joreth: (Super Tech)
I did a thing!

Some of the videos I have directed are now up online!  One of my favorites is this intermission music performance by Shelley Segal: https://vimeo.com/183400692:


This is kind of a big deal to me, but the explanation for why is kinda long so I will explain why its kind of a big deal next.  If you just want to see some of my work as a Technical Director / Camera Switcher, visit http://video.skeptrack.org/ and check out the sessions from 2014-2016.  I can't remember for sure which videos are the ones I directed in 2014 and 2015 because the producer was letting everyone try their hand at it so we could provide relief for each other and when I wasn't switching, I was running camera, but I did the majority of them.   I know for sure that I did the Meyers-Briggs panel in 2014.  For 2016, I directed all of them except LeighAnn Lord's comedy show "Unsupervised" and "More About The Skeptics Guide to the Universe", so if you want to see examples of some of my work, there it is.

I used to work for a TV studio in California, but when I moved to Florida, I couldn't find any work in broadcast.  So I went back to my roots and worked for live events.  The companies that I could find work for were mostly labor companies who didn't offer any high level technical positions.  By the time I worked my way up in the ranks to finally catch the attention of some production companies who *do* have operator positions, I had been away from the switcher for so long that I no longer felt comfortable selling myself as a "TD" or "Camera Switcher".  Plus, since I worked in a studio, and it as so long ago, I didn't know the specific brands or models of equipment that was being used in live events (even though they all do the same job, they just have their own way of doing it).

But, since DragonCon started out as a volunteer position, no one really cared if I screwed up, so the guy who owned and donated all the equipment for the show sat me down in his chair and asked me to show him what I could do.  So I did.  And he has insisted that I return every year since.

The entire crew is volunteer and, other than myself and the owner of the equipment, no one has any actual pro A/V experience (although one of our camera operators is at least a professional photographer) and no one is really obligated to be there so we don't always have a full crew to run all the equipment.  Therefore, we try to make things as simple as possible, which includes arranging things so that we can get away with no camera operators at all if we have to.  In fact, one person can run the lights, video switching, graphics, lower thirds, and audio if absolutely necessary, but probably not very well unless it's only one or two speakers and nothing goes wrong.  I usually leave the lights (on and off - one look) and leave the audio to others and I switch between 4 cameras and the presenter's slideshow, operate the lower thirds, speaker timer, record decks, and the remote control Q&A audience microphone all myself.

So that is my situation when I get behind the console.

This year, we had a special treat that brought me back to my broadcast roots.  My first actual paid gig was to run a handheld camera for a live band that we had in the studio.  I have been in love with that position ever since.  This year at DC, A musician was asked to perform in the intermissions between sessions, so I got to dust off my rusty old music video skills and try switching for a live musical performance!

The catch with this is that, because it was in the break between sessions, I had no, repeat that *no* camera operators at all.

Our setup is one stationary camera set to a whole stage wide shot from behind me at Front Of House, 2 cameras on tripods at approximately 45 degree angles to the stage, and one remote contol camera mounted to the ground-supported truss structure on the stage.  The RC camera is supposed to be aimed at the Question & Answer microphone out in the audience, so we can record the audience members asking the various presenters questions.  But, since I was responsible for operating the RC camera as well as switching, I started playing around with it and discovered that its range allowed me to spin around and capture some interesting angles on the stage as well.

When I found out that the musician would be playing, I hopped down from behind my console, ran to each of the two cameras to pre-set them in what I hoped would be decent shots to capture whatever action the musicians did on stage (no rehearsal, mind you), ran back to my console, spun the RC camera around, and started switching between the three (the wide shot camera didn't have a good shot because of where the musicans chose to play on the stage so I just never used it for the musical interludes).

So, that's why there aren't all that many different shots - I didn't have any camera operators to move the cameras and the RC camera had a limited range of motion from its stationary position attached to the truss.  But it did have about 3 or so decent shots from that position, and I used its auto-focus deliberately to get the sort of soft focus pulls that I might have done by hand when I run a hand-held camera on stage.

Given my limitations with lack of crew and camera movement, and my lack of practice switching (seeing as how this is the only show every year that gives me the chance), I'm quite pleased with how the musical interludes turned out.  Check them out, and remember that the Skeptrack website will continue to add more videos as the producer finishes editing them.

BTW, if you need some A/V gear or engineering done in Atlanta, I highly recommend contacting Abrupt Media.
joreth: (Misty in Box)
The reason why people can hold such harsh views on other wrongdoers is because they can't imagine themselves in that position and needing understanding or leniency or seeing the nuance or contextual complexity of a situation.  This is the very definition of privilege. You can't see how something can possibly affect you so you're willing to excuse poor treatment of others by rationalizing that they "deserve" it.

You are not above reproach. You are not infallible. You can one day find yourself at the receiving end of a justice system that you helped to create that will not take into account your special circumstances.

The reason why we have "innocent until proven guilty" as our standard (and why it doesn't always apply to social settings) is because our forefathers knew that even a just system would necessarily be flawed because people are the creators, and so it was therefore more acceptable to err on the side of leniency where some criminals might go free than on the side of harshness where innocent people might be punished. Our current system, even *with* that aphorism supposedly guiding it, has swung too far to the wrong side.  And then there's the middle ground where one's innocence or guilt is not in question, but they are nevertheless fully nuanced humans because no one is a cardboard cutout, comic book, black-hat villain.

You cannot see yourself ever being in one of these unfortunate positions because you have convinced yourself that you are a Good Person, and Good People do not do Bad Things. Those people did Bad Things, therefore they are Bad People. You are the problem. You are the reason why people do Bad Things and why people continue to do Bad Things. Everyone thinks that they are morally and ethically right in what they do, because everyone thinks that they are Good People. That kind of thinking is what blinds people to the fact that they fucked up and did something bad. That kind of thinking is what prevents people from learning empathy or from taking responsibility and holding themselves accountable for their actions.

The knowledge that there is no understanding, no forgiveness, no second chances, no contextual exemptions or explanations, no space to repent and do better, is what drives people who do Bad Things underground and what drives them to continue doing them. Why should anyone feel bad about their mistakes? Why should anyone stop making their mistakes? Why should they ask for help in ceasing their mistakes if there is no room for them, if there is no safe space for them to change? They are lost souls. They are cast-outs. They are doomed. So why bother to fix anything? Their situation is your doing.

And you may one day find yourself on the receiving end of your "justice" precisely because you cannot conceive of being in that position so you will be unable to predict or prevent the thoughts that lead to the actions that carry you to that position.

YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.



Further Comments:

There is a very big difference between drawing strong boundaries around ourselves and how we relate to, interact with, or feel about someone who has done Bad Things personally, and giving the government the power to make irrevocable punishments and decisions over people who do Bad Things. While we absolutely need a system of justice to deal with people who do Bad Things and while we absolutely can draw whatever personal boundaries we want regarding other people, setting the same consequences for both personal feelings and the government penal system is very dangerous.

That led to witch burnings and lynchings and a for-profit prison system that punishes black pot smokers because of *personal* feelings towards those kinds of behaviours. The reason for leniency in the penal system is because, at any moment, we could find ourselves on the receiving end of an unjust system with an enormous amount of power. All it takes is either the system being controlled by people who have different value systems from ours, or one of those complicated, nuanced situations popping up where we are able to rationalize how "it's different when I do it".

Look at the no-tolerance laws for drugs and weapons on school campuses! People who can't see themselves in that situation or who think of themselves as Good People don't see how it was inevitable that the law would eventually start penalizing children for their asthma medication or bringing in their homemade clocks to show their teachers. Part of that is because of the Good Person fallacy that they're committing and part of that is because they are part of a privileged demographic who is not likely to be unfairly targeted by ridiculous interpretations of those rules.

We all do shit that other people think is unforgivable or heinous. Most of the time, we feel justified in having done those things, which is why we did them. Those no-tolerance attitudes can be applied back on us. Other times, we might have genuinely learned from our mistakes and grown as people. Had the penalty for our crimes been death, we would not have become the productive members of society that we are now, with people who love us and accomplishments and acts of redemption. Had the penalty been death and we just never got caught, we would be unlikely to have sought help to find accountability or even changed our outlook to one in which we now admit our wrongdoing, because to do so would have meant our death.

Had the penalties been other atrocities like rape or castration or assault, even though we might have lived through it, those things would have damaged us which decreases the chances that we could have found redemption, accepted accountability, or learned empathy or regret. Those penalties would likely have exacerbated the problem. Those penalties would likely have made us worse or more broken people instead of given us a chance to get better.
joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
In this latest installment of "real conversations I have with real people, face to face" -

Them: Well I TRIED to be progressive, but people get so angry! I just don't even want to help anymore!

Us: The only way to move forward is for the more privileged person to recognize and acknowledge that the less privileged people have a reason and a right to be angry. Once we accept that they have a right to be angry, we can stop being afraid of saying the "wrong thing" and making someone angry (because their anger is a given and is valid, even if directed at us in the moment), and then we are better able to listen to what they have to say.

Them: But when they get angry and say hateful things, it HURTS ME!

Us: I understand that and, let me take time out of my educational process here to validate your feelings because, goodness knows no one can ever hear that they're wrong about something without first soothing their ruffled feathers, but if you really want to move towards a more inclusive and tolerant society, it's on US to stop being afraid of their anger and to let them be angry.

Them: But they say such mean things!

Us: Yes, but the first step is in accepting their anger.

Them: But I can't even TALK to them because they're so angry! They need to stop being angry so we can have a calm and rational dialog!

Us: No, as the group with the more privilege, it's OUR job to let them be angry and to listen to what's BEHIND the anger.

Them: Well I can't even hear anything but the hateful angry stuff they say. *I* didn't do anything to them! I was trying to help and they just shut it all down by getting so angry!

Us: No, the people who aren't acknowledging and accepting their anger are the ones who are shutting everything down. The first step is on us, to give them the space to be angry.

Them: but... anger! My feels!

Social Justice seems to be little more than an ongoing exercise in circular arguments.

‪#‎SJW‬ ‪#‎privilege‬ ‪#‎WhiteFragility‬ ‪#‎IKnowISteppedOnYourToeAfterSomeoneElseShotYourFootButWhyYouGottaYellAtMeForIt‬?
joreth: (Bad Computer!)
So, there's a certain type of person for whom my words resonate. I became a pseudo-public figure so those people could hear me, not to gather a large following. It's more like I was just making myself into an available resource. I know that I'm not to everyone's taste, and I'm fine with that. The people who like what I have to say can read what I say, and the people who don't, don't have to.

So I find it interesting that only a portion of my posts get multiple shares. If I'm extremely lucky, the number of shares gets to the 2 digits. Like I said, I'm fine with that because I'm not in this for the numbers, I'm in this to be available to those who want my words and that's it.

But the really interesting part isn't that I only get a handful of shares every now and then. No, the interesting part is that the more angry I get, and the more cuss words I use, the higher my shares go. And the post that I made that starts right out of the gate with cussing and rage? Yeah, over 1,300 shares so far.

So, to those people who think that a message will go further if it's nicer, fuck you. To those people who like the sentiment of an activist, but not the anger, fuck you too. The anger is PART of the sentiment. Even people who were embarrassed by the cussing and preemptively apologized for it in their shares, they still shared it because it was *important*, because it said something that people felt needed to be said.

I know that I'm not going to accomplish very much sitting here at my computer and making Facebook posts. That's why I vote and why I sign reputable petitions and why I contact elected officials. But what I *can* do from my computer is provide people with a voice. I will express that rage and that sadness and that horror that people are feeling even when some people wish I would just shut up and stop causing a ruckus, because I can afford to. I will express anger so that people know they're not alone in their passion, and I will share words for those who need to borrow some.

I don't have very much to give, but I do have my emotions and my words. Those include swear words, ugly words, harsh words, because sometimes, those are the only words appropriate for the depth and the intensity of the emotions they represent. There's a reason why my most angry, most cuss-filled posts get the most shares - they reflect what people are feeling. You can't separate the "bad words" from the emotions. They are the expression of those emotions.

So I will continue to swear when I'm angry. And when I'm happy. And when I fucking feel like it. And you will know that I am offering an honest, raw expression of my emotions. Because I have built a life where I can do that, and since so many people still don't have that luxury, I refuse to modulate my words and my tone on their behalf for the dainty sensitivities of the very people who won't let them do it for themselves. Anyone who is more upset at my use of language than the message itself is part of the problem.
joreth: (Misty in Box)
I have a question and I need for everyone interested in answering it to assume that I am asking in good faith, not trolling.

Are there any articles that directly compare and contrast the difference between being gaslighted and someone who is *actually* the horrible things that a gaslighter accuses the victim to be?

Let me expand a bit.  OK, a lot.

I've had the misfortune to see a gaslighter work his black magic now in person, right in front of my eyes but on someone other than me, and I've seen the devastation it caused. I've seen it in a poly context, which, for some reason, actually made it harder for me to see at first - easier for the gaslighter to hide. I've been an outspoken critic of what I have eventually come to see as real abuse in the poly community and how our own community standards protect and privilege abusive relationship structures and behaviours. So, in no way do I want to counteract any of the work done to bring awareness and solutions to gaslighting.

But I'm reading a lot of articles on gaslighting lately, and it struck me that, if I switched perspectives in my head and read the article *as if I were* the gaslighter himself (choosing a gendered pronoun because I am most familiar with male abusers and female victims, and I feel the need to use different pronouns to help keep the illustrations understandable), using the excuses and justifications he gave to make it look like he was the victim, if I took on that mindset for a moment, I couldn't tell from many of these articles who was whom. And a gaslighter or narcissist can find ammunition in these articles to continue their subjugation, and validation in these words.

So, for example, this one article lists several "tell-tale signs":

1. Something is “off” about your friend, partner, … but you can’t quite explain or pinpoint what.

So, this gaslighting observation that I mentioned above, in the beginning, he had me (a close but outside observer) convinced at first that he was the real victim. He confided in me his perspective. I do believe that he really did believe the stories he was spinning to me. It wasn't until I talked to the victim alone and then confronted him about the victim's side, and then HEARD him say "no, they don't feel that way, here [victim], tell Joreth that you don't feel that way" and then the victim proceeded to confirm the gaslighter *even though* I had just had an hour long conversation with them in tears about exactly how they felt. The victim told me that *I* must have misunderstood or misheard their anguished cries, that it wasn't a big deal, that everything was worked out.

I KNOW WHAT I HEARD. The victim felt a particular way, the gaslighter insisted that they didn't, and then the victim's story changed to match the gaslighter's version.

My point is that I believe the gaslighter is that fucked in the head that he (and most of them) really does believe his (their) version of events. I don't believe that most gaslighters are deliberately plotting to undermine people like in the movie, but I know for a fact that undermining people is the effect that's happening. I was one of his confidants, so I heard what I really believe to be his honest and true view of himself and his motivations. I believe that I understand the view of himself that he holds, at least well enough to read an article from a gaslighter's perspective who doesn't think he is doing anything wrong.

So, when I read articles like this and I put myself in the mindset of that confidante for whom I was on his side before I knew better, I have a hard time telling from these articles that *he* was the one who was doing the gaslighting. That's how he had me fooled for as long as I was.

He believed that something was "off" about his victim. They kept "changing their story". They weren't consistent. They saw things in strange, corner-turning ways that he didn't understand. I was constantly playing "interpreter" for them because he just didn't understand the victim.

4. You feel threatened and on-edge, but you don’t know why.

As the blogger Shea Emma Fett alluded to, abusers really do feel victimized, but they feel victimized by their victims' resistance to the abuser's control. When this gaslighter attempted to control his victim, and they resisted, the abuser felt personally threatened. I went out on a date once with a guy who I had a history with and I was interested in a future with, and my then-bf, when I told him all about it, accused me "HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?!" Listen here, asshole, I did *nothing* "to" you. This thing *happened* to me. It may have affected you, but it wasn't done *to* you and certainly not with malice. Nevertheless, he, and the abuser I'm talking about, felt threatened. This abuser was *constantly* fighting with his victim, to the point that he started working as late as possible to avoid being at home where another fight might break out. He was on edge all the time. He didn't understand why this was happening or how to avoid it (because he didn't understand that it was his own doing and he didn't understand the victim's wants - namely the desire to not be abused). He would check off "yes" to this one too.

6. You never quite feel “good enough” and try to live up to the expectations and demands of others, even if they are unreasonable or harm you in some way.

The motivation for this gaslighter's behaviour was a massive amount of fear and insecurity.  Every time he felt his insecurity crop up and it prompted him to try to control other people to manage his fear, I stuck my nose in to tell him that he should do better.  His victim also ineffectually tried to tell him that his attempts to control them was hurting them and he needed to do better.  In my own arguments with him, he accused me of being unreasonable for insisting that his attempts to control his partners were harmful.  He insisted that *my* suggestions for not controlling people were actually harmful *to him* somehow.  We argued in circles and I never got a clear explanation for how other men (even men that he didn't like) seeing naked pictures of his wife harmed *him* (for example), but he clearly believed that it did.

Remember that ex above?  He honestly believed that my date, and what we did on our date, with my new prospective partner was something done *to* him, and that it harmed him in some way, even though he wasn't on that date and he was told about the date both before and afterwards, prior to my seeing that ex in person again so that he could make informed decisions about how to relate to me in the future (and no, I didn't have wild, unprotected, fluid-exchanged sex with some random stranger and come home with an STD or something, which is usually what people point to when they want to defend the position that it's reasonable to be upset about what one partner does outside of a given relationship or to control, or even request, a specific set of behaviour for outside a given relationship).

I insist that a no-rules, boundaries-based relationship is the better relationship standard, and the gaslighter believed that my standards are too high, are unreasonable, and harm him in some way.  He's not the only one who thinks that either.  I have been told, verbatim, that not everyone is as "evolved" as I am when it comes to relationship and emotional maturity.  I call bullshit on the "evolved" part.  As far as I'm concerned, respect for agency is the bare minimum.  I get that it's not always *easy*, but it's also not some advanced, high level concept set aside for, I dunno, monks who have reached enlightenment or Clears who have spent millions of dollars to the Church or whatever.  Learning to respect other people's agency is something that children are capable of learning, and it's a lifetime of societal reinforcement that causes us to unlearn it (if we learned it in the first place) by instilling a sense of entitlement to other people's bodies, emotions, and minds.  When fear has a hold of you, respecting other people's agency may be challenging, but challenging is not the same as "harmful".  But because it can be challenging, someone who is an abuser or who is gaslighting someone can indeed believe that the standards their victim might suggest are "too high" and are "harming him".  Personal growth is uncomfortable, especially when you resist it.  That doesn't make it, necessarily, "harmful", but it can feel that way, so a gaslighter could see this "tell-tale sign" as evidence for his narrative too.

7.  You feel like there’s something fundamentally wrong with you, e.g. you’re neurotic or are “losing it.”

The gaslighter excused his efforts to control people away by claiming he had PTSD.  I do not believe that self-diagnosis, I believe another one made by an actual diagnostician but that's not actually relevant right now.  What is relevant is that the gaslighter *does* believe that he suffers from PTSD and he does, indeed, exhibit several symptoms, including "checking out" (which, I'm told by reliable clinicians, are also symptoms of a handful of other mental illnesses including the diagnosis I believe is more likely to be the correct one).  Every time he tried to control his victim and they pushed back, here's what would happen.  The victim would insist on their reality, and the gaslighter would go glassy-eyed and catatonic, unable to interact with the world around him.  *Until*, that is, the victim recanted and accepted the gaslighter's reality.  Then, suddenly, he would "wake up" and start interacting again.  Later, though, he would use that as "evidence" that the victim was "inconsistent" and kept "changing their story" and therefore shouldn't be trusted to know what reality was.

But because he would get "triggered" by his victim's resistance, he would often come to me in distress over how he was "losing it" or that there was something wrong with him.  PTSD and other mental illnesses are viewed as "something fundamentally wrong with you" or "neurotic" by society in general, so regardless of which mental illness he might have, he could legitimately think that "something is fundamentally wrong" and he would be "correct" about that.  He felt that he was being hollowed out, that he couldn't function in daily life anymore as their arguments increased in frequency.  He had trouble concentrating at work because he was always upset about their latest argument.  He was stressed and frightened by obsessive thoughts of losing his victim.  When I saw only his catatonia and the aftermath of their arguments, it was completely believable that he was the "victim".  But that required keeping the victim feeling isolated in an "us against them" tribalism within the group, because as soon as I started talking to the victim themself, and seeing the arguments from the beginning, not just the effect of the argument on him, things looked very different.

My second fiance was a gaslighter.  He was very young, though, and clumsy about it, and I'm way too self-confident for those kinds of tactics to work for very long on me.  He did things like this too, only he wasn't nearly as believable about it.  Whenever we got into an argument, if it looked like I was going to win (or that he was going to lose, since the argument was usually about whether or not he could have sex with me or I could go out in public without him), he would get "sick" somehow.  He got "the flu" twice a week on the nights of my ballroom dance class.  He got an upset stomach on laundry night if I wanted to do it at my parents' house instead of his parents' house.  He got another one of his upset stomachs on the night of a friend's bachelorette party when I told him it was "no guys allowed".

One time, he even "knocked himself unconscious" on a low-hanging pipe in the carport when we walked from the car to the house during an argument.  He managed to somehow hit himself in the head hard enough to lose consciousness completely without actually making any sound of impact and while moving at the rate of a slow lumber.  I've had someone swing a metal pipe at me with the intention of hurting me and hit me on the head and I didn't go fully passed out.  Head injuries don't work like they do in the movies.  And when I left his ass lying on the concrete, he also somehow managed to get "robbed" in broad daylight while lying unconscious (that one was the last straw and I called his bluff hard enough that he admitted his lie).  His various maladies and misfortunes were intended to distract me from the argument and trigger my compassion so that I would forget why I was mad at him and run to him to take care of him.  Fortunately for me, I'm not the "maternal" type and my reaction was to give the benefit of the doubt the first time or two, but then to become contemptuous of an adult who couldn't care for himself.  Contempt is the number one relationship killer, and unconsciously developing that emotion as a response to abusive tactics has probably saved my life on multiple occasions.

So, once I saw this gaslighter's tactic from the other side, I recognized it from my own abusive ex-fiance.  He would get "sick" and I would have to stop arguing to care for him, because if I kept being mad at him while he was sick, then *I* was the monster with no compassion.  Fortunately for me, I'm not terribly bothered by people I'm mad at thinking that I'm not compassionate because *I* know better, and that's what matters to me.  But this gaslighter was taking legitimate mental health issues and preying on his victim's concern over harming others and their fear of being seen as not compassionate.  Again, I believe that he really believes his side of things.  I don't think he actually deliberately calculated how to fake PTSD in order to win an argument (whereas I do believe my ex-fiance faked his unconsciousness - which happened more than once - although his upset stomachs were probably a real reaction to anxiety).  I believe that he really was "checking out" because I believe there is really something very wrong with him.  But it was always just so *convenient* that it ended as soon as the victim recanted, and then that recanting was used later to further undermine the victim's position and even their standing in the community.  If the victim stood their ground, they were "driving" the gaslighter to a mental breakdown, but if the victim backed down, they were unreliable and couldn't be trusted.  Either way, the victim was the "monster" who kept "harming" their abuser.

But from the gaslighter's perspective, since these episodes came more and more frequently as the relationship spiraled faster and faster towards its demise, he felt that he was "losing it" and becoming more and more unhinged.  And he was becoming unhinged.  He was a total wreck of a person by the end.  But he was still a gaslighter, and I do not believe the victim was doing it *to* the gaslighter.  I believe it is a consequence of the sort of person the gaslighter is who had to face the sort of person that the victim was.

8. You feel like you’re constantly overreacting or are too sensitive.
9. You feel isolated, hopeless, misunderstood and depressed.

This is really just more of an extension of the last one.  The relationship was spiraling out of control because the victim was doing more and more resisting of the gaslighter's attempts to control them and their own breakdown as a result of the gaslighting working, and that led to daily fights that consumed their every waking moment and also took over the atmosphere of the rest of the immediate community whenever either of them was present.  When you feel like your life is going out of control, regardless of why or how, it's not unexpected to feel isolated, hopeless, misunderstood, or depressed, especially if someone is trying to tell you that your behaviour is out of line.  When he wanted to control his victim, I told him that he was essentially overreacting.  I told him that he needed to dial it back and let his victim (who I had not yet begun to think of as "the victim") have their agency and do their thing.  I told him, more or less, that his feelings of fear and the need to control them were too much, out of sync with the reality of the situation, and that the solution was for him to get over his issues, not control the victim's behaviour.  In essence, it could be argued that he saw my words as telling him that he was "overreacting or are too sensitive".  So, from his perspective, these are a big "yes" also.


11. You feel scared and as though “something is terribly wrong,” but you don’t know what or why.

Again, I believe that he believes his own narrative.  This gaslighter felt that his life was spinning out of control and he didn't know how to wrestle control back.  Every day was fraught with arguments and intense fear.  More and more people were becoming unhappy by the splash zone of this one relationship.  Life began to look chaotic and turbulent.  Not only was this relationship a source of pain and fear, but because the two of them were constantly fighting, all his other relationships started to suffer and he started to fear that he was about to lose his other relationships as well.  Then, not a month after he told me that I was the one stable thing in his life, we had our own blow-out that he apparently couldn't anticipate.  Everything was "terribly wrong", but because the truth was his gaslighting and he didn't recognize it, he didn't know why everything was "terribly wrong" or how to fix it.

12. You find it hard to make decisions.

With his catatonic episodes happening more and more frequently, and the arguments happening constantly, he started to revert to a more child-like mental state.  He had trouble making decisions because his brain was just freezing up from all the chaos.  He was never good at making decisions anyway, preferring others to take the lead on things, which is actually one of the reasons why it took me so long to figure out that he was controlling the people around him to manage his insecurities.  It's hard to believe someone is a manipulator when they appear to be such a follower.  But because he felt that his life was out of control and that he was losing his own grip on reality, making decisions became more difficult than usual.

13. You feel as though you’re a much weaker version of yourself, and you were much more strong and confident in the past.

This was something he actually told me, more or less. He was so distraught by everything that was happening, that he felt like he was becoming "hollow", which is sort of like saying he is a "weaker version of [himself]". I have absolutely no doubt that he felt like he was losing his mind. His life wasn't looking the way he wanted it to look and the way he had always controlled his life in the past wasn't working with this partner. This partner was resisting his control, and he felt so entitled to controlling them to keep his own mental issues manageable that their resistance to his control was threatening and made him feel harmed.  Having those feelings, and the extent to which this whole relationship was disrupting everyone's life, it doesn't matter that he was the one abusing the victim, those feelings still feel real and still affect how one sees oneself and their place in the world.

14. You feel guilty for not feeling happy like you used to.

This gaslighter was *known* for his exuberance for life. In the dictionary, next to the word "happy", you'd see his picture.  I've known a bunch of people like that - in fact, it seems to be one of the elements of "my type". [livejournal.com profile] tacit is one of those people for whom "happy" is an integral characteristic too.  But, obviously, this gaslighter was not happy all the time during this period.  He was stressed and anxious and depressed and angry and sad all the time.  For someone whose very *identity* includes "happy", not being happy can make one feel like one is not oneself anymore.  And for some of those people, if part of their identity rests on their ability to be happy and for others to see them as happy, particularly if their happiness makes other people happy and their sadness makes other people sad for them, no longer feeling happy can feel like a personal failure.

So, this gaslighter failing to control his victim, causing them to be miserable, which causes them to challenge the relationship and the attempts to control, which makes the *gaslighter* unhappy, this can lead to a sense of guilt for not maintaining this happiness in the face of all this loss and misery even though the gaslighter is the one causing the chain reaction in the first place.  Since this sort of gaslighter doesn't realize that he's the one setting the spark, he has a difficult time recognizing that his unhappiness is something he can fix because it's something he caused.  Or, he might suspect or know (possibly subconsciously) that it's something he caused (even if he believes he caused it but have the wrong ideas on *how* he caused it), and so feel guilt for knowing that he did it all to himself.

So, this whole long exposition is to explain that I am looking for sources to help explain why, when a gaslighter feels these things, it's *not* a sign that they are a victim or being gaslighted by their actual victims.  When a person is gaslighted, they start to believe that they are an abusive monster who is doing terrible things to their abuser, but an abuser actually *is* doing all those things.  I could write a similar checklist of "how to know you're being abusive" and read it through the perspective of a gaslight victim and that victim could conceivably reach the conclusion that they are, indeed, an abusive monster because of the lens that each is viewing the world through.  I know there's a difference, I just don't know how to explain or illustrate that and I'm looking for sources to cite and other people's words to use as analogy or illustration or explanation.
joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
http://freethoughtblogs.com/godlessness/2016/01/31/lets-talk-about-the-other-atheist-movement/

"But why do atheists even need a name? If they just don't believe, why do they need communities and conventions? What is there even to talk about if you don't believe?"

My lack of a belief in god is just that, a missing belief. That, by itself, is not really anything worth talking about. I don't have a belief in leprechauns either, and I have nothing really to say about them or things I lack belief in.

But when I look at our world, and I assume there is no deity behind it, I have to question the motivations behind everything - from little daily decisions to big, society-moving decisions. If I don't have a god telling me to give alms to the poor, what should I do about poverty? Why should I do it? What motivates me if I don't have a god telling me what to do?

That's what we talk about when we get together. What is the meaning of life, what is our purpose here on this planet, what should we do if we assume that we will have no reward or punishment awaiting us at death? There are many answers people without god can arrive at, because there are a lot of other philosophies and ideologies that inform positive action, where simply lack of belief is absent any positive action.

So *this* is my atheism. This is where my lack of belief ultimately leads to. Dawkins is primarily responsible for me getting into movement atheism. His outspokenness, his unapologetic attitude for his lack of belief, his horror at travesties caused in the name of religion - these things all spoke to me and all motivated me to look at my lack of belief and decide that, *if* there really was no god, what did that mean for the things I do and don't do in my life and what does that mean for the actions of those around me. What does not having a god mean for the kind of person that I want to be? And all those questions lead me, ultimately, away from Dawkins, the man who brought me into movement atheism in the first place.

This is my atheism. This is the movement that I want to be a part of.
joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2016/02/the-one-percent-difference/

"My response is that if you think something like this is a minor difference of opinion – that we can differ on this point, and yet our beliefs can still be 99% similar – then you haven’t understood me at all."

This is the basic disconnect between liberals willing to ban, block, or otherwise cut out someone for a "difference of opinion" and conservatives who get offended at the idea that having a "difference if opinion" is a blockable offense.

It's not that we agree on 99% of everything except this one thing. It's that the *weight* of this one thing is way more than 1%, and that the foundations of thought and philosophy that lead us down our respective roads to our "difference of opinion" are actually radically different, to enable us to have reached this "difference of opinion" in the first place.

If you think we agree on a lot except this one little thing like human rights and equality, then you really don't understand me at all.

From the comments of my FB feed, where I originally posted this link, someone suggested that it was sort of like a meme of Michael Shermer saying "In the past 10,000 years, humans have devised roughly 100,000 religions based on roughly 2,500 gods.  So the only difference between myself and the believers is that I am sceptical of 2,500 gods whereas they are sceptical of 2,499 gods.  We are only one god away from total agreement."

So I responded, "Kinda, yeah. Atheists feel that one-god-difference is a big difference, big enough to create a movement out of it. I feel that human rights is a big difference, big enough to make a fuss over it."  We have "singular" differences of opinion big enough to cause huge rifts all the time.  Because it's not a simple arithmetic problem where the difference is 1.  It's a variable algebra problem, where the difference is 1x, and the value of x can be small or it can be so huge as to approach infinitesimal, and where x is influenced by the value of other variables in the equation.  X doesn't live alone, isolated from the other integers.  As someone else said somewhere, it's not like a difference of opinion on whether or not pistachio ice cream is a tasty dessert.  Sometimes it's a difference of "opinion" on whether or not other people are even human beings.  Skeptics and atheists disagree with believers over "1%" all the time, and we often feel it's important enough to argue about, block, try to change their minds, or write scathing screeds on the internet about constantly.

It's just when straight white cis-male atheists & skeptics are on the receiving end of the weight of one of their value judgements being questioned that suddenly they're all "why can't we just get along?  It's just a single difference of opinion when we agree on everything else!"


As it happens, I think this dismissive, minimizing attitude is exactly the problem. When it comes to sexism in the atheist community, the biggest problem isn’t the relatively small (but noisy and persistent) mob of screeching trolls and harassers. The biggest problem is the much larger bloc of people who don’t engage in such behavior themselves, but are willing to tolerate it, and who think that whether a person is sexist should form at most a very small part of your opinion of them. It’s the people who believe that if a celebrity author or scientist is effective at promoting atheism, that’s all we ought to care about, not anything else they say or do. (You may notice the analogy with the way that moderate religion can protect and enable dangerous fundamentalism.)
joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)



Hey, guys, can we please stop this "bad things happen in 3" and "death comes in 3"? Just in my Facebook headlines alone, I count 7 famous celebrity deaths recently, and that's without looking any up and relying on Facebook's non-random algorithms that deliberately show me things that are linked together and/or from the same smallish circle of people in my friends list who I interact with most often and therefore my feed has a TON of headlines in common and a bunch of headlines that I'm sure I missed because they're not in the same class as the rock musicians that my friends list apparently all listens to.

Confirmation bias is a logical fallacy that means basically we will find whatever we're looking for. If you think bad things happen in threes, you can take any arbitrary date range and retrofit 3 bad things to make that "true".

There's also the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy, which is to look at a collection of data points like they are bullet holes on the side of a barn, and then metaphorically draw a circle around them after the fact to say "look, bullseye!"

Other fallacies, cognitive biases, etc. that this falls under or is related to include:

  • Selection Bias

  • Gambler's Fallacy

  • Hot Hand Fallacy

  • Clustering Illusion

  • Apophenia

I recommend looking each one of these up, and then falling down the rabbit hole in whatever way catches your attention from there.
joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
Theist: Here's something I don't understand. Why do atheists need a word? I mean, I don't believe in the Easter Bunny, but I don't have a word for not believing in it. Why do they even need to call themselves anything?

Atheist: Because we need language to talk about the subject.

Theist: But if you don't believe in God, why do you need to talk about it? Why can't you just say "I don't believe" and leave it at that?

Atheist: Because theists won't let us. When we say "I don't believe", they want to ask why and what about and how come. We're not allowed to just say "I don't believe in a god" and walk away because y'all won't let us just walk away.

Theist: If you don't want to talk about it, then just don't talk about it.

Atheist: Then stop talking to me about it.

Theist: No, but why...

Atheist: See?

‪#‎ActualConversationsIHave‬ ‪#‎atheism‬ ‪#‎HeadDesk‬ ‪#‎IfYouDoNotLikeTheTopicThenStopPushingTheTopic‬



Also in that conversation:

Theist: But why label yourselves anything?

Atheist: Because "atheist" isn't a bad word, it's descriptive. It literally means "without belief in deities". It's EXACTLY THE SAME as saying "I don't believe in a god" because it literally translates to "I don't believe in a god".

Theist: But why...



Now, for #ThingsIWishIHadSaid:

Theist: But why do you need a word for something that's not?

Atheist: For the same reason we have words for other things that are not - asymmetry = not symmetrical. Asymptomatic = has no symptoms. Asexual = without sexual desire. Achronological = not chronological. Abiogenesis = the creation of something that doesn't come from something living. We talk about things that are "not" all the time. When one thing is the dominant paradigm, usually its contrary is named by what it's not.
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: (Bad Computer!)
OK secular lefties, here's the thing...

You can disagree with an ideology. You can disagree vehemently with an ideology. You can even believe that the Slippery Slope applies here and is not a fallacy - that the fundamental concepts in the ideology sets up a culture in which the radical extension of that ideology is a natural consequence. You can even hope that some day, reason will win out and that ideology will be relegated to a chapter in a history textbook on "myths previous eras and civilizations once believed."

But what you cannot then do is ACT upon any individual person in the demographic that holds that ideology in a negative way, such as insulting them or physically assaulting them, unless it is a clear cut case of self-defense or it is a clear cut case of addressing their *ideology*, not their person. And I mean clear-fucking-cut, like they're charging you with a meat cleaver shouting "I'm doing this for my ideology!" at the top of their lungs (srsly, guys, entitled white dudes are writing manifestos - it's fucking clear cut race / gender / religion related, not a "loner" with "mental health issues").

When you take "This ideology is bad" and then follow it up with "this individual who uses this ideological label must therefore be bad so I will preemptively beat the shit out of them / call them names with historical or cultural oppressive contexts / refuse them the basic rights of survival and human dignity / bar them from entering a public place on principle just in case they might do something bad even though this individual hasn't actually done anything bad that I have proof of or said anything to me at all", that makes you a fucking bigot and part of the problem.

People are notoriously good at compartmentalizing their beliefs and at dealing with cognitive dissonance. Most people claim an identity label that is associated with a whole passel of shit they don't agree with. While that may actually be one of the problems you might have with that particular ideology or the people who hold it, this means, practically speaking, that you can't predict any given individual's likelihood of acting either harmfully or beneficially just by their identity label.

You need, like, actual proof of intentions for that.

Catholic doctrine, for instance, is very clear that it opposes all form of birth control, sex before marriage, homosexuality, and divorce. It takes a hard stance on those issues. There is no grey area, no wiggle room. Catholic doctrine is definitely, clearly, adamantly opposed.  But how many Catholics do you know who have done one or more of those things? And how many Catholic churches do you know have allowed those members to remain part of the congregation?

Fuck that, how many people are fawning all over themselves to gush at the Pope whenever he gets quoted out of context as saying something that can vaguely be interpreted as not being a total douchenozzle on those topics? Even though, in context, he says nothing of the sort and even though his PR team always cleans up after him and makes an official statement that the Pope didn't mean to sound so liberal but that he really is still a douchenozzle and even though the official policy is very clear and has been so for generations and even though he goes on to say exactly that sort of douchenozzlery in other places with other audiences who don't want to hear the wishy-washy version of the Pope but that the liberal media doesn't cover?

People claim all sorts of labels for themselves. Many of those people do not practice the literal definition of the labels, or they don't practice all the things associated with those labels. In fact, that's something that I complain about often - people who use labels in ways contrary to the label's intent and muddying up the waters for the communicative purposes of labels (and please don't derail the comments with "that's why I don't use labels" - I take issue with that too but that's a subject for another rant).

You cannot tell what actual beliefs a person holds by their labels. You ought to be able to, since that's what makes labels meaningful. But you can't. You can use the labels to give a broad, general idea, but they are not predictive. You cannot predict, by a person's label, which specific beliefs they hold or how those beliefs will express themselves on that individual.

That's why the whole men vs. women thing is bullshit. Even for the legitimate times when we can statistically make two categories of people called "men" and "women", those labels are not predictive and you cannot use a category term to make specific assumptions or predictions about individual people. Even statistically different categories like "man" and "woman" have such a high degree of overlap that they become completely useless terms when trying to guess things about a specific individual. At best, they can be used *descriptively* (as opposed to prescriptively) after that individual has self-identified as such and the people you are communicating with all have the same understanding of the label.

For instance, I often use MBTI as shorthand. I identify as an INTJ, so I might try to communicate to someone that I'm having trouble with their spontaneity because I'm a J. That saves me a lot of time trying to explain that being schedule oriented is an innate trait that causes me distress when upset, blah blah blah, and then the other person can know that I'm not having a *personal* issue with *them*, that this is just a thing about me that makes me "me". So, once we have established this baseline set of definitions for communication, then I and that other person can use the labels as shorthand in the future to reference a broader definition that we don't have to spell out every single goddamn time we need to reference that concept. "I am doing this thing because I am an INTJ, not because of some other assumed motivation or intention you might want to ascribe to me."  "Oh, got it, I understand your motivations now."

However, I once dated a guy who broke a Valentine's Day date with me to go out with his other gf. He used the excuse "but you're an INTJ, and INTJ's don't care about holidays, but she's an INFP, and they do care about holidays, so it's a bigger deal to her than to you."

WRONG! 1) He changed my schedule, which is a huge no-no for a schedule-oriented person. 2) He didn't ask me first, he just assumed I wouldn't mind, which is taking away my ability to control my own life. I might not have minded, but I wanted to be able to make that decision for myself. 3) I have personal insecurities that have nothing to do with MBTI about my poly relationships not being viewed as "real" by my partners and metamours, so couplehood markers like holiday dates are actually important to me even if the holiday itself is not. 4) She wasn't poly and I was having massive conflicts with her over her inability to deal with being part of a poly network that included me, including doing things that put him in awkward positions of having to "choose" between us and of him too often choosing her "over" me and this was just one more glaring example of how I was "losing" in a relationship that wasn't supposed to have "winners" and "losers".

Back to the main point: you can't predict based on a person's identity label how they will express the beliefs associated with that identity label. At best, labels can be used after-the-fact by the individuals who hold them to describe themselves and then to use as shorthand to refer to that description at a later time.

Of course, we're all going to try to make assumptions and predictions based on those labels. That's what our brain uses labels for. If someone tells me that they're a Catholic, I'm going to assume they hold a whole collection of beliefs that are associated with Catholicism. But I'm going to be *aware* that I'm making those assumptions and I'm not going to preemptively attack them or try to bar them from living in my area on the assumption that they might be anti-abortion, which might then prompt them to bomb an abortion provider's office. There has to be evidence that they are actively planning a violent crime before I can take any action, including verbal, intended to prevent the presumed crime.

So when secularists start supporting policies banning Syrian refugees, for instance, based on the argument that Islam is problematic therefore all Muslims should be presumed to be dangerous based on their holy texts justifying violence, you're being a bigoted racist shithead. I am totally opposed to all forms of religion, including Islam. I could go on at length about the problems with Islam and how privileging religion in general sets up exactly the sorts of cultures where radical extremism can flourish.

But refugees from a war-torn nation fleeing for their lives from radical religious wackaloons is NOT the time for philosophical debate on the pros and cons of ideologies. Now is the time for compassion for human fucking beings who are being tortured and killed and who are asking for our help.  Our first priority is to help them as fellow human beings, to protect their lives and their dignity as people. Only then, when their survival is not at stake and their dignity as sentient beings is not being attacked, do we have the ethical high ground for addressing their ideologies in an intellectual debate. 
joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2015/10/02/before-you-claim-the-ucc-shooting-was-about-christian-persecution-consider-all-the-evidence/

This supports the comments I've been making about this issue - that the culture around Those Assholes* is the important factor, and the ideology merely focuses the targets for them. The underlying motivations for these sorts of tragedies are toxic masculinity, entitlement, and the glorification and celebritization of violent offenders. That's what they all have in common. They are ticking time bombs, all they need is some ideology to point them in a direction.

Even if this guy *was* truly atheist, and not one of those pathetic "I am chaos, the Devil bows before me" poser jackasses who chose Christians just because they have the most power in this country so they make the most high profile targets (and therefore are guaranteed to grant him the celebrity status he so obviously desires), we have that same dark underbelly in our own subculture. We have those same dark alleys of entitlement, toxic masculinity, and the glorification and celebritization of violent offenders and violence.

Those dark alleys have been spilling out their filth over the last several years. They're the reason I now identify as Feminist. I was one of those irritating Chill Girls who thought the gender wars were largely over and we had won, so I didn't need feminism. Until I joined the atheist community. Then I saw how bad misogyny still is and how much of it still reigns in our culture. That's how I became a labeled Feminist. Atheists turned me into a big-F Feminist.

If this guy really is an atheist targeting Christians, I won't pull the No True Scotsman card. Atheists can be assholes and atheists can be Assholes. Any woman who dares to criticize atheists on any topic, but particularly gaming, knows this, especially those women who have been forced from their homes because of the public threats of violence. This is why Atheism+ was born and why, even those who didn't jump on the + bandwagon are fighting from within our own ranks to clean up our atheosphere metaphorical "streets" of these dark alleys and the disturbing elements they produce.

But it sounds more and more likely that he wasn't atheist, and that he targeted Christians for their publicity power. Which brings us right back to the original point, that what those asshole atheists and Those Assholes, and This Asshole specifically, have in common is a deeply ingrained sense of entitlement, toxic masculinity, and the glorification and celebritization of violent offenders.

Gun Rights proponents like to trot out countries with high gun ownership, low gun restrictions, and still low gun violence. The *reason* why those nations exist like that is because their culture is different. They don't have the same entitlement and toxic masculinity permeating their culture. Sure "guns don't kill people, people kill people", but those people are products of their culture.

I was raised in liberal-but-rural California where guns were not glorified, but necessary for hunting. Guns were weapons to be treated with respect. They were not part of our identities, but tools - dangerous tools - to be used with caution and limitations. I was raised in a culture that does not produce mass shooters, racism, or the idea that violence is a solution to anything.

I was also raised in gang-ridden urban California, where guns were glorified as a status symbol and a means to power. I was within the physical boundaries of that culture, but I was apart from it, thanks to my family. I knew of children, my own peers, who had been caught in gang wars. I even dated someone who had been removed from the entire school district because he threatened violence on a teacher (which he gleefully admitted at the time). Violence was all around me and my family. Both of us - my family members and the gang members in my neighborhoods - had access to guns. One of us thought guns were a solution and the other saw them as a tool. Guess which of us has a higher incarceration rate for violent offenses?

The *culture* needs to be changed. And until it can be changed, it shouldn't have easy access to weapons. As a child, guns were kept out of my hands until I could understand and respect them properly. I was handling guns at a very young age, because I could understand. But my father would never have handed a loaded weapon to a 2-year old. He introduced them to me as I was able to understand and respect their inherent danger. Apparently, we need to treat our nation as a toddler prone to temper tantrums with no control and no higher cognitive functioning. You can't have the guns until you understand and respect their inherent danger. When you understand that, like your older sibling - the countries who don't have the same violent glorification tendencies - perhaps you can have them back.

I won't pretend to know which, specific, policies will effect the change I'm talking about. I am not an expert on legal policy, so I'm not proposing specific restrictions because I don't know which ones will work. What I do know is that the evidence increasingly shows it's the culture that's prompting these shootings. It's our *culture*. It's *our* culture. We need to stop promoting toxic masculinity, stop excusing entitlement and start owning up to it when we have it so that we can work on dismantling it, and stop turning these shooters into fucking celebrities. Regardless of their specific ideologies that chooses their targets for them, they choose acts of violence because they think it's a good thing to display anger and aggression and violence as signs of their masculinity and that this version of masculinity is something desirable. They choose acts of violence because they feel entitled to remove other people's agency. They choose acts of violence because they crave the fame, the notoriety and WE FUCKING GIVE IT TO THEM.

They achieve their goals. They choose acts of violence because they're fucking successful. And they're successful because we have given them a clear path to their success. WE have. Our culture. Our society. We gave them exactly what they wanted. The number of people they kill, whether they "get away" with it or not, that's all irrelevant. They've asserted their dominance and commanded our attention. They are successful. *We* are the ones who need to change because we are their final targets.

As an atheist, if any mass shooter is actually atheist, I fight to change our atheist culture so that we stop producing Those Assholes from within, not denying that they exist, not distancing myself from the responsibility of the culture that produced them. I don't see the gun nuts doing the same. I don't see men (who aren't already feminists or feminist allies and therefore largely shunned from masculine culture anyway) doing the same. I don't see theists doing the same when it's one of their own. 4-chan, PUA circles, Southern Pride groups - these types of groups are the tinder for these firebombs.

Our larger culture that excuses rape, excuses casual racism, excuses religious posturing, excuses homophobia and transphobia, excuses any sort of dehumanization, objectification, othering, and the removing of agency - our larger culture gives places for these cesspools to thrive and fester. Just like the guy who doesn't actually agree with rape but who laughs at rape jokes so that the rapist standing next to him thinks they are allies, our culture provides the hiding places for those among us who would do such harm. Our culture built those alleyways and is refusing to install safety lights. It's time to root out the dark places, and that starts with us.



*Those Assholes or That Asshole is the term I use in place of the name of any violent offender, as doing my individual part to deny them the celebrity status that is one of the main goals for their actions.
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: (Bad Computer!)
So first, some backstory.  There's this guy who used to run a hedge-fund who then purchased a pharmaceutical company which had just acquired the rights to a drug that wasn't used by very many people but those people were pretty damn sick. The previous company had changed its distribution setup so that distribution was very strictly controlled and you could only get this drug through this one path. OK, that happens sometimes, but if anything happens to that path or your specific case is outside of that path, you're pretty screwed. So this douchenozzle bought this company that had this drug and he promptly raised the price from $13.50 a pill to a whopping $750 per pill. You read that right; I did not drop a decimal point.

The internet exploded in outrage about price gouging and the lack of ethics in Big Pharma. And by "internet", I don't mean just those wacko Naturalistic Fallacy conspiracists who think "Big Pharma" is a single evil entity out to kill us all. I mean even rational, science-based people who support science and science-based medicine but who are willing and able to call out the actual flaws in the system when found. So I posted about that on Facebook, but I didn't bother to make an archived LiveJournal post about it. It was just sarcasm about the greed endemic to corporate America. That's also not a conspiracy story - capitalism and corporations are specifically designed to support greed, not the public good. Individual people aren't evil cardboard cutouts of power-hungry villains, but the system is not conscious and doesn't have human values like compassion. It takes actual people working against the system to keep the humanity in corporations. But I digress.

Shortly after I and many other people ranted about this jerkoff, I read an article that basically said "yeah, what he did was despicable but it's only going to affect people with enough money for fancy insurance policies anyway, so whatevs".

What we are all outraged about is not the number of people this will effect. It's the sociopathy and greed that a plan like this reveals. And when you give sociopaths power, they use it. Sociopaths and abusers, on a personal level, test boundaries. They check to see where they can get away with pushing in *just a little bit*. If you're somewhat flexible on some of your boundaries, probably because you're mostly a reasonable person who can make exceptions and can see an exchange of discomfort with another person who is operating with you on good faith as a net positive thing, then you might be willing to bend just a bit on this one thing that is less important than these other things. Because we often have to get burned before we can tell that someone is *not* operating on good faith - that's *how* we know that they're not, by the way they fuck us over.

And then the abuser pushes just a tiny bit more, which seems reasonable. And then he pushes just a skosh more, which might not quite seem reasonable but you've already bent this far, so not bending more kinda seems more unreasonable because it might feel hypocritical. And eventually, those series of tiny pushes and tiny compromises have you both so far inside of your boundaries that he entrenches himself and you can't get him out.

Now take that on a global scale. CEOs, by the very nature of their jobs (or maybe their jobs don't consider human impact because it's people who lack empathy who are attracted to the position?), tend to be more sociopathic and less empathetic than the average person. They push the boundaries to see what they can get away with. And then we let them because they rationalize it as "it's only going to affect this small number of people, and you don't really care about *those* people, do you?" or "but it's necessary for this particular outcome, and you want to help this outcome, don't you?"

The fact that this particular action will only harm a small number of people that we can justify hurting as "they can afford it" is exactly what makes this action so despicable. It's boundary pushing. He's seeing what he can get away with. And our fucked up medical / legal system provides enough loopholes for him to slide through.

Yes, I do sometimes take the stance that the rich can afford to pay more taxes so they should for the betterment of the rest of the country. I have done a risk-to-benefit ratio and decided that having one fewer yacht so that starving children can have one extra meal that they didn't "earn" is worth it. I do not think that the 1000 middle class people who won't qualify for the price-gouging safety regulations but still need that drug are an acceptable trade-off for making this guy even richer.

In this case, it's not the numbers of people who will be affected that makes this story so appalling. It's the inhumanity of the individual making the decisions that does. Patterns are important. This case is symptomatic of a pattern. And those of us who were horrified by the case saw that pattern. That's why it was such a big deal.
joreth: (Bad Computer!)
I think I get one of the reasons why I lose my temper online, and I'll try to expand later (but right now I'm running late, as usual). The things I post are about people's subjective experience, their personal autonomy, their personhood, and their dignity. These things are not up for debate.

Yet people treat the posts in my feed as though it's a stage where two equal ideas with equal merit are to be weighed and considered. The counterpoint to the stuff that I post about does not deserve to share a stage with the stuff I post about. They do not deserve equal time, equal consideration.

My rage is part frustration that I'm not being heard and I'm not making myself understood, and it's also the sheer horror that anyone could even think that these topics are up for debate in the first place.

I post things for people's education and information. Which means that people need to *learn*. Learning involves listening, not talking back. People's autonomy, personhood, dignity, subjective experiences, the right to exist - these things are not up for debate, and if you think they are, you're a horrible person and I will not host a platform that helps spread your position. The Flat Earth "theory" does not deserve to share the stage with real science and rejection of other people as people does not deserve the same stage as respect for those people.
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: (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: (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: (Purple Mobius)
Don't let your mind be so open that your brain falls out.

I see this is lefty politics, in right politics, and in poly groups. People want to keep "considering the options" even when the evidence against efficacy mounts.

There comes a point at which it is no longer reasonable to continue considering certain options. It is no longer reasonable to continue considering the possibility that the world is flat. We have such overwhelming evidence, that we can safely discard that hypothesis without being "close minded".

When the poly community erupts over a book or a blog post that carefully details a more effective, efficient, and ethical way of doing relationships, the *reason* why the community erupts over that literature is because someone has finally written a Theory Of Ethical Relating that explains and summarizes the overwhelming evidence that this method is more effective, efficient, and ethical.

That's what a Theory is - it's not a guess, it's a summation of the facts that exist and an explanation that ties those facts together. You may not like the conclusions, but the "open minded" person doesn't keep their mind continually open for bullshit and crap. Being "open minded" means being willing to consider the evidence. When the evidence is in, you can accept the conclusion and still be an "open minded person", because you did what open minded people do - you considered the evidence.

All this to say, if everyone in the community is saying "dude, that method is fucked up", then the community is not the bad guy for discarding your fucked up method. You are not Galileo. The "experts" agreed with Galileo, and the religious nutbags were the ones who condemned him. The "experts" are not agreeing with you. You, in this analogy, are the close-minded nutbag who refuses to accept the changing consensus which was developed as more and more evidence accrued.

Being open-minded is considering the evidence. Insisting that your lone wolf maverick idea is the right one when everyone around you is saying "dude, that's not new, we already tested that one and it failed testing multiple times over" is the very definition of "close minded". You are not willing to consider the evidence. You are the close-minded one.
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: (Bad Joreth)
This week's episode of Poly Weekly is on abuse in relationships. EVERYONE NEEDS TO LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE, not just poly people. It's not about abuse in poly relationships, it's about abuse in relationships, because poly relationships are really just relationships like any other.

In addition, everyone needs to read this blog post on the community response to abuse: http://emmfett.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-community-response-to-abuse.html

"When I first tried to articulate what I thought the community response to abuse should be, the only thing I could really think was that abusers need good friends. The kind of friends who are willing to tell them when they are not being the best that they can be."

I knew an abuser*, only I didn't know he was an abuser at the time. He had very good, close friends. But his friends were not willing to tell him when he was not being the best that he could be. After stumbling into a handful of roadblocks with him myself, some of his friends actually contacted me privately to tell me that they supported me, they thought he was being unreasonable, they wanted me to know that, but they wouldn't tell him about it because it "wasn't worth the argument".

Each argument I had with him resulted in him going to his group and telling them about the argument, then coming back to me to say "I talked to everyone else, and we all agree that you're wrong." Even knowing that wasn't always true, it's a horrible, isolating feeling that drove a wedge between me and our mutual friends. When I broke off contact with him, I lost my entire social circle because of the isolating effect that siding with an abuser has on his victims, and I wasn't even a "victim" because his abusive tactics never took a hold on me. But I wasn't immune to the effects anyway.

"Both survivors AND abusers need community support.

Specifically, survivors need protection and validation and abusers need support for accountability.

Abuse does not always look like what you think it should look like, and it usually occurs behind closed doors. As a community member, it is important to get rid of the idea that you will know abuse when you see it. It is ignorant to think that we will always be able to spot abuse in our communities."

I thought I knew what abuse looked like because I've been on the periphery of relationship sociology and psychology my entire life. And yet, when it happened RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, I missed it. I couldn't see it, and as a consequence, I contributed to it - I enabled it. To my horror and shame, I didn't hear and I didn't see someone very dear to me being abused right in front of my own eyes.

"People who don’t want to change will often tell you that they don’t change because of the way that you are asking. This is horse puckey. Change is a personal matter, and it’s hard no matter what. If you want to change, no amount of assholery will be able to stop you. If you don’t, no amount of gentle crooning will make it happen. ... The methods that will get through to someone are varied. I don’t buy the idea that if we were just all nice that we could stop the bullying."

There are 2 basic camps in the atheist communities - those fire and brimstone atheists and those who walk around telling everyone not to be a dick. The thing is, the fire and brimstone atheists are not telling the DBAD guys to shut up. We know that it takes a wide variety of methods to change the minds of a wide variety of people. Go with your strengths. Mine is anger.

"Be willing to distance yourself from people who display abusive behaviors

Sometimes you can’t be a friend of someone who is abusive unless you support their beliefs. It’s hard to fracture your community that way, especially when it is already small. It’s hard when you realize that maybe you can’t just invite everyone to your party."

I'm glad there are people out there with a softer touch who are willing to be that bridge and try to help others back on the path of Greatest Courage and Integrity. I, however, am the one who will throw the party who doesn't just invite "everyone". When I created the local poly discussion group, I deliberately held our meetings in our local LBGTQ center because our previous community had a problem with homophobia. I created an environment that made homophobes uncomfortable. They were not invited to my party.

Sometimes, I *am* in a position to be connected to both sides of a toxic relationship, because the circumstances give me enough space to do so safely (I am not a target, I am not personally affected by the abuser so I can maintain my temper and be that "softer touch", the victims have enough distance with me to not be overly affected, etc.). But when there is a conflict, I am choosing the safety of the victims of abuse.

"'I was victimized by acts of control' is not the same as 'I was victimized by the other person’s resistance to my control.'"

This is SO SO SO SO important. I cannot stress enough how important this statement is. This is the difference between real abuse and entitlement. This is the difference between racism and "reverse racism". This is the difference between misogyny and "misandry". This is the difference between oppression and privilege.

As someone once told me, the victim in an abusive relationship is the one who is struggling to escape. The one holding on is not the victim. This is *obviously* an oversimplification, because there are plenty of reasons why victims remain with their abusers, as even a cursory glance at the #WhyIStayed and similar hashtags will tell you. But, underneath all the complexity and all the confabulations and all the confounding factors, if you are being hurt by acts of control, then you are being harmed. If you are being hurt because someone is resistant to your attempts to control them, then you are doing the harming - both to your victim and to yourself. Theists are not being oppressed because gays want to get married.  Those theists are feeling hurt because gay people are resisting their control.  When you attempt to impose rules on your partner, and your partner says those rules are hurting them and they behave in ways that are resistant to those rules, and you feel hurt because they are rejecting your attempts to restrict their behaviour, you are the one doing the hurting, even if you are doing it out of your own feelings of pain or insecurity.  You need different types of support. And I will hold you accountable.



*I've actually known quite a few abusers, and have been in relationships with several abusers. I have a whole post in the can elaborating on this very subject. I have a particular quirk that leaves me somewhat resistant to abuse - not totally immune to their effects, but abuse tactics tend to backfire when people try them on me. So, for much of my life, I was not aware of what emotional abuse looked like even when I saw it first-hand because I do not react to attempts to manipulate and control me the way that an abuse victim does when the abuse attempts are successful. So it is only much later that I learned to recognize what emotional abuse looked like in my previous relationships, and I am still learning. What I have learned so far is that I have actually had numerous encounters with abusers throughout my life, and that thought is rather chilling. Pulling the wool over my eyes, tricking me, and making me not see what's right in front of my nose tends to make me angry, and when I get angry, I get stubborn and impatient, so I have very little compassion or tolerance for abuse now that I know some things to look for. I'm sure many of my regular readers are familiar with my low-tolerance reaction by now.
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: (::headdesk::)
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/10/chicago-man-would-like-you-ladies-to-know-you-fail-to-entertain-him-properly/ by Amanda Marcotte

I'm literally sputtering over here, this makes me so angry.

"'But I can’t [compliment you] – because you’re always walking around with your damn earbuds in (“Don’t talk to me!”) and your sunglasses on, even when they’re not necessary (which incidentally doesn’t make you look cool or sexy, only unapproachable).'

This is the statement that makes it clear that the street faux-compliment harasser is not, in fact, acting out of ignorance. He knows that you don’t want him to talk to you. He quite clearly states that he is aware of this.
"

Congratulations dudebro, you accurately guessed the exact message I'm trying to convey. Contrary to popular opinion, I do not choose my attire with the goal of making YOU think that I look cool or sexy (I literally could not care less if you like or don't like how I look), nor do I choose to wear earbuds or sunglasses for the purpose of looking cool or sexy. I am, in fact, wearing those things precisely to appear unapproachable.  That's the motherfucking point.

SO FUCK OFF ASSHOLE. I do not want to hear your compliment and you are not entitled to give me your compliment. IT IS NOT A COMPLIMENT. Just leave women alone, for fuck's sake. When a woman is interested in catching the attention of the people around her, she will go to a place where that sort of interaction is expected, and she will look up and around her with interest.

As a side note, a smile does not indicate interest, by itself. Usually women smile because it's the safest way to escape a dudebro pestering her. Don't trust a smile, by itself, as proof that your attention is welcome. Odds are, she doesn't welcome your attention, she's desperately hoping you'll go away and she's frantically plotting escape routes in her head and using her smile as a smokescreen for her panic. YOU'LL NEVER KNOW the difference between a legitimate smile and a frightened reaction if that's the only sign you use to read women. My smile is most warm while I'm cussing at the top of my inner voice at some racist fucknugget who happens to be a customer that I have to pander to. You'll never know.

If she's reading a book, playing on her phone, wearing earbuds, wearing sunglasses, or even just not fucking looking at you, SHE'S NOT INTERESTED in you telling her what she should be doing, what she should be wearing, what expression she should have plastered on her face, what emotions she should be feeling, or that you popped a boner for her.

The really sad part is that guys like this make women go out of their way to appear unapproachable. It should just be a common courtesy that a woman can go out in public and not be approached unless she's actively seeking out interaction.

"P.S.: Oh, and by the way, it’d be nice if your default expression was a smile – or, at worst, a merely neutral expression – instead of a scowl that says, “I’ll cut you off at the knees if you try to talk to me.” C’mon, is life really that bad? Just sayin’."

P.S., Oh, and by the way, it'd be nice if your default behaviour was fucking respectful, or at worst, a merely neutral passing-by while not acknowledging others - instead of your entitled, pompous, arrogant, self-aggrandizing, 'splaining attitude that says "I'm an idiot who thinks women exist for my entertainment and I suck in bed because I don't care about women's authenticity or autonomy and I'm only concerned about what I'm getting out of the deal." Just sayin'.

My scowl that says “I’ll cut you off at the knees if you try to talk to me.” is not because life is "really that bad", it's because I'll fucking cut you off at the knees if you try to talk to me. Dipshit.
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: (Kitty Eyes)
I am all about being deliberate. I deliberately choose my words. I deliberately choose my attire. I deliberately choose to do things that scare me for the first time without alcohol or any other inhibition assistance so that I can know that I chose to be that person with intention, not as a byproduct.

I have worked on removing certain words from my vocabulary over the years as part of my commitment to being deliberate. Although I would like it if people noticed and it prompted other people to be more deliberate themselves, that's not my intention - that's a hopeful side effect. I do it to remind myself every day of whatever point I'm trying to make by not saying that word.

I've completely removed "gypped" from my vocabulary because it's a racial slur. To me, it doesn't matter if no one else remembers that it's a racial slur or if the people who are hurt or offended by it can't even hear me to become hurt or offended. Every time I have to choose another word to use in its place, I am reminded to be more conscious and considerate of oppressed people and of my own privilege and to not abuse that privilege. It's easy to avoid certain racial slurs because we have plenty of social reinforcement to help us remember not to use those words. But can I be considerate and conscientious when no one else is even listening? Can I be a decent person even when I don't get credit for it? Choosing to stop using the word "gypped" is an attempt to be a good and considerate person even when I get nothing in return for it, not even appreciation from the Romany people.

I've also changed when I use the word "theory" and when I don't. I have stopped saying "conspiracy theory / theorist" and I now say "conspiracy story / conspiracist" because I want to make a point of separating what a theory *actually* is from the common misunderstanding of "just a theory". A conspiracist is NOT promoting a theory, he's telling us a wildly fantastic story. I've tried to remove the phrase "in theory" to mean "in some dubious thoughts about something that hasn't been proved in the practical sense yet" and I try to only use it when I'm actually talking about scientific theories. Instead, I might say "I agree with that in principle, but in reality..." or "well, that's the hypothesis, anyway, it hasn't been tested in real life yet". I wrote a whole long post about this one a while back.

Many of you have also noticed that I use the term OTG in writing, although I have yet to transition to using that phrase consistently in speech (mainly because I don't say oh-tee-gee / oh-em-gee, I actually say the whole phrase and "their" is a much more noticeable substitute for "my" than the T is for the M). That's another deliberate act to remind myself and others that it is not OK to impose one's religious values onto anyone else, including by affecting the entire culture into casual use of one's own religious views. The pervasiveness of religion is so pervasive that it's not even noticeable to most people, including most secularists, until they try to consciously substitute religiosity for a secular version.

On that note, I am also trying to remove religion from my swearing. Not out of any respect for the proposed deity or its adherents, but as a reminder of how pervasive and intrusive religion is in my life. I've started saying "for fuck's sake" in place of "for god's sake" (I always said both, but now I'm trying to eliminate the latter entirely), and I've been looking for decent substitutes for others.

My most recent additions are Dear Gourd and oh Dog. I just really like the sound of "dear lord", and I like the feel of the word in my mouth. When I say it in frustration, it's a very round sound, with the Rs pronounced way back in my throat (like a Southerner), and it feels very base, earthy, grungy, exactly as I'm feeling when I exclaim that phrase. So I was hesitant to give it up. So I'm trying out the substitution of a rhyming word to see how it fits.

Some people, when they give up religious swearing for these reasons, replace the deity entirely, usually with some other deity that they feel is equally ridiculous but that people of the religious faith they are dismissing will also agree is ridiculous, kind of to make the point that they're all just as ridiculous as the religious person thinks the new deity is.

In other words, when a newly out atheist wants to make a point to "Christianity" (not necessarily any specific Christians), I've often seen them replace phrases like "for the love of Christ!" with "for the love of Loki!" The point, of course, being that the atheist thinks both are equally silly or false, and by equating the two, the atheist's beliefs about the equal standing of the two deities is made public.

I'm all for that trend in principle. But in practice, I haven't seemed to be able to make it stick. If I'm going to start substituting deities, I want to get creative. There are thousands of deities out there to choose from, but I seem to only remember Loki, Thor, and Zeus when I'm in the process of swearing. Since the Gourd substitution has been successful for a brief bit now, I'm trying another rhyming substitution by saying "oh Dog" instead of "oh God" or "Dog damn it!"

I'd also like to incorporate some sci-fi slang, but none of that has stuck either. I did manage to spontaneously yell "frak!" one day instead of fuck, but it didn't feel as satisfying as yelling "fuck". But gorramit might be a decent substitute for "god damn it". The only thing I don't like about that, though, is that I don't want anyone to think I'm trying to find more *polite* ways to swear. The ways I'm substituting are just weird enough to feel "off" to some people, particularly religious people, and that's a side effect I want to encourage. I don't want people to hear me make these substitutions and think I did the equivalent of saying "fudge" or "shut the front door!" I have a whole other rant on cussing and my moral reasons for deliberately using swear words instead of polite substitutions that I won't go into now. I want them to feel off-kilter so that the prevalence of religion is brought to their attention.

But, as I said, that's a side effect, and the more important effect is that *I* become more deliberate in my speech, which makes me more deliberate in my thoughts and makes me more intentionally who I am.

So that's what I'm up to these days.
joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
I see a lot of people complaining that someone who blocked them just "couldn't handle a difference of opinion". That's not why people get blocked. Ever. Everyone has friends and family who have different opinions from themselves, and they get along with them fine, or at least put up with them.

The reason why people get blocked online is not for their differences of opinion. It's for their attitude or personality regarding those opinions. Every single time, I guarantee you, it's not the opinion, it's because they think you're being a jerk about it. It doesn't even matter if you don't think you're being a jerk - they do, that's why they blocked you, and the opinion that matters when someone is being a jerk is the person who is the recipient of the offending behaviour. Most often it's because you wouldn't drop it when they asked. Respecting consent is important in all social interactions, not just sex (but disrespecting non-sexual consent is a good indicator of that person's attitude towards sexual consent, which is why those of us heavy with the banhammer use it as often as we do).

And I say this as someone who gets blocked. I know when I'm being mean to people. Most of the time, I'm doing it intentionally because that person was a jackass in some way and I'm either trying to teach him what it feels like or I just no longer care about hurting his feelings because I've deemed him not worth my empathy or the cost in spoons for being such a fucktard. But that means that *I'm being an asshole*. Doesn't matter if it's in response to something they did, if they block me, it's not because I'm an atheist or poly or feminist or hold those views, it's because *they don't like me as a person* or they don't like my approach. When I'm being an asshole, that's kind of the point.

I've had plenty of "discussions" with anti-vaxxers, for example, where I thought I was being totally reasonable, calm, rational, in explaining why they're wrong.  And I stand by my belief that they're wrong.  They are, empirically, factually, wrong.  But I wasn't blocked because I am pro-vaccination.  I was pro-vaccination from the beginning when they friended me in the first place.  I was blocked because they didn't like my approach.  *They* thought I was being arrogant and condescending, even if I didn't (and still don't) think so, and they didn't like it.  So, sure, even if there was some way to prove, without a doubt and with completely objective metrics, that I absolutely was not being condescending and they were wrong to think so, the point is that they still did not block me because of my argument; they blocked me because they did not like how I said it.

Maybe it's true that there is absolutely no way to express that opinion in a way that the other person will find acceptable.  That is my position on many of my opinions - I believe that there is no way to express atheism (a personal lack of belief in a deity) that won't offend some people, for example.  There is no magic phrase, no amount of kowtowing or humbling that will make my personal lack of belief acceptable to be spoken about in public.  "I don't care if they're gay, but do they have to rub it in our faces?"  There are times when I believe it is justified to continue to press an opinion even when a listener doesn't like the approach.  This PSA is not a position on whether it is appropriate or not (or when it is or not) to hold or voice a controversial opinion.  This PSA is an EXPLANATION of why people get blocked, regardless of the rightness or moral standing or reasonableness of the action.  It's not the opinion that got you blocked, it was your attitude, your personality, or your approach that got you blocked.

So drop all this self-righteous blathering about how people just can't handle "the truth". What they can't handle is your arrogant, entitled, posturing. Your opinions are not nearly as offensive as you as a person are when you spouted them which resulted in you getting blocked.
joreth: (Kitty Eyes)
I agree with Felicia Day about how changing a character's appearance through casting is not about sticking to canon. In addition to all the other things she says about diversity and minority representation, for me, when I get upset about changing a character's appearance through casting or when it's OK with me has to do with when that character's appearance affects the character development.

Take Annie, for example. That was a story about an unwanted, forgotten child who struggled with adversity in the lowest class of person there was. In the era it was written in and for, being poor and red-headed was the lowest a person could be (because being a person of color was *not* actually a person, and the predominantly white audience could not relate in any way to a black protagonist; just look at the names given to Warbuck's ethnic servants). But today, who better would understand the trials of being in the lowest economic class, hated and distrusted based on appearance alone, with little-to-no options for improving one's station than a little black orphan girl? Changing Annie's appearance from a red-headed white girl to a black girl does not change her character. In fact, one could argue that it enhances exactly those character traits the character was written around without the embedded racism of the early 20th century.

But remember the debacle about princessifying Mierda from Brave? All they changed about her was her clothing, and that sent fans into an uprorar. Why? Because the whole fucking movie was ABOUT her resistance to being princessified. And she WON that battle. That's why we loved her and that's what her entire character was about. Changing her clothing is literally the same as changing her very personality and her whole story. But you could make her a different ethnicity and still tell the same tale.

Most white characters are written as white straight males out of default, not because there is anything inherently white, straight, or male about their characters. There was that article I passed around a while back that advocated to parents that, while reading your children their bedtime stories, try changing up the gender pronouns. It turns out that telling most stories with white male protagonists as female, especially those written for children, doesn't typically alter the story in any way. It's totally believable because the stories aren't usually written AROUND the experience of being a white straight male. They're just stories that white straight males have adventures in. And when that's the case, pretty much anyone can have those adventures.

But when a writer creates a minority character, that writer has to deliberately make an effort to point out that the character is a minority. They usually only do that when they have a reason to do it, such as the experience of being that minority is what results in the character as we eventually meet them. I'm going to overlook for the moment the fact that most minority characters are either poorly written, written flatly, or written to represent or convey a stereotype and just address the fact that they *are* written, but are written for a reason. So to cast that character with a white actor pretty much erases the entire reason for that character having been written as a minority in the first place. Very rarely are minority characters put in a story just because the author felt like describing someone who looked different without those looks being some kind of commentary or effect on who the character is.

I originally wrote "never" instead of "very rarely", but then I remembered modern vampire romance novels (sorry, but Anne Rice and Laurell K. Hamilton write romance novels. They just do. Disclosure: I like modern vampire stories and I read romance novels. I stand by my assertion that they are one and the same). I believe that the minority characters in those stories really could be replaced by white actors and it would not significantly change the characters in any way. I think that these authors threw in minority characters simply to give themselves more adjectives to describe a cast of several dozen that all have six-pack abs, piercing eyes, honey-voices, and long flowing hair. Eventually you run out of ways to describe bulging biceps unless you throw in ebony skin or perfectly symmetrical faces with full lips without adding almond-shaped eyes, but there's nothing fundamentally "ethnic" about these characters that isn't simply "exotic objectification". But I digress.

Does the arrogance and selfish entitlement of Captain Hammer still work if we make that character a black man? Or a woman? Or a disabled person? No, Captain Hammer works best as a white male precisely because of the arrogance and entitlement of the character. He is, in fact, a commentary on the perception of heroes and making him a minority would hurt that message. But there is nothing about the Human Torch that is inherently "white" that a black man couldn't also play.

There is, however, a problem with casting a skinny model as a character who is the very embodiment of physical activity, martial arts, and ass-kicking skills even though both the actor and the character are white women (although a woman of color could easily play her character too). The character represents strong, independent womenhood, while a conventionally attractive female with no muscle definition does not convey that same message. She conveys the importance of beauty over strength and unrealistic ideals of the female body, which directly conflicts with the character's traits. Wonder Woman is an Amazon written by a man who is actually a "misandrist" - he actually really and truly believes that women are the better gender. She does not work as a skinny, conventionally attractive, small woman. She is supposed to be bigger and stronger than men. That's her THING.

Tonto cast as a white actor? Tiger Lily cast as a white actor? Aside from the original racism inherent in writing those characters in the first place, those characters *are* their ethnicities. To cast white actors in those roles is to further the erasure of those ethnicities and to erase their entire motivation for being in the story in the place where they are. If we tried to tell the Color Purple with white actors, we would be erasing the whole reason for that story existing in the first place. If we were to tell The Secret Garden with an Indian protagonist, we would be erasing the whole reason for that story existing in the first place. The whole reason the characters have the adventures they do and the personalities they do is *because* they are wealthy white children in colonial India.

The point here is that my upset or lack thereof when it comes to casting an actor of different ethnicity or gender or orientation than the character has to do with how that character's appearance changes the character's development, traits, and skills, not whether something is canon or not. Did the author write that character's appearance that way for a reason? What does that appearance do for the character's development? Is there another way to accomplish that development? Is that the *best* way to accomplish that development? Does that development or does that appearance represent stereotyping, outdated cultural influences, bigotry, or prevent more complex dimensional characterization or does it instead enhance or explain the character or highlight/comment on the culture's stereotyping, outdated cultural influences, bigotry, or prevention of character advancement? In other words, is that character poorly written because of its appearance, or do the ethnic/gender/orientation limitations placed on the character actually serve a larger social commentary purpose?

I don't want to stick to canon for canon's sake. Sometimes authors make mistakes or write something less well than it could have been written. Doesn't mean I don't like it, just means it could be better. What purpose does this element serve? Do I like that purpose or can the spirit of the story survive with a different take? Can that purpose be served by a different element? Those are the questions that ought to be asked when casting choices are made and plot changes are made going from one medium to another.

Replacing minority characters with white actors is racism because of the larger social issue of diversity representation and because the minority part of the character usually is an important character trait. Occasionally casting white characters with minority actors is NOT racism (or "reverse racism") because there is almost never anything fundamentally "white" about a character that could not exist if a minority actor portrayed that character and because of the larger social issue of diversity representation.

Racism is what happens when someone of an already disadvantaged racial class is disadvantaged or discriminated against. By definition, it is not racism when an advantaged racial class has to share some of the privileges with disadvantaged racial classes, even when sometimes "sharing" means you get those privileges just a little bit less often. That's called putting on the big boy pants and not hogging the spotlight so that others get a turn too.
joreth: (Bad Computer!)
I get a lot of shit for losing my temper, getting offended, and blocking people when someone is a serious asshat. I'm often told to "calm down" or "relax" or "I'm just asking questions" or "we're just having a conversation."

No. Fuck you. I'm not the asshole for getting pissed. You're the asshole for pissing me off AND YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO MY ATTENTION, TIME, OR POSITIVE OPINION OF YOU.

From Miri Mogilevsky:


In responding to an asshole on my blog yesterday, I realized that there's a misconception out there that anybody who demands respect and asks someone to stop insulting them is doing so because they have "hurt feelings" or a "thin skin."

1) Even if that's true, there's nothing wrong with that and we must not use "thin-skinned" as an insult. Ever.

2) When I demand to be treated the right way, it's not so much because my feelings are hurt otherwise but because I am worth too much to be treated like shit, and being able to interact with me is not a right granted to you simply because you exist and possess a computer. It's something you get to do only if I decide that interacting with you is fun or pleasurable or simply useful to me (the latter applies mostly to people I don't know personally).

If that sounds egotistical, I don't really care. I'm not here for anyone's entertainment or to serve their apparent need to humiliate and mistreat others.
joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
Much like you are not being censored unless the government itself is actually penalizing or prosecuting you for speaking about something, you are also not being "discriminated against" if you are not part of a marginalized group that is institutionally and systematically prevented from participating in society on the basis of some quality that has nothing to do with what they are preventing you from doing.

So, someone who doesn't want you around because you're a bitch? Not discrimination of people who "tell it like it is". Someone who doesn't want to follow you on Facebook because all you post are pictures of yourself? Not discrimination of good looking people. Female-type person won't go out with you? Not discrimination of Nice Guys or Smart Guys.

A public and commercial establishment refusing to offer you their advertised services at their advertised prices on the basis that they don't take business from people with your skin color, religion, sexual orientation, gender, age, nationality, or level of ableness when those qualities have nothing to do with the services being offered such as a restaurant or office supply store? That's discrimination.

You are entitled to being allowed to participate in society to the best of your abilities. You are not entitled to any individual providing you with the opportunity to irritate them.
joreth: (Misty in Box)
This is a post made by someone else, but it says exactly what I want to say on the subject, so I'm just going to quote it here:


The most common argument I see against the [use of the] word "privilege" is that it is "annoying."

You are, of course, welcome to find anything annoying if you want. So here's what I personally find annoying:


  • Seeing people with no background in the social sciences summarily dismiss a sociological concept backed by decades of theory and research because they don't like the sound of it;

  • Having my own ideas and writing dismissed because they share a word in common with a bad Tumblr you read once;

  • Being asked to apologize for people I have never met or interacted with who were mean to you when you argued against the word "privilege";

  • The implication that ideas have to make you feel good in order to be accurate and worth your consideration, and ideas that make you feel uncomfortable or bad can be safely dismissed.

joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)

"I might not be the same but that's not important
No freedom til we're equal
Damn right I support it"

Too often, disadvantaged groups use the strategy for acceptance and equality of closing ranks against everyone else and appealing to the majority with "we're not that different from you! We have this one thing different, but we're not like THOSE freaks over there!" We are pitted against each other in our scrabble for inclusion to the club, like Survivor contestants or pledges being hazed. Because it's in the interest of the ruling class to keep us bickering and squabbling amongst ourselves. It prevents us from banding together and finding our own power. It keeps the ruling classes in power above us while we content ourselves with victory over their table scraps. Separate But Equal is not equal, it's a grudging concession that they deign to relinquish, hoping it'll keep our eyes off the banquet on top of the table.

It's the same hate that's caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk-outs and sit-ins
It's human rights for everybody, there is no difference

The exact same thing that made whatever class you're in a disadvantaged class, an oppressed class, a second class is what you are turning around and doing to someone else when you discriminate against another. But what if we all banded together? What if all minority groups linked arms, faced the majority squarely in the face and said "we are all one and when we add us all up together, you are no longer the majority"? Would we finally find equality? Would we finally know freedom?

I might not be the same, but that's not important. There is no freedom until we are all equal. Damn right I support it.



joreth: (Kitty Eyes)
"I've never been there, but I once met someone who talked about it and I didn't like that person, so I'll just assume that he's representative of the entire experience there and say that it'll probably suck."

When it's not a subject with objective data that can illustrate, contradict, and/or remove our own logical fallacies and cognitive biases regarding experiences, I'm going to take a pretty dim view of any review that includes "I didn't experience it myself", especially when combined with "because I don't like a person who likes it".

Now, if the objection is "the entire content is this subject I don't like" or "the target audience is people I don't relate to", it's probably a safe assumption to make that you're less likely to like it yourself.  But...

"I don't want to go to an adult store because only losers go there" and

"I don't want to go to Kentucky because my cousin is a redneck and he lives there so it's filled with rednecks" and

"I don't want to read Shakespeare because elitist snobs read Shakespeare" and

"I don't want to listen to country music because I once heard the joke about listening to it backwards gets your dog, your wife, and your truck back so it must all be filled with stupid lyrics" and

"I don't want to go to the ballet because I once saw a picture of a guy in tights so I assume there's nothing there but men in tights" and

"I don't want to go see your dance performance because I know a guy who pops gum and likes the theater so the audience will probably have people there who pop gum and I can't stand that" and

"I don't want to try Indian food because I was once in an Indian person's house and it smelled funny"

are all examples (from real life, I might add) of people being prejudiced, close-minded, and in some cases just stupid.  Telling others not to try the experience without having done it yourself (again, with experiences that are enjoyed or disliked subjectively, not that make truth claims and have objective data to verify those claims) only lets those around you *see* you acting prejudiced, close-minded, and in some cases just stupid.  And since I know no one thinks of themselves as prejudiced, close-minded, or stupid, I know that none of you will want to APPEAR that way even by accident, right?  So don't do that shit.

This is not to be confused with reading several reviews about an experience from people/organizations that have a stable pattern of having similar opinions as your own and reporting "I heard/read that This Person didn't like it for these reasons".  I want to be very clear that I am complaining about a specific thing - criticizing an experienced based on association with another person that you don't like, not for the content of that experience, which can be verified even second-hand, and assuming content of an experience based solely on the presence of another person that you don't like without verifying that content is, in fact, the content.

I have a habit of liking movies that get poor critic reviews, so I might decide to go see a movie just because all the critics said it sucked.  If my close feminist friends all say a particular movie was sexist and offensive, I might give it a miss.  But if one of my coworkers, who happens to be sexist, likes a particular movie, I won't assume that the movie is sexist just because he likes it unless he actually SAYS something about the content.  Him just liking it is not enough for me to assume anything about the content.  I need some other data point, like WHY he liked it or the demographics of the entire audience who liked it, to give me a clue as to whether or not I might like it.

And even then, I often surprise myself by discovering things I used to swear I hated and would never like.  Hummus, for example.  Absolutely hated it until about a year ago.  Tomatoes are another thing.  I've hated the texture so much that my mom had to puree them in pasta sauce before I'd even look at it.  Now I love them both.  I also used to really love the Chronicles of Narnia, even though I was an atheist child.  But back then, I lived in a liberal bubble where my atheism wasn't the target of oppression.  Now that I'm more aware of oppression, I can't help but feel turned off by the obvious religious apologetics in the series.  My tastes change over time, and the more I deliberately test my assumptions about my opinions, the more aware I become of who I am and I am better to more accurately predict what I might like or dislike and in what direction I might change.

And the more I find to like where I previously assumed I wouldn't like.  The universe is a vast and wondrous place, far more interesting than any individual can really comprehend.  And there is far too little time to discover all its wonder, so I don't want to waste time avoiding things that might turn out to be amazing just because some other jackass also happens to like it.

“Your true self can be known only by systematic experimentation, and controlled only by being known.” Francis Bacon
joreth: (Xmas Kitties)
How does an anti-thest, anti-traditionalism, anti-consumerist, anti-obligated-gift-giving atheist celebrate the winter holiday season?

I celebrate Newtonmas which, for convenience's sake, looks exactly like Christmas celebration complete with wishing people happy holidays, giving gifts without obligation, wearing red and green, and singing songs specific to the season, decorating with pine trees, tinsel, little colored lights, fuzzy red and white peaked caps, and eating ALL THE THINGS but especially the things with cinnamon, apples, chocolate, and lots of sugar (sometimes all in the same dish, but not necessarily).

The only difference is that, in my mind, the birthday I'm celebrating belongs to a different historical figure - one that I know for a fact existed - Isaac Newton.  And I'm not so much celebrating his birthday specifically as I am celebrating what his birthday respresents, namely science.  All the gifts, all the food, all the time spent with family, all these things are reminders to me of how much science has improved our collective lives.

I live in a time and place where even those of us below the poverty line have such wealth and abundance compared to our past generations, that I can afford to bitch about consumerism on a laptop using high speed internet access in a house with central air conditioning.  I live in a time and place where visiting loved ones 3,000 miles or more away is an actual *possibility* (even if an unrealized one at any given year).

I celebrate on an arbitrary day that happens to numerically match up with the day a historical figure was born (if you do some more arbitrary numerical fudging) because that figure is one of many who represent all that has made my life possible.  I choose that particular arbitrary day because everyone else collectively chose that same arbitrary day for pretty much the same reasons but with a different central character, so it becomes convenient to take advantage of the national acquiescence to allow us all to celebrate.  In other words, no one puts up a fuss if I take time off or spend the day celebrating or wear clashing colors or weird accessories because they're all doing the same thing and it would be strange if I did otherwise.

I won't take offense if people do not wish me Happy Newtonmas instead of Merry Christmas, although I do appreciate the "Happy Holidays!" effort made by those to acknowledge that there are other holidays being celebrated during this season by trying to include their holiday of choice even if one doesn't know what that holiday might be.  But if anyone was curious what a person with different values might do during this time when it seems as though one set of values is being pushed onto an entire planet regardless of personal holiday preference, well, this is what one person with different holiday beliefs does.

There is no war on Christmas.  There is only a desire to experience our own holidays in our own way.  This is how I experience mine.
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)
For the last several years, I've maintained a Group Me for conventions.  This is a web-based service that allows you to enter your phone number, join a particular Group Me (or be added by the moderator), and then send a regular SMS text message to the Group Me phone number that will then be relayed to everyone else in the group.  They have the option to do the same.  This has come in handy for sending a single message out to everyone to say "I'm going to eat at the hotel restaurant, anyone else free and want to share a meal?" and "Party tonight is in room 465!" and "Sorry, have to cancel the party - roommate is sick.  Please don't show up tonight!"  I send one message to one phone number and reach everyone who needs that information.  Everyone else can send a message or reply to mine and everyone else gets to see it too.

Some people have suggested that Facebook or Twitter is the same thing, or good enough, for this purpose.  But I don't agree.  For one thing, it requires that everyone whom you wish to speak to has a FB or Twitter account.  Second, it requires that you be friends with those people.  Third, it requires that you have the ability to access FB or Twitter whenever you want to send that message.   For some people, this is all true.

But not for me. And here's why... )

Group Me allows you to join yourself or have the moderator add you to the group.  No one else will see your phone number unless they already have your phone number in their phone's address book, so it protects your privacy.  It allows you to choose your display name so you can use the name that people can use to find you online or not, as you prefer.  It removes me as the central organizing point and gives everyone else on the list some degree of control or participation.  It works for all phones that have SMS capabilities (and if my ancient clam-shell dumb phone can do it, then every cell phone can do it).  It does not cost anything except whatever your current text messaging plan is.  If you have limited text messages, you can turn it on and off, and you can also check messages at the website with a computer or other device with internet access.

If you have no internet access and no or limited texting capabilities, then it's true, this service will not work for you.  But I'm also at a loss as to how to include you on con' plan coordination at all in this case if I can't text or send you internet messages.  So, sorry.

Here are specifics on how to join & use the GroupMe... )
joreth: (Super Tech)
"I acknowledge that my white privilege has meant that I’ve been given hella opportunities, and am now in a privileged position to be able to sit here and write these ideas. But part of dealing with privilege is working actively to dismantle it. If I didn’t use my strange combination of oppression and privilege to openly question, critique, and start conversations, I’d just be playing into the system that benefits from Native subjugation and white privilege–and that would be something to be concerned about." - http://nativeappropriations.com/2012/07/real-indians-dont-care-about-tonto.html

Replace the word "Native" in the last sentence with any subjegated, oppressed, or discriminated group, and the word "white" with any majority or otherwise privileged group, and this is exactly my position on activism and why I'm "out" as all the minority groups that make me who I am and why I open myself up to criticism and discrimination by claiming those labels and being public about them and talking about them in spite of my natural tendency towards privacy.

Privilege and oppression are rarely binary states. There's a whole field of study on intersectionality, but when trying to introduce or explain the concept of privilege to someone who has it or doesn't get it, we usually reduce it to people who have it and people who don't, for simplicity even though the reality is that almost everyone has some of each. But I can use my privilege to support and assist those of less privilege, including myself. My white-ness and educated status can help my poly, atheist, and female status while my poly, atheist, female, and Latina statuses can all inform the direction my privilege should take in helping.

We are not a nation of Privileged People at the top of a mountain and Oppressed People all at the bottom, with every Privileged Person having an equal panoramic view and every Oppressed Person being buried under the same size rocks that come crashing down, dislodged from the uncaring feet of the Privileged at the top. We are people, in various places along the mountainside, some with easier paths than others, some higher up than others, and all with the opportunity to reach down a helping hand to those below or on rockier paths, while at the same time accepting those helping hands from above or suffering on our own paths while those above refuse to look down and assist, maybe even kicking a few boulders onto our path for good measure.

So, where my path is secure, strong, stable, I'll reach out my hand or lower a rope to help those who need it. Where my path is rocky, tenuous, slippery, I'll call out for a safety line from those above or for someone below to catch me if I fall. Even if they're technically below me, their path might, at this point in time, be more stable than mine, and we can help each other.

Privilege does not make you a bad person, nor does it mean that you never suffer. It means you are part of a group that has been given SYSTEMIC assistance in making life easier, even if you, personally, didn't get a hand on that rope.  Maybe no one lowered down a rope to your path when it got rocky, but someone built the path there for you in the first place, for instance. It also means that you have a stable part of the path that you can use to help someone else up. It also means, in my opinion, that you have a responsibility to use that stable part of the path to help someone else up. As someone who also has rocky portions of the path, that ought to make you more sympathetic to the people below who need your help, not less.
joreth: (Bad Computer!)
There's this thing that otherwise reasonable, intelligent people do that just really pisses me off. I've started calling it Missing The Point Pedantry. This is when someone who is a generally intelligent person with a reasonable amount of social skills decides to argue some pedantic, specific little detail that someone, who is also fairly intelligent with social skills, said in a conversation or online post that completely misses the point of what was being said. It requires the pedant to overlook context, any knowledge of the person speaking and/or their past track record or tendencies regarding either the subject or their conversation/speaking/writing style, and any social conventions involved in speaking/writing.

So, for example: let's take Devon. Devon is a college graduate with an interest in the hard sciences but a vast experience with the arts and pop culture. Devon can use "totes" and "adorbs" in conversation and not sound like my dad sounded in the '80s when he tried to say "that's totally radical dude!" in an effort to connect with "the kids these days". Devon is well-read in popular fiction, the classics, and non-fiction in some specialty areas of interest. Devon is sex-positive and active in alternative communities like the Ren Faire and the local indie club scene. In other words, Devon is a well-rounded person with general knowledge, some specific expertise, and social skills like current slang and local/cultural body language.

Now let's take Quinn. Other than the specific areas of specialty that Quinn focuses on or hobbies and interests that Quinn has, Quinn is basically the same as Devon - well-read, intelligent, average size social group, etc. Maybe Quinn is a sci-fi geek instead of a Renny or maybe Quinn listens to goth instead of industrial music, but otherwise, they are fairly well-matched people. They also know each other through overlapping social circles and have had direct interactions with each other, but maybe they don't know each other quite well enough to call each other "friend" in the can-call-each-other-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-to-rescue sense. They probably show up at some of the same parties if they're in the same area and they are probably friends on Facebook or something.

So Devon and Quinn are at a party one night and Devon is speaking with some people on a subject that most of the people mostly agree on. Maybe it's the conflict in the Middle East, maybe it's about immigration, maybe it's about pc vs. mac, maybe it's on the inherent privilege that blondes face in this country at the expense of redheads. Whatever, Devon is reasonably certain that most of the people have similar, if not identical, views on the subject and that there are probably people at the party who disagree, but that's not who Devon is talking to right now, although Devon is aware that those people could probably overhear the conversation. Quinn is at the party and generally agrees on the subject, but has different personal experiences of the subject so might have a slightly different perspective, although they both agree on the important points.

Devon starts relating a story about a study on the subject that suggests some really interesting and suggestive trends among, oh, I dunno, blondes. It turns out that when you prime blondes by having them read pro-blonde jokes, they have a tendency to become more hostile towards non-blondes. They answer questions about crime committed by redheads with harsher penalties than blondes, and they want harsher penalties than the blondes who weren't primed for it. The study, and a series of related studies, show some shocking revelations about the privilege of blondes in our country that lend weight to the redhead accusation that hair-colorism is not yet over, it just moved to a more subtle form. Blondes aren't burning redheads at the stake for being witches anymore, but they still aren't given exactly the same treatement as blondes in society, and the redheads aren't just being "overly sensitive" about "seeing hair-colorism everywhere".

Since Devon is not a research scientist, was not personally involved in this study, and is speaking at a party and not a science forum, Devon is playing a little loose with the language. Devon sums up the study instead of quotes it, uses anecdote as illustration to connect with the audience, speaks in the common vernacular and not necessarily precise, scientific language, sometimes uses humor to relieve the tension, sometimes gets a little angry at the injustice of it all and the anger seeps into the tone every so often. But Devon is speaking to peers, who understand the same common vernacular, who are swayed by anecdotal illustrations and have not spent their life-long careers training themselves to recognize personal bias (although some do it as a hobby, they all still understand that they're all at a party and not being hired to review this study), who are also there to just converse with people they like and if they happen to learn an interesting new tip, even better.

As Devon finishes with an anecdote that supports the study's conclusion, in an effort to better connect the audience to the dry data and to illustrate the point and maybe to connect the study to something that was said previously that is related but not necessarily the exact same thing, Quinn jumps in with "well, I'm blonde and I like anti-redhead jokes, but *I* certainly have no problem with redheads! Therefore you can't say that blondes are anti-redhead. If I were to follow your logic where you used a personal anecdote to support hair-colorism, then my experience as a blonde who had a hair-colorist redhead father should lead me to make sweeping generalizations that all redheads were anti-blonde!"

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call Missing The Point.

Of course we shouldn't take our personal experiences and use them to make sweeping generalizations. That's not what Devon did. Devon used a personal anecdote to illustrate a trend that a scientific study suggested. The point of using anecdotes in this context is to make the subject matter relatable to the general audience. People use analogies, similes, hyperbole, alliteration, allusion, and other literary tools to create an emotional response in the audience. That's what people do. The scientific and the skeptics communities are both terrible about not utilizing these tools, and it's one of the reasons why we have a culture of anti-intellectualism. The religious and the woo crowds are experts at these tools and they use them liberally to sway the public away from science, away from reason, away from critical thinking. Science, critical thinking, and reason are hard for humans, in general (don't anyone fucking dare comment about how easy it is for you, personally - that's exactly what I'm talking about). But tell people there's a quantum flux theory that totally explains why hospitals fill up on nights with a full moon because your sister once had a dream about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at exactly the same time you were making one, therefore water that remembers the medicine you filtered out of it but not the poop totally cured your autism, and they'll think you're making absolute sense.

When an individual makes a claim, such as "women are just naturally more nurturing than men" and backs it up with a story about how "every single" woman they know is better with children than "every single" man they know, and has been that way since birth, therefore they can make the claim that women in general, or all women, are naturally more nurturing than men - that's a logical fallacy. The counter to that is a combination of actual science research that says otherwise as well as any examples that do not fit the claim. If the claim is that "all people of X group", then only 1 counter example is sufficient to falsify the claim. If the claim is "generally people of X group", then anyone whose personal experience is that most people of that group do *not* is sufficient to falsify the claim - especially when either case is backed up with scientific data.

In other words, if you say "all dogs have 4 legs", then all I have to do is produce 1 dog without 4 legs and the claim is bunk. If you say "dogs are generally mean and vicious animals", then all I have to do is say that I've worked with thousands of animals in an animal shelter and the vast majority of dogs I've worked with were lovable and sweet, and that the only mean and vicious dogs I encountered were raised by asshole owners who trained them specifically to be mean and vicious to counter the claim that meanness is a species-wide trend.

But when the scientific evidence suggests a particular trend, and a person shares an anecdote to illustrate what the trend is, or to help the audience connect or relate to the conclusion, or to say "I can believe that because this thing that supports the conclusion happened to me", that is not a logical fallacy. That's called being a part of a social species that uses complex language filled with nuance and social context to share ideas with each other.

Most of the time, this Missing The Point Pedantry takes the form of a strawman argument. I have an ex who did this constantly. He once got interested in dating someone that I felt would be problematic because she was opposed to polyamory. I was concerned that she would do typical cowboy or cuckoo things to break us up or drive me away so that she could have him all to herself. I was concerned because she exhibited such behaviour in the past. His reaction was to scoff at me and tell me that he was anti-marriage, so I shouldn't worry because it's not like he was going to run off to Vegas and marry her, he just wanted to fuck her.

Well, no shit Sherlock, I didn't think he was going to run off to Vegas and marry her and that's not at all what I was concerned about. It doesn't take something as drastic as a vehemently anti-marriage man completely 180-ing on his lifelong, somewhat pathological, anger at the institution of marriage to make me concerned about how a new partner is going to affect my existing relationship. Things like refusing to be in the same room with me even at parties forcing him to routinely "choose" between us, calling in the middle of our date night for her weekly emotional "crisis" to have a 2-hour long argument about whether or not he should come home *again* to take care of her, showing up at my house at exactly midnight because "my night" with him is now *technically* the next day, which isn't my night, so he has to come home with her right now, spinning private stories in a negative way to mutual friends to gradually turn those mutual friends away from me and onto "her side" - these are the kinds of things that I'm afraid of. These, by the way, are all things that have actually happened to me and not hyperbole, exaggeration, or strawmen or pulled out of my ass. I don't need to be worried that she's going to kidnap my boyfriend at gunpoint, force him to marry her, and never see me again to be concerned that my life is about to be unpleasantly disrupted by someone with a history of being disruptive.

So sometimes the pedantry is used to pick on a specific detail or pull a loose form of speech to focus on at the expense of all the rest of what was said - the context, the cultural influences, the history of the speaker, and even the non-spoken implications revealed by the language used - to pick out that detail and blow it up to exaggerated proportions so that the original speaker would have to backtrack or renege the point in order to not be associated with the caricature now presented.

But sometimes it's another logical fallacy, and I don't particularly want to attempt to cover every possible fallacy that someone could make in these circumstances. The point is I really hate Missing The Point Pedantry because I have to explain, in great detail and at great length, why this is a misdirection in order to get back on track, which, in effect, is exactly what I'm trying to avoid - being misdirected. Instead of discussing the topic, we get sidetracked onto this other niggling little detail. There's no good way to handle this problem that I am aware of. If you don't address it, a falsehood or a fallacy goes unchallenged, and all that results from that. If you do address it directly, you get off the main topic and start arguing something that wasn't your point in the first place. If you address the fact that it's missing the point, you still get off the main topic and start arguing something else that wasn't your main point, only now you're arguing about arguing.

The people I know are intelligent, reasonable people, for the most part, and, contrary to the mainstream perception of intelligent people, are not actually all socially maladapted misfits like Sheldon Cooper. They are people who understand humor, sarcasm, double entendre, can tell when someone shouts "fine, whatever!" and storms out of a room that she's probably not actually fine and is likely pissed off, can identify "I'd love to but..." as a polite rejection even if the word "no" was never spoken, and a whole host of other social interactions. But, for some reason, all of those interaction skills go right out the window when they seize on a detail that might not be an absolutely, literal, 100% in all cases down to the fractal level, perfect phrase or example.

When most people say "I'm going down to Miami for the weekend", most other people understand that "down" is a cultural slang term that means "south-ish from this point", not that the speaker is literally moving in a downward direction into the planet and pretty much no one tries to correct the speaker. Even when someone says "I'm going down to New York for the weekend", and we all know that "down" means "south-ish" but the speaker will be traveling "north-ish" or "east-ish", most of the time people still don't try to correct the speaker because we grasped, from the context, what the important point was - that the speaker is going somewhere for the weekend. But when Missing The Point Pedantry happens, suddenly I'm faced with, for example, anti-sexist men who want to argue that "she didn't say the word no so it's not rape" or "but men have bad stuff that happens too" or "what's wrong with wanting to protect my primary relationship?" or "if she just knew self-defense, she wouldn't be a target" or "I agree that religion is actively harmful, but do you have to be so aggressive about it?" or "you know that aspirin comes from willow trees, right, so don't do the opposite and assume everything that's natural is harmful" or a million other wacky things that completely miss the point.

No, I haven't actually counted out one million examples. That's a figure of speech and is intended to convey "a lot" in a way that impresses the reader with "really a lot". And that's exactly what I'm talking about - Missing The Point Pedantry. Everyone knows that "a million other things" doesn't literally mean exactly one million other things, and "everyone knows" doesn't literally mean that every person on the entire planet that has ever or will ever live understands that figure of speech. And you, who is doing this, also understand that, in most contexts except for whatever it is about this one that prompted you to point this out. I'm not speaking to Rain Man here, or Sheldon, I'm not speaking to or about anyone who has any kind of actual neurological condition or complication that makes them actually have trouble with abstract thought. I'm talking to and about people who, in most cases, get this, but couldn't refrain from "not getting it" now. I know you're not stupid and I know you're not an asshole, but for fuck's sake, stop acting like it and, by implication, stop acting like I'm stupid by ignoring all the context around whatever detail you picked out to focus on.
joreth: (Bad Computer!)
or The Misuse Of The Argument From Authority Accusation

First, a couple of disclaimers. 1) I'm going to use the word "skeptic" in this post to lump everyone from the skeptics, secular, humanist, and atheist communities into a single label. Those communities are absolutely not interchangable, let's get that straight right up front. Being an atheist doesn't make you a skeptic, as everyone's go-to example, Bill Mahr, can attest. Neither does being a skeptic automatically make you an atheist, as our resident non-atheist skeptic, Pamela Gay, proves. Irrelevant for my point here. I don't feel like listing out all the groups every time I reference them, so I'm going to lump them into one place-holder label, and I chose "skeptic" because I say that word often enough that it comes out easily.

2) I am a skeptic, and damn proud of it. I love the label, I love what I learn from both the community and the process of skepticism. I am in no way considering dumping the label. I'm uncomfortable in skeptic spaces because there are certain problems I encounter, but I want to fix those problems so that I can continue to be part of the skeptics community; I don't want to split off into a whole new group that has the exact same premise as the skeptics community but who refuses to be connected to skepticism because of the bad association.

3) This is not the only problem with the skeptics community. In fact, it's not even one of the top 10 worst. It could be considered a symptom of one of the more major problems, but I don't want to hear "that's it? That's your big problem? Why are you bitching about that when there are real problems with the skeptics community that need to be addressed?" This is an irritation that has real-world implications, and this is my journal where I specifically set it up to bitch about things. So I'm going to bitch about it.

So, on to the problem.

Skeptics, overall, tend to be a fairly well-educated, intelligent group of people. When you have a group of well-educated, intelligent people, the arguments have a tendency to take a particular form. People tend to try to remove all emotional content from the argument and argue everything academically, even when the subject is about emotions, is personal, or is subjective. Many times, they will argue something just for the sake of academically arguing it - it won't even be a subject they're particularly invested in exploring, they just want to argue. If that subject happens to be something that their opponent is invested in, then because the skeptics aren't, they have a tendency to, not only be totally unaware of how damaging it is to academically argue about something the opponent is personally invested in, but to also be completely dismissive of the emotions of their opponent because, hey, it's just an intellectual exercise, no need to get your panties in a twist over it.

Now, as an intellectual exercise with no emotional investment in the outcome other than being right, skeptics will tend to throw accusations at each other, and anyone they're arguing with, like they're in the middle of a Logical Fallacy oral exam in school. Except that these dispassionate skeptics are not actually unemotionally invested in the argument. They are, just not in the topic. They're invested in the idea that they're well-educated, intelligent, and not emotionally involved. So any criticism of this really irritating way of arguing is taken personally and defended with great vehemence and their own set of logical fallacies.

Final disclaimer, I'm not immune to the subject of this rant. But I can still be irritated when I see it happen.

So, the one I'm going to vent about today is the Argument From Authority. There are a handful of logical fallacies that are easier to identify and remember than the others, so every time they come up, skeptics immediately jump to accusing their opponent of using said logical fallacy. The Argument From Authority is one of them.

The Argument From Authority Fallacy is when a claim is deemed to be true simply because the person who made the claim is an authority figure of some sort.

The Misuse of the Argument From Authority Fallacy is when someone is accused of using said fallacy when it's actually a legitimate argument.

So, for example:

  • Quinn: Acupuncture TOTALLY works! You should try it!

  • Devon: Uh, no it doesn't. Here are citations from well-regulated, double-blind, placebo-controlled, large sample population studies from a variety of research facilities that all confirm there is no measurable effect from acupuncture.

  • Quinn: Psshhh! My acupuncturist is a guy I've known for 20 years and he's a karate sensei  so I believe him, not your studies. Science gets things wrong all the time, but THIS guy knows karate! I think he knows what he's doing with acupuncture!

  • Devon: *blinkblink*

You might now want to accuse me of Strawmanning by pulling out a ridiculous argument, but this is, I swear, a conversation I actually had with someone. It was a person I know in real life and had the conversation face-to-face so it's not a troll either. This is actually how it went. In order to keep the peace, I had to end the conversation simply by advising him to make sure that his sensei at least uses brand-new needles and wears gloves because of the recent hepatitis scare among acupuncture patients in Florida. Even the thought of getting a life-threatening illness didn't phase him, because his guy is a guy he "knows", who would never do anything dangerous. Karate. Acupuncture  Nothing dangerous. OK, I'm done.

So this is an example of a legitimate accusation of the Argument From Authority. Quinn believes the claim that acupuncture works because "a guy" said it does, with complete disregard to the mountain of evidence to the contrary.

Here are some examples of legitimate USES of the Argument From Authority:



  • Paula: As a black trans woman, I've experienced sexism, racism, and homophobia in skeptic communities, so I'm less likely to want to attend skeptic events.

  • Paul: That's ridiculous, there's no sexism, racism, or homophobia in skeptic communities! We're a rational group of people, we require evidence to hold beliefs, and there is no evidence supporting the unequal treatment of other genders, other races, or other sexual orientations. Therefore, you couldn't have experienced any of those things because we're just not any of those things.

  • Paula: Look, I'm telling you that I've experienced all of those things. Just because you weren't there or you can't see it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. It does, and I've felt it, and so have a lot of other people. That's why there are so few women, people of color, and people of alternative sexualities at your little events - we get treated poorly and we'd rather just not go.

  • Paul: I don't see you citing any rigorous studies supporting your claim, therefore you're just spouting anecdote, and anecdote does not equal data. You're wrong, it doesn't happen.

  • Paula: I think I get to be the authority on my own personal experiences and you can't tell me that I didn't have them.

  • Paul: That's the Argument From Authority! Your argument is invalid!







  • Jordan: Polyamory is a legitimate relationship style. I love more than one person at a time and polyamory is a valid way to ethically explore those feelings.

  • Sam: You don't love more than one person at a time, you only think you do. Real love doesn't let you love more than one person at a time, so if you think you love multiple people, you don't really love any of them. If you did really love any of them, you couldn't have feelings for the others. QED.

  • Jordan: You can't tell me what I do and don't feel! I know what I feel, and I feel real, true love for each of my partners!

  • Sam: You're just deluding yourself, that's not real love. Dictionary.com says love is exclusive, therefore what you feel isn't real love.

  • Jordan: No one gets to overrule what I say about my own feelings. I have feelings that I can feel, I am part of a community you've never even heard of before today, and I have an academic sociology background. I am the final authority on what I feel and anyone who says different is wrong!

  • Sam: Aha! That's the Argument From Authority! Your claim is now invalid - polyamory is not real because you can only support it with logical fallacies!

Before anyone tries another accusation of Strawman, these are also both absolutely real conversations. And both are absolutely misuses of the accusation. There are times when it is completely valid to take an authority figure's word on a subject. It can, and should, be provisionally accepted, but it should still be accepted. When the authority figure is an authority on a subject with actual experience in the subject and not just "I read Wikipedia for hours about it" or took some classes on it, and you're not, you can provisionally accept his word. When the authority figure is telling about her own personal experiences, you can provisionally accept her word. When the authority figure is telling you about their internal feelings, you can accept that they do, indeed, have those feelings (even if you remain dubious regarding the nature of what caused those feelings - i.e. just because one feels attacked, it doesn't mean someone actually attacked them). Especially in the third example, their word automatically trumps everything else.

I have been feeling more and more uncomfortable in skeptic spaces over the last year or two, and the smug and dismissive attitude when it comes to topics the speaker has no experience in that is so prevalent among skeptics keeps me away. I don't even want to bother attempting to educate them, because they're so confident in their own intelligence that they don't think they need education on anything they have already formed an opinion on, even if they formed that opinion without the benefit of any education on the subject or with speaking to anyone relevant to the subject. Even worse is when they claim to have done their own "research" on a topic (it usually means they've Googled it or read Wikipedia) and think they're fairly well-read, but they have no personal connection or experience with the subject and dismiss anyone who is actually living the subject but who hasn't done any formal research on it.

Take Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory - he is constantly lecturing Raj on Indian culture, even though Raj was born and raised in India and Sheldon has never left his own apartment, let alone the country.  But Sheldon has read stuff and is smart therefore Raj's personal experiences don't count.


So misapplying the accusation for the Argument From Authority pisses me off. If you aren't kinky, poly, female, transgendered, non-white, poor, or anything else that is as much "experience" as academic (if not more), and when someone who is talks about their experiences or their feelings or their own community, your ability to recite all the logical fallacies by heart and have an argument without getting "emotional" does not make your opinion as equally valid as theirs. "There is no authority and all opinions are equally valid" is a classic logical fallacy among pseudoscience cranks. Don't fall into the same trap and don't dismiss personal experience when the subject is a subjective one. We're not talking about the chemical makeup of water or the physics of gas planets. Those have yes/no answers - either something does or does not, and we can test it and find an answer that is right and an answer that is wrong (insert appropriate error bars here, for those who are pedantic). But a physicist with credentials and published papers and a university behind him is probably more right about physics than the guy who hasn't left his basement in 5 years spouting Deepak Chopra and Dinesh D'Souza is, because the physicist is an authority on the subject, and we can provisionally accept his word that cold fusion is highly improbable and that we will never develop a free energy machine that sucks electrons from the ionosphere but that could turn into a doomsday weapon with only a small modification to the plans (again, true story).
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
Atlanta Poly Weekend is coming up in just a couple of weeks and I'm REALLY excited about it this year! This is APW's third year and, if the trend continues, it should be even better than last year, which was better than the first year.

For APW's first year, I gave several presentations, including why poly people should cooperate with the media and how to get into it, and a panel discussion on the intersection between polyamory and skepticism with Kelley Clark. I also debuted my Miss Poly Manners costume for the first time and held a live Miss Poly Manners Q&A.

Last year I was invited back as one of APW's keynote speakers, where I featured a talk on the intersection between poly and skepticism, and also debuted my own interpretation of the Five Love Languages for polyamorous relationships. I reprised my role as Miss Poly Manners (with an improved Victorian gown) and stretched my range of etiquette lessons to include convention etiquette, not poly-specific etiquette.

This year, Miss Poly Manners comes back once again to kick off the convention with some Con Etiquette, and to participate in APW's newest fun track! The folks in Atlanta had so much great content this year that they had to open up a fourth track of programming, not including the kids-specific track! In addition to three panels simultaneously all weekend long, covering such topics as communication tools, creating intimacy, poly case law, the results of a 15-year long study on kids of poly families, kissing classes, dealing with stress, jealousy, STIs, and special poly celebrity panels, APW will also feature a fun and games track.

Just as polyamory is not ALL about the sex, conventions are not all about the serious lectures. To lighten the mood and have some fun, this year's APW will feature some of our favorite campy game shows with a special poly twist. There will be events like Poly Family Feud and APW's Got Talent and Poly-eopardy and ... Miss Poly Manners will be the center square on our own live version of Polywood Squares! You won't want to miss it!

The highlight of every weekend is the evening entertainment and this year will have another dance with DJ Cat Ninetails. Right before the dance, by special request, I will be teaching dance lessons with Sterling! According to the expressed interests of everyone who says they want to learn how to dance but never get around to taking lessons, we've chosen a dance that will look flashy enough to show off, but can be danced to almost any popular music you might hear at a nightclub, a wedding, an office party, a convention, a party, or almost anywhere out in public. You will learn a handful of steps that can have you dancing that night, with plenty of room for growth to continue learning how to dance on your own, plus a list of resources for practice videos online and where to shop for dance shoes and clothes.

I'll be on the poly & skepticism panel again with Kelley Clark & Shaun Philly, and Sterling will be giving his ever-popular workshop on using personality types to improve poly relationships & communication. His workshop fills up to capacity every time he gives it and everyone who takes it wants to attend it again. And, as a special double-feature, I'll be giving my Five Love Languages workshop again!

For those who aren't aware, The Five Love Languages is a self-help theory developed by Dr. Gary Chapman. The basic premise is that everyone expresses their feelings of love and wants to have love expressed to them in certain ways. Those ways can be grouped into what he calls "languages", because they are ways that we all communicate our feelings of love. But the problem is that we don't express or feel loved in the same ways as everyone else. So we can love another person, and do things that we think expresses our love for them, but that person may not hear that they are loved because they speak a different love language than we do.

When people have partners who do not express love in the way they most feel loved, i.e. in their own love language, then it doesn't matter how much the other person loves them, they won't feel loved. And when people don't feel loved, they end up with what Dr. Chapman says is an empty love tank. When people's love tank is empty, they can act out in hurtful, damaging, even unpredictable ways. We have to learn how to communicate our love for each other in ways that the other person most needs to hear, because this acting out is all about how one feels regardless of how the other one thinks he or she is behaving.

Think about a child who is neglected by their parents. You will often see so-called "troubled kids" that have absent or neglectful parental figures. The movie, The Breakfast Club, is pretty much the quintessential story of kids with empty love tanks and the kinds of trouble they get into when they are crying out for love and attention. Adults aren't any different, although they may act out in different ways. Then again, sometimes they don't. People under stress and feeling neglected, unloved, and alone, often do all kinds of strange things in a reaction to that stress, and they often lack the vocabulary to express what it is they're lacking or how to give it to them. And, sometimes, their vocabulary is just fine, but the person listening doesn't have the vocabulary to understand. Or worse, when both are lacking the words to explain and the definitions to understand.

Many times, one person in a relationship will insist that they are doing everything possible to show how much they love their partner, and their partner complains that they still aren't getting what they need, still feel hurt, and still act out. If you've ever tried every way you can think of to show someone that you love them and they still accuse you of not loving them anymore, this is probably what happened - your partner had a different love language and the two of you were talking past each other, not realizing that you were actually speaking different languages. Learning to speak the other person's love language will often take care of many other problems in the relationship, sometimes things you didn't even know were related.

The Five Love Languages is one tool, among many, to give people a set of vocabularly to help explain how they need to feel loved and what they're doing when they are expressing their love. I've taken out the religious justifications and the monogamous intentions and the heteronormative assumptions and adapted the theory to apply to all genders and all relationships. You'll find out what your primary love language is and how to identify your partners' love languages, and concrete suggestions for expressing love in different languages. You'll also get a handout with summaries of each of the different languages & suggestions to take home for future reference.

So I'm really excited to get to do this workshop again, and to dance, and to see all of my old friends from previous years and to meet new friends this year. I'm terrible about out-of-context meetings, so if you see me there, please tell me how we know each other (if you follow me on a particular social networking site, if we've met before somewhere else, etc.) so I can connect the different contexts. Hope to see you there!
joreth: (::headdesk::)
Apparently, today's theme on Facebook is "FUCKING READ SNOPES BEFORE YOU POST, BITCHES!"  After the 4th post in a row where I was compelled to respond by posting a Snopes URL, I posted the following to my own timeline - feel free to copy & paste (or edit & personalize) on your own social networking sites or in response to emails:

Before you post a link, or worse, a picture with a sob story attached, about evil corporations trying to screw us over, mad scientists trying to poison our food supply, evil strangers trying kill babies or rape women or steal money, hidden needles in food or gas pumps, dead rodents or insects in famous restaurant chains, or strangely generous famous people willing to pay you money for forwarding pictures to all your friends, check it out on Snopes: www.snopes.com

If you don't like Snopes, use www.urbanlegends.com. Both link to the original sources where they get their information so you can verify their conclusions.

If the story does not give VERIFIABLE information - first & last name, city/state/country, date, etc. - then it's probably fake. If the story does give that information, Google it first to make sure those people actually exist and the incident actually happened in the place and on the date the story claims.

More often than not, Michigan University never had a professor named Dr. Miles Pendergrast, so he certainly could not have bioengineered a potent virus that the government bought to implant in our water supply, little Lisa Snodgrass doesn't exist and doesn't have cancer or stayed at the non-existent Our Lady Of Perpetual Fraud hospital, and that scary chemical, dihydrogen monoxide, that kills millions of people every year and is in our FDA-approved food really does exist but it's not what you think it is (hint: dihydrogen monoxide is water).




*The title comes from a TV commercial currently playing on local television stations:

http://youtu.be/X-pHe879l60?t=8s



If you don't want to watch the video, the premise is that a girl makes a wild claim to a guy she knows.  He asked where she heard it, and she says "the internet".  She then says the the line in the title.  He asks where she heard *that* and they both say together "the internet", the guy clearly thinking "I should have known!"  Then an unkempt guy approaches and she says something along the lines of "excuse me, I have to go, my date is here.  I met him on the internet.  He's a French model!"  The unkempt guy glares at the guy and says, in an obviously American accent with no attempt to hide his lack of familiarity with the French language, "Bonjour!" and smiles contemptuously and lecherously at the pretty, dumb, girl he snookered while she looks back at the first guy with a sickeningly trusting & triumphant smile and walks off with the jackass.  The line that I used for the title has recently come, among one of my circles, to be shorthand for the brand of naivete that results in being taken advantage of by unscrupulous hoaxers and simple internet urban legends and is frequently trotted out to reference both this commercial and this phenomenon.

joreth: (Super Tech)
http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/?p=9416

Read and add your signature, if you want to. It’s easy and fun, and shorter than an iTunes TOS update!

I pledge not to fetishize civility over justice. I recognize that the very notion of “civility” is defined in large part by those in whose benefit the status quo is maintained. I further recognize that the structure of “civility” at least in part has been created with the express purpose of bolstering chronic injustices. As Malvina Reynolds sang, “it isn’t nice to block the doorways, it isn’t nice to go to jail; there are nicer ways to do it, but the nice ways always fail.”

I pledge to remember that civility and compassion are not the same thing. Executive Order 9066, for example, was an emphatically civil document. There was not a mean-spirited or insulting word in the entire document, with the exception of the phrase “alien enemies.” In fact, it specified that a group of people would be provided with food, housing, and transportation. And yet it was one of the most unkind, uncompassionate acts of the US Government in the 20th Century. Civility is a very effective camouflage for hatred.

I pledge to remember that a fetishized civility is a field mark of insulation from suffering. The cries of the wounded on a battleground may be very unpleasant and uncivil indeed. I pledge to nod sympathetically and help bind those wounds rather than chide the wounded for bleeding so indecorously.

I pledge to keep a sense of perspective. Tossing basic civil rights under the bus in order to maintain a jury-rigged superficial peace in a single-issue movement is a bad bargain.

Rather than worry overmuch about civility, I pledge to be as kind as possible. And sometimes the kindest possible contribution to a discussion with someone acting in bad faith and harmfully is to tell them to go fuck themselves sideways.
joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)

Back in 2010, the Pew Forum did a survey about how much Americans know about religion.  In a 32-question phone survey*, they asked people about Christianity & their bible, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism, atheism/agnosticism, and American legal issues about religion.  They found that atheists/agnostics scored the highest average, even after controlling for education & other demographics like race & sex, and did particularly well on the legal questions, questions about non-Christian religions, and questions about the Bible specifically.  One of the results that I find particularly amusing is that US Southerners scored worse than those from all other geographic regions on the religious knowledge questions, even after controlling for the demographics

The Pew Survey is completed, however you can take a 15-question version of the survey at Pew's website.  Your results do not affect the survey's conclusions and are not counted as data.  But you can see how well you do compared to Americans in general and compared to several different demographics including religious groups.  The 15 questions are taken directly from the 32 questions used in the original survey.  http://features.pewforum.org/quiz/us-religious-knowledge/

You can also take another survey with all 32 questions, just to see how you'd do, but it's hosted by a Christian website and called Are You Smarter Than An Atheist? and provides no way for you to indicate what your religious affiliation is.  Judging purely by the way other Christian groups have doctored online polls before, I suspect that they will take the results of their totally unscientific survey (which has atheists as well as people of other religions answering it) to show that "their" respondents (the presumption being that the respondents are all Christian) are smarter than the national average and/or the atheists who took the Pew survey.  But I took the survey anyway, just to see how I'd do http://m.csmonitor.com/USA/2011/0105/Are-you-smarter-than-an-atheist-A-religious-quiz/

I scored 30 out of 32 on the full survey (the highest average being from atheists at 20.9 correct out of 32) and 15 out of 15 on the smaller Pew survey (better than 99% of all other respondents - no religious affiliations given).  I'm archiving the results behind the cut because I'm rather proud of my knowledge and understanding of religious issues.  Don't click the cut if you want to take the surveys yourself and see what you actually know, because the answers are given.  Also don't bother clicking the cut if you don't want to be inundated with survey data - it's a boring list of numbers and stats that I'm only archiving for my own records and most people are not going to care how well I did compared to other religions on each question.


Survey Answers Archive )

*Technically, the phone survey was way more than 32 questions, but that's because it included demographic questions (i.e. age, race, religious affiliation, political party, how often they attend church, etc.) and a handful of "control" questions about non-religious stuff like what is the vice president's name and which party holds the House majority and whether lasers work via sound waves and whether antibiotics kill bacteria and what movement is Susan B. Anthony associated with and who wrote Moby Dick.  But there were 32 questions on religious knowledge and the survey's goal was to determine who knew what about religion.

joreth: (Bad Computer!)

Saw on a Facebook picture today:


No matter which [religious] symbol you follow, if you respect mine, I'll respect yours."


I'll try to keep this short, because I addressed this in my last rant on the COEXIST sticker.  These kinds of bumper sticker slogans annoy me.  I get the desire for peace and cooperation that drives the slogan (and agree with it), but there are two things that are very wrong with slogans like these.

1) Some of those symbols represent philosophies/religions/worldviews/mindsets that are inherently exclusive to the other symbols.  If the very foundation of what that symbol represents is "everyone who isn't exactly like me is wrong and should be converted" or "everyone who isn't exactly like me is wrong and should die", there is no coexisting.  Period.  Any belief system that says it has the Truth is mutually exclusive to any other belief system, so therefore the beliefs cannot "coexist", although the people who hold them might.  And so far, every belief that science has been able to investigate has always provided an incorrect answer, again, making science & every supernatural belief system mutually exclusive (there are now some bumper stickers that include science in the collection of symbols).

2) I think it is reasonable to respect everyone's right to believe whatever they believe, but I do not think it is reasonable to respect those beliefs themselves.  Frankly, some of those beliefs are fucking terrifying and do not deserve respect - even the ones that do not demand the immediate assimilation or death of everyone who is different.  And the beliefs that aren't terrifying are just ridiculous.

It is not reasonable to expect me to respect a belief that says I am a filthy whore who deserves to be raped.  Even if the person holding that belief doesn't actually do anything about it just because we've reached some cease fire agreement.  

It is not reasonable to expect me to respect a belief that says I am going to burn for eternity because I didn't buy the totally implausible idea of a supernatural being impregnating a teenager with himself, and then having himself killed in order to take the punishment that was supposed to be mine for something I didn't do.

It is not reasonable to expect me to respect a belief that says water carries the memory of the poison we put into it, but not all the poop that was in it, and uses that memory of poison to cure us of things that cause the same symptoms as the poison.

It is not reasonable to expect me to respect a belief that says aliens are living at the center of our galaxy and trying to communicate with us telepathically, but the spinning of the galaxy is interfering, and they are trying to tell us how to create a Utopian society while other aliens have possessed our bodies and are making us feel "bad" and undermining the center-of-the-galaxy aliens' efforts at world peace.  (I swear I'm not making this up).

It is not reasonable to expect me to respect a belief that says you can take a machine that detects electricity into a house (with electrical wiring) and it will not detect the electrical wiring but it will detect the presence of a ghost, and jumping at house creaks in the middle of the night with the lights off is proof of an afterlife but not done for the purpose of getting ratings.

"Beliefs" are not worthy of respect.  People are.  But individuals can also deserve to have lost respect from others.

I really don't think people understand what the word "respect" means.  Either that, or they just don't understand the variability of "human nature" and refuse to accept that some people are capable of atrocities and are not worthy of respect.

joreth: (Bad Computer!)
I can't tell you how much I hate the phrase "Don't Be A Dick".  I greatly admire & respect Phil Plait & Wil Wheaton, who have made that the catchphrase of the Nice Guy Skeptical Movement (TM).  I will go so far as to say that I even happen to agree with their point - that people don't tend to change their minds when you're insulting them, so if we want to change someone's mind directly, we shouldn't call them names on the internet when we disagree.

The reason I hate the phrase is because it is subjective.  There is no criteria for what being a "dick" means.  So it gets used every time anyone says anything that anyone else disagrees with.  Sure, we can point to examples where one person is clearly being an asshole, clearly being antagonistic, and not at all interested in dialog and an exchange of viewpoints.  But that's not usually under debate by either side in the DBAD debate.  

To clarify: Don't Be A Dick is not when you complain about someone doing something harmful and you call him out on it, like calling the sexist asshole who fired a movie reviewer for daring to write a movie review about Snow White because it propagated "alpha females and beta males", a sexist asshole.  You're not a dick for calling an asshole an asshole.  Don't Be A Dick is also not when you complain about a person holding a harmful, offensive, or dangerous position or worldview, like the fucktard who thinks children should be killed for disobeying their parents and calling that person a fucktard.  You're not a dick for being appalled by someone's harmful and offensive worldview.  Don't Be A Dick is not when someone says something sexist/racist/bigoted/offensive and you try to tell them that it was sexist/racist/bigoted/offensive and they shouldn't do that - you are not a dick for trying to eliminate racism/sexism/bigotry.

Don't Be A Dick is when you hold some position or make some claim, and you are told, sometimes by someone who actually agrees with you, to adjust your delivery so as to not offend the people who disagree with you without necessarily changing the message.  This is when you say "you're being racist" and someone says "you are correct, but you should say it nicer, without using the "r" word, so that he doesn't get upset and he will be more likely to listen to you".

There are 2 times when I see this catchphrase being used:

1) Nice Guy Skeptics talking philosophically about tactics for converting people to skeptical or atheist viewpoints, but not giving any specific examples or pointing any fingers.

2) When one person says something that another person finds offensive, regardless of how the original message is phrased or the intent of the speaker, simply because the offended person doesn't like what was said, and the original person is told to change how he phrases things without changing the message, as if that would fix the offense.

There is no clear-cut way to determine when one is being a dick or how to avoid being a dick, when these are the 2 instances of use for the phrase.  I admit that I can be an asshole.  There are times when I lose my temper and I have ceased having a productive conversation and have resorted to expressing my anger without using that anger as a tool to motivate others.  One such noteworthy exchange is when I asked, and then demanded, that someone stop tweeting at me & demanding that I engage with him in a religious debate, and after he refused to stop, I spent the next 2 days tweeting nothing but insults at him to get him to block me.  I was not being productive or trying to have a dialog, and there was never any illusion that I was.

But then there are times when I just state something, not even an opinion sometimes but a statement of fact, and I am accused of being an asshole, a dick, "aggressive", mean, bullying, etc.  If I happen to say something, and someone out there on the internet doesn't like the statement, whether it's an opinion or a fact or even when I sympathize with them, I will be accused of being mean and of hurting someone's feelings, or worse, hurting "the community/movement".  Confidence and pragmatism are often confused with arrogance and aggressiveness, especially online.  Someone who seems confident to me will seem arrogant to someone else.  How do we know which one is correct?  Most likely, the answer is both and neither.

Take the most recent post, for example:

Natalie Reed
@Joreth @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer Why are you sharing Justicar's nasty, petty little video and tagging it "shared by Natalie Reed!"?!

...

Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 I'm not, the automated online make-your-own-newspaper paper.li is. It sees what links ppl posts & aggregates them


Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 Please do some research before you get angry & start falsely accusing ppl of things. I have no idea what you're talking about


Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 I didn't watch the video, I didn't choose that particular link. If you posted it, paper.li picked it up


Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 But I'll be happy to remove you from the list of respected skeptics & scientists who provide news & links to twitter

...

VixenVivienValentine ‏@vae_victae
@nataliereed84 paper.li does automatic aggregation of links. Since you posted that video it attributed that to you. It's not @Joreth fault.


Joreth ‏@Joreth
@vae_victae I did try to tell @nataliereed84 that, but she seems to prefer to jump to conclusions & get angry at supporters. Shame.

...

VixenVivienValentine ‏@vae_victae
@Joreth indeed a shame. While I understand your aggressiveness to her, I feel that maybe if you had responded differently it'd be different

...

Joreth ‏@Joreth
@vae_victae I'm not sure if you read my responses to her, but I was the opposite of aggressive. 



It's hard for me to even see where someone could have interpreted what I said there as "aggressive".  Natalie asked me, angrily, why I was sharing some video and associating her with it.  I told her, immediately and clearly, that I wasn't doing so and I explained about the link aggregate service.  I didn't cuss, call her names, or use emotional language.  I was also limited to 140 characters.

Some of you will remember another post I made a couple of years back about the polyamory.com forums, in which someone made an offensive statement. I and a couple of others pointed out the factual inaccuracy of the statement & the offense in making it, several people responded angrily & emotionally, those on my side again pointed out the inaccuracy (calmly, I thought), and then those on my side were accused of being angry and hurtful, apparently without irony to the original angry and hurtful comments that prompted our responses.  Only after I lost my temper at being insulted, did my posts get deleted, but the original offensive posts never did, nor did the insults that caused me to lose my temper.

Then there are the numerous times when someone just doesn't like me personally, and they will disagree with me no matter what I say, even while I am agreeing with them.  We end up in this "duck season / rabbit season" argument where they say something, I agree, then they argue with me over it.  For instance, someone posted something not too long ago about Unicorn Hunters that was derogatory.  Someone else jumped in with "I see nothing wrong with unicorn hunting, because I do this thing that is totally not unicorn hunting".  So I said something like "it doesn't sound like you are the kind of jerk that the OP is talking about, so don't worry about it".  And they proceeded to defend their right to call themselves Unicorn Hunters and insist that unicorn hunting isn't bad.  I believe my response was something along the lines of "I'm trying to explain to you why you're not an asshole, but if you want to keep insisting you are, I'll stop defending you".

[livejournal.com profile] tacit gets this all the time too.  The Polyamorous Misanthrope once made a blog post that was, essentially, the exact same kind of post that [livejournal.com profile] tacit makes.  Or maybe it was even a re-post of his, I don't remember.  One of her followers complimented her on the post, and she responded that it was the same thing that [livejournal.com profile] tacit always says.  They replied that they can't stand [livejournal.com profile] tacit.  She posted on [livejournal.com profile] tacit's page that she doesn't understand why people like her but don't like him, because she says the same thing, and in no less of a blunt, holds-no-punches sort of way.  Same message, same delivery, yet people like her and don't like him.  Sometimes there is no helping this.

This, by the way, is primarily the problem happening in our Congress at the moment.  The Republicans in office are doing their damnedest to disagree with Democrats, even when the Democrats agree with them.  They seem to want to disagree on principle, not because they actually disagree.  Consequently, we have one of the most fucked up Congresses ever in our history, with decisions being made to the detriment of our country, deliberately and intentionally, out of spite.

Then there is when I, fairly regularly, post exchanges where I am accused of having some emotional state that I do not currently have, and I have posted several examples of the differences between a calm difference of opinion ("what you said was incorrect, here is the evidence") and an emotional outburst ("you fucking shithead! I hate you!")

And yet, every time I have a difference of opinion to someone, regardless as to how calm I state my position or how much to the facts I try to stick or even, on occasion, when I try to be conciliatory, I am accused of being the one to have some emotional outburst, some angry reaction, some feeling that I am not feeling.  

So I strongly disagree with the whole "Don't Be A Dick" meme, not because I disagree with the underlying premise, but because I think it is subjective and, ultimately, futile.  If people don't like what you have to say, someone will think you're being a dick no matter how you say it, and having this ambiguous, undefined moving goalpost of "dick" that we're all supposed to follow won't change that.  

I can try to hold myself to a certain standard of exchange, but in the end, we all usually feel justified in the position we take (or if we change our minds, then the willingness to change further confirms our own opinion of ourselves as being Good Guys), and besides that, the phrase "Don't Be A Dick" is a message from one person to another, not a personal standard.  It's not like [livejournal.com profile] edwardmartiniii's Bue Button project - a reminder to ourselves to hold ourselves to a standard that we, ourselves, set.  Don't Be A Dick an admonition from other people that you are not behaving the way THEY think you ought to behave.

As an aside, even though edwardmartiniii's Blue Button is intended as a personal standard, even that gets used as a weapon with which to bludgeon those with whom people disagree.  In some other disagreement that I had online that I don't even remember the details of, some friend of his told me that I needed a blue button for daring to hold a position that the commenter did not hold - again, people trying to tell others how to behave, and mostly surrounding "tone", not actual behaviour - completely contrary to the spirit of edwardmartiniii's Blue Button, which is about protecting one's community from bullies by making a personal vow to stand up to bullying when one sees it and explicitly not trying to "stop other people from being creepy".  In fact, telling other people that they need to wear a blue button is, again explicitly, against the rules for how this concept is to work.

There is a quote that I can't find, so I can't give you the exact wording or proper attribution.  But it says, essentially, that there is no nice way to tell someone that they wasted their entire lives on a lie.  Which is, essentially, what one is saying when one claims that religion & the god myths are not true.  But it's even less world-shattering than that.  There is no nice way to challenge any belief that a person holds strongly, whether it's something as deep and profound as our purpose in life or as ultimately unimportant as who is the best football team in the NFL (seriously, I watched this argument nearly come to blows last week when a customer at Little Ceasar's asked the cashier who her favorite team was, and he, shall we say, did not agree).  

If the other person has a strong emotional attachment to their position, you can try different tactics to get through to them, but, ultimately, you are telling them that you think they are wrong and they have an attachment to the belief that they are right.  Because some positions are, by their very nature, mutually exclusive - you can't hold one without simultaneously believing the other is false.  If you think the moon is made of green cheese, then, by necessity, you have to think that anyone who thinks it's made of rock is wrong.  Even if you refuse to go so far as to use the words "they are wrong".

And sometimes, with some people and some tactics, it won't be a big deal.  If you think I'm wrong to have been a fan of the 49ers back in my sports days, I won't really care, unless you try to attack me over it.  And then, I'll only care that you're attacking me, not that you like the Steelers (that's still football, right?).

But other times, with other people, and other topics, the tactic won't matter - especially if part of their position is that *you* are A Bad Guy for holding that position in the first place.  Someone, sometime, somewhere, will think you're a Dick, and if we insist on flying the DBAD banner, we will forever be derailing into the Tone Argument, when we should be focusing on the topic under debate.

And I am fucking sick to death of having the motherfucking Tone Argument or having people tell me that I'm feeling things that I'm not feeling, especially when I have gone out of my way not to lose my temper or devolve into yet another flame war.  Your feelings are your own, and just because you have them, it does not mean necessarily that I am the reason you are feeling them.  There is only so far anyone should be expected to go to make *you* feel better about what they're saying.

If you don't like my message, then you don't like my message, but for the love of all that is good in this universe, STOP fucking derailing the argument into whether or not I was properly conciliatory when I said that thing that you didn't like.  Maybe I wasn't being a dick, maybe I wasn't being aggressive or rude or mean or an asshole.  Maybe you just didn't like what I had to say, or maybe you had an emotional reaction to the topic and misunderstood what I was saying, or maybe you don't like me personally and it doesn't matter even when I'm agreeing with you.  And maybe the message is actually something worth being a dick about - maybe the message is something that the messenger ought to be angry about or posting in angry, emotional language.

Just please stop telling people when they should or should not be angry, stop accusing them of being angry (or any other emotion) when they have said that they're not, and stop this bullshit meme about "don't be a dick" - it is a totally subjective standard that cannot possibly be enforced.  Even the honorable Phil Plait & Wil Wheton have gone into "dick" mode when they were sufficiently pushed, and they will defend those times as "but that's different!"  

Yeah, it's different - a different perspective.  When it happened to them, it was either justifiable, or they salvaged their opinions of themselves as Nice Guys by later admitting that they were wrong.  But when it happens to someone else, that someone else is being "a dick".  Just like when you cut someone off in traffic, it's because you're in a hurry, but when that guy does it to you, he's an asshole.  

We are all "dicks" to someone else, and there are times when it doesn't matter how you phrase it, holding the position that you hold makes you the "dick" and there are no collection of pretty words to make the other person see it otherwise.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLX5dwy8Leo#t=3m50s


(if it doesn't start playing at 3:50, skip to that point - that's the only part that's relevant)

joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
I'm archiving this bizarre exchange:

To all skeptics: Natalie Reed has requested to be disassociated from other skeptical people like Richard Dawkins & Michael Shermer. Please respect her wishes to no longer be associated with important skeptics of note.

Shame to see a skeptic who actually cares about trans, women's, & LGBTQ issues go off on a rant w/o understanding the topic. We have so few trans/lgbtq/feminist skeptics doing activist work for the rest of us that it hurts when 1 goes off the rails.

For the record, there is a service called paper.li which allows Twitter users to create lists of people (or hashtags or whatever) to follow. Then paper.li will comb through the Twitter feeds of those on the list (or the hashtag or whatever) daily or weekly (you set the time), and when someone posts links, paper.li will aggregate the posts into a single page, designed to look a bit like a newspaper.

It will then automatically send out a tweet under the creator's Twitter account, announcing the new edition & highlighting a couple of the people whose links are included in the edition.

Natalie Reed posted a link on her feed, which paper.li aggregated and included in today's edition of The Skeptic's News, along with half a dozen other people's links, including Michael Shermer & Richard Dawkins.

Without asking what paper.li was or how it worked, Natalie demanded to be disassociated from Dawkins & Shermer (she named them specifically, although the only thing they had to do with it was being listed along with her as contributers) and insulted me for associating her with the link that she posted.

Without even looking up who I was to see that I am a trans-friendly, LGBTQ-friendly, feminist, sex-positive skeptic, she just assumed that, because the automated aggregate reposted the link that *she posted* originally, I must therefore be on the same side of whoever was in that link she posted. Which I have not read.

Now, in my opinion, forming a conclusion without having all the facts and being dismissive of one's supporters actually makes her *more* in a class with Richard Dawkins, but as someone who thinks skepticism requires research & understanding the subject material before getting into arguments about it, I am more than happy to remove her from my personal list of "skeptics of note", as this reaction is not very skeptical at all.

But, as per her request, I am announcing to my friends & followers that she does not wish to be associated with me or the other skeptics included in the aggregate, so please respect her wishes and no longer associate her with other skeptics.

http://t.co/OzfdM9w1

Here are the actual Tweets that prompted this:


Joreth
The Skeptic's Daily News is out! http://paper.li/Joreth/skepticism ► top stories today via @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer @nataliereed84 #skepticism

Natalie Reed
@Joreth @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer Why are you sharing Justicar's nasty, petty little video and tagging it "shared by Natalie Reed!"?!

Natalie Reed ‏@nataliereed84
@Joreth @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer I have no idea who you are, but if you ARE sympathetic to that "camp" of "skeptics", please leave...

Natalie Reed ‏@nataliereed84
@Joreth @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer ...me out of anything you do now or in the future. Thanks.


Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 I'm not, the automated online make-your-own-newspaper paper.li is. It sees what links ppl posts & aggregates them


Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 Please do some research before you get angry & start falsely accusing ppl of things. I have no idea what you're talking about


Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 I didn't watch the video, I didn't choose that particular link. If you posted it, paper.li picked it up


Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 But I'll be happy to remove you from the list of respected skeptics & scientists who provide news & links to twitter


Joreth ‏@Joreth
To all #skeptics: @nataliereed84 has requested to be disassociated from other #skeptical people like @RichardDawkins &@michaelshermer.


Natalie Reed ‏@nataliereed84
@Joreth @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer No, mainly from you. But thanks for indicating what kind of "skeptic" you are.


Natalie Reed ‏@nataliereed84
@Joreth @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer (not that I'm much of a fan of Shermer or Dawkins either)


Joreth ‏@Joreth
Please respect @nataliereed84's wishes to no longer be associated with important #skeptics of note. #skepticism #skeptic

Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 that is exactly what I'm talking about. You don't know me & didn't bother to research what happened before getting pissed off


Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 Look up paper.li, look at what it does & how links get added before you start trolling about it


VixenVivienValentine ‏@vae_victae
@nataliereed84 paper.li does automatic aggregation of links. Since you posted that video it attributed that to you. It's not @Joreth fault.


Joreth ‏@Joreth
@vae_victae I did try to tell @nataliereed84 that, but she seems to prefer to jump to conclusions & get angry at supporters. Shame.


Joreth ‏@Joreth
@vae_victae Oh, I guess @nataliereed84 blocked me, so she won't see my responses anymore. Again, it's a shame.

VixenVivienValentine ‏@vae_victae
@Joreth indeed a shame. While I understand your aggressiveness to her, I feel that maybe if you had responded differently it'd be different


Joreth ‏@Joreth
Shame to see a #skeptic who actually cares about trans, women's, & LGBTQ issues go off on a rant w/o understanding the topic@nataliereed84

Joreth ‏@Joreth
We have so few trans/lgbtq/feminist #skeptics doing activist work for the rest of us that it hurts when 1 goes off the rails @nataliereed84

Joreth ‏@Joreth
@vae_victae I'm not sure if you read my responses to her, but I was the opposite of aggressive. I am also tired of these misunderstandings

Natalie Reed · Friends with George Hrab and 1 other
:eyeroll:

Look, you decided to use this auto-link aggregating software to make a "newspaper". Therefore you're responsible for the outcome.

This ranty reaction trying to discredit me, making ridiculous claims about me "asking to be disocciated from all skeptics" (though frankly, at this point, I wouldn't really mind) is unbelievably petty and childish. That's not what happened and you know it. I asked that IF you were one of the people sympathetic to Vacula and such that I would no longer be included in whatever YOU do. That much was explicit.

I didn't like having a nasty, trollish video of me posted to a site with my name appearing as though supportive. YOU are responsible for the content that appears on YOUR site, regardless of how it got there. Sorry, but "it was my software's fault!" doesn't change that. It's not an excuse.

A mature, responsible, reasonable reaction would have been to remove the video from your site and remove me from your aggregating software.

THIS response is anything but.

Joreth InnKeeper
I can repost the tweet where you asked me to do so if you would like.

Joreth InnKeeper
Also, I can't remove the video, it's not my site, however I *did* remove you from the aggregation, as you requested. That's what I tried to explain to you, but you don't seem to want to hear that.


Natalie Reed · Friends with George Hrab and 1 other
And that's not your site? Really? You have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with it? Which is why you were promoting it, and why you've had this enormously emotional childish outburst?

Joreth InnKeeper
No, it's not my site. I will ask you only one more time to actually research the topic. I have no connection to paper.li, I do not know its owners, I have no say in its algorithms, or its programming. It is as much my site as Twitter is. I am not "promoting" it, I am using it the same way you and I are both using Facebook and Twitter. I cannot help that it chose that particular link that you posted and I cannot remove it. All I can do is provide the list of people to aggregate, and your name has been removed.

Joreth InnKeeper
As for "enormously emotional childish outburst", I'd like to introduce you to the kettle. Out of the two of us, I am not the one using emotional language and running off at the mouth about things I don't understand. I added you to a list of respected skeptics because I thought the things you posted should be shared with a wider audience. You have done nothing but behave emotionally, accusatory, and angrily about it and I have complied with your request without calling you names or getting upset myself.


Natalie Reed · Friends with George Hrab and 1 other
If you have no say in it, how the hell were you "happy to remove me from the list... who provide new..."?

And again, why were you the one promoting it? If not you, who DID set up Skeptic Daily News, and who chooses which feeds do or don't get put there? What is your exact involvement?

Also, look again my tweets: IF you're part of THAT CAMP OF SKEPTICS (ie. Justicar etc.) please leave me out of anything YOU do now or in the future. THANKS.

Natalie Reed · Friends with George Hrab and 1 other
It's completely disingenuous for you to act like you're being totally calm and friendly and nice here. You know you aren't. At least do me the courtesy of assuming I'm not THAT easily manipulated.


Natalie Reed · Friends with George Hrab and 1 other
I have to go, though. Fortunately, I've got some stuff I have to do. Bye.

(though I have to admit, it's things like this that make me feel like yeah, I really DON'T want anything to do with any self-professed or skeptics or atheists)

Joreth InnKeeper
Seriously, please stop talking about things you don't understand. I'll try to explain this slowly, to get through your emotional outburst.

I have no say in how the service is provided, just in the same way that you have no say in how Facebook offers its services. However, just like how you can use Facebook, according to how the creators of Facebook allows you to, I used paper.li in the way that they allow me to, without actually being associated with it. I do not own stock in it, I am not employed by them, I receive no kickbacks or payments or incentives. I am not associated with paper.li anymore than you are associated with Facebook. Unless you are "promoting" Facebook every time you use it, I cannot be accused of "promoting" paper.li simply for using the service.

However, they offer a service the way that Facebook offers a service. That service allows me to create lists of people for it to aggregate, but I do not choose *what* paper.li aggregates. Since I can create the list, I also have the power to remove people from that list. That is the extent of my association and "power" over paper.li. You have more control over the content that shows up on your Facebook feed than I do on paper.li.

ALL I DO IS PROVIDE THE LIST OF PEOPLE. That's it. I cannot tell it which of your posts to re-post and I cannot tell it which posts to not repost. I can't even single out which people on that list get chosen for any specific edition. I can tell it which people to follow or which hashtags to follow and IT decides which posts to post.

YOU posted that video. paper.li reposted it and I had no say in what it chose, other than to list you as someone to pull from, but not which of your posts to choose. If you don't want people to re-post what you post, you might want to consider not posting things.


Natalie Reed · Friends with George Hrab and 1 other
(also, regarding the comparison to twitter and facebook: you're responsible for your twitter and facebook feeds too. You can't absolve yourself from posting something damaging or libelous on a social networking site by saying "I don't own the site ITSELF". You're still responsible.

Joreth InnKeeper
And, no, actually, I am not responsible for the content of my twitter or facebook feed when that content is a re-post of someone else. Just like you, I often post things I am offended by, to complain about them and express my outrage. If we were held responsible for that content, then you would have to accept responsibility for the content in this video you are so outraged about now (which I still haven't seen), since you posted it on your feed. According to your logic, that now makes you responsible for its content.

Joreth InnKeeper
Also, I'm sure you have run into trolls on the internet who claim to know what you are thinking and feeling and completely dismiss you when you say they are wrong. At least do me the courtesy of NOT assuming that you know what I think or feel and stop accusing me of having feelings or associations that I do not have.

Again, if you had bothered to do any research, it would be clear to you that I am, indeed, not upset or having an emotional outburst, as there are plenty of examples of me doing so on the internet. And anyone who has ever seen me have one could not possibly confuse this exchange with one of my emotional outbursts.

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