xenologer: (do not even)
2016-04-20 12:16 am
Entry tags:

I use trigger warnings because I DON'T care about you.

TW: just about everything, up to and including me discussing my own internalized ableism toward ppl w/ trauma

My approach to trigger warnings (this link is important) is a little non-standard, even if it results in me agreeing with those who scrupulously use them and their milder cousins the content notes. See, most times feminists and disability activists are using them for reasons of compassion and inclusivity, which are values they are supporting quite well through their actions. However, there are a lot of people who just cannot be reached via appeals to the greater or even small-scale interpersonal good. So I'll go over the compassion arguments, but then I'll give you my reasoning. If the first bit doesn't resonate with you, stick with me, yeah? Maybe you're just not like them. Maybe you're just like me, is all.

Why's this a conversation all of a sudden?

It is to everybody's great misfortune (except Lukianoff and Haidt, obviously) that their essay The Coddling of the American Mind in the Atlantic was the introduction to the matter for many casual readers and shallow thinkers. I don't normally go so far as to condemn entire readerships as shallow because those are strong words, but I hope I can justify them to your satisfaction.

The thesis of Lukianoff's and Haidt's article is that the export of trigger warnings from the internet to Real Academia has given students a way to hide from the kind of real intellectual and emotional challenges that make education and indeed maturity itself possible.

The alternative they present is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a thoroughly reputable therapeutic approach that entails providing patients with predictable, controlled, and moderated exposure to their trauma triggers in a controlled environment under the supervision of a licensed clinician who is familiar with their history and invested in their recovery. The most glaring failure of their proposed solution is that it cannot be achieved by omitting trigger warnings in classroom settings but only by expanding access to mental health services and allowing the priorities of those treatment programs to dictate levels and schedules of exposure to whatever extent can be reasonably managed.

In short, a professor who has chosen not to tell students they're going to be listening to a rape victim's 911 call is not actually gifting their students a free session of cognitive behavioral therapy; statistically they're more likely to be causing at least one student a neurologically uncontrollable response that will hinder the student's ability to engage with the material that could easily have been prevented by just... telling the students on the syllabus to brace themselves before attending that day.

So before we even get into questions of whether omitting trigger warnings is humane, it's worth asking what it achieves. The very first claim we've seen, that it toughens up those flimsy millenials, is starkly undermined by the very writers who most publicly made it. That's why I call the people who share this article around like it supports the omission of trigger warnings as a cure for millenial fragility casual readers and shallow thinkers, because that's Lukianoff's and Haidt's audience: people who can overlook the authors breaking their own thesis in half. It fails on such a fundamental level as a piece of persuasive writing that it's difficult to take seriously because, come on, look what they did to that poor thesis. They argue for eliminating trigger warnings because they make kids these days into big babies who care about racism and sexism and all kinds of nonsense and then advocate for a treatment method that essentially requires absolutely comprehensive use of trigger warnings across not only academia but all aspects of life. That poor poor thesis.

Even so, this terrible terrible essay started a conversation far better than it merited

The conversation that's happening.

One of the biggest bogeymen trigger warnings get turned into is a form of bottom-up censorship, a tyranny of the broken and the oppressed, preventing their stories from being told. By and large, though, a warning is an extra line of content, not a subtraction. Certainly, the way that I use them, I write whatever I like. I add the warnings after I've written whatever I like, tailored to whatever came out. Linear time, being what it is, leaves them no way even to influence my writing.

So if the writing itself isn't being censored, can warnings cause censorship on the other end, on the reader's end? Here's my answer. The people who are likely to be personally traumatized by the content under discussion have already experienced it. Someone who can be triggered by rape already knows reality includes rape. So the warning has hidden nothing from them even should they entirely sidestep the content. We do get to a stickier point when we get to people who haven't been personally traumatized and just are sort of callous and crappy people who don't care what others go through and genuinely don't want to bother to learn.

I had to give some thought to that, and ended up finding an essay that distilled an answer down better than I could, so here you go.
Much of the panic about trigger warnings in classrooms also focuses on the fear that privileged students will avoid material that makes them uncomfortable. So if you put “TW: misogyny, sexual violence” on a syllabus next to an assignment, male students might think, “Ugh, I don’t want to read about that" and avoid it.

But privileged students already avoid material that makes them uncomfortable; that may be one reason you see way too few white students in courses on African-American literature. Trigger warnings might make this slightly easier, but it doesn’t fix the larger, systemic problem of people choosing not to engage with material that challenges their worldview.

Further, avoiding trigger warnings for the sake of tricking privileged students into reading material on racism, sexism, and other unpleasant topics means potentially triggering underprivileged students by refusing to warn them that the upcoming reading assignment concerns traumatic things they may have experienced. People who lack privilege relative to others are constantly being asked to sacrifice their mental health and safety for the sake of educating those others, and this is just a continuation of that unjust pattern.
Basically, your callous douchebags are already being callous douchebags, so please don't sacrifice your more vulnerable students on the altar of trying to de-douche the douches. They'll probably still be douches afterward. 

We talk about this a lot in an academic context, but frankly as much as professors worry about mandatory trigger warnings, they're not... really facing that? I mean, they're seriously not. The ones who're using them are typically doing so because they've come to the independent conclusion that it'll help their students better engage with the material without a lot of trauma from outside the classroom crashing down and interfering with their schoolwork.

Why trigger warnings are compassionate! 

PTSD is bad. I mean, I hope I don't have to get into this, but PTSD is potentially life-shreddingly bad, and while not every potential trigger can be predicted and warned for (anybody who knows anything about PTSD knows this and adjusts for it, including advocates for trigger warnings), there are common ones.

Discussion of rape, child sexual abuse (often abbreviated to CSA), animal abuse, drug use, self-harm (these two can trigger relapses, which yikes bad), racism, misogyny, transantagonism, domestic violence, child death.... I mean, I could go on, but I don't actually have to, because I'm sure you get the idea. You don't have to warn for every imaginable thing like lizards and marshmallows and daisies and hair, so chill. You get a feel for it, and people with super edge triggers aren't as aggressive and uncharitable as you think they'll be. PTSD is bad, and frequently people who've got it feel so friggin unsafe that the fact that you'd even try makes a big difference. So just try. 

I have to reiterate, being triggered isn't about being uncomfortable. It's not about being offended. Offense is crap, and I don't care about offense any more than anyone else with sense. It's about having the past entirely hijack your brain. There's a special sort of helplessness and terror people known to who've almost been killed by their parents, who've seen their friends die in war, who've had to kill an abusive spouse to save their children, there's a special sort of time travel hell that happens in your brain and if you have felt it you've felt it and if you haven't you haven't.

I've hated a few people in my life, but I have never allowed myself to deliberately trigger someone's PTSD, because that is inhumane on a level that I couldn't ever wash off my hands. I've hated people with glaring weak places I could have dug my thumbs into, people I could have hurled back into their pasts. I could have fed them into the furnace of their childhood suffering, passed them backward into the hands of every kind of menace you could imagine. I could have sent them through everything that had ever broken them and watched it break them all over again while I stood safe on the kitchen carpet, watching. And it's the most evil thing I can think of. It's beneath the person I have decided I'm to be.

So understand what it looks like to me when people argue that they are claiming some kind of moral high ground to do this to their students in classrooms in public. Understand what I see when I look inside those people and see the piece of me they're choosing to indulge. Understand what kind of person I know you have to be to not only take advantage of such an opportunity but to feel smugly superior about it. At least I'd have known what I was doing, but there's something particularly slimy about people who convince themselves that doing so makes them uniquely good. The layer of self-aggrandizement just... ech. It's so petty. I don't know how that element of it can bother me so much, but somehow it does.

Now that I've established I'm actually pretty awful...

There is a reason I started off with practical arguments, because I'm going to return to them here. The bare fact of the matter is that I generally find other people's emotional responses pretty tiresome. I'm aware that tolerating and even encouraging them is a pro-social behavior, and because I choose my actions based on building the sort of world I want to live in, I frequently choose not to act on my exhaustion or annoyance. It's there, though. I give people the support they deserve even when I am inwardly rolling my eyes that Feelings are happening. I do a fair imitation of a bleeding heart who feels everybody's feelings and has the pains when people are suffering but really.... I just... would prefer to live in a world where such support happens, because it is the best way to ensure that such suffering is handled humanely and responsibly and thereby minimized.

The realest reason I use trigger warnings (and their milder cousins the content notes)? I use them because people in the grip of PTSD are actually just about the least capable of rationality and careful critical engagement of any human being, because their brains have been hijacked and there is absolutely zero room for me to expect them to be anything but a neurological disaster. And, just... ugh. 

Seriously, ugh. 

Trigger warnings are the fence I put up around my writing that says, "If this content is going to give you Feelings Problems, then honestly just... just make different choices." 

And the miracle of it is... it works! 

And it works by giving people the tools to manage themselves! It works by placing all responsibility on the shoulders of people who need to learn to know and adjust for their own bugs, their own failure conditions, and lets me do whatever the hell I wanna do. I am telling people to take responsibility for their own shit in a way that actually makes it possible for them to do the thing I want them to do! This is great! 

It sounds like such an elementary thing that I don't know how to break it down more without sounding really patronizing, but this is the real reason. I am not qualified to manage other people's mental illness or trauma recovery. I am so beyond not qualified. Nor am I particularly motivated most of the time to participate in that process. If what I want is for people to be responsible for their own recovery rather than spilling it all over me, I can make it more likely that happens, and this is great!

It's like I I was born into a world that was raining torrential failed trauma recovery and it was only when I reached adulthood that the internet handed me the raincoat and umbrella of Nope I Told You What This Was.

So to my fellow disinterested callous selfish jerks:

You don't owe me anything. Obviously! But in a world full of people spilling suffering everywhere, there are things we can do to actively make their recovery less our problem and more under their control. As Sarah Seltzer discusses trigger warnings, they allow the people around us to prepare for what they're about to engage with, prevent the brain-hijacking effects of PTSD, and remain more even and rational and capable. Totally aside from how empowering that is for them... doesn't that sound nice for us, too? It's an extra line of text, just a heads up, and it makes everybody else soooo much less exhausting. 

You don't have to be my brand of selfish. But I hope you can at least see how trigger warnings fit into my brand of self-interest. By helping the people around me take control of their own trauma recovery, I am keeping with my general goal of helping edge the world closer and closer to one I find more comfortable for myself. You don't have to help me, though obviously I hope you will. Maybe at least you understand better.
xenologer: (human monsters)
2016-04-17 03:03 am

Draw Boundaries But Draw Them With Equals

CN: ableism! abuse!

I'm neuroatypical in, oh, a fair number of ways. Couple of common ways, couple of oddball ways, whatever. Some of these ways can be a drag, and some work in my favor. I'm also someone who has spent a fair span of my life being abused by other neuroatypical people whose neuroatypicality was, uh... we'll say it wasn't incidental to the fact that abuse was happening.

So I want to make it clear that I'm straddling the line a lot of people want to draw between Innocent Disabled Victims and the Cruel Abusive Personality Disordered Monsters who prowl the planet creating drama and more Innocent Disabled Victims. I want to make it clear that that line is not actually a border between two countries, or even two categories. It's a line between people we've decided we're not allowed to draw boundaries with and people we are.

That's fucked up on both counts. But let's back it up a moment. In conversations about the scariest of mental illnesses, the biggies like personality disorders or anything that comes with delusions, what I find entertaining is the inevitable participation of Normal Good People With Empathy who are pointing to people they perceive to have less empathy, declaring them a subhuman menace, and defending their ejection from participation in human society on the grounds that they are a net detriment to the social context they’re embedded in. The so-called high empathy good people say this. You can tell they have plenty of empathy and are therefore safe because they want all the weirdos and the freaks and the crazies down in a cage next to Multiple Miggs.

Every time this topic gets discussed, those good people ride in to save us all from the people with no empathy. They’re reliable that way.

And my goodness, to hear them friggin howl every time a mentally ill person says, "You don't have to give us anything you can't or don't want to, but you also don't have to talk about us like we're not people." You'd think every single one of them checked their Facebook only to learn from their Notifications that they'd woken up in a bathtub full of ice with a kidney missing. You got us, you just barely-recovered desperately-overcompensating ex-codependents! Today we tell you to draw boundaries with the mentally ill WITHOUT dehumanizing us, and then tomorrow we’ll be hanging you on our cars to use as blood bags on the Fury Road!!

You figured out our evil plan.

[cackling intensifies]

In seriousness, though, they're so attached to this strategy, and it's only tonight I really found enough distance to actually give thought to why they're so determined to defend not their right to draw boundaries, but their right to do it this particular way.

When they do this, what are they doing really? What function does this behavior serve? To me, it looks like the pendulum backswing of people who have, like I have, lived that codependency life and are D-O-N-E DONE with it forever. And good for them. Seriously, y'all, codependency: not even once. The way to avoid falling into codependency, in my experience, is learning that just because some people are pitiful doesn't mean they're entitled to me specifically falling on every single one of their grenades.

What I see in these desperate people is an extra step, an unnecessary step, a step that will come back to bite them in the ass sooner or later.

This extra step is a patch to make it easier for them to say no, but all it actually does is narrow the circumstances in which they allow themselves to say no by permitting a boundary to be set only in circumstances where they can justify pre-emptively shitting all over the hypothetical transgressor. This is a good way to get themselves psychically revved-up to do the hard work of policing the boundaries of their own lives, but it comes at a cost both to the people around them and to themselves.

The cost to the people around them is straightforward. They get to deal with someone who, secure in their own impeccable coping, cannot set a boundary without kindling all their pent-up indignation and frustration and anxiety around the feet of the person they're approaching and then lighting them up, because you see they are so healthy and drama-free and just cannot be around any more negativity or manipulation and that is why they require instantaneous compliance with a sudden feelingsbomb that anyone else less ferociously defensive might have simply stated as a two-sentence request, complete with please and thank you.

The cost to themselves is that they have made boundary setting exhausting for themselves, and they've made it very difficult and high-stakes in situations where they don't actually want to heap vitriol all over a loved one whose goodwill they may actually wish to maintain. The cost to themselves is that they have turned advocating for themselves into a fundamentally unsustainable activity, one that can only be done in bursts of crisis. They have robbed themselves of relating as a cooperative activity.

Because, you see, they're done with "crazy," and thought they could leapfrog the part where they attempt to come to some kind of understanding of what it is and how it happens.

I have a lot of personal internalized ableism myself, particularly around borderline personality disorder. In my experience BPD has been like lycanthropy. It’s nobody’s fault if they get bitten, but anybody who’s been bit then has a responsibility as a human being who is equal to other human beings not to pass on the curse by forcing others to warp around their disordered coping.

I know there are many people with BPD who weren’t abused whose accounts are also valid and important, but in my family that isn’t how it worked intergenerationally. People just kept getting bit and biting other people and passing it on and passing it on and everybody was both a survivor doing their best and the brutalizer of the next generation. Nobody was to blame for being bitten as children; they were only children. But they grew up and they bit their own children and that was a behavioral choice.

You’d never know I’d been bitten to interact with me. I took Measures. I overcompensated to make myself safer to be around, and as a result have other diagnoses impacting me, but at least I’m not biting anybody. The curse stops with me. But that doesn’t mean I’m the first one in the chain of victims who counts, either. I’m just the first who decided she’d rather be a safe robot than a mad dog, since I never saw humanity in the array of my potential futures. I was a child; I did the best I could, like all children. Which of us is human? All of us? None? For how long? Is there a cutoff age? Who decides when that was?

(I mention BPD more here than antisocial personality disorder because of family experience. Other people who've lived closer to ASPD could give you finer detail than I could.)

The point of my personal divergence here is that there's no intuitive way I can see to separate abusers with personality disorders and their victims with abuse-rooted personality disorders. Maybe some lives look more clear cut. Maybe some people live there, and maybe they can map that territory in a way I'll find comprehensible, but right now I have a clearer mental picture of the skin of Mercury. For me, there is no line. For me, there is no way for anybody to say, "It's okay to draw boundaries with the bad ones, but not the good ones! For them we must give all! The bad ones get nothing!" Because who is that, even? Who is so bad they deserve literally nothing? Who is good enough to deserve anybody's everything?

We don't have to dehumanize anybody or put anybody up on a Perfect Patient Who Seeks Help pedestal to decide whom we get to draw boundaries with. That's lingering codependency brainbad talking; I'm telling you it is. It's telling you that someday the right person'll come along and you'll be ready to turn your soul to mush for them and it'll be awesome and you'll be such a good person finally! And if you can work up the courage to say no, to save yourself, to refuse to let yourself be spaghettified into the black hole of someone else's tragedy, that it must be because they're a Wicked Bad Inhuman Monster and you should Tell Them So, so you'd better beg your codependency brain for an excuse, for an indulgence you don't need!

Consider this.

You’re a person too. Nobody’s sanity needs to come at the cost of your own. That’s not increasing the world’s net sanity; that’s just shifting it around. It isn’t sustainable. You are a person too and you deserve your own compassion.

You can say, “I can’t do it; I can’t be the one,” without saying, “no one should do it because those freaks aren’t human.”

You don’t owe anybody your blood, your kidney, your spinal fluid, or your sanity. You can say no to people and have them still be people. Some particularly desperate recovering codependents don’t seem able to draw boundaries with equals, only with people they’ve depersonalized. That’s what gives me the creeps. But please don’t apply my discomfort to the bare reality of your legitimate right to decide what to give and when. You are a person too, and and slash and burn harvesting doesn’t work any more responsibly in the human heart than it does in a forest. I trust your pace and your right to regenerate and I hope you do too.

And maybe once more people trust their right to say no, they'll stop having to arm themselves up with fear-aggression to saw everybody else down to something less than people before they feel righteous enough by comparison to speak the words.
xenologer: (do not even)
2016-03-24 11:04 pm

Why I care about touchy-feely things like the impact of words!

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: (Ravenna)
2016-02-09 03:32 am

I love SortingHatChats so much

Check them out on Tumblr here.

For a long time I assumed I was a Gryffindor because I went and did things rather than sort of... just passively accepting the decision framework I saw around me. It's a really good thing that fan communities put more thought into this kind of thing than we see in the canon pieces Rowlings showed.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality convinced me that, okay, fine. Slytherin. I'd hate everybody else in that house, but it's where I would go (especially if I were sorted at age 11).

But SortingHatChats... this is a level of wonderful detail that appeals to me as part of the generation that grew up with Quizilla shit like "which color is your soul" and "what is the shape of your anime hair fringe" or whatever the hell ways to categorize ourselves we found through bullshit internet quizzes. So I'm gonna go for a little while about the SHC considerations. It's a level of nuance I am finding helpful.

Read more... )
xenologer: (always shine)
2016-01-28 11:34 pm

Spitting at the Mirror

CN: family pains, complicated heritage thoughts, white privilege white privilege white privilege. Maybe don't read this if you are full up on navel-gazing White Thoughts for the year. It is okay to have zero interest in this. It isn't a pressing social issue I have here. It is just personal.







When I don't wear makeup to choose how my face looks, I see people in it I try hard to avoid resembling any other way. There is my mother's smile on my father's mouth. There are my mother's eyes with my father's near-black irises. There are my father's cheeks with my mother's cheekbones. There are my mother's arms with my father's hair on them. There are my mother's hands with my father's bitten cuticles.

The only people I can look at myself and see the stamp of their genes without cringing and looking away are people I don't have the right to talk about because our family got back so quickly to being white that I'm constantly weaponized against the family I have most worth my loyalty just by existing and receiving the training that formed me to hurt them without even trying.

And I hate it. But I'll never be a totally safe neighbor to my Penobscot fam. No matter how I try, the poison that is all the rest of my blood will never be 100% gone. It may end with me, but poison has a way of leeching out. Ethnic cleansing turns children into battlefields, and my life is easier because I'm a battlefield considered won for whiteness. I'm a born traitor. It's not a guilt thing. It's just an ugly truth. The only way for me to give back to the best people I see in the mirror is to give back in the ways that involve me myself the least.

So I give money. I chew off the faces of white people who assume I'll be glad I'm a weapon against the best in me. I spread the word about things that matter to the family I can't go too near. But I stay away. Otherwise I would hurt them even more from that more intimate distance and I'm sick enough at the harm I cause as it is.

This isn't a problem worth solving. Me feeling scant detriments amid the overwhelming benefits of white privilege isn't worth spending time and energy on that could be going to ethnic cleansing's primary victims who are still being screwed over by the white supremacy protecting me. But sometimes people remark that I don't post anything "personal" online so here is something personal.

In some Frankenstein movie (idk if it is from the book) someone referred to the monster as "evil stitched to evil stitched to evil," and in my case it is mostly true. It's visibly true if you know how to look. There is a little bit of good in me, though, just enough that I can feel myself as a living betrayal of it. Sometimes it feels shitty is all, that the best I can do for the source of that tiny bit of pride, is hold myself at a distance from the folks I have to thank for it.

But the people who filled my veins with poison and themselves punished me for being able to see each other in me? Nah. I help them keep winning no matter what I do (at best sometimes managing to be slightly less helpful than I was designed to be).

I don't hate myself by a long shot, but whiteness? I'll be its weapon until it's gone. That I do hate.
xenologer: (do not even)
2015-12-22 08:15 am

women know what im talking about

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: (bye bye)
2015-10-21 01:10 am

No, Complaints About "White Tears" Aren't Ableist

First things first:

1. Ableism is a real thing. It matters. It is absolutely ableist (and gaslighty to boot) to insist that people should be forcing themselves to experience different feelings than they are actually experiencing.

2. Disability can intersect with white privilege because they coexist without negating each other.

3. Legitimate access needs can conflict without any of the access needs becoming less legitimate as a result.

So, context.

Good Men Project posted White Women’s Tears and the Men Who Love Them, and a giant mass of white disabled people absolutely lost their shit. What they frequently read is, "Your emotions are inappropriate and you are bad to feel them, and you are even worse if anybody sees you cry for any reason, even out of empathy." This is a pattern of misreading and escalation that comes up whenever the phrase "white tears" is used, and it is uncool white people behavior. Possibly not always a preventable false positive, but uncool. It is, in fact, a white supremacist and ableist behavior.

Truly, there is plenty of ableism in assuming that all POC are abled and could fight for their survival and simultaneously take care of all white feelings and would do so infinitely if they weren't so callous and mean. If you indulge this, it becomes easier to see telling white people to be responsible about the impact of our theatrical mourning as yet more abled gaslighting, abuse, and unfair expectations. Considering, though, that you have to completely depart from the reality of the situation into an impossible hypothetical to support that... it's probably a poor hill to die on.

White people whose emotional disabilities reduce the quality of solidarity we are providing are not producing better solidarity and being better allies just because we have a more credible excuse than other white people. This matters, especially when you factor in the possibility of POC also being mentally ill. There are disabled POC in anti-racist spaces who could probably stand to benefit from a little of the emotional work white folks suck up when we assume our every emotional impulse is welcome and anybody who disagrees is ableist. There is only one reason we'd assume a conflict of identical access needs ought always be resolved in favor of the white person: white supremacy.

So here's my personal note to my fellow white neuroatypicals. If any POC want a white neuroatypical in a Pokéball to throw into these discussions, you can send this.

If a white neuroatypical ally's access need is "I need to be free to be as disruptive to POC's grieving process and activism as my every impulse would prompt," I think it's reasonable for people whose access need is to not be disrupted to say, "Okay then please do that elsewhere." I mean, has every defender of white fragility FORGOTTEN that mental disability happens to POC too? White people aren't the first and only ones being asked to consider the impact of our behavior; not even the only disabled people. What about disabled POC who need room in their own spaces? Where the hell are they in this "your access needs are ableist" screed? I get it. They come second. Again. Of course they do, right? But no, that's not y'all's depression or autism that causes you to put them second to yourselves when they have an identical access need to yours. That's white supremacy.

Whatever emotional disregulation or impulse control issues a white person may have WILL be COINCIDING with our whiteness! White people are prone to sucking up the emotional labor even of people they claim they're standing in solidarity with, and that doesn't stop being a destructive and corrosive pattern of white behavior just because some white folks end up reproducing it even when doing their genuine best not to.

It's hard to handle the fact that our allyship is going to be weighed and evaluated by the people with whom we're trying to stand in solidarity. I get that! It's hard! White fragility is a legitimately difficult thing to work past even for the sturdiest of us. And it sucks! And it's gonna be harder and suck more for people whose resilience or impulse control are struggling even with a whiteness-coated experience of the world. That is a fact. But POC need to be freely able to evaluate the job we are doing as allies, and that means not pretending we're producing better solidarity than we are just because our solidarity shortfall is happening for an understandable reason (and our all-important comfort means we need reassurance that they know that and love us anyway).

It is not ableist to say that POC are allowed to have access needs to their own spaces that may exclude people who cannot control their behavior. That is part of truly centering THEM. And remember, white people, for every minute we spend publicly weeping and gnashing our teeth and claiming we cannot possibly control ourselves, there is a disabled POC who has had to bite back their words and shut down their heart and turn away from their own grieving spaces because the WHITE disabled people sucked all the air out of the room and left none for disabled POC.

There is a limited amount of human energy and organizational power in the world. Every space is finite. Every single one. And I would caution all white disabled folks to consider how much time, energy, space, and emotional labor you are willing to wolf down when there are disabled POC who have to settle for whatever crumbs are left after you're satiated.


a neuroatypical white person
xenologer: (human monsters)
2015-10-21 12:33 am
Entry tags:

I need to talk to my white people for a minute.

POC, feel free to skip this. I am dead certain you already know it all. White people, I am going to explain why sometimes POC don't want us in their spaces, and why it seems like sometimes people dismiss our valuable insights about racism just because we're white.

My white cousins both distant and kin: If you don't know what white privilege is or that it is empirically demonstrably a real thing, go hit Google and come back.

Speaking as a white person, I emphatically do not see the point of white-led anti-racist spaces. I really don't. We have a lot of power, yes, and that can make us useful, but given our typical error rate (bc of white privilege) when it comes to not being callous and evil? I certainly wouldn't trust an organization run by us. It is a known bug of people who do not have to survive systemic racism that we are prone to errors in all estimates on the subject. It's not our fault but it's a thing. Just a known bug. I want to be effective, though, and that means I want to take my marching orders from people whose error rate RE: racism is better than my own.

It's just being pragmatic. Find the best people for every job. People who have to be aware of racism to survive are more reliable guides for anti-racist movements.

(Obviously none of the POC reading this need my validation here because my approval and endorsement is like the least relevant thing imaginable when it comes to combating white supremacy, but in case any of you feel it would be tactically useful to whip out Your White Friend Who Agrees, I volunteer as tribute.)

Every time POC mention not wanting to be in white-led spaces, though, white folks descend into total emotional crisis mode. For white men, this frequently turns into "well I was gonna ally but fine I guess I'll just have to join the Klan since you don't want me." For white ladies, the "nothing I do is good enough" learned helplessness blubbering waterworks start. What they both want is the same, though. They want to outsource their emotional labor onto POC, who are conveniently findable in anti-racist spaces. On a fundamental level, they want survival struggles to pause because a white person had a feeling. In what world is white emotional fragility more important than everybody else's survival? Oh right. In white supremacy.

Even beyond why that is crappy for ethical reasons, from a purely tactical perspective it makes us a bad investment.

White people in the grip of white fragility pity party meltdowns are exactly why white-led or even just white-saturated spaces are less efficient. So much energy wasted! We are adults and we can do our own personal work before we show up to make our own selves ready. White people who mean well still show up and go, "Aha! I found the people who will comfort and complete me." A gathering of POC fighting for their survival isn't a pack of idle servants waiting to be given purpose, but I see a lot of that mentality from white folks in anti-racist spaces.

Given that, I'm not at all surprised that our very presence is itself a red flag for many POC. We are more likely than anyone else to drain energy (emotional, time, motivation, etc) rather than adding it, and at that rate it actually is better for movement efficiency to not indulge us at all unless we prove we've invested our own energy in ourselves and won't be demanding it from the movement.

Even so, I've never felt unwelcome in an anti-racist space. The bar for "good enough" white behavior is tragically low, and just because 1 in 100 POC may say "nope we have basic standards so meet them or GTFO" doesn't mean we aren't still getting nurtured and eased 99% of the time. A mere 99% is nothing to throw a tantrum over.

For any white people reading this and really wanting to do the personal work it takes to become ready to at least not be a drain? Here's some reading that may help you hone your pattern-matching enough to spot our problem behavior.

On Emotional Labor

Brute Reason: Emotional Labor: What It Is and How To Do It (despite focus on gender, has many applications to interpersonal relationships in general)

Follow-up to the first Brute Reason post: A Vacation from Emotional Labor (you need to understand why people might refuse to do emotional labor)

The Toast: "Where’s My Cut?": On Unpaid Emotional Labor (specifically about gender dynamics, but applicable on other power gradients)

On White Fragility

Here's a pdf about white fragility by Robin DiAngelo that is fourteen pages of solid academic goodness.

Alternet: Why White People Freak Out When They're Called Out About Race

Good Men Project (also by DiAngelo!): White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism

Good Men Project: White Women’s Tears and the Men Who Love Them

OnBeing.org: Transforming White Fragility Into Courageous Imperfection

Reductress: http://reductress.com/post/i-dont-have-white-fragility-okay-get-off-my-back/ (this is satire so please make sure you do not ever sound like this)
xenologer: (cocky Kamina)
2015-06-24 05:48 am

where there is fear

"You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you." -- Eric Hoffer

This is a major page in the "destroy your abuser" manual, at least for me.

I remember this when someone tries to isolate their target from me because I am a source of external "influence" (aka support and validation and connection to reality). Losing their victims, their targets, their sources of energy, is the worst thing they can imagine and therefore it's how they punish everyone who steps out of line. I remember this when someone compares me to people who have hurt me, because it's always someone who has matured into their own abuser. I remember this when someone trains their targets to infiltrate the lives of those who've escaped to deal crueler and more intimate damage, because they live in perpetual paranoia that they'll be betrayed first.

This is why none of my parents can control me the way they have learned to control each other. I grew up learning them like their fears were cautionary marks on maps of a minefield, and I can detonate them any time I want from any distance. The real reason I don't punish them is that there's always the slight chance that they'll learn as much about my fears as I have learned from them. It's not a big chance, but it's there. I'd rather they go on trying to control me using their own weaknesses rather than my own, even if it means they live easier lives than they deserve. I'm just too important, certainly moreso than they are. They're not worth sacrificing myself for, so I won't sacrifice myself over them either. Their normal baseline level of self-created misery will do.
xenologer: (Ravenna)
2015-05-03 05:48 am

Layman's Perspective on Drama Triangulation

Content Warnings: abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, family, harry potter, mental illness, substance abuse

WTF I Just Saw This Wall of Text Why Did You Do This

I know a lot of genuinely good people. Good people often lack a sort of... brutal realism. To put it in the nerdiest possible terms, Hufflepuffs make excellent friends, but they might not spot what a Slytherin does. A Slytherin with any kind of sense of balance will do the right thing and use their cunning and cynicism to watch everybody else's backs.

So, my beloved good-hearted Hufflepuffs and straightforwardly honest Ravenclaws and doggedly honest Gryffindors, I'm gonna try to do the right thing and share what I've learned from learning how to... well, "make people useful" sounds bad, so I'll just say "manipulate people." I can't think of too many ways to use that for good except to reveal the social bad guy secrets so they at least won't have the element of surprise. Nobody deserves to be blindsided by some of this crap, and right now I'm gonna focus on one big big big trap in particular. Some of this comes from actual therapist literature, and a whole helluva lot of it comes from needing to develop certain skills to survive that are not ethical to use in the adult world. Other people's mileage may vary but unfortunately... it probably varies less than a lot of people think it does.

Why I Picked Triangulation

We're all from the internet, and one common experience a lot of us have had is that anybody even remotely interesting is broken or at least a little cracked in some kind of a way. Some people can learn what the world really looks like entirely from watching bad things from a distance, but they are few and far between. People with personality tend to develop it from contact with the actual world.

Unfortunately, people who have bad things crash into them or even just near them can pick up bad habits. After all, the habits that help us survive in emotional wartime aren't always the ones that serve us best longterm. I've tended to think about it like lycanthropy; getting bitten is nobody's fault but that doesn't mean it's okay to pass on the curse.

One of the most insidious versions of this is triangulation. More info about this here. The very very short explanation is that crappy families can often shake down to a trio of roles, with members shifting between them. If someone is consistently scary, they become everybody else's Persecutor (and it's not much of a stretch to see how). Scary people often have at least one person attached to them who sees it as their job to moderate or insulate the scary one, and to those who're getting scared, this person might be their Rescuer. And of course, the Victim of all of this is just that: they're the victim and none of this is their fault.

Where this becomes entertaining (in an abstract sort of way, if you can look past the tangled knot of human suffering feeding itself) is that the Persecutor frequently sees themselves as the innocent Victim who is to blame for nothing, and they have the same Rescuer as the people they scare the crap out of. The Rescuer is the Rescuer to everybody, because at some point they decided it was their job to save everybody from everybody else and themselves. (Full disclosure: I have done the Rescuer thing, bigtime.)

Thing is... when the Rescuer is surrounded by people they're just trying to help and... well, rescue... there's nobody to protect them. And since they've bought into the triangle (or they wouldn't have accepted a role within it), they have to identify who's Victimizing them, and who's their best chance at Rescuing them.

(Victim and Rescuer are the roles people tend to want to be in. Persecutor is usually a role they reserve for someone else.)

Common Example (CN: Addiction, Emotional Abuse)

Read more... )
xenologer: (cocky Kamina)
2015-04-29 01:28 am

people doubting me

It makes me wrinkle my nose when people try to correct my self-image because they think I have some kind of negative messaging tape playing that's making me think wrong things. If I say that my first impulse is not to offer comfort, that is not an opportunity to correct me and tell me I really truly am a good person honest. If I say that I have disdain and contempt for things that I consider unethical to act upon, that is not an opportunity to tell me that I'm loving. There is seldom any actual practical reason to tell me I am being too hard on myself.

Trust. I love myself. I love myself more than I love everybody else in the entire world. You, if you are reading this? I probably like you. I may even love you. But loooooooooool no I come first. Always. I love myself. I am on my own side and I will not betray myself. I will, however, view myself accurately. Anybody who can't handle me doing that is just demonstrating that they aren't ready to participate in or even spectate on my process.

I mean, if you want the truth... some people's brains tend toward anxiety. Some have a hair trigger on guilt. Some have a vast reservoir of fuel for rage to burn and all it takes is a spark a block away. Mine has a reflexive contempt and disgust for weakness. This is a known thing, and when I state it about myself I am not drawing from self-loathing. I am doing the wise and mature thing and staying aware of bugs in my system, of anything that raises the error rate of my thinking.

If I say this, I am taking the risk of allowing someone to get closer to an accurate understanding of what I'm really like. I want people to understand that I have to work harder than many people to achieve something like the same warmth and care that comes so naturally to so many, and when you tell me that you don't believe me when I say that... it makes me not trust you, because there is this gigantic thing that is a big part of why I think I am lovable and worthy that you can't even bring yourself to approach with your eyes open. If you tell me that I am saying things about myself that aren't true, you are telling me way shittier things than I ever tell myself.

1. You're telling me that you are a better evaluator of who I am and what I'm like than I am. And fuck you for that gaslighting horse assery.

2. You're telling me that the version of me you respect is founded on a fundamental misunderstanding--perhaps even willful denial--of what sort of person I am.

3. You're telling me that if you were to find out that I wasn't just talking myself down, that maybe I actually know myself a little, you would stop thinking I am good and have worth.

When I am explaining who I am and I get hit with those three implicit assertions, it does one extra thing. It prompts me to have to distance myself from people I am reflexively prone to consider to be less than I am. Do not encourage me to behave this way. I have to work hard enough thinking of certain kinds of people as being comparable to myself; don't make it harder by drawing a mental map of me that looks like them and arguing with me that yours is better than mine. I do not need your fucking help to see myself as acceptable. I have to work hard enough not indulging in the kind of self-aggrandizement that would actually hinder my moral development, so maybe when I speak honestly about a known bug you should let me do that.

I have a lot of good qualities. My self esteem is one of them. So is my self-awareness. Let me bring both of those to our way of relating and I will. But if you don't let me, I won't show up at all. Because fuck that and fuck you.

xenologer: (one)
2015-03-11 12:30 am
Entry tags:


I have a friend who writes amazing poetry. I am linking some of it here because it means Things to me.

Janus Lady -- One

Womandroid, for obvious reasons. Related not-poetry thing: The Android Collections -- File: Journal Entries Weekly Report alpha3

So good.

So much good.
xenologer: (bye bye)
2015-03-11 12:10 am

wannabe prime movers

I am bothered by people who insist that because their gaslighting attempts are unsuccessful, a higher-level brainwashing force must have gotten to me first. Is the notion of DECISIONS so foreign to some people? I am not an empty vessel to be filled with pre-conditioned allegiances according to the first programmer to get hold of me. I am an independent creature. Maybe if these sad failures grew a little initiative they'd realize they always were, too.
xenologer: (Lisbeth)
2015-03-04 03:58 am

(no subject)

Everyone who hates you will leave you or you them. Use them while they're here. Use them all up down to their atoms. They're leaving anyway.
xenologer: (one)
2015-03-02 12:33 am

Sometimes I feel like this is what dating me is like.

Part of me is really touched to see it on the outside, portrayed by someone outside, and part of me is just sort of... sad that yeah this feels like the reality of it. Most of the time the system takes care of itself but every now and again on a very rare day something needs maintenance that's hard for me to reach with my own hands. And at that moment the illusion is broken.

robot by lanxingxxxx on DeviantArt

Image description: A boy and girl kneel on the bathroom floor. The skin of her back is open to expose mechanical workings, and the tools for repair are on the floor around them.
xenologer: (one)
2015-01-31 07:15 am

stuff I tweeted tonight, crammed into paragraphs

Moving around a lot as a kid did damage, def. What it also did was prepare me to lose friends, either by my choice or just circumstances. When friends forget me, tbh I forget them. Many will still accept my help if I offer, but that only happens if I see them post abt needing it. I don't check in w/ "am I useful yet?" So used to thinking of myself as the cold one that I considered whether it was a sign of pathology that I offer to help ppl who forgot me.

When no, that's good human behavior. I am being good. But I'm the 1st one I question w/ this crap bc I'm the one I can adjust. Fact is "someone who ignores you will stop when and if you can be useful to them" is indeed a successful strategy. And I'm ok w/ it, mostly. Most ppl prob don't think that way, but wtf do empaths know abt how to think anyway? Seems their defining trait is protective denial.

I don't allow myself to keep/discard ppl based on usefulness, but I still remain aware of the criterion. I know when other ppl act on it. The difficulty w friends w big feelings (or any tbh) is they don't watch themselves while they act. They just do now, think later. Reflex. I mean can u imagine an empath admitting it? "I don't feel motivated to spend time w u but sometimes I need stuff from u. We'll hang then."

This is how I know I actually am delicate w them. If I weren't, they'd know they're on my list of ppl who just wanna get things from me. Probably we couldn't be friends anyway. We're too different. Anyone I have to protect from the truth of our relating is no friend. It's absolutely possible for someone to be too delicate to be a good friend to anyone. I keep these ppl at arm's length bc I'm NOT cruel. I fantasize abt doing a big list purge but I won't rly. They're just on a list. IRL they've purged themselves already. *dusts hands*

If I really wanted empaths to come running, I'd run in circles dragging a broken wing. That's the shit they like, 2nd only to my usefulness.
xenologer: (cocky Kamina)
2015-01-12 03:20 am
Entry tags:

Journal Prompt Day 3: Someone Else

If you had to be someone else for 24 hours, who would you choose and why? What would you do?

I would like to briefly be Charles or David Koch. I would use my single day to cash out all my assets and give them to Doctors Without Borders. I figure that'll take a few hours. The rest of it could be spent laughing and laughing and laughing and laughing.

That's really all I've got for this one. I like being me. I would only be someone else if I had some specific goal that could only be accomplished that way. Elsewise, me = best.
xenologer: (human monsters)
2015-01-10 07:18 am
Entry tags:

"they care more about protesting cartoons than....."

If one more piece of crap white person asserts to me that their racism is actually an indicator that they care more about POC than POC care about themselves, I don't know what I'm gonna do but it's going to be loud and unpleasant.

Yes, black people care whether they die. Believe it or not, they are capable of loving themselves and others because they are fucking human beings.

Yes, Muslims worldwide care when other Muslims are oppressive and violent to them. Believe it or not, they don't particularly enjoy being terrorized and having their children stolen.

Yes, even subsapient animals can manage these sentiments. So the fact that anybody ANYWHERE might think that only white people know how to love is pretty much a clear goddamn sign that if anybody is deficient at it, IT IS US WHITE FOLKS. You do not get to claim superior compassion as you literally dehumanize entire categories of people BECAUSE they're being victimized and you're sure that if they really cared they'd have done something about it.

sdfgsdfgsdafsdadfsa this is why nobody likes us


Today's actual mood:
xenologer: (argggghh)
2015-01-10 07:16 am
Entry tags:

Public Breastfeeding is Apparently Controversial

People who object to public breastfeeding are weird. I don't get it. Personally I object to public SCREAMING HUNGRY BABIES. The fact that there are people out there who can make a hungry baby shut all the way up by putting a nipple in the kid's mouth? You are a hero.

I don't like kids. Please feed them wherever you are, because they will certainly scream no matter where they are and we all really do have the option of just not staring at your boobs if it bothers anybody so damn much. Ignoring shrill babywails? Less feasible.

Maybe the next time I hear someone get salty about someone breastfeeding I will pull them aside and get really close to direct my words right to their ear and then I will SHRIEK FOR AN ETERNITY or until they repent their backward ways.
xenologer: (objection!)
2015-01-08 06:56 am
Entry tags:

The "real" world is wherever we don't live.

Either everybody lives in "the real world" or nobody does.

Work food service but never done black ops assassination missions? You don't know what life is really like.

Done black ops assassination missions but never worked in politics? You don't actually know how this game is played.

Work in an office but never changed your own tire? Get out and get your hands dirty you wuss!

Changed your own tire but have only worked one job your whole life? Come back when you've lived a little.

Worked fifteen jobs in ten different sectors of the economy but haven't raised a kid? Don't worry. You'll see it all clearly once you have.

Some poser hands you cake at a birthday party? Throw it on the ground! Welcome to the real world, jackass.

Nobody has lived anybody else's "real life" in the "real world." Baby boomers seem constitutionally incapable of learning this. Then again, when they were our age it was possible to work your way through college and then get a job and a house and a car and actually live, even on minimum wage.

I don't want to hear about "the real world" from people who still think success and thriving are as simple as "everybody who wants a minimum wage job will get one and be okay." I don't think they get to serve me that particular meal. Not anymore.