free to express their thoughts as necessary.
- Having the argument in a place where they feel trapped, like a moving vehicle or at work where they can't leave or out someplace where you are sharing transportation and they can't easily leave.
- Threatening them with dire consequences if they don't want to have the argument/discussion at the time of your choosing, such as breaking up, destroying property, withholding favors, restricting access to other people, pets, or things, etc.
- Using a medium to communicate that they feel discomfort using or they have difficulty expressing themselves clearly using, like insisting on email when they express themselves better verbally.
I'm sure there are more, but I see these play out over and over again. In fact, I have personally been subjected to each of these on more than one occasion, even after I have clearly expressed my opinions on the subject. I once had someone start an intense discussion with me after I explicitly said I didn't want to talk about it because I had to go to bed soon and I had to wake up early, looking "fresh" and rested. I had a partner who repeatedly picked fights with me at work no matter how often I told him to leave the personal shit for home and I actually had to request to be scheduled on different gigs even after we broke up. My second fiance would molest me while I was sleeping and then threaten to break my possessions if I got pissed at him and tried to go sleep on the couch (wish I had known he would do this before I agreed to marry him!). My mother once kept pushing me on the subject of my Catholic Confirmation ceremony when I was in the car and I couldn't escape her screaming at me when I finally told her I was atheist so I couldn't go through the ceremony and would she please drop the subject? I once had a partner insist on having a very difficult conversation through email after I had made it clear on several occasions that I felt more comfortable expressing myself verbally because I felt that we both misunderstood intent when we communicated with each other through text.
I could go on but the point is that these are terrible things to do to someone. I've never read the book Emotional Blackmail, but I'd be willing to bet money that at least some of these tactics are mentioned in it somewhere, or in some book about emotional abuse. Keeping people from sleeping & eating properly while bombarding them with a particular message is a standard "brainwashing"* technique even. The reason why I have such an explosive temper is because I'm sick of people doing these things to me and I'm sick of then being blamed for the demise of the discussion when they've done it and I'm really sick of not even being allowed to do what is necessary to get back under control, so people can then continue to blame me for not "communicating".
I recognize that I have lost control and I'm taking responsibility for that by altering my circumstances such that I can regain control and become productive again. So let me do that and don't belittle me for it. Let me gain some perspective and some composure. Let anyone who who has lost control gain some perspective and some composure, especially if they clearly communicate that they need it (even if you don't like the tone they use when they express their desire). If they don't know themselves well enough to request it on their own, then you suggest to them that a break might be necessary. You might actually gain their respect and speed along their composure if you can acknowledge their efforts to get back on track, rather than faulting them for not subjecting themselves to your power trip.
*I put "brainwashing" in quotes because I'm aware of some of the controversy on the effectiveness of brainwashing & brainwashing reversal and I don't want to get into a debate about it. The point is that this is a technique people use when they are deliberately trying to indoctrinate someone against their will or to subvert their better judgement. Using these techniques during a discussion or argument where each person is supposed to retain their own agency is inconsiderate at best, unethical and cruel at worst.
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Three/60030021 - Netflix
http://www.amazon.com/Three/dp/B004VZWE4A - Amazon
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0169320/ - IMDB
There are several movies by this name. Every time someone recommends a movie to me called Three, I go to look for it on Netflix and half a dozen movies pop up, and I can't tell which one is which. So it wasn't until about 10 minutes in that I realized I had already watched this movie. But I haven't reviewed it yet, so I guess it wasn't a total waste of an hour and a half.
I'll be honest, from the Netflix description, I didn't have high hopes for this movie. The very summary makes it sound like a torn-between-two-lovers-and-forced-to-make-a-choice movie. And that's what it was. But the title screen on the DVD is incredibly misleading. It shows a FMF threesome that never happens in the movie.
The movie was interesting, and it certainly had a lot to say on the subject of homosexuality and coming out, so I might recommend it on that basis. But it wasn't poly. Tito and Elsie are unhappily married. Tito is an arrogant, entitled, selfish asshole and Elsie is incredibly fearful - she moves through life on the path of least courage. Tito is screwing a collegue, Susan, who is desperately trying to steal Tito away from Elsie, even though Tito has never given her any reason to think he would leave his wife (I think he's getting off on the idea of cheating even more than the sex itself, and leaving his wife for her would take that away).
Before Elsie married Tito (at her mother's insistence), she had a secret lesbian relationship with Alice, the "tomboy" next door. Elsie couldn't handle the idea of her mother finding out or experiencing any sort of cultural shame for being gay, so she bowed to pressure and broke up with Susan and married Tito.
But Alice has cancer and wants Elsie back - not just because she wants her hot lovin' but because Alice very strongly believes in personal authenticity and coming out and being true to oneself. She worries that Elsie will never come out and will continue to live a lie, unhappy in her marriage until she dies, if Susan doesn't inspire her to be more courageous.
But, just to add another layer of complexity, Susan has been living with another lover (whose name I never caught) who stays with her through everything, caring for her, giving her the shots & IV drips, even being with her on her deathbed and yet is tossed aside as soon as Elsie walks in the door. When Elsie leaves her husband for Alice, she manages to live with Alice and her now-former lover for 9 months before even bothering to ask the lover who she is to Alice or what their relationship was before she came along.
So, there's no polyamory happening here. Tito cheats on his wife. His wife leaves him for her ex-girlfriend. The ex-girlfriend dumps her own partner to get back together with the wife. Everyone is contemptuous and disrespectful to the poor ex-lover still living in the house, caring for her terminally sick love.
And the story is told from her point of view.
There were some really interesting bits about Tito getting over his homophobia, coming out to Elsie's mother, raising a child in a gay community, parents who don't love each other trying to co-parent and live together, courage, fear, and personal growth. Anyone interested in movies on these kinds of subjects might want to check out this movie.
But I didn't like any of the characters, and as regular readers of my LJ might know by now, if I can't empathize with the characters, then I have trouble enjoying the story. At least this time there was a reason for putting together the main couple when they didn't actually like each other. Usually movies do that and expect us to just accept that they're in a happy relationship that we should be rooting for (or that they're not currently in a romantic relationship but that we should be hoping that they get into one in spite of not liking each other). So I didn't have any trouble wondering why they were together since they didn't like each other. I just thought that everyone did really stupid things and it was completely obvious to me why everyone was unhappy. Somehow, that made it much easier to sit through than movies that give happy endings to people who totally fuck up their own lives or who villify or sacrifice those who do something contrary when they should have been happy.
A woman got an email from a guy on a dating website. It was a classic piece of shit - overly-flirtatious, too complimentary, obviously didn't read the profile because there was nothing specific, and creepy in an over-sharing, too-familiar-too-soon way. Naturally, she posted the email online.
Another woman saw the post and recognized it as the exact same one she received from the same guy. Now we all know that guy is writing form letters and we're all mocking him for being insincere and inconsiderate.
Guys, take note: when you send a form letter (and believe me, we can tell it's a form letter) and when you ignore the profile, not only do you come across as creepy, but you get made fun of by the women you're hoping to attract. It's in your best interest to learn how to be sincere and considerate in your first-contact emails.
When you do something rude (like these kinds of first-contact emails), the girls are not the bad guys for mocking you. That's the consequence that you get for being rude first. We are under no obligation to be nice to people who disrespect us first.
I really like all those "evolution of music" compliations and medleys, but I'd really like to see someone really treat it as "evolution" and do a true taxonomical tree, with branches and diversions and divergent musical "species" that merge a few generations later and lines that die off.
It's one of the reasons why I feel frustration when people say they hate a certain category of music when they like a related category, or long for the "good ol' days" of music before "today's kids" started producing such "crap". Many people tend to ignore the interconnectedness of music, the complex musical influences of past generations on the current generation, and they like to oversimplify and box in musical genres when the reality is that it's more of a fuzzy, blended pool with every genre being a "transitional genre" to some other genre and not a "finished" genre, complete and isolated all by itself.
My sister used to give me a lot of crap for liking country music. Then, in her late teens, she started listening to Dixie Chicks. I asked her how she reconciled her hate of country with her love of the Chicks. She said it's because they didn't sound like "country". I pointed out that they're actually a bluegrass band with rock influences, so they're actually more "country" than the country pop of either then-current Faith Hill, '70s classic Kenny Rogers, or even the twangy country of the '50s back when rock & country were so closely related, they had such cross-over superstars as Elvis Presley.
I'm not telling anyone what they should or shouldn't *like*. I'm just saying that music is incredibly rich and diverse and is influenced by a lot of other styles that a lot of people ignore and dismiss in their disdain for whatever style of music isn't the style they prefer. And I think people might enjoy their preferred musical style even more if they had a better understanding of that complexity and diversity in their music, even if they never learn to appreciate those styles they say they dislike.
I appreciate all the ways that technology has made our lives easier, safer, all-around-better. But there are some social trends that have resulted from some technologies that I'm really not a fan of. The cell phone is my main bugaboo.
I've never liked cell phones. Oh, don't get me wrong, I find them terribly convenient. Being able to call my boss when I'm stuck in traffic to say I'm running late has been awesome. Sending a text to find someone at a theme park when we otherwise would have wandered around for hours and *still* may never have found each other - wonderful. Getting a short message in the middle of the day from my sweetie to say he's thinking of me can often make my day. I still don't like cell phones.
The problem I have with cell phones is the immediacy of them and what that does to the people around me. Because everything and everyone is available right now and right here, I find I have a strong dislike of cell phones, primarily because of what they represent.
First is getting people to stay present with me. Thanks to smartphones, everyone around me is constantly tweeting and facebooking and googling all the time. It was bad enough when the phone could ring at any time. Then it got worse when text messages started getting sent all the time and no one could resist checking their text messages and immediately responding. But now with smartphones, it seems as though I can't have a one-on-one conversation with someone without them being distracted by the internet. I don't mean the occasional looking up a fact in question during a conversation - I actually kind of like that. I mean sitting across the table from someone, looking them in the eye, talking to them, and having the conversation interrupted because a text, then a tweet, then a Facebook update, then another tweet, then a slew of texts, then a need to post a picture RIGHT NOW about the food on the table, all happen and the conversation is lost. Nobody is really present anymore. I miss that contact. I miss that kind of contact so much that I find myself becoming very resentful of my partners' phones. I try to cover it by always carrying a book with me, so that I can at least have something of my own to do when they are no longer being present with me. But it irritates me all the same. If I had wanted to read, I would have stayed home and read. The book is just to keep me from staring off into space when my companion finds something else more interesting than me.
The other thing is the expectation that comes with all this availability. When I was in high school (the last time average people weren't easily reached, before even pagers became popular), people had to call the house. If you weren't home, they left a message on your answering machine, and then they waited for you to call them back. Leaving multiple messages in a short span of time was considered very rude. Then I convinced my mom to let me have a pager. I wanted one so my boyfriend could send me numeric messages while I was at school, but I convinced my mom by telling her she could reach *me* when I was out with my friends. So she would page me in the middle of the night to find out where I was. And then she would page me again. And again. And again. I had to explain to her that she needed to give me a minimum of 30 minutes to answer a page because I could be on the road. 30 minutes was the average time to get anywhere in my hometown. If my mom didn't give me time to arrive at my destination, then I would have to pull over and try to find a payphone. Since she was paging me late at night, that meant being a teenage girl getting out of the car at some gas station in the middle of the night - the exact kind of situation my mother was worried about that finally convinced her that me having a pager was a good idea in the first place.
This is the sort of thing I see now, only it's not restricted to worried calls from my mother. If I don't answer an email fast enough, if I don't respond to a Facebook post fast enough, if I don't answer a tweet, if I don't respond to a text in an amount of time that the other person thinks is "appropriate", people get really testy about that. Never mind that I could be hanging from a steel beam holding something very heavy over other people's heads. Never mind that I could actually be out of the house and my computer is still at home and still logged on. Never mind that I could be having one of those intimate conversations where I'm trying to give someone my undivided attention. Never mind that I could be sleeping, or showering, or fucking, or pooping. I have to respond RIGHT NOW.
I'm waiting for some repairs to happen in my bathroom. It will take my shower offline for 3 days, so I've requested that the repairman schedule the repairs so that I can make alternative accommodations for this. Last week, the repairman showed up at my house first thing in the morning. I was still sleeping, having had a late night and still having company. So I didn't answer the door (I didn't know it was the repairman at the time). About an hour later, while I was occupied, there was another knock at the door. 20 minutes after that, I got a phone call that I let go to voicemail from the building manager telling me they wanted to schedule the repairs. 5 minutes after that, my dad texted me, asking if I was OK. Since it was my dad, I texted back that I was fine, and he said that the landlord had called the emergency number to find out where I was. Then I got in the shower. Then there was another knock at the door while I was in the shower (the shower window, by the way, is on the same wall as the door and since the window was open, anyone at my door could tell I was in the shower). Then my dad texted again that the landlord called back!
A mere 2 hours after the first knock, when I was awake and dressed and ready to deal with business matters, I finally called the landlord and chewed her out for coming by a total of 4 times, calling 3 times, and calling my dad twice, all without previously scheduling the repairs as requested. This is what I'm talking about. People expect other people to be available all the time, even without making any arrangements for it. I have an OKC inbox filled with first-contact emails and a second, follow-up email of guys pissed off or hurt that I haven't responded to them. No "I'm sure you're probably busy", no "is everything OK?" - it's all "fine, I can take a hint, the least you could do is tell me that you're not interested and not just ignore me!" Entitlement.
You are not entitled to my response. You are not entitled to my availability. Also, there is nothing about me that is passive-aggressive and even a cursory look at my profile would tell those guys that if I wasn't interested, I wouldn't just *ignore* him. Plus, if I was ignoring him, whining about it isn't likely to end well regardless.
The latest incident was an ex-mistake of mine. I call him my stalker, and it's a long and convoluted story how a stalker is also an ex. The "short" story is that we've known each other since we were 12 and he decided the moment I walked in the classroom door that I would be the girl he married. He spent the next decade putting himself in the friendzone, i.e. a friend with ulterior motives. He was my friend for the purpose of getting close to me in the hopes that I would one day realize that he was my soulmate. I didn't know this at the time. This is the antithesis of being a nice guy, although every single guy who does this calls himself a Nice Guy for doing it. He tried every juvenile trick in the book to get me to date him. Eventually, in college, I did date him, and very quickly learned what a bad idea that was. After we broke up, he put himself back in the friendzone. I genuinely prefer to be friends, or at least friendly, with my exes if we broke up simply because we were incompatible & not because he did something unforgivable, so I didn't see a problem with him trying to be friends with me ... at the time. That took me another 6 years to learn.
By that point, I had discovered polyamory and had moved across the country, so my interaction with him was limited to phone calls. We'd have very pleasant multi-hour-long conversations, until he'd point out how well we were getting along and wasn't that enough proof that we were destined to be together? We'd have an argument, and I mean an ARGUMENT complete with shouting where he tried to convince me that we were two halves of the same whole, that I was doing this poly thing only because I was still searching for Mr. Right and I should stop searching because he was right there and I would yell back that I was not interested, that I loved my then-boyfriends, that I was not happy being monogamous, and that our dating was a mistake I never wanted to repeat.
This is more backstory than necessary (and yet only a fraction of the story), but the point is that I spent the majority of my life being hounded by this guy to marry him (complete with him sabotaging the condoms in the hopes that I'd get pregnant, as I learned later) and yelling at him that I didn't want to be with him. I had finally had enough. In a phone conversation while I was at my then-boyfriend's house (so I have a witness to it), my stalker started in again on being soulmates and I told him that I was never going to have that argument again. I told him that I was not going to contact him ever again, and he could not contact me unless he could refrain from starting that argument, and if he ever DID bring it up again, I was going to change my number so he couldn't ever call me again.
About 6 years has passed and I have not contacted him. He has sent me 2 emails and friended me on Facebook (but not actually contacted me there). The first email was an essay he wrote for his creative writing class where he described our 2-decade relationship from his perspective. I've written about that before and how shocked I was to learn that someone who had known me for years & claimed to love me could know me so little (he still believed that my poly relationships were casual sex and that I only did poly because I was "promiscuous" and wanted to have lots of sex with lots of guys ... how he could miss my regular months-long spans of no sex drive is beyond me, but I digress). His second email was to tell me that his brother had been convicted of murdering his own wife & child, and how my stalker felt his life was falling apart. That's another long story I won't go into here, but let's just say I wasn't the least bit surprised to hear the news. For both emails, I did not respond, since he explicitly said "you don't have to respond, I just need someone to listen". He then promptly emailed me back after both to whine about getting "the hint" from my silence. Both of those I responded in the same way, to remind him of our last conversation and that he said I didn't have to respond.
Yesterday, after I had publicly posted on my timeline that I was unplugging for a while to go be productive, he sent me a message on Facebook. Naturally, I didn't respond, as I had walked away from my computer. He sent me 2 more passive-aggressive messages about getting "the hint" from my not responding. I got the messages this morning and sent him yet another reminder that I wasn't interested in speaking to him, however my "silence" was because I was not at my computer and that I didn't owe him a response according to his time table. It's a funny little quirk I have, not prioritizing responses to guys who treat me as an object, who put me on a pedestal and ignore my own wishes for my life, and who think that arguing with me about dating is a good strategy for winning me over.
So, I am increasingly disturbed by the sense of entitlement people seem to have over other people's time. Maybe people always felt that entitled and the cell phones are merely a new tool to facilitate that entitlement, and I shouldn't blame the cell phone or turn it into a symbol of that entitlement. All I know is that people seem to demand other people's attention, and other people's responses, and any irritation at being so demanded is met with a counter accusation that it's somehow the other person's fault for not being available and the other person is an asshole for having a problem with the demand. It feels as though nothing can wait for more convenient times, everything has to be done now and if you don't want to do it now or, Zeus forbid, you're busy with something else, well then you're a jerk. If you don't want to answer your phone because you're at work, or otherwise occupied with someone else, you're a dick. If you want your partner to actually finish the conversation, or the date, before surfing Facebook, you're selfish. If you dare to walk away from the computer while it's still logged on to email or social networking sites, you're inconsiderate. And if you have the nerve to actually tell people that you have other things to do and can't respond right away, then somehow you are the self-centered prick who thinks the world revolves around you.
So if I don't respond to something you've said to me, or emailed me, or posted to me, or texted me, or called me, it's because I'm fucking busy with other things to do. I'll get to you when I get to you, as I expect you would for me. If what I'm contacting you about is urgent, I'll make sure you know it's urgent. Otherwise, if you don't answer me back, I'll assume that sitting with your phone in your hands waiting for my message was not at the top of your priority list and something else was, something like eating, or sleeping, or any of the dozens of people in your life who are closer to you than I am, or work, or pets, or an emergency, or it was a pretty day outside so you just left the damn phone in your pocket for a while, and NOT that you're sending me some coded signal that you don't like me. Whatever, respond when you have the time and if you feel like it. You don't owe your time to me, but I'll appreciate whatever time of yours you're willing and able to share with me.
There's this other thing that people are doing lately. Maybe they've always done this, I don't know, but my memories tell me that, "in the good ol' days", when someone said "I'm getting angry, drop the subject", people used to actually drop the subject if they genuinely didn't want to make the other person angry because they cared that someone was not happy and that they were contributing to that unhappiness. When someone said "this is upsetting me, stop doing it", people either used to care that they were upsetting someone and would stop doing it, or they were trying to upset someone, so would keep doing it.
But lately, when I've said "don't push me on that" or "drop the sujbect" or "I'm getting pissed off so stop", the reaction I'm getting is not "sorry, I didn't want to actually make you angry, I just wanted to converse on this subject, I'll let it go now". No, what I'm getting is "ooh, I'm so scared! Joreth might get angry! What are you going to do about it, huh? Yell at me on the internet?" (This is a quote, by the way, and a very close paraphrase of multiple responses).
For some reason that I can't quite fathom, when I say "this is a triggering subject so leave me alone", what people are hearing is "I AM THE ALL POWERFUL VENGEFUL INTERNET CENSOR. YOU MUST CEASE WRITING ABOUT THIS SUBJECT OR YOU WILL FEAR MY WRATH!"
Listen up assholes, I'm not threatening you with dire punishment for daring to have a difference of opinion. I'm warning you that I am feeling emotional, or about to get emotionally upset, and this conversation will cease to be productive. I'm alerting you to the fact that what you are saying or doing is hurtful to me and I want you to stop hurting me. I'm sorry that being hurt results in my inability to ask you politely to stop hurting me, with an appropriate amount of compassion for your feelings about being asked to stop hurting me [/sarcasm], but I am trying to get you to stop hurting me, not threatening you that I'm about to do something bad to you (although yelling at you might be considered doing "something bad", it's a reaction, not a punitive action, and not a particularly dire one in the grand scheme of things).
I do not have a big enough ego to say that being mad at someone on the internet is this horrible thing for the other person. I don't think that I am important enough for it to matter to most people that I am mad at them. I am assuming, obviously incorrectly, that you are a decent person who doesn't actually intend to cause me pain or emotional upset, and that notifying you of my impending or current upset is something you might appreciate so that you will have the opportunity to stop doing whatever it is that is upsetting me so that we can continue or improve our relationship (even if it's just online acquaintances).
But, apparently, you do not wish to be notified when you are doing something hurtful so that you can stop hurting me. Apparently, you are enjoying causing me pain, and the challenge to do so after being threatened with consequences only ups the ante.
What the fuck is wrong with you people that when you are told "I'm getting upset, stop doing that", your first thought is not "I didn't want to hurt someone, perhaps I should table this until she's not so upset or in another forum that is more conducive to discussing this subject", but is instead you think "ooh, I'm so scared, c'mon, whatcha gonna do about it?" I'm not warning you not to poke the bear because the bear will tear you to pieces. I'm telling you that I'm hurting and it's because of something that you're doing, and I'm hoping that you are a decent and compassionate person who doesn't want to deliberately hurt me. Clearly, I was wrong.
There's this thing that otherwise reasonable, intelligent people do that just really pisses me off. I've started calling it Missing The Point Pedantry. This is when someone who is a generally intelligent person with a reasonable amount of social skills decides to argue some pedantic, specific little detail that someone, who is also fairly intelligent with social skills, said in a conversation or online post that completely misses the point of what was being said. It requires the pedant to overlook context, any knowledge of the person speaking and/or their past track record or tendencies regarding either the subject or their conversation/speaking/writing style, and any social conventions involved in speaking/writing.
So, for example: let's take Devon. Devon is a college graduate with an interest in the hard sciences but a vast experience with the arts and pop culture. Devon can use "totes" and "adorbs" in conversation and not sound like my dad sounded in the '80s when he tried to say "that's totally radical dude!" in an effort to connect with "the kids these days". Devon is well-read in popular fiction, the classics, and non-fiction in some specialty areas of interest. Devon is sex-positive and active in alternative communities like the Ren Faire and the local indie club scene. In other words, Devon is a well-rounded person with general knowledge, some specific expertise, and social skills like current slang and local/cultural body language.
Now let's take Quinn. Other than the specific areas of specialty that Quinn focuses on or hobbies and interests that Quinn has, Quinn is basically the same as Devon - well-read, intelligent, average size social group, etc. Maybe Quinn is a sci-fi geek instead of a Renny or maybe Quinn listens to goth instead of industrial music, but otherwise, they are fairly well-matched people. They also know each other through overlapping social circles and have had direct interactions with each other, but maybe they don't know each other quite well enough to call each other "friend" in the can-call-each-other-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-to-rescue sense. They probably show up at some of the same parties if they're in the same area and they are probably friends on Facebook or something.
So Devon and Quinn are at a party one night and Devon is speaking with some people on a subject that most of the people mostly agree on. Maybe it's the conflict in the Middle East, maybe it's about immigration, maybe it's about pc vs. mac, maybe it's on the inherent privilege that blondes face in this country at the expense of redheads. Whatever, Devon is reasonably certain that most of the people have similar, if not identical, views on the subject and that there are probably people at the party who disagree, but that's not who Devon is talking to right now, although Devon is aware that those people could probably overhear the conversation. Quinn is at the party and generally agrees on the subject, but has different personal experiences of the subject so might have a slightly different perspective, although they both agree on the important points.
Devon starts relating a story about a study on the subject that suggests some really interesting and suggestive trends among, oh, I dunno, blondes. It turns out that when you prime blondes by having them read pro-blonde jokes, they have a tendency to become more hostile towards non-blondes. They answer questions about crime committed by redheads with harsher penalties than blondes, and they want harsher penalties than the blondes who weren't primed for it. The study, and a series of related studies, show some shocking revelations about the privilege of blondes in our country that lend weight to the redhead accusation that hair-colorism is not yet over, it just moved to a more subtle form. Blondes aren't burning redheads at the stake for being witches anymore, but they still aren't given exactly the same treatement as blondes in society, and the redheads aren't just being "overly sensitive" about "seeing hair-colorism everywhere".
Since Devon is not a research scientist, was not personally involved in this study, and is speaking at a party and not a science forum, Devon is playing a little loose with the language. Devon sums up the study instead of quotes it, uses anecdote as illustration to connect with the audience, speaks in the common vernacular and not necessarily precise, scientific language, sometimes uses humor to relieve the tension, sometimes gets a little angry at the injustice of it all and the anger seeps into the tone every so often. But Devon is speaking to peers, who understand the same common vernacular, who are swayed by anecdotal illustrations and have not spent their life-long careers training themselves to recognize personal bias (although some do it as a hobby, they all still understand that they're all at a party and not being hired to review this study), who are also there to just converse with people they like and if they happen to learn an interesting new tip, even better.
As Devon finishes with an anecdote that supports the study's conclusion, in an effort to better connect the audience to the dry data and to illustrate the point and maybe to connect the study to something that was said previously that is related but not necessarily the exact same thing, Quinn jumps in with "well, I'm blonde and I like anti-redhead jokes, but *I* certainly have no problem with redheads! Therefore you can't say that blondes are anti-redhead. If I were to follow your logic where you used a personal anecdote to support hair-colorism, then my experience as a blonde who had a hair-colorist redhead father should lead me to make sweeping generalizations that all redheads were anti-blonde!"
This, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call Missing The Point.
Of course we shouldn't take our personal experiences and use them to make sweeping generalizations. That's not what Devon did. Devon used a personal anecdote to illustrate a trend that a scientific study suggested. The point of using anecdotes in this context is to make the subject matter relatable to the general audience. People use analogies, similes, hyperbole, alliteration, allusion, and other literary tools to create an emotional response in the audience. That's what people do. The scientific and the skeptics communities are both terrible about not utilizing these tools, and it's one of the reasons why we have a culture of anti-intellectualism. The religious and the woo crowds are experts at these tools and they use them liberally to sway the public away from science, away from reason, away from critical thinking. Science, critical thinking, and reason are hard for humans, in general (don't anyone fucking dare comment about how easy it is for you, personally - that's exactly what I'm talking about). But tell people there's a quantum flux theory that totally explains why hospitals fill up on nights with a full moon because your sister once had a dream about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at exactly the same time you were making one, therefore water that remembers the medicine you filtered out of it but not the poop totally cured your autism, and they'll think you're making absolute sense.
When an individual makes a claim, such as "women are just naturally more nurturing than men" and backs it up with a story about how "every single" woman they know is better with children than "every single" man they know, and has been that way since birth, therefore they can make the claim that women in general, or all women, are naturally more nurturing than men - that's a logical fallacy. The counter to that is a combination of actual science research that says otherwise as well as any examples that do not fit the claim. If the claim is that "all people of X group", then only 1 counter example is sufficient to falsify the claim. If the claim is "generally people of X group", then anyone whose personal experience is that most people of that group do *not* is sufficient to falsify the claim - especially when either case is backed up with scientific data.
In other words, if you say "all dogs have 4 legs", then all I have to do is produce 1 dog without 4 legs and the claim is bunk. If you say "dogs are generally mean and vicious animals", then all I have to do is say that I've worked with thousands of animals in an animal shelter and the vast majority of dogs I've worked with were lovable and sweet, and that the only mean and vicious dogs I encountered were raised by asshole owners who trained them specifically to be mean and vicious to counter the claim that meanness is a species-wide trend.
But when the scientific evidence suggests a particular trend, and a person shares an anecdote to illustrate what the trend is, or to help the audience connect or relate to the conclusion, or to say "I can believe that because this thing that supports the conclusion happened to me", that is not a logical fallacy. That's called being a part of a social species that uses complex language filled with nuance and social context to share ideas with each other.
Most of the time, this Missing The Point Pedantry takes the form of a strawman argument. I have an ex who did this constantly. He once got interested in dating someone that I felt would be problematic because she was opposed to polyamory. I was concerned that she would do typical cowboy or cuckoo things to break us up or drive me away so that she could have him all to herself. I was concerned because she exhibited such behaviour in the past. His reaction was to scoff at me and tell me that he was anti-marriage, so I shouldn't worry because it's not like he was going to run off to Vegas and marry her, he just wanted to fuck her.
Well, no shit Sherlock, I didn't think he was going to run off to Vegas and marry her and that's not at all what I was concerned about. It doesn't take something as drastic as a vehemently anti-marriage man completely 180-ing on his lifelong, somewhat pathological, anger at the institution of marriage to make me concerned about how a new partner is going to affect my existing relationship. Things like refusing to be in the same room with me even at parties forcing him to routinely "choose" between us, calling in the middle of our date night for her weekly emotional "crisis" to have a 2-hour long argument about whether or not he should come home *again* to take care of her, showing up at my house at exactly midnight because "my night" with him is now *technically* the next day, which isn't my night, so he has to come home with her right now, spinning private stories in a negative way to mutual friends to gradually turn those mutual friends away from me and onto "her side" - these are the kinds of things that I'm afraid of. These, by the way, are all things that have actually happened to me and not hyperbole, exaggeration, or strawmen or pulled out of my ass. I don't need to be worried that she's going to kidnap my boyfriend at gunpoint, force him to marry her, and never see me again to be concerned that my life is about to be unpleasantly disrupted by someone with a history of being disruptive.
So sometimes the pedantry is used to pick on a specific detail or pull a loose form of speech to focus on at the expense of all the rest of what was said - the context, the cultural influences, the history of the speaker, and even the non-spoken implications revealed by the language used - to pick out that detail and blow it up to exaggerated proportions so that the original speaker would have to backtrack or renege the point in order to not be associated with the caricature now presented.
But sometimes it's another logical fallacy, and I don't particularly want to attempt to cover every possible fallacy that someone could make in these circumstances. The point is I really hate Missing The Point Pedantry because I have to explain, in great detail and at great length, why this is a misdirection in order to get back on track, which, in effect, is exactly what I'm trying to avoid - being misdirected. Instead of discussing the topic, we get sidetracked onto this other niggling little detail. There's no good way to handle this problem that I am aware of. If you don't address it, a falsehood or a fallacy goes unchallenged, and all that results from that. If you do address it directly, you get off the main topic and start arguing something that wasn't your point in the first place. If you address the fact that it's missing the point, you still get off the main topic and start arguing something else that wasn't your main point, only now you're arguing about arguing.
The people I know are intelligent, reasonable people, for the most part, and, contrary to the mainstream perception of intelligent people, are not actually all socially maladapted misfits like Sheldon Cooper. They are people who understand humor, sarcasm, double entendre, can tell when someone shouts "fine, whatever!" and storms out of a room that she's probably not actually fine and is likely pissed off, can identify "I'd love to but..." as a polite rejection even if the word "no" was never spoken, and a whole host of other social interactions. But, for some reason, all of those interaction skills go right out the window when they seize on a detail that might not be an absolutely, literal, 100% in all cases down to the fractal level, perfect phrase or example.
When most people say "I'm going down to Miami for the weekend", most other people understand that "down" is a cultural slang term that means "south-ish from this point", not that the speaker is literally moving in a downward direction into the planet and pretty much no one tries to correct the speaker. Even when someone says "I'm going down to New York for the weekend", and we all know that "down" means "south-ish" but the speaker will be traveling "north-ish" or "east-ish", most of the time people still don't try to correct the speaker because we grasped, from the context, what the important point was - that the speaker is going somewhere for the weekend. But when Missing The Point Pedantry happens, suddenly I'm faced with, for example, anti-sexist men who want to argue that "she didn't say the word no so it's not rape" or "but men have bad stuff that happens too" or "what's wrong with wanting to protect my primary relationship?" or "if she just knew self-defense, she wouldn't be a target" or "I agree that religion is actively harmful, but do you have to be so aggressive about it?" or "you know that aspirin comes from willow trees, right, so don't do the opposite and assume everything that's natural is harmful" or a million other wacky things that completely miss the point.
No, I haven't actually counted out one million examples. That's a figure of speech and is intended to convey "a lot" in a way that impresses the reader with "really a lot". And that's exactly what I'm talking about - Missing The Point Pedantry. Everyone knows that "a million other things" doesn't literally mean exactly one million other things, and "everyone knows" doesn't literally mean that every person on the entire planet that has ever or will ever live understands that figure of speech. And you, who is doing this, also understand that, in most contexts except for whatever it is about this one that prompted you to point this out. I'm not speaking to Rain Man here, or Sheldon, I'm not speaking to or about anyone who has any kind of actual neurological condition or complication that makes them actually have trouble with abstract thought. I'm talking to and about people who, in most cases, get this, but couldn't refrain from "not getting it" now. I know you're not stupid and I know you're not an asshole, but for fuck's sake, stop acting like it and, by implication, stop acting like I'm stupid by ignoring all the context around whatever detail you picked out to focus on.
- Tags:atheism, bdsm, freedom/politics, friends, gender issues, me manual, media reflections, online skeezballs, polyamory, rants, relationships, religion, science, skepticism
Once upon a time, I refused to delete a person's post in the group I moderated when that person's partner demanded I do so, because I had already spoken to the person in question who merely asked me to amend the post for her, which I did immediately.
The partner got obnoxiously offended that I wouldn't just do what he said to his partner's post, just because he was the partner. My response was incredulity that anyone couldn't see why it was a horrible idea to just take someone's word on making changes to another person's presence in the group. 1) I don't know who is dating who - it's the poly community and I can barely keep up with my own network, let alone everyone else's; 2) I don't know the status of each relationship and don't know if someone might be abusing the position - worst case scenario could have some psycho deleting profiles or setting their partner up for trouble like with child protective services or something. But *especially* when I had gotten contradictory instructions from the person in question directly, that was a horrible idea. Anyway, I said as much and the partner has been telling everyone what I bully I am ever since.
I saw early signs of him having an abusive personality, but no evidence to actually act on it. When asked, I would admit that I didn't like him and that he struck me as being "wrong", or the kind of domly-dom that I usually associate with abusers who hide their abuse under the BDSM label. But, with nothing more than a feeling and an association, I just did my best to avoid him, except when he directly challenged me online.
Tonight I find out that he has, in fact, been accused of multiple accounts of domestic violence and sexual assault against multiple people. My local area has *finally* barred him from social events, and he is, I hear, moving on to neighboring cities.
It's times like this when I don't like being right.
I have a long history of exposure to domestic violence and sexual assault. I know the signs. I am too much of a skeptic to just start willy-nilly accusing people based on a "feeling" or my intuition, and certainly I can miss people who are good at hiding it. But having to rescue my best friend in high school, literally kidnapping her out from under her rapist father who was about to take her to Canada to escape the charges brought against him, and my subsequent work with sexual assault and domestic violence has made me sensitive to those traits associated with abusers.
I do wish people would take me more seriously when I say someone is bad news, even if I don't have police reports to back me up. I listen to what people close to them say about them, and I watch how people behave around them, and I filter it with an understanding of consensual BDSM relationships so as to not confuse the two, and I connect patterns. When I say someone is trouble, it's not because we had a disagreement once. It's because I think they're trouble.
"Our relationship is over! Us in the original couple are in a totally closed triad with no outside partners for a reason
and we explained that to our Third when we met her and she agreed back then but now it's over because she wants someone besides us! Why can't she understand that we have a system that works for us?"
Because, honey, that system DOESN'T work for you
. If it worked for you, the triad wouldn't have broken up over it. Oh, you mean that it worked for the primary couple! This is a great example of couples privilege
- writing up rules that only work for the original couple, and as long as the original two people like it and stay together, that's all that counts as "works for us".
This is the problem I have with Unicorn Hunters (which, I shouldn't have to repeat but obviously I do, does not mean all individual people who think they might like being part of a triad someday) - they're not interested in what works for everyone and they're not interested in accommodating their partner as if she were a full human being with her own needs and desires. They're interested in what she can do for them, and in not having their lives interrupted in any meaningful way while they're getting what they want from her without regard to what "works" for her.
Although, I have to say that it doesn't sound like it's working out for the original couple either, since the two of you haven't managed to make your dream triad work, but that's a whole other argument.
Also, this isn't a straw man. This is a real post I saw in an online poly group.
I ought to make a post or a tag for posts that include things I've said for which people accuse me of straw-manning but are actually real statements, arguments, posts, or claims made by real people. Like the post I saw last week and tweeted about where I said that my hypothetical Unicorn Hunters that I use as examples are never as bad as the real thing because I never thought to prescript the nipple size of the unicorn, for instance. Seriously, the worst of everything I've ever said about Unicorn Hunters, and the reason I'm opposed to them, are both absolutely real examples with no hyperbole and not as bad as some other absolutely real life examples.
There's this thing that people who are exploring polyamory for the first time as part of a couple do, and I don't see it happen when people attempt to try polyamory as a single person. It doesn't matter if the "couple" is dating together, dating individually, unicorn hunting or not, or how long the relationship has existed prior to the poly exploration. And there's this thing that a lot of poly "veterans" keep trying to do, but a lot of poly veterans learned the hard way that it's not the most successful strategy so they don't do it anymore. The thing they do is set out trying to find additional partners "without risking or disrupting the pre-existing relationship".
Every time, these new explorations are attempted while simultaneously attempting to keep the pre-existing relationship exactly the same, only, y'know, with more people. I get it, I mean, they love each other, otherwise they'd break up and start dating someone new. Kind of the whole point of polyamory is that you get to start dating someone new without losing anyone old.
Single people, however, don't try to find a partner with the assumption that their life will look exactly the same after they get a new partner as it did before. We seem to instinctively understand that, no matter what relationship type - poly or mono - dating someone new means things will be a little different. Compromises will have to be made based on who the new person ends up being, some plans get put on the back burner, some priorities get reshuffled, some things get given up and some new things get adopted.
Sometimes we can predict which of our things will be affected, like a guy who assumes that he'll have less time for Monday Night Football once he gets a girlfriend who doesn't like it, and other things we can't predict like waking up one day and realizing that we haven't actually touched our scuba equipment in months because our new partner doesn't dive and we'd rather spend time with them. Every once in a while, we decide that our pre-dating proclamation to never ever leave the city we're in because we love it so much, ever, no matter what, doesn't feel as strong in the face of our soulmate announcing their intention to move back to their home country. Some people who thought they'd never even consider dating someone with a kid from a previous relationship find themselves being a step-parent because their True Love just happened to come with a kid. Life ends up looking different than it did before dating, and we all just kind of know that.
But couples seem to think that they can preserve and protect their relationship from experiencing any kind of change or disruption if they just find the "right partner" or if they make a bunch of rules dictating the speed and direction the new relationships are allowed to take, to make the change happen slow enough that it's essentially unnoticeable There's a fundamental flaw that makes this strategy inherently less likely to succeed. Only tacit said it better than I could - I'd ramble on for pages, so I'll let him say it:
There will be disruption. You can't avoid that. Your pre-existing relationship will change. The only thing that trying to prevent change will do is hurt the new person, and quite likely hurt the pre-existing relationship that you were seeking to protect in the first place. Have you ever tried to put ice into a glass of water without affecting the water level? It can't be done. The presence of the new ice affects the existing water. And if it's the middle of winter and you have hypothermia, adding ice is probably going to be a stupid idea. But if it's the middle of summer, and it's hot, and you're sweating, and you take that ice water onto the porch where there's a bit of a breeze, to sip while reading a good book on the porch swing, well, adding that ice makes the water a whole lot better.
There is one fly in the ointment: If you introduce someone new into your life, you DO risk disruption.
A lot of otherwise decent people do many very evil things in the name of protecting their existing relationships from disruption. But disruption is a fact of life. You can't introduce someone new into your life without risking disruption, and that's okay.
Almost everything you do in your life risks disruption to your relationships. Taking a new job. Losing a job. (Couples counselors say that financial stress is more likely to ruin a relationship than any other single factor, including cheating.) Deciding to have a baby. Moving to another city. An illness or injury. Problems in the family of origin. A death in the family. New hobbies. Hell, every time you walk outside your door or step into a car, you're risking serious injury or death, and that'll disrupt a relationship real quick!
We don't live in fear of disruption when we're offered a new job or decide to have a child. We accept that these things will change our lives, and move on. Ethical polyamory is the same thing: you accept that changes in your romantic life may affect your relationship, you resolve to act with integrity and honesty to cherish your partners to the best of your ability, you trust that your partners will do the same thing, and you move on.
It's not a terrific analogy. As I said, I'll ramble on for pages, even after tacit already said all there needed to be said on the subject. There will be change and you can't avoid it. But you might be turning your pre-existing relationship into something better, if you just let the change happen instead of trying to prevent it.
I saw this billboard on I-4 about a week or so ago and knew I had to go. Not many people know of my love for ice cream. It's more than a love, really. I won't go so far as to call it an obsession, because I don't actually eat it all that often. But the word "love", with it's usual dilutions when associated with non-human things, is not strong enough to cover my feelings for ice cream.You see, in addition to it being probably my favorite dessert in all of existence, it also has very strong associations with my dad. That was a *thing* we did. As a "daddy's girl", my dad was the feature in my childhood memories. We hunted together, he practiced soccer with me when I made the soccer team, we fished, we watched football, he taught me poker, and, later, as I got older, we watched what became my all-time favorite sitcoms and action movies together after dinner. And most of those memories had ice cream associated with them. Every hunting and fishing trip required a stop for a milkshake, and every night, in front of the TV, we'd have a bowl of ice cream together - vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup, stirred until all one, consistent, creamy-brown color. My mom *hated* it. The sound of the spoons scraping the bowls during the TV shows drove her nuts. But that was our thing. To this day, when I want emotional comfort, I eat vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup, all stirred together in one big creamy mess.
So there was no way I was going to miss the First Annual Florida Ice Cream Festival.
I want to start out by saying that I loved the food I got and I definitely plan to attend next year. But I have some criticisms, and the nature of this event may not be to everyone's liking. Just remember, throughout the critique, I liked it.The Good
The Not So Good
- The event had free parking right on site and was only $3 to get in. By the time I had arrived, they even stopped charging the entrance fee, so win!
- The food was amazing! At least, the ones I had were amazing. The prices were "reasonable", and by "reasonable", I mean that they were comparable with any specialty ice cream shop. So I'm sure you can find cheaper ice cream, even really good cheaper ice cream, at the grocery store. But if you go to Baskin Robbins, you'll probably pay the exact same price for a cup of ice cream as the Baskin Robbins booth right there at the festival.
- The music was entertaining. If you're a music snob, or you like only niche or certain sub-culture music, then you probably won't like it. It was family-friendly, non-offensive, and designed to keep up people's moods. I like music like that. I heard Beach Boys, The Electric Slide, and something from some current pop artist, maybe Tao Cruiz.
- I saw an Indian ice cream booth there! I didn't get any, but I was very pleased to see such an exotic booth. The only flavor I even recognized was mango, and if I had had enough money when I discovered it, I would have tried some.
- They had some activities besides just buying ice cream - mostly kids stuff. I saw a bounce house, pony rides, a rock climbing wall, and even a teeny-tiny mini golf course.
This was the first time this event has been put on. As with all big events like this, it takes some time to work out the bugs. There will be logistical issues and things that didn't get planned for, and these sorts of things will get better over time. At least, if they don't
get better over time, the event won't continue to be held year after year. So most of my criticisms are the kinds of things that I expect to be better next year.
- They really did not expect the crowds they got and were not prepared. I arrived a little before 3 PM (open until 7 PM) and booths were already sold out, which is why they stopped charging admission.
- There were no lines drawn or flagged on the grass parking lot, so the lines of parking were crooked and slanted, and they actually ended up with huge amounts of wasted parking space because it wasn't quite enough room to add another lane but definitely too wide for just a normal driveway.
- Lines were long and unwieldy. The layout of the festival did not account for the long lines, so passerby traffic had to cut through the lines, and the lines stretched and curved and leaned into other booths - both next to and across the road. The booths themselves were not staffed to handle such a customer load, so the lines were also slow-moving.
- As usual for festival grounds, there wasn't a whole lot of shade. That's less of a problem if you're moving around and can get to the giant "Chill Pill" tent with all the tables, but because of the line problem, we were just standing still in the sun for unreasonably long amounts of time. I know there's not much they can do about that, since festival grounds, by nature, need to be wide open spaces. But maybe putting up a whole bunch of tents right over the road, kind of spaced along the road? Then, as we're walking down the road browsing the booths, we can pass under spots of shade, and people standing in lines that span across the road can maybe be standing under those tents?
- They needed more variety of non-dessert food. There was 1 burger stand, 1 Italian sausage stand, 1 hot wings stand, and 1 stand with fries that sold out right around the time I got there. There needed to be some non-dessert options that weren't $6+. The fries were a good start, but, as I said, they sold out early. A corn on the cob stand might have been a good option. A falafel food truck or a burrito truck or hot dogs or something. Anything that could have served some kind of side dish for approximately the same price range as the ice cream and even a single option that a vegetarian could have would have been nice (although they did have non-dairy & vegan ice cream - naturally it was already sold out by the time I got there). I know it was an ice cream festival, but people will be more willing to stay longer, and more willing to buy more sweets, if there are actual meal options that are affordable and options to cut the sweet so that we don't go into a sugar coma.
- The drink booth was also not prepared for the size of the crowd. They needed more coolers, more helpers, and more drink options. There was Gatorade, water, Pepsi, and Diet Pepsi. That's it. Canned tea for those who need something with flavor but not more sweet, and Sprite for the non-caffeine drinkers who might want a soda instead of Gatorade or water would have been really appreciated.
- Everything was standard specialty ice cream shop sized. I'd rather see the festival organized more like Epcot's Food & Wine festival, where everything is more like taste-sized, so that we can go from booth to booth, sampling a wider variety of foods. $1 shot glasses of ice cream would be way better than $3 cups of ice cream. Also, it might not sell out as fast.
- All food was purchased with Moo-lah, fake money that you pre-purchased and then exchanged for the food. I ended up with a Moo-lah dollar that I couldn't spend, because there wasn't anything there for a dollar (well, maybe some of the activities were, I don't know because I didn't even look at the bouncey house or the pony rides or the mini golf course).
Next year, I would recommend, first, arriving early, then only buying your entrance ticket, then walking the entire grounds to decide what you want, and THEN buying your Moo-lah so that you only purchase the fake dollars that you plan to spend. It didn't occur to me to do that until I was already inside & had purchased my fake money, although I knew they sold the fake money inside. As I saw "sold out" signs going up all over the place and lines so long and curvy that I couldn't find the ends, I decided to just jump in the first line that had something I wanted, and each line as I came to it, rather than planning out my spending. I was afraid I would decide on something back in the beginning and it would be sold out before I circled back after looking at everything.
Even better, if you go with someone(s), plan what you want to buy, then split up - one (or more) of you stands in line for food while one runs to a Moo-lah booth to buy fake money. Then the person with the money can deliver it by the time the person in the food line gets to the front. If you can go with several, have one money runner and everyone else wait in different food lines to get everyone's food in each booth. Then meet up at the picnic tables.
Although I liked the flavors of ice cream I got, and although there was a nice variety of brands present, I would have liked to have seen A) more exotic flavors and B) a plain vanilla/plain chocolate option.
I know, that sounds like I'm asking a lot. What I'm suggesting, though, is that this is a festival celebrating ice cream, and all the vendors are local vendors with shops or food trucks here town. We can go to these shops any time we want to. So I think it would benefit them to showcase some of their more unusual, exotic, or specialty flavors as a hook to catch the attention of the thousands of attendees who might be considering the competing shop right next door. But, at the same time, *someone* has to have the old classics for those who attended for exactly that reason. What I'm saying is that I saw the same handful of flavors over and over again - cotton candy, birthday cake, strawberry, chocolate chip cookie dough, cookies N cream, etc.
Don't get me wrong, there were some unique flavors. I had an excellent banana pudding frozen custard that I just adored! And there probably was more variety that I missed because of all the booths that had sold out before I got there. But I didn't get any fruit-based, non-cream desserts like a strawberry popsicle, and the Shamrock Explosion that I was originally in line for sold out 3 people ahead of me, leaving the entire line with only the banana pudding and the coconut custard options. I think this was clearly an underestimation problem that is to be expected with a first-year event. It's very difficult to estimate what will sell and what won't. It's why I use a third-party one-off printer instead of printing my shirts in bulk and handling the sales myself. I've seen too many merchants end up with too many left-over t-shirts and other shirts sell out immediately, all because predicting what will sell is hardly an exact science.
So, it was hot, it was crowded, the lines were long, the food sold out early, and there wasn't enough of the food I wanted. I still want to go back next year. I think pretty much everything I had a problem with is something to be expected for a first-time event, so I hold out hope that every single one of them will improve next year. If outdoor festivals aren't your thing, then you'll probably want to skip this unless your love of ice cream is stronger than your dislike of outdoor festivals. But if you love ice cream, this was a pretty good event. it was relatively inexpensive and I got exposed to a ton of ice cream brands that I didn't even know were local shops. It was a nice day out, if too hot while standing in line in the sun without a hat, sunglasses, or sunscreen on and a poor decision to wear full jeans & a t-shirt with sleeves but that was my mistake, and I liked the music. Really, it's not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and I expect it to be better next year.
But now I need to go eat something with protein & complex starch, to cut all that sugar. Wish I had some salad-fixings in the house - add a little egg & a roll & it would fix the whole thing!
or The Misuse Of The Argument From Authority Accusation
First, a couple of disclaimers. 1) I'm going to use the word "skeptic" in this post to lump everyone from the skeptics, secular, humanist, and atheist communities into a single label. Those communities are absolutely not interchangable, let's get that straight right up front. Being an atheist doesn't make you a skeptic, as everyone's go-to example, Bill Mahr, can attest. Neither does being a skeptic automatically make you an atheist, as our resident non-atheist skeptic, Pamela Gay, proves. Irrelevant for my point here. I don't feel like listing out all the groups every time I reference them, so I'm going to lump them into one place-holder label, and I chose "skeptic" because I say that word often enough that it comes out easily.
2) I am
a skeptic, and damn proud of it. I love the label, I love what I learn from both the community and the process of skepticism. I am in no way considering dumping the label. I'm uncomfortable in skeptic spaces because there are certain problems I encounter, but I want to fix those problems so that I can continue to be part of the skeptics community; I don't want to split off into a whole new group that has the exact same premise as the skeptics community but who refuses to be connected to skepticism because of the bad association.
3) This is not the only problem with the skeptics community. In fact, it's not even one of the top 10 worst. It could be considered a symptom of one of the more major problems, but I don't want to hear "that's it? That's your big problem? Why are you bitching about that when there are real
problems with the skeptics community that need to be addressed?" This is an irritation that has real-world implications, and this is my journal where I specifically set it up to bitch about things. So I'm going to bitch about it.
So, on to the problem.
Skeptics, overall, tend to be a fairly well-educated, intelligent group of people. When you have a group of well-educated, intelligent people, the arguments have a tendency to take a particular form. People tend to try
to remove all emotional content from the argument and argue everything academically, even when the subject is about emotions, is personal, or is subjective. Many times, they will argue something just for the sake of academically arguing it - it won't even be a subject they're particularly invested in exploring, they just want to argue. If that subject happens to be something that their opponent is
invested in, then because the skeptics aren't, they have a tendency to, not only be totally unaware of how damaging it is to academically argue about something the opponent is personally invested in
, but to also be completely dismissive of the emotions of their opponent because, hey, it's just an intellectual exercise, no need to get your panties in a twist over it.
Now, as an intellectual exercise with no emotional investment in the outcome other than being right, skeptics will tend to throw accusations at each other, and anyone they're arguing with, like they're in the middle of a Logical Fallacy oral exam in school. Except that these dispassionate skeptics are not actually unemotionally invested in the argument. They are, just not in the topic. They're invested in the idea that they're well-educated, intelligent, and not emotionally involved. So any criticism of this really irritating way of arguing is taken personally and defended with great vehemence and their own set of logical fallacies.
Final disclaimer, I'm not immune to the subject of this rant. But I can still be irritated when I see it happen.
So, the one I'm going to vent about today is the Argument From Authority. There are a handful of logical fallacies that are easier to identify and remember than the others, so every time they come up, skeptics immediately jump to accusing their opponent of using said logical fallacy. The Argument From Authority is one of them.
The Argument From Authority Fallacy is when a claim is deemed to be true simply because the person who made the claim is an authority figure of some sort.
The Misuse of the Argument From Authority Fallacy is when someone is accused of using said fallacy when it's actually a legitimate argument.
So, for example:
- Quinn: Acupuncture TOTALLY works! You should try it!
- Devon: Uh, no it doesn't. Here are citations from well-regulated, double-blind, placebo-controlled, large sample population studies from a variety of research facilities that all confirm there is no measurable effect from acupuncture.
- Quinn: Psshhh! My acupuncturist is a guy I've known for 20 years and he's a karate sensei so I believe him, not your studies. Science gets things wrong all the time, but THIS guy knows karate! I think he knows what he's doing with acupuncture!
- Devon: *blinkblink*
You might now want to accuse me of Strawmanning by pulling out a ridiculous argument, but this is, I swear, a conversation I actually had with someone. It was a person I know in real life and had the conversation face-to-face so it's not a troll either. This is actually how it went. In order to keep the peace, I had to end the conversation simply by advising him to make sure that his sensei at least uses brand-new needles and wears gloves because of the recent hepatitis scare among acupuncture patients in Florida. Even the thought of getting a life-threatening illness didn't phase him, because his guy is a guy he "knows", who would never do anything dangerous. Karate. Acupuncture Nothing dangerous. OK, I'm done.
So this is an example of a legitimate accusation of the Argument From Authority. Quinn believes the claim that acupuncture works because "a guy" said it does, with complete disregard to the mountain of evidence to the contrary.
Here are some examples of legitimate USES of the Argument From Authority:
- Paula: As a black trans woman, I've experienced sexism, racism, and homophobia in skeptic communities, so I'm less likely to want to attend skeptic events.
- Paul: That's ridiculous, there's no sexism, racism, or homophobia in skeptic communities! We're a rational group of people, we require evidence to hold beliefs, and there is no evidence supporting the unequal treatment of other genders, other races, or other sexual orientations. Therefore, you couldn't have experienced any of those things because we're just not any of those things.
- Paula: Look, I'm telling you that I've experienced all of those things. Just because you weren't there or you can't see it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. It does, and I've felt it, and so have a lot of other people. That's why there are so few women, people of color, and people of alternative sexualities at your little events - we get treated poorly and we'd rather just not go.
- Paul: I don't see you citing any rigorous studies supporting your claim, therefore you're just spouting anecdote, and anecdote does not equal data. You're wrong, it doesn't happen.
- Paula: I think I get to be the authority on my own personal experiences and you can't tell me that I didn't have them.
- Paul: That's the Argument From Authority! Your argument is invalid!
- Jordan: Polyamory is a legitimate relationship style. I love more than one person at a time and polyamory is a valid way to ethically explore those feelings.
- Sam: You don't love more than one person at a time, you only think you do. Real love doesn't let you love more than one person at a time, so if you think you love multiple people, you don't really love any of them. If you did really love any of them, you couldn't have feelings for the others. QED.
- Jordan: You can't tell me what I do and don't feel! I know what I feel, and I feel real, true love for each of my partners!
- Sam: You're just deluding yourself, that's not real love. Dictionary.com says love is exclusive, therefore what you feel isn't real love.
- Jordan: No one gets to overrule what I say about my own feelings. I have feelings that I can feel, I am part of a community you've never even heard of before today, and I have an academic sociology background. I am the final authority on what I feel and anyone who says different is wrong!
- Sam: Aha! That's the Argument From Authority! Your claim is now invalid - polyamory is not real because you can only support it with logical fallacies!
Before anyone tries another accusation of Strawman, these are also both absolutely real conversations. And both are absolutely misuses of the accusation. There are times when it is completely valid to take an authority figure's word on a subject. It can, and should, be provisionally accepted, but it should still be accepted. When the authority figure is an authority on a subject with actual experience in the subject and not just "I read Wikipedia for hours about it" or took some classes on it, and you're not, you can provisionally accept his word. When the authority figure is telling about her own personal experiences, you can provisionally accept her word. When the authority figure is telling you about their internal feelings, you can accept that they do, indeed, have those feelings (even if you remain dubious regarding the nature of what caused those feelings - i.e. just because one feels attacked, it doesn't mean someone actually attacked them). Especially in the third example, their word automatically trumps everything else.
I have been feeling more and more uncomfortable in skeptic spaces over the last year or two, and the smug and dismissive attitude when it comes to topics the speaker has no experience in that is so prevalent among skeptics keeps me away. I don't even want to bother attempting to educate them, because they're so confident in their own intelligence that they don't think they need education on anything they have already formed an opinion on, even if they formed that opinion without the benefit of any education on the subject or with speaking to anyone relevant to the subject. Even worse is when they claim to have done their own "research" on a topic (it usually means they've Googled it or read Wikipedia) and think they're fairly well-read, but they have no personal connection or experience with the subject and dismiss anyone who is actually living
the subject but who hasn't done any formal research on it.
Take Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory
- he is constantly lecturing Raj on Indian culture, even though Raj was born and raised in India and Sheldon has never left his own apartment, let alone the country. But Sheldon has read stuff
and is smart
therefore Raj's personal experiences don't count.
So misapplying the accusation for the Argument From Authority pisses me off. If you aren't kinky, poly, female, transgendered, non-white, poor, or anything else that is as much "experience" as academic (if not more), and when someone who is talks about their experiences or their feelings or their own community, your ability to recite all the logical fallacies by heart and have an argument without getting "emotional" does not make your opinion as equally valid as theirs. "There is no authority and all opinions are equally valid" is a classic logical fallacy among pseudoscience cranks. Don't fall into the same trap and don't dismiss personal experience when the subject is a subjective one. We're not talking about the chemical makeup of water or the physics of gas planets. Those have yes/no answers - either something does or does not, and we can test it and find an answer that is right and an answer that is wrong (insert appropriate error bars here, for those who are pedantic). But a physicist with credentials and published papers and a university behind him is probably more right about physics than the guy who hasn't left his basement in 5 years spouting Deepak Chopra and Dinesh D'Souza is, because the physicist is an authority on the subject, and we can provisionally accept his word that cold fusion is highly improbable and that we will never develop a free energy machine that sucks electrons from the ionosphere but that could turn into a doomsday weapon with only a small modification to the plans (again, true story).
- Tags:atheism, bdsm, gender issues, me manual, online skeezballs, polyweekly, rants, relationships, religion, science, skepticism
My life has been filled with change these last couple of weeks. Most people have gotten only bits and pieces and very few people have heard all of what has been going on with me. But I'm told that those bits and pieces have seemed, to many, cryptic or even out of character, and upsetting. So I'm going to elaborate on one of the more disturbing bits I've tweeted about, because people are worried and even more people have completely the wrong idea about what happened.
A few months ago, my landlord decided to sell the house and, thanks to an irritating bit of law, left me with very little time to find alternate housing. So a friend took me in under extremely charitable conditions, only to very quickly make that situation intolerable to me, so I had to move again a few months later. Here is my perspective of the worst of what happened.
I have a terminally sick cat. She has an illness that leaves her underweight, malnourished, and at risk for dehydration. She is on daily medication to try to control her appetite and water consumption, and her ability to digest it, but the medication will not cure her. She will die of this illness, today, tomorrow, 5 years from now, we don't know. Her medication is merely to improve the quality of her life, thereby prolonging it, for a while. She has been sick for over 2 years now, and this worry has taken a toll on my own quality of life.
Right about the time the owner of the house where I was living, and I seemed to reach the same conclusion that our living arrangement wasn't working out, but before I had secured another place to live (or even told him that I planned to move out), my work picked up. I began working 8-14 hour days in 10-15 day streaks (with at least one day that reached nearly 24 hours at work). Now, at this time, the house-owner appeared to cease direct communication with me, so I can only guess at his motivations based on his behaviour, but he appeared to decide that chasing me out of the house by making me uncomfortable was preferable to actually speaking to me directly and asking me to leave. I make this guess on his motivations because of what happened next.
The house had an air conditioning system that actually assigned certain rooms in the house to zones, which were independently controlled. So the master bedroom, for example, could be maintained at a separate temperature from the living room. The room I was staying in had its own zone. The house-owner first started by turning off the air conditioner entirely to my zone. The first time that happened, I thought maybe there was a glitch or a mistake. So I turned it back on and went to bed.
When I woke up in the morning, the room was sweltering. It was so hot that I was actually having trouble waking up and moving, as I do when I get overheated. I had heatstroke several years ago and one of the side effects is being increasingly more prone to heat stroke again with each successive heat attack. So when I overheat, I tend to get sluggish and have trouble with cognitive functions, until I eventually just collapse in a faint. If I overheat while sleeping, I'll just not be able to wake up. That's why I'm always wearing tank tops - I have to have the ability to shed layers at any moment when I start to get too warm. Later, when I did finally get up and moving, as I passed by the A/C control, on a hunch, I checked it and, sure enough, it was turned off again. This happened a couple of times and I noticed that the warming of my room would coincide with his movements downstairs where the A/C control was located.
After a few times of that, the speed at which the room would start to get warm increased while the sound of air coming through the vents was still running. So I checked and discovered that he was no longer just turning off the air, he was turning on the heat. I know this was in February, but this is also Florida. I was leaving for work before he woke up in the morning and not returning until many hours later. He left for work after I did, but he also got home from work after I had gone to bed. So he would turn off the air or turn on the heat after I went to bed and again after I left for the day. The room was also on the second story of the house, with windows facing both the rising and setting sun, so the room baked all day.
This would be merely annoying, even with my own health issues regarding heat, except for my sick cat. You see, I would come home to find the cat's water bowl empty because it had evaporated while I was gone. In the temperature I normally kept the room, the bowl would hold water for more than 2 full days before going empty, but now the bowl was drying out between the time I left for work and the time I got home from work. I would come home to find my cat sitting by her water bowl, meowing in distress. Remember her illness and her dehydration risk? Yeah, she got dehydrated and I had to take her to the vet.
The cat started losing weight again and her diarrhea got worse, and she dehydrated. She had to have a pocket of fluid inserted under her skin, between her shoulder blades, to immediately hydrate her and get her out of danger. The vet was horrified and wanted to call the animal cruelty authorities, except there is no tangible evidence for "he turned off the A/C while I was gone" accusations, and I had finally moved out. Since the cat was already sick, all it would take is a counter-accusation that it was my own care of her that led to her condition, or hell, that it was the condition itself, to result in possibly a lengthy and costly court battle, or more likely, no action taken at all. All my emotional and financial resources are tied up in caring for the cat, so I didn't pursue any probably-futile legal action. Anyway, the room was actually so hot before I found a new place, that I started taking the cats to work with me because it was cooler to leave them in my car in the parking garage than it was in the room, and I could get out to the car every 2 hours (on my breaks) to make sure they had enough water. The thermometer in my room said that my room was reaching triple digits.
So, those of you who read my tweets about "torturing my cat", it wasn't hyperbole. My terminally sick cat was actually being tortured by the deliberate actions of the house-owner. A healthy cat might have been merely discomforted, but a sick cat who is prone to dehydration was actually in a life-threatening situation. Not to mention my own danger with my history of heat stroke. I have trouble reconciling these actions with the self-assigned description of "extremely nice guy" he likes to tell people he is. He also has his own cats, and he's quite emotionally attached to them, so I just can't fathom what could have prompted him to take out his feelings for me on my pets. It doesn't matter how angry I get at someone, or what terrible things someone might have done - I would NEVER do anything to deliberately hurt their animals. The worst I ever do is yell at people on the internet. Hell, I cry at movies where even the "bad" animals get killed, I couldn't do anything that would hurt someone's pet no matter what I felt about that person.
My cat is still not fully recovered, and she may never. And, by that I mean, she may never even recover to the point where she was sick but stable, since I know she'll never actually be healthy again. I have been accused of lying about this whole incident, and of making a big deal out of nothing, since most people would find a Floridian house without the air turned on in February to be quite comfortable. But I have a medical condition where I can't handle extremes of heat (or cold, for that matter, but that's a different story) and I have to look at my cat every day and see her illness in her extremely low weight and the signs of her dehydration in her fur, skin elasticity, and gums. To me and my cat, this was decidedly not much ado about "nothing". This was something very serious, indeed.
The toll of caring for a sick cat these last couple of years has affected me deeply and has changed a lot of my priorities. My ex, who works with the MBTI and other personality systems, has shown me books on how the various personality types react to stress. To people who are not familiar with that specific research - types and stress - many usually think that people under stress behave in unpredictable or contrary ways. The MBTI system actually can predict how each of the types will behave under stress, but the relevant point is that the behaviour is often interpreted as "contrary" or "unusual" or "out of character" to those around them, even though it's not unpredictable at all, if one understands the patterns.
I have been under an awful lot of stress in the last couple of years, with the stress factors piling on in the last couple of months. And I've been handling them pretty much alone. I don't tend to speak out publicly when I'm under stress because I was taught not to "whine" as a kid and not to "air dirty laundry". A neighbor kid once pushed me down a flight of stairs and broke my ankle, and I had to walk on that ankle for a week before anyone took me to a doctor for a cast because I should just "toughen up" and "stop complaining" and don't "make up stories to get out of P.E. class". The only reason I was taken to the doctor at all is because my next door neighbor was a First Aid instructor and, after seeing me limp for a week, asked to see my ankle. He determined I needed medical attention and it was only when he said so, did my parents take my complaints seriously.
So I prefer to handle my stresses privately, and then use the situations to illustrate growth opportunities or lessons after the event has passed. Which is why many people who follow me online may be confused when I explode with something that seems out of context or that didn't appear to have any build-up to it. Things looked pretty fine, until I started tweeting about the house-owner "torturing" my cats. Naturally, several people who knew the house-owner just outright didn't believe it and accused me of lying about it or exaggerating the severity. But it's the nature of Twitter to not have much depth or allow for nuance and detail.
So I'm giving the details here. Things were far worse than just "turning off the air conditioning" in the end of a Floridian winter. The room my sick cat was staying in got so hot that the water in her bowl evaporated, and it was during a time that I was out of the house for many hours at a time and could not refill her bowl regularly. Her condition makes her specifically at risk for dehydration, and the heat and lack of water actually did cause her condition to worsen. She may recover, she may not.
Ever since we moved, she has taken to attaching herself to me the way she did when she first got sick. She was always my little shadow, moving from room to room with me in order to stay near me, but now it's so much more. She doesn't just move from room to room, she actually moves around the room with me. Tonight, I went into the kitchen, drained a bowl of soup in the sink, walked to the trash can to dump out the solid food, and then walked back to the sink to wash it. She actually walked back and forth from the sink to the trash and back again with me. And I don't have a large kitchen - 3 or 4 steps at most between the two stations. She tries to time her litter usage with my own bathroom use, now that the litter box is in the bathroom, presumably because she doesn't want to be separated from me even long enough to use the litter box.
So hopefully that clears up some of the strangeness going on around me lately and hopefully that adds more context to my outraged tweets. If I seem out of sorts, or touchy, these days, perhaps understanding some of the stress I'm going through will help things make more sense. Also, keep in mind that the issue of my sick cat is only one of the major stressors I'm going through and there are several that I'm not speaking about, at least not publicly. Some stressors involve personal, intimate details - some of which are my personal details that I don't particularly want made public and some of which belong to other people and it's not my place to speak of them publicly. If something I say or do seems odd or out of place, chances are that there are other things going on below the surface or other details to the story that you don't know about that would probably explain everything.
Atlanta Poly Weekend
is coming up in just a couple of weeks and I'm REALLY excited about it this year! This is APW's third year and, if the trend continues, it should be even better than last year, which was better than the first year.
For APW's first year, I gave several presentations, including why poly people should cooperate with the media and how to get into it, and a panel discussion on the intersection between polyamory and skepticism with Kelley Clark
. I also debuted my Miss Poly Manners
costume for the first time and held a live Miss Poly Manners Q&A.
Last year I was invited back as one of APW's keynote speakers, where I featured a talk on the intersection between poly and skepticism, and also debuted my own interpretation of the Five Love Languages for polyamorous relationships. I reprised my role as Miss Poly Manners (with an improved Victorian gown) and stretched my range of etiquette lessons to include convention etiquette, not poly-specific etiquette.
This year, Miss Poly Manners comes back once again to kick off the convention with some Con Etiquette, and to participate in APW's newest fun track! The folks in Atlanta had so much great content this year that they had to open up a fourth track of programming, not including the kids-specific track! In addition to three panels simultaneously all weekend long, covering such topics as communication tools, creating intimacy, poly case law, the results of a 15-year long study on kids of poly families, kissing classes, dealing with stress, jealousy, STIs, and special poly celebrity panels, APW will also feature a fun and games track.
Just as polyamory is not ALL
about the sex, conventions are not all
about the serious lectures. To lighten the mood and have some fun, this year's APW will feature some of our favorite campy game shows with a special poly twist. There will be events like Poly Family Feud and APW's Got Talent and Poly-eopardy and ... Miss Poly Manners will be the center square on our own live version of Polywood Squares! You won't want to miss it!
The highlight of every weekend is the evening entertainment and this year will have another dance with DJ Cat Ninetails. Right before the dance, by special request, I will be teaching dance lessons with Sterling! According to the expressed interests of everyone who says they want to learn how to dance but never get around to taking lessons, we've chosen a dance
that will look flashy enough to show off, but can be danced to almost any popular music
you might hear at a nightclub, a wedding, an office party, a convention, a party, or almost anywhere out in public. You will learn a handful of steps that can have you dancing that night, with plenty of room for growth to continue learning how to dance on your own, plus a list of resources for practice videos online and where to shop for dance shoes and clothes.
I'll be on the poly & skepticism panel again with Kelley Clark & Shaun Philly, and Sterling will be giving his ever-popular workshop on using personality types to improve poly relationships & communication. His workshop fills up to capacity every time he gives it and everyone who takes it wants to attend it again. And, as a special double-feature, I'll be giving my Five Love Languages workshop again!
For those who aren't aware, The Five Love Languages is a self-help theory developed by Dr. Gary Chapman. The basic premise is that everyone expresses their feelings of love and wants to have love expressed to them in certain ways. Those ways can be grouped into what he calls "languages", because they are ways that we all communicate our feelings of love. But the problem is that we don't express or feel loved in the same ways as everyone else. So we can love another person, and do things that we think expresses our love for them, but that person may not hear that they are loved because they speak a different love language than we do.
When people have partners who do not express love in the way they most feel loved, i.e. in their own love language, then it doesn't matter how much the other person loves them, they won't feel loved. And when people don't feel loved, they end up with what Dr. Chapman says is an empty love tank. When people's love tank is empty, they can act out in hurtful, damaging, even unpredictable ways. We have to learn how to communicate our love for each other in ways that the other person most needs to hear, because this acting out is all about how one feels regardless of how the other one thinks he or she is behaving.
Think about a child who is neglected by their parents. You will often see so-called "troubled kids" that have absent or neglectful parental figures. The movie, The Breakfast Club, is pretty much the quintessential story of kids with empty love tanks and the kinds of trouble they get into when they are crying out for love and attention. Adults aren't any different, although they may act out in different ways. Then again, sometimes they don't. People under stress and feeling neglected, unloved, and alone, often do all kinds of strange things in a reaction to that stress, and they often lack the vocabulary to express what it is they're lacking or how to give it to them. And, sometimes, their vocabulary is just fine, but the person listening doesn't have the vocabulary to understand. Or worse, when both are lacking the words to explain and the definitions to understand.
Many times, one person in a relationship will insist that they are doing everything possible to show how much they love their partner, and their partner complains that they still aren't getting what they need, still feel hurt, and still act out. If you've ever tried every way you can think of to show someone that you love them and they still accuse you of not loving them anymore, this is probably what happened - your partner had a different love language and the two of you were talking past each other, not realizing that you were actually speaking different languages. Learning to speak the other person's love language will often take care of many other problems in the relationship, sometimes things you didn't even know were related.
The Five Love Languages is one tool, among many, to give people a set of vocabularly to help explain how they need to feel loved and what they're doing when they are expressing their love. I've taken out the religious justifications and the monogamous intentions and the heteronormative assumptions and adapted the theory to apply to all genders and all relationships. You'll find out what your primary love language is and how to identify your partners' love languages, and concrete suggestions for expressing love in different languages. You'll also get a handout with summaries of each of the different languages & suggestions to take home for future reference.
So I'm really excited to get to do this workshop again, and to dance, and to see all of my old friends from previous years and to meet new friends this year. I'm terrible about out-of-context meetings, so if you see me there, please tell me how we know each other (if you follow me on a particular social networking site, if we've met before somewhere else, etc.) so I can connect the different contexts. Hope to see you there!
Apparently, today's theme on Facebook is "FUCKING READ SNOPES BEFORE YOU POST, BITCHES!" After the 4th post in a row where I was compelled to respond by posting a Snopes URL, I posted the following to my own timeline - feel free to copy & paste (or edit & personalize) on your own social networking sites or in response to emails:
Before you post a link, or worse, a picture with a sob story attached, about evil corporations trying to screw us over, mad scientists trying to poison our food supply, evil strangers trying kill babies or rape women or steal money, hidden needles in food or gas pumps, dead rodents or insects in famous restaurant chains, or strangely generous famous people willing to pay you money for forwarding pictures to all your friends, check it out on Snopes: www.snopes.com
If you don't like Snopes, use www.urbanlegends.com. Both link to the original sources where they get their information so you can verify their conclusions.
If the story does not give VERIFIABLE information - first & last name, city/state/country, date, etc. - then it's probably fake. If the story does give that information, Google it first to make sure those people actually exist and the incident actually happened in the place and on the date the story claims.
More often than not, Michigan University never had a professor named Dr. Miles Pendergrast, so he certainly could not have bioengineered a potent virus that the government bought to implant in our water supply, little Lisa Snodgrass doesn't exist and doesn't have cancer or stayed at the non-existent Our Lady Of Perpetual Fraud hospital, and that scary chemical, dihydrogen monoxide, that kills millions of people every year and is in our FDA-approved food really does exist but it's not what you think it is (hint: dihydrogen monoxide is water).
*The title comes from a TV commercial currently playing on local television stations:
If you don't want to watch the video, the premise is that a girl makes a wild claim to a guy she knows. He asked where she heard it, and she says "the internet". She then says the the line in the title. He asks where she heard *that* and they both say together "the internet", the guy clearly thinking "I should have known!" Then an unkempt guy approaches and she says something along the lines of "excuse me, I have to go, my date is here. I met him on the internet. He's a French model!" The unkempt guy glares at the guy and says, in an obviously American accent with no attempt to hide his lack of familiarity with the French language, "Bonjour!" and smiles contemptuously and lecherously at the pretty, dumb, girl he snookered while she looks back at the first guy with a sickeningly trusting & triumphant smile and walks off with the jackass. The line that I used for the title has recently come, among one of my circles, to be shorthand for the brand of naivete that results in being taken advantage of by unscrupulous hoaxers and simple internet urban legends and is frequently trotted out to reference both this commercial and this phenomenon.
When calling around in your town to find an affordable clinic that offers all the STD tests that you want, you may come across some clinics with less-than-knowledgeable staff. It is my opinion that the patients should never have better medical training in the specialty field than the clinic or office the patient would like to patronize. Here are some tips for weeding out the questionable offices:
1) On the phone, ask what kinds of STDs they test for. If they say "all of them", repeat the question, emphasizing the word "which". If they still say "all of them" without giving you a specific list, don't go there. The receptionist, at least, has no idea what her office handles and will not schedule you for the appointment you want, leaving you to make it all the way up to the doctor herself before discovering that you just wasted your time and now have an office fee or copay for no reason (or will have to have another set of fees for a second office visit somewhere else).
1b) To really test their knowledge, ask if they have the HPV test for men. If they say yes, be immediately suspicious and ask to speak directly to the doctor. The doctor should know that their phone staff is providing bad information and is about to schedule you for a service that doesn't exist, which will cost you time and money. Then, don't go there.
2) When they list the STDs they test for and leave off "HSV", ask them if they test for HSV. Be sure to say "HSV" and not "herpes". If the receptionist doesn't know that HSV is the virus that causes herpes and that the HSV test IS the herpes test, don't go there, for the same reason as point #1.
3) When the receptionist or scheduler does happen to understand that the HSV test is the same thing as the herpes test, ask which test they offer
(hint, it should involve letters like PCR or IgG). If they can't tell you which test, or they are unaware there are multiple tests with different methods and accuracy ratings, don't go there. Even a receptionist who has no medical training should at least be able to ask a nurse or technician the answer to that question, or to ask her office manager what the lab order code says about which herpes test they would be ordering.
3b) If, upon asking which test they offer, the receptionist responds with "what do you mean which one? You either have herpes or you don't!", then don't go there. First of all, that's not true, there is more than one strain. Second, that wasn't the question, and even accurate test results don't give you a binary yes/no answer - it's a probability or a yes/no with an error margin for false negatives/false positives.
3c) If, upon making it clear to the receptionist that there are several different types of HSV tests, and you want to know which one that clinic uses, she STILL doesn't know so she offers to transfer you to the lab, where the lab technician answers and is unable to tell you the name of the test they use, don't go there. I shouldn't even have to explain why this is a problem.
3d) If you manage to find out which type of HSV test they offer, get them to state, unambiguously, whether they will be able to distinguish between the types of HSV. This may not be important to you, but it is important to know if this office knows the limitations of their own tests.
4) When you arrive, if you have the money for the tests you want, and the office offers the tests you want, and the doctor, nurse, or technician tries to talk you out of getting a particular test because "everyone already has it, so don't worry about it" or "if you don't have symptoms, you don't need to be tested for it", be prepared to exaggerate or outright lie about your sexual status and demand the tests that they offer that you are willing to pay for. When I say "be prepared", this means to have the numbers and situations already in mind, and to also be ready to sit there and be lectured about safer sex practices.
Some clinics do not think that a full battery of regular STD exams should be part of one's regular medical maintenance, while simultaneously believing that multiple sex partners automatically equates one with the crack whores who fuck dozens of strangers a day in exchange for dirty needles to shoot up with. So you may have to tell them that you have more partners than you do, or that your partners were exposed to all kinds of STDs and just deal with the judgement and the, probably, misinformation based on a skewed sense of morality that places a person's value on their sexuality, or lack thereof. I once had to break down crying about a cheating boyfriend who tested positive for HSV in order to get an HSV test without symptoms. I also had to break down crying in order to get the 2nd AND 3rd shot in my hepatitis vaccine schedule, which didn't make any sense at all since they gave me the first shot.
Not all of us have health insurance or the money to afford to shop around for just the right health practitioner who will treat us respectfully. Some of us have to go for price over comfort. But we shouldn't also have to sacrifice competence. In fact, it might turn out to be more expensive if you try going for price alone and discover that you didn't actually get what you wanted and now have to go somewhere else anyway.*This PSA brought to you from direct conversations I've had in the last 2 days with various clinics around town. Yes, I actually had to explain to someone that HSV was the virus that causes herpes when I called an STD clinic.*
Read and add your signature, if you want to. It’s easy and fun, and shorter than an iTunes TOS update!
I pledge not to fetishize civility over justice. I recognize that the very notion of “civility” is defined in large part by those in whose benefit the status quo is maintained. I further recognize that the structure of “civility” at least in part has been created with the express purpose of bolstering chronic injustices. As Malvina Reynolds sang, “it isn’t nice to block the doorways, it isn’t nice to go to jail; there are nicer ways to do it, but the nice ways always fail.”
I pledge to remember that civility and compassion are not the same thing. Executive Order 9066, for example, was an emphatically civil document. There was not a mean-spirited or insulting word in the entire document, with the exception of the phrase “alien enemies.” In fact, it specified that a group of people would be provided with food, housing, and transportation. And yet it was one of the most unkind, uncompassionate acts of the US Government in the 20th Century. Civility is a very effective camouflage for hatred.
I pledge to remember that a fetishized civility is a field mark of insulation from suffering. The cries of the wounded on a battleground may be very unpleasant and uncivil indeed. I pledge to nod sympathetically and help bind those wounds rather than chide the wounded for bleeding so indecorously.
I pledge to keep a sense of perspective. Tossing basic civil rights under the bus in order to maintain a jury-rigged superficial peace in a single-issue movement is a bad bargain.
Rather than worry overmuch about civility, I pledge to be as kind as possible. And sometimes the kindest possible contribution to a discussion with someone acting in bad faith and harmfully is to tell them to go fuck themselves sideways.
- Tags:atheism, bdsm, fear, freedom/politics, gender issues, me manual, online skeezballs, polyamory, rants, recommendations, skepticism
As I mentioned in my last post, I had heard there was a clinic who was offering the HPV test for men, but I was waiting for confirmation and more information before I posted about it. I had looked up online on my own and only found more insistence that no HPV test existed except for that used in research. One clinic in California was taking it upon themselves to use that research testing method to conduct their own study, thereby giving men who participated an HPV test.
Well, I found out that the clinic I heard of that may have had an HPV test for men does not, in fact, have an HPV test for men. They seemed to have deliberately misled interested patients, as one particular patient tried to confirm several times, through several levels, that he was scheduling himself for an HPV test, and at each level was either told yes, or given an ambiguous or non-committal answer until he finally saw the physician personally. That physician was the only person to say, flat out, that there was no HPV test for men and that their answering service gives out the wrong information all the time. The person on the phone, the receptionist, the nurse or medical technician who prepped him for the appointment - none of them corrected the patient on the belief that he would be receiving an HPV test that day.
Remember, when you go in to be tested for "everything", you are not tested for everything.
Let me repeat that:
When you go in to be tested for "everything", you are not tested for everything.
You MUST go in with a specific list of tests that you want to purchase and get confirmation from the physician herself that you will be tested for those things. And, more than just saying "I want a herpes test", you have to say "I want the HSV PCR test" or whatever you're looking for. Some STDs have different kinds of tests with different levels of accuracy and expense. Make sure you know exactly which test you want and ask for it by name.
And then be prepared to argue with them over the necessity of getting tested. Many clinics and doctors still take the position that certain STDs like herpes and HPV are so prevalent, that there's no point in worrying whether you have it or not if you're asymptomatic, so you don't need to get tested. They figure that if you don't have herpes or HPV yet, you will soon, so just don't worry about it until you start showing symptoms and need treatment. If you're OK with that, then fine, but if you want to have test results in your records to show prospective partners, then insist that doctors provide the services that they offer to the patients willing to pay for those services, and if they won't, go elsewhere.
It is true that many people either have or will have HSV or HPV, and it is also true that, for the vast majority of those people, the virus is little more than an "inconvenience". It is also true that stress about health and medical procedures can, for some health issues, be worse than the health issue itself. Many people are worse off for worrying about things than they are for having those things, and for a great deal of things, too-often testing does not significantly increase your odds of survival or better health. People who go looking for health problems will often find them, even when those problems are mild or things that the body can heal on its own. Many people put themselves through unnecessary procedures and surgeries to take care of things "just in case" that probably won't hurt them and that are so mild that they'd never know they had if they hadn't gone looking for them.
All of that is irrelevant if you have done your research and you just want to have accurate and update medical records for your prospective partners. I caution people against using test results as a way to justify and entrench their own sex-negative fears. Some people hold onto their "clean" records as sort of a talisman to justify rejecting and being hurtful towards prospective partners who might have an STI. I can't tell you how often I've heard statements like "I'm clean and I want to stay that way". The fact is you won't. STIs should be treated as any other equivalent illness. You will get sick, whether it's the flu, strep throat, the measles, or warts and cold sores. By all means, take precautions, but be consistent. If you're afraid of getting a life-threatening illness like HIV, use condoms, get your flu shots and pertussis boosters, wash your hands regularly, don't go to work sick and insist that other sick coworkers go home, and get your physicals and preventative exams done on time.
Being sick sucks, but STIs are no better or worse than any other comparable illness, so don't use your test results as a weapon against people with STIs, or to look down on people with STIs, or to think you're "safe" from life-changing surprises like illnesses. Get tested so that your partners can make informed decisions, so that you can see patterns in your own health history, and to help you and your physician decide on appropriate medical procedure schedules. If you routinely have abnormal pap smears, for example, then you ought to be getting the HPV test regularly & often, like annually or semi-annually. If you consistently have normal pap smears, have no history of cancer in your family, and your sexual network is fairly static, then you can probably get checked less often, like every other year.
But, yes, definitely get tested "regularly" (for whatever definition of "regularly" fits your particular health circumstances) and definitely insist that your physician provide you with the proper services. Just make sure to use those tests in the same way that you'd use any other health test - to evaluate your personal risk assessment and manage your personal health checkup schedules, not to freak out about being "unclean" or to ward off "dirty" partners.
For a list of the STIs that you can and should be tested for, download the Sexual Health & History Disclosure form, which includes spaces for you to add your latest testing dates & a record of your past and current partners, their testing status, & the transmissive activities you shared with them and can be found here, along with some other convenient charts & graphics http://www.theinnbetween.net/polysex.html
So, we're all 13-year old boys at work and sexual innuendo is endlessly amusing. As our boss said today, sex jokes makes the day go faster. Today, we decided to formalize it after I said something that could particularly be confused for something said at an orgy. So now, we are making legitimate backstage phrases that could mistaken* for being heard at an orgy. Here's what I've collected so far:
*And by "mistaken", we don't necessarily mean that, literally, these phrases are common at all orgies (although I have actually heard quite a frew on this list at real orgies). As a person who is part of the poly and kink communities, I, and many of my fellow stagehands, are quite aware that much of what is said at an orgy can be commonplace, blasé, or even totally unusual and not something that one would expect to be said at an orgy at all. That's not the point. Re-read the part at the very beginning about "sexual innuendo" and "sex jokes". Re-read the part a third time about "jokes". It's supposed to be funny, not literal.
- Everyone grab one and pull!
- I need a male to female turn-around.
- How many slots are empty over there?
- There's room for one more!
- Someone help me tie this up!
- It's too tight!
- Can I use your tool?
- Which tool do you need?
- I'm getting to old to be working on my knees.
- Rub the kinks out of it
- This one's not kinked up yet!
- My boss just fucked me
- Bring it on in! No, wait! Take it out!
- Aw, man, who did THAT?
- Fuck that shit
- Used condoms right here!
- Here comes the head!
- I need skinny shit to shove in here!
- Shove it in the hole!
- Bring it!
- He's in the right pile.
- Gimme the black one
- Gotta twist it in.
- There's a trick to it. Just remember "twist & jiggle"
- I dunno about that, it looks dirty
- No, not that one, it's too small. I need the horse cock.
- Is that box full?
- You just start breaking them and I'll come behind you.
- I'm gonna need gak to fill the hole
- Fine! Make me bend over!
- You sure you can handle all that?
- How many holes you got left?
- Gonna need 3 guys to grab this fuzzy bitch and flip her on her back.
- This floor ain't exactly clean. It's kinda chunky.
- I get excited when I see the little ones!
- I can handle the little ones all by myself!
- Non-lubricated Trojan condoms are the best. (Yes, it's legitimately used backstage for backstage stuff)
- My side's in, how about yours?
- Need a little more ass on this!
- I'm gonna go help her with her fuzzy.
- I love doing the movers!
- I need more 8-ways.
- I can finish this by myself.
- Get your fuzzy over there in line.
- Make a hole!
- Don't forget the nipples.
- That's a tight pack right there!
- Are you pulling out or staying here?
- Watch your back, I'm coming behind you!
- Up against the wall!
- More subs!
- Can I ride on the back?
- When you come, go through the rear.
- "How'd he get out of that harness so quickly?" "He just slid out." "I'm surprised he's not naked already!"
- Now THAT'S well hung!
- Are you sure that's rated for that kind of weight?
- Just put that anywhere
- Goddamn these condoms are tight! Don't we have any bigger ones? They hurt!
- "They're all fresh & tight." "We don't get many fresh, tight ones around here."
- The blacks are hung.
- I could use a snatch block.
- Look at all the people leaving their condoms lying all over!
- C'mon, hurry up, we got a bunch of guys standing around with their dicks in their hands!
It was back in July, 2010 that I last wrote
about carrageenan, a component of algae found in nearly every type of commericial food, that looks to have HPV-blocking properties. All in vitro
testing done up until that post seemed very promising. In July of 2010, a research facility had finally gotten the go-ahead to try a double-blind trial on actual people - testing had only been done in the lab before then. Well, I haven't heard anything new since then so I haven't made any posts about it. I did a cursory Google search for the specific product that I wrote about, Carraguard, to see what happened, but I didn't find anything more recent than that same study. It has apparently concluded and found the gel to be effective, but the conclusion didn't make any headlines that I'm aware of, and no announcements about putting Carraguard into production.
Today I saw that there's another research facility in Canada doing their own double-blind, human study
sing a personal lube that is currently available on the market, Divine 9
which also passed all of it's Phase II, in vitro
, trials). They will give a very similar gel/lube with either carrageenan or a placebo to be used during sex and then follow up with the women in a year to check the rates of HPV infection. Hopefully something will actually come out of this study, so that we can start seeing products made specifically with anti-HPV properties in mind, and so we can offer a more affordable option to those women who can't afford the vaccine. In the meantime, there are already personal lubes available on the market with high concentrations of carrageenan as a regular ingredient used to thicken products. Divine 9
Oceanus Dreambrands Carrageenan
are all commercially available lubes that the research suggests may be effective and preventing HPV transmission during sex.
Also, I just heard that there is a test for men now, but I'm still trying to get details on it. So far, all I've found is this article
talking about a clinic in San Diego that decided, on its own, to start swabbing the urethra opening and performing the HPV test in the context of a research study. According to the CDC
, there is still no FDA-approved test for men. Near as I can figure, individual men can occasionally convince a doctor to do the woman's test on their penis. But I know someone who claims to have found a doctor to give him the test, so when I get more information on it, I'll post it here.
My dad is kind of a laconic man. We never spent hours discussing philosophy or religion or deep thoughts. He wasn't cold, by any means, he just didn't have all that much to say. Most of my memories of my father involve sitting in front of the television watching Cheers
or Three Amigos
, and sitting silently in a fishing boat trying not to spook the fish, and quietly freezing to death in the bottom of a duck blind waiting for a decent flock of mallards to fly overheard in range of the shotgun. It's probably safe to say that I was the talkative half of this duo.
But I learned some things about life from my dad. One of them happened during one of those hunting or fishing trips. See, I also learned how to drive from my dad. But the lesson extended deeper than simply operating a motor vehicle.
When I was roughly 10-ish, my dad started teaching me how to drive his giant, old, Toyota Landcruiser. It's what SUVs dream of growing up to become. It's not quite as big as a Suburban, but it's in that class from back when trucks were trucks
, not overgrown minivans with a Napolean complex.
Anyway, I was too small to see over the steering wheel, however old that was. So Dad started by having me steer while sitting on his lap, as most kids who learn how to drive as kids & not teens did. From there we moved to me shifting gears while sitting in the passenger seat as he steered and operated the pedals. When I got tall enough to see over the wheel, he finally taught me how to operate the pedals and I was driving on my own by age 12.
This truck was a manual transmission and a four-wheel drive, so I had to learn both how to operate a giant-ass truck with manual transmission and no power steering, but also how to tell when the truck needed to be switched from two-wheel drive to four (and in the backwoods where the lakes and duck blinds were located, I certainly had plenty of opportunity to switch back and forth between two- and four-wheel drive).
So, this lesson takes place on the day that my dad taught me how to operate the stick shift from the passenger seat. Since Dad was operating the pedals, I put my hand on the gear shift and he yelled "shift!" when it was time to shift. Now, I'm a pretty regimented sort of person. I know my parents would never believe me, based on the state my bedroom was always in, but I love boxes and categories and organization. I like for things to fit
. But even though the gear shift had a diagram of the gear pattern on the handle, Dad was trying to tell me to not worry so much about it - just remember the gears go in the shape of an H and feel
the gear shift move because it will naturally want to go in the next highest slot.
I was just starting to get a handle on this whole "don't worry about the diagram" thing and just "feel" the gear shift, because it really did seem to want to go in the right spot with just a little bit of a push. So, now that I had mastered that particular skill, I began to anticipate the next level - operating the pedals.
I asked my dad how he knew when to shift. He tried to explain something about listening to the engine, but that wasn't working for me. I wanted to know which miles-per-hour-tick-mark the needle was supposed to hit that would signal the next gear change. Dad said that it didn't work like that. He tried explaining again about the engine, but I insisted that I wanted to know ... was it at 20 miles per hour? 25? Every 5 or every 10?
Dad eventually sighed and capitulated and told me some miles per hour that I could use as a rule of thumb to shift. But, he said, really, you listen to the engine and you feel the car. The car will tell you what's going on with it, you just have to listen. Driving is more than moving levers and gears. Driving is about feeling
the car as if it were an extension of yourself. You have to pay attention to it, and it will communicate to you what it needs. Get to know the physical space that the car takes up as well as you know how much space you take up. Feel the road under the tires, feel the vibration of the engine, listen to the roar and the whine and the growl and the hum. The car will tell you. You'll know when to shift by how the car sounds and how the car feels.
Naturally, I didn't really understand this lesson at the time. I knew how to ride a horse, and how to communicate using very subtle body language, but this was a machine - how was I supposed to "listen to" and "feel" a car the way I could listen to and feel a horse? As I got older, I eventually learned what the rpm gauge was for, and I learned that most people didn't shift based on mph, but by rpms. So I shifted my mental scale of when to shift from every 10 mph (or whatever I thought it was) to when the rpms reached a certain level. But then I started driving on my own.
When I turned 16 and got my license, I started driving my own car (a manual transmission, naturally). And I discovered that my rule of thumb for shifting didn't apply in my little Mitsubishi commuter car the same way it worked for my dad's big, old Landcruiser. I readjusted my rule of thumb for my new car, but I had to adjust it again for every car. And then I learned that what rpms you decide to shift at depends on what you want the car to do. I had to choose a different set of rpms based on whether I was trying to save gas or racing or if I wanted to be first off the line, or even if I was downshifting!
Nothing made sense! Where was my nice set of rules? What happened to the categories, the boxes, the regiment?! That's when I finally groked my dad's lesson from all those years ago. I had to feel
the car, to listen to her. She would tell me what she needed. She would tell me when she wanted to shift, and she would tell me when her needs weren't getting met, like oil and gas. All I had to do was listen, and to feel.
I learned that relationships were a lot like that too, and, in fact, life in general was a lot like that. I can make all the nice, neat little boxes and categories and rules of thumb that I want, but when it comes right down to it, if I want to really be a driver
, instead of just an operator, I have to listen, and I have to feel. I will be told what I need to do if I just listen to what I'm being told and if I feel the world around me as if it's an extension of myself.
I don't always succeed. I often try to muscle my relationships and the world around me into being operated by me according to rules and boxes and categories. And, y'know, that can work an awful lot of the time, for some definition of "work". But when I do that, I'm merely operating a machine. I'm not getting the best fuel efficiency, or I'm not getting the best performance. I need to feel the car as if it's an extension of myself and I need to listen to what it's telling me. When I do that, we work together and I drive
Thanks Dad, not only for helping me to become a much more proficient driver than many of my friends, or for instilling in me such a wonderful passion as driving, but for giving me the universe through a way of looking at things that adds such depth and connection that I think very few are privileged to experience.