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 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."
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.
Back in 2010, the Pew Forum did a survey about how much Americans know about religion. In a 32-question phone survey*, they asked people about Christianity & their bible, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism, atheism/agnosticism, and American legal issues about religion. They found that atheists/agnostics scored the highest average, even after controlling for education & other demographics like race & sex, and did particularly well on the legal questions, questions about non-Christian religions, and questions about the Bible specifically. One of the results that I find particularly amusing is that US Southerners scored worse than those from all other geographic regions on the religious knowledge questions, even after controlling for the demographics( Survey Answers ArchiveCollapse )
The Pew Survey is completed, however you can take a 15-question version of the survey at Pew's website. Your results do not affect the survey's conclusions and are not counted as data. But you can see how well you do compared to Americans in general and compared to several different demographics including religious groups. The 15 questions are taken directly from the 32 questions used in the original survey. http://features.pewforum.org/quiz/us-religious-knowledge/
You can also take another survey with all 32 questions, just to see how you'd do, but it's hosted by a Christian website and called Are You Smarter Than An Atheist? and provides no way for you to indicate what your religious affiliation is. Judging purely by the way other Christian groups have doctored online polls before, I suspect that they will take the results of their totally unscientific survey (which has atheists as well as people of other religions answering it) to show that "their" respondents (the presumption being that the respondents are all Christian) are smarter than the national average and/or the atheists who took the Pew survey. But I took the survey anyway, just to see how I'd do http://m.csmonitor.com/USA/2011/0105/Are-you-smarter-than-an-atheist-A-religious-quiz/
I scored 30 out of 32 on the full survey (the highest average being from atheists at 20.9 correct out of 32) and 15 out of 15 on the smaller Pew survey (better than 99% of all other respondents - no religious affiliations given). I'm archiving the results behind the cut because I'm rather proud of my knowledge and understanding of religious issues. Don't click the cut if you want to take the surveys yourself and see what you actually know, because the answers are given. Also don't bother clicking the cut if you don't want to be inundated with survey data - it's a boring list of numbers and stats that I'm only archiving for my own records and most people are not going to care how well I did compared to other religions on each question.
*Technically, the phone survey was way more than 32 questions, but that's because it included demographic questions (i.e. age, race, religious affiliation, political party, how often they attend church, etc.) and a handful of "control" questions about non-religious stuff like what is the vice president's name and which party holds the House majority and whether lasers work via sound waves and whether antibiotics kill bacteria and what movement is Susan B. Anthony associated with and who wrote Moby Dick. But there were 32 questions on religious knowledge and the survey's goal was to determine who knew what about religion.
was waiting in the TSA line for a plane trip when someone came up to him and said "I know this isn't any of my business, but what's with the bunny ears?" Before he could answer, the guy in front of him turned around and angrily said, "I'll tell you what's with the bunny ears, he just wants attention! I'd knock them off if I could!"tacit
didn't respond to the guy directly, but did tell the original questioner that the ears were a gift from a friend. He wishes now that he had said they were a gift from one of his girlfriends, just to poke the angry asshole.
I told him that he should have said "actually, I had a daughter... she got sick..." tacit
's eyes got big and filled with a mixture of horror and admiration. He said "you're not right!" and then he and datan0de
immediately filled in the rest of the story designed to make the asshole feel as badly as possible for jumping to conclusions and becoming angry over what someone else had the audacity to wear in public. This mythical "daughter" would have had a birthday on the day of this fateful plane trip, had she lived. The ears were her last gift to "daddy". He was on his way to visit her grave. And it went downhill from there.
Shelly chimed in with "I think assholes should
be made to feel like assholes!"
And that is the crux of my entire online persona. I am the cautionary tale. I am the consequences of your bad behaviour and I will not let you ignore the consequences.
According to Why We Are So Rude Online
"We're less inhibited online because we don't have to see the reaction of the person we're addressing, says Sherry Turkle, psychologist and Massachusetts Institute of Technology ... Because it's harder to see and focus on what we have in common, we tend to dehumanize each other, she says."
My posts are a reaction, a deliberate attempt to show other people those reactions that they can't see online. When someone is an asshole online, most of the people I know back off. They don't reply to OKC messages, they unfriend, they disengage. I do that too, but before I do, I make a conscious decision to allow that person to see my reaction. That's what all these rants here on LJ are, that's why I post the Online Skeezballs exchanges, that's why I get into flame wars.
I will also eventually back out and disengage when I can't take it anymore. But I won't let their behaviour go unpunished. My goal is for everyone who treats people poorly to see
what happens when you treat people poorly. I want there to be consequences for treating people poorly. I want you to be unable to retreat unscathed from treating someone poorly. I want that kind of behaviour to do as much damage to the troll as to the victim, because, apparently, hurting someone is not enough motivation to stop. Perhaps self-preservation will be a start.
These sorts of studies also explain away trolling behaviour by the security provided by anonymity - that people say mean things to each other online that they would never say in person, because they don't have to see how their words affect people.
This is another way in which my behaviour is different from "trolls". Because I will say these things in person. I will tell you what I think. One of two things happens in real life, however. Either my tone gives a clearer indication as to my motivations, intentions, and emotional state and reduces the confusion that so often happens online where people mistake what I'm saying for something "mean"; or I am actually saying something "mean" and I know it will hurt you, but I'm saying it because you need to hear it - exactly the way I do it online.
So, yes, people can hide behind the anonymity of the internet & say and do things that they wouldn't do in person. This is unacceptable. And yes, people say the things they do because they don't have to deal with the reactions of the people they are hurting. This is also unacceptable.But this is WHY I say mean things on the internet
. I am not allowing people to get away with saying something mean without consequences. I am not allowing them to remain ignorant of the reactions they are causing. And I am not doing or saying anything that I wouldn't also say directly to that person's face. I am the person who will tell you that your ass looks fat in that dress because that's a shitty question to ask someone and a terrible way to trap people who care about you, and you should feel the consequences of putting someone in that awful position. And I won't just say that your ass looks fat in that dress, I will TELL you that I'm saying so because
I think it's a shitty question to ask someone and a terrible way to trap people who care about you. So that you know.
When I go through TSA, I opt-out of the body scanners on principle, which requires them to give me a pat-down. I insist that the pat-down be held in public, in front of everyone (including anyone who might have a camera on them) where they have to be held accountable, and when they ask about medical conditions, I tell them (honestly) that I have endometriosis and I'm on my period, so I'm bleeding & my breasts & groin are sensitive to the touch. If someone is going to make me uncomfortable, I'm going to make them uncomfortable right back. I have ALWAYS gotten professional pat-downs without any inappropriate touching (other than the fact the pat-down itself is inappropriate), and some were downright ineffective in their effort not to be "inappropriate". I also pack sex toys in my luggage, which grossed out a customs agent enough that she stopped searching my bag & waved me through.
When people ask me a rude & personal question, I will tell them the answer. That always makes them uncomfortable, and I say "don't ask questions you don't want the answer to". I intend to make them feel as uncomfortable as they made me feel. I will respond, and you will not escape my response.
I am not about "radical honesty" where you have to just "toughen up" and "grow thicker skin". In fact, I'm about the opposite - of developing thinner skin so that you care more about what you're doing to people. I am about making people develop more sophisticated empathy so that they don't do the kinds of things anymore that result in someone telling them off. If someone is telling you off, then you've done something that crossed the line. It's no longer about being "honest", it's about you being a jerk. You've hurt someone. And you need to know that you've hurt someone. And you need to feel bad about it.Filed under "it's OK to be intolerant about intolerance"
The screen fades from black to show a man sleeping in bed. His eyes pop open. Cut to another man bouncing out of his bed in his pajamas. Cut to yet another man running down the stairs. Show a series of different men all acting like children on Christmas morning, running to the tree, tearing open the presents, and all finding Craftsman tools, or Makita, or Dewalt, or Black & Decker, whatever. The men are excited, behaviour has regressed, this is the best thing EVAR! Some voice-over says something witty about getting your man what he really wants this holiday season: a set of their tools.
Dear Advertisers of Manly Stuff;
I don't know if you know this, but I'm a woman and I like tools. Seeing ads like this on TV around the holidays makes me feel excluded from the very things that I love. It's like when I was a kid and saw commercials for my favorite toys, but there were no girls playing with those toys, even though I knew lots of girls who liked those toys. Since there were no girls on the commercials and no girls on the packaging, the adults in my life refused to buy me those toys because they weren't "girl toys". But I loved them!
Commercials like these don't just make me feel excluded. They make me think that I am deliberately unwanted. Oh, sure, when it comes to money, you're willing to cater to the women. But you make our tools less powerful, smaller, and pink or purple. I want my industrial yellow, 15-bajillion hertz Dewalt power drill, not some frilly purple drill with flowers on it that doesn't even have enough power to screw in my picture hardware.
I know this may come as a shock to you, but I don't hang pictures. I build shit. I fix my car. And I don't mean that I change tires (although I do). I've rebuilt my own carbuerator. I built the shed out back. I've installed load-bearing walls. I operate heavy machinery. I have all the best name-brands and a better tool collection than my father - a manly man who taught me how to use a circular saw and to hunt deer and let me steal sips of his beer when mom wasn't looking. I have multiple tool chests for different kinds of work, and I have specialty tools just for certain industries that your average guy won't have. And, here's even more of a shock, I also like cooking and sewing and men. And (are you sitting down?) I'm not the only one.
Maybe tool purchases by women only make up 10% of your sales (although I don't believe it's that low for a minute, but let's say for the sake of argument). Would it really kill you to throw in a single woman in that holiday morning montage? A girl amidst the dozen men who tears off the packaging while wearing fuzzy pajamas with snowflakes on them and finds a black and blue Kobalt power drill or air compressor or something - a good, powerful tool that matches her fuzzy pajamas - and who shakes her fists and grins and gives her husband a bear hug in thanks? Just one? You can even make her blonde and young and pretty. At this point, I'd settle for a token woman.
Maybe you're afraid that the big manly men won't want to buy that brand of tool if you suggest that women like it too. But maybe you'll win tons of loyal female customers to make up for the handfuls of chauvanistic pricks who refuse to buy a good tool just because some chick also knows it's a good tool. Most men won't stop buying something good just because they find out that some women like it too - in fact, they probably won't even notice the woman in the commerical at all, because they probably never noticed her absence in the first place. But word will spread that you are including women, and not pandering to them, and women notice that. They'll go out of their way to buy YOUR brand when they need a tool, especially if you're the only, or the first, brand to do this. If you ever thought men cornered the market on being brand-loyal, you've never seen "loyal" until you've treated a woman customer like a person, listened to what she wanted, and offered her a quality product without assuming she wouldn't be interested or doesn't understand or must be buying for her husband.
Throw in a female in your advertising - make me think that you appreciate my business, because I appreciate your products and want to buy more of them. Only I won't if I think I can get better service from another company, and the next generation of women won't if they continue to get bombarded with messages that say that your products are not for them. Don't girlie-up your tools, don't make tools - or commericals - exclusively for women and leave out the men. Just include us. That's all we're asking for. Treat us like human beings first, paying customers second, and only like women if you have a shot at the parts that make us women.
A Woman Who Likes Tools
Saw on a Facebook picture today:
No matter which [religious] symbol you follow, if you respect mine, I'll respect yours."
I'll try to keep this short, because I addressed this in my last rant on the COEXIST sticker. These kinds of bumper sticker slogans annoy me. I get the desire for peace and cooperation that drives the slogan (and agree with it), but there are two things that are very wrong with slogans like these.
1) Some of those symbols represent philosophies/religions/worldviews/mindsets that are inherently exclusive to the other symbols. If the very foundation of what that symbol represents is "everyone who isn't exactly like me is wrong and should be converted" or "everyone who isn't exactly like me is wrong and should die", there is no coexisting. Period. Any belief system that says it has the Truth is mutually exclusive to any other belief system, so therefore the beliefs cannot "coexist", although the people who hold them might. And so far, every belief that science has been able to investigate has always provided an incorrect answer, again, making science & every supernatural belief system mutually exclusive (there are now some bumper stickers that include science in the collection of symbols).
2) I think it is reasonable to respect everyone's right to believe whatever they believe, but I do not think it is reasonable to respect those beliefs themselves. Frankly, some of those beliefs are fucking terrifying and do not deserve respect - even the ones that do not demand the immediate assimilation or death of everyone who is different. And the beliefs that aren't terrifying are just ridiculous.
It is not reasonable to expect me to respect a belief that says I am a filthy whore who deserves to be raped. Even if the person holding that belief doesn't actually do anything about it just because we've reached some cease fire agreement.
It is not reasonable to expect me to respect a belief that says I am going to burn for eternity because I didn't buy the totally implausible idea of a supernatural being impregnating a teenager with himself, and then having himself killed in order to take the punishment that was supposed to be mine for something I didn't do.
It is not reasonable to expect me to respect a belief that says water carries the memory of the poison we put into it, but not all the poop that was in it, and uses that memory of poison to cure us of things that cause the same symptoms as the poison.
It is not reasonable to expect me to respect a belief that says aliens are living at the center of our galaxy and trying to communicate with us telepathically, but the spinning of the galaxy is interfering, and they are trying to tell us how to create a Utopian society while other aliens have possessed our bodies and are making us feel "bad" and undermining the center-of-the-galaxy aliens' efforts at world peace. (I swear I'm not making this up).
It is not reasonable to expect me to respect a belief that says you can take a machine that detects electricity into a house (with electrical wiring) and it will not detect the electrical wiring but it will detect the presence of a ghost, and jumping at house creaks in the middle of the night with the lights off is proof of an afterlife but not done for the purpose of getting ratings.
"Beliefs" are not worthy of respect. People are. But individuals can also deserve to have lost respect from others.
I really don't think people understand what the word "respect" means. Either that, or they just don't understand the variability of "human nature" and refuse to accept that some people are capable of atrocities and are not worthy of respect.
I noticed something interesting about myself today. Everyone makes snap judgments and assumptions when they first see people. These are based primarily on stereotypes, either that we pick up from society or that we develop over time with experience. They are never accurate 100% of the time, but for most people, they seem to serve just well enough to justify holding on to them. And by "well enough", I mean that most of the time, even our inaccurate assessments don't get us killed, so if it feeds our confirmation bias or affirms the consequent, that seems to be "good enough". So when I talk about one of my snap judgments, don't think that I'm not aware of the problems with snap judgments.
One of the things I judge people on is their smile in profile pictures. Profile pictures, especially on dating websites, are usually the pictures we post of ourselves that we think shows us at our best - for whatever definition of "best" is. Maybe it's when we think we're the most attractive, or maybe we think it illustrates our personality, or maybe it shows us doing something that we are passionate about and we want the viewer to know that we are passionate about it.
So when I see snapshots in a profile picture (in other words, not a professional photography session, but something someone snapped at a party), I have to wonder why they chose that picture. Is this what they think their "best" looks like? What does this picture say about them? There are a lot of things a snapshot picture can say about a person, but right now, I want to focus on the smile.
A person's smile tells me a lot about them. Again, I recognize that it might not be telling me the truth. I do not let a 5-second glimpse at a photo dictate how I will think about that person forever and ever and the smile in one, or even a handful of photographs is not the only thing I use to judge people. But nevertheless, this is what a smile tells me about someone.
A close-lipped, tight smile, especially one that is turned down at the corners, puckered in at the corners, or has an otherwise "uncomfortable" look to the smile, tends to make me think that he is inhibited, fearful, or has low self-esteem. A posed picture with a smirk or subdued, quietly dignified kind of smile doesn't do this. A snapshot where he is aware of the camera, had time to smile, and looks like he "chose" to smile, and consequently chose a smile that says "I'm uncomfortable right now, please hurry up and take the picture" makes me think that he is not very open or secure. Having a series of pictures where all the smiles are this one only reinforces my presumption.
But a wide, exuberant, showing-teeth smile indicates, to me, a person who is a happy person in general, who was caught in a moment of happiness, and who is not afraid to show us that he is happy. This is a smile that goes all the way up to the eyes, which are crinkled and squinty. It tells me that he is more concerned with how he is feeling right now than how he looks, and how he feels is wonderful. Which makes him look wonderful to me.
An open, exuberant smile shows happiness and confidence to me. It doesn't mean that he never has self-doubt and never has bad days. A tight smile indicates a lack of self-confidence, and it's that confidence that is really attractive to me. I want to fill my monkeysphere with people who embrace life, who are fearless, the Whole-Hearted people that researcher Brene Brown talks about in her TEDTalk about vulnerability. I don't mind people who are reserved, or quiet, or even shy - social skills and energy requirements are not a part of what I'm talking about right now. I'm talking about an overarching life philosophy - a worldview that sees the universe as something exciting and wonderful and wishes to experience as much of it as he can. You can still be introverted or shy or publicly reserved and have this worldview.
My own experience has created a stereotype in my head, which I use to make snap judgments about pictures, that tells me this smile and this worldview are correlated. The more pictures a person has with either type of smile, the stronger this correlation is.
There are a lot of people out there with advice for how to make your profiles "better", to increase your odds of attracting a partner. I don't tend to find those very helpful. Sure, I give netiquette advice too, but my advice is less about how to raise your profile hits and more about how not to be a jackass and insult or piss other people off, and by extension, you will probably find more success if you're not being a jackass online.
But I don't find these "get more hits on your profile" advice columns very helpful because they don't take into account the fact that we all want different things. Sure, I can start taking pictures of myself in the bathroom mirror or looking up at my cellphone, and I can shorten my profile and not rant about feminism and sexism and polyamory and atheism, and that will probably get me more hits. But what about the quality of those hits? I'm not trying to gather emails like I'm collecting stamps, I'm trying to find those specific people who will get along with *me* and to stop wasting my time with all the wrong guys.
The trick is not to just up the numbers - that gets tedious really quickly when it's all the wrong people. The trick is to attract the *right kind* of person. Efficiency over quantity. You don't need a hundred hits to find "The One", especially if all hundred are incompatible. You just need the right one. In order to find a partner, you first have to become the kind of person that your Perfect Partner would want. Then you have to find a way to communicate that you are that person. And one of the ways we communicate who we are is through the pictures we choose to post of ourselves on our dating profiles.
So, I won't tell you all to go out and change all your profile pictures to better "improve" your online dating success. If you don't share my values, then you won't want someone like me to be attracted to you. But *if* you want a partner who appreciates excitement and has enthusiasm for life, one possible way to attract him or her is to show your own enthusiasm in your profile pictures.
I find I have this same presumption for women's pictures, but since I am not interested in dating women, I never really put it together like this. I knew that I have some friends who I think are beautiful women, but who consistently smile in a close-lipped, tight smile that I think is not as attractive as their candid, exuberant smile. Their whole faces just light up when they are genuinely happy, and that's far more attractive, IMO, than having the perfect makeup or perfectly sculpted cheekbones or hiding their teeth. I'm always just a little bit disappointed when I see a beautiful picture of them that has this "I'm not really smiling" smile because of how much more beautiful I think their happy smile makes them.
But today, I got a notice from OKC about some guy who liked my profile. I get a lot of those, but I haven't actually checked OKC or read my email in about a year or more. For some reason, today, I decided to see who he was. I liked what he had to say in his profile, but when I looked at his pictures, I notice that my interest in him dropped (I read the profile before I look at the picture, and sometimes I don't look at the pictures at all). So I spent some time figuring out why that might be. It wasn't until his very last picture, when he had that open, exuberant smile, that I figured out why. In all his other pictures, he just looked uncomfortable, even though he, technically, had a smile. And I found myself getting turned off by his discomfort. But his happiness in the last picture rejuvenated my interest.
So, don't go out and change all your profile pictures. Use the pictures that you think communicate best who you are and show what you want your prospective date to see of you. Just keep in mind that people who highly value fearlessness, openness, vulnerability, enthusiasm, happiness, and embracing life may be more attracted to people whose pictures convey those same traits. And one of the ways those traits are conveyed is through an open, genuine, uninhibited, toothy grin.
I want happy, passionate people who embrace life & aren't afraid to try new things in my monkeysphere
and I have begun learning how to relax and be myself in front of a camera so that my pictures reflect that part of my personality too. I look for people who smile widely in pictures when I'm interested in considering whether or not someone could be a part of my monkeysphere.
But if your profile picture has duck face, you are automatically disqualified as monkeysphere potential.
http://tacit.livejournal.com/389036.html - Some Thoughts On Courage
http://tacit.livejournal.com/325057.html - Some Thoughts On Choosing Relationships
I can't tell you how much I hate the phrase "Don't Be A Dick". I greatly admire & respect Phil Plait & Wil Wheaton, who have made that the catchphrase of the Nice Guy Skeptical Movement (TM). I will go so far as to say that I even happen to agree with their point - that people don't tend to change their minds when you're insulting them, so if we want to change someone's mind directly, we shouldn't call them names on the internet when we disagree.
The reason I hate the phrase is because it is subjective. There is no criteria for what being a "dick" means. So it gets used every time anyone says anything that anyone else disagrees with. Sure, we can point to examples where one person is clearly being an asshole, clearly being antagonistic, and not at all interested in dialog and an exchange of viewpoints. But that's not usually under debate by either side in the DBAD debate.
To clarify: Don't Be A Dick is not when you complain about someone doing something harmful and you call him out on it, like calling the sexist asshole who fired a movie reviewer for daring to write a movie review about Snow White
because it propagated "alpha females and beta males", a sexist asshole. You're not a dick for calling an asshole an asshole. Don't Be A Dick is also not when you complain about a person holding a harmful, offensive, or dangerous position or worldview, like the fucktard who thinks children should be killed for disobeying their parents
and calling that person a fucktard. You're not a dick for being appalled by someone's harmful and offensive worldview. Don't Be A Dick is not when someone says something sexist/racist/bigoted/offensive and you try to tell them that it was sexist/racist/bigoted/offensive and they shouldn't do that - you are not a dick for trying to eliminate racism/sexism/bigotry.
Don't Be A Dick is when you hold some position or make some claim, and you are told, sometimes by someone who actually agrees with you, to adjust your delivery
so as to not offend the people who disagree with you without necessarily changing the message. This is when you say "you're being racist" and someone says "you are correct, but you should say it nicer, without using the "r" word, so that he doesn't get upset and he will be more likely to listen to you".
There are 2 times when I see this catchphrase being used:
1) Nice Guy Skeptics talking philosophically about tactics for converting people to skeptical or atheist viewpoints, but not giving any specific examples or pointing any fingers.
2) When one person says something that another person finds offensive, regardless of how the original message is phrased or the intent of the speaker, simply because the offended person doesn't like what was said, and the original person is told to change how he phrases things without changing the message, as if that would fix the offense.
There is no clear-cut way to determine when one is being a dick or how to avoid being a dick, when these are the 2 instances of use for the phrase. I admit that I can be an asshole. There are times when I lose my temper and I have ceased having a productive conversation and have resorted to expressing my anger without using that anger as a tool to motivate others. One such noteworthy exchange is when I asked, and then demanded, that someone stop tweeting at me & demanding that I engage with him in a religious debate, and after he refused to stop, I spent the next 2 days tweeting nothing but insults at him to get him to block me. I was not being productive or trying to have a dialog, and there was never any illusion that I was.
But then there are times when I just state something, not even an opinion sometimes but a statement of fact, and I am accused of being an asshole, a dick, "aggressive", mean, bullying, etc. If I happen to say something, and someone out there on the internet doesn't like the statement, whether it's an opinion or a fact or even when I sympathize with them, I will be accused of being mean and of hurting someone's feelings, or worse, hurting "the community/movement". Confidence and pragmatism are often confused with arrogance and aggressiveness, especially online. Someone who seems confident to me will seem arrogant to someone else. How do we know which one is correct? Most likely, the answer is both and neither.
Take the most recent post, for example:
@Joreth @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer Why are you sharing Justicar's nasty, petty little video and tagging it "shared by Natalie Reed!"?!
@nataliereed84 I'm not, the automated online make-your-own-newspaper paper.li is. It sees what links ppl posts & aggregates them
@nataliereed84 Please do some research before you get angry & start falsely accusing ppl of things. I have no idea what you're talking about
@nataliereed84 I didn't watch the video, I didn't choose that particular link. If you posted it, paper.li picked it up
@nataliereed84 But I'll be happy to remove you from the list of respected skeptics & scientists who provide news & links to twitter
@nataliereed84 paper.li does automatic aggregation of links. Since you posted that video it attributed that to you. It's not @Joreth fault.
@vae_victae I did try to tell @nataliereed84 that, but she seems to prefer to jump to conclusions & get angry at supporters. Shame.
@Joreth indeed a shame. While I understand your aggressiveness to her, I feel that maybe if you had responded differently it'd be different
@vae_victae I'm not sure if you read my responses to her, but I was the opposite of aggressive.
It's hard for me to even see where someone could have interpreted what I said there as "aggressive". Natalie asked me, angrily, why I was sharing some video and associating her with it. I told her, immediately and clearly, that I wasn't doing so and I explained about the link aggregate service. I didn't cuss, call her names, or use emotional language. I was also limited to 140 characters.
Some of you will remember another post I made a couple of years back about the polyamory.com forums, in which someone made an offensive statement. I and a couple of others pointed out the factual inaccuracy of the statement & the offense in making it, several people responded angrily & emotionally, those on my side again pointed out the inaccuracy (calmly, I thought), and then those on my side were accused of being angry and hurtful, apparently without irony to the original angry and hurtful comments that prompted our responses. Only after I lost my temper at being insulted, did my posts get deleted, but the original offensive posts never did, nor did the insults that caused me to lose my temper.
Then there are the numerous times when someone just doesn't like me personally, and they will disagree with me no matter what I say, even while I am agreeing with them. We end up in this "duck season / rabbit season" argument where they say something, I agree, then they argue with me over it. For instance, someone posted something not too long ago about Unicorn Hunters that was derogatory. Someone else jumped in with "I see nothing wrong with unicorn hunting, because I do this thing that is totally not unicorn hunting". So I said something like "it doesn't sound like you are the kind of jerk that the OP is talking about, so don't worry about it". And they proceeded to defend their right to call themselves Unicorn Hunters and insist that unicorn hunting isn't bad. I believe my response was something along the lines of "I'm trying to explain to you why you're not an asshole, but if you want to keep insisting you are, I'll stop defending you".
tacit gets this all the time too. The Polyamorous Misanthrope once made a blog post that was, essentially, the exact same kind of post that tacit makes. Or maybe it was even a re-post of his, I don't remember. One of her followers complimented her on the post, and she responded that it was the same thing that tacit always says. They replied that they can't stand tacit. She posted on tacit's page that she doesn't understand why people like her but don't like him, because she says the same thing, and in no less of a blunt, holds-no-punches sort of way. Same message, same delivery, yet people like her and don't like him. Sometimes there is no helping this.
This, by the way, is primarily the problem happening in our Congress at the moment. The Republicans in office are doing their damnedest to disagree with Democrats, even when the Democrats agree with them. They seem to want to disagree on principle, not because they actually disagree. Consequently, we have one of the most fucked up Congresses ever in our history, with decisions being made to the detriment of our country, deliberately and intentionally, out of spite.
Then there is when I, fairly regularly, post exchanges where I am accused of having some emotional state that I do not currently have, and I have posted several examples of the differences between a calm difference of opinion ("what you said was incorrect, here is the evidence") and an emotional outburst ("you fucking shithead! I hate you!")
And yet, every time I have a difference of opinion to someone, regardless as to how calm I state my position or how much to the facts I try to stick or even, on occasion, when I try to be conciliatory, I am accused of being the one to have some emotional outburst, some angry reaction, some feeling that I am not feeling.
So I strongly disagree with the whole "Don't Be A Dick" meme, not because I disagree with the underlying premise, but because I think it is subjective and, ultimately, futile. If people don't like what you have to say, someone will think you're being a dick no matter how you say it, and having this ambiguous, undefined moving goalpost of "dick" that we're all supposed to follow won't change that.
I can try to hold myself to a certain standard of exchange, but in the end, we all usually feel justified in the position we take (or if we change our minds, then the willingness to change further confirms our own opinion of ourselves as being Good Guys), and besides that, the phrase "Don't Be A Dick" is a message from one person to another, not a personal standard. It's not like edwardmartiniii's Bue Button project - a reminder to ourselves to hold ourselves to a standard that we, ourselves, set. Don't Be A Dick an admonition from other people that you are not behaving the way THEY think you ought to behave.
As an aside, even though edwardmartiniii's Blue Button is intended as a personal standard, even that gets used as a weapon with which to bludgeon those with whom people disagree. In some other disagreement that I had online that I don't even remember the details of, some friend of his told me that I needed a blue button for daring to hold a position that the commenter did not hold - again, people trying to tell others how to behave, and mostly surrounding "tone", not actual behaviour - completely contrary to the spirit of edwardmartiniii's Blue Button, which is about protecting one's community from bullies by making a personal vow to stand up to bullying when one sees it and explicitly not trying to "stop other people from being creepy". In fact, telling other people that they need to wear a blue button is, again explicitly, against the rules for how this concept is to work.
There is a quote that I can't find, so I can't give you the exact wording or proper attribution. But it says, essentially, that there is no nice way to tell someone that they wasted their entire lives on a lie. Which is, essentially, what one is saying when one claims that religion & the god myths are not true. But it's even less world-shattering than that. There is no nice way to challenge any belief that a person holds strongly, whether it's something as deep and profound as our purpose in life or as ultimately unimportant as who is the best football team in the NFL (seriously, I watched this argument nearly come to blows last week when a customer at Little Ceasar's asked the cashier who her favorite team was, and he, shall we say, did not agree).
If the other person has a strong emotional attachment to their position, you can try different tactics to get through to them, but, ultimately, you are telling them that you think they are wrong and they have an attachment to the belief that they are right. Because some positions are, by their very nature, mutually exclusive - you can't hold one without simultaneously believing the other is false. If you think the moon is made of green cheese, then, by necessity, you have to think that anyone who thinks it's made of rock is wrong. Even if you refuse to go so far as to use the words "they are wrong".
And sometimes, with some people and some tactics, it won't be a big deal. If you think I'm wrong to have been a fan of the 49ers back in my sports days, I won't really care, unless you try to attack me over it. And then, I'll only care that you're attacking me, not that you like the Steelers (that's still football, right?).
But other times, with other people, and other topics, the tactic won't matter - especially if part of their position is that *you* are A Bad Guy for holding that position in the first place. Someone, sometime, somewhere, will think you're a Dick, and if we insist on flying the DBAD banner, we will forever be derailing into the Tone Argument, when we should be focusing on the topic under debate.
And I am fucking sick to death of having the motherfucking Tone Argument or having people tell me that I'm feeling things that I'm not feeling, especially when I have gone out of my way not to lose my temper or devolve into yet another flame war. Your feelings are your own, and just because you have them, it does not mean necessarily that I am the reason you are feeling them. There is only so far anyone should be expected to go to make *you* feel better about what they're saying.
If you don't like my message, then you don't like my message, but for the love of all that is good in this universe, STOP fucking derailing the argument into whether or not I was properly conciliatory when I said that thing that you didn't like. Maybe I wasn't being a dick, maybe I wasn't being aggressive or rude or mean or an asshole. Maybe you just didn't like what I had to say, or maybe you had an emotional reaction to the topic and misunderstood what I was saying, or maybe you don't like me personally and it doesn't matter even when I'm agreeing with you. And maybe the message is actually something worth being a dick about - maybe the message is something that the messenger ought to be angry about or posting in angry, emotional language.
Just please stop telling people when they should or should not be angry, stop accusing them of being angry (or any other emotion) when they have said that they're not, and stop this bullshit meme about "don't be a dick" - it is a totally subjective standard that cannot possibly be enforced. Even the honorable Phil Plait & Wil Wheton have gone into "dick" mode when they were sufficiently pushed, and they will defend those times as "but that's different!"
Yeah, it's different - a different perspective. When it happened to them, it was either justifiable, or they salvaged their opinions of themselves as Nice Guys by later admitting that they were wrong. But when it happens to someone else, that someone else is being "a dick". Just like when you cut someone off in traffic, it's because you're in a hurry, but when that guy does it to you, he's an asshole.
We are all "dicks" to someone else, and there are times when it doesn't matter how you phrase it, holding the position that you hold makes you the "dick" and there are no collection of pretty words to make the other person see it otherwise.
(if it doesn't start playing at 3:50, skip to that point - that's the only part that's relevant)
I'm archiving this bizarre exchange:
To all skeptics: Natalie Reed has requested to be disassociated from other skeptical people like Richard Dawkins & Michael Shermer. Please respect her wishes to no longer be associated with important skeptics of note.
Shame to see a skeptic who actually cares about trans, women's, & LGBTQ issues go off on a rant w/o understanding the topic. We have so few trans/lgbtq/feminist skeptics doing activist work for the rest of us that it hurts when 1 goes off the rails.
For the record, there is a service called paper.li which allows Twitter users to create lists of people (or hashtags or whatever) to follow. Then paper.li will comb through the Twitter feeds of those on the list (or the hashtag or whatever) daily or weekly (you set the time), and when someone posts links, paper.li will aggregate the posts into a single page, designed to look a bit like a newspaper.
It will then automatically send out a tweet under the creator's Twitter account, announcing the new edition & highlighting a couple of the people whose links are included in the edition.
Natalie Reed posted a link on her feed, which paper.li aggregated and included in today's edition of The Skeptic's News, along with half a dozen other people's links, including Michael Shermer & Richard Dawkins.
Without asking what paper.li was or how it worked, Natalie demanded to be disassociated from Dawkins & Shermer (she named them specifically, although the only thing they had to do with it was being listed along with her as contributers) and insulted me for associating her with the link that she posted.
Without even looking up who I was to see that I am a trans-friendly, LGBTQ-friendly, feminist, sex-positive skeptic, she just assumed that, because the automated aggregate reposted the link that *she posted* originally, I must therefore be on the same side of whoever was in that link she posted. Which I have not read.
Now, in my opinion, forming a conclusion without having all the facts and being dismissive of one's supporters actually makes her *more* in a class with Richard Dawkins, but as someone who thinks skepticism requires research & understanding the subject material before getting into arguments about it, I am more than happy to remove her from my personal list of "skeptics of note", as this reaction is not very skeptical at all.
But, as per her request, I am announcing to my friends & followers that she does not wish to be associated with me or the other skeptics included in the aggregate, so please respect her wishes and no longer associate her with other skeptics.http://t.co/OzfdM9w1
Here are the actual Tweets that prompted this:Joreth
The Skeptic's Daily News is out! http://paper.li/Joreth/skepticism
► top stories today via @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer @nataliereed84 #skepticismNatalie Reed
@Joreth @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer Why are you sharing Justicar's nasty, petty little video and tagging it "shared by Natalie Reed!"?!Natalie Reed
@Joreth @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer I have no idea who you are, but if you ARE sympathetic to that "camp" of "skeptics", please leave...Natalie Reed
@Joreth @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer ...me out of anything you do now or in the future. Thanks.Joreth
@nataliereed84 I'm not, the automated online make-your-own-newspaper paper.li is. It sees what links ppl posts & aggregates themJoreth
@nataliereed84 Please do some research before you get angry & start falsely accusing ppl of things. I have no idea what you're talking aboutJoreth
@nataliereed84 I didn't watch the video, I didn't choose that particular link. If you posted it, paper.li picked it upJoreth
@nataliereed84 But I'll be happy to remove you from the list of respected skeptics & scientists who provide news & links to twitterJoreth
To all #skeptics: @nataliereed84 has requested to be disassociated from other #skeptical people like @RichardDawkins &@michaelshermer.Natalie Reed
@Joreth @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer No, mainly from you. But thanks for indicating what kind of "skeptic" you are.Natalie Reed
@Joreth @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer (not that I'm much of a fan of Shermer or Dawkins either)Joreth
Please respect @nataliereed84's wishes to no longer be associated with important #skeptics of note. #skepticism #skepticJoreth
@nataliereed84 that is exactly what I'm talking about. You don't know me & didn't bother to research what happened before getting pissed offJoreth
@nataliereed84 Look up paper.li, look at what it does & how links get added before you start trolling about itVixenVivienValentine
@nataliereed84 paper.li does automatic aggregation of links. Since you posted that video it attributed that to you. It's not @Joreth fault.Joreth
@vae_victae I did try to tell @nataliereed84 that, but she seems to prefer to jump to conclusions & get angry at supporters. Shame.Joreth
@vae_victae Oh, I guess @nataliereed84 blocked me, so she won't see my responses anymore. Again, it's a shame.VixenVivienValentine
@Joreth indeed a shame. While I understand your aggressiveness to her, I feel that maybe if you had responded differently it'd be differentJoreth
Shame to see a #skeptic who actually cares about trans, women's, & LGBTQ issues go off on a rant w/o understanding the topic@nataliereed84Joreth
We have so few trans/lgbtq/feminist #skeptics doing activist work for the rest of us that it hurts when 1 goes off the rails @nataliereed84Joreth
@vae_victae I'm not sure if you read my responses to her, but I was the opposite of aggressive. I am also tired of these misunderstandingsNatalie Reed
· Friends with George Hrab and 1 other
Look, you decided to use this auto-link aggregating software to make a "newspaper". Therefore you're responsible for the outcome.
This ranty reaction trying to discredit me, making ridiculous claims about me "asking to be disocciated from all skeptics" (though frankly, at this point, I wouldn't really mind) is unbelievably petty and childish. That's not what happened and you know it. I asked that IF you were one of the people sympathetic to Vacula and such that I would no longer be included in whatever YOU do. That much was explicit.
I didn't like having a nasty, trollish video of me posted to a site with my name appearing as though supportive. YOU are responsible for the content that appears on YOUR site, regardless of how it got there. Sorry, but "it was my software's fault!" doesn't change that. It's not an excuse.
A mature, responsible, reasonable reaction would have been to remove the video from your site and remove me from your aggregating software.
THIS response is anything but.Joreth InnKeeper
I can repost the tweet where you asked me to do so if you would like.Joreth InnKeeper
Also, I can't remove the video, it's not my site, however I *did* remove you from the aggregation, as you requested. That's what I tried to explain to you, but you don't seem to want to hear that.Natalie Reed
· Friends with George Hrab and 1 other
And that's not your site? Really? You have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with it? Which is why you were promoting it, and why you've had this enormously emotional childish outburst?Joreth InnKeeper
No, it's not my site. I will ask you only one more time to actually research the topic. I have no connection to paper.li, I do not know its owners, I have no say in its algorithms, or its programming. It is as much my site as Twitter is. I am not "promoting" it, I am using it the same way you and I are both using Facebook and Twitter. I cannot help that it chose that particular link that you posted and I cannot remove it. All I can do is provide the list of people to aggregate, and your name has been removed.Joreth InnKeeper
As for "enormously emotional childish outburst", I'd like to introduce you to the kettle. Out of the two of us, I am not the one using emotional language and running off at the mouth about things I don't understand. I added you to a list of respected skeptics because I thought the things you posted should be shared with a wider audience. You have done nothing but behave emotionally, accusatory, and angrily about it and I have complied with your request without calling you names or getting upset myself.Natalie Reed
· Friends with George Hrab and 1 other
If you have no say in it, how the hell were you "happy to remove me from the list... who provide new..."?
And again, why were you the one promoting it? If not you, who DID set up Skeptic Daily News, and who chooses which feeds do or don't get put there? What is your exact involvement?
Also, look again my tweets: IF you're part of THAT CAMP OF SKEPTICS (ie. Justicar etc.) please leave me out of anything YOU do now or in the future. THANKS.Natalie Reed
· Friends with George Hrab and 1 other
It's completely disingenuous for you to act like you're being totally calm and friendly and nice here. You know you aren't. At least do me the courtesy of assuming I'm not THAT easily manipulated.Natalie Reed
· Friends with George Hrab and 1 other
I have to go, though. Fortunately, I've got some stuff I have to do. Bye.
(though I have to admit, it's things like this that make me feel like yeah, I really DON'T want anything to do with any self-professed or skeptics or atheists)Joreth InnKeeper
Seriously, please stop talking about things you don't understand. I'll try to explain this slowly, to get through your emotional outburst.
I have no say in how the service is provided, just in the same way that you have no say in how Facebook offers its services. However, just like how you can use Facebook, according to how the creators of Facebook allows you to, I used paper.li in the way that they allow me to, without actually being associated with it. I do not own stock in it, I am not employed by them, I receive no kickbacks or payments or incentives. I am not associated with paper.li anymore than you are associated with Facebook. Unless you are "promoting" Facebook every time you use it, I cannot be accused of "promoting" paper.li simply for using the service.
However, they offer a service the way that Facebook offers a service. That service allows me to create lists of people for it to aggregate, but I do not choose *what* paper.li aggregates. Since I can create the list, I also have the power to remove people from that list. That is the extent of my association and "power" over paper.li. You have more control over the content that shows up on your Facebook feed than I do on paper.li.
ALL I DO IS PROVIDE THE LIST OF PEOPLE. That's it. I cannot tell it which of your posts to re-post and I cannot tell it which posts to not repost. I can't even single out which people on that list get chosen for any specific edition. I can tell it which people to follow or which hashtags to follow and IT decides which posts to post.
YOU posted that video. paper.li reposted it and I had no say in what it chose, other than to list you as someone to pull from, but not which of your posts to choose. If you don't want people to re-post what you post, you might want to consider not posting things.Natalie Reed
· Friends with George Hrab and 1 other
(also, regarding the comparison to twitter and facebook: you're responsible for your twitter and facebook feeds too. You can't absolve yourself from posting something damaging or libelous on a social networking site by saying "I don't own the site ITSELF". You're still responsible.Joreth InnKeeper
And, no, actually, I am not responsible for the content of my twitter or facebook feed when that content is a re-post of someone else. Just like you, I often post things I am offended by, to complain about them and express my outrage. If we were held responsible for that content, then you would have to accept responsibility for the content in this video you are so outraged about now (which I still haven't seen), since you posted it on your feed. According to your logic, that now makes you responsible for its content.Joreth InnKeeper
Also, I'm sure you have run into trolls on the internet who claim to know what you are thinking and feeling and completely dismiss you when you say they are wrong. At least do me the courtesy of NOT assuming that you know what I think or feel and stop accusing me of having feelings or associations that I do not have.
Again, if you had bothered to do any research, it would be clear to you that I am, indeed, not upset or having an emotional outburst, as there are plenty of examples of me doing so on the internet. And anyone who has ever seen me have one could not possibly confuse this exchange with one of my emotional outbursts.
It's past time that I did a review of Bandits, but for some reason I keep putting it off. This is a quirky story of 2 mismatched bank robbers and the woman who comes between them. And it's a poly movie, and one of my favorite movies, poly or no.
Bruce Willis plays a gruff, stoic, spontaneous bank robber with a temper problem named Joseph. We first meet him in prison, where he's shackled to Terry (played by Billy Bob Thornton), a neurotic, hypochondriac, obsessively compulsive thief who can't shut the fuck up. Joseph wants to escape, but being shackled to Terry necessarily requires Terry's cooperation. One day, in the prison yard, Joseph spontaneously makes their escape, much to over-planning Terry's annoyance. But escape they do, and they continue their bank robbing career once on the outside.
But then Terry starts running the numbers, and decides that the risk of being re-captured is not worth the traditional bank jobs that they usually do. So he comes up with the idea to visit the bank manager's house the night before, and then enlist the manager's unwilling cooperation when he opens the bank the next morning, before the customers or any employees arrive. This works out so well, that it earns them the moniker The Sleepover Bandits.
During a nearly botched escape, Terry ends up running into Kate ... or rather, Kate ends up running into Terry. Literally. Kate is a flighty, also neurotic, lonely housewife with a mischievous streak who is fleeing from her loveless marriage when she stumbles upon the exciting life of the notorious bank robbers.
And so follows their tale, as Kate gets to know the two men independently, and each of the men gets to know her, and all their respective relationships flourish and flounder amidst the backdrop of their turbulent career choices.
It's a really interestingly shot film, with a mixture of classic action film sequences, "buddy robber" scenes, romance scenes, and "mockumentary" scenes with footage from an interview that the Sleepover Bandits give to a journalist about their fame and exploits intermixed among the regular movie scenes. The characters seem superficial and one-dimensional, but I think we get to see a little depth as the plot progresses, and I, at least, started to care about the characters about halfway through (although it was hard for me to empathize much with them - Terry just bugs the shit out of me).
I was already poly by the time this movie came out, but I did not realize this was a poly movie before I saw it. I think I was actually a bit trepidatious about seeing it, because I don't tend to go in much for artsy, indie films and I think I had the impression that this was that kind of movie. But I ended up really liking it in spite of myself, and I liked the strain that Kate found herself under as she realized that she loved two men who were very different from each other and gave her very different kinds of relationships - relationships that she could not possibly have with the other one and relationships that both brought value to her life for their uniqueness and individuality.
It would be very nice, though, for a movie heroine caught between two lovers to not declare that, mixed together, the combined men make up the perfect man. I really don't approve of the Frankenboyfriend sentiment to polyamory. But I think her point is that each man is unique & she can't get from one what she gets from the other, and I think that point comes across clearly.
I recommend watching this movie. We've already shown it at our OrlandoPoly
Poly Movie Nights, and it was a big hit with the whole audience.
I noticed something tonight. Well, I've noticed it before, but a couple of separate incidents just clicked. There's this great picture floating around of a guy who built a power loader from the Aliens movie and put his baby inside for Halloween. If you haven't seen the movie, it's hard to describe, but it's basically a giant robot that a person wears as a "suit", so they can lift and move really heavy things. So the parent is dressed as the giant robot, and the baby is in the front, in the "cab" of the robot where the driver would sit. It's totally adorable and he wins at both Halloween and parenting.
Anyway, the costume isn't really the point. Kevin Smith posted it to Facebook with the comment: "Every once in awhile, you encounter someone so talented and ingenious, you feel like an utter failure in everything you've ever attempted or accomplished. I am but shit when compared to whoever made this amazing Halloween costume."
I probably would have overlooked this comment, if it hadn't been for another conversation I had with an ex-boyfriend about 4 years ago that stuck in my memory, bugging me.
I was over at his place, but we were doing separate things, as I often do with partners when I start to spend a lot of time with them (I love you guys, but my shit doesn't get done by itself!). It was nearing bedtime, and my preferred pre-bed routine is to watch TV to relax and kind of shut off my mind a little because I can't sleep with my mind racing, as it tends to do pretty much all the time. It was in the middle of a Dancing With The Stars season, so that's what I wanted to watch that night. As you all who read my journal regularly know, I'm passionate about dancing. And when I'm passionate about something, I want to share it with my partners.
I don't have to share everything with my partners - it's OK if they don't have all of the same interests as I do. But I want to at least expose them to the things I'm most passionate about. It's less about getting them to like the same things as me, and more about wanting them to see me when I'm enjoying something I'm passionate about. I think it's a good window into who I am as a person, and I want to give my partners every opportunity I can to get to know me in as many different contexts as possible - for a more complete picture of who I am.
So, as I usually did when the subject came up, I invited my then-boyfriend to watch the show with me. He resisted, and I pressed, lightly, I thought. Then he said the thing that I haven't been able to forget all these years.
He said that he didn't want to watch the show because they were so good at what they did, that watching them only made him feel bad about himself. Keep in mind that he has never, to my knowledge, even tried to learn how to dance, nor has he even expressed any interest in it. I've known lots of guys who were interested in dancing, who wished they could dance, but who believed they could not learn - who said that they tried at some point and just couldn't. But not him - dancing never seemed to be anything he was even the slightest bit interested in doing.
There is a fundamental difference between me, and Kevin Smith and my ex-boyfriend. For people like them, being in the presence of brilliance, of the extraordinary, of the exceptional makes them compare themselves to the fantastic and tally up all the ways in which they fall short.
But for people like me, being in the presence of brilliance, of the extraordinary, of the exceptional inspires me. When I compare myself to those who are better than me at something, I do not see how substandard I am by comparison, even though I am realistically aware that people are better at things than I am. When I compare, I become inspired by how I can improve. I start to wonder what I can do to move in the direction of that brilliance, of that extraordinary, of that exceptional.
If I know that it is just something beyond my reach (I will never be a competition dancer, for instance), I don't feel bad for having failed to reach a bar that I was never going to grasp in the first place. I feel inspired and hopeful just for living in the same world as that brilliance, as that extraordinary, as that exceptional. Because they add beauty and value to existence, and I benefit from that. I don't have to "measure up" to their standards to benefit from the wonders that they bring to this world. We are all better off for having those exceptional people exist. It is not necessary for me to equal their excellence, I am still better off for their existence.
And that is a core difference, I think, between people like me and people like my ex. That core difference is, I believe, at the heart of why my life will always be awesome and life for some people will always, in their view, suck, or be difficult, or be hard, or be devoid of happiness, or have only the occasional moment of fleeting pleasure in the sea of misery that is life.
That's a quote, by the way, from the ex. He did not believe that happiness existed, and that happy people were simply deluding themselves, ignoring all the pain and misery that is life. He actually said to me that he does not experience happiness, only the occasional moment of fleeting pleasure and that life is misery.
It was a very strange epiphany that day, when I had the realization that I was the optimist in the relationship. I have been nicknamed The Killer Of Dreams by another former partner because of my habit of seeing the downside in everything. Every grand scheme he came up with, I injected what I called a dose of reality to explain why his grand scheme wouldn't work. He hated that. I'm always the pessimistic one, the one who can find the flaws in the plan, the one who automatically says "no", regardless of what the request or suggestion is, and who only says "yes" much later, after I've had a chance to work out all the details and come up with a backup plan to the backup plan.
So when I discovered that I was actually an optimist, at least by comparison, the world started to look very different. If I had truly been a pessimist, I wouldn't have bought a 20-year old school bus and packed up everything I owned into it, and set off across the country with no job, no house, and only one friend waiting for me. I wouldn't have switched majors from my very respectable sociology degree with plans to start a counseling practice to the much less likely major of film, theater, & broadcasting, where I don't have a steady income, I live below the poverty line, and I frequently worry whether I can afford to eat that week. These are not the actions of a pessimist.
These are the actions of someone who believes in abundance. I believe there is always opportunity, I believe I have the skills to do what I set out to do and the ability to learn what I need to learn, and I have the confidence to be happy with my imperfect self and the life that comes with it. I will always be happy because of this outlook.
I don't mean that I will never experience sadness or pain or anger. Hell, anyone who has read more than this entry ought to know what a ridiculous idea that is! What I mean is that, if you look at the bigger picture, if you look over my life as a whole, if you ask me at almost any point during my life "is this worth it? Are you happy?" I would have to say "yes".
It's like, if you ask a married couple after 50 years, would they consider their marriage a good one and are they happy together, if that couple said "yes", it wouldn't mean that they never had a fight in those 50 years, or that they didn't sometimes annoy each other, or even that they didn't consider the possibility of leaving at least once in that whole time. But you can have those bumps in the road and still find the drive to be beautiful and worth the ride.
And, although this is definitely not a guarantee for every single person who feels this way, but I would wager that people who look at someone exceptional and see only their own failures are more likely to be people like my ex - people who see life as a sea of misery with only the occasional island of happiness. I'm not sure that one causes the other, but I do think you could do a decent guessing job that if someone does one, he probably will do the other.
I'd also wager that people who look at someone exceptional and feel inspired to be their best selves, regardless of whether or not they think they can also do that same thing, I'd wager that those people are more likely to see life as filled with opportunity and wonder, and therefore be happy in life.
And I firmly believe that people who see life as filled with opportunity and wonder are people who can do extraordinary, exceptional things. These seem to be self-perpetuating cycles. If it's an issue of brain chemistry, then I have no solution to offer. But if it's at all possible to change one's thinking, it seems to me that one way to live a life filled with wonder and opportunity and happiness is to seek out exceptional people and to be inspired by them to be the most exceptional version of oneself that one can.
I do not fear exceptional people. I am not intimidated by them. I do not compare myself to them and find myself falling short. I do not hate exceptional people. I do not envy them.
I admire them. I want more of them in my life. I am better for my exposure to them, even if that exposure is indirectly, like a celebrity whom I only know from TV and who does not know me. The world is better for having them, and since I am of the world, I am better by extension.
And that is why I will always be happy.
"This paranormal thing is fake. Here's the evidence."
Believer: Bummer! I hate it when the fake ones make all the real ones look bad!
True Believer: Shut up! You don't know anything! If you just weren't so close-minded, you'd see this Logical Fallacy and this Unscientific Anecdote proves it's real! And here! A flawed and poorly conducted study/investigation that I totally believe because it supports my belief, but your well-done & scientifically rigorous investigation I will dismiss as crap because it says something that I don't like!
Skeptical "Believer": Oh, hmm, well if I could be fooled by that one, I wonder what else I can be fooled by? I better go back and re-examine some similar events and look up this psychological trick they're talking about to see if the other events are real or I was fooled by those too! I'm disappointed, but I didn't know that they could do that, and that's pretty cool! And maybe a little bit scary.
I came up with this example after a recent incident on Facebook, where I explained to someone that a certain famous "haunted" house I used to work in wasn't really haunted. Her reaction started off pretty mildly, but she eventually took to "schooling" me on the nature of truth and reality, and why her favorite ghost hunters were the Real Ghost Hunters who "debunk" the crap I was explaining to her.
As I said on Twitter, "debunk: I do not think this word means what she thinks it means".
I used to be a believer. I was probably even the first kind of believer listed above. But eventually I learned that I can be fooled. And I also eventually learned that reality is far more interesting that the ghosts and goblins that I used to believe in.
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without believing there are fairies at the bottom of it too?"
— Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Dear Law Enforcement Personnel,
I grew up in the era of exciting cop TV dramas and Good Guy vs. Bad Guy movies. I watched Hunter and Die Hard and a number of other movies and shows where the cops were always decent, hard-working, noble, honest people trying to save the streets, trying to serve and protect. Maybe they were a little more flexible with the rules than they should have been, but their motivation was always to defend the people and protect their community from harm. I have family and friends who work for the police departments and the military police. I have always operated under the assumption that the police are there for my protection and that the bad seeds are not representative of the organization as a whole.
As I've become an adult, I've learned to see more nuance, more shades of grey, in the concept of law enforcement, and I'd like to think that I'm not as naive as I was as a child. But I still maintained the position that people wearing a badge or a uniform should be respected as a default and given the chance to prove that they are Bad Guys before I make judgements on that assumption.
I've had friends and peers my entire life whose automatic reaction to a uniform is to snarl and say "pig!", regardless of what the cop is doing, whether they know that cop or not or even whether they have actually had any first-hand negative experiences with cops (or good ones, for that matter) or not. I've had many white, middle-class friends, with every opportunity in the world, nevertheless develop the attitude that cops are The Man sent to keep the People down, often for no better reason than it's a buzzkill to be arrested for DUI or making too much noise at a party and disturbing the neighbors.
And I have always defended the cops, telling my peers to wait until he does something objectionable before they object; that our society would be much worse off without the service they offer even with the horrible stories of cops raping women that they pull over late at night and racial profiling and harassment and beating people just because "looking suspicious" is defined as "having brown skin". I've been far harsher on TSA and private security doing law-enforcement jobs.
Law enforcement personnel, I have always stood up for you. I have always held to the ideals that you are supposed to be enforcing: to protect, to defend, and that we are all innocent until proven guilty. But too many members of your group are making it more and more difficult to stand by you and defend your service to our communities.
You can argue all you want about "bad apples" or it being a small minority or it's not your fault, it's the people in command making you do these things. But the fact of the matter is that these "bad apples", no matter how many of them there are, are committing atrocities in our communities and using the very same authority that gives you the honor and responsibility that comes with those ideals that make you, hypothetical law enforcement personnel reading this, a Good Guy. If they are "bad apples" or just some minority, well ... it's your job to protect us from Bad Guys and, according to this theory, they are a minority. This is what you do. And you are utterly failing.
But I suspect that the reason why your overwhelming numbers of Good Guys haven't gotten rid of the few Bad Apples yet is because this is not a minority problem, that this is a Very Big Problem. As law enforcement personnel, I hold you honor-bound to do something about this. Your inaction is part of the problem. Your unwillingness to clean house first before cleaning the streets makes you complicit in their bad deeds. Your silence is undermining your duty to protect and serve.
I still believe in the ideals that make up the foundation of your service, but a foundation is worth less than an empty lot when the building on top is rotted through to the frame. If the problem is, indeed, a few "bad apples", then clean out your house, fumigate it, slap on a new coat of paint, whatever, but you need to fix it up because, frankly, it's starting to look bad and bring down the rest of the neighborhood. But if the problem goes deeper than some dirty carpets and and faded wallpaper, you need to do some serious renovation. Hopefully, this problem can be caught before the entire house needs to be bulldozed into that empty lot and started over. At least an empty lot still has potential. A house in disrepair is, at best, an eyesore and something to be embarrassed about. At worst, it's a danger to the community around it. And your house has passed "eyesore" long ago.
So dear law enforcement personnel: clean up your shit so that I can continue to defend you as being, not just a necessary evil, but something to take pride in - an organization that supports its communities, and is supported by its communities; an organization made up of honor and duty. And please do so before I, and people like me, come to resent you for all the time and energy we put into defending you and trusting in you and we start to believe that we wasted our time and loyalty. I want to go back to having faith in my law enforcement personnel and I want to believe that all the time I stood up for you wasn't in vain. I'm having a crisis of faith and only you can restore it.
Please restore my faith in the goodness and nobility of the profession of Protectors of the People and Defenders of Justice. I know there will always be those who get into law enforcement for the wrong reasons and who abuse their authority. But you don't have to give them a place to hide or make it so easy for them to get away with things. In fact, you should be making it twice as difficult to get away with it and the punishments twice as bad.
If your Brotherhood of the Badge bands together when one of your own is harmed or targeted, you should have even more investment when the one doing the harm or targeting is also one of your own. You should consider that a betrayal on top of the offensive committed. The law enforcement personnel who abuses his authority has betrayed the trust of the public, the duty and honor given to him by his badge, and your brotherhood. These are the last people you should be protecting. Anyone with honor, with a sense of duty and responsibility for his position, should be in front of the line to protect the rest of his brothers (and sisters) from the fallout caused by one who would destroy the house from the inside.
Because that's what all these abuses are doing, you know. All these racial profiling programs, all these beatings and macings of peaceful protesters, all these attacks by SWAT for minor and/or non-violent offenders, all of it are the works of saboteurs destroying the house from the inside. They are destroying the public trust and your image of noble, duty-bound, honorable peace-keepers. It's a sad, sad day when the general public starts wanting to take their chances with the thugs and criminals rather than keep a corrupt police system in power.
And it is getting increasingly more difficult to side against them and to defend the need for a law enforcement system. I am no longer seeing the luxurious middle-class youthful rage against The Man from people who have never had to live in a crime-ridden world. More and more, I am seeing the very legitimate fear of the uniform and the badge that is supposed to inspire fear only in those who do wrong, and security and trust in those who do right. I am seeing a more and more legitimate fear of harassment, of violent response to non-violent actions, of racism, of power-hungry authority abuse, of what seems like the desire to hurt and the willingness to follow unethical orders.
I once thought of law enforcement as a noble profession, of Good Guys vs. Bad Guys, of the few and the proud standing in defense of the people. If you still see yourself in that light, then do something to earn it that perception back from the people you serve. Stand up for the citizens of this nation and our fair treatment with due process. Expose the corruption and oust the troublemakers. Protect your community and honor the ideals that are behind your badge. Win back our trust and faith in you. Because I really want to go back to defending your reputation with a clear conscience.
A Concerned Citizen
I'd started out writing an Online Skeezballs post, and it turned into a rant about bullies. I had planned to keep updating it as the bully added more stuff, but it's really not written to accommodate additions well, so I'm starting a new post about it. Here is the exchange:
I originally made a tweet complaining about poly people going to poly events, and then saying "I was hoping to meet someone, but everyone there was already partnered". I don't want to debate this tweet here, this is part of a larger issue that the 140 character limitation of Twitter necessarily truncates & requires incomplete, generalized, and/or soundbitey statements and is not the point of what happened next.
So I made that tweet and @isayshizzz responded "sounds like you've never heard of polyfi"
So I said "sounds like you've never heard of Twitter, where things have to be summarized in 140 characters"
So they said "I hear you're fat, old, ugly and hide behind the internet"
To which I said "wow, you're an ass"
And they said "not as much as you, claiming to be an ally for poly people but you do more harm#cunt"
At which point, I blocked them. But then others came to my defense (much more politely than even I was here), and here is what @isayshizzz to that: "are u all fucking the old hag or what? This is why she's a cunt, she gets others to be cunty for her. Eat my asshole"
Now, if you go to their twitter feed, every single response having to do with me has been deleted, which is why I'm actually missing a bunch of them, including insinuations that this person, whom I've never met, "knows" me and thinks my "behaviour" (but not my tweets) is "harmful" to the poly community. So I've started retweeting their tweets when I see them, now that I know they will conveniently delete them after they've had a chance to piss off whomever they're attacking.Thurs, Sept. 20
There is a journalist on Twitter looking for poly people to interview. @Modernpoly recommends contacting me because of the Poly Media Association. @isayshizzz says: "Don't contact @Joreth, she'll only send you losers. Don't listen to @modernpoly she's bipolar"Sun., Oct. 14
"Please explain to me why so many polyamorous people are fat and old? Never going to a meet up again #gross #traumatized" link
"@OpenXiminez @Joreth @Datan0de bet ur all fat and old #amirite" link
"The polyamory show on showtime is deceiving, there are no good looking young people in poly, aside from my lovers. Were they actors??? WTF" link
"@Datan0de @OpenXiminez @Joreth shallowness makes the world go round fattie" link
- AmazonHusband and wife Cyril and Fiona explore new ground and new relationships when they take a vacation in the tropics. While on holiday, the pair meets another couple, Hugh and Catherine, and their three children. Relationships become intertwined when Cyril and Fiona lose their inhibitions and seek sexual intimacy with Hugh and Catherine in this erotic drama.
So Netflix says. It sounded pretty promising, and yeah, I think this fits under the "poly-ish" heading. Cyril and Fiona are clearly in an open marriage with both of them openly supportive of each others' interests. Honestly, though, I was surprised to see that this movie was made in 1999. It just felt
like another '60s sexual revolution type of film, not the least of which was a slightly predatory personality from Fiona and a pseudo-sex cult leader attitude from Cyril, but also it just kind of looked like it - the cinematography and lack of a soundtrack, I think.
Here's what I liked about the movie:
- An attempted quad instead of unicorn hunters looking for the hot bi babe
- The newbie love interest struggles with deeply indoctrinated beliefs of fidelity & ownership
- Neither the polyamory nor society around them was responsible for ending the relationships
- How non-traditional parental relationships affects children old enough to have internalized society's messages about relationships
- A couple not letting their pre-existing relationship make the other relationships "secondary" and doing what's best for the family instead of "protecting" their couplehood at all costs
Here's what I didn't like about the movie:
I like serious dramas, but I'm really picky about them. I don't tend to like movies that I describe as "very French" - filled with unnecessary angst and smoking and existential ennui and desolation. Unfortunately, in movies that explore alternative sexuality, if it's a drama and not a comedy or something uplifting, I too often find it's one of these types of dramas. Such was this movie for me. I didn't like the movie, but that's based solely on personal taste. One might say that I have no taste, since I'd rather be watching cheesy '80s sitcoms, so there you go.
I'm extremely character-driven in my entertainment preferences and I just didn't like the characters. I found Cyril to be pompous, elitist, and blind to his own privilege, even if I happened to appreciate his understanding that possession should not be part of interpersonal relationships. I thought Fiona was selfish, predatory, and naively idealistic. Catherine, I just felt sorry for and wished she would grow a backbone.
And Hugh! I have no idea why anyone liked Hugh. He was controlling, possessive, self-righteous, arrogant, dismissive, condescending, and filled with disgust. There is one scene in particular (that I won't describe so as to not give away spoilers) where he is such a hateful asshole that I immediately disliked every other character just because they overlooked Hugh's behaviour and attitudes. Even after he did something that I would have found unforgivable, it was everyone else's primary desire to make him feel better and keep him a part of the family.
But they were trying to build a strong family, and for that, I have to give this movie credit ... or at least say that it's a poly-ish movie. Cyril and Fiona were not the typical movie couple, where the guy wants some hot chick & talks his wife into it. They both seemed equally enamored of the other couple & welcomed them and their children into their home. Cyril in particular tried very hard to reach out to the children and soothe the oldest, who noticed something
going on and seemed resentful. Cyril and Fiona both did everything in their power to help Catherine during her own time of emotional crisis without putting their own relationship above everything else.
So, I'd recommend this movie if dramas are your thing and you want to see a poly movie that doesn't end with polyamory destroying everyone's lives and, in fact, the polyamory is beneficial to providing an emotional support structure in difficult times.
Bullying is a largely invisible phenomenon. Oh, sure, most people know it happens, but it's usually viewed as isolated cases, or just something that everyone has to go through, kind of like a rite of passage. But it's not relegated to a few "you stink, give me your lunch money" on the playground. It's a deep, cultural, systemic problem. It affects every area of our culture and ignoring the "minor" stuff only gives the real, harmful bullies a place to bully with impunity. It's the reason why feminism is still alive and necessary. It's why women are still minorities in many professions in spite of the fact that they are just as capable in those professions (when given the proper experience & support) as men are. It's why women are so absent* from the gaming & geek communities. It's why we're in the 21st century and still even debating whether or not gay people should be allowed to marry. It's why eating disorders are still distressingly common. It's why religious thugs can get away with raping boys & girls in their care. I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that we have these problems because we
allowed them to exist.
The latest strategy of feminists is to get people to speak up about the abuse they see online & not let it go unpunished. Women are asking men to speak up, not for their protection, but in their defense & support. When the elevator debacle happened with Rebecca Watson, pretty much every single sex-positive, "equalist" (i.e. feminist, whether we knew it or not) guy I knew was just shocked by the torrential downpour of shit that Rebecca got just for daring to say "this kind of behaviour makes women uncomfortable. Guys, don't do that". Because, for the most part, "guys" don't see it.
I've had my Online Skeezballs tag
forever. I originally started posting the worst of the emails I receive online because people just didn't know. If I complained about someone being an asshole, the response was unanimously "just block him", "just ignore him, he'll go away", and "stop worrying about it, this is some faceless stranger on the internet that you'll never meet. It isn't that big of a deal unless you let it get to you".
And yeah, an isolated incident may
just be "not a big deal" and something I should not hold onto, just let go of, just ignore the bully and he'll go away. But these aren't isolated incidents. These are symptoms of a much larger problem - that we live in a society that excuses and ignores this kind of behaviour; in which women are afraid to wear the wrong thing or go to the wrong places or do the wrong things because if they do, then they will have brought their rape upon themselves; that gives bullies positions of power and refuses to take it away when they abuse it.
When I tell one of my horror stories, I often get "seriously? Someone did/said that?" and "you must be exaggerating/misunderstanding" and "well *I* never see anything like that". So I post this shit so that you can see. When people wonder why I'm "always so angry", I post why. Imagine growing up your whole live and being bombarded with messages like that. Imagine never having a place that is safe from these kinds of attacks. Imagine being told from birth that you are in danger, that the danger is your own fault for being born and for making "wrong" choices, and that there is nothing anyone can do about it, you just have to suck it up and take it and eventually the bully will get bored and go away.
So I post so that people can see. This is a PROBLEM, people. And I encourage others to post. And I encourage people to respond. We need to make our society hostile towards bullies of all stripes, from the "eww, you stink!" grade school kids to the rapists and thugs who harm, maim, and kill and get away with it.
I'm not particularly strong, I'm not gifted with any sort of real fighting skills, I don't have any political leverage or friends in high places, and I don't have any money to contribute to campaigns. So I do what I can. I post. I raise awareness. And I argue and persuade.
My call to action is to ask everyone to start posting their bullying experiences in whatever manner is safe to do so. You don't have to engage if you don't feel safe, you can post under a pseudonym, you can create an account just for that, separate from your regular profiles, whatever. Post about the shit you get and let others know. Post about it, talk about it, make sure that everyone knows that this happens all the time to a lot of different people. Publicly shame people for poor behaviour.
The next step is for those who have the luxury and safety to do so, confront those bullies and bullying behaviour when you can. If you're a guy & you see or hear a guy making a sexist joke or making some girl uncomfortable, let him know that you don't approve, that he does not have the support of the guys around him (hint: condescention & derision works better than the white-knight "I am here to SAVE THE DAMSEL!" approach - tell the other guy that he's a loser rather than saying "the lady isn't interested", or better yet, say this stuff
). If you're online & you see someone getting verbally attacked, jump in and defend them. Re-post the posts you see about this stuff so that the people around you can no longer hide their heads in the sand and say "it's no big deal" or "well *I've
* never seen anything like that happen!"
Here's my latest online skeezball encounter. I will continue to update the post as more tweets are made. I originally made a tweet complaining about poly people going to poly events, and then saying "I was hoping to meet someone, but everyone there was already partnered". I don't want to debate this tweet here, this is part of a larger issue that the 140 character limitation of Twitter necessarily truncates & requires incomplete, generalized, and/or soundbitey statements and is not the point of what happened next.
So I made that tweet and @isayshizzz
responded "sounds like you've never heard of polyfi"
So I said "sounds like you've never heard of Twitter, where things have to be summarized in 140 characters"
So they said "I hear you're fat, old, ugly and hide behind the internet"
To which I said "wow, you're an ass"
And they said "not as much as you, claiming to be an ally for poly people but you do more harm
At which point, I blocked them. But then others came to my defense (much more politely than even I was here), and here is what @isayshizzz to that: "are u all fucking the old hag or what? This is why she's a cunt, she gets others to be cunty for her. Eat my asshole"
Now, if you go to their twitter feed, every single response having to do with me has been deleted, which is why I'm actually missing a bunch of them, including insinuations that this person, whom I've never met, "knows" me and thinks my "behaviour" (but not my tweets) is "harmful" to the poly community. So I've started retweeting their tweets when I see them, now that I know they will conveniently delete them after they've had a chance to piss off whomever they're attacking.
This is what the crux of the Rebecca Watson problem was - someone makes a suggestion, maybe politely worded, maybe not, that people be a little nicer, a little more considerate, pay attention to other people, or pay attention to their own issues/actions/thoughts/whatever, and someone else responds with "OMG YOU FUCKING CUNT!" This
is the problem. The silencing of social justice, the implicit permission to respond to demands for social justice with violent hatred and anger, and the general acceptance of such from those around them. If you're not doing anything at all, then you're part of the problem. Ignoring it, pretending it doesn't exist, thinking or saying that it's not a big deal, all that is what gives these people the freedom to behave this way. And that license for bullying is a fertile ground for creating & hiding abusers, rapists, people who commit hate crimes, racists who tie black men to their trucks & drag them on the ground until they die, homophobes & transphobes who kick the shit out of gays & trans people, and even those lone nutjobs who shoot up gyms and movie theaters.
Silence is the enabler. Break the silence.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tva9vIYxLY*When I say "absent from these communities", I don't mean they are literally not there. I mean they are underrepresented, either because their active numbers are actually low or because they are overlooked or because, in the case of online communities, many are just hiding behind male or gender neutral pseudonyms in an effort to avoid the shit they get when the bullies find out that they're there.
September is, apparently, "Step-tember" at the Enzian Theater (a local independent movie theater), with a whole month of dance movies & events. So I want to make September an annual celebration of dance appreciation!
I have 4 distinct inspirations from my childhood for getting into dance:
1) Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo - my very first dance movie and I actually learned to breakdance (poorly) because of it.
2) Footloose - which taught me that dancing wasn't just fun, it was inherently a celebration of life, in all its forms. Dance expressed joy, anger, sadness, love, passion, every emotion, and was a necessary form of expression for me.
3) Janet Jackson - one of the first female dance choreographers I had ever been exposed to, thanks to a summer day-camp in elementary school that offered a jazz class where we performed to one of her songs. I learned that there was a place in the dance world for women, not just as a pair of pretty legs, but as the creative directors and leaders in the industry.
4) Dirty Dancing - introduced me to partner dancing as something more than just "that stuff old people did at weddings" and to the concepts of courage, honor, and being yourself, no matter the cost.
Dance, for me, has always been more than just exercise or another chance to embarrass myself in front of my peers. Dance has always been about empowerment, about expression, and a metaphor for life itself. Even when I'm sore or injured, or having trouble getting a step right and looking stupid, I am rarely ever more alive than when I am dancing.
Happy Step-tember everyone! Go out and dance!
I blurted out to a friend that my most successful relationships were with people who found me just a little tiny bit intimidating, but who like that they're intimidated by me. I said that hanging up some of my best targets (from shooting guns) over my bed is a pretty good litmus test for whether or not a guy is A) intimidated and B) likes it. And so I've been thinking about what that means.
I want to be seen as fierce, strong, intelligent, complex, nuanced, capable, passionate, rational, and often right. These are things about myself that I value the most, and so I want people to see them in me. But I want for my partners to not just see these traits in me, I want them to admire, celebrate, and cherish these traits in me.
These sorts of traits are often described as "intimidating", especially when first meeting someone. But when I say "intimidating", I don't mean "forboding" or "forbidding". I mean they feel a sense of admiration that can maybe make me seem a tiny bit larger-than-life. People often feel that way about celebrites or particularly accomplished people. But as they get to know them on a more intimate level, those celebrities become people - they become fully-realized, three-dimensional human beings with depth and nuance and texture. Maybe the "intimidation" goes away once we get to know them, but if the reason for the initial intimidation is admiration for certain traits and not fear of them being scary (the other interpretation of "intimidation"), then I want that admiration to stick around after the larger-than-life shrinks down to complex-human-size.
I'm tired of men who claim to find me "intimidating" and, because of that, think that they are not good enough for me or that they can't measure up to my standards. But I'm also sick of men who claim to desire strong, independent female partners only to get irritated at me when I do exactly those sorts of things that strong, independent women do, like argue my position or refuse to ask for help when I don't actually need it or sometimes take on too much because I think I can do it.
I am also sick of men who think it's "cute" that I'm all "tough chick". Fuck you asshole! And I'm sick of men who just want to protect me. And I'm sick of men who tell me that they love me but don't really seem to like me very much because they ask me to stop doing things that are central to the very core of who I am as a person or, worse yet, who never ask me to change but who dump me for exactly the same reasons they said interested them in me in the first place.
No, I will not give up costuming even though I make a mess of the house when I do it and you hate that. No, I will not wear dresses more often, they're impractical. No, I will not stop asking you to explain why things in movies don't make sense. No, I will not stop ranting about sexism, theism, or monogamy. No, I will not give up my cat. No, I will not give up dancing just because you get jealous when I dance with other men. No I will not refuse to work on the car to save you the embarassment from having a girlfriend fix it when you couldn't. No, I will not stop swearing. Even when there are kids around. And no, I will not calm the fuck down.
I basically want for my partners to recognize those things about me that I value the most, and I want them to acknowledge how amazing and fantastic it is for a person to have these sorts of traits. I want them to agree with me that those parts of me that make me awesome are, indeed, the parts of me that make me awesome. I don't want my core values and personality-defining traits to be "tolerated", I want them to be revered. Doesn't everyone? And shouldn't everyone be able to find that?
I would like to point out that the traits that I want to be admired for, not tolerated, are not traits that I think everyone should value about themselves the same way I do. If you prefer to think of yourself as someone who is flexible, caring, bubbly, creative, spontaneous, anything else that I didn't say ... as long as you admire those traits about yourself then those traits about you should never just be "tolerated", they should be revered. Maybe "intimidated" is not the right word to describe how people feel about you, but the underlying philosophy is still appropriate - people should find those traits about you admirable and like you because of them, not in spite of them, maybe have just a little bit of "I wish I was better in those areas than I am" and to find exposure to you makes them a better person.
So I had a conversation with a friend a little while ago. He's one of the Good Guys. He doesn't need to be explained why a woman can say "guys, that made me uncomfortable ... don't do that" and the response to send her death & rape threats is a bad thing, why it wasn't her
that "started it", how it was the MRAs (Men's Rights Activists - different from people who actually believe in equal rights for everyone, including men - those are feminists) who actually
blew things out of proportion & escalated the event from a footnote in a video to a community-dividing schism.
But here's where the problem is (and it's not with him, he's just a symptom). See, he and I had lost touch for a few years because he moved for work and has recently moved back. So he missed my whole "feminist conversion". So we've been talking a lot about feminist issues since we got back in touch, and how I feel resentful at being dragged into the fray and why I finally now identify as a feminist. He wanted to know why I bother to identify as a feminist now if I didn't want to in the first place. I explained that I always was
a feminst, if you just looked at the definition, or maybe made a checklist, and compared it to my actual thoughts, opinions, and feelings.
The problem was that I was misinformed about what feminism meant and how bad the problem still was.
This is exactly what my problem was. I fell for the Straw Feminist bullshit. I'm a Latina female who has always been some religious minority (not always the same minority, though). My life should have been filled with struggle and hardship. It wasn't. Now, don't get me wrong, I had bad shit in my life. But when it came to obvious gender issues, my biggest problem growing up was that my parents once admitted that insisting on a curfew even after age 18 was because I was their daughter, and if they had a son, he would have had different rules. Although they never did have a son, so that was never tested. My next biggest problem was that my dad wouldn't let me use his power tools. So I bought my own and now my set is more awesome than his.
I grew up with fairly conservative parents, but in a liberal bubble. In spite of being lower-middle class, I still went to one of the best private schools in the state, where they taught us age-appropriate, evidence-based sex ed, self-defense, and to excel in sports, academics, and politics. I was awarded jobs easily based on my skills and experiences. I was praised for being smart, even by the boys. I was encouraged to play sports (just not football or wrestling) and I was told to put marriage and children on hold until I completed college and started a career, and THEN I was expected to keep my career after marriage & kids, the way my mother did.
In my liberal bubble, just as in the Straw Feminist tropes in media that the video talks about, I lived in a world where feminism was no longer needed. Those brave women and their male allies had done their job. We had achieved equality and, in some cases, we had gone just a little bit too far and now it was time to back off the throttle a bit and even correct some of the "overcorrections" we had made.
I did not need to identify as a feminist because I was an egalitarian. I believed in equalty for all based on merit, skill, and interest. I still do. So I may have always been a feminist, but it was not one of my identity lables. I am a lot of things, but not all of those things are important to my identity and my sense of self, so not all of those things make it to my list of identity labels. I was born in the US, can only barely speak a few words of Spanish, and went to a predominantly white private school. I tell people that I'm Latina when it is relevant to do so, but I don't identify as a Latina. It is not part of my identity makeup, it's just a fact about me that happens to be true. The "feminist" label was like that for me too - even if I hadn't misunderstood what it really meant, in my liberal bubble, the gender war had been won, so it was not important enough to my identity to attach the label "feminist".
But then I joined the skeptics and atheists communities. And THEY made me a feminist. Because I saw that we had not won the gender wars. We were not "equal". The place where I should have been the most safe, protected by reason and evidence, is the place where I was most threatened. Oh, we have absolutely made progress! We have wrested certain rights that have given women unprecedented power in our society.
But we're not done yet.
And this is what brings me to the story with my friend. He is like me. He strongly believes in equality for all, and if I present him with any sort of hypothetical situation, even if he thinks that we have currently solved that problem, he firmly, and without prodding, comes down on the side of feminism without knowing it's a feminist principle. But because of this whole Straw Feminism problem, we had a conversation a while ago that went like this:
I was showing him some of my favorite geeky music videos (Felicia Day anyone?) and he asked "so, since you obviously like all this geeky and gamer shit, maybe I can ask you ... where are all the gamer girls?" I said "what do you mean? There are TONS of gamer girls! Go to any gaming con & there are gamer girls all over the place!" He said that when he actually plays his online multi-player games, the women are in the minority. I told him that developer statistics of their user bases actually suggests that it's pretty close to 50/50. He said he'd never seen that split.
I said "that's because the women are using male gaming names & not using their mics to avoid getting shit on by guys during the game." He said none of the people he ever gamed with ever gave women a hard time. So I sent him to Anita Sarkeesian's Wikipedia page, where he learned all about the rape threats & death threats and misogyny in gaming culture.
He had never seen it. Probably because many of the women on his games were using guy names, so the one or two misogynists who were also on his game couldn't abuse them, and all the guys he chooses to socialize with are similar Good Guys like himself. So I started telling him stories. Stories of what women go through online. Stories of men who Get It who have tried to post their own analogies so that the men who don't Get It could understand. The schism in the skeptics communities. I told him how we're finally seeing some response from game developers to begin talks about how to solve the problem instead of a couple of twenty-something male programmers who had a good idea & started their own company from it saying "well, he didn't abuse the TOS when he called you a fucking cunt & threatening to rape your skull is just game trash talk that doesn't mean anything".
When I reminded him that, just because he had never heard of it, that didn't mean it wasn't happening, but whether anybody knows of any given person's previous rape or assult experiences was directly proportional to how close those two people, he knew that. I mean, I didn't have to explain it to him, he got it. He totally grasped the fact that he didn't know how many of the women he knew had any sort of sexual assualt in their history. And yet, because he was largely unaware of how many women he knew had some sort of sexual assault, he was largely unaware of how big the problem is.
So that's what I'm doing now. This is why I have always posted my Online Skeezballs tag. This is why I have always gone off on assholes on the internet. This is why I rant about Couple's Privilege in the poly community. People do not know. People don't know how often this shit happens. People do not know how much this hurts. People do not know that what they or others are doing HURTS PEOPLE. Every time I tell one of my whacked-out stories, someone, often a like-minded close friend, says "seriously? That really happened?" or "do people really do that?" Yes. I am far too literal to resort to hyperbole very often, and when I do, it's pretty fucking obvious, like saying "a gazillion". I also write this shit down right away because I'm terrified of misremembering or forgeting something and I cross-check with others to make sure my memories are as accurate as memories can be. This shit happens and this shit hurts. And people don't know.
And the reason they don't know is because we have been told, for generations, that nobody cares. If we talk about anything from the status quo that bothers us, no one will do anything about it, except maybe try to make it our own fault. At best, we'll be ignored. At worst, we'll be attacked even more for speaking out. Somehow, we'll be made to be the bad guy in all this. So we just don't talk about it. The first rule of Rape Culture is that we don't talk about Rape Culture.
When I first brought up the idea of Only Yes Means Yes, the single biggest criticism I got was that women never give a straight answer, so if guys waited around for a clear and unambiguous yes, then they'd never get laid. Now, let's ignore the glaring fallacies and falsehoods in that statement and just assume, for the moment, that it's literally true - that women do not give straight answers. Women do not say yes, and women do not say no.
Did it ever occur to these guys why women don't give straight answers? I'll break the Women's Code and explain why, just like I have always done for my guy friends when they get confounded by the mysterious species that is Women. The reason why those women who don't give straight answers, don't give straight answers is because they are punished when they do. A woman who says yes is a slut, but a women who says no is raped.
Of course not every single women who says no is raped every single time she says no. But people do not take rejection gracefully, and it tends to make those of us who are smaller, or who have no fighting skills, or who have been told our entire lives that the responsibility for avoiding rape is our own, it tends to make us a little gun shy about rejecting people. And if our personality is naturally to be quiet, shy, unassuming, or particularly sensitive to disapproval or hurting someone else's feelings, it's going to make us even more afraid to reject someone. Most people do not give flat-out nos, not just women. It is considered rude in our society to do so. We do the "I'd love to, but..." and give some excuse that says that we are unable to, not that we don't want to. But when it comes to women rejecting amorous advances, it isn't just the threat of being percieved as "rude". It's the threat of bodily harm that often makes us afraid to say no.
Before you click on that last link, let me give you a trigger warning. It's about a woman who had two children with an abusive man. And when she turned down his marriage proposal, he killed her and both the children. AFTER she reported him to the police. AFTER she got a restraining order against him. He killed her and the children. For a rejection.
I've posted some of my own scary encounters. There was the time a drunk guy hit on me and my two friends at a casino lounge and ignored every single rejection we gave him until all three of us pulled out our knives. Then there was the guy who tried to "help" me put Fix-A-Flat in my car tire & also did not back off until I flashed my switchblade. There's the uncountable number of dates I've been on, including just "hanging out with friends" where a "no" only got me Octopus Arms.
So when women are told, repeatedly, that our disinterest, our discomfort, even our fear, is irrelevant and unimportant, the only thing we have left to do is leave. Or hide.
So if you want more women in your community, if you are a straight guy who wants to find a nice girl to date who shares some of your interests like gaming, or atheism, or rock climbing, or whatever, and you're looking around wondering where all the girls are, it is YOUR FAULT you can't find them. If you are not actively contributing to the hostile environment (and if you're reading my journal, I'm going to assume that you're not, because those guys hate reading the kinds of stuff I write about), then you're probably not helping it either.
And it's not because you're a bad guy. It's probably because you didn't know. Which is not your fault, but any time you have ever told a woman "oh, he's just an asshole, ignore him and he'll go away" or "I worry about you being safe, so here is a list of things that you should do to keep yourself safe" or even just didn't say anything when another guy made a derogatory comment (probably because it was kind of funny or probably because it wasn't funny but it was a joke and therefore not worth getting into a sexism argument over), then you contributed to the problem. I know, you don't want to hear that you're part of the problem. I certainly don't like hearing that I was part of the problem, and to this day I try to rationalize why, when *I* did it, I wasn't contributing to the problem ... when *I* did it, I had a Very Good Reason for it, and it didn't count when I did it. You probably meant well. Your motivation was probably because you thought you were actually helping and you wanted to help because you care. I know, I get it. But that's not actually how to help.
The first step is to call this shit out when you see it or hear it. Tell guys that the joke wasn't funny, even if it kinda was, or that even though it was funny, it was still wrong. Tell guys to stop insulting each other by using female or feminine insults (seriously, it shouldn't be an insult to "throw like a girl"). Point out that phrases like "that's so gay" and other gay jokes & insults is actually harmful to both men and women because of how it places feminine attributes as something that is negative and should be avoided. When a woman complains about something bad that happened to her, don't tell her how to fix it. Tell her that you're listening. Tell her that you're here for her. Ask her what she would like to do about it and if there is something you can do to help. Offer to be her support if she wants to make any sort of official complaints and share with her resources where she will not be made a victim a second time for daring to complain.
And the second step is to start saying this shit unprompted. Don't wait for someone to be an asshole in public before confronting him. Start blogging or making Facebook posts about events you read or people you know. An excellent tactic is to link to stories and other people's blog posts that are condemning some sexist action or assault, especially if you can get it trending on Tumblr or Reddit. Don't link to assholes, crazies, and other fuckups - link to the people complaining about them. That way, Google picks up the complaints and puts them at the top of searches and the assholes trying to defend themselves get buried under the fold or on second & third search pages. You don't even have to write a blog post or confront one of these jerks yourself, just help make the problem more visible. If you're at a party where it's socially acceptable to get a little political or talk about serious news items, bring this shit up and make it clear which side you're on. "Dude, I read this HORRIBLE story the other day! Can you believe this fucktard did this thing to this woman?!"
This is not about perteckting the wimmenfolk. This is about showing your support and fighting for what is right. I dated a 2nd degree blackbelt karate instructor. If he were to get into an altercation while we were out together, he would have been totally capable of taking care of things himself. He was bigger than me, stronger than me, and knew how to fight, which I didn't. But I still would have helped. I would have called 911 while he was too busy kicking the other guy's ass. I would have kept the other guy's girlfriend from jumping in. I would have cleared stuff out of his way if it looked like he might back up and trip. Whatever, I would have helped, not because he "needed" my help, but because it would have been the right thing to do. He and I were a team, we were on the same side, and I supported him.
That's what we need from everyone else, and I'm not just looking at the men here. We really do need the guys to start speaking up, because the people who most need to hear these messages just don't give a shit about the women who are saying it. If a guy hates women, it doesn't matter how loud us women are, he doesn't care and he won't listen. That's what makes him a Bad Guy in the first place.
But women, if it is at all safe for you to do so, we also have to speak up. I know that there are penalties for speaking up, I know that so often no one will do anything about it anyway so why bother? Think of my friend above. The Good Guy. He's on our side, but he, like I, was just unaware. It is not your fault that anything bad happens to you and you don't speak up. But it could do some long-term good if you do. Most women do not want to be "that bitch", they don't want to be the party downer, they don't want others thinking that all they do is complain about politics or feminism - they don't want to be that Straw Feminist. BELIEVE me, I get it.
But I promise, if we all band together, the more of us who speak up, the easier it will be for us to speak up. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But it will get better if we all pitch in to the best of our ability.
A Call to Arms for Decent Men
by Ernest W. Adams on Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 7:48am ·Reprinted with attribution with permission because the original is a Facebook post & I think it needs a wider audience since, believe it or not, not everyone is on Facebook. Contains strong language. All emphasis belongs to original poster.
Normally I write for everybody, but this month’s column is a call to arms, addressed to the reasonable, decent, but much too silent majority of male gamers and developers.
Guys, we have a problem. We are letting way
too many boys get into adulthood without actually becoming men. We’re seeing more and more adult males around who are not men
. They’re as old as men, but they have the mentality of nine-year-old boys. They’re causing a lot of trouble, both in general and for the game industry specifically. We need to deal with this.
Why us? Because it’s our job to see to it that a boy becomes a man, and we are failing.
When we were little boys we all went through a stage when we said we hated girls. Girls had “cooties.” They were silly and frilly and everything that a boy isn’t supposed to be. We got into this stage at about age seven, and we left it again at maybe 10 or 11.
Then puberty hit and, if we were straight, we actively wanted the company of girls. We wanted to “go with” them, date them, and eventually we wanted to fall in love and live with one, maybe for the rest of our lives. That’s the way heterosexual boys are supposed to mature, unless they become monks.
My point is, you’re supposed to leave that phase of hating girls behind. Straight or
gay, you’re supposed to grow the hell up.
What might be temporarily tolerable in a boy when he’s nine is pretty damned ugly when he’s fifteen and it’s downright psychopathic when he’s twenty. Instead of maturing into a man’s role and a man’s responsibilities, a lot of boys are stuck at the phase of hating girls and women. The boys continue to treat them like diseased subhumans right through adolescence and into adulthood.
Men have more power than women: financially, politically, and physically. What distinguishes a real man from a boy is that a man takes responsibility for his actions and does not abuse this power. If you don’t treat women with courtesy and respect – if you’re still stuck in that “I hate girls” phase – then no matter what age you are, you are a boy
and not entitled to the privileges of adulthood.
- If you want to have some private little club for males only – like keeping women out of your favorite shooter games – you’re not a man, you’re an insecure little boy. A grown-up man has no problem being in the company of women. He knows he’s a man.
- If you freak out when a girl or a woman beats you in a game, you’re not a man, you’re a nine-year-old boy. A man doesn’t need to beat a woman to know he’s a man. A man is strong enough to take defeat in a fair game from anybody and move on.
- If your masculinity depends on some imaginary superiority over women, then you don’t actually have any. Manliness comes from within, and not at the expense of others.
- And if you threaten or abuse women, verbally or physically, you are not a man. You’re a particularly nasty specimen of boy.
When this puerile mentality is combined with the physical strength and sexual aggressiveness of an older boy or an adult male, it goes beyond bad manners. It’s threatening and anti-social, and if those boys are permitted to congregate together and support each other, it becomes actively dangerous. Yes, even online.
Of course, I don’t mean all boys are like this. Most of them get out of the cootie phase quickly and grow up just fine. But far too many don’t. If we don’t do something about these permanent nine-year-olds pretty soon, they’re going to start having boys of their own who will be just as bad if not worse, and life will not be worth living. Life is already not worth living on Xbox Live Chat.
In addition to the harm they do to women – our
daughters – these full-grown juveniles harm us, too. A boy who refuses to grow up has lousy social skills, a short attention span, and a poor attitude to work. Furthermore, all men
– that’s you and me, bro – get the blame for their bad behavior. And we deserve it, because we’ve been sitting on our butts for too long. We let them be bullies online and get away with it.
Some of you might think it’s sexist that I’m dumping this problem on us men. It isn’t; it’s just pragmatic. Women can not solve this problem
. A boy who hates girls and women simply isn’t going to pay attention to a woman’s opinion. The only people who can ensure that boys are taught, or if necessary forced, to grow up into men are other men.
Let’s be clear about something else. This is not a political issue. This is not a subject for debate, any more than whether your son is allowed to swear at his mother or molest his sister is a subject for debate. There is no “other point of view.”
The real-world analogy is not to social issues but to violent crime. Muggers don’t get to have a point of view.
So how do we change things?
First, we need to serve as positive examples
. With the very little boys, we need to guide them gently but firmly out of the cootie phase. To the impressionable teenagers, we must demonstrate how a man behaves and how he doesn’t. Be the change you want to see. Use your real name and your real picture online, to show that you are a man who stands behind his words. Of course, you can’t prove your name is real, but it doesn’t matter. If you consistently behave with integrity online, the message will get across.
Secondly, we men need to stand up for courtesy and decency online
. We can’t just treat this as a problem for women (or blacks, or gays, or anybody else the juvenile bullies have in their sights). Tell them and their friends that their behavior is not acceptable, that real men don’t agree with them, that they are in the minority. Say these words into your headset: “I’m disappointed in you. I thought you were a man, not a whiny, insecure little boy.” Don’t argue or engage with them. Never answer their questions or remarks, just repeat your disgust and disapproval. Assume the absolute moral superiority to which you are entitled over a bully or a criminal.
Finally, we need to put a stop to this behavior. It’s time for us to force the permanent nine-year-olds to grow up or get out of our games and forums. It’s not enough just to mute them. We need to build the infrastructure that precludes this kind of behavior entirely – Club Penguin
has already done it for children – or failing that, we have to make the bullies pay a price for their behavior.
Appealing to their better nature won’t work; bullies have none. We do not request, we do not debate, we demand and we punish
I have some specific suggestions, from the least to the most extreme.
- Mockery. In 1993 50 Ku Klux Klansmen marched through Austin, Texas. Five thousand anti-Klan protestors turned up to jeer at them. Best of all, several hundred lined the parade route and mooned the Klan in waves. The media ate it up, and the Klan looked ridiculous. The hurt that they wanted to cause was met not with anger but with derision. The juvenile delinquents are just like the Klan in 1993: anonymous in their high-tech bedsheets, and threatening, but in fact, a minority. Let’s use our superior numbers and metaphorically moon the boys who can’t behave. They’re social inadequates, immature losers. Let’s tell them so, loud and clear, in front of their friends.
- Shut them up. The right to speak in a public forum should be limited to those who don’t abuse it. James Portnow suggested this one in his Extra Credits video on harassment. Anyone who persistently abuses others gets automatically muted to all players. The only players who can hear them are those who choose to unmute them. Or another of James’ suggestions: New users don’t even get the right to talk. They have to earn it, and they keep it only so long as they behave themselves. This means a player can’t just create a new account to start spewing filth again if they’ve been auto-muted. Build these features into your games.
- Take away their means. If you’re the father of a boy who behaves like this online, make it abundantly clear to him that it is unmanly and unacceptable, then deny him the opportunity to do it further. We don’t let nine-year-olds misuse tools to hurt other people. Take away his cell phone, his console and his computer. He can learn to behave like a man, or he can turn in his homework in longhand like a child.
- Anonymity is a privilege, not a right. Anonymity is a double-edged sword. A limited number of people need it in certain circumstances: children, crime victims, whistleblowers, people discussing their medical conditions, political dissidents in repressive regimes. But those people normally don’t misuse their anonymity to abuse others; they’re protecting themselves from abuse. I think the default setting in all online forums that are not intended for people at risk should require real names. After a user has demonstrated that they are a grown-up, then offer them the privilege of using a pseudonym. And take it away forever if they misuse it. I haven’t used a nickname for years except in one place where all the readers know who I am anyway. Has it made me more careful about what I say? You bet. Is that a good thing? Damn right it is.
- Impose punishments that are genuinely painful. This suggestion is extreme, but I feel it’s both viable and effective. To play subscription-based or pay-as-you-go (“free-to-play-but-not-really”) games, most players need to register a credit card with the game’s provider. Include a condition in the terms of service that entitles the provider to levy extra charges for bad behavior. Charge $5 for the first infraction and double it for each subsequent one. This isn’t all that unusual; if you smoke in a non-smoking hotel room, you are typically subject to a whopping extra charge for being a jerk.
Now I’m going to address some objections from the very juvenile delinquents I’ve been talking about – if any of them have read this far.
- “What’s the big deal? It’s harmless banter. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the game.” To start with, it’s our game, not yours, and we get to decide what’s acceptable behavior. You meet our standards or you get out. Apart from that, nothing that is done with intent to cause hurt is harmless. The online abuse I have seen goes way beyond banter. Threats are not harmless, they are criminal acts.
- “But this is part of gamer culture! It’s always been like this!” No, it is not. I’ve been gaming for over 40 years, and it has not always been like this. Yours is a nasty little subculture that arrived with anonymous online gaming, and we’re going to wipe it out.
- “This is just political correctness.” Invoking “political correctness” is nothing but code for “I wanna be an asshole and get away with it.” I’ll give you a politically-incorrect response, if you like: fuck that. It’s time to man up. You don’t get to be an asshole and get away with it.
- “You’re just being a White Knight and trying to suck up to women.” I don’t need to suck up to women, thanks; unlike you, I don’t have a problem with them, because I’m a grown man.
- “Women are always getting special privileges.” Freedom from bullying is a right, not a privilege, and anyway, that’s bullshit. Males are the dominant sex in almost every single activity on the planet. The only areas that we do not rule are dirty, underpaid jobs like nursing and teaching. Do you want to swap? I didn’t think so.
- “It’s hypocrisy. How come they get women-only clubs and we don’t get men-only clubs?” Because they’re set up for different reasons, that’s why. Male-only spaces are about excluding women from power, and making little boys whose balls evidently haven’t dropped feel special. Female-only spaces are about creating a place where they are safe from vermin.
- “But there’s misandry too!” Oh, and that entitles you to be a running sore on the ass of the game community? Two wrongs don’t make a right.. I’ll worry about misandry when large numbers of male players are being hounded out of games with abuse and threats of violence. If a few women are bigoted against men, you only have to look in the mirror to find out why.
- “Free speech!” The oldest and worst excuse for being a jerk there is. First, you have no right to free speech in privately-owned spaces. Zero. Our house, our rules. Second, with freedom comes the responsibility not to abuse it. People who won’t use their freedoms responsibly get them taken away. And if you don’t clean up your act, that will be you.
OK, back to the real men for a few final words.
This is not about “protecting women.” It’s about cleaning out the sewers that our games have become. This will not be easy and it will not be fun. Standing up to these little jerks will require the same courage from us that women like Anita Sarkeesian have already shown. We will become objects of hatred, ridicule, and contempt. Our manhood will be questioned. But if we remember who we are and stand strong together, we can beat them. In any case we won’t be threatened with sexual violence the way women are. We have it easier than they do.
It’s time to stand up. If you’re a writer, blogger, or forum moderator, please write your own piece spreading the message, or at least link to this one. I also encourage you to visit Gamers Against Bigotry (http://gamersagainstbigotry.org
), sign the pledge, are share it.
Use your heavy man’s hand in the online spaces where you go – and especially
the ones you control – to demand courtesy and punish abuse. Don’t just mute them. Report them, block them, ban them, use every weapon you have. (They may try to report us
in return. That won’t work. If you always behave with integrity, it will be clear who’s in the right.)
Let’s stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the women we love, and work with, and game with, and say, “We’re with you. And we’re going to win.”
( Before any of my liberal, sex-positive, genderqueer friends comment on this, I want to say a few things about it.Collapse )
I read an interesting article in Psychology Today. I'll be honest, I have dropped PT from my mental list of Websites Of Quality Articles. They are just another online blog site with dozens of bloggers of varying quality and expertise. They are certainly not a peer-reviewed scientific journal, but increasingly they aren't even an interesting source of pop-psychology to provide food for thought - just a source of rage about how some people are able to obtain advanced degrees and be allowed to have a public forum for their views.
But occasionally I run across an article or op-ed that I like. This was one of them. It talks about respect. "Respect" is thrown around a lot in the poly community in a very particular way. I most often see it used as a defense of The Rules* by primary couples wishing to protect their relationship. The reason why The Rules are necessary, they might say, is because they need to ensure that the incoming partner respects their relationship, their primacy. This is, IME, the reason most often given when a couple does not want to admit to being insecure.
No, they might say, the Rules are not because I don't trust my partner! I trust him implicitly! It's other people that I don't trust! We have a rock-solid relationship! We are best friends! I know that he would never do anything to hurt me! So I am not dictating his behaviour, I am laying out the rules for her behaviour! We don't want anyone to come in and not respect our primary relationship and/or not respect me as his primary partner. So we need Rules to make sure she is respectful.
So let's talk about respect.
tacit has said, in many places, but in his most recent post on rules:
Many folks who claim primacy in a primary/secondary relationship often say they need rules because otherwise they don't feel "respected" by secondary partners, yet it's difficult to be respectful when one feels hemmed in, encircled by walls, and knowing that one's relationship is always under review.
In his previous post on rules
, he says
"Respect" is a slippery, tricky word. It's kind of like "freedom"--everyone thinks they know what it means, but when the rubber meets the road, few folks actually agree on a definition.
To me, respect has to be mutual. If Alice is demanding respect from Bob's new sweetie Cindy, that can only come if Alice in turn respects the notion that Cindy is a grown adult with her own needs and desires, and she, too, deserves a shot at having a voice in the relationship. Imposing rules by fiat on other people and then demanding respect from those people is all the rage (I hear) among leaders of North Korea, but can feel a bit yucky when we're talking romantic relationships. ...
At worst, it sets up a relationship with a certain amount of tension and conflict baked in. If you see your partner's other partner as a source of stress, if you set up rules to govern that other person's behavior, then already you've started out on a basis of conflict ... there's an irreconcilable difference there. Someone's desire is going to get trumped, and you're playing the "respect" card to try to make sure it's not yours.
So this article had some interesting things to say about respect. And no, it is not a poly article, it's about relationships in general. In fact, it spends about as much time, if not more, talking about respecting one's children as it does respecting one's spouse. As I say so often, this is not a poly issue, this is a people issue. But I want to bring it around to poly specifically, as I see it played out in this Primary vs. Secondary deathmatch battle at Thunderdome, where the primary couple puts themselves in opposition to the incoming secondary partner and justifies the structure under the heading of "respect".
The author, Peter Gray, separates out love from respect. He acknowledges that some people make respect an integral part of their definition of love (like I do), but he sticks to his point that they are independent elements. Although I do not believe one can "love" someone if they do not respect them, I agree that "love" and "respect" are not interchangeable and can be discussed separately. One can have respect without love, for instance, even if one insists that love must include respect. I can have bacon without it being in a bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich, but I can't have a BLT without bacon, by definition - then it's just an LT sandwich.
Gray says that, if you accept the premise that love can exist without respect and vice versa, then bliss is what happens when you combine the two. But if he had to choose between them, he'd take respect over love.
It is useful, I think, to compare and contrast parent-child relationships with husband-wife relationships. In both of these, respect is absolutely essential for the relationship to work. Love without respect is dangerous; it can crush the other person, sometimes literally. To respect is to understand that the other person is not you, not an extension of you, not a reflection of you, not your toy, not your pet, not your product. In a relationship of respect, your task is to understand the other person as a unique individual and learn how to mesh your needs with his or hers and help that person achieve what he or she wants to achieve. Your task is not to control the other person or try to change him or her in a direction that you desire but he or she does not. I think this applies as much to parent-child relationships as to husband-wife relationships.
If we apply this to the primary/secondary/metamour scenario, it sounds like this: To respect your partner is to understand that the other person is not you, not an extension of you, not a reflection of you, not your toy, not your pet, not your product. To respect your metamour/secondary is to understand that the other person is not a reflection of you, not your toy, not your pet, not your product. In a relationship of respect, your task is to understand that your metamour/secondary is a unique individual and learn how to mesh your needs with his or hers and help your metamour/secondary to acheive what he or she wants to achieve. Your task is not to control your metamour/secondary or try to change him or her in a direction that you desire but he or she does not. In a relationship of respect, your task is to understand that your partner is a unique individual and to help your partner achieve what he or she wants to achieve. Your task is not to control your partner or try to change him or her in a direction that you desire but he or she does not.
This is the antithesis of everything that The Rules stand for in poly relationships. The Rules, as I am referring to them here, are about protecting from change and prohibiting growth of one person in a direction not necessarily desired by another person. The Rules are designed to make partners into an extension of each other and reflection of each other and to make secondaries into toys, pets, or products.
This is the exact opposite of that "respect" that these sorts of couples are demanding. When those couples that I am talking about refer to "respect", they mean it in the way that we all "respect" the law - by that I mean that we all follow a set of rules that someone else imposed on us without our input whether we agree with it or not because there are consequences to breaking the law, and we surriptitiously break the law when we think we can get away with it (seriously, if anyone out there thinks that you never break any law, like speeding or oral sex, either you are lying to yourself or you've never actually read every single law that affects your jurisdiction - some are inherently contradictory and some don't even apply anymore but were never stricken from the books). We are generally taught to obey authority for the good of society. But really, how much of that is "respect" and how much of that is a sense of obligation coupled with a fear of consequences? That may be an acceptable way to run a large society, but that doesn't sound like any way to run a relationship that claims to be "loving".
I don't "respect" authority and law. I recognize that authority & law have power over me and I recognize that a system of law and authority is beneficial for society (the individual points of authority & law are debatable, though). I accept this power structure, mostly, in order to get along with society, basically as a social contract - I don't hurt, maim, kill, or steal from you if you won't do it to me. That's not respect, that's an uneasy truce amongst people who don't know each other and don't have much motivation to care about each other.
But I also follow many laws simply by coincidence because I care and respect my fellow human beings. I don't need a law to tell me not to hurt or kill or steal from other people (as a matter of fact, there was a time when the law against stealing didn't do shit to prevent me from it). What makes me really not hurt or kill or steal from other people is a sense of compassion, a belief that we all deserve to live with dignity, an immense feeling of empathy, a passionate philosophy of personal soverignty ... in short, respect.
As tacit also says, if your partner truly loves and cherishes you, a rule is unneccessary, but if a partner does not truly love and cherish you, a rule won't make him. Just like with our secular laws, if someone really doesn't feel that sense of compassion and empathy towards the one they are hurting, a law doesn't tend to stop them from doing it. Never has a criminal seriously said (Facebook meme pics aside) "Man, I'm totally gonna kill you! What do you mean it's illegal? Oh, well, then, nevermind, sorry, forget I said anything." People who want to kill find ways to do it. Some of them become criminals who ignore the law, some of them become soldiers and cops who have the law behind them, and some of them become legal executioners who are specifically ordered to do it. If a partner wants to do something that will hurt you, he will whether there is a "rule" in place or not. If a partner honestly does not want to hurt you, he will do his best not to whether there is a rule in place or not.
The same goes for metamours. If respect is what you want, passing rules won't make anyone respect the relationship or the primary position. What makes a person respect that is all those other things I talked about above - compassion, empathy, consideration, acceptance, understanding. Those things are not demanded nor legislated. They are earned. And the best way to earn them from other people is to first give them to those other people.
Love is not all you need, nor all your wife or husband needs, and certainly not all your children need. We all need respect, especially from those who are closest and most intimately connected with us.
*The Rules are defined for this post as a set of restrictions or guidelines dictating the behaviour of other people, such as "you will not have intercourse with anyone other than me without a condom" and "no overnight stays". Reciprocation and agreement to said rules are irrelevant to the definition of "dicating the behaviour of others".
This is contrasted from Boundaries, which are a source of information about one person that another person can use to inform his or her decisions, such as "I do not feel safe having sex with anyone who does not use condoms with all of his partners" so that anyone that "I" am dating can still choose to use condoms or not knowing how his decision will affect "I" and/or his relationship with "I".
Many people use the word "rule" when they actually mean "boundary" and many people *think* they are talking about boundaries when they are actually imposing rules.
Sometimes I think that maybe I'm actually speaking a different langauge from everyone else, and maybe I have some kind of universal translator or babelfish so that I can't tell, but that the translator is buggy or slightly off in some ways. Because people don't seem to use words in the same way that I do. Even with a dictionary, people use words differently, and I find that I am constantly having semantics arguments because we can't discuss a topic until we are all on the same page about what the words we are using mean.
One of those words is polyamory. I'm a pretty big proponent of using the definition of a word that the person who made up the word uses. In some cases, I think the Argument from Authority is a good one. If you invented or coined a term, then you get to decide what it means. This is even more important, to me, the younger the word is. And if the word was invented or coined within the same generation (i.e. roughly 30-ish years) and the coiners are still alive, then there shouldn't be any debate about "living languages" and so forth.
So, to me, polyamory is about having or wanting multiple simultaneous romantic relationships in which all parties consent to the arrangement. That means that they both know about it and agree to it willingly, not grudgingly. If you don't say yes, it's not consent. If you are coerced, it's not consent. If someone uses their position of authority over you, it's not consent. If you are not aware of any other options, it's not consent. If you are not allowed the opportunity to back out, it's not consent. And so on. Polyamory is also, to me, more about building intentional families (even if some of those relatives are "extended" relatives) than in experiencing sexual encounters (also explicit in the definition - a word's definition is not necessarily limited solely to it's literal translation, the intent and cultural context of a word is also taken into account).
So when someone suggests a movie to me that they claim has polyamory in it, I am now highly dubious about that claim. I have been recommended all manner of cheating and swinging and other non-monogamous movies, but very rarely do I find actual polyamory in these films. Every so often, a cheating movie might make it into my Poly-ish Movie List because I believe from the context of the story that it would
be polyamorous if not for the circumstances, like the era or culture, that prevents the characters from openly declaring their relationships that are, nonetheless, loving (like Same Time, Next Year
) - I basically feel that the characters
are poly but possibly trapped somewhen/somewhere that they can't express it properly. Many times, it's hard for me to really quantify why a particular borderline movie is poly and why this other one isn't. It usually boils down to tone, and a vague sense of "moralizing" that I may or may not get from the storytellers.
This was the problem I had with The Unbearable Lightness of Being
. I kept getting told that it was a poly movie, but there was just something wrong with its tone. Tomas is a philanderer who seems to be afraid of committment and keeps his emotional entanglements to a minimum. Basically, he has sex with lots of women a few times and drops them when they start becoming "serious". Except for one woman, Sabina, who basically seems to have the same outlook as Tomas, in that she hightails it outta there as soon as a guy starts getting "serious" about her. They appear to have a mutual respect in addition to their mutual attraction and mutual passion because of their shared interest in not letting anyone get close to them. Ironically, that barrier that they both erect to keep people out is what ties them together.
Along comes Tereza, an innocent young girl who manages to, as far as I could tell, guilt her way into Tomas' life. She shows up on his doorstep with no place to stay, and so breaks his rule about kicking every girl out before morning. After a whole bunch of these mornings, he finally ends up marrying her.
This is yet another case of a couple who don't seem to have anything in common and don't seem to like each other very much. At least, the director and/or screenwriter didn't establish their relationship very well. We know what Tomas likes in Tereza - she's female - but we don't really see what brings the two such different characters together. She's young, naive, innocent, apolitical, and extremely jealous and insecure. He's worldly, sophisticated, educated, a bit misogynistic, contemptous of most people, and a horndog. Other than the fact that their bits fit together, I couldn't understand their relationship at all.
Tomas continues to cheat on Tereza throughout their relationship, and every time Tereza catches him at it, she throws a huge fit that borders on emotional blackmail. I think she's probably depressive to the point of suicidal. Not that I'm defending Tomas either - Tereza doesn't consent to an open relationship, so he's cheating. Period. She deserves better.
There is only one scene that could even possibly be confused for a pro-poly scene. And I have to say that I didn't even interpret the scene this way until someone else suggested it. I still don't see the scene this way, but I can at least see how someone else might.
Tereza suspects Tomas of having an affair with Sabina, who has been introduced to the new Mrs. Tomas as his friend & occasionally socializes with them. So Tereza, who is told to get into photographing naked women if she wants to be taken seriously as a professional photographer, approaches Sabina to be Tereza's first nude model. Sabina, a confident, sexually liberated woman in the '60s, is the only person Tereza knows who might even consider the proposal.
So we have a scene where Tereza photographs Sabina, and eventually Sabina (who is also a photographer and artist) talks Tereza into posing nude for her in return. The two women, who have before been very awkward together, gain some sort of comfort and familiarity with each other through this mutual nude photography session.
I didn't see how this was poly, really. The argument was made that it was basically two metamours who had finally reached out to each other and were able to get past the jealousy to see each other maybe as how their mutual partner could see them. The reason why I didn't interpret the scene this way is because Tereza had only suspected Sabina as being Tomas' lover (he never confirmed) and neither woman spoke of anything relationship-oriented at all. So maybe they did get past some of their jealousy and learned to see each other as people, and maybe this was a bonding, and even a learning moment for both of them. But it was still cheating and still a secret and Tereza still never approved of Tomas' philandering, and the two women never saw each other again on screen.
This movie was not about a poly vee. This was a political commentary on the war in Europe and the Soviet invasion of Czecheslovakia, using the characters as vehicles for the commentary. The movie was brilliantly made, using real footage and photographs from the invasion itself, as chronicled by art students at the university at the time, and staging the characters on the sets to flip back and forth seamlessly between the real archival footage and the movie. This was the first and best comprehensive collection of the record of the invasion ever made.
This movie was based on the book by the same name, which is also widely touted as a brilliant piece of literature. It was critically acclaimed, although, like any book-based movie, many were disappointed with the conversion to film. So I recommend this movie if history and foreign films and high-brow media are your thing. I just didn't feel that it was particularly poly
.( ***SPOILERS*** (but not all of them)Collapse )
This is one of the few artsy-foreign films that I didn't dislike for being too artsy & foreign, and I'd like to read the book. I might have liked the movie better if I had just come across it on my own instead of having it recommended to me as a potential poly film, because I watched it through a filter of hopes and expectations of poly content. I will not be including this on the Poly-ish Movie List, but it was an interesting movie and I'm glad I saw it.
I just finished listening to Poly Weekly
's recent episode on advice for opening up a couple. I particularly enjoyed it because it was advice aimed at a couple from the point of view of the potential new "third" coming into the relationship
. There are lots of advice floating around there telling couples how to open their relationship, like talking to each other and establishing The Rules before doing anything. But there is not much being said from this perspective.
Actually, there are quite a few sources telling couples what it feels like from the prospective Third, including me. But these sources consistently get shut down as couples defend their methods of "protecting [their] relationship". Now, it seems to me that if a group of people (and for these purposes, we'll include 2 people under the heading "group") want to attract another person or group of people, it would be in their best interest to actually heed the advice of said incoming person or group.
We see this in the skeptics and atheist communities too. And we see it in the larger poly community, not just first-time couples looking for unicorns. We have groups here of predominently white, educated, middle- & upper-class men (and women in the poly community) looking for more diversity. But instead of reaching out to the classes of people they wish to attract and asking them what they want from a community, what would convince them to try us out, and how we can improve their experiences with us, my communities of atheists, skeptics, and polys, continue to close ranks with locked arms, telling these other classes that they just need to deal with the communities as-is because that's how we like it, and then putting our own heads together to brainstorm ideas without input from the ones these ideas will most impact.
Back to the poly couples, they do the same thing. These two people (and sometimes it's a poly group about to open up for more) put their heads together and start discussing rules and regulations and future stuff without any input at all from the one person these rules will impact the most. And they defend it by saying that they don't want anyone who doesn't like these rules anyway and it's no different from pre-weeding out potential candidates based on other conflicting things like "I don't date guys who beat up kittens".
And then the poly couples and the atheist & skeptic organizers sit around and whine and moan about how hard it is to find people to join them and how mean everyone is being towards them and their policies.tacit
and I have also faced this phenonemon before, where we suggest that certain methods have better success rates than others (as well as being more humane and considerate and compassionate), and couples who can't find their unicorns belligerently defend the need for rules by calling them "training wheels" - things you do when you don't yet have compassion and empathy and consideration and relationship and communication skills in order to start being poly first and learn the "advanced" techniques as you go. And yes, I have been accused by people for being "enlightened" and "advanced" - this is not me tooting my own horn, these are the things other people have said about me and the reasons people give for not following my advice. Frankly, I started out as poly with these same skills and have improved over time, so I have a hard time thinking of them as "advanced" or "enlightened" - as far as I'm concerned, being considerate towards those in your chosen family and thinking about what I bring to the table instead of how he will adequately fulfill my own needs are basic skills, not advanced. But I digress.
It seems to me that if one wishes to be successful at something, and that something is attracting new people, one ought to be following the advice given by the people one wishes to attract and those who are successful at attracting them, not telling those one wishes to attract how wrong their advice is for how to attract them. I'm pretty sure that I know better than anyone else what will attract me to that person or group, so if you want me in your group, you ought to listen to what I say will get me there.
So I liked this episode
, and although I still don't agree with every single little itty bitty thing cunningminx
said, I very much appreciated having someone with as big of a voice as she has saying these things in no uncertain terms and without bending over backwards to accommodate and pander to the couples, who already have an unequal distribution of power in the community, living in a heteronormative, couple-centric society to begin with.
- Tags:atheism, fear, freedom/politics, gender issues, me manual, media reflections, online skeezballs, polyamory, polyweekly, rants, recommendations, relationships
This started as simply posting a link to an article on Facebook and turned into a rant:
What's So Bad About A Boy Who Wants To Wear A Dress?
“No, I don’t want to be a girl,” he said, as he checked himself out in his bedroom mirror and posed, Cosmo-style. “I just want to wear girl stuff.”
“Why do you want to be a boy and not a girl?” I asked.
He looked at me as if I were daft. “Because I want to be who I am!”
"My son showed me this is part of core identity, not something people just put on or take off. And it’s not their job to make sure we’re all comfortable.”
My father is a cross-dresser. He is also straight (maybe bi, I dunno, none of his former female partners are aware of any male partners, at any rate). But he is also so ashamed of it and fearful of anyone finding out that he will not even admit to being my father and refuses to let me contact him. He has cut off communication with his crazy religious-nut parents (both my mother & the investigator who located him (both Christian) labeled them as crazy religious-nuts) and the only way they can reach him is by pager, which he then uses to return the call from a payphone and not his phone.
I only know about his cross-dressing because he apparently used to do it even back in high school, and my mother eventually confessed to catching him at it. Then, when I sent out a first-contact letter to everyone with his name in his town's phonebook, his current girlfriend found it stashed away in a desk drawer and choose to respond, where she confirmed that the man I had described was her boyfriend and so was probably my father, that he had never told anyone about having a daughter, and about his crazy religious parents, and about his cross-dressing (which distressed the girlfriend & she didn't know how to deal with it).
It's ironic, since I'm his one relative who would embrace him without regard to his dress preferences. I would neither reject him for it nor put him on a pedestal as some sort of "hero" that he doesn't want to be for wearing women's clothing. Yet I'm the last relative he wants any contact with, and that includes his crazy religious-nut parents who, according to my mother, screamed at him & called him all sorts of ugly names over the mere suspicion that their son might not have been "normal".
As far as I'm concerned, his attire preferences are merely a part of him, and they are always "right" as long as it is what he wants
Also, I can totally relate. Some people think I am a male when they don't see my physical appearance. Many of my male friends have made comments (some positive, some complaints) about women only to say "oh, but Joreth doesn't count!". And some get confused when I say I identify as "male" because I don't *look* male and even when I wear male clothing, I'm not trying to "pass" - I look like a girl in guy's clothes, and my feminine appearance can often blind people to my "masculine" way of being (thoughts, interests, etc.).
So I really appreciated hearing this perspective - of boys who want to be boys but just wear girl clothes or play with girl toys. I am female-bodied and I intend to stay that way. I am also androphillic in that I am attracted to males. The only reason why I don't identify as female is because of all the other crap that goes along with being "a girl". That stuff doesn't fit. But if I could be "a girl" and still like jeans and guns and trucks and still hate pastels and makeup and doing my hair, then I wouldn't be having this genderqueer identity.
"But girls CAN do all those things!" you say? No, actually, we can't. At least, we can't to the same extent that we can wear frilly dresses and have our nails done and like babies and baking. We might not get burned at the stake for being a witch anymore, but we still have to defend our right to be tomboys. The fact that we have a nickname for it "tomboy" shows it, and the fact that the nickname uses the word "boy" in it furthers my point. And we especially have to defend our right to like both jeans AND frilly dresses.
The fact that women can wear suits but it has to be tailored to be "feminine", that there are tons of books & articles teaching women how to be strong without "losing" their "femininity", and the fact that, when I say I identify as a guy, people point out my ballroom dancing & costuming as contradictory evidence all says that we as a society are still not comfortable with a gender spectrum, with blurring the lines, or with people who step outside of the very narrow gender-dichotomy boxes (which, of course, are not objectively defined anyway - my strict-gender-role parents have a very different definition of what makes a girl than some macho guys I've dated, for example).
"Pink boys", as this article calls them, have it worse, of course, because there are often larger penalties for a boy in a dress than a girl in pants - the women's movement has made some progress, after all. But feminists have not won the sexism wars yet, and the fact that pink boys have it worse is only one more symptom of sexism - that, as the article pointed out, boys being "girls" is going towards the "lesser gender".
Sexism & misogyny hurts everyone. I will identify as a "girl" when being a "girl" doesn't require me to behave in any particular way, like any particular thing, dislike any particular thing, think a particular way, feel a particular way, or be treated a particular way (please don't get me started on chivalry or treating women as "queens").
Or, here's a thought ... how about I just identify as a person and we all treat each other with the same amount of dignity and respect and then tailor the specifics to the individual, not to his or her genitalia or clothing style?
Everyone thinks of Crocs shoes as ugly. And you know what? They are. At least, their original style was hideously ugly (IMO). For those who aren't aware of them, Crocs is this brand of rubber shoes that came out several years ago touting their comfort and practicality over style. They were billed as the most comfortable shoes you'll ever own. And everyone I knew who could bring themselves to try them on agreed.
Now, the pair I tried on rubbed awfully on my feet in several places, so I didn't think they were comfortable on top of thinking they were the ugliest shoes I'd ever seen. I still remember the first time I had ever seen them. I was at the airport with my ex-boyfriend, Sterling, and he pointed them out to me on another traveler. He asked me some kind of question regarding how much ugly I'd be willing to put up with in favor of comfort. I don't remember his exact wording, and I don't remember my exact answer, but the general idea of my answer was that I would not put up with that
much ugly for comfort. And I was not known for having exceptional taste in footwear either.
So I outright refused to even consider this new brand of shoes. I felt that, if these shoes were so damn comfortable, the manufacturers could at least make an attempt coming in the neighborhood of what was considered fashionable.
And, a few years later, they did.
Crocs is now the makers of a whole line of different style shoes, many of which are still ugly. But many of which are quite attractive, and a few that are somewhere in between. I used to wear a pair of pretty ugly (but not as ugly as Crocs) sandals that I found in Cozumel when I took a cruise and discovered that I had forgotten to pack sandals for the trip. They were your basic flat sole with straps over the top of the foot, flip-flop type sandal.
They did not have that little bit that goes between your toes, which I hate. They were rubber, and they convinced me of the ultimate utility of wearing rubber shoes in florida - they never rotted or needed special care and I could get them wet or dirty without damage and if I got caught in the rain or wore them to the beach, they would not bother my feet like cloth shoes that got wet and they dried out very quickly, even while wearing them. They also had a bit of arch support & "massage nubs" to the insole and so were comfortable. Their only downside, as far as I was concerned, was that they were brown, and I wanted black shoes to match more of my wardrobe.
So when my sandals finally wore out, although I knew where to replace them right here in Florida, I searched the internet for black rubber sandals, and I came across Crocs. I was shocked to find that Crocs had styles
of shoes now! I had written them off years ago as those hideous rubber clog-looking shoes and it never occurred to me that they had evolved, since more and more people were still wearing the ugly first generation style Crocs. Hell, they sold them at the theme parks with licensed characters & character colors on them! How was I to know that they had other styles now?
I discovered that there was a Croc store in a mall nearby, so I went down to try on the sandals and, sure enough, they had everything I liked about my ugly brown sandals and nothing I didn't (namely, the color). They were basically the same style, gender-neutral with two straps across the top, but somehow they managed to look less ugly, more, I dunno, shoe-like than my brown sandals. They were more expensive, but I bought them anyway. These were called Cleo, but Crocs is now on to the Cleo II, which has 2 straps cross the top of the toes in addition to the hinged strap that can be worn either over the bridge of the foot or behind the foot as a heel strap. I have those too, when I lost my Cleos for long enough that I'd given them up as gone for good & had to buy a replacement pair. I have since found my Cleos so now I have both pairs.
And I can't rave about these sandals enough. I've had that first pair for a few years now and they're still in great condition. I wear them every day that I leave the house when my attire doesn't require specific shoes (i.e. work requires steel toe boots or close-toe shoes and dancing requires dance heels), and I even wear them around the house when I'm doing chores or cooking that requires me to stand on the tile for long periods of time. When I hosted my Butterbeer party, I had to stand for hours mixing and stirring different recipes of butterbeer for the taste test, and after about 30 minutes barefoot, my back, shoulders, and knees were aching. In a spurt of inspiration, I put on my Crocs and almost instantly all the pain disappeared, and I could stand on that tile for several more hours.
These are the most comfortable pair of shoes I have ever owned, and I have owned some comfortable shoes. I have back, ankle, and knee issues, so I actually invest a decent amount of money into quality footwear. Stagehands and soldiers will both tell you the value of good footwear and caring for one's feet. They say that women obsess over shoes, but I tell you that I have never heard as many conversations about shoes from women as I have from the men I work with - what's comfortable, what's affordable, what's practical, what will get the job done and still look nice? Maybe they don't gush over how cute the shoes are, but good shoes are an endless topic of conversation among men (and women) who spend all day on their feet on concrete or rough terrain, and I tell you that Crocs are worth it.
Then, one day, a female friend of mine was talking about her shoes. I don't normally pay attention to talk of girlie shoes unless they're dance shoes, and this friend is ultra girlie in her fashion. But I heard the magic word "Crocs" and my ears perked up. She was showing off a pair of high heeled shoes that she insisted were Crocs brand. She told us all how she wears this same pair of heels, and only these heels, all weekend long at Dragon*Con (a sci-fi convention) without any problems. They're so comfortable & fashionable that she won't wear any other shoes at 'con!
I was intrigued ... stylish heels that can be worn for more than 5 minutes and with lots of walking? It couldn't be! But it was! So I went back to the Crocs store and the Crocs website and discovered that they had expanded their selection once again. Now they had dress shoes and sneakers and boots in addition to their wide variety of sandals, and yes, their classic ugly clogs.
I go ballroom dancing. When I do ballroom dancing, I wear high heel dance shoes. These are worlds more comfortable than regular heels (with the possible exception of certain brands of ladies dress shoes that also emphasize comfort but are very expensive), but their special dance sole means that I can't wear them off the dance floor. I have to wear other shoes from the car to the venue, change into my ballroom shoes, and then change back to walk out to the car. And no matter how comfortable ballroom dance shoes might be, 4 or more hours of dancing leaves these feet that are accustomed to sandals & sneakers aching and sore. So the last thing I want to do is put on another, more uncomfortable pair of heels. So I had been wearing my black Crocs sandals. But I really wanted to find a nice pair of shoes that would still allow me to be "dressed up" even after I took off the dance shoes.
After much debate, I finally settled on these black, high heeled wedges. And I couldn't be happier with them! They don't just feel comfortable, they feel good
. By that I mean that I don't just feel relief when I take off my dance shoes and put these on, I feel better
. I feel like my aches have been reduced by half immediately and that I could keep dancing for another couple of hours. I have been known to take off my dance shoes after a night of dancing, positive that I would have to be carried out to the car, only to put on these wedges and walk up and down the street, amiably chatting with my companion, for another hour or two. I feel happy when I put on these shoes. I feel like bouncing. I usually do bounce my first few steps in these shoes, out of sheer joy & comfort.
So now I'm convinced, Crocs are the most awesome shoes in the world. All they'd have to do is make a rated pair of steel-toe combat-looking boots and a high-top Converse-like sneaker and I wouldn't buy any other shoe ever again. Oh, but they have recently come out with Crocs insoles! As a miser living below the poverty line, I typically don't pay more than $5 for insoles (they're memory-foam insoles and I love them), but to turn all my shoes into Crocs shoes? I'm willing to pay the 20-bucks, once I have the money.
I should point out here that Crocs are technically not "rubber", they are a resin that is "hermetic and antibacterial", as well as non-toxic, which means that they never smell like feet or any other body odor. That makes their entrance into the insole business an especially fortuitous move. Their sports shoes have an additional antifungal additive that prevents athelete's foot & fungal infections.
I'm also looking into a white or silver pair of dress shoes for those 2 or 3 outfits I have that are not black or dark colored and for which my black wedges don't really match as well as a light pair of shoes would. And if the Crocs store would just carry their leather boots in stock so I could try them on to see if they're as comfortable as all their other shoes, I'd get those too!
It seems as though Crocs has paired themselves with a line of shoe-shoes that are not all rubber, do not have their characteristic Crocs sole, and do not appear to have their characteristic Crocs rubber insole with the massage nubs and rubbery-cushy-bounciness. But if Crocs makes it, with their committment to comfort, I at least want to try them out.
Don't think they saved all their style for women's shoes either! Men have quite the range of non-ugly shoe styles as well, including sneakers, sandals, boat shoes, golf shoes, and boots. They even have Converse or Vans style sneakers. In addition, Crocs shoes are made in 3 different widths - standard, relaxed, and roomy, so that even my friends who complain about regular-length but wide feet (especially those friends) find these comfortable. I have fairly narrow feet with very high arches and I also find them extremely comfortable.
So I recommend heading down to your nearest Crocs store and trying on a variety of styles to find one that fits your style and comfort needs. If you can find a style that you like, I really think your feet will thank you for it. I won't say these are the last pair of shoes you'll ever buy, because, frankly, I still like a few other brands for different reasons. But I think I look forward to putting these on more often than any other shoe I wear (especially since I'd really rather be barefoot most of the time), and I often wish that Crocs made some of my other favorite shoes. Although, now that Crocs makes insoles, that just might solve this last remaining "problem".
Let me tell you a little story. I was at a fetish event recently, and I witnessed the following encounter:
A very small, dainty-looking young girl, early twenties at best, approached the head honcho of this event while I was speaking to him. He asked her how she was doing, and she confessed that she came outside to where we were standing to escape a "creepy guy". The head honcho asked her what was wrong, and she told us that there was a guy inside who was being "creepy" towards her and she had had enough.
You see, she was a submissive girl, young, petite, and collared to her Daddy. And, apparently to Mr. Creepy, that meant that she was fair game. He kept approaching her to tell her things like "I'll be your Daddy" and "Daddy says..." He apparently went to strike her at one point (or offered to, I'm unclear which) and she said, flat out, "my Daddy did not give you permission to hit me!" But that didn't stop him. Oh no, he kept intruding on her space and forcing her to defend her boundaries when what she really wanted was to just run around naked and not think about things like personal safety. She wanted to be in her role as a submissive to her Daddy, but that did not mean that she was anyone else's sub.
As she told this story, Honcho got more and more stone-faced. Finally, he cut her off and said "oh, he's not a bad guy, you just have to get used to his sense of humor!" She said "no, he is really bothering me!" So Honcho said "look, you're a sub and you're pretty, you have to expect that Doms are going to want to order you around. Just be a good little girl and do as you're told and there won't be any problems!"
The others standing nearby, all women, nodded their heads in agreement and gave more advice on how to be a proper submissive in The Lifestyle. I could see the subbie was becoming more and more defensive, and more and more withdrawn. She looked cornered, ganged up on, and as if she was ready to bolt. Or cry.
I'm sure many of you reading this right now are probably thinking how horrible this was for the poor subbie. Some of you are probably also remembering witnessing similar events, or even participating in them - either as the subbie, or as those Lifestyle Cops, trying to tell some poor, confused girl that she deserved what she got because she wasn't playing the role properly.
And probably some of you are saying "I don't get it, what's the big deal? He didn't touch her, he just said some things to her. She has her Daddy there to protect her - look, she even said that part about her Daddy not giving the guy permission to hit her, so she's totally safe. Mr. Creepy is probably just socially awkward and now you're just telling us this story to make all us guys feel bad just for being guys. Honcho was right, she just needs to relax and take it as a compliment that this guy wants to play with her. You just want to keep anyone from flirting with anyone ever again and then the whole human race will die out because no one will ever get laid again!"
Except this scene never happened. Well, actually, it has happened ... thousands of time in many different places. But this is not the scene that I witnessed and that I am referencing now. Let me tell you what did really happen.
Everything up to the "oh, he's not such a bad guy" is true. A small girl did come outside and a fetish event organizer did ask her how she was doing and she did tell us the story of a creepy guy who was bothering her. When Honcho said "oh, he's not such a bad guy", she cut him off and said "no, he is, he has been doing this..." and gave examples of things that Mr. Creepy said that were intrusive and presumptive. Mr. Creepy clearly took the position that she was a sub and he was a Dom, therefore she should submit to him.
And this girl was having none of that. So she complained. And Honcho, after one attempt to smooth ruffled feathers, listened to her tell her story. And when subbie was done, he said, "OK, I'll take care of it." And those standing around who overheard all nodded their heads in satisfaction and everyone went about their business as Honcho went inside to deal with Mr. Creepy.
Listen up people in the BDSM community and the skeptics community and the atheists community and the sci-fi geek fandom community. THIS IS HOW YOU DEAL WITH THIS PROBLEM.
A girl felt uncomfortable with a guy taking liberties with her chosen role as a submissive. She complained to the man in charge. The man in charge tried to soothe her & smooth over potential conflict first, but when she repeated that it was a problem, he shut the fuck up and listened to her. And then he took care of it. He gave her, and by extension all of his guests, a safety net. He provided a safe place for her to voice a complaint, with no retribution for bringing a problem to his attention. He understood, if not exactly why this was so bothersome (maybe he did, I don't know), that when the organizers are not proactive in making spaces feel safe to women, that women stop coming to those spaces.
This is the bare minimum of what I expect of any kind of community or event organizer. There was no hushing up of the event, no shaming her for complaining, no instance to excuse his behaviour behind "socially awkward" or the culture of Domism. And, I'll point out, he is a white, middle-aged, dominant male who has spent the majority of his life within the kink community and all the bullshit that goes with it.
But as an event organizer and community leader, his job is to listen to the complaints of his attendees and deal with the problems as they come up. Not to defend the status quo, not to put on a white-washed facade and pretend as though we never have problems like this, but to face them and deal with them. For the safety and comfort of all his attendees, but particularly those who have less power than those seeking to harm them. He recognized that it was in his best interest as an event organizer to handle this issue, not to sweep it under the rug and make this girl go away unsatisfied with his conflict resolution strategies.
Thank you for providing a place where I feel safe to play.
I think this is the first time I've ever seen a movie that was purported to be a poly movie while it was still in theaters. So I figured I'd go ahead and skip out of order and do a review of it while ya'll still have the chance to see it too.
I knew very little about this movie when I went to see it. A friend of mine texted me with "want to go see the movie with triad?" I thought "wait, who do we know who's in a triad? Everyone we know are singles, couples, or extended networks!" So I asked her to explain & she told me that there was a new movie opening up in theaters the following week that featured an MFM triad. So I said "hell yeah I want to see it!" So we made it a group event for our local poly group.
I'm going to answer the three big questions right up front, and then I'll talk a little about the movie itself. First of all, it is poly. Second, I liked it. Third, I liked the polyamory IN it.
Now, I do have a few little quibbles about both the polyamory and the movie itself, but c'mon, I was a pretentious film student in college and I work in the entertainment industry now. I'm always going to quibble about SOMETHING. That doesn't mean that I also don't like the movie.
For those who haven't heard, the website says: Laguna Beach entrepeneurs Ben, a peaceful and charitable marijuana producer, and his closest friend Chon, a former Navy SEAL and ex-mercenary, run a lucrative, homegrown industry - raising some of the best weed ever developed. They also share a one-of-a-kind love with the extraordinary beauty Ophelia. Life is idyllic in their Southern California town ... until the Mexican Baja Cartel decides to move in and demands that the trio partners with them.
When the merciless head of the BC, Elena, and her brutal enforcer, Lado, understimate the unbreakable bond among these three friends, Ben and Chon - with the reluctant, slippery assistance of a dirty DEA agent - wage a seemingly unwinnable war against the cartel. And so begins a series of increasingly vicious ploys and maneuvers in a high stakes, savage battle of wills.
I liken this genre to the modern day western. There are clearly "good guys vs. bad guys", even though the good guys are often doing something bad, and there is violence, and it's "dirty" (like, with people getting blood and dirt all over them), and it often ends up in Mexico, or the US' modern equivilent of "lawless land", somewhere in the Middle East. Think, Three Kings, with jump-zoom camera moves and handheld camera work, and that yellow-orangey filter that makes everything look like it's hot and sweaty. Oh, and graphic violence with guns and blood and death. Yeah, there was that. But, I thought, just enough to make it worthy of the genre but not what I might call gratuitous violence or gore, again, considering the genre.
So, if you like that kind of movie, you'll probably like this one. But the poly stuff ... that's where this could have gotten tricky. Now, we know before even going into the movie that they are in a threesome kind of arrangement, and right up front, the girl tells us in a voice over how she loves them both and they love her and she doesn't care if you think she's a slut because it's a thing between them. Here's one of my quibbles - in the beginning, where she's describing how her relationships with the each of them work, she compares and contrasts them. I actually liked that part because it emphasized that they were not interchangeable, that she loves them for their uniqueness and that her relationships with the two men are different from each other.
But then she has to go and say that the the two men are more than just different, they're basically opposites, so together, they make up the perfect man. I REALLY really hate that line of thinking - that Frankenboyfriend version of polyamory. But whatever, it was a single line and the trio are clearly happy together.
What I particularly liked about the poly aspect of the movie was that the polyamory was never the problem. "Sharing" a girl wasn't a source of contention for them, there was no rivalry, and there was no social pressure either. It was just a relationship, like any other. There were some confused and even digusted reactions from other characters, when it came up, but the polyamory was not the source of conflict or the plot device.
From the trailer, we know that the Cartel uses the girl against the boys. But this isn't any different from any other "nice guy gets in over his head and has his wife or girlfriend used against him by the bad guys" plot. Again, the polyamory itself was not a plot device. The love story was, but it was the love for the girl, not the fact that there were 2 guys, that was used, and that's so standard that it's cliche. In most of these kinds of movies, a badass, or a guy who used to be a badass, or a guy who isn't a badass but becomes one in a montage, has his girl kidnapped or threatened or killed, and he goes and gets all badassey on them, somehow having exactly the right skills at any given moment to triumph, with maybe a backup guy who can run the intelligence or who gets him the guns or something. In this movie, "all the right skills" get to be divided up between the two men, which, in my opinion, is actually more realistic. And, at least, they made the one guy a former Navy SEAL who did 2 tours overseas to justify the crazy violence they get into during the film.
I had a couple of other little quibbles too, but they give away too many spoilers, so if you see the movie and want to talk to me about it, look me up online (or in person if you're local). But this movie definitely deserves to be on a Poly Movie List, and I actually enjoyed watching it. The graphic violence was just right, in my opinion, for the style of movie, the plot didn't have so many twists and turns and holes in it to make me feel like I was being insulted, and the polyamory was done well. I got the feeling that the writer was poly, or knew someone who was poly and grasped the concepts just well enough that it wasn't a slap in the face to the poly community the way 50 Shades Of Grey was to the kink community.
Now, you could argue that this trio was dealing drugs and got into a Mexican shootout, and that only that kind of low-down, dirty scum would get into something as freaky as a threesome. You could argue that, but I think you'd be wrong. I've talked about "tone" before, and I did not get the idea from this movie that the tone was yet another "polyamory is bad, here watch this trainwreck to see why" kind of movie. I did not get the feeling that we were being moralized at by this film or that the polyamory was being used as another example of their deviance. To me, it just seemed like any other relationship, almost incidental. They could have told the exact same story using only a monogamous male-female dyad and it wouldn't have been significantly different. You could say that the trio is what makes this film stand out from all the others in this genre, so maybe they were selling the trio like beer and car commercials use hot chicks to sell beer and cars. But I'm still not sure that's any different from any other romantic hook in an action film.
And I particularly like knowing that a mainstream, regular box-office movie featured a male-female-male trio in a way that made it seem normal, like, just another relationship and not something to make a big fuss over. That's what I want to see more of and that's a sign, to me anyway, that polyamory has a chance of lasting far into the future. It's just not fussed over the way it should be at this point in its history, like other alternative communities. I might like to see a movie that addresses polyamory itself sometime (in a healthy way, for a change), but I'd rather see movies that have polyamory in them just as naturally and casually as they have monogamy in them.
Also, smokin' hot surfer dudes and ex-military men in very little clothing! Almost makes me miss my teen years growing up in California with the abs and the saltwater-and-sun highlights and the tight little swimmers' asses. So I say: go see this movie!
Honey, can we talk? So, we've been talking about this for a while, but I think we're ready. I think we ought to do it. Our relationship has never been stronger, we're both in really good places right now with work and with each other. Life is perfect, so right now is the best time, I think, to bring in someone new to our family.
Let's have a baby.
I think it'll be great! We're totally ready to take this next step in our relationship. But, because our relationship is so perfect, I don't want the kind of baby that will threaten our existing relationship, so let's talk about the rules. We need to have some rules to make sure that nothing between you and I changes when the baby comes along.
First of all, we have to have a girl baby. I don't want to have to compete with a son for being "the guy" around the house, and you're a woman so you'll have lots in common with a girl baby so you'll naturally get along perfectly. You already know how to handle girls because you are one - you have all the same equipment and you understand women, so having a girl baby makes more sense. I'm a guy, so naturally I understand how to handle girls too, but I don't have any experience with dudes, so I'll be a better father to a girl baby.
Second, we have to do exactly the same things with the baby. I don't want our new daughter to end up loving one of us more than the other, so let's agree to never be alone with the baby and to do all the same things with her. If one of us plays soccer with her before the big soccer game, then the other has to play for the same amount of time the next day. If you help her with her math homework for 2 hours, then I get to help her with her math homework for 2 hours.
Now, honey, I know math isn't your favorite thing to do, but she's going to need help with her math homework, and if I'm the only one helping her, then that leaves you out. And I don't want you to feel left out. Besides, then you might do something with her without me and I'll feel left out. No, it's just better if we only do things with her together, that way no one will feel left out. Of course, we'll also only do the things that you and I like to do. Since she'll be our daughter, she'll just want to do all those things anyway - we wouldn't have a daughter that wanted different things, so that'll be that.
Since a trio is inherently more stable than any other configuration, let's agree to just one daughter that we both share equally. There will not be any accidental pregnancies because we've agreed not to have any. We don't need to discuss what happens if you unintentionally get pregnant because we just agreed that it won't happen.
I think I ought to have veto power over your pregnancies too. You can have the same, of course. I know men can't get pregnant, but I'm still giving you the veto power, so it's still totally equal. Also veto power after the kid is born - if one of us doesn't like her, out she goes and we try again. I'm willing to give you veto power because I love you that much, and I trust you not to use the veto power except in extreme circumstances, and protecting our relationship is more important than protecting the parental relationship with the new kid - after all, you and I were here first, way before any kid came along.
We'll work out a schedule for the baby - who gets to change her and who gets to feed her and when. We'll stick to that schedule no matter what because the important thing here is that our relationship with each other doesn't change significantly. The baby will have only the extra-curricular activities we tell her to have, and we'll choose them based on what works best for you and me, not her preferences, because I don't want this new baby to upset our lives too much.
After the baby comes, I still expect sex as often with you as we have it now. I want you to be there for me like you always have been, just as I will be there for you. I still want us to have the time and energy to dedicate to each other that we currently do. Just because the baby will be all new and shiny and she'll want lots of our attention in the beginning, we have to take care not to let that new relationship interfere with our existing relationship. So we have to promise, before any baby comes along, that none of that will change when we finally do have a baby. OK? You won't stop having sex with me, we'll still have date nights, and we won't give each other only the boring, day-to-day parts of ourselves. Promise me now that we'll both still keep the magic in our relationship just the way it is now and that we won't let any baby interfere with that.
What we have right now is so wonderful, we should share it with another person. A baby will be so lucky to grow up in our lives! We have good jobs and we take fun vacations and we have great friends and a lot of knowledge to pass on, any baby would be fortunate to have us as parents! She'll go on all the same vacations that we like to go on, she'll eat all the awesome food that we eat, she'll play all the same sports that we like to play, she'll take after me in math but after you in music, and she'll just love our lives as much as we do! And as long as we plan everything out in advance, make all kinds of rules for every contingency, everything should work out totally smoothly. It'll be awesome!
Several people have given me book recommendations recently, and without a smartphone or notepad, I have forgotten them all. What books would you recommend to read?
I like fantasy, sci-fi, military sci-fi, historical fiction, & nonfiction. I like my books to be internally consistent and prefer egalitarian, skeptical (pro- science-based, rational, critical-thinking), & transhumanism themes even if not explicitly so, and even if they're set in magical worlds.
I don't like books heavy on the sexism, that penalize reason or critical thinking, that use science as the "bad guy" or weapon of the bad guy (i.e. Michael Crichton), and I'm starting to detest books clearly set in our own future that nevertheless show no progress or even explorations into futuristic ideas (i.e. it's 3023 and we're space-faring & we have AI, but we still haven't even broached personhood theory).
I like complicated characters and plots that are not black and white (i.e. Firefly - yes I know it's not a book). I like characters I can empathize with or who make me feel as though I can get to know them or are similar to people I actually know. I like character-driven stories and I can excuse some bit of plot-mangling or lack of explanations if I can relate to the characters.
I don't like books that are too heavy on the technical specifications - especially if they don't spend equal intensity on the character development. I appreciate technical accuracy, but without the characters to get into, the specs just wash over my head.
I've enjoyed reading the Honor Harrington series and the Vorkosigan series but am finding the Wheel of Time series too painful for its sexism. I really enjoyed the Anita Blake series in spite of the author desperately needing an editor and being generally a terrible writer of sex scenes, and I vaguely remember liking the Hollows series (Dead Witch Walking / Rachel Morgan) although I've forgotten many details. I have Hunger Games & Game of Thrones in my queue.
So, any other suggestions?
I am really fucking irritated at people who say "relax, it's not a big deal" when someone complains about something* that bothers them. Either:
1) It is a fucking big deal or they wouldn't have complained, and you just dismissed their concerns as unimportant.
2) Of course it's not a big deal, that's why they just bitched about it instead of calling the cops. So let them bitch about it because it's a little deal, but it's still a deal.
3) Yeah, maybe this one particular instance isn't a big deal, but a pound of feathers still weighs as much as a pound of rocks and a lot of little deals add up to a big deal over time, or maybe by itself it's not a big deal but it's a symptom of a really big deal like racism or sexism or slut-shaming or persecution, in which case, you're a big jackass for dismissing them.
So the next time someone complains about something that you think isn't a "big deal" and your solution to them is to just not go to that forum or hit the delete key or don't talk to someone or to avoid that bar or any other option that involves ignoring the problem, take your own damn advice and shut the fuck up and let the complainer complain. Maybe what he or she has to say is important and you're just too obtuse to get it, but the more voices we have being raised against whatever the complaint is, the less of a problem it will become. Or maybe it's not important and if you ignore it, it'll go away (can we say Streisand Effect?).*It shouldn't need to be said, but that, of course, means that it needs to be said: This is a generalization, and there are times when an individual person knows another individual person and knows the specifics of the individual event in question along with the individual reactions necessary for dealing with that other individual person that can all lead to a specific circumstance in which it is appropriate to tell someone to relax, that it's not a big deal. Me telling my mother, for example, that she should practice her computer skills by starting up Excel, creating a fake document, and clicking on buttons to see what they do, and don't worry if she deletes the file because it's a fake one meant for that purpose so it's not a big deal ... that's an example of when it's OK to say something like that. But when a woman complains about a rape joke or a larger person complains about the leg and seat room on an airplane or a poor person complains about the rich getting tax breaks, or any decent person complaining about anti-gay legislation - don't tell that person "it's not a big deal".
**This is a repeat of several other posts, including this one
. Apparently it bears repeating.
Because I'm apparently in the mood to bitch, here's something I just saw that I wanted to complain about, but was too long for a post comment.http://acidcow.com/pics/9496-the-most-hilarious-prom-photos-91-pics.html
I forget who posted this on Facebook, someone in my stream - but I use FB as one of my "public" faces, so lots of people follow me and I don't have any idea who they are. I don't even remember why I followed it, but now I'm sorry I did.
I was expecting this to be something like people doing stupid things that I could laugh at like obviously-staged silly pictures intended for comedy. I ended up being confused as to why most of the pictures were there, and then angry as I surmised why those pictures were there.
First of all, the vast majority of pictures are of people in elaborate duct tape outfits. There was a contest of sorts a while back for making prom-type outfits out of duct tape. Having made a duct tape outfit myself, I find these to be admirable and, frankly, some are pretty stunning. Maybe they're not always character or color choices I might have gone with, personally, but there was clearly a lot of skill and effort involved in the costuming. Also, it wasn't the prom. So I was confused about these.
Then there were a lot of pictures of, well, the only term I have to describe it is insulting, but it's ghetofabulous. They're pictures of black girls wearing extremely sexy, barely-there dresses that are nevertheless obviously intended to be "dressy" dresses and black guys wearing those suits that look like 2 men could hide inside of with baggy pants and oversized jackets that go down to the knee. So after an initial reaction of "what kind of parent would let their teenager out of the house in an outfit like that?", I immediately felt ashamed at the slut-shaming knee-jerk reaction and started looking at the pictures. Other than being barely-there on the girls, the dresses were of expensive materials & they looked about as dressy as any Hollywood starlet at an awards ceremony. The guys were all dressed suitably to the same level of dressy (no jeans & flip-flops or anything), so other than style preference, there wasn't anything wrong with these either.
There were a couple of pictures of pregnant women in formals and couples with small children equally dressed up and clearly about to attend the prom with their parents too. First was the head-shaking at the idea of young teens having kids of their own, but since class & religion have all but made that inevitable in this country, I was actually quite proud of the schools for allowing the teen parents to bring their children to the prom, rather than leaving the kids at home with a sitter or the grandparents. I'd like to see more support for teen parents in our educational system (although that "support" includes better access to sex education, healthcare, & alternative options for teen pregnancy).
Dressing the kids up to match the formality of the event, or dressing formally while pregnant in a way that doesn't hide the pregnancy (and in some cases, accentuates it) is totally appropriate. For the kids, it includes them in the event, and for the belly dresses, it is one more example of not conforming to society's standards of beauty & celebrates something that is part of the human condition. I am child-free and have no personal desire to be pregnant, and I often rant about bad parents, but parents *should* be proud to be parents and we as a society should get past this narrow view of beauty and learn to celebrate the human body in all its forms.
Next, I saw a couple of group photos where the groups had coordinated their outfits to match fabric pattern, although dress style was unique. I don't see a problem with this at all. When I was in 8th grade, we had our own "graduation dance" that was a kids' version of a prom. My 2 best friends and I did not share with each other what our dance dresses were going to be. I think we all wanted it to be a secret so that we didn't duplicate dresses and we ended up all wearing very similar dresses anyway. We were all embarrassed, but we sucked it up, got our obligatory best-friends photo, and made sure to tell everyone that it was a coincidence and not planned. But I was 13 years old. Now, I think it would be pretty awesome to dress as a themed group for a dressy event, and the groups featured on that blog post are all still wearing prom-appropriate outfits, so I really don't see what's so "hilarious" about the pictures.
And finally, I saw pictures of fat people. Seriously, that's the only thing I can see that's supposedly "hilarious" about them. There are a handful or so pictures of large people wearing regular formal outfits, standing in regular poses, with regular backgrounds. There was one girl in particular who I can understand why people thought she was "hilarious" but that just pissed me off even more. She stood with her back to the camera & turned over her shoulder to face the camera. Her dress had a low back or a cut-out on the back and would have stopped just above the ass-crack on a thin person. But she had that body type that makes her butt almost like a shelf - it doesn't so much slope down and out into a butt-shape, but juts out at a right angle and then curves down. The cut-out on her dress extends low enough that the 90-degree angle of her waist & upper bottom is visible through the missing fabric. So I'm pretty sure this is what the poster thought was so hilarious.
And that's about when I started to get pissed off. This whole thing was nothing but fat-shaming and slut-shaming and racism and geekism. That's another word I just made up - it's where people make fun of anyone who is not part of the status quo, but particularly anyone who has a skill or talent that isn't one of the three talents that our collective culture deems acceptable to worship or display - singing (as long as it's not certain kinds of singing, like opera), athleticism (as long as it's not dancing except for certain kinds of dancing, like hip hop), and acting. Playing instruments might be OK, as long as those instruments are drums, guitar, or bass. Electronic instruments are not OK until after you are already a famous electronica musician or DJ (before you're famous, it's just another example of geekery & being too smart for playing with computers). Sax is also OK only after you are an awesome jazz sax player. God forbid you play flute or clarinet or cello though!
But being creative and skilled is not OK. Like playing an instrument, it is only OK after you have already exhibited exceptional skill at something within the very narrow band of what's "cool". Being into fashion design, for instance, is only cool if your band of "fashion" matches whoever is doing the judging (anyone remember Sixteen Candles
?) So making fantastically elaborate and complicated outfits out of duct tape deserves ridicule. Wearing a geek-themed outfit deserves ridicule.
Wearing outfits that are considered attractive in one's own culture or subculture or class also deserve ridicule if that culture or class is not the dominant one (hence the term that I didn't invent, ghettofabulous). Here we had both the black couples and their sexy outfits as well as the "geeks" and goths and punks in their geeky, gothy, and punky outfits. Nevermind that they took skill in designing or talent in creating or even money to put together such outfits. They weren't upper-middle-class Fox News-audience-appropriate outfits, so they deserved ridicule.
And how dare those poor black people allow the fat ones out in public in formal wear! Don't they know that fat people are not supposed to dress up and go out in public? Don't they know that fat people are supposed to be so ashamed of themselves that they wouldn't dare to wear a slinky, satiny gown and have a good time? Don't they know that fat people are supposed to wear velvet gowns that cover themselves from cleavage to ankle and are black to be more "slimming" and cut loosely and in such a way as to minimize or de-emphasize their fat?
Grr, I started to get really pissed off by this point. When the commenters actually posted "people" in quotes to refer to the subjects of the photos - as though they don't really count as real people, they're just "people", and "The girls w/ the beer boxes were classier than all those blacks, the one and only time they get to wear good clothes and they can't even do that right", I was ready to throw down. Racism, classism, & anti-fat all rolled into one sentence.
The only pictures I saw that were worthy of the classification "hilarious prom photos" were:
1) Dressed up in formal wear and having to climb a ladder to get into the truck that was raised 4 feet off the ground.
2) The guys in tuxes posed in pseudo-fight stances with toy lightsabers.
3) The guy in a tux holding a mini sewing machine, standing in front of a UPS truck half in a ditch and 3 cops and a sheriff standing in the background.
4) The very unhappy-looking couple sitting on the couch holding a cat with a tiger skin displayed on the wall behind them.
5) The woman with her hair styled to look like a helicopter, complete with propeller blades.
6) The large collection of people in white formal wear standing outside of a White Castle shaped like a castle (we often used to go to dive eating establishments before prom, it tickled our sense of irony to be dressed formally and eating in a burger joint).
7) The girls wearing beer boxes around their torso and apparently nothing else (not a prom, not using beer boxes or beer-print fabric to construct dresses, just beer boxes).
8) The girls in prom dresses kneeling in the woods each holding a chicken.
That seems like a lot of photos, but that number is dwarfed by the number of duct tape photos and black people in revealing dresses. There were also a couple of pictures that produced a mild chuckle, like the lime-green pickup truck that matched the lime-green prom dress, and the guy with Winnie the Pooh on his tux vest & his date with Pooh on her ass. Like I said with the duct tape outfits - there were several themes that I wouldn't wear, but personal taste differences doesn't mean I should ridicule them for differing.
I also don't know the context - maybe there was a reason for dressing that way. Maybe they were matching the prom theme, or maybe it wasn't a prom picture at all but a themed or costume party (like the duct tape was a contest, not a prom). I have a picture from high school dressed the same as my boyfriend in black jeans, white shirt, black vest. Dressing the same as your partner often gets ridiculed on the internet, but no one bothered to ask me about the context.
That was a Sadie Hawkins
dance. Sadie Hawkins dances
were supposed to be when women asked the men for dates/dances, but I went to an all-girls school, so technically ALL of our dances required the girls to ask the guys. So in our school, Sadie Hawkins dances were also dances where we were supposed to dress like our dates. The only clothing that he and I had in common at that time was that outfit and neither of us wanted to buy new clothes for the dance, so that's what we wore. Dressing alike was the theme, and frankly, anyone who has a problem with attending themed events dressed appropriately for the theme or who ridicules those of us who can find that sort of activity fun is someone whose opinion I don't give a fuck about.
I am an atheist and a skeptic and I'm damn proud of it. The majority of my personal heroes are atheist and/or skeptical activists. All of my closest friends are atheists and/or skeptics (whether they use the labels or not) and I can't even consider dating anyone unless he is, not only an atheist AND a skeptic, but understands what those labels mean, understands that he *is* them, and embraces the labels and everything that goes with them.
But I do not like the atheist or skeptic communities.
There, I said it. And I'll say it again. I do not like the atheist or skeptic communities.
I like the poly-atheist communities, where people are poly who also happen to be atheists and skeptics. And I like the feminist-skeptic communities, where people are feminist who also happen to be atheists and skeptics. Notice these are communities that are something else that happens to be made up of only atheist and skeptical members from that other community, rather than having atheism or skepticism be the primary tie. But I do not like the atheist and skeptic communities, even though there are polys and feminists there, because there are ALSO misogynists and mono-apologists. (The reverse is also somewhat true, in that I get irritated at generic poly communities because of the pagans & alt-med apologists, not to mention the crazy conspiracy nuts (I refuse to use the word "theory" next to "conspiracy" because there's nothing scientific about their conspiracy stories) but that's a rant for another day).
Mono-apologist. That's a word I just made up, and I don't think it's the right word, but I don't have a word for what I'm about to bitch about, so I'm gonna use that one for now.
The problem with atheists & skeptics is that they're smart. And the problem with smart people is that they often are arrogant. And the problem with arrogant smart people is that they often think they know what's up when they clearly don't.
Now, I don't have a problem with smart people, and I don't even have a problem with arrogantly smart people (one might say that I am one of them). I have a problem when they fall victim to the Dunning-Kreuger effect and don't know what they don't know, but because they're arrogant about being smart, they barrel on through the topic anyway as if being smart gives them license to run their mouth off about something they don't understand.
And what they tend to run their mouths off about without understanding the subjects happen to be topics that are very near and dear to my heart - polyamory & feminism.
Which brings me to the mono-apologists.
These are people who have internalized that whole caveman hunter-gatherer bullshit alternate history from the same people who brought us such revisionist-history gems as "this nation was founded on Christianity". The mono-apologists who are atheists & skeptics managed to figure out that "we are a Christian Nation" is bullshit and completely made up out of whole cloth, yet fall right into lock-step with the "men are big hunters who eat, fuck, & kill but women are nurturer-gatherers who care and love and grow and support". And from this they slide right down into "jealousy is inevitable, polyamory can't work, people are possessions and no man will want to share and no woman will be willing to share her provider with another woman" yadda yadda.
We've got sexism, misogyny, gender binary assumptions, heteronormative assumptions, and a myopic view of how relationships work (or should work, or always have worked and therefore can't work any other way).
And when a poly person tries to point out that, as a matter of fact, tens of thousands of people have been practicing polyamory successfully for roughly 2 generations now, and that all their "theory" that was based on religiously patriarchal hierarchical structures that do not translate to the modern, Westernized, feminist-based egalitarian relationship structures that have nothing to do with property or control of women's vaginas ... when a poly person tries to point that out, the mono-apologist steamrolls right over them as if nothing was said.
Sometimes, they might pull out "studies" that support their position, but just like the wooagers who use pseudoscience instead of real science, they cherry pick their studies to reference bad studies or studies done under non-analogous societies, & ignore the evidence that is the 30+ year experiment currently running that contradicts all those studies.And there is nothing that you can say to change their minds.
They absolutely will not back down from the position that all men want lots of sex with no commitment, that women want monogamous relationships, that it is in a man's best interest to spread his seed around but a woman's best interest to secure a faithful provider, that jealousy is inevitable & insurmountable, that people are inherently unable to "share" their
partners, that it's not "real love" and polys eventually grow tired of it when they're ready to settle down or when they run out of patience for putting up with always coming in second, that it's harmful to the children, that poly relationships are never long-term, that people who do it are either coerced in some way or have self-esteem problems to be willing to put up with it, and that all the problems they have in monogamous relationships are exactly the same as in poly ones only multipled (i.e. not liking your mother-in-law and now you have 2 or nagging wives x 3 or instead of 1 disgusting, beer-guzzling husband who ignores you on Monday Night Football you have several).tacit
, among others, has said before that people tend to project their own selves onto the world around them. If they're insecure, then everyone must be insecure. If they objectify women, then everyone must objectify women. If they're afraid of commitment, then everyone must be afraid of commitment. If they get jealous, then everyone must get jealous. If they can't love more than one person, then no one can love more than one person. Sometimes you can substitute the word "everyone" with whatever that person's gender is and it'll be more accurate, but the point is still the same - they believe that whatever kind of experience or feelings they have about the world around them must be universal (and by extension, therefore immutable).
There is just so much that is deeply, fundamentally flawed, that it's just like arguing with any other wooager - in order to correct the flaws in their understanding, you have to go all the way back to their childhood and undo everything they've learned in their entire lives just to get them to catch up to today. Remember, I'm not talking about people who are interested in poly and have some mono de-programming to do. I'm talking about people who fit into the status quo and who want to stay there, who are totally oblivious to the entire subculture of polyamory that is large enough for its own conferences (multiple) and to have schisms and sub-sub cultures of its own. These people aren't just wrong
, their fractally wrong
Add that to the exact same problem they have with feminism and women, and I just don't like the atheist or skeptic communities. Even though I am an atheist and a skeptic and even though all of my closest friends and intentional family members are, and even though most of my personal heroes are. I just don't want to spend time in those communities either online or in person because it's just so fucking tiring having to explain this stuff again and again to people who really ought to know better.
I don't want to have to explain, again
, why it's rude to "compliment" me in a professional setting on my appearance instead of my contributions to the profession (or worse, to do both at the same time a la "wow, smart AND pretty - the geek's unicorn!"). I don't want to have to explain, again
, that I'm not a slut for having 3 boyfriends. I don't want to explain, again
, that polyamory is not a cult and that it does, indeed, have longevity potential. I don't want to have to explain, again
, that polyamory isn't a phase, a sign of low self-esteem, something I was talked into, or that my relationships won't last. I don't want to explain, again
, that just because I'm wearing something sexy, it doesn't mean I want you to hit on me. I don't want to have to explain, again
, how just because guys also
have problems just for being guys, we still need to talk about the problems women have for being women and throwing in "but we're persecuted too!" is inappropriate and derailing. And I don't want to have to explain, again
, that being polyamorous doesn't mean I have "room for one more boyfriend" - especially when that "one more" is some guy I just met at the hotel conference bar who is just grateful that I'm a female who isn't religious and who is thin.
Seriously, guys, ya'll are fucked up sometimes.