xenologer: (do not even)
TW: mention of all kinds of bigotry

I was going to write this as a FB comment in reply to a thread, but that would likely have resulted in me losing it forever to the flood of other content. And good gracious, what a waste that'd be. So far I have two parts to this. One is establishing the distinction between "offense" and "harm" that I'll be using. The second is intended to establish that verbal bigotry is itself harmful, rather than merely offensive. Then I'll explain why this even matters to me. There are various subcontentions here, but those are the main points.

Read more... )
xenologer: (do not even)
I can't help but wonder if there isn't something non-men can learn from discussions of how fragile masculinity is and how structurally flawed it makes people who build their sense of self on top of it.

Toxic masculinity says that men shouldn't have to try to cope. They shouldn't have to learn to process. They don't have to bear their own emotional burdens because the rare ones too heavy to be bootstrapped out of? Well that is what non-men are for.

Toxic masculinity says that some things are not to be tolerated, and to know about them is to be burdened by them, and it is a man's right not to be burdened.

Toxic masculinity teaches that either a man is impervious or he is a weakling without worth, because a man has to be invulnerable to conquer his lessers.

This desperation to be untouchably elevated, above struggle and self-adjustment and doubt, it wouldn't be so desperate if it weren't covering up a more fragile reality. It wouldn't be so frightening to fall short and lose value if men didn't know that one misstep could happen to them so so so easily.

But toxic masculinity teaches that to be aware is to be burdened, and to be burdened is to be attacked. So these fears hide where only everyone else can see them. That's a handy thing, since we have to see them to survive the panicked retaliation that kills so many of us. We need to know that not only does toxic masculinity create men who refuse to see our realities, it creates men who truly cannot endure them. It creates men who spend so much of themselves dodging that they have nothing left to soak the damage that does get through. And we suffer when the shocking experience of being wounded has them flailing in indignation, looking for someone else to lay the pain on.

Having power, having male privilege, leaves so much room to be personally weak. Structural shielding takes the place of individual sturdiness. Unfortunately, even though we should have every right to be just as brittle and do just as well, we don't have the free structural protection to compensate. Even great personal sturdiness is not truly enough, even is it is mandatory. It just doesn't add up to the kind of protection that comes from man-proofing the world by softening its corners and padding any steep drops.

I bring this up because when men act like they can't handle rough awakenings, they aren't being insincere. I really don't think they are. I think they really are overwhelmed and overloaded by even these weak secondhand shocks picked up and conducted through people who experience them every day at full strength. Don't get me wrong, they CAN GET STRONGER. They can. But before they get stronger and while they ate getting stronger, they act like they're weak because they think they are and they think they are weak because it is still true.

I watch men do this, and I see it in myself along other axes. I know there are non-men who watch this and see this in men but still personally blame their own less protected neighbors for the teensiness of their personal hit point bar. Cis women watch men do this and then lash out when they are presented with transmisogyny. White women get used as scratching posts by weak men faced with a reality they never accepted was real, and are aghast when a black woman brushes up against their own bubble.

White women in particular tell men to suck it up because this is our lives and they are choosing to abandon us to preserve a lifestyle that lets them stay lazily weak. But woe to anybody who suggests we take our turn. Like men, white feminists may have other struggles, but we like to remain weak when we can, too. Whiteness lets us be weak but buying into it is how we work to stay that way, punishing those who attack us by burdening us by being honest with us.

White fragility is real. We aren't faking. Nobody ever said we were. Everyone else can see, in fact, that we are not. It isn't wrong because it is deceptive, or directly malicious. It is wrong because it is both brutally corrosive and entirely preventable.

White tears are sincere. White fragility is a genuine frailty.

That is kind of the problem, because there is so much work to be done that only we can do. We do not exempt ourselves from that duty by remaining too weak to discharge it properly; we just guarantee we will be failures.
xenologer: (Ravenna)
My husband doesn't need to see your boobs, written by a woman who is emphatic that she doesn't need women with bodies she envies to stop showing them off, but just to realize that the visibility of their hotness is a stumbling block for her marriage because... well... hotness. Right?

At first I was annoyed. My brain went straight to, "Are you kidding me right now?" This is the kind of logic that results in so much ugliness toward and between women because of the bodies we live in, and here's more of it from a woman who describes herself as committed to social justice. At first I was angry. Then I read more, and the more I read the sadder I got. Honestly, look.
I know you don’t mean anything by it. But I need to share one more thing with you.

When your bare shoulders and stretchmark-less bellies and tanned legs pop up, I not only worry if my husband will linger over your picture. I worry how he will compare me to you.

As I wrap myself into his arms at night, I wonder if he is seeing you there instead of my mess of a body left over from pregnancy. I wonder if he thinks I’m lazy and that I don’t take good care of myself. I wonder if he wishes I looked more like you than who I really am.

And then the insecurity monster comes back to bite at our relationship again--me, begging for affirmation, and him tiring from saying the same thing over and over.

At the end of this I just wanted to sit her down and tell her that her worth is about more than how well she places in some kind of bullshit competition among women for Best Boobies Evar(TM), a competition in which every woman below 1st place loses all measurable value. I know what she's been taught, because we have all been taught it. All women know this stuff: the value of beauty above all, and one particular youth-worshipping fatphobic whitecentric standard in particular. We all know it. And you know what? We're all taught that other women are the problem, too.

I wanted to comment on her entry, but I don't have an account there and she probably requires one at this point because so many people are yelling at her for how ridiculously burdensome her message to hot girls is (which it is, yes) when quite frankly this woman is hurting from a lot of the same crap that hurts us all. Someone has to be the first to say, "Sister, this isn't a competition. This isn't a zero sum game. We're not enemies just because you envy my cup size or that girl over there has a thigh gap. We're not enemies."

So here's what I take away from her entry: What a painful way to live. It would never have occurred to me that my marriage extended into other women's shirts, and I've never worried about protecting it from competing bustlines.

I guess I'm not sure what other people could do to adjust for this stumbling block in your marriage. It seems like she doesn't want the women whose pictures cause such problems for her to throw on a niqab, but it sort of feels like she does want them to do SOMETHING. Is that accurate? What can anybody else do when the very shape of the body they live in is so upsetting to her? Would that really get at the root of the problem?

Her husband loves her and she is the one he wants, or else he would be with some 19 year old DD hardbody with a thigh gap. He's not with one of those women. She is the one he wants and hers is the body he has chosen out of all the billions of other ladybodies on the planet. He knew the hardbodies were out there, and yet he made an informed decision for himself that she was the one. Seeing another set of boobs isn't going to shake that, because he already knew those boobs were out there. He made his decision. He chose her.

If you have a hard time accepting that as the real truth of the situation, then I can't help but worry that even if all the hot young things covered themselves up and hid themselves away, these thoughts would still be eating at her because she'd know the skinny teenager boobs were out there somewhere, waiting to invade her marriage.

I hope she finds a solution to this. Doesn't seem like that's going to happen until she really names and locate the problem, though. I don't think it's that the existence of perky girlboob is a threat to her marriage. I think it's that she is having trouble reassuring herself that women have more to offer than perky girlboob, that she has more to offer than that. But she does. Look at her and all the amazing stuff on this blog! The best boobs in the universe couldn't undermine that, so I don't know why the owners of The Best Boobs Evar(TM) should worry about it happening either. Their boobs aren't hurting anyone.

I occupy a middle ground where I do compare myself unfavorably to other women, or even to myself at other times in my life, but other women also have told me outright that they use the way I look as a way to bludgeon themselves for not being good enough. I have to live with the knowledge that every time I am visible near them, they are picking me up and using me to hurt themselves, like I'm some kind of convenient psychological poison they can't even relate to except as an avenue to emotional self-harm. Do you think that feels good to me? Do you think I feel victorious and exultant at the defeat of another woman by my unstoppable invincible booty? No, of course not. In that situation nobody is happy! The whole thing is just one big perpetual misery machine and sometimes all you can do is look at those feelings, accept that they are there, be aware of the actual reasons they are happening, and don't try to get other people to accommodate the cruel parts of your brain in the hopes that appeasing the jerkbrain is even a thing that can be done.

Your jerkbrain is going to be a jerk. The women you are so toxically envious of? I can say from experience that their brains are definitely being jerks to them too, and saying it's because someone else is walking around having an enviable body shape. They aren't your problem. They aren't your enemy. The jerkbrain is our enemy. Not only does your jerkbrain not deserve to control all these other women, it doesn't deserve to control you. Nothing good comes of it.

“We can't hate ourselves into a version of ourselves we can love.” ~Lori Deschene


Jerkbrains gonna be jerks.

You cannot appease them.

The absence of visible hot young boobies won't appease them.

If your boobs are the most perfect perky boobs on the planet, that will not appease jerkbrains either.

They cannot be appeased.

So I'm not gonna listen to your jerkbrain, and I hope someday I can stop listening to my own. I hope you can stop too, Lauren, because this self-hate is going to dog your heels until you do (no matter what anyone else looks like or where they do it or whether your husband can see).
xenologer: (do not even)
TW: Game of Thrones is 40% good and 60% racist hilaribad

We've had convos in my journal before about racist Eurocentric fantasy and so I obviously knew what I was getting into with Game of Thrones but oh my god

nobody warned me about the "thank you" thing

"I do not know how to say thank you in Dothraki." "There is no word for thank you in Dothraki."

I mean aside from her clearly beginning the process of civilizing the hypersexual violent darkie savage with her magic white poontang of compassion and reason... can we just spend a minute and sit with THE DOTHRAKI DO NOT HAVE A WORD FOR THANK YOU

they do not have that



I like the female characters, and knew I would. It's just pretty clear that they're only for white people. ALSO I get the feeling that with all George RR Martin's ingenuity with tormenting his characters, the only misery he can think of for women is sexual violence just over and over and over. I keep wanting to get myself to a place of willful enjoyment, but all I can think about are the following two things:

1. It's pretty sad that fantasy boards that are blatant rip-offs of this setting and plot constitute progress in the land of Misogynist Whitelandia roleplaying. How fuckin' sad.

2. the dothraki do not have a word for thank you

Thank goodness for the Lannisters. I don't think I could deal with this without their smarmy behinds. No word for thank you. What the shit. halp
xenologer: (Ravenna)
Okay, this is too long to reproduce it all here, but if you want a linkdump for all the clusterfuckery going down as a result of Ron Lindsay (apparently) being deeply ambivalent about the reason we all came together and expressing that in his introduction, here is what I have.
xenologer: (ooh!)
PSA: Your Default Narrative Settings Are Not Apolitical

Which leads me back to the issue of prejudice: specifically, to the claim that including such characters in SFF stories, by dint of contradicting the model of straight, white, male homogeneity laid down by Tolkien and taken as gospel ever since, is an inherently political – and therefore suspect – act. To which I say: what on Earth makes you think that the classic SWM default is apolitical? If it can reasonably argued that a character’s gender, race and sexual orientation have political implications, then why should that verdict only apply to characters who differ from both yourself and your expectations? Isn’t the assertion that straight white men are narratively neutral itself a political statement, one which seeks to marginalise as exceptional or abnormal the experiences of every other possible type of person on the planet despite the fact that straight white men are themselves a global minority? And even if a particular character was deliberately written to make a political point, why should that threaten you? Why should it matter that people with different beliefs and backgrounds are using fiction to write inspirational wish-fulfillment characters for themselves, but from whose struggle and empowerment you feel personally estranged? That’s not bad writing, and as we’ve established by now, it’s certainly not bad history – and particularly not when you remember (as so many people seem to forget) that fictional cultures are under no obligation whatsoever to conform to historical mores. It just means that someone has managed to write a successful story that doesn’t consider you to be its primary audience – and if the prospect of not being wholly, overwhelmingly catered to is something you find disturbing, threatening, wrong? Then yeah: I’m going to call you a bigot, and I probably won’t be wrong.


I want to enter into a committed long-term relationship with this article.

This is one reason I have a hard time finding fantasy settings that I really click with. Too many writers, worldbuilders, and roleplayers either A: don't want "politics" (read: minorities) in their pretendy funtime games, or B: really think that the only people who've ever led narratively interesting lives were straight white cisgender people, and that for the sake of realism they can have wizards and fairies but cannot have more than a couple token POC in their setting.

I console myself by reminding myself that if that's the level of thought they put into their writing and worldbuilding, they're probably pretty mediocre at both. Odds are I'm not missing much.

It's also worth adding that Tolkien didn't want to create the enormously racially-screwy and gender-backward narrative that he did with Lord of the Rings. When it was pointed out to him (by which I mean, sometime around when the Nazis wrote to him and said, "Dude we love you!"), he went, "Oh no, look what I did," and decided to use his future writings to undermine that a great deal and do better. Sadly, he died before he got to finish that, but the Silmarillion helps and he evidently had more improvement plans in his notes.

So I am kinda both saying I want worldbuilders to be less like Tolkien in how they worldbuild, and more like Tolkien in how they respond to criticism about their worldbuilding. Not all stories have to be about magical straight white people. Frankly, there are only so many stories to be told in identically-"medieval" whitewashed patriarchal fantasy settings.
xenologer: (vagina)
A Guide for Men with Good Intentions

As the title indicates, this is not a post for men who don't care whether their sexual advances frighten women. This is not a post for men who think that a woman can ever do anything to deserve being raped. This is not a post for men who just have a serious problem with women in general because their big sister never shared the Nintendo controller or whatever. This is a post for the men who really do respect women and either are being confused with the assholes or are simply afraid they might be.

This is for men with good intentions. I am creating this in the hopes that it will be linkable to men in multiple situations whose good intentions may not always be coming across. Given that, if you have been linked this, it is not necessarily because someone thought every single one of these headers was about you. If you have been linked this, it is because someone absolutely does think you care about them and the other people around you and because they believe that you have the empathy and self-awareness to be both willing and able to consider how your actions affect others.

Basically, if you got linked this, someone thinks you're a good person.

If they didn't think that, they probably wouldn't be talking to you at all, let alone going to the trouble of reading, collecting, and linking resources that will help you have as many positive relationships as possible. If they didn't think you deserved to have the people around you be comfortable with you and be intimate with you, they would be spending their energy to mess with you instead.

So please take this in that spirit. I am not trying to talk down to you, but if you have not ever lived as anything other than a man then I am going to be talking about experiences you have not had. That makes you not the expert on them, and that doesn't mean you're bad. It just means that we're talking about stuff you probably won't understand unless you consider the accounts of people who have experienced it.

As an aside, women are not the only people who could explain this to you. A trans man, for example, is a man, but has probably been erroneously treated like a woman at some point in his life and can therefore probably give you some perspective on what it is like to live without male privilege. Even if he is currently identifying and identified by others as male, this is probably stuff he has seen. Ditto for genderqueer individuals who are or have been misidentified by others as female. Odds are that they also know things.

Despite that, I am going to use "woman" as shorthand for "someone who lives without male privilege" despite the fact that that is not even close to covering absolutely all such people, just because "woman" is far more concise than "someone who lives without male privilege."

This all means there are plenty of people who can and often will give you a picture of what's going on in the world for people with a different set of pressures than your own, and odds are if they are sharing their experiences with you it's not because they think you suck; it's because they are operating under the assumption that you care, and if they're right, this entry is for you.



Read more... )

As is typical, the entry to link (should you desire to do so) is here at DoaW.
xenologer: (bye bye)
So when women are like, "Hey don't sexually harass me," there are always people who say, "But I am so awkward/autistic that I cannot tell the difference between harassment and flirting BAWWWWW you are so ablist BAWWWWWWW."

No, awkwardness is no excuse.

Tell it, Captain Awkward.
If you alert someone to an unwelcome behavior, and the person keeps doing that thing and/or angrily arguing that they shouldn’t have to change anything, the problem is not Asperger’s. Even if they do have Asperger’s. People with Asperger’s can knowingly or unknowingly violate someone’s boundaries. They can also have their boundaries violated! A lot of people who are Very Worried About The Aspies do not themselves have Asperger’s and are using this as a straw man to derail the conversation away from their own behaviors. They’re also insulting people with Asperger’s by assuming that even close to a statistically significant portion of creepy behavior can be blamed on them. Who’s able-ist now?

I hate how people who sexually harass people and persist in ignoring boundaries hide behind (or are hidden behind by others) "social awkwardness" as though there were any degree of awkwardness that could recontextualize "no" to mean "yes." If you come to this comment thread to explain that Asperger's is why you shouldn't have to stop scaring the women you hit on, I hope every boundary-respecting Aspie on my friends list punches you in the mouth.

Also, all of the men I know who have persisted in sexually harassing women and then been sheltered by mutual friends have actually been entirely socially savvy... when it comes to situations and people they actually give a shit about.

For example, any harasser who has managed to surround himself with enablers who'll say "oh he's just awkward so he can't change" and targets who'll say "well there's no way to get him to stop so I'll just shut up and try not to make drama over it" is a harasser who is actually very very good at what he does, socially. He gets away with sexually harassing people precisely because he is not awkward.

What he is... is a man who doesn't believe that women are qualified to define and defend our own boundaries, and who has figured out what kinds of people to keep around him so that he doesn't EVER have to feel real pressure to adjust his behavior. And THAT is not the behavior of a man who's bad with social cues. He's just a man who is bad.

This rant can also be found at Dissent of a Woman. That's the linkable public version, mostly because there are people on my friends list who know some of the creepers I am talking about and their privacy may be a factor here, too.

Being Human

Jun. 4th, 2012 11:22 pm
xenologer: (vagina)
Skip This Portion if You've Read About Privilege Before

We all have privileges in our lives. We all have things that make things just a little easier for us, or nearly all of us do. Nearly all of us also have ways in which we've got it harder, obstacles that aren't always even going to be seen by those who aren't facing them. Privileged and marginalized are not mutually exclusive categories--most of us are in both, and we shift from one column to the other depending on our position relative to specific individual problems, systems, organizations, whatever.

So basically, what I am trying to say is that nobody is the bad guy and nobody is nothing but a victim. There are very few people who could ever be pointed at and accused of benefiting from oppression without being oppressed in any way themselves, which means that even if we were trying to make someone feel guilty, it'd be pretty fuckin' hard to figure out who that should be, don't you think?

For people who haven't had these discussions a whole lot, here is a breakdown on some of the basic theories banging around in my head that not everybody has banging around in theirs. The other thing worth mentioning before I get into this is that people who are--in the context of a particular conversation--the person speaking from privilege? Nobody is saying you've got nothing to say.

What is important for you to be aware of, though, is that being the one in a position of privilege means that in the broader culture it's easier for your voice to get heard as a rule. Consequently, it is a really nice thing for you to do to say, "You never get to talk, and we all know it. So... why don't you go first? Let's hear from you and I'll chime in later." Here is some information on how to make your good intentions clear, so that you don't blend in with the assholes. It doesn't require you to approach these conversations any differently than any other interaction, but a lot of people think that discussing marginalization and privilege is different.

I think these people are wrong.

Some of these people are dear allies in the interconnected fights against prejudice and marginalization, and even though I value their contributions and still have all kinds of love for them and would certainly not want them to shut up, I think they are explaining these issues incorrectly. Even I have been failing to make what might be the most important point of all when it comes to treating people who are speaking from marginalization with decency.

Being Decent About Privilege is Exactly Like Being Decent Everywhere Else

I am going to argue that speaking from a position of privilege--both in avoiding being a jerk and dealing with the consequences of inevitable jerkery--is exactly like every other social situation. The rules are the same. I can see you side-eyeing me through your screen, thinking, No way these are really sensitive hot-button issues that are very different from all other topics of conversation.

Wrong.

No Exceptions

I get really emotional in conversations about privilege, particularly if there is a person involved who is not taking seriously the other people around who are saying, "This thing you did/said is not cool because of (name your marginalization)." I get angry when people don't extend the same social courtesies that we are taught are necessary to basic interaction and being a good friend to experiences of marginalization. To me, hearing "this thing you are doing hurts me" should be treated exactly the same whether I said or did some non-privileged nasty thing as with a privileged thing, and I get really really angry when people treat areas where they have privilege like they get a different and relaxed standard that means they can call people friends without caring how much they hurt them.

One thing that people like to bring up as a reason to treat conversations of privilege and marginalization like they're a separate breed from all others is that people speaking from privilege typically cannot really fully comprehend in a deep and personal way what it's like to live without that privilege, which means they just can't understand. I think this is a bullshit excuse and here is why.

I shouldn't have to be able to identify with a friend's hurt in order to give it significance in my life just because they are my friend, or even if they're not just because they are human.

I shouldn't need to fully grok their pain. What I need to know is that someone I have a social connection with is hurting because of an action I took or didn't take, and that makes it my business because of our connection and/or because their hurt is due to a thing I did.

I feel like a great definition of privilege is that having a particular privilege means that when it comes to people who don't have that privilege, the normal rules of personal responsibility for one's own behavior no longer apply because hurt from that source is invalid. Even in the odd case where we have to say it's valid, the person with the privilege is never ever responsible for their part in that pain, because the normal rules of basic human decency have been suspended.

Just makes me angry. It doesn't require new skills to be reasonable about one's own privilege. It just requires that you not draw a line around certain people and say, "I can be a worse friend to you and you don't get to complain. Be grateful for what little you get, and I'll stand over here and be smug over my generosity."

If you're even capable of that, you are an asshole. You really are.

I mean, someone who even has the capacity to do that... nobody else should be friends with them, either, because apparently just because they're a good friend to someone else doesn't mean they see the consistent application of that standard as having anything to do with their own integrity, which means I don't think anyone should trust them.

Privileged Friends: Not an Oxymoron

I'm not saying that privileged people make bad friends. Almost everyone has privilege and privilege makes people do and say dumb and hurtful shit. Law of the universe! But part of being a person among people is accepting that you will hurt people sometimes, and deciding that you have a standard for yourself for what is a good enough response to having hurt someone. Everybody's gonna fuck up with someone in some kind of way. Everyone. What divides the assholes from the trustworthy is how they respond to the awareness of having done so.

And people who make exceptions to their own standards of human decency? That says something about them, about their integrity. I get angry at the implication that this is normal and expected and I am asking too much of them to simply expect that they not decide some people are unworthy of decent integrity, because fuck that forever.

If you can be a good friend to people who aren't bringing their marginalization-flavored hurt to you, you can be a good friend to the people who are. If you can't be a good friend to people bringing their marginalization-flavored hurt to you, though, you might want to think about what kind of friend that really makes you overall.

Sharing this is welcome, but if you do, please share the public version hosted here. I have anonymity concerns, but I also want to be useful. Your consideration allows me to be both safe and helpful, which is super great.
xenologer: (I have arrived)
The 99% Isn’t Me: Being the Minority in the 99%
Another issue I have with the 99% concept is that it smacks of the rhetoric we black and brown people heard from the Left back in the 70’s, that we’re all just people and we need to be colorblind, and that we are all being oppressed by the same people and on and on… Those thoughts are valid, kind of if you ignore much of American history. My oppression as a black man in America is very, very different from that of a poor white person. Yes we both ended up poor and without food or a job but he doesn’t get called a nigger or have to deal with the very real reality of racism. Although the white middle class who’s central to the Occupy movement are right about Wall Street and politicians they fail to see that the struggle is different if you’re a woman, gay, Black, Latino, Native American, etc. Many of the aforementioned groups have been in the gutter for…. Um… ever. Actually yea really forever since this nation was created many of us have been at the bottom of the pile. With that said I think it’s a serious problem when someone tells me that my struggles are the same as theirs and I should get behind a movement that I had little part in creating. This is what the relationship (especially in places like my hometown of Buffalo) between the occupation and oppressed minorities has been since the beginning. It smacks of the reductionism that we have seen from the likes of the 10’s-40’s communist / socialist movement and its dealings with black people and how the movement has almost always dealt with women (aka sexism as a secondary issue). (...)

To many people the Occupy movement is strictly about economic inequalities and Wall Street not about race, gender, or class although they have no problem welcoming black people, women, or the unemployed as supporters. It’s indicative of a lack of recognition of race, gender, or class (and other issues) in the occupation (and its connection to capitalism and economics) and any felt need for the creation of spaces to deal with these issues in any real way.


What counts as "common ground?"

I got into my local Occupy movement at least partly hoping to prove to myself that arguments like this were baseless. They're not baseless. This is what it looks like to the people who're told that the issues of privileged people are "common ground" and the issues of marginalized people are "divisive."

If you're thinking reading what I just wote, "Cripes, Xeno, that's basically everyone, because everyone's getting screwed somehow," you're right, and you're beginning to see the depth of the problem and how many people can be alienated to a lesser or larger degree by it.

For example, what I face as a white person is common ground, and I can bring that up without anybody calling me divisive for centering a conversation on my experiences of the economy or governmental/law enforcement abuses. Whether I say, "I as a white person..." or not, these are experiences which are shaped and changed by my race and what that prompts people to assume about me. These are white experiences whether I label them or not, because they are so distinctive to people who present like me and would have been very different were I any other color.

However, I might want to talk about being a woman, and once in a blue moon I may talk about being LGBT (though the latter is something I feel less qualified to discuss due to the fact that I'm cisgendered and benefit from straight privilege in a lot of ways). Despite the fact that I am the same person whose plight was "common ground" in the previous discussion, suddenly now we're talking identity politics. Suddenly an experience I have had that is unique to my circumstances is divisive.

But I'm the same person I was in the first case. I'm not any more privileged or oppressed than I was when I was speaking to a particular (white) experience of our economy and culture. I'm still me. There are just parts of me and my experience that are not considered an "occupy" issue.

That's why, no matter how much we may say that women and people of color and LGBT people are welcome and no matter how sincerely and deeply felt that sentiment might be, as long as some people have to shut a door on part of what probably brought them to Occupy in the first place, we're not living up to that promise.

I also think that Richardson made a great point here:

"Too considering we’re (as in women, blacks, latinos, etc) are the ones suffering the most shouldn’t the movement come to us and put us in place to contribute versus us having to shoehorn our stuff to their? It’s their movement not ours and if they want it to become our’s too they are going to have to move towards us."

It's not merely our job at this point to open the door and say, "You are welcome to join us." We have to do that and then actually allow conversations about their unique experiences, or else what we're really saying is, "You're welcome to join us as long as you pretend your struggles aren't different." In that latter case, we're setting a very high price on participation by demanding that they be less true to their experiences and needs for the privilege of being accepted even at the margins.

That's why even groups that really sincerely want to be inclusive often still have at the fore and at the core the same demographics that've been at the fore and core of everything else in power. It's because until we start listening to what the people who aren't getting included are saying will make them feel welcome, no matter how hard we try we simply will not know how to get that done.

What makes this especially hard to climb up out of is that if a movement's face is not diverse, people who benefit from diversity and suffer from its lack will not always come sacrifice their time, money, and precious energy (of which we all only have so much) to be that diversity. I know that when I see an organization that is run entirely or almost entirely by men, I consider where the women went, because surely there've been at least some. Why didn't they stay? What happened to them that I can't see from here? Do I love this cause enough to risk finding out the hard way?

Getting personal for a moment.

To give an example that is not necessarily intended to translate here but merely to illustrate one example that I walked in with, I used to be involved with an activist organization. It was progressive in its politics toward the poor, its stated attitudes toward LGBT people and women were extremely forward-thinking, and the attitudes of all of the individual members I spoke to about racism were strongly in favor of creating a society where people of color did not disproportionately suffer.

And yet its upper management was run by all white men with the exception of one white woman. I didn't know enough at the start to wonder what the disconnect would be. Fast forward a year. After a year I'd seen hiring practices that weeded out nearly all people of color immediately, so that when higher positions were pulled from the ranks, the ranks had already been cleared of racial minorities. After a year, I'd seen a culture that shelters sexual assault by pressuring women who experienced it to avoid making a fuss for fear of damaging the organization's ability to do its worthy work. Essentially, after a year, I saw exactly why women and people of color were absent: they'd been driven out or had fled for their own safety and sanity.

Consequently, now I look for the signs. When I see a movement that isn't diverse, I hang back. I don't hang back out of a lack of love for the cause. I hang back because I learned why women and POC were absent from an organization that I loved very much whose work I am proud to have been part of to this day. I am still proud of the work this organization does, which is why I am not saying their name (though I will if you contact me privately).

(As an aside, if anyone reading is thinking, "Oh my god. Their hiring and retention practices were racist and assault victims were pressured to keep it quiet and you're still protecting them? What's wrong with you?" then I hope you are taking care to police this kind of thinking in yourself when it comes to Occupy. If you're not comfortable with what I just did, then please let it be a lesson about how ugly this reasoning is and how hard it can be to overcome even for people who've personally suffered because of it.)

What does that have to do with us now?

That experience is why I look at the Occupy movement, at the diversity problem we have in my city, and am willing to immediately assume that the problem is not people of color or LGBT people or women not caring enough. I am willing to assume that the problem is us. Unfortunately, it's hard to address this problem. My difficulty has been that so many of my city's occupation supporters are unwilling to make that first step of saying, "Maybe it's something we're doing wrong," that I never get to the point of having any other conversations.

It's like... remember how when all this started, OWS got flak for merely stating problems and not making demands? Remember what we told them? We told the press and our friends and our families that until enough people understand that there's a problem in the first place and until enough people understand what that problem is, we are not ready for a conversation about the solutions.

So! For those of you who are sick and goddamn tired of hearing about this problem because nobody is telling you how you can fix it, here's what you can do to help us fix it: Have these conversations yourself. Explain to the people who listen to you and respect you that there's a problem, because odds are they don't even realize there is one yet. Explain to the people you have personal relationships with that the problem is that we are doing something wrong. Get them up to speed. Get everyone up to speed. Get them ready to be part of the conversation about solutions.

Then we can really sit down with open minds and honest hearts and find a solution. Until then, there's no point. We're not there yet.

If you want to link this around, that's cool, but if you do I ask that you link the "public" version rather than to my personal journal. That link is here. Thanks for your consideration for my privacy.
xenologer: (Default)
Cis is Not a Slur, Grues.

I am baffled by the existence of people who are outraged that they are being called cisgendered instead of "normal." I guess maybe they consider every label to be inherently derogatory because it points out that a thing needs to be linguistically marked and I guess that is inherently degrading? Calls into question THEIR intentions when they refer to LGBT people, doesn't it?

Maybe I just know too many chemistry geeks, but everybody I know immediately got that "cis" is just the companion term to "trans." That's it.

I suppose this is more from the files of people who don't mind equality as long as by "equal" we mean "everybody is okay but I am obviously more so and please don't imply that you are good as my kind." As long as we can define "equality" so that it preserves their sense of natural supremacy and superior "rightness," they're okay with it.

Never mind that this makes no goddamn sense at all even linguistically. If these people were better at thinking about words and what they mean, we wouldn't be in this situation in the first place.

For people who are confused that I am annoyed, here is your crash course on what folk sound like when they object to the idea that they can't just refer to themselves as "normal" and define everybody else in opposition. "Other people are either failing or succeeding to be like me and should be classified accordingly and any implication that I am an asshole for classifying them this way is ZOMG CISPHOBIC OPPRESSION."

This is what it looks like applied anywhere else. Thinking of people like this is... honestly kind of hard to avoid because it is taught and enforced in a lot of cultures, but you turn the corner into Asshole Town when you start defending this like it is acceptable or even desirable. Here are ways that you should not be classifying people:

Normal people and gay or trans people.

Regular people and women.

Americans and Black Americans.

Get it?

tl;dr: You can't call yourself normal without calling someone else deviant. If that isn't your intention, then accept that gracefully allowing yourself to be linguistically marked just like everyone else is the decent thing to do. If it is your intention, you are horrible and as I have seen threatened elsewhere I will literally change you into an animal using my magic powers.




(Disclaimer: This blogger does not have magic powers, nor was she processed in a facility that also processes magic powers.)

If you want to link this anywhere, that is fantastic, but I do ask that you link to my "public" blog. Here is the link you want for that.
xenologer: (happy!)
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My dinner party would be Alan Turing, Ellen Degeneres, Michelle Obama, and John Brown.

(This is just an extension of my dream to someday use time travel to give Alan Turing a hug. I'd like to give him a hug and introduce him to Ellen.)
xenologer: (happy!)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

My dinner party would be Alan Turing, Ellen Degeneres, Michelle Obama, and John Brown.

(This is just an extension of my dream to someday use time travel to give Alan Turing a hug. I'd like to give him a hug and introduce him to Ellen.)
xenologer: (happy!)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

My dinner party would be Alan Turing, Ellen Degeneres, Michelle Obama, and John Brown.

(This is just an extension of my dream to someday use time travel to give Alan Turing a hug. I'd like to give him a hug and introduce him to Ellen.)
xenologer: (everybody's aunt)
I am having a hard time finding RP boards that are up to my standards, and not because I am such a fantastic writer that threading with my inferiors feels too much like slumming. I am having a hard time with a lot of the bigotry and bullshit in people's settings and character assortments. It feels weird, too, because I sort of feel like as a nice white (mostly-straight cis)lady it's not really... for me to complain about, I guess? But... uh... what in the fuck. Someone's got to complain about it, and the more someones who are commenting on it, the better. I guess.

It still feels weird. I'm not sure that it should be a great contribution to a conversation to just regurgitate what I've heard and read and learned from LGBT people and POC, but at the same time I suppose more privileged people should be getting up in arms about this shit, so even if it feels weird, I am probably doing a good thing. I hope.

This started as a post in a thread about bigotry in online RP and I thought I would reproduce it here just so that I could complain to more people. A lot of the things I am complaining about don't even directly deal with demographics I'm a part of, which should tell you how bad they can get. For the most part none of these are issues I deal with personally except that living in a world where they are commonplace sort of sucks for everyone. I can't even imagine what it'd be like to be, say, an LGBT woman of color trying to find a place to roleplay online that wasn't full of bullshit. So I am griping about it.

Congrats. You get my complaining. Aren't you so grateful. I will cut this in case you don't want to read it, because there is a lot of it.

Read more... )
xenologer: (vagina)
Today I was told that my ballsiness (word used deliberately) and general macho heroism make me masculine enough to be respectable, and then someone else called me a fag. Patriarchy, man. I am all up in it today.
xenologer: (vagina)
‎"A man sexually desiring a woman often has overtones of threat in our culture. From street harassment to horror films to PUAs, women learn that someone desiring you doesn't mean they're going to be nice to you."

This is one of the things that is hardest to explain to guys who get pissed that not every comment they make about a woman's appearance is met with the gratitude they feel they deserve for it. What a lot of guys fail to understand is that a lot of dangerous (not just unpleasant, but actually dangerous) interactions for women start out with a man letting her know that he's attracted to her.

It sucks for guys, I'm sure, to have to fight past that kind of apprehension, but a woman can either err on the side of excessive caution and maybe hurt a man's feelings or frustrate him, or she can err on the side of excessive trust and not just get hurt... but get blamed by it for the very same people who would have told her another day not to assume all men are dangerous.

And yes, I have had to explain this to men before. They were not pleasant conversations. If the problem with a guy's perspective is that he doesn't care what it's like to not be a guy, it's hard to get him to think about... what it's like to not be a guy.
xenologer: (angel/11)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

Scariest horror flick? The Stepford Wives, the new one.

Seriously.
xenologer: (angel/11)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

Scariest horror flick? The Stepford Wives, the new one.

Seriously.

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