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: (objection!)
Pteryxx on the AtheismPlus board provides my quote of the day on people who walk into big kid discussions with Privilege101 questions that they demand be addressed RIGHT NOW no matter the opportunity cost.

The post itself lives here.

I assume you haven't yet discovered this, but newcomers who SAY they're here in good faith but persistently ask "why are there still monkeys" level questions? Generally are not here in good faith. In my experience (going on two years now) they're greater than 95% trolls. In the first year past Elevatorgate, on Pharyngula, the regulars dealt with *hundreds* of these good-faith trolls and I only saw six that ever said "I see what you mean now / I didn't know that, and I'll reconsider." SIX. Maybe one every two months. (On A+ so far? I've seen four. The ratio's still roughly 20:1.)

This "potential allies" argument elides the cost TO THE EDUCATORS and the silencing effect on the community. Innocent-looking questioning is a tactic used to derail productive conversation, sap the educators' time, resources, and trust while forcing them to constantly defend their own validity and personhood, and to obscure the few truly honest questioners. It is NOT productive to suggest that more and more effort and good faith should be expended across the board for a tiny gain in capture among supposed Goldilocks allies. The vast majority of newcomers who show themselves to be willing to learn, do so by their own actions with hardly any extra expenditure of effort from the regulars.

The primary purpose of this space is to foster *advanced* discussion, not to provide volunteer remedial education to the general public. 101-level education is a side effect and should not be allowed to detract from discussion beyond the core concepts. Heck, there are discussions I'd LOVE to have about sexuality, rape culture and navigating consent that can't possibly happen because of floods of Just Askers misrepresenting the extremely basic concept of Schroedinger's Rapist. Arguing over the fundamentals can and does happen in every other place on the Internet. It serves no purpose HERE.

I should think this phenomenon of flooding the field with basic misapprehensions long since addressed would be familiar to anyone fighting woo or creationism. Maybe other skeptics see their core purpose as debunking the same myths over and over and over again, but here we have better things to do.

This is why I feel so good about this place. I can read threads and not feel like I have to post, because there are lots and lots of people who already have this shit under control. For once there is a corner of the internet where I can read some person's arseness without any pressure, because there are so many people available to deal intelligently with arseness that the pressure on each of us to do so is minimized.

Also so far the mods have demonstrated themselves to be trustworthy, which is not an evaluation I make lightly.

Overall it has been a good place for me to find, and even though I don't post a whole lot... it's a relief not to feel like I need to.
xenologer: (Ravenna)
It has rained for five days
the world is
a round puddle
of sunless water
where small islands
are only beginning
to cope
a young boy
in my garden
is bailing out water
from his flower patch
when I ask him why
he tells me
young seeds that have not seen sun
and drown easily.

Being Nice

Aug. 31st, 2012 01:05 am
xenologer: (snail cuddle)
Long (by my standards) but very worthy video that not only fits my experience as a skeptic talking both to other skeptics and to believers who are pretty sure atheists are empty vessels for their apologism, but also as a feminist talking to people who are pretty sure they don't talk to feminists, and as a liberal talking to people who are pretty sure they don't talk to liberals.

"Carrie Poppy, Director of Communications at the James Randi Educational Foundation and co-host of the popular "Oh No, Ross and Carrie!" podcast, discusses the importance of using inclusive language while doing outreach. Combining communication strategy and a spirit of friendly investigation, Carrie suggests that skeptical activists mirror themselves after a group she investigated and joined... the Mormon church."

Sorry I couldn't find a transcript of this talk. I would love one for accessibility reasons and for easy citation, but there doesn't seem to be one.

I think this is a great thing for people to consider. We have to be willing to draw boundaries, but it's also just plain tactically wiser to be kind to people up until the point when they make it absolutely clear that they'll repay it with dickery.

This is why when a friend of mine was finding that he cared more about truth than he did about what the truth could take from him, I explicitly told him not to chew his still-Christian wife's ankles off. I have been the still-identifying-as-theist partner of an atheist, and the best wisdom I had to pass on was that he should not get so excited about what he's figured out that he starts using his wife for target practice.

He took this under advisement. I was pleased. I didn't like the woman, but I felt I had done the right thing anyway, because what she deserved as a fellow human being and what would be most tactically effective for him happened to be the same option: be nice, even when someone is being ridiculous.

(It didn't work, but it was still the right thing to do!)

Now, this approach is exhausting and time-consuming to the point that not everybody can be required or even expected to do it. Additionally, an activist movement needs more than friendly and relateable people willing to connect on an individual level with every single goddamn person we encounter, which means we cannot all be diplomats. We cannot all be ambassadors. If we are all busy welcoming everybody, there's nobody left over to draw boundaries or do guiding work.

However, this kind of ambassadorial work--in my experience--is only effective if you do it the way Poppy describes.

Concede everything possible. Apologize whenever possible. Speak about personal experience only whenever possible. Rather than talking about how someone's unsubstantiated and potentially toxic dogma pisses you off (even though if you give a crap about your fellow humans, it probably does piss you off), speak from a position of sadness and hurt whenever you feel resilient enough to do so.

I cannot understate how important that latter one is. So many people who hold and act on toxic beliefs do so because they don't see the people they're affecting as real. This is true of people who think that atheists are heartless fun-ruining psychopaths just like it's true of people who think feminists are shrieking hysterical castrating harpies who want all babies born with penises to be pre-emptively convicted for rape at birth.

This is not a value judgement; it's a tactical decision. People are armored against outrage almost universally. Not everyone is susceptible to the "listen I am a person like you and I know you care whether you hurt people and this hurts me" approach, but far fewer people are armored against hurt compared to anger. For one example of how I have gotten back to this approach and the results I am having, check out my Obligatory Chick-Fil-A Post, an entry I wrote after all that bullshit with Chick-Fil-A shredded a lot of my peace and patience and I had to climb back up to the point that I was able to do what I know is most effective for me.

I am sure there are people somewhere who can make more progress by saying, "You are an entire bag of dicks and everyone who ever loved you was wrong," because there are lots of persuasive motherfuckers in the world and everybody's got a different approach. I know there is someone on the planet with a Charisma score of like 50 who could say those precise words and have people around them go, "Well I'll be goshderned. Am I a bag of dicks? I should work on that."

I am not that person, though. Here is what works for me.

Granted, it's vulnerable. It requires a lot of courage on my part because it means not pre-emptively striking at people I think are likely to be dickbags, and continuing to work through things this way even though lots of those people *gasp!* turn out to be dickbags after all.

But they won't all turn out to be dickbags, and the people who seem like dickbags but aren't (and instead just have no fucking clue how not to seem like dickbags) are the best candidates for outreach we'll ever get. They are the low-hanging fruit, people. Go get them.

When I have the energy for this exhausting but highly effective approach, I consider it one of the best things I can do for any movement I am a part of, not least because I know how few people have the energy to do a lot of it. The more I do, the better a contribution I feel like I am making, and so I wanted to pass this on in the hopes that others who could be good at the in-group empathy-based ambassadorial approach will take from this entry the motivation they need to give it a try.

The more ambassadors go out and pick up the easy converts, the fewer people our beautiful and precious firebrands will have to go stomp on. That's good for everyone!
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.
xenologer: (vagina)
Sunny brought me my beautiful internet wisdom of the day!

"One of the worst ways to stop someone from telling sexist jokes is to tell him the joke isn’t funny. He’ll assume that you’re humorless and that he needs to save the good stuff for the right audience. If you really want someone to stop telling sexist jokes, you need to tell him, “I don’t get it” and then step back as he tries not to say, “It’s funny because women are stupid.""
xenologer: (do not even)
No one can speak for all women, but I think it's good to speak for the women who constantly get shut down when we try to explain why "benevolent" sexism is still messed up and not okay.

If you are a woman who disagrees with this, congratulations on agreeing with the dominant narrative. Our culture is clearly more comfortable for you than it has been for most of the women I know, and I'll be happy for your good fortune if you will let someone express a more critical perspective.

Reader letter to the FeministDisney tumblr, and FD's answer.
And so if a guy likes me I don’t really hold it against them that maybe they’re covering their bases by saying they can pay for it, even if that in itself tends to make me uncofortable since you have to go through this longass routine of “no, really, I’LL pay for it” “NO I insist!” blah blah.

What I do pay attention to- and judge- is the way they respond to my polite request to pay for myself. I don’t honestly want to be with someone who thinks that “men always should pay first” is enough of a reason to keep insisting on it, because that’s really low on my list of social conventions that I want to buy into and indicates that we’re probably not going to see eye-to-eye on a large range of social subjects.
xenologer: (Lisbeth)
Trigger Warning: Rape Apologism!

Disclaimer: Statistically the vast majority of rapists are men, and the majority of rape victims are women. Nota bene: men do get raped, and that comes with its own set of extra bullshit that the victims have to deal with. LGBT people are also at serious risk for sexual assault no matter their gender identity or expression (but particularly transgender people).

I say these things because I am going to talk about rapists and rape victims in terms of their statistically prominent genders, but you should not take that as a cue that those are the only genders of authentic rapists or the only genders of authentic rape victims. It's for simplicity's sake, but it's important to me to make sure that readers be aware that the full demographics of rape include more than "cis men raping cis women."

Anyway. Onward.

Read more... )
xenologer: (Ravenna)
Overall Review

This movie was very pretty and most of the acting was absolutely spot on. I will say that Kristen Stewart needs to close her mouth or she's gonna get a bug in there, and that I had been hoping Twilight had simply been a particularly poor exhibition of her acting skills (since her job in those movies has been to stare a lot and weep beautifully and basically nothing more), but I am coming to the conclusion that that's really all she can do. Propers to the young woman for crying on cue, because that's not easy, but I really want to run her through the facial warm-ups that we did in high school before speech meets so that she can find the muscles that move her eyes and mouth.

You know how they say that strippers often dance with this dead-eyed absent expression? She went through the movie like that. Needless to say, I found it less inspiring than all of the other characters seemed to. To be brutally honest? Her acting was so flat that she made everyone else around her look like worse actors because they seemed like they were responding way out of proportion to her simply because they were actually acting. The "twist" surrounding Snow White's reawakening shouldn't have been a twist at all, because there should have been enough chemistry between Snow White and the Huntsman to make it... maybe not obvious, but detectable would have been nice.

Kristen Stewart so dismally fails at screen presence that even Chris Hemsworth could not create chemistry between them. I defy anybody reading this who is attracted to men to fail to respond to Chris Hemsworth. So let's just think about how utterly absent the character of Snow White would have to be from Kristen Stewart's acting to make it a complete surprise that they have a connection. That's pretty serious.

I didn't go see it for her, though. I went to see it for Ravenna, for the queen. She was everything I had hoped for and more, and as a bonus this movie provided me with quite possibly the most balls to the wall fantastic soundtrack I have purchased in a long time. Prometheus? Decent soundtrack. Snow White and the Huntsman? This movie owned the bejesus out of most of the other soundtracks on my computer. It's got competition from... maybe... Donnie Darko, Lord of the Rings, The Dark Knight (which he did with Hans Zimmer), and Murray Gold's Doctor Who. I do not say those things lightly.

This is about what I went to see and what it turned out to be like, though. This is about Ravenna, about whom I have all manner of srs bsns thinky thoughts.

Read more... )

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.


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: (Lisbeth)
This link goes out to everybody I know who remains friends with abusers and resents the implication that because you think the abuser is okay, that you think their abusive actions are okay. Well, if you stick around, that's what you are saying.

If you make excuses for abusers and refuse to defend your loved ones, at least be willing to tell them to their faces that really you would adjust your life in this minor way out of respect for their pain, but you just don't care enough. BECAUSE. YOU. DON'T.

And you aren't hiding it well.

Own your priorities or change them. Pro Tip: If you aren't willing to openly state your priorities and what you care about because you are afraid you'll look like an ass, you probably are just trying to hide that you really are an ass. You will be a lot less likely to seem like an asshole if you work on BEING less of an asshole.

You don't have to be a rapist to be complicit in rape culture.
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: (vagina)
There's no reason to have arguments about whether abortion is okay and when and how and all that jazz if at the end of the day we're all willing to agree to disagree and let everybody control their own bodies and consent or deny consent to medical procedures based on their own consciences.

As long as we can respect each other's consciences, at the end of the day we're all on the same side. I don't have a problem with anybody else's personal view on abortion as long as they're willing to let me control my own medical decisions.

These conversations only get ugly when an anti-choicer walks in, because you can't have a respectful conversation as an equal with someone who doesn't think you're morally mature enough to control your own medical choices. If someone doesn't believe that I'm qualified to make my own medical choices, then whatever they say, they don't respect me, and why should I expect that someone who thinks so little of my ability to reason is actually paying attention to my reasoning when I present it?

But as long as we're all willing to say, "Your choice wouldn't be my choice and that's okay because I will fight for your right to be the one with the final say," then we're all friends. That's important to remember. There is an "agree to disagree" position. There is an "I respect your opinion and your values" position. It's called being pro-choice.
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)
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Scariest horror flick? The Stepford Wives, the new one.

xenologer: (angel/11)
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Scariest horror flick? The Stepford Wives, the new one.

xenologer: (angel/11)
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Scariest horror flick? The Stepford Wives, the new one.

xenologer: (vagina)
This is my obligatory reminder to the internet that I am an angry feminist madwoman who believes that the person who has the final legitimate say on whether a pregnancy continues is the person who is pregnant.

Why people need to stop telling me that life begins at conception because that's when babby gets soul. )

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