joreth: (Misty in Box)
This is a thing in my circles (or, it was in the circles I frequented with my abusive ex, so I'm trying to make it a thing in my current circles as well). I called it "being peopled out". Anyone can excuse themselves from a social interaction guilt-free by simply saying they were "peopled out" and either choose to leave entirely or just go somewhere nearby to be left alone for a while.

When I host social interactions at my home, the common areas are for socializing and the rest of the house is generally accepted to be off-limits as per normal party etiquette, but my bedroom (as I'm too poor to have all that many other rooms) was declared a Peopled Out Zone, where introverts can escape for a bit. If other introverts are already in there, it is known that this room is for introversion and there is no obligation to socialize with anyone there, since they're all there to recharge.  I don't think I've ever had more than one introvert at a time in my room, but another party I was at had 3 of us ignoring each other in the Introvert Room.  Cats can move about at will and are usually welcome to socialize, though.

When I have partners over, being "alone together" is a major part of them coming over. Either of us can announce a desire to be undisturbed or to get work done or whatever and the other will go about their own business for the duration. When my local partner comes over, he stays for a few days at a time and then goes home for a few days. That's too long at my house to constantly be "entertaining" him, which might otherwise be acceptable as a host for a guest of a couple of hours. He often asks for time to play on his phone and I often have shit I need to get done around the house that is just unrealistic to wait on for several days until he goes home again. He also spends about an hour or more at a time sitting alone on my porch vaping. I don't like vaping and, again, I have my own introvert needs or stuff to get done. We pop our heads into the other's space to share a thought now and then, but we essentially leave the other alone during that time.  Without that ability, I couldn't have him stay over for several days and I'd have to see him less often than I currently do, which might actually hamper the relationship.

This is also a dialect of the Quality Time Love Language. Some people call it Co-Gaming, where people share physical proximity to each other but don't interact much with each other (in the case of the term, because they're playing video games on their respective consoles). For some of us, this is an important part of bonding with others. It allows us to let down our guards, stop being "on stage" and stop playing "hostess" and "guest", and to just *be* in front of another person, doing something mundane or going about our daily lives.  For some people like me, that's an incredibly vulnerable time, and it's one pathway to intimacy because we have let someone see us without the social mask on.

Here's a good video clip from the TV show Sex And The City that covers introversion and "alone time".  It's currently under a copyright dispute so I can't embed it directly, you'll have to click the link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FNBLi_6De0

I advocate for everyone to introduce being Peopled Out, or Introvert Time or whatever you want to call it to your social circles.  I think this benefits both introverts and extroverts.  If extroverts want to socialize more, they can get more introverts to come over and socialize if the environment is accommodating of introversion needs.  So, throw a party and say 6 introverts show up.  The odds that all 6 of them will get Peopled Out at exactly the same time for exactly the same duration are pretty slim, so between the other extroverts at the party and the introverts not currently Peopled Out, the extrovert host should have plenty to socialize with.  And, since the introverts know there is a Peopled Out room available, more introverts will be willing to show up, thereby increasing the number of people at the party in total, thereby increasing the number of people available for an extrovert to socialize with.  Or, for those who don't have a home large enough for a whole separate room, a Peopled Out Corner, perhaps next to the bookshelf, or a Time Out Bean Bag or something, where someone can go and no one will address them while they're in that spot.

And then there's the more private, non-party circumstances like in the comic.  If an introvert feels safe saying "Peopled Out, can't talk now, talk later?" because they know that the other person will understand, give them some space, and not take it as a personal rejection or freak out at the lack of reply, then the introvert will be more likely to actually respond with that explanation rather than either playing the avoidance game or overcommitting and then having a meltdown that the other person won't understand why the introvert is melting down over "nothing".

Sometimes, the other person (either introvert or extrovert) won't understand what the radio silence is all about and can fill in the silence with their own projections or suppositions.  This means that they'll try to contact the introvert, the introvert won't respond because they're Peopled Out, and the other person can freak out wondering why - was it something they did?  Does the introvert not love them anymore?  Did they get into a horrible accident?  WHERE ARE THEY?!

Introversion / extroversion language, and the language of various personality type systems like MBTI or Love Languages, help to establish that whatever is going on with the person in question is something internal to them and not a reflection on the other person.  This tends to make it easier to hear about someone's personal boundaries and limitations because it more clearly illustrates that it's not about us, it's about themselves.  But, in order for the person in question (the introvert, in this case) to explain what's happening, they have to feel *safe* explaining what's happening.  We can start by including things like Peopled Out Time as a given in our social circles and also giving them language to use to help explain their internal workings. And, like in the SATC video, sometimes just knowing that it's safe to ask for time alone can reduce the need for or duration of time alone, giving the other person the socializing that they wanted in the first place.

So my suggestion is to find a phrase that people in your social circle can understand to mean "I need some time with no interaction from you that is not a statement in any way on you as a person but on my own internal brain chemistry regarding how I process social interaction" and start using it to create Introvert Time or Peopled Out Spaces or Sensory Overload Chill Out Time for people who just need to be alone for a while.
joreth: (Bad Computer!)

Hey, people, we need to have a little chat. I'm glad that the poly community is talking more openly about abuse and all, but could we stop throwing around diagnoses like we have any right or ability to do so?

Stop accusing people of being narcissistic or sociopathic or whatever just because you read that article that one time and the person whom you've never met but got into an online argument with said something you didn't like. Or even that person who you dated who turned into an asshole. He's probably not a sociopath, and if he is, you're not qualified to determine if he is.

Unless you have an actual degree in clinical psychology AND you are this particular person's psychological diagnostician (in which case, you REALLY shouldn't be publicizing diagnoses because it violates patient confidentiality) OR they actually disclosed to you a diagnoses (in which case, unless they're public about it, you're still violating someone's privacy and even assholes have a right to medical privacy), you don't know if they have any particular disorder or what it might be.

Be pissed off at someone if you think they wronged you. Talk about your own experiences at their hands if you think it's relevant. Just stop flinging around these terms. You look like monkeys flinging shit.

They are important labels and we devalue them by using them carelessly and casually. We actually end up hurting our efforts to address abuse in our communities by liberally applying specific terms with specific meanings in medical or psychological contexts to people who just irritate us or say stuff that makes us mad because people become too inured to seeing those terms and it eventually turns into either a witch hunt or a dismissal of people with mental disorders who *could* be productive members of society with the right kinds of help.

I'm glad that we've started sharing things like "5 Warning Signs You're In An Abusive Relationship" and "8 Toxic Relationship Behaviours", and even those articles detailing the criteria for narcissism and borderline personality disorder and all the rest.  I really do want people to be more aware and more educated and more sophisticated in their relationship evaluations.  But y'know how easy it is for people to put in their symptoms into WebMD, get a list of possible diagnoses from likely to plausible to WTF no one has had this in generations in this country?  And then people start freaking out that they have fucking brain tumors when they're just dehydrated and have a headache?  Mental diagnoses are like that too.  But it gets worse because we start applying these internet checklists to the people we know.  And the information we absorb about "is your coworker a sociopath?" changes our behaviour with respect to how we treat these other people and how we interpret their actions.

This is not fair, not medically accurate, not intellectually honest or rigorous, and it's actually making things worse.  Apparently, half of all my social communities have Narcissistic Personality Disorder and the other half have Borderline Personality Disorder, and about a third are completely sociopathic, and everyone is an abusive bully - depending on who you're talking to.  People are already starting to tune out, and this is extremely dangerous for people who are *actually* trapped in relationships with people who are harming them.  Psychological terms need to be used with care, in their proper time and place.  The actual victims of abusive relationships need as much support as we can give them, which means that we shouldn't be devaluing the language they need to talk about and process their abuse by accusing everyone of everything just because we don't like someone or someone was mean to us.

Because, here's a newsflash - it's totally possible to be mean to someone without them being clinically psychotic.  Just so you know.

joreth: (Super Tech)
I don't have any kind of TV signal at my house, other than what my rabbit ears can pick up (and trust me, with the weather in Florida, that's not much). I have a shit ton of DVDs, access to Netflix and Amazon, and other entertainment-viewing venues, but not much in the way of "live" programming. And I like that kind of programming. I really enjoy just leaving my TV turned on all day and set to one or two channels that play sitcoms or sci-fi or whatever, just to see what comes on. It's the same reason I still like listening to the radio, even though I hate commercials on both.

One of the TV stations that comes through (barely) is a classic TV station - showing nothing newer than the early '80s and some stuff quite a bit older. Late at night, they stick mainly with the '70s. So I've been watching a show I had seen before but wasn't a major portion of my viewing rotation because I was just a bit too young to be really interested in the plot back then - One Day at a Time​.

I really like sitcoms, but I'm kind of particular in my sitcom viewing. I like watching shows that are groundbreaking in some way and that are, by their very existence, social commentary. Whatever other flaws that show might have, it had an important message that shaped the society I grew up in.

This show is about a divorced mom trying to raise her two teenage daughters in a "liberated" society that she was never a part of. She grew up conservative and traditional Italian Catholic and married young. But her husband had an affair, so she divorced him - a radical enough notion at the time. To make matters even more shocking, she didn't go home to her parents to help her with the kids, she chose to get an apartment in New York and live alone with the kids - no man or family to protect her or help her.

That alone makes the show worth praising, to me. But every time I see an episode, I'm bowled over by the complexity of the situations and the nuance of the responses. It really was a terrific show. I'd like to sit down with the DVDs sometime and really do some thorough reviews on specific episodes, because there are some gems in there.

For instance, the episode I saw a couple of nights ago had the husband trying to back out of child support because he over-extended himself with his business and his new wife and was now facing financial trouble. This is a really easy situation to get black-and-white about - too fucking bad, it was your bad choices, you owe those kids their money because a single woman in the '70s with no college education couldn't get the kind of job to support the three of them without help, and it's your fault they're on their own in the first place.

To make matters worse, the father wasn't just facing financial hardship due to the economy or not making enough money from his company. He sold the kids' childhood home to buy a mansion with a pool and to hire a full-time maid to live in the lap of luxury. So it seems like a no-brainer that the dad is the bad guy and the solution is to sell the damn house, fire the maid, and live more frugally if he can't support his lifestyle.

Although these points are all made in the show, it doesn't stop there. In the course of the arguments over the child support, the mom figures out that the new wife doesn't even know about the financial hardship, and that the dad wants to quit child support because he wants to maintain his lifestyle so that his new wife never has to find out. The *reason*, he says, is because the new wife isn't "like [the mother]" and "can't handle it". She's accustomed to a life of luxury and wouldn't be able to cope with living a more meager existence.

The mom, here, has a perfectly justified opportunity to say "tough shit, that's part of what being married is all about". Instead, she stops her arguing, stunned that the new wife doesn't even know. She points out that the husband is being patronizing, and orders him to go home immediately and talk to the wife - to give her a chance to be an equal partner in their marriage and how to address the situation. Her sympathy in this moment, goes to the new wife, when the rest of society would have seen the new wife as a homewrecker and not deserving of sympathy.

Repeatedly, as the mom argues with the dad over the course of the series, she sticks up for the wife and insists that he treat her better than he ever treated the mom. She does not let him get away with being the same chauvinistic, overbearing, dismissive prick that he was to her.

And then the show goes one further. The daughters, when they find out all the details, turn to their father and say "Daddy, I know you want to support us, but you forget that we're supposed to support you too. That's what family is for. We'll work something out. Let us help you." Without compromising the kids' well-being or letting the father off the hook from his responsibilities, they insist on pulling together as a family, even though they're not a traditional family anymore. The support and respect isn't a one-way street.  In fact, it's an excellent example of support through accountability without becoming a doormat.

In the end, there are no Bad Guys, just people who make mistakes and have messy feelings, who learn from each other and help each other out. The family is changed to match the needs of the people in it, and even though there are growing pains about it, everyone is better off living in a non-traditional family structure which gives each of them opportunities to be their best selves. And they consistently live up to that, stumbling and tripping along the way, but always climbing upwards.

I wonder, since these are the kinds of influences I had growing up, what our society might look like if we still made such programming. And I wonder, since I wasn't the only person to watch and be influenced by shows like this, why I seem to be one of the only people to have absorbed these kinds of lessons.

I find it interesting that the vast majority of the lessons that influence how I do poly and that form the basis for my various activisms, come from mainstream, monogamous, heteronormative culture. I recommend re-visiting these old sitcoms, or visiting them for the first time if you missed them back in the day. Many of them are partially responsible for the adult I turned into, with lessons in empathy and consideration and intentional family and non-traditional choices.  Sometimes wisdom comes from unexpected places.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
Hey media! I know you're never gonna see this, but I have something to say to you anyway. You know how you're having so much trouble finding "triads" and "poly couples" to interview? THAT'S BECAUSE POLYAMORY DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY.

I mean, yes, there are triads in polyamory, and yes there are people who are partnered and could be called a "couple". But you're looking for people who fit a very specific relationship structure who are also attractive enough for your audience and willing to be public about their very personal romantic lives and who have everyone they're connected to be willing to be public about being connected to them. That's a tall order.

Mainly, polyamory isn't something that "couples" do, or even something that "triads" do, it's something that people do. Most of the people in poly relationships look like a lot of different sorts of configurations. Regardless of what people think they want out of poly relationships, the reality is that you either find yourself in amorphous, fluid, or unexpected configurations because that's just who you ended up falling in love with, your you find yourself still searching for that Third 20 or 30 years later and always blaming your failed relationship attempts on the selfishness of the unicorns you're hunting instead of recognizing that the forced structure you're imposing isn't meeting the real-world needs of the participants.

So if you, as a member of the media, want to have any luck at all in finding respondents, don't be the even-more-clueless version (I didn't even know that was possible) of the Unicorn Hunters. Open up your search to include a variety of possibilities. This means that you may not get that sensationalized photo of three people in bed together because the relationship is actually an asterisk or a "polycule" network with several long distance partners and a couple of partners who don't like each other so they won't pose for group photos and maybe one or two who refuse to participate because they're not out. We're not all playing house together and trying to build a commune or pretending to be "just like monos only with 3".

Most of us, those who have successful relationships anyway, have relationships that look different from Escalator Relationships (first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a mortgage and 3 babies and a poodle because the hubby has allergies) and don't make for convenient, easily wrapped up story packages. Yes, even those of us who started out as a monogamous couple who "opened up" don't often look like the threesome version of Escalator Relationships (also known as polygamy). You may have to interview us separately. You may have to only interview one of us because everyone else is too busy or not out. You may have to include 5 or 6 people because portraying only 3 of us as a "triad" is to leave out people who are integral to our lives and we don't want to exclude them for the sake of your convenient number 3.

And I didn't even begin to touch on the issues of gender expressions or orientations or even socioeconomic class. We are not all pretty, skinny, white, urban professional, 30-something, straight cis men and bi cis women either.

For an excellent, even more media-appropriate open letter on this same subject, check out So You Want To Interview Polyamorous People? by [livejournal.com profile] emanix and linked to on the Polyamory Media Association website.
joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
Hey Marvel films and other movie makers - the reason why your female-led action movies don't do well at the box office and the reason why women (who make up the majority of the gaming audience) don't much care for your movies and the reason why your attempts at giving your male protagonists emotional depth turn into SNL skits is because you're not Netflix original series writers.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed your fluffy romps with comic movies in the last bunch of years. But that's all they are - fluffy romps with little to no substance. They're trite and common. I'm not saying there's no room in the diversity of entertainment for trite. But if you want to increase your sales, then instead of "pandering" to your target audiences with naked hot chicks but no role of their own except to be rescued or fucked by the male protagonists, with the token female lab scientist or the token female ass-kicker, with dark and brooding action heroes torn up over the loss of their wife or child that shows their "sensitivity", start talking to the writers over at Netflix about how to show the humanity and complexity in a character that doesn't require lots of sex, lots of rape, lots of on-screen violence, or lots of dark, scowling white male faces contemplating the loss of loved ones.

And I'm not just talking about the action series either. Netflix is totally kicking ass at entertainment in general these days. Their series' present us with diversity in emotion, in response, in reaction. They don't rely on "something Bad happened, now the protagonist will sit, staring out at the moon or off in the distance while they prepare to make themselves into a bad-ass fighting machine for vengeance". They show anger. They show pain. They show walls. They show confusion. They show shame. They show remorse. They show internalized blame. They show characters bumbling around and making mistakes. They show lack of acceptance. They show redemption. But not all in the same character. Not even all in the same gender or race or orientation of character.

Sure, there are lots of things I could criticize about any given Netflix show - no media is perfect. But, just like the Bechtel test is best used in aggregate to show trends, looking at the trends of big box office movies in the last decade and the slew of Netflix originals coming out in the last couple of years, and it stands out in sharp contrast that Netflix has a handle on how to write interesting, complex, nuanced characters and plots whereas Hollywood is still leaning on tropes that should have been retired 30 or more years ago.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
One of the things that makes me twitch every time I hear it is "different partners fulfill different needs". My partners are not need fulfillment machines. While it's true that I have certain emotional "needs" from my various relationships in order for those relationships to be maintained, it's not an obligation for my partners to meet them. That's my job. Plus, most of my relationships have overlapping "needs".

In my romantic relationships, I "need" to be listened to, I "need" to feel that I am considered, and I "need" for my partners to follow through with whatever things they say they are going to follow through on most of the time, like if they say they will attend a party with me, I expect them to actually attend the party with me barring some emergency. Without these "needs" getting met, I don't feel loved, and if I don't feel loved, then there's no point in being in that romantic relationship because, to me, a romantic relationship is about loving and being loved by someone. These kind of needs exist in all my romantic relationships - that's part of what sets them apart from non-romantic relationships.

But I hear way too often about how polyamory is how people get their "needs met". People basically build a Frankenpartner out of their various partners - I have a list of 100 needs, Bob meets 78 of them, which is a majority, so he's my primary, Steve meets 13 of them so he's my secondary, and Jim meets 9 of them so he's my fling on the side, and that way I get all my needs met. I set out to find people to meet those needs, and I have carefully screened all the applicants, and each one was hired for the role based on their ability to meet those needs. Should they ever cease meeting my needs to my satisfaction, they will be fired and I will replace them with someone who can do a better job.

Blech.

I have some general "needs" - to be heard, to be seen, to be considered, to be accommodated, to be appreciated. Sometimes I have a romantic and/or sexual attraction to people who can do those things, and if so, then I find out if they'd be interested in some kind of romantic relationship with me. From there, we work out the logistics.

And it's these *logistics* that I believe are more like what most people are referring to when they say "meet my needs". I liking having people to dance with. I like having people who share my kinks. I like having people who read the same kinds of books as me. I like watching movies with people. I like engaging in philosophical existential discussions about science and the meaning of life. I like having rock climbing and belaying buddies. I like cuddling. I like sex. I like eating meals with people. I like crafting and creating projects with people.

These aren't *needs* in the same way that the above needs are. Those needs are things that my relationships must have to flourish. These are things that, the more of them a person has, the more entangled and intertwined our lives have the potential to become. None of my partners really "needs" to ballroom dance with me, even though I'd be happier if at least one of my partners shared that passion. None of my partners need to rock climb with me, although I'd be happier if at least one of them did. And if only one of my partners shared that particular interest with me, I'd probably be just fine that none of the others did. Kink is a good example of this one; if I have at least one partner who shares my kinks, I'm usually just fine with the other partners who don't because then I'm getting to explore my kinks *somewhere*.  You could say that I got my "need" met by this one partner, so I'm good and the others are off the hook.

And looking at these sorts of things as "needs" is what, in my opinion, contributes to people seeing their partners as need fulfillment machines: You are my Boyfriend; the Boyfriend Role requires that we go to parties together; therefore you are obligated, expected, and responsible for taking me to parties.  I think it would be healthier to come at the idea from the opposite direction:  You like going to parties with me, therefore your role, for as long as we are both happy with the arrangement, is the Co-Party Attendee Partner.  Should either of us ever no longer be interested in attending parties together, we can reevaluate at that time what kind of role we will each have in each other's lives without the shared interest in parties.

I have not found a way to articulate an alternative to this problem - something that still indicates the importance that any given activity might have to any given relationship role, but that doesn't include the implicit obligation of "meets my needs" ... that removal of a partner's autonomy and turning them into something that serves my interests. Until today.

I'm still not sure if this will work out long-term enough to make it into a permanent part of my language, but today I used the term "niche" in place of "need". My partners each fit into their own relationship niche, which includes movies with Bob but co-crafting with Steve and food exploration with Jim. Even if Bob and Jim both include karaoke, they still have their own niches where Bob has co-crafting and karaoke while Jim has food exploration and karaoke. Even if two or more of my partners have *exactly the same* list of logistical criteria in common, they all still fit into their own niche as individuals. Bob fits into Bob's niche, Steve fits into Steve's niche, Jim fits into Jim's niche. But, really, the odds of any of them having exactly the same criteria with absolutely no deviation? So highly unlikely as to be not even worthwhile of consideration. Maybe Bob and Steve share exactly the same interests in common with me, but Bob lives 2 hours away and prefers texting to phone conversations while Steve lives locally and still has a landline, or something.

So I'm gonna try replacing "need" with "niche" whenever the context of "different partners meets different needs" comes up in conversation and see how that goes. Each of my partners fills different niches, not "meets different needs".  My intention is to remove "meets my needs" entirely from my vocabulary but still make my conversation understandable by people who are not necessarily up on all the latest poly lingo, in much the same way that I am attempting to describe my relationships without ever once using the term "primary", even as a bridge term with caveats and explanations.

So let's see how well "niche" ... well ... meets that need :-)
joreth: (Super Tech)
http://bettermyths.com/chivalry-isnt-dead-you-just-dont-know-what-the-fuck-it-is/

OTG FUCKING THIS!!!! Stop lamenting the demise of chivalry, YOU HAVE NO GODDAMN IDEA WHAT IT IS!

"The truth is, chivalry has basically fuck all to do with women, and everything to do with horses. ... See, the word “chivalry” comes from the French word “chevalier,” which comes from “cheval,” which means “horse.” Chivalry is literally just “rules for if you have a horse.” ... Chivalry was – and still is – basically a way of saying, “okay, I have an optimized death machine between my legs, maybe I should look out for people who don’t have one of these.”"

"Real chivalry is about noticing when you have a horse and somebody else doesn’t. It’s about being careful not to trample people just because you can."

"There are no prizes for being chivalrous, other than the prize of being a decent god damn human. ... They didn’t need to invent a complex code of ethics to justify getting shit for free, because they already had all the shit. What do you get for the man who has everything? How about some fucking morals."

"The main problem with chivalry, though, is that it can very easily cross over into paternalism, and nobody likes to be treated like a child."

"At this point, you may be thinking “hey, this is bullshit, these are just basic guidelines for not being an asshole!” and congratulations, you’re right. That’s all chivalry is: basic guidelines for how not to be a sack of shit."

And I have a newsflash for you - if you insist that "chivalry" has anything to do with men treating women a particular way, especially if you feel entitled to being angry or disappointed when any woman doesn't like being treated that way, then you are, in fact, a sack of shit and violating the moral codes of actual "chivalry".
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
http://www.babble.com/relationships/this-is-what-divorce-looks-like/

This is why I'm so adamant that poly lessons are very rarely ever *poly* lessons, and they're more like lessons for healthy relationships in general. This is why I can seem pushy about polyamory - I'm not out to "convert monos" because, frankly, I'd rather not have your monogamy baggage clouding up my dating pool. But I *am* out to improve the existing relationships of those around me, and it is my opinion that those lessons are most commonly found in poly circles.

Those lessons include advanced communication skills, but more importantly, consciously designing your relationships to meet the needs of the individuals, rather than trying to shoehorn people into a single relationship mold.

This is also the very foundation of why I am solo poly. Solo poly does NOT mean "unpartnered". It's not "being single" (although solo polys *can* be unpartnered, they're just not synonyms for each other). Solo poly means, to me, that I am an individual person, not half of a whole or a third of a triad or whatever. It means that all my partners get all of me as a whole and complete person, and each relationship is constructed based on that concept. Which further means that none of my relationships will look like the standard Escalator model, because that model hinges on the submerging of the individual into the group (or couple, in this case). It requires making the relationship more important than the individuals in it.

So I *might* someday have a relationship that superficially resembles an Escalator Relationship with some traditional markers of "couplehood", but the foundation of my relationships will always include the axiom "the people in the relationship are more important than the relationship". This leads, inevitably, to less traditionally structured relationships in order to meet the unique needs of the individuals in them. Like in the case of these and other parents who have figured out that they make excellent coparents but not spouses.

Build the relationships to meet the needs of the people in them. A marriage certificate is not necessary to create a healthy, fulfilling relationship, even one with a life-long emotional bond and children.

"Meshing your life with someone else’s is no small feat and the concept of marriage isn’t as simple as: Hey! We get along really well. We should live together forever! There are a million subtle nuances within every relationship that cause it to work or not to work, many of them only understood by the two people who experienced the relationship. I get along with my ex. I love my ex. That doesn’t mean we belong together." ~ Ditching The Escalator: Marriage does not have to be the only option; aka "it's possible to really and truly love someone and still not make a good partner for them" via [livejournal.com profile] tacit.

"Yeah, it’ll be weird, initially, watching my ex-husband with someone new, but I’d far rather adjust to that than maintain a very formal, even icy, existence with the father of my children and the woman with whom they’ll spend a large portion of their lives. ... I want to work with, not against, a woman who could potentially be the main female figure to my children when they’re not with me." ~ Metamour Relations 101

"Everyone is so caught up in defining family in this way or that way ... instead of just looking around at those people who are a part of our lives on a daily basis who love us and whom we love and being happy that so many people are present. The more the merrier. We are all family." ~ Consciously Designing Relationships

"The decision to end a marriage is not about quitting; it is about letting go of one relationship in exchange for another." ~ Polys Don't Breakup They Transition / aka our Breakup Workshop
joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
T: Hey, so, you may not know this, but some of us are being bullied, harassed, and even killed, just because our harassers are confused by our genitals. It's even legal. It's called the Trans Panic Defense, and it basically says that someone can get freaked out by what our genitals are and how they don't match with his expectation of what people with those genitals are supposed to look like, and while freaked out, he can kill us and it's totally a justifiable homocide because we freaked him out.

C: OMG, that's terrible!

T: Yeah. But we've learned from research and from the experiences of the gay rights movement that simple exposure and normalization can help. People are afraid of things that they don't understand, and when they live in fear, they react with violence. So all we have to do is expose them to the concept of people like me and others with gender identities that don't match their expectations, and normalize them to the idea that we exist and we're human, and over time, people lose their fear. With their fear gone, they don't react with violence. When the society around them finds their fear to be the aberration instead of our existence, then even if they do still harbor some discomfort, they learn that they can't act on their fears or discomfort because the culture around them disapproves of it. So even if they still dislike us, we're safer from the possibility of violence because they'd rather not risk losing society's approval of them.

C: Huh, well, that's good.

T: So, we're asking those of you who aren't totally freaked out by us to help normalize us and help expose people to the concept of us. If you could start by not assuming the gender of people you meet, that'd be a big help. You can ask people what pronouns they want you to use for them, or you can just state your own as if it's a normal thing to state. You can also start using gender neutral pronouns and labels whenever there is one to substitute, like the singular "they" or "spouse" and "partner" instead of "wife" or "boyfriend", even when the people in question have a gender identity that matches what they were assigned at birth. This does 2 things: 1) It makes trans and genderfluid people feel welcomed and accepted in society when we hear it. We may be a small percentage of the population, but we're still a part of the population and we'd like to feel included in it. But more importantly, 2) it reinforces the idea that cisgender people are not the only ones out there, even if they happen to be a majority, by reminding them in casual ways that the rest of us exist. That's the normalization part.

C: Whoa now, back the boat up! You want me to *change* my speaking habits? Let's not get carried away here! I thought you were asking for *equality*, not special privileges!

T: It's not a special privilege. I'm just asking you to be a little more considerate in your use of language. It's literally the least amount of effort you can do for us. Just change a couple of words here and there.

C: But what about *my* feelings? What about how hard this will be *for me*? This is a lot of effort! I'd have to actually *think* about what I'm saying before I say it! You have all this talk about compassion and consideration for other people, but you're not really considering how hard this will be for me!

T: People are literally dying here. All we're asking is that you switch out a couple of words. You've done that before. You don't use the same slang that you used in the '80s. You're comparing changing a *habit* to people losing their fucking lives!

C: No need to get angry! It's really hard for me to take you seriously when you're bullying me like that. It sucks that the occasional person gets killed every now and then, but this is *my life* we're talking about! I'd have to *change*! I just don't think I can make it through a day of interacting with people without assuming their gender or using gender pronouns and titles. It goes against all of the English language! It's awkward and uncomfortable. No, that's too much to ask. People might get weirded out *by me*!

T: O.o

T: Having people who feel uncomfortable around you because you're doing something they're not used to kinda sucks, doesn't it?

C: Yes! Now you're getting it! So, sorry about all the murder-death-kills and all, but it's just not fair to ask me to put myself on the line for you. I have too much to lose! My friends would look at me funny, and that would ruin my life!

T: Have you ever been diagnosed with Irony Impairment?

C: Oh great, now you're going to go on a tear about whatchamacallit - ableism now, aren't you? Geez, just let up on the social justice warrior shit for a moment, will you? Can't you just relax and enjoy life for what it is? If you learn to just let go of things, you'll be a lot happier. Maybe stop reading all those social justice articles on the web and stick to cat videos, like I do. See how happy I am?

T: #FacePalm
joreth: (Super Tech)
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2015/09/21/the-dad-who-wrote-a-check-using-common-core-math-doesnt-know-what-hes-talking-about/

To me, this furor over common core sounds an awful lot like anti-intellectualism that's been running our nation into the ground: "I don't understand this! Therefore you're stupid!"

"Instead of trying to figure out what his child was learning, Herrmann did what so many parents do these days: He complained about something he doesn’t understand.

I’ll be honest with you: I didn’t know what “ten-frame” cards were and I wasn’t sure what he was trying to write in his check. Then I spent a couple of minutes doing the research he couldn’t be bothered to do himself."

"what math teachers have realized is that kids who relied on memorization, algorithms, and calculators had a really hard time understanding math as they got older."

"The problem with the method people like Herrmann learned is that it didn’t work when the math got harder. Strong math students find ways around that, but many students just give up on math altogether."

There's an interesting thing about this "new" math that I was never taught and how I do math. I've said before in my previous posts on the subject that I could do algebra in my head and not show my work, and the more I read about this common core stuff, the more I go "oh hey! That's what I do!" I wasn't taught how to do it, but that's how my brain works naturally. So I was considered "good at math".

Kids were grouped into two categories when I was a kid - "good at math" and "not good at math". I was a math tutor, and I helped those "not good at math" kids to be better. I never believed people weren't good at math, I just saw kids who thought in different ways and the system wasn't reaching them. I was taught by that same system, and that same system wasn't reaching me either, but I saw the ways around it.

I've told this story before. My high school classes gave us a syllabus at the beginning of the semester. On it was the entire homework schedule, so I knew what I would be assigned for the entire semester on day 1. In math class on Mondays, I would do the entire week's worth of homework right there in class rather than listen to my teachers. Then I'd have no math homework all week and I'd have the rest of the week to read a book for that 55 minute period. Since I wasn't listening to the teacher, I was teaching myself algebra (and later calculus) out of the book. I didn't show my work, but I grasped the concepts intuitively. I knew how to manipulate numbers. It turns out that I was basically doing some of these common core techniques in my head.

Here's the interesting part. One of my favorite books as a child was Clan of the Cave Bear. In the book, and in the movie, the main character is part of our current line of human who gets orphaned and adopted by a Neanderthal tribe. They (in the book) have trouble with advanced concepts because of the shape of their brains. Counting, specifically, is very difficult for them. Only the most advanced of their holy men can count past a handful and just barely at that. But Ayla is human, and we excel at math - that's why we survived without claws and fangs and fur, because we are engineers who change the environment to suit us instead of the other way around.

So her holy man is her adopted father and, on a lark, he starts explaining some of their most sacred (and secret) counting methods. He's not supposed to, but he figures she won't get it so it won't matter. He gives her a pile of rocks and teaches her to count them by placing one rock near each finger, so that each rock is represented by a digit. That's about where he usually loses his neanderthal bretheren. But Ayla thinks abstractly. So she grabs the entire pile of rocks, breaks them up into smaller piles of 5, places her hand over each pile, and then raises both hands, fingers extended, twice to indicate 20.

This blows the holy man's mind! No one has ever counted that high before! He's the smartest of the smart and he can only just barely grasp what Ayla has done. She took a large group and broke it up into chunks to make it easier to categorize. She was able to quickly count to 20 because she counted 4 piles of 5.

This is common core.

I had no idea. But I read this book in kindergarten and I watched the movie every time it came on TV. This is how I do math. I haven't had a math class in 17 years and I don't use anything higher than geometry in my daily life, so I feel like my math skills have slipped a lot. I feel that loss. But the more I look into this common core stuff, the more I feel that, had I been taught this as a kid, there's no telling how far I could have gone. I could have gone into engineering or physics. Instead, I got swept up in the "I'll never use algebra or calculus in daily life, and I need to save my college credit hours for things that will help me in my career" - the kind of anti-intellectualism that led directly to a nation that thinks the appropriate criteria on which to judge the leader of our nation is whether or not we can "drink a beer" with him.

"Because, to people like him, ignorance is hilarious. He’d rather see his son learn math the old-fashioned way, putting him in danger of struggling in his math career as he gets older, instead of course-correcting early in his education when everything is still fresh.

To answer the obvious rebuttal, yes, a lot of adults are able to get through the day just fine even though they were never very good at math. But why wouldn’t they want their children to aim higher, understand things better, and think more critically?"

"I’m telling you this new way is so much better for students, but we need parents willing to get on board with it instead of complaining because it looks weird.

At the very least, it sends the wrong message to really impressionable kids."
joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
With the whole Kentucky gay marriage license debacle currently unfolding (remember, she is an elected official at the county level who is currently violating a court order to perform the job duties she swore an oath to perform on behalf of the citizens who elected her), I want to remind everyone of the importance of voting at the local level, not just the presidential elections every 4 years.

Don't like any of the candidates? Don't see any difference between the two parties? Don't think anyone "deserves" your vote? This shit starts at home. This starts with school board elections. This starts with county clerk elections. This starts with local government.

The school board educates (or fails to educate) our children - our future voters. That local politician moves up to state politician who moves up to federal politician. Our mayors and city superintendents and police chiefs enact or fail to enact policies that affect us.

I qualify for Medicaid under the new Affordable Healthcare Act because the federal government expanded its scope. But our 'wonderful' governor refused the federal expansion mandate, so I STILL have no health insurance. At least the federal government acknowledged that it wasn't my non-compliance so at least I'm not being fined for it.

Pay attention to your local elections. They make a difference, and YOU make a difference.
joreth: (Swing Dance)

Those of you who don't follow me on Facebook might not know about the Orlando Ballroom Dance Party Portal.  It's a website intended to encourage social partner dancing in the Orlando area, but it also has some good resources for general social partner dancing - like the playlists.  Every day on Facebook, there is the Song Of The Day - a post that highlights a particular song by linking to the YouTube video for it and suggesting a style of partner dancing suitable to dance to that song as well as linking to a related page on the website with the history and description of that dance style.  I repost all those music videos on my personal FB page but it's not on Twitter or Google Plus yet, so I haven't been reposting there because I could only link back to the FB account.  But the point here is that this week highlighted a song popular among the neo-swing culture called Zoot Suit Riot by Cherry Poppin' Daddies.  Some of you may have heard of it.




There is some interesting history behind the Zoot Suit Riot that is related to the ‪#‎SwingDance‬ culture that the zoot suits were a part of. Many people don't take the time to really listen to the lyrics and just enjoy the bouncy swing of the song, but it's actually about a very racially charged time in US history.

The basic story of the song is during a time when Mexicans in California were experiencing a lot of racism during WWII. White soldiers and sailors began assaulting Mexicans for what they perceived as a lack of patriotism in spite of the fact that Mexicans were over-represented in the military during the war, simply because of their attire (the zoot suits). In the media, these zoot suits became a symbol and a target of the racial tension and hatred by white servicemen. This lead to a series of riots that targeted Latino youths, and this song is about those Latinos taunting soldiers about to go overseas as sort of a rallying song supporting marginalized people.

As a Mexican American who grew up in California, this song has always struck a particular nerve with me because the racism that led to the riots was never eradicated. As a middle class white-passing Mexican in the '80s and '90s, I didn't bear the brunt of it like some of my more clearly ethnic neighbors did, but I saw it and I felt it.

My own grandfather (who was a teen & young man in the '40s and himself racist) refused to attend my parents' wedding because my mother is Mexican and his objections were things like he didn't want her Mexican family hanging around his neighborhood because the neighbors would see a bunch of hoodlums and thugs with their low-rider cars and Chicano clothes and Spanish language.

I was fortunate enough to not have to personally experienced any race riots, but I wasn't terribly far from where some happened in the '80s and '90s, and the culture I grew up in sprang from some very terrible historical riots that happened right in my own town and the racial repercussions reverberated through the generations.

So I very much understand the rage and frustration that can lead to an entire group of people doing things like taunting soldiers and burning their own neighborhoods. When everything is taken from you - your dignity, your money, your ability to succeed, your children, even your voice, all you have left is the rage to get the attention of your oppressors. Sometimes that rage turns inward, sometimes it turns outward, and sometimes it gets expressed in ways that people who don't feel it, who aren't subject to its causes, don't see as productive.

But, although it may seem to be self-harming in the moment, the long view of history shows that this rage and its expressions are what lead to change. Because the people comfortable at the top can't hear you when you ask politely. They only take notice when you scream at the top of your lungs and break things.

For more information on the Zoot Suit Riots, visit the wikipedia page at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoot_Suit_Riots, and while you're there, you might want to fall down the rabbit hole of wiki links that talk about all the related stuff like pachucos and the arrest that kicked the riots off.

joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)
I'm getting closer to perfecting my pudding-frosting recipe. I'm not a big fan of buttercream icing. It's OK, and I'll eat it, but I usually have to scrape most of it off and have just a touch of frosting on top for flavor because it's just *too* sweet and *too* overwhelming to taste anything else. So I've been mucking around with whipped cream-based frostings, pudding-based frostings, marshmallow-based frostings, whatever I could find that wasn't some variation of powdered sugar. To me, the powdered sugar frostings are best on sugar cookies, but even if fluffy and frothy, it's just too sweet for cupcakes and cakes.

The difficulty with the other frosting bases is in texture. While many of the other frostings taste great, they don't quite have that fluffy, spreadable texture that makes buttercream such a good frosting. It needs to be somewhere between Cool Whip and peanut butter. Puddings tend to be too ... puddingy. Not quite thick enough to form a nice, fluffy layer. It doesn't dribble down, but you can't build it up like a stiff buttercream either. The marshmallows tend to be hard to spread because of how sticky they are. The whipped creams are almost *too* fluffy, and not quite thick or substantial enough to carry enough of the flavor.

This time I tried one package of vanilla pudding, 1 cup of heavy whipping cream (instead of the usual milk), 1/4 cup of Baily's Irish Cream, and a carton of whipped cream.  Delicious! It's still just a touch too light, but the substitution of the heavy cream for the milk and the significant decrease in the amount of liquid both gave the pudding more weight and spreadability. Prior to adding the whipped cream, it was very similar to peanut butter, but I thought that was too dense for spreading on delicately soft cupcakes. The whipped cream lightened it up considerably and still allowed it to be thick and hold its shape.  And it turned out to be even better after the cupcakes had sat in the fridge for a couple of days (leftover cupcakes).  That frosting became almost the consistency of canned frosting.

The basic ratio that I'm going for is this - pudding calls for 2 cups of milk, so I take half that for milk or cream and make up the other half with whipped cream, even though 1 carton of whipped cream is more than 1 cup because the whipped cream is less dense than the liquid milk.  How much of the flavoring that I'm going to add depends on the strength of it.  A flavor oil only needs a few drops so the milk / cream amount doesn't need to be adjusted.  But something like alcohol is more diluted - less flavor per liquid volume and the alcohol is *really* liquidy.  So sometimes I might reduce the milk / cream by about a quarter cup or more and replace it with the the same amount of alcohol or other flavoring like juice.

I'll try experimenting with different flavors of pudding and different flavor oils to see if that helps make it taste more substantial.
joreth: (Misty in Box)
"He immediately made a real effort to put himself in the shoes of others. It's just that he had trouble first taking off his own shoes. "

This is from an article that I'll be writing about later, but this sentence, out of context, is important. This is about empathy.

One of the biggest problems I encounter in other people is empathy - they are not able to put themselves in someone else's shoes. What happens, is that they imagine *themselves* in whatever situation we're talking about and conclude that they'd do things totally different *because they're themselves*. They have different feelings, different priorities, different experiences that all add up to different conclusions.

That doesn't help to see things from another perspective. When not-poor people give me financial advice, as I was saying in a previous post on FB about it, they give me advice from their own perspective - the one that says that there is enough money hanging around to open up that savings account or to count on coming in regularly enough to pay for health insurance or to buy those $75 boots that will last longer instead of the $10 boots for right now.

"Well, if *I* were in that position, I'd do..." No. It's not if *you* were in that position, it's if *you* were *them* in that position. They can't put themselves in the shoes of others because they can't take off their own shoes first. They keep putting *themselves* in someone else's situation.

And I'm *quite* certain that I do this too. After all, we're not talking about literally taking on and off shoes here. Removing our own expectations, perceptions, experiences, memories, and personalities isn't just difficult, it's often impossible. Sometimes, the best we can do is to just recognize that someone else is different, and their experience of the world will not match our own. Sometimes, all we can do is just *believe* them when they tell us how they are experiencing something, and feel compassion for them. We need to try to take our own shoes off in order to try their shoes on, and if we can't, then we just need to look at their shoes and say "yep, those are your shoes, and I hear what you're saying about them."

And that's empathy.
joreth: (Misty in Box)
http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/08/things-wish-known-gaslighting/

Awesome article just got republished on Everyday Feminism​ by a terrific online blogger I discovered a year or two ago, Shea Emma Fett​:


"Gaslighting does not require deliberate plotting. Gaslighting only requires a belief that it is acceptable to overwrite another person’s reality."

"The distinguishing feature between someone who gaslights and someone who doesn’t is an internalized paradigm of ownership."

"Gaslighting Doesn’t Always Involve Anger or Intimidation"

"Losing spots in your memory makes it very plausible when someone tells you that they cannot trust your memory. It makes it very plausible when they tell you that you are abusive."


I once knew someone who was abusing his partner, and I knew the partner as well, but I didn't see the abuse. Because I couldn't see the abuse, I unwittingly enabled it, for which I feel deeply ashamed and guilty to this day. That guilt is a good deal why I write about abuse so much more now - to prevent anyone else from unknowingly enabling abuse.

One of the ways in which I enabled the abuse is because of this principle. As a skeptic, I am fully aware of how fallible our memories are. This often leads me to demanding proof before believing something. When it comes to real-but-invisible things like abuse or oppression, that's a dangerous mindset to have.

This abuser that I knew also considered himself a skeptic. So, naturally, we shared an understanding in the fallibility of memory. In fact, his memory was so fallible, that if it didn't exist in pictures or a chat log, his brain would erase the memory all together.

So, when he said that his partner was remembering things wrong, I saw no reason to contradict him. Of course she was remembering things wrong - we all remember things wrong! Except in this case, he wasn't being scientifically pedantic about memory, he was using her natural fallibility to *rewrite history* and therefore erode her own sense of self.

I remember one time in particular when she even came to me and told me that he was doing this. I had been in full protect-my-sister-empathize-with-her-fully mode, but then she brought up the memory thing. I instantly backpedaled and tried to "explain" that he wasn't gaslighting her, he was just being a good skeptic by reminding her of the fallibility of memory.

If I could go back in time and smack myself upside the head when I said this, I would. This was the equivalent of "oh, he didn't mean anything by it! He's harmless! You shouldn't feel creeped out by him inappropriately touching you!" I'm still working on the balance between scientific accuracy of how memory works and supporting victims of abuse. I have not mastered this trick yet.


"Change should make you bigger. It should increase your tank of self-love. It should make you stronger, clearer, more directed, more differentiated, and more compassionate. The pain of growth is different than the pain of destruction. One will fill you with love and pride, even when it’s hard, and the other will fill you with shame and fear."

"It’s ridiculous when someone tries to tell you who you are, what you feel, what you think, what you intended, or what you experienced. When it happens, you should be angry, puzzled, or maybe even concerned for them."

"You can solve a lot of things with communication, so long as the objective of both people is understanding. But the minute someone tries to replace your experience, it’s time to stop communicating, at least on that subject."
joreth: (Misty in Box)
http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Bren-Brown-Rising-Strong-Excerpt

"Storytelling helps us all impose order on chaos—including emotional chaos. When we're in pain, we create a narrative to help us make sense of it. This story doesn't have to be based on any real information. One dismissive glance from a coworker can instantly turn into I knew she didn't like me."

Some of us do this all the time, don't we? It's implicit in the Passive Communication technique that some of us are taught, some of us do naturally, and women in general are expected to use (either we are told we should communicate that way, or we are assumed to communicate that way and our statements aren't taken at face value by people who hear them and assume there's some other intent).

"They can recognize their own confabulations and challenge them. The good news is that we can rewrite these stories. We just have to be brave enough to reckon with our deepest emotions. "

It was pointed out in the commentary from the post where I got this that we have to beware of putting too much emphasis on the consequences of storytelling, without addressing why we develop storytelling in the first place because we might end up giving too much shelter to manipulative behavior. I'm a huge fan of understanding the "why" of things.

Pointing out the consequences of storytelling is important because that's often how to get someone's attention and impress upon them why they need to change a behaviour. But it's also important to understand why someone is doing it in the first place. If the storytelling is a survival technique (you have to read into someone's words in order to anticipate their own passive communication so that you can modify your behaviour before the punishment happens, for instance), then altering the storytelling won't actually solve the underlying problem and, in fact, may make things worse.

I discovered that with the whole "girls don't respond to guys' OKC emails" thing - it turns out that girls get punished for responding even with good intentions if the response is not the one the guy feels entitled to. So I push for women to respond more often, but as long as women get socially punished for it, they're not going to listen to my advice. Society has to start punishing men for being entitled before women will feel brave enough to respond, or even to make first contact.

So the storytelling thing needs to be tempered with understanding the root causes. Yes, it's absolutely important to build a society in which people are less prone to storytelling and passive communication. But, as was pointed out, that assumes a baseline of good faith and direct communication on all people doing the communicating. So we also need to be aware of that baseline, which changes the course of action for what we should do when we learn to identify that we are, in fact, storytelling in this context.

But, y'know, examine your root causes for your emotional reactions. Barring manipulation, it'll make you a better communicator, a better partner, and a better person.
joreth: (Kitty Eyes)


https://secure.travellerspoint.com/member_map.cfm?user=Joreth&tripid=777890

I've started a massive social project - Eating 'Round The World. I will attempt to find a restaurant of as many different nationalities as the greater Orlando area offers, and have at least one meal there with friends.

I think this is a great way (for those who have enough disposable income to try it) for friends, families, and social groups to organize regular outings with each other. It exposes us to new cultures (even just a little bit), breaks us out of our comfort zones, and gives us an excuse to actually leave our houses (for those of us introverts who need strong motivation to do so). I seem to find more people willing to make it to social meals than to any of the more active physical activities that I do, like dancing. I heartily recommend people find an organizing-type person in your social or family set and try this.

This makes a good plan for friends, families, social groups and organizations that offer socializing as part of the group, and date night suggestions.  If I was still running the local poly group, I'd add this to our social events (along with my poly movie nights, dancing nights, and pub nights).

I've also found that making the goals for an event to be "I want to try something new" and "I want to socialize with awesome people" rather than "I'm hungry and want something good to eat" makes me much more willing to be adventurous and try a restaurant that I've never eaten at before. I can always get a burger afterwards if I didn't find enough food that I liked to eat. If you are hesitant to try new foods, you may find this trick helpful.


I've created a template map / itinerary to help people get started, especially for people who don't know which countries to search for or what order to go in. You will need to create your own account at Traveller's Point if you'd like save a copy of this map and edit it to your local area. Or you can just look at the list and use it to create your own list in your preferred format.

Basically, you go down this list, do a Google search for a restaurant in your area from that country (the best search I've found is "authentic [country] restaurant [your or nearest large city name]"), and when you find one that you want to visit, you can add in the details of that restaurant into the Notes field and add a "date of arrival" for the date you plan to eat at that restaurant.  If you can't find a restaurant that represents a particular country, then you delete that "stop" from the trip's itinerary. *Most* of these countries will not have a restaurant representing them in your area, so don't feel too daunted by the size of the list. I added every nation in the world*, just to cover my bases, but I'll be lucky to find 25% of them with restaurants here in town. At the end, you'll have an interactive map that shows where your group has "been", along with details of the restaurant, pictures if you'd like to add them, etc.

In order to make organizing easier, I have also started a Facebook Group, where I can create Event pages with the restaurant details, get RSVPs, share photos from the meal, chat with others who are interested in going, etc. I recommend doing the same, or using an email list or a Yahoo! Group or whatever platform you prefer that allows you to create an interactive group format with event information.

Happy dining!



I did not include the US, as I am based there.  Followers from other countries, if you add in the US, know that the various regions have their own food specialties that you may want to identify - some broadly regional, some very specific.  Just off the top of my head, I'd recommend the following:

TexMex; Californian; Midwestern; Cajun; New England; Southern; African-Southern; New York-style pizza; Chicago-style pizza; Philly cheesesteaks, Coney Island Hot Dogs;

Any other regional US food styles?

joreth: (Super Tech)
"Cheikh Mohammed, do your friends give you gifts?" I started in Arabic, breaking off a piece of village bread.

"Of course, it's a friendly thing to do." He adjusted his posture on the scratchy woven carpet.

"Now if I'm coming from America to give you gifts, am I your friend?" ...

"You asked me if my friends give me gifts," he said. "Make sure that YOU are my friend. Make certain you understand me, first. Learn my strengths, my heart, my efforts. Once we are established in brotherhood, then yes, send me a present, one that won't hurt me to open."
The above conversation was an excerpt from an article I just posted about voluntourism - the pattern of relatively wealthy white Americans swooping into areas we considered "underdeveloped" and doing things that assuage our white, wealthy guilt, but that don't help those areas in the long term. But I found this conversation was a much bigger symbol.

This is the essence behind the Platinum Rule. This is the meaning behind feminism and feminist critiques of so-called "compliments". This is complaint behind racism. This is struggle behind poverty here in the US with the nation's refusal to provide healthcare and screening welfare recipients for drugs and concern trolling the grocery carts of food stamp recipients. This is what everyone who is oppressed and who speaks out against it is trying to say.

It is not a "gift" when it is not given out of understanding for the other person. It is not a "gift" when the reason for giving it is to make the giver feel good but doesn't account for the effect on the recipient. It is not a "gift" when it doesn't reflect the recipient themselves - their humanity, their feelings, their personhood.

When feminists complain about compliments or opening doors, the comments inevitably get bogged down with "but it's NICE to open doors and tell someone that she's pretty!" This is the very epitome of what's wrong and what this excerpt is trying to say. It's not about the opening of a door, it's about what the gift of opening the door says about the person opening it and the relationship to the person it is being held open for. Opening a door for someone is nice, unless it isn't. And it takes a deeper, nuanced understanding of the person, the culture, the circumstances to know if that gift of "courtesy" is one that won't hurt me to open.
"We are proud of this; we are empowered by this. Now, give a village man a handout? You've just weakened him. You've increased his dependency; diminished his sense of self-esteem. One of the most widely-accepted notions is that Westerners are the solution to African problems. This requires portraying us as helpless and endlessly recirculating images only of abandonment and violence, or innocence and primitivism." ...

[Give a woman a pedestal? You've just weakened her. You've increased her dependency; diminished her sense of self-esteem. One of the most widely accepted notions is that men are the saviours and guardians of women. This requires portraying us as helpless and endlessly recirculating images only of weakness and femininity, or innocence and infantilism.]

"You see, Heather," he set his meat down to look closely at me, "We are not weak. We are not underdeveloped. If you believe we must be helped, look more closely. We are content in our hearts, affectionate to each other, and attentive to our souls. Perhaps the greater need is for us to be helping you."
joreth: (Super Tech)
http://www.myfoxphilly.com/story/29539702/star-wars-action-figure-has-parents-furious

OK, we need to talk. Parents, your fear of female skin is way out of hand. I don't think that any of the adults in this article have ever even seen the movie (except for the 1 parent who said she did).

1) The "for children age 4+" means that it's physically SAFE for children age 4 or above. It means that children under age 4 might choke to death on the parts. That label has nothing to do with the MORALITY of children based on age, it's for the safety of the product and nothing more. It's YOUR job as a parent to decide what's appropriate for your children to view and participate in.

2) When kids ask you why something happens or something exists, it's YOUR FUCKING JOB as a parent to have those answers, or to find them. That's your sole purpose in that child's life besides providing the actual physical necessities for survival. You are responsible for raising them and arming them with information about the world around them. So when a kid asks why this doll has a chain around her neck, making the doll cease to exist so that you won't get that uncomfortable question is not an appropriate response.

3) The answer to that question is actually an incredibly important teaching moment in a child's life, especially a female child. So if you haven't seen the movie, I'll give you the answer:

Princess Leia is a Senator. That's right, she's a government official and a leader of her people. All by herself. She's a leader. Later, when her entire planet is blown up, she stops hiding her involvement in an activist organization that seeks to overthrow a tyrannical government and becomes a full-time leader in that activist organization.

While performing her various leadership duties running the universe and fighting for justice, she meets a man and falls in love. But she remains independent and she keeps her job. In fact, he gives up HIS job to support hers.

Eventually, that man gets captured and she takes it upon herself to rescue him.

During her rescue attempt, she gets captured herself by the same evil mob boss that has her love interest. He attempts to demean her by stripping her of her more modest and functional attire and putting her in objectifying garments as well as chaining her to his side.

In the ultimate act of feminism and female empowerment, Leia waits for an opportunity, then with no concern for her appearance, takes the very chains of her enslavement and kills her captor. Using her own oppressor's tools of oppression against him, she wins her own freedom.

Leia's "slave outfit" and broken chain is more than just scantily-clad hot chick. It's a symbol of both her oppression and her triumph. It represents her empowerment and her independence. She reclaims what is hers - her agency and autonomy - and she uses the very objects used to steal them from her in the first place.

That slave harness and that broken chain are tangible reminders that it doesn't matter what we wear or how we are oppressed, we can overcome. We can break our chains and we can become free. Although the movement for more practical attire of our female action figures is important, in this case, the "immodest" clothing is important for the plot and shows us that revealing attire doesn't *prevent* women from still being heroes. If anything, being able to perform heroic feats in revealing or impractical attire makes the actions even more heroic (a la "Ginger Rogers can do everything Fred Astaire can do but backwards and in high heels").

Slave Leia is the ultimate symbol of feminism and female empowerment, and explaining that to your daughters is an opportunity you are wasting, for which your daughters pay the price. Of all the Disney Princesses, she is the one we should be encouraging our children to emulate. Not in spite of the slave outfit, but especially because of the slave outfit.

And let's just say you forget or disagree with all the feminism stuff symbolized by this outfit - the answer to "what am I supposed to say when my kids ask me about this chain?" is to begin a conversation about the objectification and sexualization of women in our society. Either way, this is a very important toy and you're failing as a parent if you think the answer is to prevent your child from seeing it.

This action figure should be proudly displayed on every child's shelf, along with the lessons of tyranny, slavery, freedom, autonomy, empowerment, and female strength. You should be more concerned with the symbols of violence in the toy aisle than your child possibly seeing plastic lady skin or having to learn a lesson about female subjugation and freedom.
joreth: (Super Tech)
So, I'm new to the Social Justice War. I know it doesn't seem like it, but I spent most of my formative years fighting for environmental issues, and I moved immediately into poly issues, which doesn't really feel like "social justice", at least not in the early days because the level of persecution doesn't even compare to any other social justice issue. Feminism, racism, homo- and transphobia issues, these all came to me recently, even though my *feelings* on the subject have always been for equal rights. So bear with me here, because this needs to be fleshed out.

It has come up in several different contexts over the last week that there is a lot of confusion over what an ally is, what an ally should do, intersectionality privilege and oppression, and related topics. Because I'm so late to the game, I'm sure someone better researched and more knowledgeable than I has already come to this conclusion and written about it somewhere. But this is a new concept *for me*, and I wanted to share it as a way to work through it and refine it in my own head.

People with privilege have come to hate the word "privilege" and they have stopped listening when that word comes up. But we *all* have privilege in some ways, and we are all disadvantaged in other ways. I'm female, so I'm disadvantaged. But I pass as white and I grew up middle class, so I'm privileged there. But I'm currently lower / working class and I'm technically an ethnic minority as well as a religious and sexual minority so I'm disadvantaged there too.

And just because I'm part of a class of people who is *structurally* disadvantaged by *the system*, it doesn't necessarily mean that I, personally, experienced the kind of systemic discrimination or oppression that others in my class have, or of other disadvantaged classes. And just because I'm part of a class of people who, as a *group*, are given *group* privileges by that same system, it doesn't mean that I, personally, haven't had some hard times, or even that I haven't had some hard times specifically because of that same class that is supposed to be privileged.

So I want to stop all this bullshit fear of the word "privilege" and instead I want to just recognize *where* we have it and where we don't - because we all do and we all don't. I refuse to play the Oppression Olympics. My oppression is not worse or easier than someone else's - I've had some benefits and I've had some shit in life, that's just how it goes.  My oppression is not *equal* to others, either, I just don't think the relative level of oppression is relevant here.

Instead of arguing over who has privilege and who doesn't, I want to recognize where my privileges come from, and then I want to *use* that privilege (to steal a phrase from a different issue) to "punch up". Here's where being an ally gets complicated.

People who pride themselves on being allies often find themselves feeling confused and betrayed when, after all their hard work they've done for underprivileged people, those people turn on them and tell them that they're doing it wrong. Some of us might just cross our arms and say "well, fine, then, if you don't like my assistance, then I'll just stop helping!" Others really want to help, but if they've spent any time at all listening to disadvantaged people, they've probably heard "you can't know what it's like to live my experience" somewhere along the line. And if they've heard that phrase, then they might have no idea what they can even do to help, since the privileged person can't possibly know what it's like to be someone who is in a class that they're not in so they don't feel that they can talk *for* that class.

Here's what, in my opinion, it takes to be a good ally: First, listen to the group that we want to be an ally for. That way, we can learn what their position is. Next, take what we hear, and speak about it. But, here's the tricky part. We have to speak to people *in our privileged class*, but we cannot speak *to that group* that we are defending about their own experience.

So that's what I mean by "punch up". We have to use our status as white, cis, straight, male, whatever to be an amplifier for the voices of the non-white, non-male, non-straight, non-whatever that we are trying to support. We have to say the words that are being spoken by the underprivileged group, and we have to say those words *to the privileged group* that we are a part of, because that group only wants to listen to other members of the same group.

But then here comes the next part ... after listening and after speaking, we then have to go back to listening. We have to be conscious that we aren't taking on the mantle of the White Savior. The words we are speaking are not our own. We are only repeating them to people who refuse to hear them otherwise. But if the people we are speaking for don't like that we're speaking for them, or they don't like *how* we're speaking for them, being a good ally means not arguing or defending ourselves against the people we are trying to support. That would be "punching down". In the end, this is not our fight, so it is not our place to decide that we are the warriors the fight needs or that our fighting style is the proper strategy. THEY are the generals, and if we step out of line, it is our duty to be corrected.

We have to "punch up" by punching a hole in the defenses of our own class or higher so that those from beneath can rise up. It is not appropriate to "punch down" by telling those beneath us how they should run their war. We are the support team. We are not the drivers of the movement. And, as part of the support team who happens to have better armor and weapons, we might end up being put on the front lines to absorb some of the attack while we take the more effective shots from the front while others direct us from behind our human body shields.

As someone in a privileged group, I can afford to be put out in front. They can't. That's why they're underprivileged in the first place. As someone in a privileged group, I have less to lose therefore I have less need for additional defenses or reinforcements to watch my own back. Not zero - remember, I am part of privileged groups but I am also part of underprivileged groups. As a woman, I need men to stand up to other men on my behalf because the men they are standing up to *won't hear me* when I speak. As a white woman, I can afford to face down other white people because they will hear me better than a black person when it comes to issues of race.

I have other, related thoughts on this - stuff about how it's our responsibility to sacrifice for those less privileged but to not expect the same level of sacrifice in return, but I'm going to save those for another post. This one was specifically about punching up. That phrase came from criticisms on comedy. Comedy is a necessary tool for discussing difficult issues in the public sphere. But what differentiates a particular joke on a difficult issue from being funny vs. being offensive is whether it "punches up" or it "punches down". Does it make fun of of the privileged class or the underprivileged class? Making the rapist the butt of a rape joke is funny. Make the victim the butt of a rape joke is offensive. Who is being targeted? Someone above, or someone below?  Are we punching out the big guy with muscles and a bullet proof vest or the little guy who is already beaten and bloody on the ground?

In a similar vein, we all need allies in our social justice battles. We need people in higher classes to help us fight our wars. But since people belong to multiple classes, it can sometimes feel like we're trying to rank people when we talk about privilege and who has it worse than whom. And then it can feel like, when we *do* try to help, our help wasn't appreciated. Or maybe we're so conscious about the Savior Complex that we're afraid to help because we don't want to step on anyone's toes.

So I'm proposing some simple rules of thumb to help navigate this complex privilege discussion. 1) We all belong to some classes that might be considered privileged and we all belong to some classes that might be considered underprivileged. Accept that and leave off debating who has it "better" than whom in any area. It doesn't matter if someone is part of 3 privileged classes but only 2 underprivileged classes and someone else is part of 4 underprivileged classes and only 1 privileged class. Pick one category, and if you're in the privileged class, then shut the fuck up and listen to the person in the underprivileged class *on that class experience*.  If we're talking about race, leave out your underprivilege-ness in some class that isn't race.  That's a distraction.  We're talking about race here, and in race (for example), you are not the underprivileged one so shut up and listen.  If you belong to some other underprivileged class, then use your experience to develop *empathy* internally for this group that you are not a part of, but we don't need to compare and contrast our various classes.

2) Use whatever privileged status you have to repeat the words of the group you want to be an ally to to others in your same class. Point those people in your class directly to the source of your words as soon as they are finally able to hear the source instead of needing it filtered through your shared class.  Your responsibility is to get them to listen.  Once they are able and willing to listen, pass them off to the source so that you don't become The Savior.  Our job is to *borrow* the words of the underprivileged class, not to steal them.  They still get all the credit.

3) Never presume to tell someone in the class you are trying to be an ally for what they ought to do or what their experience is, especially if someone is directly contradicting you. Let them debate amongst themselves the best strategies, if there is any debate to be had. If one of them asks you for advice, and you happen to have information on the subject, you can share what has worked for your other underprivileged classes in those fights, but they may not be directly comparable so don't get too attached to the group you're talking to actually adopting your advice.

4) Retain your humility and always be ready to apologize and change strategies when someone of the group you are trying to be an ally for tells you that your efforts aren't appreciated or are contraindicated. Remember, this isn't your fight and if you're doing it for the social cookies, then you're not really an ally. We've all had to adjust our methods as the groups we're defending have matured and tried different tactics over time. We just have to learn to try and keep up and accept that we are not the experts in their fight.

These are the lessons I'm hearing right now from the various groups that I wish to be an ally to.  These are not the lessons I grew up with and I'm trying to change my tactics to accommodate.  I hope that I will be a good enough ally, that when the strategies change again as the culture changes in response to all these social justice battles, that I will be able to rewrite these rules of thumb to better reflect the needs of the communities that I wish to ally myself with.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)

Atlanta Poly Weekend 2015 is coming up soon! Make sure to get there early, because Sterling and I are giving our Breaking Up workshop first thing Friday afternoon and you don't want to miss it! We've added new content for how the metamours can handle a breakup. Last year, we received rave reviews, including the comment:

"If More Than Two is the General Theory of Don't Be A Dick, then your breakup workshop is the Special Theory of Don't Be A Dick!"

We give practical advice for how to handle a breakup with compassion and grace even in the face of an uncooperative ex, and how to deal with your partners' breakups as the metamour. Given how common breakups are, we believe that we need to shuck the notion that discussing breakups isn't "romantic", and instead, we need to develop relationship skills that will help us to handle the inevitable.

Our culture tells us that we should find our One True Love the first time we try dating and that the relationship will last until we both die. Statistics suggest that this is FAR from true. So, as a culture, we need to take the blinders off and put on the big boy pants and learn how to deal with a situation that we are almost guaranteed to go through at least once in our lives.

Come to our panel at 1 PM on Friday to learn how!

On Saturday at 5:30 pm, come and hear me talk about Polyamory & Skepticism - What's Love Got To Do With It? I'll be revising an updated version of my keynote speech on the intersection between ‪skepticism‬ and ‪polyamory‬, and why they are so important to go together.

And finally, a brand new, hands-on workshop (yes, you can just observe) just for APW 2015 - Using Lead & Follow Techniques To Improve Your Relationship Communication!

Right before the Masquerade, come hear Sterling and me show you how to apply the partner dance techniques of Lead & Follow to your romantic relationships to improve your relationship communication. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO DANCE! Seriously, you can totally have 2 left feet and still get some important tips for your relationship! We will not be teaching how to dance at this workshop.

Lead & Follow are dance terms for who gives the signals in a dance and who receives the signals in a dance. They are not dance steps and they are not specific to any style of dancing. You do not need a partner to participate in this workshop and you do not need any dance experience or even any interest in dancing. This is a communication workshop that applies certain skills from partner dancing to relationships.

We will tackle issues like consent, invitations, acceptance and rejections, non-verbal signals, trust, and more. This is a fun and interactive workshop that will take place conveniently right before the Mardi Gras party, the Drag Show, and the big Masquerade ball! We'll have a few exercises and play some fun music, plus a couple of dance demonstrations with some fun and sexy dances! We'll get you up and moving and ready to party the rest of Saturday night!

Everyone is welcome - extroverts, introverts, dancers, non-dancers, singles, couples, any relationship configuration and any relationship style, and even lurkers! If "interactive" isn't your thing, you can still come in and observe, take notes, and practice at home using our helpful handout. In fact, the tips we teach in this workshop are intended to be continuously practiced, so *everyone* can take what they learn here and bring it back home with them to keep improving their relationship communication!

You won't want to miss this!

If you can't attend Atlanta Poly Weekend, then share this post to spread the word to those who can!

joreth: (Super Tech)
#‎ProPresenterTip‬: Create a user profile on your computer that is just for conferences. Personalize the desktop to a professional-looking theme or with elements relevant to the event. Remove all unnecessary programs, especially background programs. Disable auto-connect stuff to the internet. Create a folder on your desktop with your presentations and any files that are embedded in the presentation. Disable your screen saver and your power saver functions.

This way, when you hook up your laptop to a projector, you won't show any embarrassing or unprofessional desktop images, warning pop-ups, email notifications, etc. or have your screen go dark if you leave it sitting too long (and especially showing your login screen on a big screen for the whole room to see), and you won't have to search for your relevant files. This also reduces the memory requirements on your laptop so that it runs more smoothly.

The only thing you should have enabled in your presenter profile is your slideshow software and possibly the appropriate media player (but seriously, embed that shit instead of popping out to an external media player, and keep those files in the same folder as your slideshow). If you're doing something technical that uses the internet in your presentation, then you can have a browser enabled too, but otherwise, your presenter profile doesn't need internet access, email access, facebook access, virus protection & operating system update notices, power-saving mode, or password-protect. Strip it down to the absolute bare minimum.

Oh, and if you *are* using the internet in your presentation, double-check and get in writing before you even leave for the event that your room will have internet access in it, or make sure you have a damn good hotspot to use. And then test that shit the moment you arrive, not as you're running into your room 6 minutes late.

And if you can get artwork from the event itself to make into a desktop wallpaper, that makes those moments when your desktop *does* get broadcast on the big screen look less accidental and more professional. And for Loki's sake, leave off all those hundreds of shortcut icons! You don't need them here!

When you need to use your computer as normal, you can just log onto your regular user profile and have all your stuff back. But when it's hooked up to a projector, we don't need to see your wife's picture behind the field of shortcut icons or that your McAfee is out of date or that your brother-in-law just sent you a funny email forward.

AND BACK UP YOUR SHIT. Put all your presentations (and the embedded files) on a thumb drive as a backup. If, for any reason, your computer doesn't want to play nice with the A/V equipment, or you spill your vodka on it at the bar the night before and fry the circuits, or you forget your power cable and it runs out of battery, you might be able to find another laptop to use if you have your presentations available on a flash drive of some sort.

Create a PowerPoint Slideshow version of your presentation (as opposed to a full PowerPoint Presentation), whether you have Windows or you use Keynote. This embeds all your media better than the standard .pps file, and not everyone has a Mac that can run Keynote - you're much more likely to find a Windows machine and a PowerPoint Slideshow is self-contained so it can usually play even on Windows machines without PP installed (but you can't edit it).

Hook up your laptop to the projector in the room you'll be presenting in during a meal break or at the end of the day BEFORE your presentation, to make sure that everything works and everything talks to each other. As a professional PowerPoint operator*, the single biggest problem with slideshows is not testing beforehand. Almost everything can be fixed if you test it out ahead of time. But 3 minutes before your room is supposed to go is too late to troubleshoot bad cables or weird laptop settings. If it doesn't work at that time, then you're doing your presentation without your slideshow.

For even more tips on how to present, visit https://sites.google.com/site/polymediaassociation/trainingpresentations



*For those who don't know, I am actually a professional PowerPoint Operator.  Yes, they have those, and yes, they pay me very good money to fix all the presenter fuckups.  I get called in only for the very big shows, we're talking like Microsoft big - the kinds of shows where presenters are not some no-name monotone guy standing behind a podium in a dinky meeting room; the kinds of shows where the presenters are professional and have teleprompters and a team of 11-20 video professionals behind the scenes making everything look good.

Here's a secret about those shows - the presenter doesn't drive their own slideshows.  They're holding a clicker, but the clicker just flashes a big green arrow at someone like me backstage and *I'm* the one who drives the deck.  And I'm usually back there with 3 or more computers working in a team with professionally produced video and audio on seperate machines.  I sit through hours of tech rehearsals going back and forth through the slideshows to make sure that every slide works as intended and that every cue is hit when it's supposed to be hit, and when it doesn't work, I'm there for hours after the presenter has gone to the bar to schmooze, working on their slideshow to get it to work.  If you're reading my blog for advice, then you're probably not speaking at a show big enough to afford someone like me.  So take tips from a professional in the business and make your presentations look like you're speaking at a show big enough to afford me.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
I've said this before and I'm sure I'll say it again in a dozen different ways. But it bears repeating.

I've learned that the most effective guidelines for sex in open relationships (and, frankly, guidelines for all areas of all styles of relationships) are to stick with personal boundaries, not rules or agreements that tell other people what they can or can't do.  I tell my partners how I want them to treat me (and only me) and let them make their own choices. Then I choose partners who have similar boundaries.

So, for instance, I might say that I want to use condoms with them every time and I want to know their STI risk profile and any time it changes. That says nothing about what they can or can't do with others. If their risk profile changes to include a higher degree of risk than I am comfortable exposing myself to even with the use of condoms, then I alter the parameters around my partner and me (NOT around them and their other partners). Maybe I have to refrain from PIV entirely or maybe we stick to only non-fluid and non-direct skin contact BDSM. Maybe we abstain until new test results are in. Whatever, the point is that I police only what happens to my body and my emotional well-being.

I've learned that trying to police my partners' behaviour only works for as long as they want it to, and then people do what they want to do. So I can be betrayed, or I can set things up that doesn't leave room for betrayal and leaves only me with the responsibility of protecting me while treating my partners with dignity that honors their autonomy and their right to make their own decisions like the grown ups they are.

And I try never to pull rank. Just because I happened to meet a partner at a particular time, it doesn't give me more "privileges" with regards to his time, attention, or resources, or even his love. If he wants to be with or do something with or feel something for another person that I don't get from him, that's his right as an autonomous being.

It might hurt and I might feel envious, but it's not my call to make. His time, emotions, body, and resources are his. My job is to communicate effectively so that he understands how his actions affect me and to choose partners who honor the respect I give them when I value their autonomy, as well as arranging my life to suit my own needs and idiosyncrasies instead for trying to arrange other people's lives to suit me.
joreth: (Swing Dance)
www.thedancesocks.com

So, a while back I was researching DIY dance shoe resoling and I came across a new product called The DanceSocks​. I'm often at parties where I'm dressed in sneakers and someone will ask me to show them a dance step, and I'll have to take off my shoes and dance in my socks or bare feet in order to do it. Which is kind of dangerous if I'm outdoors or if I'm showing a partner who has never danced before and might step on my toes! So I thought these looked interesting.

The basic premise is that the smooth floor sock is just a little tube of fabric that goes around the ball of your foot over whatever shoes you're wearing. The sock fabric is chosen to give you the right amount of "slip" for spins and slides while allowing the rest of your shoe to act as a stopper since the rubber isn't covered. They primarily advertise this for zumba, where you might need to stop suddenly and where you might prefer sneakers to dance shoes. It sounds pretty good for Lindy Hop & swing as well.

They also have a version for carpet, which is a sock that covers the entire shoe and is of a different fabric pattern designed for providing slip and spin on rough carpeting. I used to perform as a Bollywood dancer, and most of the time, our troupe was booked in hotel rooms or classrooms where there was no stage only carpeted floor, or where the stage itself was carpeted. Most of the time, we danced in bare feet because of the style of costuming, but carpet can really eat up even callused feet so we would often wear Hermes sandals with leather soles to dance on carpet. When I'm at a party in someone's house and the floor is carpeted and I'm asked to dance, I'll usually dance in socks instead of bare feet just to protect myself from blisters, but even in socks, dancing on carpet can hurt.

So, I decided to test these Dance Socks out. At $10 a pair, why not? I got both the carpet and the smooth floor versions (the smooth floor version comes in a 2-pack for $10, as I pleasantly discovered). I gave one of the smooth floor pairs to one of my partners who is learning how to dance and happened to be at an event with me on the day mine arrived, and we tried dancing in the garage at an Easter party. They actually allowed him to lindy hop in hiking boots!

Then I went to a friend's house where I was teaching him and his fiance to rumba for their wedding. We had been doing the lessons on their living room rug, but they had new leather-soled shoes for the wedding so they were able to do it. I kept showing up in sandals or sneakers because, well, I wasn't doing all the dancing, I was only demonstrating the steps, so I could cheat. But, I figured, I have these new carpet socks so why not? I put them on over my sneakers, and it happened to be on a day when the bride was too sick to dance, so I gave the lesson to the groom while she watched from the couch. Which meant that I had to *actually* dance.

Let me tell you, I was dubious about these carpet socks. I've spent a LOT of time dancing on carpet in different kinds of shoes, bare feet, dance paws, socks, etc. Other than leather-soled shoes, I've never been happy with anything on carpet. I even went out and had a pair of dance shoes re-soled in leather (over the suede) just so I would have at least one pair of shoes I could dance on carpet on!

But these Dance Socks did the job. I was quite surprised at how slippy they were, without being dangerous. They maybe weren't *quite* as slippy as a brand new leather sole that hasn't been roughed up yet, but they were definitely slippy enough to do point turns in!

So far I love these socks as a backup. I'm planning on keeping these in my car (if I had a purse, I'd keep them there) so that when I'm out "in the wild", if dancing opportunities just happen to come up spontaneously, then no matter what I'm wearing, I'll have the proper shoes without having to actually carry around a pair of dance shoes with me everywhere! Because, really, who does that? And who then wants to go out to their car, come back in, change their shoes, all because your date's favorite song came on at the jukebox and they want to dance right now? With these Dance Socks, I just have to pull them out of a purse or pocket, slip them over whatever I'm wearing, and hit the impromptu dance floor!

So, since I've actually tried them out, I'm recommending them to anyone who might find a use for having a pair of "dance shoes" with them no matter where they are but who doesn't want to actually carry dance shoes with them everywhere they go. They're small, washable, fold-able, and incredibly convenient, not to mention affordable!  Go get yours today!  Seriously.
joreth: (Misty in Box)
This was created as a Facebook event worldwide by the rather well-known Lee Harrington (look them up).  Since not everyone has FB, I'm sharing it here.  I wanted to make sure all the details came through even for people who couldn't visit the event page, which of course meant that it's too long for Twitter, so I'm making a public blog post so that I can tweet *that* and anyone can see it (hopefully).

I HATE April Fool's Day.  Our culture has begun to reward and celebrate the sorts of pranks that punish belief and gullibility.  Now, as a skeptic, I would ordinarily say that's a good thing.  But we aren't just teaching people to be more skeptical, we're teaching people to be more cynical because we're presenting these false stories by TRUSTWORTHY SOURCES and then humiliating people when they have the gall to believe a person (or a business) who has previously earned their trust.  April Fool's Day isn't about teaching people to investigate or question, it's about setting someone up with a totally believable story or prank as presented by someone they have reason to believe, and then publicly displaying their belief in the most humiliating way possible.  April Fool's Day has become:
"Ha ha, I'm a good friend that you have every reason to believe, and I'm telling you a totally reasonably believable story, BUT IT'S FALSE and you believed it, you fool!  You're such an idiot for believing me, even though I deliberately set you up to believe me!"
And that's the nice version.  Other popular forms of pranks involve other sorts of humiliation that don't require belief but often require destruction of property or poking at people's vulnerable spots (like fake pregnancy announcements on social media when there are women who can't have children but who desperately want them, for instance, or fake-coming out as gay when real people face discrimination, ostracization, violence, homelessness, and even death).  So I am really opposed to April Fool's Day as a national holiday.  But THIS is a holiday that I can get behind:
In our culture, April Fools Day has become a day of pranks and emotional confusion, deceit cast in the guise of playfulness.

Let us make a new holiday to counter the experience, one week later...

April 8th
Honesty and Vulnerability Day!

Turn to a friend and share how you adore them. Tell the world about a joy of yours, or a tender shadow that has been weighing you down. As you do so, let them know that you are being vulnerable and honest, and ask that they receive your gift of honesty and vulnerability from a place of love as well. This is not just an online event, this is a push to make the world at large a better place for us all.

Day of Honesty and Vulnerability is a chance for us to build strength and connection in our world rather than perpetuate pain and confusion. Let us build a better world for us to all live in, one day at a time.

#HonestAndVulnerable
#HAVDay
#HonestyAndVulnerabilityDay
joreth: (Purple Mobius)

http://t.co/aEkAR5xrO6

To make an open marriage work, Franklin and Celeste knew they needed to make sure no one else ever came between them. That meant there had to be rules. No overnights, no falling in love, and either one of them could ask the other to end an outside relationship if it became too much to deal with. It worked for nearly two decades and their relentless focus on their own relationship let them turn a blind eye to the emotional wreckage they were leaving behind them.

The rules did not prepare them for Amber.
OTG OTG OTG OTG I can't fucking WAIT! I may possibly be even more excited about this one than about More Than Two​ (it's a close call, hard to tell).

This is the story of my partner in the years before I met him, and how he became the man that I met and fell in love with. I'm especially excited for this book because this is a rare opportunity for me to glimpse into who he was as a person before I knew him.

That's actually one of the things that "secondaries" and new partners have such anxiety over. When a new partner begins dating someone who has pre-existing relationships, one of the things that may trigger some anxiety or insecurity is all that history between the partner and their existing partners. That's something that the new partner will never be able to access, share, or compete with. That's a part of their relationship that is forever out of the new partner's grasp. That's incredibly intimidating.

This is true for everyone - all the history and time that makes up who your partner is before you met them is only available to you through conversations, reminiscing, maybe some pictures. So anyone who has access to those memories and those experiences can be the object of envy, intimidation, threat, or jealousy. This is why you see so many monogamous people acting weird about their partner's high school buddies or their mothers or whomever. They have access to a part of who the partner is that the new partner will never get to participate in.

Unfortunately, in poly relationships (and some monogamous ones, but it's particularly insidious in poly relationships because it's culturally enshrined), many pre-existing partners don't recognize the incredible wealth they have that the new partner doesn't. They don't realize just how much of an advantage they have over the new partner, and they can use their position of privilege and power in harmful ways as they try to protect that very thing that no new person can ever take away - the history and connection that has already been established.

By the time I met [livejournal.com profile] tacit​, this story was coming to a close. He's not a "finished project", of course, but all the work that needed to be done to create a man who wouldn't treat me like the above had been started. So I have never felt that kind of fear regarding the Amber of the book, and Celeste was no longer in the picture. But Game Changers like Amber are so disruptive, so volcanic, that I can't even imagine [livejournal.com profile] tacit as the character portrayed in this book. Of course, his outlook and his perspective has evolved even over the decade I've been with him, and he's gotten more nuanced and more sensitive and more granular about those very traits, about which Amber started the cascade. But the groundwork had been laid by the time I met him. I would never have dated the Franklin in this book. So I owe Amber a huge debt of gratitude for her experiences and her presence.

What all this means is that I do not know the Franklin in this book. I have some inkling of what this character is like because I've heard a handful of memories, as shared by [livejournal.com profile] tacit and Amber over the years, but I really have very little clue about just who this Franklin character is or what he will do in the book. However, this Franklin is ultimately responsible for creating the [livejournal.com profile] tacit that I know and love today. So I'm particularly excited to meet past-Franklin through this book. I believe that I will be surprised, upset, perhaps even a little mortified as I read it. But I also believe that this peek into a partner that most of us never have the opportunity to experience in such depth, will ultimately make me feel grateful for the experience.

More Than Two was greatly anticipated by me because I desperately feel the need for a instruction manual for polyamory. I feel a huge, crushing need for a resource to both explain what it is that I do and explain to others how to do it. More Than Two beautifully fulfilled that expectation.

But I anticipate Game Changer for much more personal reasons. For me, this isn't just a valuable resource for the poly community, exploring the history of the modern poly movement and a basic look at What Not To Do and how one person finally overcame What Not To Do. For me, this is also a relationship-builder. This is something that will bridge a connection between me and my partner. In this hugely public setting, this book is a deeply intimate experience for me. And I can't wait for it!

joreth: (Misty in Box)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/03/16/how-owning-your-dark-clouds-can-actually-make-you-happier/

This is essentially what I've been trying to say whenever someone asks in some support group "I feel bad, how do you make the bad feelings go away?" This is particularly common in poly groups with people asking how to stop feeling jealous.  I've tried to explain that sometimes, you just have to feel what you're feeling and it's not always possible, or even desirable, to just "make it go away".

Sometimes you *do* need a break from the bad feelings in order to pull yourself up high enough to be constructive and productive.  As [livejournal.com profile] tacit says, when you're ass-deep in aligators, it can be difficult to remember that your original goal was to drain the swamp.  But this idea that we can't ever feel bad for any reason at all is a toxic mindset and counterproductive to our goals. You don't want to wallow in the bad feelings, but you don't want to try to prevent yourself from feeling bad feelings completely either. You need to feel the feelings, identify them, describe them acutely, and then use them to set your goals.

"its anger that tells me that something or someone is getting in the way of goals that matter to me. It tells me I need to remove obstacles. I may need to talk to people. But I need to do something and not just sit here. Anger motivates us to go approach the world and get rid of barriers. "

"It turns out, the people who were more adept at describing how they felt in a fine-grained way, when they’re extremely distressed in the moment, are less likely to fall to pieces, and less likely to do something desperately to take away the pain, such as abusing drugs or being aggressive to others. The were more likely to be able to sit with those emotions, then continue doing what they care about."

"First, emotions are just tools. Don’t make emotions the goal. Research suggests if we take the goal of happiness out of the equation, ironically, that makes us happier in the journey of our lives. Second, train yourself to be better able to clarify, describe and understand what you’re feeling, because that will help you better figure out what to do next."
I have had 2 periods in my life where the feelings were so overwhelming that I couldn't function.  And I've had a handful of times when I felt so bad that, although I *could* function, I just wanted the feeling to stop, so I did what I needed to do in order to stop the feeling and then lost the motivation to fix the situation that produced the feeling in the first place, because I wasn't feeling the feeling anymore.  So I totally understand the desire to make the bad feeling go away.  The first time I lost the ability to function, I somehow figured out how to "turn off" my emotions in order to cope.  I can't remember how I did it, but I went emotionally numb.  The problem is that, as I learned, you can't selectively turn off emotions.  They come as a package deal.  So I lost the ability to feel the good feelings too.  The second time, I couldn't remember how I turned them off the first time, so I sought professional help.  This was a much better coping strategy.  I got some medication that evened out my mood and I could function again.  It didn't prevent me from feeling bad feelings, it just made the bad feelings a little less stark and a little more manageable.

There are some things that well-meaning friends do when a friend of theirs is going through a breakup or a loss of some sort.  I really appreciate the desire to help, but if y'all could stop doing this to each other, you'd be much more helpful.  When someone you know is going through a breakup, for a lot of people there's this desire to cheer them up.  We tell our grieving friend "you're much better off without them!" or anything we can think of to reassure them and make them feel better about the loss.

As a solo poly person, I've been through a LOT of breakups - most of them amicable but still painful in the moment.  The more people one dates, the more chances one has to experience a breakup.  This means that I'm actually pretty comfortable going through breakups.  Don't get me wrong, I don't *like* them.  They don't feel good at all.  I experience all the same stages of grief that everyone else does.  But it means that I've been through them from start to finish enough times that I know, even in the middle of my grief, what's waiting for me on the other side.  I know that I'll get through it, that I'll get over it, and that I'll be fine.  I also know that I just have to feel my grief until it's gone.

So what's most helpful to someone going through a grieving period is not trying to make them feel good again as quickly as possible, but to help them feel their grief.  Give them the space to feel what they're feeling.  Let them know that it's OK to feel bad.  Accept them in their dark moments so that they know that they're not alone in the darkness and that the darkness will pass.  Be there to help them, if they want, to identify what they're feeling so that they can make productive decisions about their life that the emotions are telling them about.  Facilitate and allow them to examine and feel their feelings so that they can better identify root causes, which will lead to the kinds of changes that will bring about those happy feelings you're anxious for them to feel as a consequence, not as the goal.

When emotions are the result and the tool, not the goal, it turns out that the good feelings are more consistent and the bad feelings are more manageable.  If you want to feel good, you can't make feeling good the goal - you have to make *doing things* the goal and the good feelings will follow.  Just like how to "get" a romantic partner - if you make "getting" a partner the goal, you'll have less success.  But if you make being an awesome person the goal, then romantic partners will follow.  Your emotions are giving you important information.  Listen to them, don't wipe them away.  If you listen to them, you'll actually learn the more effective way of reducing the bad ones and increasing the good ones.
joreth: (Kitty Eyes)
The only advice that actually works to "get" a partner is to become the sort of person that the kind of person you want would want. If you want a partner who values high end clothing & cookware, then having those things would probably help. If you want a partner who wants you to look like Hugh Jackman, then looking like Hugh Jackman would probably help.

But if you want a partner who values honesty, kindness, integrity, partnership, acceptance, and a long life together that necessarily includes changing bodies, then having ripped abs or a shiny car probably isn't the most efficient way of attracting that sort of person.  And compiling a list of "what women want" or whatever is your preferred gender, then checking things off the list like a Scavanger Hunt with a partner at the end like a prize is probably the least efficient method of all.  Be the person that your potential mate would value, and then while you're busy being that awesome person, potential mates will come to you naturally because you're that awesome person that your potential mates value.

Now, if YOU happen to like how you look with ripped abs and YOU happen to like driving a shiny fast car, then more power to you. It's just not what lots of people tend to value most in a long-term romantic partner, so when they're evaluating you as partner material, those sorts of things probably aren't going to be very high in the "pro" column.

However, if you *do* choose to focus on things like looks & status symbols and manage to attract a partner who values those things highly, you really can't complain when, after a while, you start to feel like they don't value you for more than your looks or status symbols.  In other words, if you promise to provide someone a monied lifestyle, don't be surprised when they want you to keep providing them with that same lifestyle. That was an expectation you created by focusing on money / status & then looking for people who were attracted to status / money.
joreth: (Misty in Box)
http://introvertdear.com/2015/03/10/science-says-there-are-4-kinds-of-introverts/

I keep saying that the type categories are not binary. I refer to myself as a social introvert, although I'm also a thinking introvert according to this scale.

People think the type systems are crap because they're under the erroneous belief that the systems are the same thing as the tests. They're not. All the tests are crap. All of them. Some are slightly better than others, but the best thing I can say about the tests is that they might help narrow down the number of type categories you should be looking at to determine your type.  And that's another thing - YOU determine your own type, not the tests.  It's not like a horoscope where you're assigned a category based on totally arbitrary criteria.  It's self-referencing.  The tests can sometimes rule out certain categories so that you don't have to waste time reading all of them to determine your type.  But that's the best they can do.

However, as my resident type expert keeps saying, and as he said during his lecture at Dragoncon, the tests are not the same as the system.

There is variability in the systems too, and some systems are better than others. But, generally speaking, the better systems aren't binary. The tests may ask binary questions, but the SYSTEM offers a spectrum. You're 68% introverted & 32% extroverted, or whatever. The better systems also acknowledge that we all have some of every category, it's just that we tend to have preferences or we tend to do some things more often than others. Much like being right or left handed, those of us with two hands use both of them all the time, but we have a dominant hand, one that takes on more of the tasks or the more complex or strength-oriented tasks.  Even ambidextrous people usually have a tendency to choose a particular hand over another, perhaps for certain tasks.  That's what the systems are measuring - preferences, not absolutes.

They also usually only cover personality from a specific angle and won't cover other things. For instance, mental health issues are usually separate from personality type systems even though they affect your personality.  And they're not terribly predictive - they can't tell you which profession you should enter, for example.  They might be indicative of your happiness in a very specific work environment (a strong J surrounded by strong P types in a particular office that's really chaotic might feel frustrated at work often, for example), but really, all the industries require a mix of personalities to cover all the wide, varied tasks involved in making that industry run.  They can't tell you who to marry either, but they might help explain why your partner does certain things and offer ways to work with each other over conflicts so that you both get what you need.  And, to stretch the handedness analogy, the test for handedness won't tell you what your eye prescription is or what color your hair is.  The different type systems tend to focus on certain aspects of personality over others, so there is not one over-arching system that will cover all elements of who you are (although some systems are more useful and more accurate than others).

Type is actually a very complex discipline that can take years of study. It's not as simple as taking an online quiz and now you're locked into a box. I can tell you my MBTI letters, for example, but that barely scratches the surface, even if we stick just with MBTI. As a former partner learned the hard way, you can't treat people based on their type category alone because we're not a monolith even within the more complex type systems. Our individual expression and individual experience of our type categories will manifest in unique combinations, making us all individuals who just happen to have a few things in common enough to loosely group us together.  They can be useful for interpersonal communication and for conflict resolution, but that's about it.  And I say that as a strong supporter of using type systems. 
joreth: (Swing Dance)


I've been asked a lot recently about my dancing, so I thought I'd make a public post.  I get told that I'm a good dancer and people want to know how long I've been dancing and where I take lessons, so here's the story:

I've been dancing for 18 years, and yet I'm only considered a "beginning-intermediate" dancer.  See, I've only had 2 lessons and I only know a handful of steps and no "styling". When I was about 20, I took a class in college called "social dancing" - a 3-hour evening class once a week (I think it was 3 hours with a break, but it was a long time ago, so I'm not sure ... coulda been 2 hours).  The class introduced us to a new dance every week - we reviewed what we learned the previous week at the beginning of the time slot, then learned a new style (about 3 or 4 steps) for the rest of the time.  For each step that we learned, we practiced it a couple of times with a partner, and then we switched partners to try it again, and we did this multiple times throughout the class.

In this way, I learned, not only 8 or so different dances, but more importantly, I learned lead & follow techniques.  It's the lead & follow techniques that make it look like I know what I'm doing. Leading & following is all about communication.  The real trick to social dancing (as opposed to, say, competition or performance dancing), is A) keep your feet moving to the rhythm no matter what; and B) communication.  That's it.  This means that I can get out on a dance floor and, no matter what my dance partner throws at me, I keep my feet moving (and quickly go back to the correct rhythm if I happen to lose it) & I "listen" to what he's telling me to do through his body signals while I "tell" him through my own signals where I am and how I'm doing.

Then, about 2 or 3 years later, I changed schools and discovered that my new school also had a social dance class.  So I took that class, and I took a dedicated swing dance class, and a dedicated salsa class - all of which met 3 times per week for an hour each.  I ended up dropping the salsa class because dancing for 3 hours a day was too much, so I didn't really learn much salsa.  The social dance class covered more or less the same steps I had already learned in the class at the prior school.  The swing dance class covered more steps than I had previously learned when the social class taught swing, naturally, but it was still "beginner" level.

So, how did I get so "good" when I've only had two lessons?  I dance.  Really, that's it.  When I took the dedicated East Coast Swing class, my teacher convinced me to compete as a beginner, so in addition to dancing 3 times a week, I also had rehearsals for my competition every day.  I danced *every day* for half a semester. I also go to social dance events as often as I can.  It's nerve-wracking to attend a ballroom dance as a beginner - you don't know the steps, you don't know the people, you don't know the etiquette.  Plus, I'm an introvert, which means I have difficulty in social settings because they tire me out.  On top of that, I used to be painfully shy.  I still can't ask anyone to dance unless they're already a good friend of mine.  So, it's hard.  But I did it anyway.

Most of what I know, I learned at social ballroom dances.  I just kept going.  As I danced with more people, I got better at learning dance communication.  As I danced with more people, I learned more steps because new partners know steps that I don't, and vice versa, so we can teach each other out on the floor.  As I danced with more people and watched more dancers, I learned certain stylistic movements that seemed popular or flashy or neat and I tried to adopt them, eventually creating my own style.

Many social dances offer a free group lesson at the beginning of the event.  They will teach the same 3 or 4 beginning steps in a particular dance style appropriate for that event (so, a dedicated swing event will teach a swing dance, a social ballroom event will teach one of any number of dances that you can expect to be doing at that event like waltz, foxtrot, cha cha, or even swing).  Even though it's the same handful of steps that I learned 18 years ago in my first class, I attend as many of those pre-event group classes as I can.  I consider them "refresher" lessons.

And as a more seasoned dancer, I find myself "teaching" my newbie partners when they have difficulty getting the step.  The instructors are usually trying to teach 20 people at the same time, so there isn't a lot of time for personalized instruction.  I can explain something specific to my partner based on what he is doing or not doing, and I find that "teaching" in this way also helps me be a better dancer myself.  If the class is teaching something really basic or something that I'm already really familiar with, I'll switch sides and learn it as a lead (traditionally the guy's role) instead of as a follow.  Again, this helps me to be a better dancer and it also helps me to teach those same steps to my partners later.

There are things called "stylings", which are certain movements that make a dance look really sharp; really professional.  If you watch competition or performance dancers, or even just really good social dancers, you'll see things like the women raise their free hand in the air, or run their hands through their hair, or the men will break from the rhythm and kick or freeze and strike a pose.  I know nothing of these, and that's what keeps me from advancing past beginning-intermediate.  Most social dance classes - the kind I took that just try to introduce beginner dancers to a variety of dances in a short span of time - don't teach stylings because they have to focus on just getting the steps right.  They might occasionally throw in a styling here or there, but mostly we're just trying not to step on our partner's feet.  I'm hoping to take a styling class soon, it's just difficult with a freelancer's schedule because I can't dedicate the same day every week without potentially losing work.

So, if you've ever wanted to learn how to dance but felt intimidated, or you've seen my dance videos and were impressed but thought you couldn't do it or thought it would take too many years, hopefully I've inspired in you the possibility.  People are impressed with my dancing and it sounds impressive to hear that I've been dancing for 18 years, but I'm only a beginning-intermediate dancer who has only had 2 lessons, which means that anyone can learn to dance at least to my own level with a little dedication.  I attend the same beginning group classes over and over again, I dance socially as often as possible with as many different partners as possible, and I try to explain to anyone else interested in learning.  Repetition, practice, and exposure - and you too can dance well enough to impress your friends and family and have a good time doing it!

So inquire at your local colleges and community colleges to see if they offer dance as a P.E. class, do a google search for "social dance" in your area, check at your community halls like city parks and recreation departments or neighborhood community centers or even local churches, and just drop in at a dance studio if you happen to see one as you drive by it to ask if they offer lessons or know where you can take lessons.  It really doesn't take very long to learn how to dance socially, and to do it well enough to impress other folks.
joreth: (Super Tech)
http://captainawkward.com/2015/03/03/674-anything-you-can-do-a-dude-can-patiently-and-logically-tell-you-how-you-should-have-done-it-better/

I've pointed this out in my Love Languages course, saying something like "if you've ever seen me completely lose my shit online when someone tried to offer 'helpful advice'..."  It's almost always men who do this and almost always men when I lose my shit over it (obligatory #NotAllMen & #ButSomeWomen here).

IT'S NOT HELPFUL. STOP DOING THAT. I'm a grown adult and I know how to comport my life and I've already researched all the relevant options before forming opinions or making decisions according to my personal priorities, preferences, and abilities.  I swear, if my Mac-head ex-bf tried to tell me that the solution to my computer problems was to buy a Mac that I already said I couldn't afford one more time, I was going to beat him with my crappy laptop.

"So when you discuss this, bring it back to the issue, the issue being his need to control everything when it comes to you and how irritating it is when he does that. Whether he’s a controlling ass by nature, or he’s having some kind of anxiety reaction to the idea of things being done “wrong” that manifests in him acting like a controlling ass, he’s really out of line here and he needs to be told a flat “You’re doing that thing again” when he does it."

Also, I understand - I offer unsolicited advice all the time. I'm learning to ask "do you want advice or do you want me to listen?" Stop trying to solve my life for me. If you *really* can't help it, ask me how you can help me, don't just tell me how I could be doing things "better".

For example, one of my partners' Love Language is Acts of Service. He asked me to give him specific tasks to do that I would find helpful. As one of my Relationship Commitments is to learn how to more gracefully accept assistance from my partners, this was an excellent opportunity for us both to learn the other's Language and to offer our own expressions of Love to each other. He wanted to Do Things for me but had to refrain from imposing on my independence and autonomy. I wanted to make room for him in my life and honor his bid for affection-sharing without setting myself up for future resentment.

So I thought of real, actual things that I would appreciate having done and I clearly communicated what those things were so that he could express his love for me in a way that felt natural to him. I feel respected as an independent individual, he feels appreciated and wanted, and shit gets done around the house. We both win.
joreth: (Kitty Eyes)
There hasn't been an HPV update in a really long time, mainly because there hasn't been any HPV news in a really long time.  No real progress on the vaccine or the virus itself, either in curing or in understanding.  We already understood it pretty well and things seemed to reach a plateau.  But today, I have 2 fairly major updates!

1) There is now a vaccine that covers 9 strains of the virus!  The original, Gardasil, covered 4 strains - the two most common strains known to cause cancer (HPV 16 & 18) and the two most common strains known to cause genital warts (HPV 6, & 11), while the main competitor Ceravix covered the two cancer-causing strains.  There are dozens, perhaps hundreds of strains of HPV, but 16 & 19 were known to cause something like 70% of all the hpv-caused cancer cases and a smiliar number of genital warts, so the researchers understandably focused on those strains first.  There has been some evidence that Gardasil was 50% effective against several other strains as well, but it was approved for those 4, for which it's about 90~% effective.

Now, however, there will be a new vaccine, called Gardasil 9 that covers  HPV-31, 33, 45, 52 and 58 in addition to the original 4 strains.  That is estimated to protect against 90% of the cancer-caused-by-HPV cases in vaccine-protected women!  The test shows that there were slightly more side effects after taking the vaccine, but the side effects were completely within the range of expected side effects for any vaccine - namely that if you stick someone with a needle, they might faint or feel sore at the injection site.  Duh!

2) The CDC has compiled a report analyzing adverse reactions to the HPV vaccine.  And, guess what?  It's exactly as predicted - totally safe!  More than 23 million (MILLION!!) doses were administered in the US since it became licensed in 2006.  There were just over 12,000 adverse reactions reported in the 2 years that this study covers.  Out of those 12,000~ adverse reactions, 94% were not serious and the usual sorts of things you'd expect when you get jabbed with a needle - fainting, soreness, redness at the injection site, dizziness, etc.

Out of the 6% that were classified as "serious", 32 were deaths.  I know, 32 dead is an awful number.  But remember, that's 32 out of MILLIONS of doses.  AND, on top of that, not a single one of those deaths can be tied to the vaccine itself.  They had to do with illicit drug use, diabetes, a known heart condition that resulted in heart failure, etc.  Remember, VAERS - the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System - collects data about, literally ANYTHING that happens to someone after a vaccine.  I wrote about the Phase III trials in India a bunch of years ago, where 6 girls died after taking the vaccine, but that included several suicides by drowning and a fatal snake bite.  And yet, the system is designed to count anything bad that happens, so they got counted.  Even if all 32 of them could be linked to HPV due to some quirk of genetics or something, that's still only 32 out of millions, and that's still a risk worth taking.  And yes, I do take these risks myself.

After analyzing all the data, the summary concludes that there is no evidence to support the vaccine causing a single one of those serious adverse reactions.  There are, however, several cases that the study recommends further investigation, although I would like to reiterate that it recommends further investigation EVEN THOUGH there is currently no evidence to suggest those reactions were a result of the vaccine.  This is science working - if the evidence doesn't reach a certain level of confidence, they keep looking at it.  There rarely is any black & white, yes / no answers in science.  There is, however, margins of error and robust vs. weak spectrums.  And the evidence for the safety and efficacy of the HPV vaccine has pretty much slammed the needle on the "robust" side supporting the vaccine.

However, even with the safety evidence continuing to mount, the CDC and the FDA both have amended their warning recommendations to better reinforce safety protocols, such as keeping a better watch on patients for 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine to make sure that they don't fall and hit their head if they get dizzy from being stabbed with a sharp pointy object.



So, the bottom line is that the HPV vaccine is as safe as any vaccine out there - which is to say pretty damn safe; pretty much no one has been harmed by it any more than one would expect to be harmed by being poked with a big needle even with no vaccine at all; they continue to watch and evaluate and refine the process; and there will shortly be an even better vaccine available that I heartily recommend to everyone who can afford it.

For more on HPV vaccine safety, I refer you to a previous post that includes a graphic from the Information Is Beautiful site that elegantly explains, using easy-to-grasp graphics, the relative risk vs. safety and efficacy of the vaccine.  I also recommend clicking on the STI tag below to see all my older posts on the subject.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)

https://www.morethantwo.com/gamechanger.html

"The game changer is the relationship that comes along and turns everything upside down. It’s the relationship that changes the familiar landscape of life, rearranging the furniture in new and unexpected ways."

"“Yes, you will always be #1″ is true until it isn’t, and there is no rule that can change that. If someone comes along who your partner genuinely does love more than he loves you, whatever that means…well, his priorities are unlikely to remain with abiding by the agreements he’s made with you. Game-changing relationships change things; that’s what they do. They change priorities, and that means they change rules. Expecting an agreement to protect you from a game changer is about like expecting a river to obey a law against flooding."

One of the drawbacks to choosing a life off the relationship escalator - of deliberately choosing to be poly, to be "single", to be a "bachelor" (none of which are interchangeable terms) - is that having more partners than most means that I probably have had more breakups than most too.

But that's also one of the benefits. Not really a set of benefits that I'd like to have, mind you, but I did benefit greatly from going through as many breakups as I have. I've learned, the hard way, about the Game Changer. I've seen from both perspectives how Game Changers change the game. I've seen people who had every intention of following through with their rules and agreements encounter a Game Changer of some sort and the rules turned out to have no power at all in the face of it. I've seen what happens when you let go of the control and just let it go where it wants to go - I've seen relationships thrive with that kind of freedom and I've seen relationships die, either due to lack of nourishment from "letting it go" or due to the relationship "going" in places that couldn't sustain it.

I've experienced just about every kind of breakup imaginable, from the fade-away to the better-as-friends to the all-out-war to the cut-them-off-and-never-speak-to-them-again to even the death of a former partner. And what all this experience has taught me is that the future is uncertain, the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry, rules only work until they don't, and no matter how bad it gets - if it doesn't kill me, I will survive it.*

I fear loss and change just like most people do. But I've learned that fearing loss and change doesn't matter to loss and change. Loss and change happen whether you deal with them or not. The best way to handle them is to accept that it'll happen, take a deep breath, and jump off that ledge anyway. With each successive breakup, I have learned a little more about how to handle Game Changers and my own fears of loss and change, and with each breakup I have gotten better at constructing my relationships to be flexible and accommodating of Game Changers. This, ultimately, actually builds relationships that are better able to withstand those Game Changers than any other method that attempts to prevent Game Changers from happening.



*That bullshit about whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger is crap - sometimes if it doesn't kill you, it still maims you pretty damn good, leaving you worse off than you were before. But if I'm not dead, I'm still alive, and that's not nothin'.
joreth: (BDSM)
I've said this before and I'll continue saying it until this fucking book fades into obscurity:

50 Shades of Grey romanticizes abuse and reinforces harmful cultural tropes of coercion and entitlement. It's not the only thing out there that does, but it's the one getting the most positive press right now so it's the one I will speak the loudest about.

I've also seen the Free Speech argument, and that's just bullshit. No one (that I've seen) is saying that we should ban this book. We're saying it's a terrible example of romance and that we shouldn't SUPPORT this book for its messages. That's exactly what the Free Market is all about - shitty products are supposed to go away because the public decides they're shitty products and only good products are supposed to stick around. I'm part of the public who thinks this is a shitty product and I'm exercising my Free Speech to explain why it's harmful and contributing to an already toxic rape culture.

I've made the comparison to Flowers In The Attic and I'll make it again here. That's a series that I LOVED growing up. It depicts one of the most horrific tales of parental abuse, psychological terror, and incest found in popular literature. It's an *awful* story. But it's well-written and we liked it because we collectively like horror stories. Flowers In The Attic was not being sold to us as a Family Values book. It was sold to us as psychological horror, and we loved it for that reason.

50 Shades is psychological horror - it shows us inside the mind of someone who is susceptible and who succumbs to rather heavy-handed mental and emotional abuse. If this story were being sold to us under this framework, I'd be fine with the story. But it's not. This story is being sold to us as the same sort of stalking, entitled "romance" that made Twilight famous, and the same sort of stalking, entitled "romance" that most of the rom-coms and teen dramas of the '80s contained - that exact sort of romanticized abuse that led me into several abusive relationships myself because that's what I was led to believe relationships were supposed to look like.  One commenter I've seen pointed out that the stories this fanfiction is based on is *vampire* fantasy fiction.  Vampires are *predatory*, that's what they are and what they do.  When you take out the supernatural, other-species element away and make him a human, that tips the story over into creepy, stalking, entitlement and abuse.  Of course, I found it creepy when it was Edward too, but whatever.

There are plenty of stories out there that use this same plot line but that don't violate the agency of the characters in it. Objectification, power exchange, consensual non-consent, etc. are all different from abuse in that the actors retain their agency. At any point, anyone can opt-out, whether it's with a safeword, a gesture, a signal, or any number of other things that give *all* the actors in the scene or dynamic the ability to stop.  Not that the BDSM community doesn't have its own share of consent violations, but that's a derailment.  There can be both BDSM and abuse in the same relationship.  But, by definition, BDSM requires consent and abuse is the violation of consent.

Consent has to have the ability to be revoked at any time. If you can't revoke consent, it's not consent. This has *nothing at all* to do with people who like the fantasy of domination or violent sexual activity and that's what a lot of people are getting confused. The criticisms of the stories are being interpreted as a criticism of non-consent fantasy play and/or people who enjoy it.

When the fact of the matter is that many of us who enjoy that very thing (and I'm pretty extreme in my fantasy tastes, including no safeword and heavy violence) are criticizing the lack of consent and agency in the story, the depiction of kinksters as fundamentally broken, and the reinforcement of the trope that "love can fix him". The specific acts of BDSM as depicted in the story are not the focus of the criticism.  Well, there are those of us who criticize the specific acts for being rather boring and unimaginative, but that's another rant.  That's in the same category as the poor quality of the writing and a totally seperate criticism from the consent violations.

If you are into the "hot, sexy, dominating, rich man takes naive girl and introduces her to the world of kink by knowing her internal desires better than she does", I recommend the Training of Eileen series. It has everything in it - he "forces" her to do sex acts, she protests, she finds herself in a D/s relationship that she didn't realize she was signing up for ... the whole works.

The primary difference is that her Dom recognized deeply buried fetishes in her subconscious that she didn't know she had and that were repressed due to social conditioning and parental repression, and everything he does is specially constructed to unlock her innate desires and tendencies - to un-bury those latent kinks. Everything is for *her* pleasure, not his and definitely not an expression of his anger. She may not realize it's for her own pleasure, and personal growth is often uncomfortable, but, as you get further into the story, we do see that this is true.

In 50 Shades, everything they do is for Grey's pleasure (or anger) and they are locked in a power struggle with him attempting to mold Ana into the kind of submissive, docile partner he wants her to be and Ana trying to "fix" him into the more sensitive partner she wants him to be.

I'm not personally into the "he knows me better than I know myself" stories, but the Training of Eileen, by William Vitelli (available on Amazon), is an excellent example of how you can have the *exact same plot* as 50 Shades, only without the abuse. It's also written by a veteran kinkster, so the kink is much more accurate and much more realistic.

**Nowhere in 50 Shades is there a scene like this (click the images for the source):



joreth: (Purple Mobius)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1517177/ - IMDB
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/3/70151000?trkid=5966279 - Netflix
http://www.amazon.com/Sebastian-Schipper-Devid-Striesow-Sophie/dp/B00CRDKA9Y/ - Amazon

I've updated my Netflix queue with poly movies so long ago, I can't remember anymore which movies were added because I saw them on a poly movie list somewhere and which were added because Netflix recommended it to me based on some movie from a poly list that I had just added. So I have no idea where this "3" came from. The Netflix summary reads:


Berliners Hanna and Simon, a couple in their 40s, have grown comfortable in their marriage. Independently, each meets and romances Adam, a handsome younger man. When Hanna becomes pregnant, all three must face what they've tried to ignore.


This has every element of a movie I will hate - infidelity, secrecy, Relationship Broken Add More People, and babies as plot devices. This movie isn't going to get a Get Out Of Jail Free card on these points. But I actually liked the movie anyway.

First of all, the description isn't exactly accurate. It's pretty close, certainly closer than Sleep With Me was. But Hanna and Simon aren't exactly "comfortable". They seem fairly happy, if settled with each other. I mean, sure, they do seem comfortable with each other, but the description would seem to imply the use of the word "comfortable" as a stand-in for bored or in a rut. This couple still has an active sex life and still expresses affection and love for each other. Their relationship isn't broken and neither of them go out looking for something to fix it, or their lives. They seem more or less content with their lives, although they experience some tragedy early on in the movie. They are "comfortable" if you use the definition of your favorite blanket that you curl up with to watch your favorite movies with.

So, they have a fairly happy, long-term relationship that experiences some stress that just comes from life. Then they each independently meet Adam. The description seems to suggest that each half of the couple were the ones to pursue Adam, but I got the impression that he's the one who put the moves on the couple. Adam is, apparently, bisexual and fine with casual flings. He has interludes with Hanna and Simon, and then goes about his business. But Hanna and Simon keep thinking about Adam and seek him out for more (which he is certainly amenable to). And yet, Hanna and Simon still seem happy with each other, and they're still both sexually active together.

So, as the summary gives away, Hanna discovers she's pregnant and doesn't know who the father is. So, like in Cafe Au Lait, the infidelity is revealed and they all have to deal with it. And this is where I have to give away the ending in order to explain why I think it's a poly-ish movie. I do wish I could start finding some poly-ish movies where the polyamory is the plot (or just another element in the story) and not the conclusion.

Anyway, here goes. )

This film was more artsy than I generally prefer, but then most foreign films are (this being a German film). It did have some gorgeous scenes, including a beautiful dance between a woman and two men that was fairly blatant foreshadowing. But for once, I didn't find the characters hard to relate to. I found Hanna to be the most disagreeable, but she was intelligent and knowledgeable and she liked to argue politics and she was involved in media. Her husband was quiet and passionate and artistic with a soft heart, filled with compassion. And Adam was a brilliant scientist trying to save the world in spite of the public's Luddite fears holding back his research. I think it was obvious why each of the characters liked the others, whether I liked them or not. They were nuanced and complex, and that always wins big points with me.

So, yes, the story starts out with an infidelity. Unfortunately, so do many poly attempts, which means that we will have that plot represented in our media. And yes, they added a baby. But it wasn't a cautionary tale, there wasn't any hypocrisy really, and no one was rewarded for truly evil behaviour. I found myself drawn into the story and I would recommend watching it.
joreth: (Super Tech)
I was the Chill Girl - you know that girl, the one who doesn't "get along with other women", who only has guy friends, whose said guy friends will bitch about "women" and then say "except for you, you're cool" or "but you don't count", and who took that as a compliment. I've always had one or two female "best friends", but the vast majority of my closest friends were guys. I always just "got" them better. But, in reality, what I "got" was that I had interests and hobbies that society deemed "guy things" and since most girls were strongly discouraged from enjoying them, most girls that I had met in my rather small subset of humans that I had contact with happened to not share my interests, or at least they didn't share my stubbornness to enjoy those interests in spite of being discouraged from them.  What I also "got" was the unfairness heaped on guys because of patriarchy, I just didn't realize it was the patriarchy that was responsible.  But I empathized with them for their shitty situations (and still do).

So I didn't really understand "women" and I didn't really have a lot of female friends for most of my life. Until I became poly, when I later met [livejournal.com profile] tacit, who has exceptional taste in women. It turns out that guys who like dating girls like me ... like girls like me. So, consequently, I ended up meeting lots of women who share at least some of my interests and personality quirks because the guys I was dating were attracted to those very things, so they kept finding women I had things in common with.

And then I joined the atheist and skeptics communities. I was still the Chill Girl, and I considered my new, larger circle of female friends (made up mostly of metamours) to be exceptions. I knew that I wasn't completely unique in the world, I just thought I was rare. So I just assumed that being poly increased my chances of meeting the other rare gems like myself because I deliberately redesigned how I met people and who I was likely to meet.

But then the atheist and skeptics communities exploded into a feminist / misogynist war zone. And that's when I discovered that I was actually a feminist. And that's also when I discovered other feminists. Women, like me, who rejected the gender binary, the enforced gender roles, who were stubborn and strong-willed, who were flawed and 3-dimensional, who had a variety of interests and personality quirks. That's when I finally realized that I had been playing against my own hand this whole time, and that I get along with "women" just as well as I get along with "men" - that is to say that I get along with anyone who is complimentary to me, basically like everyone else.

I just realized that my friends list is filled with women who all have something fabulous to contribute to the world. So I just want to say thank you, to all the feminists out there who read my feed and who let me read theirs. You are not all the exact same fire-and-brimstone internet flame warriors as me (some of you are even better warriors than I am), but you are all strong in your own ways, and complex, and nuanced, and colorful, and you make my life better. If you had told teenage-me that someday I would actually count more close female confidantes than males, and I would feel better about seeing more non-guy people in my social circles than if I were the sole woman among "guys" (as I used to prefer), and that I would rather seek out the advice and consolation of other women in times of stress than from the guys I know (with certain exceptions, and you few who have seen my cry know who you are), I would have asked what you were smoking.

I am frequently disheartened and overwhelmed by the kinds of things I see posted in my social networking spaces, but the fact that I have so many people talking about them actually makes me feel better about the world, knowing that I'm not the only one who sees and not the only one who is doing, and, in fact, more people out there are actually better than me at the doing. So thank you all for being you - angry, sad, happy, confused, conflicted, broken and repaired all of you.
joreth: (Self-Portrait)

I'm a fervent believer in the Me Manual - an "instruction manual" telling people how to deal with yourself.  It can include your quirks, your fears, your Love Languages, your kinks, your triggers, your medical history, whatever.  The point is that I am strongly opposed to treating partners and loved ones as if they have magic crystal balls and can divine what you want and don't want in relationships.  So I put together a Me Manual, detailing all of those kinds of things.  In fact, it's here, in my LJ, under the tag Me Manual.

But [livejournal.com profile] cunningminx, of the Poly Weekly podcast, has a background in marketing and has put together a User Manual template that is short and to the point (also available at the end of her book 8 Things I Wish I'd Known About Polyamory).  It's much easier reading than my jumbled novel-length posts sparked by random thoughts and situations.  So I've taken her template and created my own based on it.  This covers pretty much all the same things as my Me Manual does, but in a single, digestible format.  I'll probably end up posting it on my website in the About Me section too.  But here it is:

Part A
Family Background/History
(this might explain some of my quirks)


  • I'm an oldest child.  Excellent student, overachiever, bored easily, often in competition with my younger sister who excelled at everything I didn’t & who felt challenged at everything I was good at.

  • I am a Gifted child. This means that I am incredibly smart, but I was praised for *being* smart, not for trying hard.  Consequently, I get embarrassed or frustrated when something doesn’t come easily to me, so I will often not bother trying or I’ll give up quickly and move onto other things and that my potential in many areas has not been met because I gave up and moved on.  But it also means that I have a great deal of interests and knowledge, and I’m proud of that.  And it means that I will grasp things fairly quickly and will probably have a decent working understanding of certain topics that I have formed opinions or conclusions about and may not wish to hear an opposing viewpoint if I feel that I’ve heard it already and rejected it.  It may be the first time you’ve spoken about it to me, but it’s not the first time I’ve heard it.

  • My family is the classic American “normal” nuclear family. Catholic parents who married right after high school, still together, 2 kids, dog, suburbs, one scholarly kid & one jock kid.  They believed very strongly that family was forever, so fights don’t generally frighten me & I don’t assume there is anything wrong with the relationship just because there is the occasional fight.  People who do fear fights or see them as automatic symbols of relationship distress confuse and frustrate me.

  • I'm independent. I was raised to be independent, but really, this is an internal trait that far exceeds what my parents actually intended to instill.  I like lots of alone time, I like taking care of myself, I take pride in developing the types of skills that allow me to be self-sufficient.  However, I may occasionally feel a little bit left out when everyone in my life has someone to depend on and I end up taking care of myself when I’m sick and attending parties alone.  So very small gestures of assistance or partnership are incredibly meaningful to me, as long as they are not done after I insist that I don’t want the assistance and with the acknowledgement that I am still capable of doing it on my own.

  • I have abandonment issues because of a long history of men “trying out” polyamory for my sake, only to dump me for the first girl to come along who wants them but doesn’t want polyamory.  I also have a long history of men just up and leaving with no contact or explanation (i.e. the Disappearing Act form of breakup).  I need lots of assurances that whatever new partner comes along, that I won’t be “replaced”, that my partners intend to stick around for a while, that breakups will be civil and respectful and compassionate, and that my partners have a commitment to being “friendly exes” themselves.  After a recent series of very bad breakups, I have an even larger amount of anxiety about people’s breakup skills and dedications to polyamory or to me in particular.

  • I’m adopted so I have an, apparently, unusual ability to see poly analogs in monogamous society.  Most of what I learned about how to manage multiple adult families and how to love multiple people came from my loving, heteronormative, family-oriented, monogamous family.  It also means that I’m very sensitive about intentional families and intentional family-planning.  I feel very strongly about issues of family being one of choice, not blood, and in the right to choice in parenting, and extrapolating those concepts to polyamory and other family and relationship issues.

Part B: How to turn me on -
Emotionally


  • Make time for me but don’t demand all of my time. Not enough regular contact and I’ll assume you’re not that into me and I’ll just go about my life without putting too much thought into how it affects you.  This could even happen after a relationship has been established.  If I feel that you don’t have time for me but I’m not otherwise unhappy about the relationship enough to breakup, I’ll just start to withdraw myself and start going about my life with less consultation with you, transitioning to a more casually structured relationship even if I maintain a deep emotional connection.

    But too much *demand* for regular contact and I’ll start to feel confined.  I want regular contact with my partners, but I also want flexibility from my partners with regards to my chaotic and unconventional schedule.  In order, my preference for “contact” is: face-to-face / in-person time; phone conversations; online chat & public social networking interaction (tied); Skype; texting & email (tied).  One exception is that public social networking interaction that is positive/complimentary/flirty/ or otherwise publicly acknowledges & reinforces a relationship is also very meaningful for me.  But that’s Words of Affirmation Love Language, whereas the methods of contact fall under Quality Time Love Language.  Both are equally meaningful to me.  If you aren’t familiar with the Five Love Languages, ask me and we’ll talk more on the subject.  It’s pretty extensive.

  • Ask your partner(s) to reach out to me. I prefer family-oriented inclusive networks, and having a metamour reach out to me reinforces the impression that my partners & metamours share my family values.  It also greatly reduces my initial anxiety at the beginning of a relationship regarding the question of whether or not I am wanted or if there are any hidden anti-poly feelings or traps waiting for me.

  • Share my values on personal sovereignty, freedom in relationships, trust, and personal security.  I am very attracted to people who are secure in themselves and their relationships to not feel the need for emotional crutches like veto power & behaviour-limiting relationship rules.  Even better if you’re not just personally secure enough to not need those things, but if you actively disapprove of those things and see the harm they cause everyone involved, not just the incoming partner who is typically the most disadvantaged in these situations.

  • Call me with stuff you think is funny / happy. I've developed an aversion to people with tremendous drama in their lives, and one of the things I've grown to appreciate is a partner who will share joy, not just pain. I’m also prone to the cynical (and I don’t particularly want anyone to try and change that about me), but I do appreciate having happy, joyful, optimistic people around to balance me out.  Making me smile or laugh is a great skill.

  • Be willing to cry in front of me. I'm touched when someone trusts me enough to cry in front of me. Show me your vulnerability, and I'll show you mine. Very few people get to see it.

  • Be willing to say "I was wrong" Admitting you were wrong with humility and without defensiveness is a huge turn-on for me. Not being able to do this is a deal-breaker.  And be patient with me when I have a hard time doing the same, that’s also an emotional turn-on for me.

  • Be willing to stand your ground when you believe I’m wrong. As the episode from Sex And The City goes, I’m looking for someone who is strong enough to catch me.  I don’t want a yes-man, but I don’t want an argumentative jerk either.  I want people who are strong and confident and who treat me like a person, not a fragile angel or a goddess or a superstar.  Listen to me, even if I'm ranting. Chances are that once I think you understand my point of view, I'll figure out all on my own that you're right on quite a few of your main points.

  • Let me leave.  If I leave the room or ask to stop the conversation when things are getting tense, it’s because I’m becoming overwhelmed and I’m feeling attacked or cornered.  I need to escape to give myself a chance to calm down and think more rationally.  When I leave, I’m not waiting the obligatory 5 seconds to see if you come after me.  I’m really trying to escape, so please just let me go.  If you have the ability to switch gears and change the subject to something lighthearted, especially if you can make me laugh, then I don’t have to physically leave the room; I just need to emotionally “leave” the argument or situation, so you can ask me to stay and I’ll stay.

  • Tell / show me you like me for who I am, not just for my hot ass and not just because I'm “Joreth”. I'm really proud of my work and my accomplishments.  In addition to a long history of men who leave when they find a “real girlfriend”, I also have a long history of men who either date me or fuck me because they think I’m hot or they’re somewhat starstruck, but they don’t seem to really like me very much.  They build up this model in their head of who they think I am or who I should be, and they tend to get resentful when I behave exactly according to who I told them I was instead of the model they made me out to be. So if you show an interest in getting to know all of me, not just the fun bits, I'll be really grateful, and it will help build trust. I’m looking for people who don’t just “put up with” or tolerate these parts of me, like my temper or my “masculinity”, I’m looking for people who celebrate those difficult or messy parts of me, even if they are also trying or frustrating at times.

  • Rub my shoulders, neck, and back, and don't be stingy with the pressure. Show me you have nice, strong hands and aren't afraid of all the tension I keep in my neck and shoulders.  Don’t use massages as a prelude to sexual encounters, as flirting, as an excuse to get your hands on my body, or try to “sneak” in sex or erotic touching.  My back is damaged & I am in constant pain (some days are better than others).  Back rubs do not equal “sex” to me, and attempts to make them erotic really anger me.  If you really want to get in my good graces, give me a therapeutic massage and keep the sex out of it.  Do it because you care about the pain I’m in and want to help, not as a selfish excuse to get something out of it for yourself.

  • Read my writings and follow me on social networking sites.  I get not having a lot of time for the internet, but I spend a lot of my own time there, so I spend a lot of me there.  If you want to really know me and who I am, be a presence in my internet life and read the things that I take the time to write.  The less in-person time we spend together, the more important this is to me.

  • Get to know my other partners.  Taking the initiative to reach out and get to know my other partners is a HUGE emotional turn on for me.  Especially Franklin ([livejournal.com profile] tacit), as he is someone I admire outside of just being my partner.  He often expresses the things I want to say in a more lucid way than I can.  So it’s important to me that my other partners read his works and interact with him.  But it’s also important that my partners get to know each other even those who aren’t Franklin.  When my partners are local, I need to be able to have Quality Time when multiple partners and/or metamours are present, so it’s important that they get along with each other even if they don’t become best friends outside of me.  When my partners aren’t local, I need to have multiple eyes and checks on my behaviour and my emotional state, so coordinating and comparing notes with each other is a valuable tool for keeping abreast of my well-being.  Also, being interested and willing to contact each other independently of me shows that you want the kind of inclusive, interconnected network that I want and resistance to reaching out to my other partners often signals an underlying issue with polyamory or my other partners specifically.  Even if it doesn’t signal that in you, I will read it as such because of past patterns and it will distress me if you don’t initiate or respond to contact and attempts at finding your own friendly path with my other partners.

  • The Five Love Languages are a good start to the kinds of things that I need to feel loved and how I express love.  I am multi-lingual; I need for love to be shown to me in Quality Time and Words of Affirmation the most, but very closely following is Acts of Service and Physical Touch.  I could write a whole Me Manual just on how I need each of these Languages to be expressed and how each can be used to hurt me in especially damaging ways, so talk to me about this and check in every so often to see which Language is expressing itself the most at any given time.  Gift Giving is tricky with me and it doesn’t mean as much to me as the other languages, so if you like to express your love by buying gifts, it’s best to stick with my online Wishlist or to outright ask me how I feel about something.  I’m also terrible about knowing what to buy, so if you feel loved when you receive gifts, I’ll need a wishlist from you.

Sexually: Flirting

  • Quote my favorite movies, or movies in my favorite genres even that particular movie isn’t one of my favorites.

  • Fix my computer/server issues or car issues. I consider myself technically & mechanically competent, but I am extremely turned on by guys who are as competent as I am, or more, especially in those areas that are not my areas of expertise, like computers & cars. Only do so because you want to help me and not with the expectation that I will "reward" you for helping me by offering sexual or relationship favors. Kindness is hot, entitlement is not.

  • Prefer to wear practical clothing. I especially like geek clothing, stagehand clothing, and “country” wear for casual or practical.  There’s nothing like a hot ass in a pair of worn jeans or a shirt that shows off biceps and work-roughened forearms to get me going.  I also like it when guys are ready to “do stuff”.  When something needs to be fixed, or we go outside in the heat, or we’re working, or we’re just goofing off and playing around, I like a guy who isn’t worried about damaging his clothing or dressing in clothes that won’t let him do what needs to be done.

  • But also enjoy dressing up for special occasionsIt’s also incredibly attractive to me when guys take the effort to dress up for occasions, either in costume or in nicer outfits for dinner, dancing, or other formal events.  Knowing how (or expressing interest in learning) to dress for the occasion, whether it’s up for special events or down for practical daily stuff, is attractive to me.  Do the emotional labor of paying attention to fashion and its consequences so that I, as the woman, am not the only one held responsible for attire since the consequences for improper attire of either gender tend to fall more heavily upon the woman in hetero relationships. Shouldering emotional labor is attractive. Bonus points for coordinating outfits with me.  This is not exclusive – coordinating outfits with multiple people is also win.

  • Go dancing with me. I really love a guy who dances or who is willing to learn how to dance.  If dancing isn’t your thing, being interested in watching me dance is another option.  This goes back to liking me for who I am – appreciating one of my skills which is a particularly strong passion of mine.

  • Send me sexy texts. I enjoy little random reminders of our sexual relationship, but especially when they are stand-alone flirting and do not have any expectations attached to them.

  • Use puns & double entendres. I like humor with multiple meanings, and if something can be said that is completely innocent but also taken sexually, I’ll probably find it amusing.

  • Options for Joreth-friendly dates: ice cream; rock climbing; ballroom & swing dancing; something physical or unusual; interesting meals; movies & hot chocolate afterwards to talk about the movie; photography expeditions; exploring or urban spelunking; learning something new; attending science-themed and/or educational event; attending skeptical events; exploring shared kinks (but only after we have discussed and developed a kinky aspect to our relationship).

  • Share my interests with me and share your interests with me.  I have a lot of interests, not just sex, poly and kink. If you love to cook, I would love someone to cook an elaborate dinner with or to appreciate someone’s cooking skill if you want to cook for me. If you are into interior design/home renovation, I'd love someone to brainstorm and carry out home improvement projects with. If you dance, I'd love someone to hone my dance skills with. If you travel, I'd love someone to go on trips with--sightseeing in Europe, relaxing on the beach in Mexico, exploring Tibet, rambling through Ireland or New Zealand, cruising to Alaska, discovering local Florida.  Share your interests with me, involve me in your world, and engage my participation.

  • I do not drink caffeine, alcohol, or smoke any substance, so being sober around me is a good start to any attempt at flirting, as is taking me places where sobriety will not detract from my enjoyment of the environment.

  • Be aware of times of the day when I’ll be most receptive to flirting. I probably have Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, which is when the circadian rhythm is off by several hours.  This means that I am not a morning person, and nothing you can do or say will change that.  Getting on a “schedule” will not fix it, going to bed early won’t fix it, waking me up with sex won’t fix it.  My best times for interactions start in late afternoon.  If you can stay up late with me, bonus.

    I also probably have OCD, which means that if my mind is on something like a project or a task, I will be unreceptive to being interrupted with sexy times, although flirting without attached expectations may be appropriate, depending on the task that is distracting me.

Sexually: Sex

  • Casual sex: I have a wildly fluctuating libido, so I will go for short bursts of wanting sex all the time to long months, sometimes years, of not wanting sex at all.  This means that when I have a deeply intimate local partner, I don’t generally have enough attention or libido left over for casual sex and I find casual sex partners to be fun but ultimately not fulfilling.  So I generally don’t expend much energy in pursuing or maintaining casual sex partners.  However, I am also somewhat opportunistic about sexual activities.  If a rare opportunity comes up for a particular sexual activity that I might find interesting, I tend to want to act on that opportunity even if it means taking on a casual partner or one-night-stand to do it and even if my libido is otherwise in a low point.

    I have to be in the right frame of mind for a casual sex relationship, and I am usually aware of when I am and am not capable of such a relationship.  If I am not in the right frame of mind, I will likely be very unreceptive to casual sex propositions.  If you are hoping to have a casual sex relationship with me, it is absolutely paramount that you accept rejection gracefully and do not continue to push.  If I change my mind, I will approach you.  If you push, I am not likely to change my mind.

    If you are hoping to have an emotionally intimate relationship with me, I need the freedom to pursue the occasional casual sex relationship as certain opportunities arise without you feeling like it is a commentary on our relationship (this is particularly important if I become interested in a casual partner while I am in an otherwise low libido phase).  I accept temporary safety boundaries imposed between us due to my casual partners, as I would probably request the same of you.  I also prefer to have partners that do not desire casual partners themselves, at least not often, because of those safety boundaries – I don’t want to have many boundaries between myself and my partners so I’d rather be with people who do not do the sorts of things that result in me needing higher safety boundaries between us.  But I am not imposing a “no casual partners” rule for my partners.  I am just more comfortable with partners who themselves have a low desire for casual partners.  It’s a double standard, I’m aware of that, and I understand if you don’t like it.

  • Libido:  As mentioned above, I have a wildly fluctuating libido.  I am beginning to suspect I have what’s called a “responsive libido”, which is where the default position is “off” but it can be turned to “on” in response to the correct stimuli.  But it also means that even when it’s “on”, it can quickly be turned to “off” with the incorrect stimuli.  The difference, it is explained, is that people with non-responsive libidos think “hmm, I’m aroused, let’s go find someone to have sex with,” while someone with a responsive libido thinks “hey, this activity is arousing me, I guess I can have sex.”

    It’s more nuanced than that, and we can talk more about it, but the gist is that my libido will take a sharp nosedive after the NRE has worn off and it’s not a statement on the relationship or my feelings for my partner.  I will lose interest in sex and I will stop initiating.  This can be very difficult on my partners, but repeated attempts to stimulate my libido when it drops usually result in lowering the libido further.  I need partners who have a strong sense of self-esteem who can withstand the drop in sex without feeling it as an assault on their attractiveness or the state of our relationship, and who can work with me on compromises so that I can continue to show and express my love and affection without instigating the resentment that comes from implications of entitlement and neediness (i.e. low self-worth) that many attempts to boost my libido often come with.

    That all being said, with the right context and contact, my libido can often be coaxed into being “on”.  Check in with me to see if the context and contact is right at any given moment.

  • What is sex to me? To me, in general, sex is anything that I am most likely to get an STI from such as vaginal or anal penetration or oral sex or genital contact as well as anything that contributes to and/or results in sexual arousal and/or orgasm such as fromage (dry humping), “making out”, heavy petting, “snogging”,  sexting and webcaming. I do not consider kissing to be sex, but it is a behaviour that can transmit an STI, as well as other infections.  I have a chronic respiratory condition, so when it comes to safety measures, I do include kissing in STI and safety discussions even though I don’t consider it “sex” in the same way that I consider other acts.  Also, I separate BDSM scening and sex; kink for me does not necessarily involve sex or sexual contact, so in discussions about sex and/or safety, BDSM is not included unless a specific activity also falls into the category of STI transmission, sexual contact, orgasm, and possibly arousal.

    I also separate out “things that are a safety issue” and “things that are an emotional issue” with regards to sex.  So even though I don’t consider kissing to be sex, I’m still going to want to be notified about intentions to kiss and as soon after kissing has happened as possible when my partner’s other partner is not an established partner, and only part of the reason I want to be notified will have to do with safety issues.  When a partner has an established partner, I am much more comfortable with not knowing about each specific instance of sexuality.  But I have difficulty with change and I have my own emotional issues (discussed elsewhere in this document), so knowing ahead of time that there is potential for sexuality with a new partner, knowing that there is *interest* even if the other person isn’t aware of the interest / hasn’t expressed reciprocal interest, and being notified as soon afterwards as possible of a new sexual development or encounter is very important to me and I may ask for emotional reassurances.

  • People often ask me what I'm into sexually. And in truth, the answer is, "It depends." There are a few activities I know I enjoy, to be sure. I've discovered, though, that it's often not the activity; it's the dynamic between the people and their respective levels of enthusiasm for and skill at the activity that matters. If you do something really well or have some special skill or kink, just let me know. Even if it's not my favorite thing now, it might be with you. And my favorite thing now might not be all that great with you. Let's just see what we're into together, shall we? That being said...

Turn ons:

  • Grabbing me by the hair but not pulling.  I do not like the pain of hair pulling at all, but I do like the intensity of emotion or passion that is often signaled by gripping the hair and I enjoy the use of hair grabbing to control me.

  • ForcefulnessOnce we are in an established relationship and once I feel comfortable and safe with you and once I feel accepted by your other partners, I am really turned on by a partner manhandling me and pinning me to a wall or a bed, or pretty much anything in that vein.  Slam me up against a wall (protecting my head with your hand), push me down, hold my wrists above my head or behind my back, and don’t let up when I resist unless I say “ow” or “stop”.  If I say “no” in this context, I might not mean “no”.  You have to be able to tell by the tone of my voice and if  I’m explaining something seriously whether “no” means no or is just part of the aggressive scene.

  • Watch porn with me. Not boring straight porn. Gay and/or gang-bang porn.  And parody porn, although that might illicit more laughter than arousal.

  • Flirt with me in public.  Use double entendres and over-the-top promises or threats.  Make it light-hearted, something that can be taken as a joke.  You can even flirt by saying things that are totally off-limits in real life or that you do not actually intend.  The point is to make me smile and think sexy thoughts, not to be a serious negotiation.

  • Tease me.  Make promises/threats, touch me in almost-erotic zones, flirt with me in public, steal me away from work or public events for quick make-out sessions and then send me back while I’m still hot and bothered, draw out the foreplay until I beg to be fucked.  Foreplay can last a few minutes, a few hours, or even a few days.  Just pay attention to see if I’m enjoying the foreplay or if I’m starting to get frustrated.  If it goes on for too long, I’ll lose my arousal.  But don’t just go straight for the nipples, the crotch, or the sex.  I need to get worked up first.  However, if you’ve been teasing me well, like getting me aroused while I’m at work, then when I finally do get you in a place where sex is appropriate, you can go straight for the sex with no warm-up because the warm-up will have been happening already.

  • Be a good kisser. This is very subjective, so what it means is to pay attention to how I'm kissing you and attempt to match my style (as I'll be doing with you), as well as modifying the style for different purposes. I love deep kissing and that's a huge turn on, but I also like sweet, tender kisses, and quick I'm-just-thinking-of-you-and-wanting-to-connect-with-you kisses. I like kisses that start out chaste, and then turn flirty and teasing, and then turn passionate, just like sex. And I especially like partners who like to kiss just for the sake of kissing not only as a prelude to something else. If you're interested in some hot, passionate kissing (especially in public, or pulling me aside privately when we're in a place where that kind of kissing is not appropriate) that gets us both worked up but then ends with the kissing and we go about our business, that's almost a guaranteed way to keep me coming back for more.

  • Give me oodles of aftercare. Cover me with a blanket and hold me. Let me cry if that’s where I go afterwards.  Let me ramble if *that’s* where I go.  Let me sit in silence.  Have my favorite after comfort food ready for me – milk chocolate Symphony bar and Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider.  If that’s not available, one of the many sweets that I enjoy will work too, but that’s my favorite.

  • Make sure I get home safely, and call me the next day to connect.  Live chat online may work as a substitute, but texting is less preferable, especially if I have to work the next day.  I hate back-and-forth conversations by text, but I love small, immediate reminders of my loved ones and our time together.

Turn offs:

  • Insulting your former partners. I understand needing to complain about past relationships or being honest about the problems or flaws with past relationships, but guys who call their exes “crazy” or who can’t maintain any friendships post-breakup are a major turn off and red-flag for me. The same could be said for present partners. If you don't respect your current partners, then I'll have trouble respecting you for your choice to be with them.

  • Lack of communication. I fall in love with the brain first, so if you can’t talk to me (or your partners can’t), we probably won’t go anywhere.

  • Being too popular / high turnover. Guys with five or more partners or high partner turnover will probably find dating me challenging, since I like to take the time to get to know my metamours.

  • Dating too young. Guys who are dating in the 18-25 range tend to enjoy either the drama or glib dependence of youth, and I have a low tolerance for both in my dating life.

  • Not getting tested. Not being willing to wear protection and not getting tested regularly are hard limits for me.  Let me repeat that – this is a deal-breaker.  Getting tested and wearing protection just with me isn’t even enough.  I am only interested in sexual relationships with guys who are interested for their own sakes in getting tested regularly and using protection when appropriate no matter who their partners are or how many they have.

  • Not respecting feminism or agency or autonomy or personal sovereignty.  You might not understand that feminism is all about the latter three, and so don’t consider yourself a feminist.  That’s OK, education can clear that up.  But the issues of agency et. al are literally about my very humanity, so not respecting them means not respecting me as a human being, and not respecting me is a turn off.  Any current connection with MRA or PUA culture is a deal-breaker.  Libertarianism or admiration for Ayn Rand also don’t work too well for me.

  • Missing The Point Pedantry.  I get very irritated when I’m trying to make a point and all knowledge of who I am, my history, precedent, social convention, casual language, and poetic license get pushed aside in order to argue with me some issue of pedantry that misses the point of what I’m trying to say.

  • Co-dependency.  Just like I need my partners to respect my own agency and autonomy, I need for my partners to be autonomous, independent individuals who choose to share their lives with me and their other partners because they want to, not because they feel that they need to.

  • Unwillingness to explore sexuality.  We don’t have to have all the same kinks, and you can have tried and ruled out certain things before I came along, and you can even have thought about something and decided without trying it that you’re not interested in it.  But even with our overlapping Venn Diagram of sexual interests, we will each have interests that the other has not explored yet, and I need for my partners to exhibit a sense of curiosity and active exploration about sex and BDSM in order to remain sexually attracted to someone.  “Vanilla” sex is fine, even if that’s the majority of our sex.  It just can’t be the only kind of sex we have or I will get bored.  Since my sex partners are not interchangeable, “getting it from someone else” won’t solve my problem.

  • Chivalry.  I absolutely loathe any and all expressions of sexism, even "benevolent sexism", and that includes gender-based “politeness”.  Treating me different from others because of my gender (as opposed to our unique relationship or connection or personal preferences), even if you treat me “better” is not acceptable in any form.  I like nice people.  Gestures of politeness on the basis of my gender or to live up to some standard of your own gender (i.e. being a “gentleman”) are not nice.  This is not up for debate and I am not interested in hearing justifications or why it’s “different” when you do it.  If you can’t understand why I have a problem with this, we will have much bigger differences later on.

  • Woo.  I am a skeptical atheist and I have lost all patience for being in romantic relationships with people who view the world in a fundamentally different way than I do when I consider that worldview empirically wrong.  I have no problem being friends with people of different worldviews, but if I’m going to build an intimate romantic connection with someone, I have to be compatible with them on the most fundamental levels, including what reality is and how to approach life.

joreth: (Self-Portrait)
Someone asked me the following question, and this was my off-the-cuff answer (with a couple of minor additions & polishes after the fact):

What is your "price of admission" in a romantic relationship? Something that could be considered a flaw or a drawback, but that someone has to deal with to be in a relationship with you.


  • I'm independent, solo poly (even if I choose to someday cohabitate and/or marry, I will still be an independent person who happens to be partnered, never "half of a single unit"). I make my own decisions. I ask for input and I consider how my actions will affect my partners, and I will try to make them part of the decision-making process if I can, based on how these decisions affect them, but ultimately, I make my own decisions about my life, I need to be seen as an independent, unique, and individual human being by my partner and the world around me, and that's that.

  • I still need public acknowledgement of my relationships and to present as part of a "couple" at social functions, even though I'm solo poly (to me, presenting as a "couple" is not exclusive and does not preclude my partners from also presenting as part of other couples, even at the same events, nor does it preclude me from presenting as part of a couple with other partners, even at the same events).

  • I'm a mass of contradictions on the surface and it may take some digging to understand the motivations that actually make my contradictions totally not contradictory.

  • I'm poly and that's not changing, although the structure of my network will ebb and flow and change over time and I will occasionally have only one, two, or no partners.  The number of my partners and/or metamours is not what makes me poly, it's how I view & structure relationships that make me poly. I will never leave my other partners for someone, and I will never be comfortable dating someone who wants only me, unless he's even more solo & independent than I am and the reason he wants only me is because he spends so much time alone that he can't fit in another partner and still give me the time I need from him, and it's his choice that he's fine with.

  • I'm atheist. I fucking slam the needle on atheism. I'm anti-theist. I'm firebrand atheist. And I will mercilessly mock religion and supernatural beliefs. My friends know this about me and accept it of me because I don't pick fights with them over their beliefs, and they can choose to read my social media or not, knowing how I feel and that I will express my opinions here. Although I will challenge them if they say something to me directly that I know to be false, I am perfectly capable of holding my tongue and not *bringing up* my opinions against supernaturalism right at my friends because I can still like people as people even if I think they have silly ideas. However, I am *not* perfectly capable of holding my tongue with intimate partners and I need for them to be on board with my brand and style of atheism.

  • I'm feminist. That actually explains most of the above. And a good portion of below too.

  • I'm a ballroom and swing dancer. If my partner won't dance with me, I'll dance with others. Even if my partner *will* dance with me, it's proper ballroom etiquette to dance with others, and I happen to like that etiquette because it's primarily responsible for making me as good of a dancer as I am, since I've only had 2 real classes in dancing. And I will always feel like something is missing in my relationships where dancing is not an important shared activity.  I view dancing as a metaphor for life and relationships, and vice versa.  It's hard to overstate how important dance is to me.

  • I have a very dangerous job and I love it.

  • I have a job that keeps me poor, and I love it (the job, not being poor).

  • I cuss. A lot.

  • I do not want kids. Like, not even a little bit. And I'm pro-abortion.

  • I do, however, enjoy having pets. And those pets will always come first because they are dependent creatures that I have accepted responsibility for. Some days I have a reasonable handle on this, and some days I don't. So I might appear inconsistent in when I prioritize my pets above my people, but it's consistent in my own head and that's where it counts.  You do not get a say in how I prioritize them, and you do not get a say in when I'm being unreasonable about handling my responsibilities.

  • I'm a teetotaler. I don't drink *at all*, and I don't do any kind of drugs that aren't prescription and absolutely necessary for medical recovery or treatment. I'm not opposed to those around me drinking alcohol, but I don't date people who use drugs or smoke cigarettes (but I'm fine with people who used to or people who try things once or twice for the experience and that's enough), and I'm only going to barely tolerate social drinking and vaping. I will never stop hoping that someday my partners (who do them) will give up those things too, although I won't pressure anyone to change what they don't want to change.  I will, however, assist in their efforts to quit if they want.

  • I'm a cranky, cynical motherfucker who gets into fights on the internet, even though they cause me massive anxiety and make me disappear for several days. This isn't likely to change.

  • As [livejournal.com profile] tacit has once said, I'm a little bit scary sometimes. And I consider that a compliment.

  • I'm kinky. I don't have to have kink in all my relationships, but I am kinky and that's not likely to change.

  • My gender identity today is "tomboy". It may not be that tomorrow. But whatever it is, I probably still won't want to have sex with your girlfriend.

  • I am inconveniently straight. Yes, I find it an inconvenience. No, that doesn't mean that you can find some magical phrase that will "fix" this. On the rare occasion that I do engage in sexual activity with people of female biology, it's usually twigging some kind of gender play in my head, so I *still* consider myself straight even in that context. If you're wigged out by my fluid gender or by me experiencing mixed or different genders during my sex, we're really going to be a bad match.  And I still probably won't want to have sex with your girlfriend.  But I might be willing to have sex with certain of my metamours, under the right circumstances & with the right chemistry.  If you don't understand the difference between those last two sentences, we're going to be a bad match.

  • I likely have what's called a "responsive libido", meaning that it's mostly low-to-non-existent, but can be revved up on occasion. Sex will likely fade to nearly gone over the course of a relationship and the only thing that will prevent it from disappearing all together is the acceptance of this fact and appreciation for the times when I can get it going. No wheedling, pressure, or moping about its loss will help.

  • I am not a beginner relationship partner.

  • And I do not react well to being "dealt with" or "tolerated" by partners.  This "price of admission" needs to be paid gladly, gleefully, considered an honor to pay, or else I will begin to feel dismissed, condescended to, and unappreciated, and that will sour any relationship with me.  The price of admission for a relationship with me is someone seeing all these things about me, truly seeing them, and saying "I'm not paying a goddamn thing.  I'm so privileged to be in a relationship with you, that these are not deficits that I have to pay, they are things I am getting in return for providing you with the space to feel safe in being who you are around me.  It is you who is paying me with the honor of seeing you as you are."

joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)
A few years ago, I was op-ing some meeting rooms and the speaker wanted walk-in music, but it wasn't anticipated in the work order. So I pulled out my iPod and he picked out some songs and was thrilled that I could save him in this way.

So I built a "walk-in playlist". I'm a huge fan of building playlists. I have about a dozen or more that I use regularly. I have a Fucking Playlist, several playlists for different dance classes, a Happy Playlist, a Sleep Playlist, a Poly Party Playlist, and more. I can literally give a spontaneous dance lesson anywhere that we can hear the music on my iPod speakers because I carry it with me everywhere and many of my playlists are on it. My most commonly accessed playlist is my Work Playlist, which is similar to what most people might build for a workout playlist - all songs within a certain BPM range intended to keep my mood and energy up, to walk fast to (for pushing cases), etc. My playlist differs from most people's playlists, though, in that is has a ton of genres, they just have to be of the right beat.

So I took my Work Playlist, removed all the songs with cussing, all the pro-atheist songs, and most of the country except for a handful of really popular country songs (this guy was a rock fan but for some reason he really loved Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy and played it probably 5 or 6 times throughout the day).

Recently, I was a graphics op for a luncheon where the client was so stingy with the cash that we didn't have any headset communication between the backstage techs and the Front of House techs, no video engineers, etc. They also didn't arrange for walk-in music, and as people were filing into the room, the client finally noticed how quiet and awkward it is to not have walk-in music. So, she started to freak out, so I offered up my old walk-in playlist. We already had the audio set for my graphics machines, so we didn't need to communicate with the FOH audio guys, I could just plug in and we'd have music

She had to call her boss to make sure it was OK, and he wanted to know what was on it. So I said "mostly classic rock and '80s music", because there was a panicked-rushed feel to this whole thing and that's all I could think of what was on it being put on the spot like that, and he OK'd the playlist. But the first 4 songs that came up were swing dance songs - a mix of rockabilly, actual '50s Rock N Roll, and Big Band Swing. Which was fine, but the point is that I realized how eclectic my mix really was, and that might not be to everyone's taste.

So I'm building more playlists! I now have a walk-in playlist with just rock music from the '50s through the '80s; a pop playlist with pop music from the 2000s only; a retro/vintage playlist with music from the '20s through the '40s, Sinatra-style jazz, and modern music that has the same feel; and I'm about to build a Glurge playlist. "Glurge" is a term I first heard on Snopes, which says "think of it as chicken soup with several cups of sugar mixed in". Basically, it's those sickeningly sweet inspirational messages that have no real substance or, on the far end of the spectrum, actually have a much darker meaning than the uplifting message they supposedly support but you can't really tell because of the generic inspirational tone.

This playlist is going to be filled with all the really fucking annoying vaguely rah-rah music that every damn convention plays - like Happy by Pharrel or Roar & Firework by Katy Perry or I've Got A Feeling by Black Eyed Peas. If playlists could make me money, I figure I'd be rich in no time for this playlist alone.

But the playlist that's making me happy at the moment is my retro/vintage playlist. It's filled with Cab Calloway and Postmodern Jukebox and Ella Fitzgerald. I'm delighted thinking that, maybe someday, perhaps in a couple of years, someone is going to desperately need walk-in music and I'll be all "I can save you! What kind of music do you want?" And they'll be all "I don't know, what do you have?" And I can say "I have these playlists" and I'll list them, and someone will say "you have old ragtime?! That's awesome! Play some of that!" And I'll hook up my iPod and we'll be rocking out backstage to Louis Armstrong and Sammy Davis Jr. and a Miley Cypres song that sounds like it's being played in a slat-wood saloon with an upright piano and a guy in a red and white striped shirt with red garters on his biceps and people walking into the room will be all "WTF is this?" at first, but they'll find their feet tapping along while they sit and wait for the show to start because it's hard not to get into ivory-tickling and a wailing horn and a smooth-as-honey voice pouring out the speakers, into the ears, and down the back of the throat.

I may have a slightly unhealthy obsession with playlists.

‪#‎Audiophile‬
joreth: (Super Tech)
"No, I don't go to that club anymore alone."

"Why? Did something happen?"

"I stopped going there alone after I kept getting assaulted."

"You got beat up?"

"No, I got groped and pinned against a table, I got assaulted. One time I got assaulted by two different guys in the same night."

[relieved] "Oh, I thought you meant you got attacked! I mean, it's still bad."

I DID get attacked. I was put in a position where I was afraid for my safety. Each time I've been assaulted in this particular location, I had to be "rescued" by a friend who was observing from across the room. On one of these rescue occasions, the guy assaulting me turned verbally angry and made as if to follow after us when my friend pulled me away. The assaulter's friend stopped him.

I just posted a link to a story of two women who were violently assaulted after rejecting catcallers - one who died and one who is in critical condition. What happened to me at the club, what happens to me frequently in public spaces, could very easily turn into one of those news stories. There's no way to tell, until it happens.

I was touched, deliberately, in places I should never be touched without consent (and don't split hairs about *all* touching should receive consent, I mean even guys who want to excuse small violations agree about these locations - at least, they do when it's their girlfriends who get touched there by someone who isn't them or daughters get touched there by pretty much anyone). I was physically trapped with a man pressing his entire body against mine and into a table so that I could not leave without pushing back. I was forcibly grabbed, held in an embrace, and guys attempted to kiss me while I was CLEARLY resisting.

These are assaults. These are violations. They are not less serious just because I didn't get a black eye out of it. I got worse than a black eye. I got the fear that it would happen again and a restriction put on my ability to attend public functions. They are assaults and they are just as likely to escalate to a murder as a drunk idiot shoving another drunk idiot at a bar. And they are *common*.

It may seem like these incidents are happening all of a sudden to me, but they've always happened. I just didn't bother writing about them because they were so common. This is just the price of being a female in public. I no longer believe that I shouldn't bother writing about them just because they're common. That's the only reason you may be hearing about these assaults more often from me lately. Too many of you still don't understand why it's wrong, or maybe you get that it's wrong but not why some of us react so strongly to it (hey, it's annoying, but it's not a big DEAL ladies, just relax!), and too many of you still think it's "flattering", or that you'd "love it if more women treated [you] that way" or that it's a rare occurrence, or that it's motivated by sexual attraction and there are things women can do to prevent it from happening.

Or even that it's perpetrated by some mythical minority of evil bush-leaping rapists instead of just an average guy who bought the social script that tells us all that women are here to be looked at, that men are the sexual aggressors, that a "no" means "try harder", that women are the "gatekeepers" of sex, that a woman is a prize that a man can win if he just has the right clothes / car / job / amount of money / haircut / physique like winning the princess at the end of the level, or that women do *anything* in order to attract men.

I wish that all men-who-are-attracted-to-women could exist for a while without sight (and without the memory of the appearance of any women they knew prior to losing their sight). They'd have to experience the world without being able to look upon women and therefore treat women according to how they feel about looking at them. They'd have to interact with women as humans, instead of as creatures there for their entertainment. They couldn't laugh at her fat ass, they couldn't whistle at her tight ass, they couldn't rate her job performance based on whether they'd like to fuck her or not.

And then all women-who-have-relationships-with-men could experience something that I had the rare opportunity to experience - what it's like to be respected and admired, yes even in a romantic sense, by someone who knows you only for who you are inside; someone who can't be ignoring what he doesn't like in order to get sex from the body he does like; someone who can't be merely tolerating an unpleasant appearance because of the inner person or out of obligation for preexisting commitments or even inertia of an ongoing relationship. To have been cherished, even briefly, by someone who had no choice but to see me as I am without any sort of distraction from the shell that I reside in was one of the most amazing opportunities I've ever had.

Any body image issues magically disappeared for that experience. What has returned now that I'm living once again among the sighted is so much less than those issues I see my friends suffering. To be able to see myself through the eyes of someone without eyes was a life-changing experience and I wish the epiphany on everyone, if it could be done without fetishizing a disability.
joreth: (Super Tech)

http://yellowhammernews.com/faithandculture/alabamian-gets-schooled-mike-rowe-dirty-jobs/

“Don’t Follow Your Passion, But Always Bring it With You.”

I followed my passion and I'm glad I did.  I went into it with open eyes, knowing that I will probably be poor for the rest of my life, knowing that I'm very good at what I do, but not one of those rare superstars who amazes the world.

The difference is that I didn't *just* follow my passion.  I have a lot of passions.  I tried my hand at many of them until I found one that paid me something.  And when that job doesn't pay enough, I try other things.  I find either job types or individual companies to work for that offer me an outlet for my passions in some way.  A person who is passionate about creativity doesn't *have* to be a world famous painter.  There are lots of ways to bring creativity and art to your job, if that's what you want.  And there are lots of ways to experience your passions in your non-work hours, like I do with my dancing and my costuming.

The research on happiness and success in the workplace all shows that people who single-mindedly pursue only their passions are not the happiest or most successful people in the world.  The ones who feel the most satisfaction are the ones who found a way to be passionate or proud of the work that they do.  For some people, it's taking pride in doing an "honest day's work".  For some people it's working for a company whose vision they can take pride in and contributing to something greater than themselves.  For some people it's finding ways to apply their passions in unique or unconventional ways in their more conventional jobs.  For some people it's building a sense of security in a stable job with regular paychecks and health benefits that allows them their evenings free to pursue other endeavors.

I've always said that we spend too many of our waking hours at our jobs to work in jobs that we hate.  We should do whatever we can to spend our time doing something that we love, or at least can take pride in.  But I also agree with Mike Rowe here, that this something doesn't have to be your farfetched fantasy.  We may live in a country where "anyone can become President", but that doesn't mean that *anyone* can become President.  I will never be President of the US, even if I gave up everything to pursue that dream starting today.  I will never be an astronaut.  I will never be a world champion dancer.

But I wanted to work with my hands.  I wanted to work with technology.  I wanted the opportunity to be creative and artistic.  I wanted to work producing entertainment for other people, to help create environments and events where people could enjoy themselves.  And that's what I do.  That sort of job can be found in a wide range of places.  I did follow my passion, but with a practical, realistic sense of self and I bring my passion with me into whatever type of job I end up in.

joreth: (Super Tech)
http://www.buzzfeed.com/mattortile/hello-my-name-is-fabulous

So this has been floating around my Facebook feed in the last week. I'm re-posting it, not because I agree with every one of them or because I don't think the show has valid criticisms, but because some of the lines are actually really good advice.

The show has a lot of problems with it, I'll be the first to admit. I believe it's important to be able to admit the flaws of the media we like. We don't have to wait for the Perfect Media, we can like stuff with flaws. I just think we have to be able to admit and accept those flaws for what they are.

But I think this show is also undervalued by a lot of my progressive circles because of those very legitimate flaws. And I see most of the devaluing of the show from people who have never watched more than a couple of episodes.

The power of this show is that it highlighted a segment of the population that does not often get highlighted, let alone celebrated. This show celebrated the single, adult, independent woman. Yes, it showed them searching for love and relationships, but even single, adult, independent women often search for love and relationships. These are not mutually exclusive traits.

Over the seasons, as the characters age and continue to date as single women, the show addressed the concepts of aging, of female independence, of designer relationships, of the fairy tales, of social pressure and the expectations of womanhood, of class warfare, of alternative life choices, of dealing with death and mortality, of reconciling poor choices, of introspection, of introverts vs. extroverts, of communication, and of parenthood vs. non-parenthood and the validity of options.

I'm not saying that every episode was gold. I'm also not even saying that I agree with the conclusions they reach on any of those subjects. I'm saying that they introduced the topics to a mainstream audience when those topics had previously gone unstated or under-discussed. Much like The Golden Girls brought to every American living room the idea of seniors having sex and the challenges faced by single women as they age, this show eschews the standard formula of happily married but quirky heterosexual monogamous couple raising children in the suburbs.

It's not very realistic in that it does retain many of the other most-common sitcom (yes, I know it's not a sitcom) tropes of hip, attractive people living in one of the most expensive cities in the world and somehow managing to, not just survive, but thrive with enough expendable income to wear designer clothes and attend fabulous parties searching for love in all the wrong places and hilarity ensues. But it doesn't cover it in the young, early-twenty-something way as those sitcoms; it tells the story from the perspective of women who have "passed their prime", who have reached and passed the age at which they should have overcome their silly, young faux pas and found The One already and settled down into that married-with-children sitcom storyline. It tells the story of trying to find love while one's ability to have children becomes compromised and the effects of aging are just beginning to be seen and dealt with.

It tells the story from that in-between stage, where the women are no longer the hip, young people we can excuse from making the mistakes they make because they're young, and the older people who have already reached the stage where aging is a given and now they have to deal with that class. The process of coming to terms with aging, and of aging in our appearance-obsessed, monogamy-and-love-obsessed society is a process rarely examined.

As I do with any serial or episodic form of media in which there are good episodes and bad episodes, I like to take certain episodes that cover certain topics and examine that single topic on its own merit. I might have to provide some long-term context of the characters to explain why they react or behave the way they do, but the episode itself is being addressed as a stand-alone for the message. Even when the characters reach a conclusion that I disagree with, I find it to be a valuable teaching tool, discussion starter, and illustration of important or complex points.

I have a series of clips taken from a few different episodes that single out certain topics and points that I've uploaded to YouTube, and I post them occasionally when the comments threads are relevant. Maybe someday I'll get around to starting up that blog series on this show. It'll be in the Media Reflections tag here in my LiveJournal, if anyone is interested.
joreth: (Swing Dance)
While at the Suits, Star Wars, & Sinatra dance at DragonCon this weekend, I had the opportunity to teach a couple of guys how to dance. The event featured music from the '30s ragtime to big band of the '40s to Sinatra style jazz, which made it excellent for swing dancing. It also made it excellent for cha cha and foxtrot, but nobody there knew those dances.

But because it was Star Wars and suits, it also brought in a large number of non-dancers who were just attracted to the theme. While standing on the sidelines, trying to identify who were swing dance leads so that I could possibly ask them to dance later, I overheard a girl talking to two guys. She knew how to dance, but was mainly from the local lindy hop scene which may or may not have any formal training (sometimes people just learn from the community, which is totally a fine way to pick up social dancing), and knowing how to dance is not the same thing as knowing how to teach. I'm actually a better teacher than a dancer, personally.

Anyway, she knew how to dance and seemed to be trying to pick up the two guys (who seemed to be trying to pick her up) so she was trying to encourage them to dance. They pulled all the usual objections: "I have white boy syndrome", "I have two left feet", "I tried to learn and couldn't pick it up immediately so I gave up", etc.

So she was trying, and one of the two guys seemed to actually be trying to get into it. I moved closer and closer, as I usually do when I see a dance lesson happening, and eventually got close enough to make a comment. The other guy heard me, and he responded, to which I responded, and so on until I eventually got to admit that I teach beginning swing. So he got the attention of the others and introduced me as a teacher. The girl looked over at me gratefully and asked for help to teach.

So I moved over to the guy who was making an effort to learn and I taught him a few things. In a social setting, where the music is loud, ongoing, and ever-changing, it's a very different environment than a dance class. You can't teach the same things in the same order. You have to be able to give just a couple of pointers that the student can then use immediately to have a good time. If the student is spending his whole time trying to remember memorized steps, he won't be having a good time.

So I start out with 2 goals that I think are the bare minimum for enjoying dancing - rhythm and communication.

Step one: learn the basic rhythm, the pattern of steps, where to put your feet. Unless you're planning to perform or compete, if all you want to do is go to a silly little dance at a sci-fi con and impress someone who knows less about dancing than you do, the only thing you need to know about steps is the basic rhythm. No matter what happens, keep your feet moving in the same rhythm and you'll look amazing. If you lose it, pause for a moment and then start over.

Step two: learn the proper points of contact and what signals communicate what moves. As a lead, if you can communicate to your partner what you want them to do, then you can make up shit all night long and look amazing. If it seems like fun, you can take a class later and learn actual proper steps with names and everything. But if all you want to do is go to a silly little dance at a sci-fi con and impress someone who knows less about dancing than you do, all you need to know is how move your arms and where to place your hands so that the follow naturally responds to your signals even if the follow knows nothing about dancing.

That's it. That's all you need to know to go out and have a good time. After I got done with the one guy (in the span of less than one song), I looked over and saw the girl trying to teach the more reticent guy. So I brought my partner back over to the girl (proper dance etiquette - always return your partner to where you found them), and she asked if I'd like to swap and take a turn at teaching the other guy.

We swapped partners and the two of them went off to dance. The more reticent guy told me that he had White Boy Syndrome (to which I automatically responded that many of the top swing dancers in the world are white) and that he tried to learn how to dance once and was unable to. So I launched into the two-step spiel again. He did have a more difficult time with rhythm. He seems to be one of those people who just can't hear the beat, so I broke it down mathematically for him instead. He almost immediately picked it up that way.

Once he got the hang of the rhythm, I showed him how to communicate and I reiterated that he needn't get hung up on memorizing steps - if he just keeps doing the basic step and moves his arms so that the girl can dance around him, he'll be fine. It was fantastic to see the lightbulb go off behind his eyes. He lit up, thanked me, and said that he learned more about dancing in those couple of minutes than in his entire life up until that point.

I returned him to the girl again, and they all tried to apply what they had learned. Since I saw them together for quite a while, they seemed to be happy with the results. I wandered off to do my own thing.

I love teaching people how to dance. Some people avoid dancing because they think they'll never look like the pros. Of course they won't. Just like any other sport, pro dancers are a very small minority of the very top of the heap. Don't go into dancing thinking you're going to be good at it. Go into dancing thinking that you might develop a new way to enjoy music and social interactions. All you need to learn is a couple of things. If the dancing bug bites you, then you can take that and improve on it with classes and practicing, but that's not necessary. My goal in teaching is to help people have a good time. That's it.

Oh, and possibly to have a good time without injuring anyone else in the process - people who don't know how to dance flinging each other around trying to emulate people who know how to dance is a dangerous thing. It takes control and finesse to do those flashy moves. Learn the basics first. Please.

Here's a video of DragonCon that captured a one-second clip of me dancing at this event.  It's about a minute in and it's literally only a second long, but it did get me in mid-twirl and shows part of my USO costume.  I'd love to embed it, but the site doesn't offer an embed code that LJ recognizes, so you'll have to click on the link.  I've cued it up to just before my dance bit.



joreth: (Purple Mobius)
I was going back through my wishlist and I noticed some broken links to some pseudo-poly jewelry.  That took me to my FB Poly Jewelry Photo Album and a couple of old posts I made here, and I noticed some jewelry isn't available anymore.  While trying to correct the links, it reminded me that I haven't done a poly jewelry roundup in a while.  So here are some things I've found:


A very simple little ring made of sterling silver with a heart design, and the infinity symbol is integrated into the band itself, as opposed to most infinity-hearts where the infinity is part of the heart and the whole thing is sort of stuck onto a band (not that I have a problem with that style - it's most of my poly jewelry).  But I liked the simplicity of this because it has a flat band and no color or stones, so it would match everything - https://wheelerjewelryoutlet.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=27_28&products_id=490&osCsid=8nf7ep96upg7vgqs04dki6n6n7

A sterling silver ring with a larger, more obvious heart, with pseudo-Celtic knotwork inside and a twisty sort of design for the band that could represent an infinity symbol, for the more "discrete" wearer who might not want to make it obvious that it's a poly symbol - https://wheelerjewelryoutlet.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=27_28&products_id=556&osCsid=8nf7ep96upg7vgqs04dki6n6n7

This one is kind of stretching the whole poly symbol thing because it's just a series of hearts.  One could infer an "infinity" of hearts because they're all tied together in a ring, which itself is "infinite" because it has no beginning and no end.  The trim on my Miss Poly Manners Victorian gown is actually this exact same design in a black ribbon trim, so it can work, especially for the more "discrete" style preferences, but it's not obviously a poly design - https://wheelerjewelryoutlet.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=27_28&products_id=474&osCsid=8nf7ep96upg7vgqs04dki6n6n7

Another example of winding a Celtic knot pattern around a heart instead of the traditional infinity symbol, to substitute as poly jewelry.  This uses a turquoise stone for the heart and sterling silver for the knot / band.  It's also another example of using the "infinity" (or in this case, the Celtic knot pattern) as the band itself instead of as part of the design or symbol that's stuck onto a band - https://wheelerjewelryoutlet.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=27_28&products_id=832&osCsid=8nf7ep96upg7vgqs04dki6n6n7 This same design is repeated with different stones, in hematite; in lab-created opal; in blue paua shell; in blue lab-created opal; and in purple lab-created charoite.

I posted about this one before, but the link is broken now, probably because they updated their shopping cart or database, and it changed all the products' locations.  This is a purple lab-created charoite heart set in silver, and the silver top of the heart melts into a winding, twisting sort of infinity symbol with 2 twists instead of 1 (3 open loops instead of 2 in the figure-8).  I have this necklace and the matching earrings, and it's a very subtle variation on the poly infinity-heart.  It's sufficiently different enough from the poly infinity-heart that it can definitely qualify as "discreet", but the heart and infinity themes are still there, so I'm comfortable wearing it as symbolic of polyamory.  This design also comes in lab-created opal earrings in gold, in lab-created opal earrings in silver, and in lab-created blue opal earrings, but I can't find a matching pendants, and I'd really love the blue opal set that I'm starting to introduce some turquoise blue into my dance wardrobe - https://wheelerjewelryoutlet.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=34_65_66&products_id=2580&osCsid=8nf7ep96upg7vgqs04dki6n6n7

These are a lot like the costume jewelry from Claire's that I posted about a while ago, except that they're handmade silver and not faux-silver plated that can wear off after too much use.  I love the simplicity of the design and I'm a fan of very narrow ring bands because I have such small hands that wide bands don't look or fit right.  Claire's appears to no longer be carrying those rings, so even though these are so much more expensive, they're the same style and they're good quality materials - https://www.etsy.com/listing/195671691/polyamory-ring

From the same jeweler as the previous ring entry, this is a uniquely patterned infinity-heart pendant made of silver and a fairly large-ish size.  It comes in three patterns: the polka dot shown here, something that he calls "grooved stripes" which really just make it look like the bark on a tree branch (I think it looks pretty neat), and what he calls a "chapped-like surface" which looks to me like hammered metal, sort of like one of those metal bowl drums that they play calypso music on.  These ring out at the upper end of the price spectrum that I usually prefer to post about, costing over $130, but for handmade quality silver, it's not a bad price.  It's also available in bronze, gold, or other metals upon request - https://www.etsy.com/listing/195660262/large-polyamory-pendant


Here's an unusual variation on the infinity-heart theme, with a large infinity symbol and the heart is attached to it instead of the other way around.  It's being listed as a "bridesmaid favor".  The infinity symbol is made of plated silver and the color of the heart can be changed upon request - http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/product_view/9738864

This blends polyamory with BDSM (although I don't think they intended to) by including an infinity design onto a decorative black heart-shaped padlock marketed for a "day collar".  This padlock is made of a nickel-silver alloy with a black epoxy resin.  The jeweler is willing to add a coat of clear glaze to the backside where the nickel-silver finish is exposed, to protect those with nickel allergies.  It's only a mere 1.25 inches across, 1.5 inches in height, and it comes with two keys.  They look like fairly standard "jewelry lock" keys, so I'm sure additional keys can be found for more than one key-holder.  I think my little diary that I had as a teenager had keys like that, and my handcuff keys might fit too - http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/product_view/BrainofJen/9389620/infinity_symbol_black_and_silver_heart_working_padlock_for_day_collar

This jeweler has a couple on this same basic design.  One has those pearls at the joint between the chain and the pendant and the other has the chain go straight to the pendant.  The stones can be changed to suit the color you want.  You can also add another dangling stone, pearl, or crystal.  It's made of silver but you can request one in gold.  This is also not a typical poly design so it also functions as one of those "discrete" designs.  Unlike the poly infinity-heart or the twisty heart above, this only has one twist and one loop, so it may not register as an infinity symbol unless you count the heart itself as part of the infinity symbol - http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/product_view/yhtanaff/7068758/heart_love_infinity_pearl_necklace_with_red_birthstone

Here's a simple little bracelet made of a black wooden bead with the infinity-heart simple carved and painted into it, and then braided into a rough cord bracelet.  For the more "natural" look, without precious metals or stones - http://www.kaboodle.com/reviews/wooden-bead-braided-infinite-love-bracelet--polyamory-jewerly

So, that's it for now.  I'm sure I'll do another poly gift roundup as it gets closer to the winter gift-giving holidays.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
I posted this article with the following commentary in the Singleish and Solo Polyamory FB group, and I was asked permission to re-post my commentary.  So I'm archiving it here to prevent it from getting lost in the FB ether, and so that anyone wishing to re-post or refer to my commentary will have a link-back when they give me attribution:


This is a post by my metamour, that if you follow More Than Two, you've probably already seen. http://www.morethantwo.com/blog/2014/01/guest-post-on-zero-sum-family-and-consent/

When I started dating her partner, I spent a lot of effort on language to emphasize my solo nature. I had a dangerous job with unusual hours that I love and I was sick of men thinking it was "cute" at first but then trying to talk me out of it. I had never dated anyone who was poly-before-me at that point and I was fucking sick to death of cowboys. I had a long history of partners who sought to curb my autonomy.

So I used language deliberately to over-emphasize how solo I was, trying to nip that problem in the bud. But Shelly, at that point in her life, had invested most of her own self in the dream of "family". She and I had a lot of emails and a lot of discussion - tense, frustrated, tearful discussion - about family vs. solohood. She just could not understand my relationship with her partner. In her mind, it wasn't "serious" if it didn't match this family dream of hers.

She spent a lot of years struggling to understand my relationship with our partner. And I spent a lot of years struggling to reconcile my need for autonomy and independence with my desire for exactly the kind of family that she was offering, as well as to explain those seemingly conflicting needs and desires.

Then Shelly and I both dated another person. And she learned in one relationship what took me a lifetime of micro-aggressions to develop my autonomous stance. And I learned from that relationship a more nuanced definition of "family". This article is kind of a summation of some of our lessons on this topic (not that I had anything to do with the writing of it).

Shelly and I have both come towards the same destination from radically different starting points. Being autonomous has always been easier for me than for her, but finding that autonomy from within a family is her great lesson that I continue to need to work on.

I post this article because she addresses the need for autonomy within poly relationships from a unique perspective. She comes at it from a place of mental health and consent in a way that, although I'm sure others feel, I've not seen it verbalized in quite that way. Shelly looks at life in a very different way than anyone I've ever met. She adds nuance and flesh to already complex concepts, and she forces me to see myself from different points of view. So I want to share this article because it covers the dangers of hierarchical poly in a unique way, and the importance of autonomy, while in the comments she leaves room for the importance of family and compromise and commitment when oftentimes I see the pro-autonomy side stray too far into the "I am me, so fuck you" inconsiderate, un-compassionate (I know that's not a word, but it's what I mean) side.

Shelly makes me a better person, and if it weren't for polyamory, I'd never have met her; and if it weren't for our dating the same person (more than once), I'd never have gotten to know her on the level that I did. Shelly is the reason why I do poly. I mean, sure, it's great and all to have multiple partners. But equally, if not more important to me, is that poly relationships bring metamours into my life that I wouldn't have otherwise. There are lots of forms of non-monogamy out there, but polyamory and the emphasis on relationships over recreational sex as well as the importance of family - or at least of interconnected networks - polyamory brings the benefit of metamours. Metamours are half of the whole reason to do poly.

Not all my metamours have the same kind of relationship with me as I do with Shelly and not all of my metamours are like Shelly. That's not the point. But just as I subscribe to non-escalator relationships for romantic relationships and I require my romantic relationships to evolve into whatever form is best for *that* relationship because I find value in different types of relationships, I apply the same sort of freedom in evolving my metamour relationships.

My other metamours do not have the same sort of relationship with me as I do with Shelly. And that's the value of solo polyamory for me. If my metamour relationships were expected to ride their own version of a relationship escalator, then I wouldn't have the amazing relationships with each of them that I do have - as varied and unique as the people themselves. And I wouldn't have the amazing relationship with Shelly that I have, because our relationship never grew on the sort of metamour escalator that so many prescriptive, family-oriented relationships insist on - that even Shelly tried to insist on in the beginning. And as you can see from her writing, she is an amazing person, and my life would be less bright if I had to choose between an escalator metamour relationship with her that didn't fit right or nothing at all, if I could not find our own path to grow together. And we wouldn't have this gem of her writing to explain the importance of autonomy and independence as it pertains to consent and to mental health.
joreth: (Kitty Eyes)
Empathy is one of the most difficult senses for people to feel. People think that the goal is to put themselves in the other person's position, but that's not it. If I were to put myself in someone else's position, I would not be in their position. I would have my own experiences, thoughts, opinions, and filters while in that position and I *could not* experience what they experience.

Empathy is attempting to understand what it's like to actually *be* that other person, complete with their experiences, thoughts, opinions, and filters. I can't try to understand someone who is afraid of heights by thinking "well, if I were standing on that ladder where they are, I just wouldn't look down". I do not have a phobia of heights. I can climb a ladder without feeling afraid. I can climb a ladder without looking down. I can climb a ladder without the intrusive thoughts and physiological responses that paralyze me and cause me to break out in a cold sweat.

If I wanted to understand someone who is afraid of heights, I cannot put *myself*, as I am, in their position. I have to understand what a fear of heights actually FEELS like. I have to know what it's like to climb a ladder and have a flood of hormones and chemicals rush through my body making me shake, making my heart race, making my body temperature drop, and literally preventing my limbs from moving.  I cannot put "myself" there, I have to understand what it's like to BE them.

It's really easy to say "when someone bullies you, just stand up to them" if you are in a body capable of defending yourself, in an economic class where people will back up your claims of being bullied, have a brain that can look at an attacker, mental or physical, and react in exactly the right way that will prevent the bully from continuing.

It's really easy to say "if you want to get out of poverty, work hard and move up the corporate ladder" if you are in a body capable of doing the work, have a brain capable of producing the sorts of answers that impress one's superiors, in an economic class that allows you the time to get a job or the education to get a better job, in a situation that doesn't actively hinder efforts, and are in other classes that are not automatically distrusted and discriminated against even if you're brilliant at everything else.

It's really easy to say "just get off the couch and go to work and stop moping around" if you are in a body capable of lifting itself off the couch, have a brain that actually causes the body to respond to "get off the couch" electrical signals, or are in a situation that provides coping mechanisms and strategies for overcoming chemical impulses that are counter-productive to the goal.

But do you know what it feels like to have a body that doesn't work? A brain that sends the wrong chemicals and the wrong electrical signals? A situation that fundamentally changes the very pathways in your brain to produce a personality that CANNOT do the things that you can do?  Do you know what it feels like to be someone else?

Empathy is either being able to actually imagine those things or acknowledging that you can't imagine them but that it is a valid subjective experience for the other person. And empathy is how we will arrive at solutions.
joreth: (Super Tech)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/06/elizabeth-banks-genetics_n_5652544.html

One point that I particularly liked about this article is that, while it is pointing out the importance of genetics in our appearance, it also didn't dismiss the work that individuals put into their appearance.


As they point out in More Than Two, DNA is not a blueprint, with the final results all spelled out and you know exactly what you're going to get the way you would know if you looked at a large sheet of blue paper with the plans for a house. "DNA is more like a recipe: a set of instructions that tells cells step-by-step how to grow an organism." That recipe has a range of things that the final product can become.

To paraphrase a section in the movie My Best Friend's Wedding, the recipe for crème brûlée can never become Jell-O and Jell-O can never become crème brûlée (although it can approximate its flavor). It just doesn't have the right ingredients. But the ingredients to crème brûlée can be mixed together by a master chef and become the most amazing crème brûlée to have ever been fired under a torch, or it can get burnt or it can be pretty good or it can be mixed by a 2-year-old and come out a sloppy mess.

Our DNA gives us a range of things that our body can become. It's merely the list of ingredients. Chance, our environment, our conscious effort once we're born, all kinds of things can affect how we turn out. Some celebrities, because of the money they're paid, can hire the best trainers and devote much of their days to crafting the perfect crème brûlée. Other people may have all the same ingredients and also turn out a pretty damn good crème brûlée because they had the good fortune to be born into a culture that privileges people who start out with the ingredients to crème brûlée over people who start out with the ingredients to Jell-O, so they end up with the ability to maintain an exercise regimen and dietary plan to enhance the outcome of their crème brûlée.  And some people also start out with the ingredients for crème brûlée but they treat the recipe like that 2-year old or they have a 2-year old thrown at them and they end up a sloppy mess.

The point of all this is that I'm pleased to see an article that discusses the importance of genetics in the final appearance of these celebrity illusions while also not dismissing outright the work that some of them really do put into maintaining and achieving that look. What often happens when anyone points out a privilege of some sort is that those who have the privilege get all indignant and shout "I worked my ass off to get where I am!"

Yes, you did. You exercise every day, you expend a lot of mental energy to think about your diet, you studied 26 hours a day to get good grades in school in spite of not having money for electricity so you studied by candlelight, you pounded the pavement, you *worked*. Absolutely. But you also started out with the ingredients to crème brûlée. If you work your ass off, you will probably get a fucking awesome crème brûlée. But someone who doesn't have the same ingredients will never create crème brûlée. They might be able to create something else awesome.

But we're penalizing people for not having prize-winning crème brûlées. We're penalizing ourselves for not having crème brûlées. We're blaming each other for being given a recipe for Jell-O and not turning it into crème brûlée. And we need to stop. We need to acknowledge that the celebrities, even the ones who "work hard", are still starting out with a body that, as the article says, "are predisposed to take on a traditionally attractive physical form IN RESPONSE TO THEIR WORK" (emphasis mine).

We need to accept that some of us have one recipe, with a range of things that the final product can become and that will be affected by what we do with the ingredients once we get started, and yet other people have different recipes with different ranges of things that the final product can become. It is important that we work with those ingredients to craft as delicious a product as we can with what we're given. But there is room for crème brûlée and there is always room for Jell-O.

joreth: (Swing Dance)
I'm going to reveal some secrets that normally would be held by the Girl Code, where we all get together and decide what's acceptable and what isn't, and then we agree not to tell anyone outside the special Girl Meeting so that we can make them guess about what's acceptable and what isn't, and then we can punish them when they guess poorly. But I got a special Hall Pass for this one from the Girl Council because of special circumstances. So listen up, because it's not very often one of us gets to break ranks and reveal our special secrets.

Ok guys - this is for all cis men, straight men, bi men, trans men, gay men, and anyone of any gender or orientation who takes on the "aggressor" or "pursuer" role, but ESPECIALLY those who think of themselves as "gentlemen", or as guys who are capable of putting the moves on a woman. Since most of those types of guys insist on retaining the sexist terminology like "gentleman" because they refuse to see how objectifying it is, I'll use that terminology if it's the only way to make you think that this should apply to you.

Should you find yourself in a heternormative situation, such as a nightclub, where it would be reasonable for you to talk to, flirt with, hit on, ask for a phone number from, ask out, or try to fuck someone who appears to be female, there are some lessons in classy from the ballroom dance scene that you should utilize if you don't want to actually freak her out, piss her off, frighten her, traumatize her, or have her male friend beat the shit out of you for.

So let's talk about how to treat a lady in these situations. Anyone who is biologically female, appears to be female, calls herself a woman, or is otherwise a person whom you are targeting for talking to, flirting with, hitting on, asking for a phone number from, asking out, or trying to fuck will be referred to in this discussion as a Lady. No matter how she's dressed, how she acts, how she talks, or even whether she herself likes or doesn't like the term "lady"; for succinctness, they are all "ladies" for this post.

Now gentlemen, let's say you see a lady across a smokey nightclub. She's attractive and you'd like to connect with her on some level. This is how you do it.

DO: When you see a lady, you may approach her, but only in a manner that does not trap her. Stand side-by-side with her so that she can leave you if she wants to. If it's not possible to stand or sit side-by-side, then stand or sit at a diagonal to her, or place your body in a position that is 90 degrees to the direction her body is facing, so that she has a clear path of escape.  The exact placement of your body is less important than giving her a path that she can use to leave you that doesn't require you to move out of her way at all and that doesn't require her body to touch yours as she exits.

DON'T: Do not face your body to her squarely or front-on. Especially if her back is to a wall or she is seated with a wall or chair back behind her, do not face her squarely with your body. Most especially, DO NOT LEAN IN AND PRESS HER INTO THE TABLE BEHIND HER, forcing her to physically push you back to escape.

DO: When you speak to her, turn your face only (not your body) so that she can clearly see your eyes and mouth, being cautious of her personal space bubble. Pay attention to whether she leans toward or away from you and adjust your proximity so that she can sit or stand upright.

DON'T: Do not lean your face into her face. It is nearly impossible to tell if that move means you are trying to be heard better or to kiss her. Keep your face out of her space.  Think of it this way - she may have a contagious illness that is spread by air like a cold; don't put your face in close enough to feel her breath, or for her to feel yours where she might catch whatever germs you're carrying around or be forced to smell the cheap beer you just drank or the cigarette you just smoked.  Don't lean in so close that she can't focus on both your eyes and mouth at the same time.  Avoiding these things will also prevent her from thinking that you're trying to lean in and kiss her.  Don't lean in and try to kiss her.

DO: If it is too loud to hear properly and you need to lean in just to communicate, turn your face to the side and OBVIOUSLY aim for her ear. Keep your face out of her face. Again, pay attention to which way she is leaning. If she is leaning away, you are either too close or you are speaking too loudly for the proximity to her ear. Back up.

DON'T: Do not take advantage of your necessary proximity to touch your mouth or cheek to any part of her body. Absolutely DO NOT fucking kiss her neck or ear.

DO: Please do talk about relevant topics, such as the music, the atmosphere, the food or drinks available. If you saw her dancing prior to speaking with her and you admire her dancing, it is OK to compliment her on her dance skills. It is also OK to compliment her on an article of clothing she is wearing or her hairstyle.

DON'T: Do not compliment her on her appearance or her body. Even if she is doing things that you think invite complimenting, such as wearing revealing clothing or dancing in a suggestive manner. Especially do not tell her that you think she is "hot". Ladies who appreciate hearing compliments will also feel complimented if you stick to the "do" guidelines on complimenting and, at worst, won't notice that you didn't reveal to her the state of your arousal at the sight of her body. At best, she is probably used to hearing that she is "hot", so your unique and creative compliments will stand out and make YOU stand out from the crowd. Don't be one of the many jackasses that she's had to fend off forever and don't tell her that she's hot. Or that you love her. Or that you want her to be your girlfriend. Or anything at all that you wouldn't say to your younger sister, if you had one, or that you wouldn't want some strange drunk guy saying to your younger sister the moment he meets her. Because, apparently, you can't put yourself in her shoes and treat her with respect just for being a human being, otherwise you wouldn't need to be told to think of a family member in order to consider respecting her.

DO: Do feel free to ask her to dance at a venue where there is dancing. You do so by backing your body away from her space and towards the dance floor while extending your hand, palm up, as if to ask her to put her hand in yours, bow your head slightly in a "questioning" gesture, smile, raise your eyebrows, and ask her politely if she would like to dance.  Practice this in the mirror until you get it right.  Watch Fred Astaire movies for reference.  A self-depreciating comedic flare will probably go over well if humor is comfortable for you and also give you a face-saving way of accepting a rejection by making light of the situation.

DON'T: Do not grab her hand, arm, or any other part of her body and try to physically move her towards the dance floor. If she declines for any reason or using any method, including saying "no", shaking her head in a negative fashion, ducking her head and looking embarrassed, or explaining that she doesn't know how to dance, DO NOT cajole her, harass her, repeatedly request a dance, grab the hand she just pulled out of yours, or demand "aww, why not?" Do not respond to a rejection in any way other than a graceful acceptance.

DO: If she accepts, lead her onto the dance floor and proceed to dance in the manner common to that venue.  Holding her hand to guide her if she placed her hand in yours is acceptable, as is placing a hand on the middle of her back if you walk behind her to gently steer her and to let her know that you are still behind her.

DON'T: If she accepts, do not attempt to dance with her in a more sexually suggestive manner than is common to the other dancers on the floor (excepting those couples who are obviously in a preexisting relationship). Don't break with the protocol of the venue by going "down" or more sexually suggestive in dancing style, although if you have formal partner dance skills, it is OK to break the informal protocol to dance more formally. Especially if you have seen her dancing with other people and she clearly knows how to partner dance, do not immediately devolve your dance with her to a sexually suggestive style. If she has skill or dance training, going straight to the grinding is decidedly unimpressive.

DO: It may or may not be common etiquette for the venue to include body contact while dancing. Use the lightest body contact possible for the style of dance and/or music for the venue and allow her to close the distance if she wishes. Many dance styles require body contact and even placing the legs between the partner's legs to bring the hips and groin into contact - that is not necessarily an invitation.  Remember, many of the best partner dancers are siblings and family members who nevertheless perform classic dance moves that require familiarity with each other's physical presence.  She may be willing to allow body contact that is more than what she would be comfortable with if it weren't for the sake of dance protocol, but it doesn't mean she is consenting to anything else.  Keep your hands above the waist and on her back only.

DON'T: Do not grind on your partner unless she initiates it by moving her groin into yours. Do not touch her below her waist on either her front or her back. Do not touch her on her front above her waist.

DO: To look really classy, keep your right hand on her shoulder blade and use your left hand to gently hold her right hand (in a way that conveys enough pressure to give her leading signals but that allows her enough freedom to remove her hand if she wishes - no closed grips!) in the air about her shoulder height and maintain a firm frame with your arms so that she can follow your dance lead. A proper dance lead will be able to lead a partner even if she has no idea how to dance, or how to partner-dance and she will be really impressed if you make her look like an experienced dancer through your leading skills. If she expresses discomfort with that position because she's not used to proper dance hold, it is acceptable to allow her to place both of her hands on your shoulders or around your neck in the more common, informal closed dance position, while you place your hands in the middle of her back or the sides of her waist and NO LOWER.  If she exhibits discomfort with being in a closed hold, it is acceptable to allow her to break the hold and dance on her own in your proximity even if you were being the epitome of gentlemanliness with your proper dance hold.

DON'T: Do not take advantage of her willingness to accept body contact while dancing to kiss her. Anywhere. Not on the mouth, not on the neck, not on the ear, not on the breasts ... in fact, do not touch her in any traditional erogenous zone or secondary sex characteristic at all. Even if she presses them up against you, do not take the initiative and do not try for anything more than what she is actively requesting of you. If she wants more but doesn't indicate so, too bad, this is about how you can be a gentlemen and impress the ladies with your gentlemanliness.

DO: At the end of the song, step back, slightly bow your head and thank her for the dance. If your dance included dancing in a closed hold position of some sort, it is acceptable to gently squeeze the hand that you are currently holding while you bow your head and thank her in a sort of modified or implied handshake or hug-by-proxy.  If you are in the more informal hold with no hand-holding, it is acceptable to reach up to remove her hands from around your neck and offer the light hand-squeeze then or to pull back from her while running your hands from behind her back, along the length of her arms, to her hands, where you can then offer the light hand-squeeze - both with the bowed head and verbal thank-you.  If you ended your dance in a position with no body contact, it is probably safer to limit yourself to the bowed head only.  Then walk her back to where you found her. Dance only one song at a time. If you began dancing more than 2/3 into a song, it is acceptable to extend the 1-song rule to the second song and no further. After several dances (not in a row), it may be acceptable to offer a light hug in place of the head-bow while you thank her for the dance, prior to walking her back to where you found her.

DON'T: Do not monopolize her time. Do not dance for multiple songs in a row. Especially do not move straight from one song to the next song with no break. This traps her on the dance floor with you and she may be frantically signalling to her pretend-boyfriend over your shoulder to come rescue her because she doesn't know how to break a dance-in-progress without seeming rude or causing a scene, even if she thinks you're being rude.

DO: When you have reached the place where you found her, excuse yourself with an explanation that is clearly not about her and indicate that you'd like to reconnect later without demanding a commitment from her to do so. An example may be "if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get another drink. Perhaps we can dance again later?" or "I'm so sorry, but I have to go say hi to my friend who just walked in. We'll talk more in a bit?" Give her a chance to miss you.

DON'T: Do not sit yourself down in her space and command her attention. She needs a chance to decide if she wants to continue to be in your presence or if she needs a respite or a rescue. Especially do not beg or harangue her for more dances, particularly if she was the one to initiate leaving the dance floor.

DO: Wait a few songs before approaching her again, but then approach her again if you said you would - she may not feel comfortable approaching you, especially if you really are talking with someone else. Pay attention to her body language - is she leaning towards or away from you? Are her eyes scanning the room or looking at you or looking down or away? If she is not exhibiting signs of wishing you were dead or that a hole would open up in the floor and swallow her up to get away from you, now you can choose to have a conversation or ask for another dance - both of which should use the methods already described.

DON'T: Do not think that if she is smiling, she's happy for your presence. Look for other clues. Ladies are constantly told to smile regardless of their feelings and they are regularly punished for rejecting men, so many of them will be conditioned to smile even when they are uncomfortable. Don't rely on a smile alone for confirmation of her feelings. Especially don't give her shit for smiling while exhibiting discomfort or giving "mixed signals" - it's because of guys who desperately need this guide and don't have it or ignore it that she has that habit in the first place. Some of those guys may even be you. At any rate, it's not her fault that she does that.

DO: Do feel free to dance with other people in between dancing with her. If you do, be especially mindful to allow her to see you treating other ladies with the same respect, including not dancing more than one song in a row with any given lady, so that she doesn't mistake your gentlemanly behaviour with disinterest and so that she doesn't feel intimidated or awkward accepting dance requests from you or from other people. This establishes a friendly, open connection that reduces anxiety about feeling trapped or unwillingly committed. If she exhibits signs of jealousy when you spend time with other people or dance with other ladies, considering how early this is in your acquaintanceship, you can use this as your own escape and congratulate yourself on dodging a bullet so early on.

This is just to get the front door open - etiquette on how to approach a lady. There are whole other chapters on what to do now that the door is open and how to get your foot inside, and then the rest of you inside.


In ballroom etiquette, the gentlemen are required to ask many women to dance because there are often more women than men, so it is polite to give dancing opportunities to as many of the ladies as possible so that they are not left out of the event. Even if a gentleman arrives with a special lady, he is still expected to make the rounds, even if he saves certain dances or more dances for his lady. A gentleman asks for the privilege of dancing with a lady and accepts her rejection with grace. A gentleman escorts her onto the dance floor, dances one dance with her, and then escorts her back while thanking her for the opportunity to dance with her. A gentleman then politely excuses himself so as to give the lady opportunities to dance with others while he does his gentlemanly duty to ensure the other ladies are having their own opportunities. A gentleman only touches where is necessary for the dance and nowhere else. A gentleman does not take advantage of the proximity that the lady offers for the sake of the dance - a proximity that she would not otherwise offer if it weren't for the sake of the dance. A gentleman expressing his interest may then approach the lady several times throughout the event to give her the opportunity to respond to his interest. A gentleman also graciously accepts attention and requests to dance from ladies in the same vein that the ladies generally accept it from him and rejects with grace.

Ballroom etiquette is no longer in favor in nightclubs and pickup spots, so you are not necessarily crossing any social taboos by not knowing or following this etiquette. But someone who is concerned about whether or not he makes other people uncomfortable by his presence will want to take the safest route when dealing with unfamiliar people and ballroom etiquette is designed to minimize social discomfort even with the most ... sensitive ... of us.

If more people still followed ballroom etiquette guidelines, I wouldn't have had my ass grabbed tonight on the dance floor, I wouldn't have had one guy grab my hand 3 times after I pulled it away from him, I wouldn't have had someone tell me "but I love you, I want to dance with you!" repeatedly after I repeatedly rejected him, I wouldn't have had someone try to kiss me on the dance floor and when I turned my head aside and pulled back, had him pull me back towards him and have him kiss my neck because that was all he could reach, and I wouldn't have been pinned against a table as yet another guy ground his groin into mine forcing me to put both hands on his chest and physically push him back to get enough space to escape. I also wouldn't have had a friend see what was going on in that last example and rush over to rescue me only to have the asshole get offended that I ran off with another man and shout "what the hell?" and complain to his buddy who was next to us and saw the whole thing, then had the two of them shoot me dirty looks the rest of the night, prompting my friend to insist on walking me to my car at the end of the night.

Look guys, I know some of y'all think you're all smooth with the ladies once you've had some liquid courage, but you're not. I'm sober, I can see what you think is "smooth". You're not. If you're not a sociopath, you'll care whether the ladies you hit on in bars think you're an asshole or not. The advice I give might make you miss an opportunity with a more passive lady who doesn't know how to deal with someone who values consent and autonomy and personal space, but it will prevent you from being an asshole, whether you like the label "gentleman" or not.

Some people think that having some chick they hit on in a nightclub bitch about them on Facebook later that night isn't a big deal. So what? You didn't know her anyway, right? Most reasonable people care about not making people feel uncomfortable, especially people they were hoping to connect with in some way, but if you need a purely self-centered reason, these tips will help you to be your best self. If you like to brag about being a "gentleman" or you like to think of yourself as a decent person, this is how you start. This is how you start being a decent person and have the side effect that other people like you and like being around you because you're a decent person who can at least fake empathy and compassion while doing your best to respect other people's autonomy and space, if caring about their feelings isn't enough of a reason.

Gender Swap

Jul. 9th, 2014 01:09 pm
joreth: (Super Tech)
http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/bbc-works-around-the-gender-problem-of-reboots-by-turning-some-male-characters-female-20140707

"Go through the projects you're already working on and change a bunch of the characters' first names to women's names. With one stroke you've created some colorful, unstereotypical female characters that might turn out to be even more interesting now that they've had a gender switch."

When I was in high school, the director we hired to head up our baby theater program* decided to do Romeo & Juliet as a musical.  Since Shakespeare wrote in verse, he reasoned, the lines could be delivered through song.  He hired a brilliant composer to add music to select verses and it is, to this day, still the best version of Romeo & Juliet that I've ever seen.

Two other changes he made was to put everyone in modern dress but keep the lines in old English (this was before Leo's movie) although he kept the fencing swords in the fight scene instead of using guns (which I preferred).  He also made Mercutio a woman.

Let that sink in for a moment.  Romeo's best friend, who does his damnedest to keep Romeo & Juliet apart, was a woman.  That added a whole level of depth to Mercutio's motivation and character.  Suddenly, he wasn't just a flat snob, viciously defending his class, but now she was a woman with conflicting emotions about Romeo, motivated by class privilege and familial obligation and unrecognized jealousy and love.

That same director, the following year, directed Jesus Christ Superstar and had a female student play Judas.  He didn't particularly change anything about the costume or the presentation.  She had sort of an Axl Rose look to her, so it wasn't clear whether she was a woman playing Judas or an actor playing a female Judas.  And that androgyny brought all kinds of interesting nuance to the role, again with sexual tension and jealousy and love.  Because we were an all-girl school, it was common to have females play male roles, but we liberally accepted male auditions from any school and most of the main male roles were filled by males.  So when the director put a female in a main male character's role, he did so deliberately.

Most male roles are written as male by default, not because there is anything inherently male about their characters.  They are just character blanks that happen to be male.  That means that there is diversity and nuance and depth in male characters that are not present when a character has to be deliberately written as a female.  In order for someone to put a female character into a story, they have to deliberately write her as a female, which means that they often *write* her "as a female character", instead of "as a character".  This is why so many female characters are so flat and uninteresting - they're being written deliberately "female" with that writer's biases influencing what they think "female" means.

So change the characters' names to female names and they work just fine, because well-written characters are simply people experiencing the human experience.  I posted a link a while back suggesting that parents do this when they read to their children.  If you are the one doing the writing, I suggest waiting until you are essentially finished writing, assuming your characters are male by default, and *then* change the names, so that you don't unintentionally influence your characterization by renaming her too early in her development.

I used to be bothered by changing things like race and gender because it wasn't "canon".  But after seeing how well it worked in my high school play, I am much less strict about "canon" and more concerned with "does it change the plot or the character arc?"  If it significantly changes the plot or the direction where the character is supposed to grow by the end, then I'm opposed to it, generally speaking.  Sometimes those changes make things better, but more often than not, I start thinking "if you're gonna change the entire direction of the story, why not just write a whole new story instead of pretending that it's this pre-existing story that it's now totally not because of how you changed it?"  Wicked, Maleficent, Hansel & Gretal, etc., those change the stories but not in ways that I think ruin the originals or make them so different as to negate the whole purpose of writing about that story in the first place (whether the movies or plays are *good* or not is another question).  They change the *perspective*, which gives depth to the overall story, because we are all the heroes of our own stories and stories told from other perspectives will always be different from each other.  Now for reboots, I have mixed feelings on.  It depends on how they reboot it, again, whether or not I feel "this story is so different, what's the point of calling it by the same name?"

But because of the whole default issue, filling in white male characters with non-white, non-male actors (even if those "actors" are merely drawn/written in another version of a book) often doesn't change the plot or the character arc because most characters are not written *as* a story of the white male experience, but as a story of a human experience.  If there's nothing inherently male about that character, such as a story being told about what it's like to be a man, then switching gendered names or actors is a great way to enjoy some of our classics (or at least, nostalgic favorites) without the historical sexism leaking all over.  What would Pippin & Merry's story be if one of them was a female hobbit?  Iif both of them were?  What would the entire story be if Gandalf was a woman?

Hell, even some strictly gendered stories like romantic comedies that claim to be telling stories of "the male experience" or "the female experience" could probably do with a good gender swap to expose stereotypes and to address the experience of those who don't fit into narrow gender roles.  For most rom-coms, I tend to identify with the male role more often because it more closely resembles my own experiences (inasmuch as I experience the sorts of stupid things that happen in rom-coms).  In the movie My Best Friend's Wedding, I am TOTALLY the groom in that story, and my high school stalker is Julia Roberts.  I so wished for the personal growth that she experienced to be attained by my high school stalker, but he never did.

My favorite retort whenever I hear guys complaining about things that girls do that guys don't, is "I can tell that you have never tried dating men!"  That usually confuses people for a moment, so I can go on to explain that "y'all act very differently when your buddies aren't around and the girl you're with doesn't conform to gender expectations.  Everything you just complained about is something I've had to put up with in my relationships with guys - straight white men.  People tend to act less than they react, and guys who are just like you, as soon as they get into a relationship with a woman like me, who is more of a 'man' than you guys are, suddenly turns into that woman that you're complaining about because that's generally how insecure people or people who don't have a handle on their emotions react when they interact with either secure people or  with arrogant and emotionally distant people.  And let me tell you, guys who are brought up to ignore or suppress their emotions are very much "people who don't have a handle on their emotions".  Here's a thought ... how about people are nuanced and diverse and full of contradictions and the way that they see themselves is not how other people see them?"

*ahem*, I digress.  Write your stories.  Then change some character names to female names (or names of other cultures / ethnicities) without changing anything else about them.  I think some people will be surprised at how well the character still works and at how little work is involved to add more diversity to our entertainment.  If you don't write, then change the names of the stories you read, especially those you read to your children.

*My high school was so small that it didn't have a theater program, or even a building with a stage in it (our gym didn't have the obligatory stage to make it convertible for presentations).  The first play they ever put on wasn't even until my 8th grade year - the year before I started attending.  So the school, which was private so it had money, hired professional staff for all its performances, including the director and stagehands.  We didn't even have a theater teacher to take over as director.  The stagehands physically built a new stage for every play in our multi-purpose room (not the gym).
joreth: (Super Tech)
I woke up this morning to thoughts of my stalker.  His so-far-last text to me was asking if we could still be friends, after I insulted him and was condescending to him and told him that I loathed him.  In my head, I continued the conversation (because that's what my brain does, which is partly why online arguments are so damaging to me - I end up losing sleep by continuing arguments, whether I continue them IRL or not).  In my head, I continued with a horrified and offended tone, saying "no, we can't be friends, you fuckwad!  I will not be Girlfriendzoned!" which of course required me to explain what girlfriendzoning was.

Because I was not yet fully awake when I had this conversation in my head, I jumped to two other scenarios simultaneously.  One was the following thought: "It's very sad, now there's some perfectly nice guy, a real nice guy and not a Nice Guy, who shares my interest, my hobbies, my passions, who may come into my store someday and who will spark a connection between us, and I'll be unable to trust him even enough to give out my number because of this incident.  This situation has created an opportunity lost that is no fault of the nice guy, but he will feel the consequences and we'll both lose because of this asshole."

The other was a conversation with clueless-but-nice-guys about why this whole thing was such a big deal and what girlfriendzoning was.  I said "The Girlfriendzone is where some guys put a girl in a category in their head of being Girlfriend material (or sex partner material), even after she rejects him, and they use her offer of friendship as a door stopper to try and wedge themselves into her life as a future boyfriend (or lover), only to get progressively more whiny and demanding and resentful when she proceeds to give them nothing but what she offered in the first place - a friendship.  This is where an offered friendship with a girl is not viewed as the gift that it is, but as leverage to try and get something out of her without her consent by deceptively coercing her into a relationship that she has already said she doesn't want."

Being girlfriendzoned does what this stalker has done to me - it makes people put up walls and create defenses to prevent being put in that position again.  Usually it takes several times of similar situations before we start building those defenses.  The first time, maybe it was subtle so we didn't see the warning flags for what they are and we just naively missed the warning flags the next time, so it might take several times before we see the pattern.  Or maybe the first time wasn't subtle but we think it can't possibly be a normal experience and we write it off as an anomoly.  So by the time you meet someone with walls, you can safely assume that this sort of thing has either happened to her many times or it has happened to her with such disasterous consequences that it justified building walls after only one exposure.

But what this means is that real nice guys (I mean people who are genuinely nice and who genuinely care about other human beings and who do not see them as need fulfillment machines, not Nice Guys who are people who are actually not nice because they are subversive and coercive and resentful and do see people as tools to fulfill their needs rather than whole people with their own agency and their own right to reject them) actually suffer some consequences from these kinds of assholes who are responsible for the walls going up in the first place.

I've been told by some men that it's not fair to be feared when they haven't done anything wrong.  I agree, it's not fair.  Life isn't fair.  Nature has never had any interest in fairness.  Nature has no problem with a system that requires trading in one life for another (the food chain) or smacking an asteroid into a planet and killing off almost all life in one blow.  Nature has never heard of the word "fair".  That's a human value, and often a misplaced value, in my opinion.  But what's more unfair is being stalked or harassed or raped or violated or murdered all because some narcissist thinks he has the right to someone else's body.  In the grand scheme of things, being "feared" (which really means being put in the "uncertain until otherwise proven" category) is far preferable to being afraid with reason.

But it's not fair.  It would be wonderful if we could all start with blank slates and give all nice people enough of an opening to start out by being respected instead of feared.  However, the way we accomplish that is not to browbeat the very people who have been traumatized into trusting you before you've earned any trust.  People are right to be upset at living in a society where people are feared on sight because of what someone else who shares superficial traits did.  But here are two things that you can *actually* do to fix this problem that don't involve justifying those exact walls that you're upset about in the first place.

1) When you meet someone who you are interested in romantically or sexually, you can first be clear about your intentions and wishes for the kind of relationship you are interested in and then you can indicate in clear and plain terms that there is no expectation for reciprocation; if they are not interested, it's OK with you, and that if they find you worthy of bestowing an offer of friendship instead, that you accept it freely and without obligation or coercion to use that offer as a back door into the kind of relationship that you *really* want.  And then you have to MEAN it.  If you are not willing to accept a friendship, or if you think of it as a consolation prize instead of the gift that it is, be willing to say up front that you are not interested in a friendship, but thank them for the offer and recognize its value, and then go your separate ways with no consequences for the other person for having rejected you.  Leave a trail of people who can have at least one example to point to of someone who takes responsibility for his own emotions and does not make them responsible for soothing his hurt ego when there are mismatched relationship desires.

2) This is actually the most important part, although the first one is also very important.  When you hear other people complaining about being friendzoned or whining about being rejected, you can say something to them about it.  Especially if you are both in a male category.  You can tell them that they are being disrespectful and unreasonable and coercive.  You can explain that the reason why their target* is behaving the way that she is, it's because of other guys doing exactly what they're doing or other guys doing worse so that it's reasonable for her to behave this way (or at least understandable and deserving of compassion).  You, who have nothing in that dogfight, who is not the target and not the competition and not affected by the outcome of this specific situation in any way, you can step in and tell the other person that he is, in fact, the person in the wrong here.

You will probably not see any culture-changing results or immediate changes in any individual situation.  Don't try these steps thinking that you are now the Rape-Culture Crusader, bashing in minds with your impeccable logic and your superpower of thinking of women as human beings with their own agency.  You will probably lose some "friends" over it, or have strange men at bars yell at you for butting your nose into their business.  It will take lots of people having lots of these conversations for a long time before we see a change.  But because it will take lots of people, your individual contribution is necessary to make this long-term change.  YOU will become a better person for doing these two things, and you will start to see benefits in your own personal life eventually, perhaps in small ways at first.

We change the culture by providing enough examples of the kind of culture we want to have to reach a tipping point.  That's what is meant by "be the change you wish to see in the world".  You have to go out there and be the example and you have to do it in a way that other people can see.  That includes using the privilege of being in the same class as someone else to tell him things that he won't hear coming from someone in another class.  It is a scientific fact that people in general tend to listen to other people that we feel are similar to us in certain ways and to dismiss arguments more easily from people that we feel are "different" in key ways.  What those ways are depends on both the issue and the values of the person doing the judging.  So it is important to use our superficial similarities to open that conversation and to tell people the things that they won't want to hear if they come from someone else.

We change the culture by being an example of what we wish to see.  That includes going out on a limb and saying things that might feel awkward or uncomfortable, such as frequently checking in for consent throughout sex and making an offer of a relationship clear instead of hiding behind a joke that can be written off and then making it clear that there are no strings attached to that offer and that you are responsible for your own emotions so that your interest can have the freedom to consent (which also means the freedom to say "no").  But for step #2, it means being nosy and giving your honest opinion to strangers and friends alike that you disapprove of the position they are presenting and why.  It will feel awkward and uncomfortable if you are not currently in the habit of telling people that you think they are wrong.  It can be done subtly or, like me, by crashing into them with a clue-by-four - you choose your own method.  But I believe that it needs to be done, one way or another.

You, by yourself, are not going to change the culture even by doing the two things I suggested faithfully.  But the change will not happen without you.  It will take every one of us to do our part.  If you ever knew someone who has been harassed, assaulted, raped, pressured, stalked, who has high walls and is afraid to trust, if you ever wished that life didn't have to be as unfair as it is, please do these two things.  And talk about how you do these two things.  And implore others to do these two things.  We don't need to be "rescued", we don't need to be taught martial arts, we don't need to be told how to react to the shit we get in life.  What we need is for other people to recognize the root causes of this shit and address *that* instead of us.  People's walls and defenses are a symptom and if you want people to let their walls down, then you have to treat the disease.


*I used the word "target" deliberately.  Very often, the people (and it's usually women) whom these people (usually men) are interested in are not recognized as humans.  They are seen as targets.  They are dehumanized and villified and seen as need-fulfillment machines.  They are seen as something to be aquired based on what they can do for the person in question, like Pokemon balls.  I used the word "target" not because *I* see people as targets, but because the people I'm talking about do and I think it's important to make note of that.

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