on confusion

So what do you do when you’ve taken thirty years to figure out your sexuality and then something – someone – throws you for a loop?

I spent the better part of my life believing I was a lesbian, and then circumstances and new acquaintances led me to see that I am, in fact, asexual. For the last two years I’ve been perfectly happy to be asexual. It fits. It makes sense to me. It describes me. I’m just not sexually attracted to anyone. I see a person who is aesthetically pleasing and I think “huh. That person is aesthetically pleasing”, but there’s a world of difference between this:

“You are hot, and I want to touch you.”

and this:

“You are hot, and I can see why other people would want to touch you, but I am fine with not touching you myself.”

I thought I was fine! And then I see these pictures of her and it’s just nngnhhh. So I tried to really examine what I was thinking and feeling. Do I want to touch her, or is it that I just have a working understanding of this society’s standards of beauty and recognize that she meets them? And the truth is, I don’t know. I’m fluctuating, between “She is actually a cool person, and I sure would like to hug her, but that’d be enough for me” to “She is actually a cool person, and I sure would like to get my smooch on with her, but that’d be enough for me” to “She is actually a cool person, and I would like to touch her and make her feel good”.

So. Confused.

I’m like 99% sure I’m still ace. It’s just this one girl I can’t get out of my head. She could be the exception that proves the rule, right?

Right?

on paris

I stand with Paris.

But I also stand with Beirut, and Baghdad. I stand with any city in mourning. I am sorry for any loss of human life. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that only the pretty white French-speaking European lives are worth mourning.

I’ve seen the DP pic filter on FB for displaying the French flag. Where was the Lebanese filter, when Beirut was bombed? Where was the Iraqi filter, when Baghdad was bombed?

There’s a post going around on Facebook right now, and it goes like this.

Michael McCubbing (permalink)

I have decided to revert my profile picture and remove the overlay for Paris. As much as my heart goes out to everyone in Paris, it is not just Paris that has suffered from attacks, it is not even the only place to suffer an attack yesterday.

Our tendency in the West to view attacks in the Middle East or Africa as simply unfortunate — if we pay attention to them at all — but attacks against a Western country as “an attack on all humanity” is an sad betrayal of our underlying racism and xenophobia.

A life in Beirut is worth no less than a life in Paris. A life in Iraq is worth no less than a life in Canada. We must keep ALL of humanity in our thoughts and prayers at these times, not just those that we feel closest to. And we must forbid ourselves from giving in to fear of the “other”, no matter how much we are taught to fear our fellow man.

I’m not trying to disrespect anyone who has a legitimate personal connection to Paris who is in mourning right now. I would never, ever tell another person how to mourn. That’s none of my business. What I am condemning is the way a crisis in a predominantly white country like France is currently occupying the majority percentage of our collective consciousness, while crises in the brown countries, countries in the Middle East, get a cursory mention at best.

I’ve looked at the feed from the biggest online news provider in my country. 90% of the articles in the World section are about Paris. There’s one about the royal family planning a visit to India – 10 to 1 it’s there because of the royal family (they’re white), not because of India. There’s a bunch of stuff about miracle survivors (in Paris) and some stuff about how we’re frightened the same thing could happen there. Oh, and there’s a very cute piece about a baby fox found frolicking in someone’s back garden.

WHERE IS THE NEWS ABOUT BEIRUT? ABOUT BAGHDAD? Why is it that we care so much about France, but not the others? Have we become so desensitized about violence and tragedy in the Middle East that we no longer care?

Maybe it’s a defense mechanism perhaps, that it happens so often that we can’t let ourselves care.

I stand with Paris, but I’m not going to let myself only stand with Paris. I stand with anyone mourning tonight. I won’t pray for Paris alone. I’ll pray for the world.

on false friends

I’ve had mixed responses to my slow process of figuring out my identity and such. For the most part, they’ve been overwhelmingly positive, but not all of them. I’ve had at least one truly awful experience, the details of which I won’t get into here. But I think by far my most frustrating experience was with someone who pretended to be my friend, yet completely disregarded everything I had told him about myself and everything I had discovered myself to be.

I told him I’m ace, in a roundabout sort of way (we were at work at the time).

Me: I’m not really… interested in anyone.

Him: Yeah but like, boys or girls?

Me: Neither? I really don’t like anyone like that.

Him:  Oh darling, we can fix that.

Me: I… don’t want or need to be fixed?

Him: Oh, honey. We’ll find you someone.

Dude. I don’t want anyone. Not in the way you’re talking about. That’s the whole point?

I told him I’m not a woman. I told him my preferred name, my pronouns. He is probably the one person I know who has consistently refused to even try to use them, despite being told numerous times. Like, people have messed up before, but at least I know they’re trying. And that one horrible experience, she was awful, but she never pretended to be anything other than awful (to me at least. She was a horrible two faced piece of work in front of our superiors, but again, that’s another story).

This guy acts like we’re such good friends. He calls me darling, and honey, and sweetie, and he’s so pleasant around me. Then he calls me by my birth name, refers to me with she/her pronouns, or says something like “bye, girls!” referring to me and the girl I’m walking with. And it’s so frustrating because when I call him out, he laughs.

Him: Do you have any idea how hard it is to change? You’re [birth name] in my head, I can’t help it.

It’s funny to me how literally everyone else in my life has assimilated the information and got on with it. He’s the only person who is making me feel like I’m not worth the effort it would cost him to even try to respect me. And with the horrible piece of work, she’s awful, but you expect awful people to be awful. I expect people who call themselves my friends to at least try to show me the smallest amount of respect.

on winning and losing

There comes a time when it’s time to stop fighting.

Sometimes, even when we know we’re right, we can’t win, and the harder we fight, the harder we end up losing.

I’m right. I’m definitely right. And she’s wrong. But I live in an imperfect world and the harder I fight, the less I’m being listened to. Never mind that I have to keep asking because the people who are supposed to help me, don’t want to. I made the mistake of pushing against a woman who clearly, has enough friends in high places that she will never face consequences. Not on my account, anyway.

I always do this. Make the mistake of thinking people like me when I’m tolerated at best.

I’m letting it drop not because I want to, but because I need to if I want to retain any credibility. The injustice of it all just staggers me, but there’s literally nothing I can do about it. The only weapon left in my arsenal is the Leonie Gambit: “I’m not even going to do anything. I’m just going to sit back and give you enough rope and watch you hang yourself.”

on apologies

So let’s talk about apologies.

Chescaleigh says it better than I ever could, so I’ve embedded her video here. All I’m going to do is elaborate on a point she raises, which is intent vs. impact. She talks about what happens if she accidentally steps on your toe and it breaks: maybe she didn’t mean to tread on your toe, but hey, your toe is still broken! And it still hurts!

I’d like to add this quote from Hershele Ostropoler:

If you step on my foot, you need to get off my foot.

If you step on my foot without meaning to, you need to get off my foot.

If you step on my foot without realizing it, you need to get off my foot.

If everyone in your culture steps on feet, your culture is horrible, and you need to get off my foot.

If you have foot-stepping disease, and it makes you unaware you’re stepping on feet, you need to get off my foot. If an event has rules designed to keep people from stepping on feet, you need to follow them. If you think that even with the rules, you won’t be able to avoid stepping on people’s feet, absent yourself from the event until you work something out.

If you’re a serial foot-stepper, and you feel you’re entitled to step on people’s feet because you’re just that awesome and they’re not really people anyway, you’re a bad person and you don’t get to use any of those excuses, limited as they are. And moreover, you need to get off my foot.

See, I didn’t even write this post. I just brought together a video and a quote to illustrate my point. Do you know why? Because a recent situation where I was owed an apology, and where what I got was pretty much the antithesis of an apology, has left me “literally angry with rage”. Probably too angry to string two coherent words together with enough impact to make my point. However. I think for tonight, this will suffice.

on curiosetta

Okay.

So there is a guy – and rest assured, I know it’s a guy, because only a guy would get this bent out of shape about this – who has commented on a previous post I made. And it wasn’t just a “hey, no” comment. It was a line by line dissection on how I was wrong and ought to feel bad.

Bad news, curiosetta. I am calling you out.

What follows under the cut is me dishing back to curiosetta what he can’t or won’t stand on his own blog. See, he either doesn’t have one, or he deleted it, which tells me he doesn’t have the stones to put his own opinions somewhere public where they can be critiqued and picked apart, the way he’s done to me.

As he has done, twice now, I’m going to take his comment point by point and break it down. You have been warned.

EDITED because while I don’t think an opinion blog should be held to the same standards as a peer reviewed academic journal re: sources and citing, I’d hate for you (or anyone) to feel like the lack of sources in this rebuttal is an opening for more “discussion”. I have refuted each and every fallacious point you attempted to make, and with this edit, I have done it AND cited the sources you demanded (despite offering none of your own). You are done.

Continue reading “on curiosetta”

on blocking bad behavior and why it doesn’t work

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been part of an online discussion or been in a chat room at least once in your life. Likely, you’ve sat there and got frustrated as someone else behaved poorly. Maybe you’ve used the “block” feature once or twice.

I hate the block feature, and here’s why.

Say I’m in a chat room. There’s me, a bunch of other people, there are a couple of moderators, and there’s Troll. So we’re chatting away merrily, and maybe Troll pops up in my Private Message box and says something inappropriate. Maybe, Troll says something flat out offensive.

So, I appeal to the moderators. “You wrote the rules for this chat room, and Troll is violating them,” I say.

“Block him,” is the inevitable response.

But why, when Troll is the one in the wrong, is it my responsibility to take action? Why do the moderators so often refuse to police the rules they wrote?

We live in a world where victim blaming is a constant problem. If a woman walks down the street at night and is assaulted, too many people will come out of the woodwork and say “well, what was she wearing? Why was she out that late at night? Why was she alone? Really, she could have prevented this.”

That’s what victim blaming is. It’s putting the responsibility for the incident onto the victim – when all the victim did, was be in the wrong place at the wrong time. You know where the responsibility actually lies? With the person who made the choice to (assault, harm, abduct) someone.

So that’s victim blaming in a large sense: It’s the worst case scenario of victim blaming. But that sort of behavior exists in large part because we as a society allow it to exist. The only way we can change that, is if we eliminate this type of thinking at every level – including the tiny, seemingly inconsequential level of chat room trolls and moderators who would rather tell the victim to protect themselves, instead of doing what they themselves signed up to do.

I’m not completely naive. I know that most, if not 99%, of chat room moderators and forum moderators and so on are volunteers and get paid nothing for their work. But to that I say, this was a choice you made, to moderate this site, this room, this discussion. You put your hand up and decided you wanted to do it. It is not unreasonable for people to expect you to then do the job you said you would do.

We as a society need to collectively decide that no, actually, it’s not my responsibility to “block” Troll. In the first instance, it should be on Troll not to have behaved badly and broken the social contract. In the second instance, if/when Troll proves that they have no intention of policing their own behavior, it should be on the moderators and the gatekeepers of the discussion to enforce consequences as appropriate.

When you are in power and a victim comes to you and says they have been wronged, it is not okay for you to lay out how the victim needs to take responsibility for what happened. It is on you to ensure that the person who wronged them faces consequences. 

Some people are going to read this and think that I am genuinely ranting about chat rooms and how I should lighten up, turn off the computer, and go out and interact with real people. Let me make it clear that in ranting about what happens in chat rooms, I am actually pointing out a symptom of a much larger societal problem.

What we allow to happen at the micro level of interpersonal interactions, justifies and normalizes what we allow to happen at the macro level of interpersonal interactions.