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: (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: (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: (arggghh)
2014-10-04 01:55 am
Entry tags:

Being Marginalized on One Axis Doesn't Erase Privilege on Others, #59,375,853

So a white lesbian couple was able and willing to spend a helluva lot of money through a sperm bank to create an infant that'd look like its parents. So they tried to do that. Only, and here's where the audience gasps, the baby came out black!

So naturally the sperm bank did screw up. Obviously! And this perfect baby is just what got people asking the right questions about the care this medical establishment was taking with patient autonomy and care. So okay. As long as the parents aren't really gross and racist about the fact that their daughter is Surprise Black, this should be the kind of thing that can end okay.

Except HAHAHA OF COURSE they are gonna be super racist.
In the suit, Cramblett lists some of the difficulties she faces in raising a mixed-race child, saying she's unwelcome in the "black neighborhood" she visits to have Payton's hair done, fears her intolerant and homophobic parents will not accept her daughter, and that it would be a hardship to relocate to a racially diverse community as therapists have suggested.

BOO FUCKING HOO holy crap.

The sperm bank made an appalling screwup that they should be penalized for. The fact that the parents already got a very expensive set of procedures refunded and the sperm bank effectively did them for free? That's a penalty. If they want to sue the sperm bank QUIETLY for the trauma and suffering of raising a mixed baby, I guess that's cool if they're gonna put it in the little girl's scholarship fund so that she at least gets some benefit out of it.

This whole "I am going to make a nationally-publicized stink about my Black Mistake Baby" thing? Hell no. The only thing here that they're going to be hard-pressed to keep from wounding this child is this thing right here they voluntarily did. They told the whole nation that their baby was made wrong, and that the girl's race is an integral part of her not being the child they wanted.

I don't get the vibe that the parents are making some kind of thoughtful argument about transracial parenting and its potentially-painful effects on a child whose parents aren't qualified to teach her how to survive as a different race than they are. They absolutely look like white people who had a knee-jerk freakout at having been given damaged goods.

I'd feel a lot better about these two if they'd refused to have anything to do with any press coverage that might imply this baby they so desperately wanted is a problem because she's not white enough. Give the finger to the press who want pictures or interviews and focus on the fact that the sperm bank was being negligent and this perfect baby was only the reason people started asking questions.

And hell, I say this as someone who is just overall uncomfortable and frankly disapproving of the "spend fifty grand to create genetic offspring because if we adopt it won't be Our Real Child" norm that this is a part of. The clinic screwed up and the people who do this hella fucked up thing I hate (going out of their way to create their own personal infant rather than doing for one of the kids who needs a home already) deserve to have a better expectation that their reproductive autonomy will be respected and they'll be able to control whose baby they actually end up giving birth to. I say this as someone who--if these women were me and a partner of mine--would not have created this child at all. If it were me, this baby girl wouldn't exist. And STILL. I am worried about her. Because she does exist now.

This couple absolutely are victims of serious negligence. They're just ALSO extremely frigging contaminated by white supremacy and they are actually SO RACIST that they're still prioritizing themselves and their comfort in their racist-ass white neighborhood with their racist-ass family over this unacceptably-blackened little baby who's gonna grow up and learn how her parents celebrated her existence.

They can be victims and still be showing their racist asses in how they respond to the situation and the degree to which they (fail to) protect their baby girl. Those things can both be true.

More commentary here at TheGrio. The comments on the entry are pretty good as well, just in case anybody was thinking that this is some kind of white guilt inflation that no people of color actually see a problem with. Ay Lovelace also has great commentary on FB (with a similarly great comment thread).

I'm just really appalled. This poor kid. I wouldn't have created that kid in the first place, but she damn well exists now and she deserves better than this kind of public spectacle from her parents and even I can see it. I'm glad they've "bonded with" their little girl, but I hope someday they give her a fucking apology.
xenologer: (do not even)
2014-03-15 12:58 pm

whites gonna white

TW: Game of Thrones is 40% good and 60% racist hilaribad

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

nobody warned me about the "thank you" thing

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

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

they do not have that

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

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

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

Thank goodness for the Lannisters. I don't think I could deal with this without their smarmy behinds. No word for thank you. What the shit. halp
xenologer: (always shine)
2013-07-14 01:17 am
Entry tags:


I hurt. For people who see this and know that it's one more confirmation that your lives mean so little to the people who ought to protect and love you, I'm sorry. I hurt, but I cannot even imagine. I'm so sorry.

I encourage people to sign the ‪NAACP's petition to open a civil rights case against Zimmerman. 

xenologer: (do not even)
2013-02-14 08:55 pm
Entry tags:

Whitewashed Urban Fantasy

IT’S STILL DARK AT TWILIGHT: Scrubbing off the Whitewash of Urban Fantasy!

Come on, y’all…if you write a story and set it in a place like Broaddus’ Indianapolis, Chicago, Atlanta, London, or Las Vegas, basic demographic research will indicate the presence of people of color. To read and enjoy Urban Fantasy, I am expected to just accept that Black people don’t exist? You get the side-eye for that one.

Whether or not you like Urban Fantasy, the fact of the matter is that this subgenre of Fantasy has had an immense and global impact on people through literature, television and film.

It is because of this impact that we cannot ignore the messages that Urban Fantasy brings. Each time an author of this subgenre decides to tell a story, instead of working so hard to erase people of color out of existence, they should work just as hard to erase the problems that plague our society. And fanboys…do not say that writers should not have to be political; that they should be free to write merely to entertain. Every statement we make is political. Every sentence we write is potentially life-changing for someone. Such is the power of the word.

You cannot truly change culture without literature. We can pass a thousand laws saying that racism and sexism are wrong. We can make a thousand impassioned speeches to rouse the marginalized masses; but if everyone returns home after those speeches and sits down to read the latest installment of Twilight, or watch the next episode of The Vampire Diaries and their fictional worlds in which those same marginalized masses barely even exist – then how much change can truly be affected?

It is within the pages of books and under the light of the TV screen where we will reach people and change the world for the better…or worse.

Over and over again, we are told that our stories aren’t worth being told. We do not get to be the heroes. We are never “the one destined to come since man was young upon the earth”. If we are lucky, we get to be the “magical negro”; the “noble savage”; the sidekick; the Black person who doesn’t die in the first ten minutes of the film.

This is damaging to the psyches of people of color. And a devastating blow to the self-esteem of our babies.

So, don’t tell me writers just write to merely entertain, when entertainment has such a powerful, deep and lasting impression on the minds of us all.

My note: This obviously shouldn't necessarily be your primary motivation to seek out and support fiction that is inclusive of multiple kinds of people, but it's worth noting that ever since I started reading fiction by people who think critically about how real people in real cultures deal with and are dealt with by real politics, I have read much better fiction.

Or you can read urban fantasy about the same magical white people rehashed over and over again by people who learned everything they know about culture and politics from rehashes of magical white people rehashed from World of Darkness. Enjoy sifting through all that derivative crap; I quit.
xenologer: (cocky Kamina)
2013-01-27 06:08 pm

Eurocentric Fantasy

Tumblr brought me a thing. I am not bitchy enough to actually use this as a signature on RPG-Directory, but I thought about it and smiled.

As far as roleplaying settings are concerned, The Mysterious Orient is populated entirely by samurai and ninja. All women are courtesan-assassins and all men are blushing stammering uke.

There might be an option for player characters from the Generic Dark People Country, but nobody will play one because it might require learning to tell POC apart well enough to select a PB.

You might see an Arab character now and again, but they will all be played by Italians.
xenologer: (ooh!)
2012-12-10 04:24 pm

PSA: Your Default Narrative Settings Are Not Apolitical

PSA: Your Default Narrative Settings Are Not Apolitical

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

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

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

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

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

So I am kinda both saying I want worldbuilders to be less like Tolkien in how they worldbuild, and more like Tolkien in how they respond to criticism about their worldbuilding. Not all stories have to be about magical straight white people. Frankly, there are only so many stories to be told in identically-"medieval" whitewashed patriarchal fantasy settings.
xenologer: (vagina)
2012-08-05 03:42 am
Entry tags:

Unethical Moderation

Great quote from my corner of the internet today! Kyle Brodzky has been dropping some truth about the Chick-Fil-A crap which is generalizable to far more than that. Someone brought it to the discussion table that we ought to just never be angry and never dislike anybody so that we can all get along because the alternative is to be EXTREMISTS and extremists are all equally destructive and wrong.

I've always just been raised believing that moderation is where true justice lies, free from bias or anger. I'm annoyed that sitting on poles is so popular, and even moreso by the fact that those wronged by zealotry, ignorance, and bigotry tend toward the same extreme black-and-white mentality. And maybe it is the fault of those who wronged them, but that doesn't make it any less tragic.

Also he called us extremists, because the Golden Mean fallacy is never out of style.

Brodzky was not having it.

I totally get that (name redacted), that you see that people who are wronged can easily fall into the same polarized thinking. It's sort of offensive that you'd have that prejudice, and use it to try to throw cold water on a very cut and dried social justice issue.

But I think that by stating outright that you automatically think that the wronged party here are already caught up in that is sort of offensive. No one's dragging fry cooks behind their trucks on gravel roads. No one's saying their marriages are invalid. No one's saying fry cooks are literally causing a god to make earthquakes happen and kill people for their sins.

When there is a situation where it is clear who is wrong, and who is right, being 'moderate' is indefensible.

There's no honor or valor or ethical highground or medal or trophy for 'not getting involved' when there's very real, abject, and ugly human suffering going on. Sometimes the conscious, willful act of not choosing a side actually makes you a bad person. Not as evil as the people perpetrating heinous acts against your fellow people, but apathy, well, apathy means you're not opposed to the violation of people's lives. It means you don't have the desire to do what a good person would do. It means you are content to rationalize a total disregard for people around you who are in pain, and rationalize it as a virtue.

And when you do that, when you make that apathy a virtue, you are making it harder for people who do care to make progress.

It's literally unethical to go through life acting as if every issue is as important as "Chunky or Smooth." There are times when you are actively hindering the creation of a better, more sane world, when you act as if these issues don't affect you, or they aren't worth getting upset about, or feeling anger or hatred about. If you view something as absolutely important as human rights, in the here and now, as a peanut butter issue not worth thinking about, or getting mad about, or really even spending any time on at all, then you are absolutely dragging down those around you.

If you think the world's problems are dissolvable down to peanut butter issues you can feel smug about ignoring, then I really don't know what to say. This is in part, truly, because you're simply not a person worth talking to.


This is definitely linkable, but share this link instead, please and thank you!
xenologer: (objection!)
2012-07-09 11:18 pm

Harry Potter Wizards are Useless Assholes and I Hate Them

Okay, so the Harry Potter universe? I hate the wizarding world. Hate hate hate. I would go absolutely barmy there because I actually give a damn about anybody but myself and people exactly like me. Maybe I'm not always going to do a great job of getting past the various privileges accorded to me because of my race, level of ability, or the fact that my gender and orientation are generally able to pass cultural muster. That's fair. However. I am at the point in my basic humanity where I understand that I am not the only real person in the world and that other people's experiences matter even if I am not having them.

I would probably be a Gryffindor because I am probably too RARRRRRRRRRRRRR INJUSTICE I WILL FIGHT IT, but here's the thing. Even Gryffindor falls dismally short by my standards. Even people who aren't overtly whitewizard supremacists still don't really see muggles as anything but an exotic non-magical Other who must be prevented from having access to magic at all costs, because... apparently they thought that without any real witches or wizards, religious fanatics would stop killing each other over accusations of witchcraft (hahahahahaha yeah okay) and, no shit, because then wizards might have to help muggles.

No, I am not kidding. That's why there is a Wizarding Masquerade. Those are the reasons. The first one pretty much just means they don't know how religion works, which... y'know, whatever. I can excuse that, because I actually wouldn't mind living in a world where I didn't need to know about religion as a survival skill. So I won't hate on them for that. But the latter? Muggles will make them cast magic "for their own ends."

Well, yes, you assholes. Because you have all this magical shit and muggles have actual real world problems that you could be helping with given your superior access to magical resources and training. Yes, actually, muggles might expect you to use your privilege for anybody's benefit but your own. DAMN UPPITY MUGGLES AMIRITE?


Philanthropic Wizards and What They Could Really Do If They Didn't Suck

Sadly, muggles cannot actually mix potions, but a lot of powerful potions in the Harry Potter universe are literally stuff children can make. Some will require more precision and a more-educated intuition about them, but the amount of raw power required seems fairly minimal. Nonetheless, a wizard who graduates toward the bottom of his class is still a wizard, and you wouldn't have to be much of one to make potions provided you had the skill to compensate for a lack of raw power.

Muggle studies teachers need to be doing fieldwork, or else they need to get actual muggles to teach the course. Before you tell me there aren't muggles who know what magic is, where exactly do you think Hermione Granger's parents think she's going to school? And yes, her mother and father both know what witches are and think it's keen that their daughter is one.

Considering that it was apparently standard procedure to tell the parents what is really going on, consider how many wizards are not pure-blood wizards and then consider how many muggles that means they have in the hiring pool. In fact, if it were important to people in the setting to keep this secret, they'd have a huge problem.

Let's get right into what wizards can actually do, what they choose not to do, and why that means they are useless assholes that I hate.

Either the girding potion or strengthening solution would be literally a performance-enhancing drug. You think that shows up in drug tests? I bet it doesn't. And even if it does, I can think of plenty of legit uses for it besides cheating at sports. Then again, the most important accomplishment in the Wizarding world seems to be Quidditch, so perhaps by wizard priorities cheating at muggle sports is an absolutely brilliant way to make yourself significant to history through magic.

Personally, though, I would be more likely to try any number of these goddamn antidotes for things.

Look at that list. Look at that list. If you can find a cure for malaria or this miracle drug for amputees or people with serious skeletal injuries or a memory potion that you could at least offer to people with Alzheimer's or any number of the stuff that phoenix tears could save you from provided there's any phoenix in the world that considers muggles worth the trouble of shedding a single tear--something that I'd like to point out they can do voluntarily and without anybody needing to torture them for or anything--or any of the things which are clearly magical psych meds and not think, "I can actually make the world a better place for millions of people," you are an asshole and I seriously would hate you if this were actually the Harry Potter universe.

If you as a muggle--which I know you are because this is real life--look at this list and don't immediately think of helping muggles as a valid use for all this magic, what makes you think that if you were surrounded by wizard supremacists who only ever hear about muggles in a high school elective course you'd give a single damn about how many muggle children die of malaria every year?

And this isn't even getting into the bullshit about luck potions that allow you to succeed at anything (Such as actually going and killing Voldemort since even a small dose is clearly enough to protect you from insta-death curses? Or maybe researching a vaccine for HIV? Or for brewing more luck potions?). Keep in mind that potions that never wear off or never run out of doses are a canonical certainty and read those options I listed again.

No, they're fiercely preoccupied with Quidditch (and other ways of establishing and defending Wizard Cred among other wizards) and magical date rape.

And don't tell me wizards aren't smart enough to think of these things. They have potions to make themselves smarter, too.

Wizards are just assholes, that's all. They're assholes who clearly just don't consider "muggle problems" to be worthy of their attention, never mind all the wizards who are themselves related to muggles or dependent on the good graces of muggles willing to help wizards maintain The Wizarding Masquerade.

But! But!

I mean, maybe you're thinking, "But there aren't actually enough wizards in the world to meaningfully participate in solving the problems that plague the human race!" Okay, maybe you're thinking that. Maybe there are just so many utterly-unsolveable-by-muggles problems and not enough wizards to impact those problems even slightly. At that rate, is it really their fault that millions and possibly billions of innocent muggles have suffered and died for lack of access to things like magical medicine? How can we blame wizards for not being able to be everywhere at once? Is that fair or reasonable?


I'm just gonna leave this here.

It's not like those are literally given to children so they can take more classes or anything.

I mean maybe magic is inexplicably and inexcusably useless with NO IN-SETTING JUSTIFICATION, or maybe... just maybe... wizards are simply assholes who can't see past their goddamn wizarding privilege to the fact that real human people are suffering and dying completely needlessly because wizards have the worst priorities ever.

A Game I'd Run

I was talking to my husband earlier tonight about what I would do if I ever ran a game in the Harry Potter universe. I would play a muggle-born potions or muggle studies instructor who sends students out on philanthropic adventures. Their first mission would be something super simple and innocuous and easy to cover up, like finding people's lost pets. This would also serve to give an enormous emotional reward to the students for helping a ten year old muggle child get their puppy back. We'd scale this up in their final years at school to disaster relief using apparition to get food and medical supplies into afflicted areas and get survivors out with minimal risk to a skilled user or to the people they're helping.

Why? Because wizards are citizens of the whole world, not just the wizarding world. I don't care what the classist wizard supremacist assholes in Slytherin are telling kids, and I don't care that apparently nobody else at Hogwarts is telling them to quit being so goddamn racist all the time. They're wrong, and muggles matter.

That's what I would use for adventure plot hooks. Go help people, kids. Understand that great power doesn't just come with great responsibility in comic books. If you're a witch or a wizard, you are a superhero, so get out and goddamn act like it.

Naturally, this teacher would probably get in trouble with the wizard supremacists. So here is what would happen. Wizard supremacists teleport to the outside of this teacher's house and decide that they're going to have a duel, because I guess in the wizarding world if you don't want to get thrown in Azkaban, you settle all disputes by seeing who can toss the other's wand into a corner, and the one who has to go pick up their wand loses at everything now and... I guess is forced to stop what they're doing to piss people off by... the honor system, I guess?

That's what the wizard supremacists expect. Unfortunately, this is a muggle studies professor who actually has done fieldwork among muggles and done shit like watch television or movies and guess what. Professor Not-A-Dick owns a gun and tells them to get the fuck offa her lawn or she's going to defend herself and her property.

Even if the wizard supremacists start throwing around killing curses, they can get what? One person at a time? What if this professor and her students have... I don't know... guns? One person on the side of good will definitely die--probably the teacher for dramatic effect--but then the students can retaliate by gunning down an entire crowd of people who expected to be able to win a war by killing a single person every round, because they didn't take their don't be a dumbass potion that day, or apparently pay attention in muggle studies.

So now the students are fugitives who have to continue their teacher's legacy of actually doing anything significant at all with magic. Quite probably I would have them eventually break out Carlotta Pinkstone from Azkaban because until 1996 she was seriously being subjected to Dementors as punishment for civil disobedience founded in her opinion that muggles shouldn't be denied access to magic, and that is not okay. But hey. It's 2012. No Dementors to contend with now, so go get her and let the revolution begin.

Meanwhile the wizard supremacists are wanking off to their obvious natural supremacy while accomplishing absolutely nothing with their magic except to own people (I swear if more wizards were farmers they'd have Field Elves, too) and pass those people on to their children who will also pretty much just sit around circle-jerking about how pure their lineage is and how significant they mistakenly believe they are.

I mean, they've done everything but set in place a system of squib plaçage.

So fuck Harry Potter wizards.

Except you, Carlotta. You're okay; I'm not mad at you.

Everybody else, you need to GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER.

Edit: If you want to share this, please share the public version over at Dissent of a Woman.
xenologer: (vagina)
2012-06-04 11:22 pm

Being Human

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: (I have arrived)
2012-04-29 05:46 pm

Occupy Occupy

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

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

What counts as "common ground?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

I also think that Richardson made a great point here:

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

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

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

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

Getting personal for a moment.

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

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

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

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

What does that have to do with us now?

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

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

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

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

If you want to link this around, that's cool, but if you do I ask that you link the "public" version rather than to my personal journal. That link is here. Thanks for your consideration for my privacy.
xenologer: (Default)
2012-04-14 08:19 pm

Cisgendered People and Linguistic Marking

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: (Lisbeth)
2012-04-08 08:07 pm

Elisabeth Cornwell Whitewashes Jefferson's Record

So Elisabeth Cornwell spoke at the Reason Rally. The video is behind this link. My commentary is reproduced on that page, but I wanted it here as well to boost the signal on this, because it is not okay. It is not.

Trigger warning: mention of sexual assault.

The systematic degradation of women's control over their own bodies and lives is not just bad, it is monstrous. It is an act of war, as rape is an act of war. There are even a lot of parallels to how female slaves were treated, because they were considered always-accessible subhuman incubators for the valuable property of their masters, much as a disposable class of unsupported children is valuable for rich white dudes today who benefit from trapping other communities in generational poverty. There are a lot of parallels, and even if it was a little hyperbolic... I expect hyperbole at a rally.

There is a problem, though. I was there at the rally and I listened to Cornwell talking about how women in America are being enslaved then invoke the alleged ideals and opinions of Thomas Jefferson, to convey how appalled he would be by this kind of inroad toward theocracy. I realize that this is a thing easily forgotten by white people in this country, but Jefferson actually personally himself enslaved women. You know who made their reproductive choices? Jefferson did after he bought them. Sure, he'd potentially stand with the white women in the audience in their struggle for reproductive freedom, but if you think he'd stand with the women of color, I don't know where you got your history education. More likely you just didn't consider that what he did to black women reflects as strongly on his character as what the theocrats are trying to do to you now.

This is a problem.

How much more strongly can someone imply that black women aren't real women, their enslavement not pressing until it is shared by white women? I can think of no other reason why Jefferson's status as a famed enslaver and rapist of slave women should be overlooked so that he can be called upon as an ideological ally to modern women, except that to some people his serial rapes and violations of the reproductive autonomy of *black* women were less important as a measure of his character than his excellent insights about religion.

We did a good job on diversity of speakers and guests at the accompanying convention this year, but if you want to be mindful of not seeming like a movement run by white people for white people, please be mindful of whom you're asking your audience to idolize. We're talking about a guy whose reputation for raping slaves and forcing them to bear his children is so legendary that there are entire geneology projects dedicated to tracing just his descendants among people of color.

Jefferson's political theory was a good place to start (particularly when it comes to his views on religion), but it's a terrible place to finish and we sure as heck shouldn't retreat back to it to stop the enslavement of women. So let's keep that in mind before we canonize the man and ask the women of color in the audience to look up to the guy who raped so many of their great-great-grandmothers and forced them to carry and bear his "property" against their will. Maybe some of his nasty personal/"business" habits are overlookable by a financially secure white activist, but the fact that you can overlook it doesn't mean other people are going to be able to handwave it so easily.

I appreciated the rally and had a lovely time both there and at the convention. The sense of community was beautiful and necessary. It's just sad that it had to be undermined by something like this at a time when we are all clearly making an effort toward including the full range of atheists in all our diversity.
xenologer: (I have arrived)
2012-03-30 01:09 am

Privilege Discussion 101 (Crossposted from RPG-D)

I have become sort of well-known for my walls of text in conversations of privilege and marginalization, and one of the reasons I post them is because simply telling people to educate themselves doesn't work. I mean, realistically, we are all grown adults who know how to use The Google. Given sufficient interest in not hurting each other's feelings, a person so motivated could just... go find one of the many many places on the internet where this has been explained and just learn how on their own.

Realistically, though, people are kinda lazy... particularly when the only thing at stake is someone else's feelings.

Consequently, while these insufficiently-motivated people are not entitled to any more expended energy on behalf of others than they're willing to give, I actually happen to care about what's going to happen the next time they run and act a fool and hurt somebody, and right now I have the spoons to... well, spoonfeed some people.

Read more... )
xenologer: (bye bye)
2012-02-28 09:59 pm

Only been involved in IndyOWS online since October, but...

But I have been following shit on FB so that I can back up those few people who actually bother to speak up for marginalized people and their "divisive identity politics."

I don't know if I can keep doing that.

I am so burnt out on this movement because I came here to try and use my education and experience to do some fucking good, and instead I have spent the last FIVE FUCKING MONTHS BEGGING PEOPLE TO TREAT ME LIKE I AM AS GOOD AS THEY ARE.

And now people are allowing her to claim that people just shouldn't be "announcing" that they're LGBT or whatever.


No, fuck you. No.

Five fucking months! Unfuckingbelieveable.