joreth: (anger)
www.wcnc.com/article/news/crime/4-york-co-law-enforcement-officers-shot-overnight-officials-say/275-508364146

Now *this* would be some irony - domestic violence offenders, bolstered by all the mass shootings and becoming more panicked and fearful of the cultural change of metoo, etc., stop turning on the charm when cops arrive (gaslighting their victims and getting away with assault) but instead start turning on the cops.

Then the over-militarized cops have to start seeing straight white men on domestic violence calls as a default threat and turn their own "shoot first, ask questions later" policy on them, possibly even supporting better gun control laws instead of doing the mental gymnastics required to be both law enforcement *and* 2nd Amendment extremists who derail the debate with arguments of "mental health".

Pretty soon, the cops and the straight white abuser men turn this into their own turf war, while the rest of us take a quick breath from the relief of the chokehold on us for a moment, regroup, and make backup plans for whichever side wins.

"A neighbor of the suspect described McCall as a friendly man and said their street is a quiet one. The neighbor also noted that McCall and his wife have children."

Because they're always friendly and quiet - that's how they gaslight their victims into thinking that the abuse isn't happening and that it's the victim's fault. This will be the most dangerous time in those children's lives - when the "friendly, quiet" white man pretends to show remorse and he gets off with a slap on the wrist and returned access to his children because "children need their daddy" even though he's a domestic abuser who fucking tried to shoot down a police chopper. This is when the kids and the wife will be the most vulnerable to retaliation.

Meanwhile, this asshole was *taken alive* (injured, but not killed) after shooting 4 fucking cops and hitting a goddamn helicopter while black men who sold cigarettes and reached for their legal gun permits upon request are dead.

I'd bet money that if we did a Google Alert for this guy, we'll be getting notices in a few months or a few years that he shot and killed his wife and kids, somehow obtaining a gun post-felony "legally" or some shit.

#BlackPeopleAreNotTheProblem #StraightWhiteMenWitihGunsAndEntitlementAreTheProblem #MaybeIfYouHadBelievedWomenFromTheStartGuysLikeThisWouldNotGetTheDropOnYou
joreth: (boxed in)
"Friendships can be abusive. It took me a long time to realize that a friend can manipulate you, emotionally abuse you, gaslight you, and that the effects of that trauma can last for years after the friendship ends. Abuse also knows no distance; one of the most damaging friendships I ever had had thousands of miles between us. We haven't spoken in years and I'm only recently discovering the depths to which that friendship has affected me to this day. I didn't even want to admit the fact that it was abusive in nature even though she's not in my life anymore because her hold on me is still present, and because I didn't think friendships could be classified as abusive relationships. But they absolutely can be. Please be careful and take [care] of yourselves and if you think a friend is crossing a line, please reach out." ~ jacksisko
When I was in high school, I had a best friend. Because I tend to nurture post-breakup friendships, I did some post hoc analysis with my exes. With 3 different guys (every guy I was involved with one way or another while she and I were friends), I discovered that she contacted each of them to deliberately mislead them about me.

Each guy, she tried to convince I was cheating on him. One of them, I did end up cheating on him, but only after she told him that I already was, and I did so because instead of confronting me about it, he just turned into an asshole and I turned to another guy friend for comfort that led to sex, instead of dumping him for being an asshole (I was a teenager with my own relationship issues).

One guy just flat out didn't believe her. We're still fairly close.

And the third guy I wasn't even dating, but he was a friend of mine who was actually obsessive about me and was girlfriendzoning me, trying to be my "friend" so that I'd eventually recognize him as superior to all those "losers" (i.e. like the awesome guy above who refused to believe her lies) and dump them to be with him instead.

It was only after she ghosted me on our high school graduation day (devastating me on what was already an emotionally challenging day) and the final romantic relationship breakup happened a year later and then all the post-breakup repairs were done with all 3 guys that I found out she had pulled the same stunt with each of them.

As I connected the dots on the patterns of our relationship with the benefit of more information and hindsight, she turned out to be extremely jealous of anyone who was taking up my time and attention and was manipulating everyone around her and gaslighting me about their behaviour in response to her manipulation to control our friendship so that she was my sole focus.

She is one of the main reasons why I held onto the Chill Girl persona for so long - I'm not one of Those Girls, I don't do Drama, I just don't Get Along with women, blah blah blah. It's taken me a really long time to learn how to trust women again, and I have never gotten over my physical withdrawal from them. To this day, I still can't initiate a cuddly, affectionate relationship with women like I had with her. I can only respond to overtures of affection, but I can't initiate (once an affectionate pattern has been established, I can, but I can't be the one to start that pattern).

My cousin also tried to develop an abusive relationship with my sister. She would go into a rage if my sister didn't put her first, didn't read her mind and anticipate her emotions. I've told the story before about my grandfather hosting a BBQ in my sister's honor when she came to visit (after having moved up north from living in their neighborhood for a year or two), and my cousin just going ballistic at my sister for receiving the invitation from our grandfather instead of directly from my sister. It didn't seem to matter that it wasn't my sister's party, or that my sister didn't even know about it at first. What mattered is that my sister wasn't the one to extend the invitation. She did shit like this all the time.

So, yeah, you can have abusive friends too. Abuse is about control. It's a belief that one is justified in controlling another. Platonic relationships do not offer some kind of magical vaccine against one's deeply ingrained belief that they are justified in controlling other people.

If anything, I might suggest that women, with our social permission to develop deeply intimate platonic relationships, can be particularly prone or at risk of doing this to others, and also likely at risk of having it done to us by abusive men we are not dating but who *want* us to date them, because girlfriendzoning seems like a situation just ripe for someone with beliefs about entitlement and controlling others to obtain what they feel they are owed.
joreth: (Default)
www.publix.com/pd/high-road-ice-cream-bourbon-burnt-sugar/RIO-PCI-537206

Because I don't have health insurance or a lot of disposable income, I've never been "tested" for my alcohol "allergy".  It's not even an allergy, it's just something I react to, but it's easier to shorthand that with "allergy".  But it's not just that I "don't like alcohol", or even that I just "don't like the effects of alcohol" - it's something that makes me experience it in a way that's different from other people, and that way is unpleasant.

Basically, I feel what feels exactly the same as a lactic acid burn in my shoulders.  It feels like I've been lifting weights, only without the muscle strain.  And my core body temperature, not just the surface temperature, actually rises a degree or two.

I also suspect that I'm a supertaster, from the description.  This is an actual genetic marker that we have identified on DNA, but I haven't had the spare cash to get one of those DNA tests done to see if I have it or not, but I sure tick off all the checkboxes.  Then there are those people who think cilantro tastes like soap.  I'm not one of them, but, again, there's an actual genetic marker for it.

Here's why I believe that my alcohol thing is not just a "preference" but something actually different about me, possibly genetic but who knows?  Just like those people with cilantro, and there's some other food that does a similar thing, alcohol all tastes like "alcohol" to me.  It doesn't matter what it's made from, it doesn't matter what the quality is, everything with alcohol in it *tastes like alcohol*.

I can recognize different drinks.  I can tell the difference between wine and vodka, for instance, but underneath the grapes and potatoes, wine and vodka has the same "alcohol" taste underneath it and it's all fucking terrible, just like how all cilantro tastes like soap.  And beer - I can tell that beer is different from wine or vodka, but ALL BEER TASTES LIKE BEER.  No, I don't care how hoppy it is or what-the-fuck, it all fucking tastes like goddamn beer.

So here's another data point that adds weight to my hypothesis that I have an actual -something- the way supertasting is a thing and cilantro-as-soap is a thing.  I bought some bourbon ice cream because I was curious.  It's made with actual bourbon but it's non-alcoholic (I assume the alcohol is just lost during the processing).  And I can taste the thing that makes it bourbon *but I don't taste alcohol* so I actually like it.  It might not compete for my top favs like pomegranate-vanilla cream with chocolate swirl by Hagaan-daaz, but I'll eat the whole pint (in several sittings).

I used to drink frou-frou mixed drinks all the time, before I decided that my not-allergy made drinking totally not worth the expense or the side effects.  My favorite was a Godiva something or other from Bennigans - basically it was a vanilla ice cream and Godiva chocolate swirled milkshake with Bailey's Irish Cream.  It was fucking delicious.  Except for the alcohol taste underneath all the sweet creamy goodness.  If I could have gotten them to make the same thing without the alcohol and to drop the price since there's no liquor in it, then I would have just ordered it virgin.

I also bake with alcohol all the time.  My special developed-in-my-own-kitchen frosting recipe uses a shot of different alcohols, depending on what taste I'm looking for.  The alcohol isn't cooked off, but it's one shot or less for an entire batch of frosting, divided up among usually 96 mini-cupcakes. That's not *enough* alcohol to register, apparently.

So, when I say that I don't like the taste of alcohol, I'm actually referring to the *alcohol*, not necessarily the drink (although, honestly, some of the shit y'all drink wouldn't be worth drinking even if they had a virgin version available - there's absolutely no reason to drink tequila, IMO, if you don't want to feel the effects of alcohol). Because, apparently, if I can have the taste without any of the alcohol, I guess I like some drinks after all.
joreth: (being wise)
Logical Fallacies are difficult for people to wrap their brain around. We employ them all the time in regular conversation, in debate, and even in research.

"Begging The Question" is probably the most misunderstood logical fallacy name, because it's not just *not* understood, it's understood incorrectly. Most people use it to mean "that statement you just made leads us to ask a followup question..." But what it *actually* means is "that statement you just made assumes the conclusion in the premise, making it a circular argument".

A Loaded Question is a question which has a false, disputed, or question-begging presupposition behind it. Here's an example:
"To what degree have you and your partner discussed the boundaries or “rules” related to sexual and/or emotional connections with other people?"
The way it's phrased, in particular "discussed THE boundaries or rules", this begs the question. This assumes that we have rules (and the word "boundaries" is used incorrectly here in this sentence too, which is another begging the question) related to sexual and/or emotional connections with other people.

Because of this presumption, it can't really be answered if the premise is incorrect. If we don't have any rules telling each other what we can and can't do with other people, then how can we have had any conversations about it? But, of course, it *is* possible to have lots of conversations about things that we ultimately decide not to participate in. Except we can't answer "we have talked about this a lot" because then it implies that we do, indeed, have these rules in place when we don't. There isn't an option for "we have talked about this subject but we do not have any rules regarding this subject", because the person writing the question assumes the premise, and so did not provide any options to accommodate for a false premise option.

Now, had the question writer not had this assumption in mind when the question was written, it could have been written exactly the same but minus the word "the" - "To what degree have you and your partner discussed boundaries or 'rules' related to sexual and/or emotional connections with other people?" This is a general "have you discussed this topic" question. But, because of how English works, that article "the" implies a specific set of rules, while the absence implies a general "concept or subject of rules".

If we say "we discussed it a lot" under the original wording, then it implies we discussed *our* rules on what we can do with others a lot, but we don't have rules that needed to be discussed in the first place. If we say "we didn't discuss it at all" because we don't have rules, then it implies that we *do* have rules and we just didn't discuss them at all, we just went ahead and implemented them. Both assumptions are not only wrong, but things I actively want to combat about polyamory in general.

These kinds of things are really sneaky. Preset assumptions and biases sneak into all kinds of things, usually without our notice. Lots of times, when we read or hear things like this, we know that something is wrong and we have an emotional reaction to what was just said, but we can't always deconstruct *why* we know it's wrong and *why* we're feeling emotional about it.

Someone who has incorrect presuppositions and asks Loaded Questions gets to "just ask questions" while people get pissed off about it, and they don't ever understand why everyone is mad at them and the people who are mad can't always even explain why it was so angering. It's because we can tell that you have an embedded assumption. You're not "just asking questions", you're revealing what you think about the people you're "just asking questions" of.

This question is not a particularly offensive or antagonistic one. It just happened to be a pretty decent example of several things at once: of the logical fallacy, of how people get that logical fallacy wrong, and of how subtle this fallacy can play out and how simple it can be to correct for, as long as we know what to look for. We often use the really obvious example of "when did you stop beating your wife" when we talk about this logical fallacy because it's crystal clear how there is no good answer to that question that won't get you in trouble and it's so obviously an offensive question.

A loaded question is a question with a false or questionable presupposition, and it is "loaded" with that presumption. The question "Have you stopped beating your wife?" presupposes that you have beaten your wife prior to its asking, as well as that you have a wife. If you are unmarried, or have never beaten your wife, then the question is loaded.

Since this example is a yes/no question, there are only the following two direct answers:

"Yes, I have stopped beating my wife", which entails "I was beating my wife."
"No, I haven't stopped beating my wife", which entails "I am still beating my wife."

Therefore, either direct answer implies that you have beaten your wife, which is a presupposition of the question. So, a loaded question is one which you cannot answer directly without implying a falsehood or a statement that you deny. For this reason, the proper response to such a question is not to answer it directly, but to either refuse to answer or to reject the question.

Which makes supporting and participating in research on polyamory very difficult when their questions are written as Loaded Questions with false, disputed, or question-begging presuppositions behind their premises.

That famous scene from My Cousin Vinny where the lawyer asks the girlfriend a question that's "impossible to answer" is also a Loaded Question, and he doesn't even know that it's a trick question that can't be answered as-is (at least, that's how it's played in the scene, IMO). He didn't know the answer (I believe), he was just banking on the fact that she wouldn't know it either (mansplaining). Since he didn't know the answer, he made a lot of assumptions in his question, like that Chevy made a Bel Aire in 1955 or that it came in 327 cubic inch engine.


joreth: (cool)
I think my parents are finally getting the hang of this whole poly thing.

Since we got married (at my parents' house), my parents finally remember and recognize Franklin as my partner.  Because he's always been long-distance to me, he isn't in a lot of my pictures that I post online and I don't have a lot of "we did this thing last weekend" stories about him, so it was easy for my parents to "forget" that I'm dating him.  But now he's a legal spouse, so that "counts" to them.

During the whole wedding extravaganza, they had a chance to meet Ben, who is our Squiggle Designated Extrovert and can charm the pants off of anyone (especially girlfriends' mothers).  Both of my parents just fell in love with Ben, who made himself indispensable during the wedding by filling in the gaps wherever someone was needed.  Ben has the same sort of "family" connection that I do, which is that family-of-origin of the partner is important so he makes friends with parents & siblings of partners that even outlast the romantic relationships.  I still send holiday cards to my high school boyfriends' parents.

So now they can't pick just one of my partners as the "real" one, because Franklin is the spouse and the person I've been with for 13 years and Ben left such an impression on them that they continue to text each other directly just to see how each are doing.

I had to actually reassure my parents that neither I nor Franklin would feel slighted if my parents developed a friendship with Ben because of his outgoing, friendly nature that makes him so easy to like.  They were concerned that we would feel that they were undermining or dismissing our married relationship by befriending Ben, so I got to have yet another poly talk with them about the independent nature of solo poly relationships and the solid self esteem of both of my partners who do not take things personally when people like or dislike the other one because it has nothing to do with them personally.

Now my parents actually tell me to pass along their hellos and well-wishes to both partners!

#polyamory #ItOnlyTook20YearsButTheyMightFinallyBeGettingIt #ParadigmShift
joreth: (polyamory)
One of my ongoing rants is the anti-polyness of pop songs. With only a very small exception of artists who do an excellent job with music production and in that "it factor" in writing music, most of the songs that are written by poly people as poly songs are really pretty terrible songs, quality-wise. The recording quality is terrible, they don't have the full range of instruments to make a good, round sound, and the lyrics, while they rhyme, aren't really all that catchy.

Say what you will about the banality of pop lyrics, but they're catchy and they stick, which is what makes the songs popular.

Popular music (through the ages and genres, not just Britney's and Justin's music) is popular for a reason. It's well produced, it's catchy, the combination of instruments and vocals blend into pleasing sounds, and if the lyrics themselves aren't exactly high poetry, they're memorable and they flow.

So I've long said that what we ought to do is just record parodies of popular music with poly themes - people would be much more willing to listen to it, I think. Of course, we'd still need decent recordings, but we already know that the melody will be liked.

So, here's an excellent example: One of my favorite songs is Pink's Leave Me Alone, I'm Lonely. I think it's an EXCELLENT example of what it's like to be solo poly, except the song is clearly not poly. It has one line that explicitly excludes multiple partners. But, it also means that there is really only one line that needs to be altered to make it a solo poly anthem. And it's ridiculously easy to change this line too...

I don't wanna wake up with another
But I don't wanna always wake up with you either

to:

I might wanna wake up with another
You might not wanna always wake up with me either

So now we just need someone who can do justice to a Pink song to get the karaoke track and a decent mic and record this very slightly changed song to make a *really* good solo poly song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtEwKSFdA-Y



Go away
Give me a chance to miss you
Say goodbye
It'll make me want to kiss you

I love you so
Much more when you're not here
Watchin' all the bad shows
Drinking all of my beer

I don't believe Adam and Eve
Spent every goddamn day together
If you give me some room there will be room enough for two

Tonight
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely
I'm tired
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely tonight

I might wanna wake up with another
You might not wanna always wake up with me either
No you can't hop into my shower
All I ask for is one fuckin' hour

You taste so sweet
But I can't eat the same thing every day
Cuttin' off the phone
Leave me the fuck alone
Tomorrow I'll be beggin' you to come home

Tonight
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely
I'm tired
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely tonight

Go away
Come back
Go away
Come back

Why can't I just have it both ways
Go away
Come back
Go away

Come back
I wish you knew the difference
Go away
Come back

Go away
Give me a chance to miss you
Say goodbye
It'll make me want to kiss you

Go away
Give me a chance to miss you
Say goodbye
It'll make me want to kiss you

Go away
Give me a chance to miss you
Say goodbye
It'll make me want to kiss you

Tonight
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely
I'm tired
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely tonight

Tonight
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely
I'm tired
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely tonight

Tonight
Go away
Give me a chance to miss you
Leave me alone I'm lonely

Alone I'm lonely
Say goodbye
It'll make me want to kiss you
I'm tired

Go away
Give me a chance to miss you
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely

Say goodbye
It'll make me want to kiss you
Tonight
Go away

Give me a chance to miss you
Say goodbye
It'll make me want to kiss you

joreth: (anger)
I'm going to go on record right now to point out that, just like when Hair Gropenfurher said "grab them by the pussy", fucking nobody is upset at the cuss word, we're upset by the meaning of his sentence.

I don't give a shit if he said "pussy" or "shithole".  I give a shit that he openly bragged about sexual assault, and I give a shit that, as a sitting president, he fucking insulted entire nations of people AND IS FUCKING RACIST.  If he had said "grab them by the vajayjay" and "crappy country", I'd be the same level of offended (maybe moreso, for not having the balls to be the asshole that he is without euphemisms).

It's not about the cussing.  It's never about the cussing.  It's about the actual meaning of what he's saying.

But since the opposition is also the same crowd that has no problem with insulting people or shouting in pain, as long as the letters and sounds you use to say those things exclude a handful of very specific letters and sounds in very specific orders, then I'm not at all surprised that they can't tell the difference between being offended at the meaning of a sentence and the words being used.

These are the same people who will raise hell if you call someone a shithead but if you call them a poopiehead, that's OK. They don't actually care that you said EXACTLY THE SAME FUCKING THING, they care that you used the letters s-h-i-t in that exact order, because somehow those letters make it magically more offensive than saying *literally the same thing* using different letters.

So, for the record, the objection is not to his use of the word "shithole", the objection is to him being a racist poopiehead.

#DoesItMakeItBetterThatICalledAPresidentByAClearlyInfantileInsult? #IAmTotallyInoffensiveForNotCussingWhenIInsultedHimRight?
joreth: (feminism)
I noticed how few men are really disturbed at the idea of female sex robots - some might be bothered or a little disgusted (the same way they are disgusted by the idea of prostitution), but they're not really *disturbed* at the concept of men preferring literal sex objects over real women and what it means in terms of psychology and culture...

But come out with MALE sex robots with bionic penises and men lose their fucking shit over possibly being "replaced" by electronics. They're all "female sexbots are no more worrisome than fleshlights, but male sexbots are clearly the downfall of society, will result in the end of humanity when procreation stops, and a sign that women just can't see a Nice Guy right in front of her."

I, however, am all "holy fucking shit, bring on the mascbots so I can have all the straight sex without having to actually deal WITH MEN in a romantic context! Make them dancing robots too and I may officially change my orientation." That way I can just deal with men in a totally platonic, sex-is-off-the-table-so-if-you-want-to-be-in-my-life-it-has-to-be-because-you-actually-like-me-as-a-person-not-as-a-potential-sex-dispensing-machine way, which will weed out most men except my existing partners, some of y'all, and the coworkers who have to work with me and know they aren't getting any anyway.

Does it fall under the ace spectrum if I don't want to have sex anymore with actual people but a person-shaped electric sex toy is totes cool? Asking for a friend.
"These straight women, they want your dicks, they absolutely want your dicks, they are just SO TIRED of everything else attached to it, guys," ~ DeAnne Smith
#hermitsexual #LoveMyExistingGuysButNotReallySoIntoDatingAnymore

So, someone posted an article about male sex bots (which spawned this post). Some manchild got snarky, saying something like "because it's so hard for women to find dick" - as if inanimate sex toys are only used by people who can't find live partners. Couple other people popped in to point out that it's not the dick that's hard to find, it's the quality of the person attached to it that's so sparse on the ground.

So I quoted that DeAnne Smith quote above. That should have been the end of it. It was a joke, intended to match the jokey tone of the original comment. So this douchebag decides to respond totally seriously that I shouldn't get down, there are good and decent men out there if I just keep looking.

*Sigh* poopsie, you really don't know to whom you speak. So I responded back with something along the lines of him totally missing the point, it was a joke, and just let it go, with a hashtag about having 2 male partners so I really don't need any dating advice. Naturally, he didn't listen to me telling him to let it go, so he sealioned up and condescendingly asked me to "explain" because he was listening.

So I blocked him. Because he's the reason why I want a male sexbot.
joreth: (Bad Computer!)
www.houstonpress.com/restaurants/telling-poor-people-to-just-cook-is-stupid-10102260

When I first moved into this apartment, it literally did not have a fridge, stove/oven, and cabinets (or dishwasher or disposal).  Like, it really came with none of those things.  I had to obtain them (I never did get a dishwasher or disposal - no room).  I was so poor, I had to accept from my boss an advance on my paycheck to cover the rent deposit so that I could escape my fucked-up situation with the dude who was killing my cats.

When I moved into this place, I had just moved 7 times in 2 years because I'm so poor, I can't afford decent housing so I keep living in these shitholes that are so bad, one of them literally had the water shut off by the city to try and root everyone out so that they could raze it.

So, after the expenses of moving 7 times in 2 years, and having a boss generously offer to give me cash so that I no longer had to keep my poor cat in the car in the parking garage while I worked because I had nowhere else to keep her, and after spending $50 FOR EACH APARTMENT APPLICATION I FILLED OUT because application fees are now standard, I moved into a place with no fridge, no stove, and no cabinets.

Eventually, I obtained these things.  Eventually.  But they are still inadequate. Between my lack of proper storage, the fact that I live alone, and the fact that I'm anorexic and simply *cannot eat* the volume of food of a normal person, it actually costs me more money to cook my own food after factoring in the amount that goes bad before I can eat it and I have to throw it out.

And all of this is even with having a pretty comfortable kitchen trousseau (and I mean that literally - in high school, I started collecting household items, one at a time, and storing them until I could move out, under the assumption that I would be building my own kitchen for my future husband and family (I was raised Catholic)).

Every time one of my kitchen utensils needs replacing, I scour the thrift stores and dollar stores and Walmart trying to find the absolute cheapest way to replace it and have it still be functional.  If I was just moving into my first place and had nothing at all, or I had to move in such a way that I lost most of my stuff (like someone being reintroduced to society after a long stint in jail, for instance), I certainly couldn't afford to outfit a kitchen like mine all at once.  And by "like mine", I mean "still has a hand-cranked mixer", not "has the whole line of Cuisinart tools" level of kitchen.

I do cook.  But for just me, and the storage limitations, if I'm going to be spending extra money on home-cooked food, I'd rather spend it on baking ingredients that I can share with coworkers and friends instead of produce that I can't eat all of before it goes bad and can't store to keep anyway.

The rest of my food budget is most efficiently spent on individual sized, well-preserved meals that provide me with the veggies that I can't afford to buy fresh and what little protein I need in my diet to prevent the weird health issue I have when I don't eat meat.

And some fast food when I don't have time to go shopping because it now takes me 2 fucking hours to drive 12 miles to and from work and I'm one of the lucky ones with a (mostly) working car or when I'm stuck on a job site without my portable hot plate and have to eat out because there are no break room facilities in my job for bringing a lunch.
joreth: (being wise)
A really large portion of people want validation that their partner wronged them in some way.  They tell long, sordid stories and ask if they're justified in accusing their partner of violating some rule or agreement or if it "counts" as "cheating".  I get it.  I've done that too.  I continue to struggle with this.  But I've observed that this doesn't really accomplish anything.  It mostly serves to make the questioner feel "right", and it's almost always used as ammunition:  "Everyone else thinks you're wrong, therefore, you're the bad guy".

I'm the first one standing up defending labels and categorization.  I just don't think that most of us actually *use* labels and categorization for efficiency, which is their point.  I think we use them more like weapons.

As that meme goes, any cat owner can tell you the difference between trying to put someone in a box they don't want to fit into vs. fitting oneself into a box of one's choosing.  When we're looking for self-identifying labels, they're pretty useful.  When we're discussing abstract concepts, ideals, social constructs, etc., they're also pretty useful.

But when we seek to label *someone else*, particularly while feeling some kind of negative emotion about that person, the label is sometimes useful (such as warning others about some kind of threat) and sometimes less useful.  Sometimes, it's more about ego, about hubris, about revenge, about punitive action, about gratification, about in/out group tribalism, things like that.

What purpose does labeling a person or a behaviour serve?  Are you trying to identify the source of a problem?  To fix it?  To prevent it in the future?  To warn others?  To educate others?

Or do you want to look good in someone's eyes by comparison?  To look "wronged"?  To harm them?  To punish them?  As a parting shot to have the last word?  To absolve yourself of wrongdoing?  To justify your own actions as a response to theirs?

Is this label intended to fix or solve, or is intended to harm or restrict?  If you're really brutally honest with yourself and you look deep enough, most of the time this post hoc labeling of someone or their behaviour is meant to harm them in some way.  It can be used to make mutual acquaintances "take sides" and it can make people come to your defense (which puts them in opposition to the person being labeled).

The "harm" doesn't have to be very great. So what if one of your relatives, who has never met your partner, now thinks your partner is kind of a douche?  If you both go your separate ways, they might not ever even know that Great Auntie Beatrice kinda thinks they're not good enough for you.

But *you* know that someone else knows that your partner was a Bad Person this time. And, for whatever reason, that feels good.

So people unload intimate details about another person so that others will know this thing happened.  And I think this is a bigger problem, connected in ways to other things somehow that I haven't quite articulated just yet.  I'm starting to see part of a pattern.  It's like one of those remove-the-tile games, where I've pulled one tile off and I can see part of a picture, and it's clear that it's only part of a picture, but all the other tiles are still covering it up.

I'll uncover this pattern eventually. But for right now, it's something that I've noticed.
joreth: (being wise)
Once again, a post where people did a lot of labor to discuss, explain, and sort things out got deleted so the results of all that labor are lost forever from anyone else who might want to ask similar questions.  So I want to share my answer for future reference, to a more generalized question of "did my partner cheat, break a rule, or do something else?" and "what do I tell people about our breakup?" -

Let go of the specific terminology, and also let go of the idea that anyone else needs to know any of the details of why you are separating.  If you must tell people that you are no longer together, come up with a cliff-notes version of the story that doesn't place blame on anyone and focuses on *your* decisions, not someone else's actions.

"We want different things from our relationship and it's time to go our separate ways".

"We are no longer contributing to each other's happiness, so we are letting each other go to find happiness elsewhere."

"My life is taking me in a different direction."

"I am looking for something other than the life they can offer."

It doesn't matter if your partner "cheated" or "broke a rule" or whatever. Those kinds of distinctions are really only helpful for either identifying specific behaviours for correction or for punitive action - for assigning blame and identifying a "bad guy".  This is not a best-self course of action. Your partner doesn't need to be a "bad guy" to justify you leaving. You just have to not want to be with them anymore, and that's all anyone else needs to know, if they need to know anything.

And especially if there are shared kids involved, or both of you work at the same company, or otherwise have overlapping lives that can't be easily disentangled, the higher the road you can take during a breakup, the smoother that road will be, since you will inevitably cross paths again in the future.

Unless you particularly enjoy drama and messy lives, hurting children, and turning your friends into collateral damage, then refraining from blaming, gossiping, demonizing, or even just revealing private moments makes your overlapping futures together easier, and also makes you look like a freaking saint to everyone who is watching.

You'll win some massive adulting points for handling a breakup with grace and compassion.  So don't worry too much about picking specific labels for their behaviour - at this point, it's not really important anymore because you're not going to fix it and, if you're interested at all in looking like a grown up then you also shouldn't be trying to punish them for it anymore.

Just stick to "we broke up because we're not compatible anymore" and let everything else go.

#WritingABookOnBreakingUp #YouWouldThinkThatSomeoneWhoGivesAdviceLikeThisWouldBeBetterAtItHerself #AlwaysEasierToTellOthersWhatToDoThanToDoIt #ThoseWhoCanDoThoseWhoCannotTeach
joreth: (being wise)
Reminder:  Abuse makes people "crazy", so if you date someone who has an abusive ex, and you later discover that the person you're dating is "crazy" themselves, the proper response isn't to then doubt just how "abusive" their exes really were (particularly when *you saw them* be abusive with your own eyes), but to feel saddened that abuse is so ubiquitous, that your partner has been that badly hurt, and that society's first reaction to your partner's behaviour is to dismiss them as being "crazy" rather than condemn the abuse that makes them behave so irrationally.

Not that people never lie about abusive exes - my abusive ex is sticking to his story that it was his *victim* who was the one who abused *him*.  So I don't mean to say you should never question someone's one-sided story after new evidence comes to light.

I'm just saying that most of the time, when we call an ex "crazy", because of the social convention for the use of that word, it's often for behaviour that they picked up as a direct result of someone harming them.  It's either a survival strategy that no longer works when they're not being harmed, or it's contrary to reality because they no longer have a terrific grasp of reality thanks to someone rewriting their reality for them.

The things that we tend to call "crazy" (as in, "my crazy ex") are not usually the same sorts of things that abusers who flip the script and accuse their victims of being "abusive" tend to do.  If you're dating someone that you start to suspect might have lied about their ex being abusive, there's a good chance that what they're doing to make you suspect this is not behaviour that we culturally refer to as "crazy" from "my crazy ex", generally speaking.  They're probably being more gaslighty and / or controlling, than the sorts of things that we tend to label as "crazy".

Abusers who try to convince people that their former victims are the "real" abusers tend to do other things, like the things found on the Wheel of Abuse, such as gaslighting, manipulating, and other controlling behaviour.  Erratic and "emotional" behaviour and being out of touch with reality is actually more likely to be *confirmation* that the abuse was probably real.  Cool controlling or explosive anger controlling and using your fear to direct your own behaviour is more likely to be the signs that their story of past abuse may not be accurate.

If someone you're dating starts acting in a way that might tempt you to call them "crazy" (because of how we generally use that term), which then prompts you to reevaluate their claims of an abusive ex (even though you may have even seen the abusive behaviour first-hand) just because they're acting irrationally and you think this is reason enough to doubt everything they've ever told you including their abusive past even though their irrational behaviour isn't really related to lying about victimization, then they're probably not "crazy", they're still struggling with their abuse.

You don't have to stick around in that relationship if their response to their trauma is too hard for you to deal with.  Just don't call them "crazy" for it.  They're traumatized.  They're not immune from acting out in harmful ways just because they were a victim themselves, but they are traumatized, not "crazy".
joreth: (polyamory)
If you ever want to see just who is willing to put their money where their mouth is in terms of poly "equality" and "our others are just as important to us as we are to each other", ask if they'd be willing to divorce in order to give one of those other partners legal protections, rights, and obligations, and see how quickly people justify that their need for legal protection is necessary for life and more important than anyone else's need.

Usually the conversation goes like this:

Me:   So, you want your metamours to feel "equal", but you won't divorce so they can marry, huh?

Them:   We can draw up legal documents to make them equal if necessary.

Me:  OK, so then why not divorce and let them marry and YOU draw up legal paperwork to make yourself "equal"?

Them:   Because there's this thing I need that I can only get from marriage.

Me:  ...

Me:  So, you're saying that legal contracts can't give you the same things?

Them:  [without noticing the irony] No, I have to stay married to get this thing.

Me:  0.o

Me:  ::blinkblink::

Me:  So, much like why gay people wanted marriage and said that civil unions were not good enough and they were being treated like second class citizens and did not have equal rights, maybe that's partly why people say you have couple privilege and why they don't want to date couples and why they don't feel truly equal?

Them:   No but they are! We totally love our OSOs as much as each other!

This is why it's about power, not emotions or priorities.

#ItIsEqualAsLongAsIAmNotTheOneToSacrifice #ButItIsDifferentWhenIDoIt #ButIHaveTheGreaterNeed #UntilYouDoNot #ButWhatAboutTheChildren #InATrulyFairSystemSometimesYouHaveToBeTheDisadvantagedOne #WeDoEgalitarianPolyAndDoNotBelieveInCouplePrivilege #ExceptOnlyOurKidsGetHisHealthInsurance #WhatWeAlreadyDecidedNoKidsWithAnyoneElseAnyway #ButWeAreTotallyEgalPolyAndOurSecondariesAreEqual #OopsDidISaySecondariesOutLoud?
joreth: (feminism)
I wish that, for 2 years, all young women everywhere would just all simultaneously refuse to pose for men photographers, for 3 reasons:
  • All the young girls who like posing would have to sit for women and anyone else who isn't a man, and they could maybe learn what a non-predatory shoot is like (not that women can't be predatory, but for the most part, women photographers aren't the problem, and WAY too many men use photography as their tool for being predatory, a significant subset of them aren't even bothering to be real photographers, they're just setting up "shoots" to creep on young women);

  • Women / enby photographers would finally have their work be in demand and their talent accepted;

  • All the male photographers would finally have to learn how to shoot anything other than conventionally pretty, young, thin, white girls and women. Those who already do shoot anything other than that won't even be affected by the spontaneous ban. But everyone else will have to learn how to see beauty in subjects other than young, thin, white women, or else have nothing left to photograph.
To address anyone who thinks ""but if I can't look at women photographed by predators all the sexy ladies will be gone!":
  1. I said for 2 years, not forever. I think you'll survive. And there is always the bajillions of predatory porn that already exists.

  2. Being photographed by women does not mean there will not be any sexualized photography of women. Women photographers are perfectly capable of photographing erotic or sexualized photography of other women. As both a photographer and a model myself (professional for both), I can say this with certainty.

    In fact, that was my second point above.

  3. This is never going to happen. This is an expressed desire for teaching people a lesson. Don't treat it as a serious suggestion, listen to the moral lesson behind it.

  4. I'm not terribly interested in catering to, nor providing space in my comments for, the desires of people who "wouldn't want to live without" the products of abuse and predation and are willing to trade the lives and mental health of vulnerable young women just to avoid the inconvenience of not having a product available to them for a short period of time. So I just don't care if some people have to "live without".
joreth: (anger)
Here's the thing.  The latest guy I blocked on FB is an ex-bf.  One of the reasons why I dumped his ass is because I suspected him of spying on my internet activities (we were in a poly relationship at the time, so there was no reason to have done so, other than fucking entitlement, which I'll get to in a moment).

He is a rather skilled computer networking type guy.  In fact, I learned a lot of my own networking skills from him.  Sometime after I moved out, my computer crashed.  I was dating another somewhat skilled networking type guy at the time who helped me recover my hard drive data.  During the deep recovery process, we uncovered a keystroke log buried in my hard drive.

This keystroke log did, in fact, show exactly a private IM conversation I had set up with a friend to "test" to see if this guy was spying on me.  We said some things in that conversation, and when my ex let some things slip that he would only have known if he had seen that conversation, I moved out.  And now here was the evidence that I was not paranoid, he did, indeed, spy on me and it wasn't by chance that he happened to say the right things to make me suspect him.

So, years later, he found me on FB.  Contrary to all my advice to other people, I have a habit of keeping toxic people in my life, justifying to myself that I want to "keep tabs" on them.  So, after about 3 years of letting his friend-request sit in my queue, I dubiously accepted it.

Now he fancies himself a "photographer" because he has money for all the latest technology, which makes just about *anyone* look like a competent photographer without doing all the hard work of learning the foundations of art, like composition, photography history, art theory, color theory, light theory, etc. and he's not a total bull-in-the-china-shop with computers.

So he decides to contradict me online about photography and Photoshop, which he himself admits to not being an "expert", even though *I am one*.  Most of y'all ought to be aware of how I respond to mansplaining my job to me.  So I blocked him.  Because fuck him.  I was already on edge with him with the whole violating-my-privacy thing.

He immediately contacted me using another account.  Not with an apology, of course, but to whine about me responding to his last comment and then blocking him so that he couldn't see my response, and he wasn't trying to argue with me anyway, so why I gotta be so rude and block him?!

Here's that entitlement thing.

You see, when people are told in no uncertain terms "I do not want to talk to you anymore" (which is exactly what a block is, and y'all fucking know it), and they keep trying to talk to you anyway, this is entitlement.  They feel that their desire to continue communicating with you is more important, and worth more consideration, than your desire to NOT communicate with them anymore.

It doesn't matter if it's an apology, if it's to continue the argument, to "explain" that they weren't trying to argue, or what, when someone tries to end communication and you try to continue it, you are, in fact, absolutely saying that your desire to continue trumps their desire to end it.

Here's why I get so pissed off at this:  His entitlement to attention at this very minor argument and his entitlement to my privacy are the same thing.

He feels that he has the right to access me even when I have explicitly said he does not.  My express wishes to cut off contact were dismissed.  The very idea that I could have private internet communication without his knowledge was dismissed.  Whatever reasons he had for violating my privacy, he believed those reasons justified violating my privacy.

And this is why I get so pissed off at people for doing seemingly minor infractions.  These infractions do not happen in a vacuum.  These infractions are usually part of a pattern.  Entitlement is a foundational value, and that value will affect all other interactions with people.  Feeling entitled to access someone, *even when they said no* can and will manifest itself in different ways.  Maybe he has some kind of line drawn somewhere in his head where his entitlement justifies his intrusion into [Group A] people or situations but not [Group B] people or situations.

So, like, maybe if a girl he hit on in a bar said she wasn't interested, he would totally respect that rejection.  But other things that other people told him that he couldn't access, he wouldn't respect those rejections.

"Entitlement" doesn't have to mean that everyone who feels "entitled" are all equally capable of exactly all violations.

But it does mean that they are capable of *some* violations.

And, as a former partner, I happen to know for a fact that he is capable of some violations.

Not only did he install a keystroke log on my computer to spy on my internet activity, he also was one of the MANY former partners I've had who did not take "no" for an answer.  

I fully believe that he would never meet a stranger in a bar, ask her for her phone number, and when she said she wasn't interested, he would never, not in a million years, follow her out of the bar and violently rape her in the parking lot.  He would, however, ask a girlfriend for sex, and when she said "not tonight, honey, I have a headache", he would wait until he thought she was asleep and then start touching her in ways she just said she didn't want.

I know he would do that because he did that to me most nights towards the end of our relationship.  We even fought about it a few times, but he still did it, until I banished him from sleeping with me anymore (we had our own bedrooms, he just slept in my bed every night because I slept in my own bed every night).

Then there was the Tupperware Incident.  I had been engaged before, and my ex-future-mother-in-law bought us a set of Tupperware as an "engagement gift" (considering that she hated me, this was kind of a big deal).  I took the Tupperware when my ex-fiance and I broke up (another relationship I had to "escape" from, but that's a tale for another time).

So, here I am, moving all the way across the country, my first *real* time away from home, and I move in with this guy.  And I bring my Tupperware with me.  Then the suspicions start, then the "test", then I move out.  I tried to mostly get my stuff out of the house while he was at work, to avoid a confrontation.  He knew I was moving, but I was hoping to just not be there one day when he came home.

On my very last trip back for the last of my stuff, he came home as I was putting the last load in my car.  It was awkward and tense, mostly because I didn't actually, "officially" break up with him, I just said I was moving out to try living on my own (since I never had, at that point) and to live closer to campus, where I had started going back to school.

As I walked to my car, he asked about the Tupperware.  He accused me of stealing it from *him*, that he had stolen it from his ex-wife when he kicked her out, and he wanted it back.  We argued, and I tried to end the argument (as I often do) by just leaving.

Before I could close my car door, he literally dived, head-first into the driver's seat and across my lap, holding onto the steering wheel, pinning my legs down, and blocking my view, to prevent me from leaving.

So I laid on the horn and screamed "rape!"  It was dirty play, because he wasn't trying to rape me, but he *was* assaulting me.  Startled, he backed out of the car and I peeled out of the parking lot with my door still open.  I used to street race, and I have a manual transmission, so as long as I could physically operate the car, he was not going to win against me in a car.

I also used to do really foolish shit, like drive with two of my friends hanging onto the hood of the car and one guy laying across the roof of the car, really fast around curved roads.  So I am *not* afraid of using my car ... unconventionally.  I also hit one of my closest friends with my car once, in retaliation for an injury he gave me, so I'm also fine with using my car as a weapon (we had an, let's just say "interesting" relationship - my teen years were kinda dramatic).

All I needed was enough room to operate the vehicle, and I would have driven off with him still hanging on through the open door, if I had to, with absolutely no concern about flinging him out of the car by simply taking a fast turn.  Because I used to do shit like that for fun.

Fortunately, for him, he was startled enough by the scream and the horn and he voluntarily backed out of my car.  I never contacted him again. We had run into each other a couple of times after that, and he never once apologized for physically restraining me as I tried to leave, or even acted awkward or concerned about our last encounter.  As far as I can tell, he doesn't think there was anything unusual about how we broke up, which is fucking frightening.

So when someone violates a boundary like "stop talking to me online", I know that this violation is possible because of a sense of entitlement.  And I know that when someone has a sense of entitlement, it is not isolated to one specific action.  It is an underlying belief structure that informs many different actions.

Which ones, I do *not* know for every single person.  But I know that entitlement sends out little tendrils at the base of their behaviour decision tree, and those tendrils flow under and around and through that decision tree, touching various branches here and there.

So while I don't know exactly what else someone with entitlement is willing to violate, I know that they are willing to violate some things.  When a person is blocked on social media, and that person *immediately* tries to contact the other using another account (and I will make a small exception for those whose attempt at contact is a humble, contrite, PROPER apology with no defensiveness and an awareness of wrongdoing and a willingness for accountability, but I have never actually seen this from anyone who was blocked who then attempted to force more contact within a few moments), then I know they are willing to violate boundaries.

I know this person is unsafe, because they have *just* demonstrated a lack of respect for boundaries, a willingness to violate boundaries, a sense of entitlement that their desires trump others' needs, and *I don't know what else this entitlement will affect*.  But I know that it will affect other interactions.

That makes someone a *very* unsafe person indeed.

So, sure, trying to contact someone after they've blocked you might not seem like a rage-worthy offense in the grand scheme of things, not in isolation.  But doing so reveals that they *are* willing to make rage-worthy offenses, because doing so requires them to have an underlying sense of entitlement to access another person against their express wishes, and that value does not exist in isolation.
joreth: (anger)
Filmmakers: If your female character is trying to "pass" as a man, and especially if she is from a historical era, don't give her the modern Hollywood "no, I totally woke up with perfect lashes and cheekbones" makeup.
  1. She wouldn't have worn that makeup anyway, but I've given up on expecting period pieces to faithfully recreate period makeup; and

  2. Nobody in their right mind would believe this person with big doe eyes and pouty lips and hair obviously upswept into a cap is a man. Since there are dire consequences for women "passing" as men in previous eras, she especially would not have been wearing feminine makeup. If anything, she *might* have tried to roughen her face to look more masculine with makeup, but likely she wouldn't have had to wear makeup at all.
Women do not need to constantly have "no makeup" makeup on to be in front of the camera. It doesn't really look "natural" anyway, and if a woman tried to get away with it in the real world while pretending to be a man, she'd never succeed.  Actual men can't "pass" as "real men" if they're "too feminine", what makes you think that merely putting a woman in man's clothing but with women's makeup would?

All it does is make your film look completely unrealistic when people have no idea that she's a woman. It makes the other characters look oblivious and unobservant and clueless when nobody recognizes her as a woman while dressed as a man with eyeliner and lipstick on.  Nobody is buying that this short, very slender person (yet suspiciously bulky in certain places) with long hair tucked into a cap and lined & shadowed eyes is male. Women do not need to look "pretty" 100% of the time, even in movies.
joreth: (being wise)
https://onbeing.org/blog/the-gift-of-presence-the-perils-of-advice/

Just a bit of perspective - but when people are complaining about "technology", particularly mobile phone usage, this is actually what they're asking. They're longing for more present-ness from people. They're asking you to witness them.

So while I am firmly on the side of "technology is good, the internet has saved lives by bringing connection to those who have little or none, and nobody owes you their attention", when a partner or friend spends a lot of their time on their device while physically spending time with me, it can feel hurtful because it feels like they're not really present and not witnessing either me or our rare and limited time together.

Sometimes I wish various partners I've had wouldn't be so prepared with their charging cables and their phones would just die so they have no choice but to be more *here* with me, because phones are so rarely their "in case of emergency" device there days; they're usually their "get instant answers and check in on people who are not present while the present ones wait for attention" devices.

So maybe "completely unplugging" is an unrealistic or selfish request, but if someone you value is complaining about your devices, perhaps putting it down a little more often and just being in the moment with them is an act of kindness, a response to a bid, that you can afford to pay a little more.

Also, stop with the fucking unsolicited advice. Seriously, if you feel this compulsion, there are tons of FB groups with people asking advice and Quora is a place specifically designed for advice giving.
"Advice-giving comes naturally to our species, and is mostly done with good intent. But in my experience, the driver behind a lot of advice has as much to do with self-interest as interest in the other’s needs — and some advice can end up doing more harm than good."

"He talked while I listened and asked a few more questions. When we were done, he told me that some measure of peace had returned. It was a peace that had come from within him, not from anything I’d said. I’d simply helped clear some rubble that blocked his access to his own soul."

"Here’s the deal. The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is. When we make that kind of deep bow to the soul of a suffering person, our respect reinforces the soul’s healing resources, the only resources that can help the sufferer make it through."

"And yet, we have something better: our gift of self in the form of personal presence and attention, the kind that invites the other’s soul to show up. As Mary Oliver has written:

“This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.”"
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)
http://www.crocs.com/p/womens-busy-day-stretch-lace-up/204760.html

I think my mom didn't realize that I have 2 separate wishlists.  She usually hates buying me clothing because she's afraid it won't fit me, even if I put the size in the instructions (don't ask - it is *very* important to my mom that other people be happy, and she doesn't want me to be unhappy with her choice of gifts). But this year, she *only* bought me things from my clothing wishlist.

2 years ago, I separated my clothing into its own wishlist because she and my dad were getting overwhelmed by the sheer size of my wishlist. So now I have 3 - a clothing one, a gift-card one, and an everything-else one (I also have an "adult" one but mom doesn't need to see that one).  Anyway, mom bought me a pair of shoes I had on my wishlist.  When Crocs first came out, I hated them.  I thought the clogs were the ugliest shoes I'd ever seen and I refused to wear them no matter how comfortable they were (and, it turns out, I didn't find them comfortable either).

Then they started making *shoes*.  A former friend of mine, who is seriously high-femme, was wearing an interesting pair of high heels and I commented on them.  She said they were Crocs and they were so comfortable, that they were the only heels she could wear for an entire weekend at a sci-fi convention, on her feet all day, every day.

I was impressed.  So I went to their website and fell in love with their high heeled wedges and a pair of sandals.  I bought the sandals at a local store, where I could try them on, and they are now the only shoes I'll bother to wear unless close-toed shoes are required for some reason (like work).  I also discovered that I can't bake without wearing them because standing barefoot on the hard kitchen floor for that long hurts my lower back, but the Crocs sandals make it possible to stand and walk for hours without pain.

So I tried the wedges.  I've written before about how comfortable and cute they are. When I go dancing, my dance shoes are floor-exclusive - they cannot be worn off the hardwood dance floor because of their special soles.  So I need shoes to wear to and from the event.  I want to wear my Crocs because, even in shoes made for comfort while dancing, after 4 hours of it, my feet are killing me and I can barely walk.  But my sandals are not attractive.  They're not as ugly as the clogs, but they're not high fashion either, and certainly not suitable for the femme attire I dress up in to dance.

Enter the wedges.  When I am *literally* hobbling off the dance floor, I put my wedges on and stand up, and instantly my feet stop hurting.  I have been known to walk around the block for another 2 hours after dancing, while wearing my Crocs wedges.  So I now have them in 2 colors and a third pair of mary-jane style wedges.

Between my retail job (which believes its employees should never sit down and always look "busy"), and my backstage job (which requires unloading trucks, pushing cases from the loading dock to the room we are setting up, and then staging our storage room across the convention center from the event room), I walk an average of 5-15 miles per day.

Yes, I know it's a big gap, but some days I sit down backstage and only have to walk from the parking lot (a mile away) to my room, and then from my room to the break room (about half a mile away, no I'm not being hyperbolic), so I can get away with about 5 miles of walking.  But make enough .5 mile trips from the dock to the room, and 15 miles comes quick enough.

When I'm not actively lifting heavy things and therefore wearing my steel-toe boots, I wear my Converse high tops with special insoles.  These are very comfortable and helpful.  But after 15 miles, I still wish I could be wearing my Crocs.  So now Crocs has sneakers, and an all-black pair.  So I put them on my wishlist and my mom actually got them for me for Christmas. I've worn them twice now at my retail job AND I LOVE THEM!

They have the squishy, bouncy Crocs sole & insole, and the rest of the shoe is made of something like Neoprene so it's very stretchy and "huggy".  I really wish they made high-tops because I have not worn low-top sneakers since before Reebok high-tops came in fashion back in the '80s.  I'm really not a fan of low-top shoes, but I was willing to try it out for the sake of Crocs sneakers.

If you need a good pair of walking shoes that aren't specially formulated for some kind of exercise or sport that you're doing, I'd recommend trying out one of their styles of sneakers. If you can, visit a Crocs store to try them on first, but if you find Crocs to be comfortable at all, you will probably like these sneakers. They do have other styles, as well.  And for those who wear larger sizes and/or prefer "masculine" styles (not that there's a big difference between the masc and femme styles of tennis shoes), they also have this style they call the Swiftwater Hiker, which I actually like better but they don't make in my small size:  http://www.crocs.com/p/mens-swiftwater-hiker/203392.html
joreth: (boxed in)
So, about 6-ish years ago, I lost my long-term place to live.  I had been there for years and I was given no notice (there's a legal reason they could do that but it's long & I don't want to go into it).  Because I had no notice, and I was poor, I spent the next 2 years bouncing around.  A friend would take me in with no notice, that situation would become untenable, I'd have to find the first place I could afford, that place would bottom out, another friend would have to take me in, rinse repeat.

In the middle of all this, I applied for low-income housing.  Let me tell you why this is not a solution for people with low incomes.  More than 4 years after I applied, I finally heard something from them today.  And it's not to say that I finally got in.  No, it's to say that one of their properties is changing owners, so I'll have to go on a *separate* waiting list if I want to still be considered for that property.

I had completely forgotten that I had even applied for low-income housing.  Fortunately, for me, I managed to bust my ass enough to make just enough money to afford this shitty little apartment I found with a landlord who was (at the time) a real person I could talk to and explain things to, and not a management company who has to follow "policy".

Otherwise, I might have spent the last 4 years couch-surfing still (and wearing out my welcome with friends all over town), waiting for the city to get back to me with an apartment I can afford.

This is why poor people stay poor. There are just not enough resources to help them get out of a system that is designed to make them stay in it.
joreth: (feminism)
At work a few months back, I passed by a couple of dudes arguing. One guy stopped me and said, "I'm pretty sure JORETH doesn't need a man for anything!"

Without knowing the rest of their conversation, I said "nope! I don't need a man for anything!"

The other guy started rattling off things that people, being part of a social species, need, like companionship, physical touch, love, etc.

I said, "sure, but I don't need to get any of those things FROM A MAN."

He just stopped and blinked at me, like it had never crossed his mind that "companionship", "physical touch", "a support network" are things that A) have nothing to do with penises and B) are not synonymous with heterosexual romantic relationships.

His mouth opened and closed a few times, as he tried to work out how this was possible. Then he just asked me how else I would get them.

So I pointed out that some women are not straight and they seem to get those things from not-men all the time. And some of us have these things called "friends" and "family" who not only provide "companionship", "physical touch", and "support network", but who often provide it better, and with more stability.

As a last ditch effort, he asked about sex, as he learned that I was straight. That's always a sign that someone doesn't know me, when they think they can "gotcha" me on any topic related to sex.

So I said, "honey, I can do it faster and better by myself than any man can do it for me. Out of all those things, that's the LAST thing I need a man for."

He conceded the argument.

(The first guy who roped me into this later came up and apologized for pulling me in - he's a feminist who was trying to make this guy understand but wasn't succeeding and had reached the end of his rope, and since I happened to be walking by, he knew that I'd have some good responses handy)

joreth: (being wise)
"I apologize for the unintended distress"

"I'm sorry if there were any hurt feelings"

"I regret any pain you might have felt"
These are examples of not-pologies. Notice the lack of any active agent. There is "unintended distress". On whom? Caused by whom or what? "if there were any hurt feelings". Whose feelings? How were they hurt?

Nobody in these not-pologies is taking any responsibility for having *caused* distress, hurt, or pain. There isn't even any acknowledgement of *a cause* for the distress, hurt, or pain, as if the recipient's feelings just magically, spontaneously erupted in a vacuum, not related to anything at all.

"I am sorry for hurting you" - acknowledges an active agent. "I" actively hurt "you".

"I was wrong because..." - lays out exactly why "my" actions were wrong & shows understanding of the wrongdoing.

"In the future, I will..." - accepts accountability by offering reparations and a correction to behaviour to prevent the harm from happening again.

Without these 3 elements, it is not a real apology and the words "I'm sorry" are meaningless. Take responsibility as the agent of harm, show understanding of what that harm was, and make changes to behaviour to repair the harm and prevent its repetition.

"I'm sorry" doesn't mean anything without this behind it. Otherwise, it's just a way to say "your pain is your fault, because I didn't have anything to do with it, your pain just happened, but I feel uncomfortable that your bad feelings are directed at me."

A Better Way To Say Sorry: http://www.cuppacocoa.com/a-better-way-to-say-sorry/

Mistakes Were Made: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mistakes_were_made

Non-Apology Apology: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-apology_apology
joreth: (being wise)
I have to admit, I just saw one of the most responsible things ever in a romantic comedy (Fuller House on Netflix).

A woman had a high school sweetheart. They broke up at the end of high school because they had different college dreams (and in rom-coms, if you go to separate schools for 4 years, your relationship is guaranteed to end anyway). 20 years later, they got back in touch, but she had started dating someone new.

At first, the two men competed for her attention, but then the high school sweetheart started dating someone new of his own (who just happened to be almost exactly like the woman, even down to a similar sounding name).  Now everyone seemed paired up with people who made them happy, so problem solved, right? Each couple even got engaged.  Except they still had feelings for each other. So, first, the high school sweetheart broke up with his fiance, and a few moments later, the woman broke off her engagement with her fiance too.

I want to point out that the show did *not* make either jilted fiance into a villain. There was nothing wrong with either character and no "reason" why each should dump them. They just loved each other (and in monogamy-land, you can only have one). I have to give it points for not villainizing the others, and for the characters just deciding to end it with people when they weren't feeling it. That is a perfectly valid reason to end a relationship (see my other posts on not needing to turn exes into evil villains before we break up with them).

So, now the two high school sweethearts are both single again, and both aware of each other's feelings. But, instead of jumping right into another relationship with each other (usually fading into another wedding scene in most rom-coms), they talk first about what to do.  And they *mutually* agree that they need to process their recent breakups (because they did actually really care for their respective exes) and this new revelation of their feelings for each other.  So they agree to not date each other for a month, to give themselves time to grieve and process first.

This is possibly the most emotionally mature, responsible rom-com plot I've ever seen.

#RelationshipBreaksAreMoreImportantThanWeRealize #HavingFeelingsDoesNotMeanWeNeedToActOnThem #IfTheRelationshipIsThatRealThenItWillStillBeThereWhenTheTimingIsBetter #DoNotMakeImportantDecisionsUnderTheInfluenceOfNRE
joreth: (boxed in)
I wish they had told me in high school that suicidal people usually *don't* announce to you that they're going to commit suicide, especially when followed by some kind of condition, such as "I can't live if you won't go out with me".

I wish they had told me this was a manipulative, abusive tactic and that the correct response is to immediately call the authorities and warn them that someone is a danger to themself, even and especially if they tell you not to, and let people trained in this help them.

I wish I hadn't spent 5 years worrying about a "friend" just because I wouldn't date him, and then another 10 years feeling like I was a mean person for finally snapping at him and telling him to just fucking do it then, but if he isn't going to, then stop telling me about it. And then yet another 10 years still talking to him, trying to salvage a friendship out of the girlfriendzone he kept putting me in.

I wish they taught the wheel of abuse in middle school, so that I would have been prepared for when I met all the abusive boys and men I let into my life, when I was pressured to be "nice" to them because their behaviour was "romantic", and even if I didn't return their feelings, when I was told that I still owed them kindness just because they "loved" me.

We keep arguing over sex ed in schools and whether or not to teach people who are probably already sexually active what's going on with their bodies, but we almost never talk about what's going on with their minds. I wish we taught kids how to recognize abusive tactics, in others and in themselves, and how to disentangle themselves from abuse.

I wonder who I would be today if anyone had taught me these things?

#TheWindowsWereFineToBeginWith #NotAllLessonsNeedToBeLearnedFirstHand #IBetIWouldBeALotLessAngryToday
joreth: (boxed in)
Permanent disclaimer: Almost everything aimed at relationships - communication tools, self-esteem tools, advice, techniques, helpful hints, etc. - do not apply to abusive situations. Abuse changes all the rules.  This goes for everything I say and for all relationship stuff everywhere.

Abusers do not operate in good faith and they fuck up your reality. They take and manipulate all those tools and techniques so that they become weapons instead of tools. This is why regular therapy or "couples therapy" is such an awful idea for those in abusive relationships - it just gives them access to more tools to warp into weapons.

If I'm not talking about abuse specifically, I'm exempting abuse. Abuse is a Game Changer. It changes the game and most of the time, only the abuser even knows that the game has been changed - that's part of the game. It's like that one card game my social group used to play, Mao, where the players aren't told the rules until they break one, and even then they still aren't really told. The person giving the penalty must state what the incorrect action was, without explaining the rule that was broken. Except the Game Changer of Abuse is played with your soul as the stakes.

So if you're in an abusive situation or you have not started or progressed far down the path of recovery, most advice for relationships will not apply to you. Do not try Non-Violent Communication with an abuser. Do not try to trust more. Do not let go of your fears or concerns. Do not open up and be vulnerable. Do not learn their Love Language. Do not respond to their Bids for Attention (or, rather, you probably should for your survival, but it's not to keep the love and respect in the relationship, which are the normal "rules" for BfA).

Don't do anything I say about relationships except to seek the advice of abuse specialists like domestic violence shelters and agencies. I am not qualified to give advice about abuse. At best, I can show you the signs and call out abuse masquerading as other things.

I'm pretty good about recognizing patterns once I've learned that their connections exist. But my abuse warnings and rants are separate from my relationship advice. The only thing I can help with abuse is to point out patterns and say "get yourself safe, then leave". Anything more advanced than that, you need a specialist.

As someone said in my FB comments on this thread, all of my other relationship advice assumes at a minimum good intentions between/among partners. An abusive situation does not meet this minimum standard. Don't do all my other relationship advice in abusive situations, and if you're still recovering, you still need an abuse specialist to tell you how to get from there to where my advice is applicable or possible.
joreth: (feminism)
I just made a connection that I've been dancing around for years but I don't think I ever drew such a bold line between before.   Most people who have heard of the word "limerence" confuse it or use it interchangeably with NRE, and they are not synonyms.

NRE is that giddy feeling of being "in love" that you have at the beginning of a relationship.  It has some characteristics in common with limerence, but it also has some very important distinctions.  For instance, what it has in common is that, during NRE, you may think about the other person to the extent that you have trouble concentrating on other things. That can be characterized as "intrusive thoughts".  But limerence is *really* about "intrusive thoughts", more like a mental illness has "intrusive thoughts". Those thoughts become downright obsessive.

Limerence also does not require any relationship to actually exist.  It requires the right combination of Hope and Fear - hope for the "limerent object" (i.e. the person you're limerent about, and "object" is really a very accurate term here because they are often objectifying the other person) to reciprocate your feelings and fear that they won't.  People can be limerent about strangers they have never spoken to (like the cute bank teller that you see every payday or the person who always sits 3 seats behind the driver on your bus commute home), and even people they have never come in contact with like celebrities.  In fact, the scary kind of celebrity stalking has all the hallmarks of limerence.

Once you're actually *in* a relationship, limerence is more likely to fade because, now that you've "secured" the relationship, the amount of fear that they don't reciprocate drops (for most people, anyway).  But having a crush on someone who is also willing to be your friend? That's a recipe for maintaining limerence indefinitely because the friendship keeps feeding the hope and the continued not-dating keeps feeding the fear.

One of the hallmark symptoms of limerence is in a particular daydream.  The daydream involves the limerent person in a situation requiring them to save the limerent object's life.  This act of saving them is what finally brings them to the attention of their L.O.  The L.O. falls for them because this selfless act pulls the scales from their eyes and they finally see them as worthy of love.

Many times, this daydream actually results in the limerent person's death, because if they were to actually achieve their goal of obtaining a relationship with the L.O., they would have to live with the reality of relating to another human being, not the perfect angel casing they have constructed around their L.O.  So their "love" remains "pure" and "unsullied" because it is only a moment of sacrifice and recognition, perfect in its transitory nature.

To give an example, a very common daydream for someone suffering limerence is to imagine that they are walking down the street one day, and they pass their L.O. on the street.  Sometimes they come up with elaborate reasons for why the L.O. is in that particular place and time or why they are (mine as a kid was that I finally convinced my parents to take me to this touristy island near where I grew up, where I heard my teeny-bopper celebrity crush liked to hang out).  But regardless, they are both there, on the sidewalk.

Suddenly, a bus comes careening around the corner.  It has no brakes!  It's barreling down, heading right for the L.O.!  They dash across the street, or down the sidewalk, or wherever they are, and make it to their L.O. in the nick of time, pushing them out of the way to save them from the bus, but not quite fast enough to jump to safety themselves.

The L.O. picks themselves up and runs over to where they lay, broken and bloody.  The L.O. cradles their head in their lap and cries.  The L.O. thanks them and profess undying love to them, begging them to please hold on, help will be there soon.  They stare up into the beautiful eyes of their L.O., they smile through the pain, they say it was nothing, that the L.O. deserves to live because the world will be better by having the L.O. in it.  And then they die, held in the arms of the one they love who literally loved them until death did they part.

The daydream does not *need* to have death at the end of it to be a limerence daydream, but it's common. Sometimes, the daydream ends with the saving, but instead of the hero winning the victim, the hero graciously, magnanimously accepts no reward and walks off into the sunset, leaving the L.O. staring wistfully after them.

And this is the connection I just made. This is basically every MRA, incel fantasy (incel = "involuntary celibate"). The reason they are the way that they are is because they have a toxic dose of misogyny mixed with limerence. The whole incel subculture exists for misogynists who are also limerent-prone.

This makes everything make more sense now.

This realization comes because of a story I just read about some dorky dude who saves his L.O. from a would-be mugger while her jock boyfriend freezes, and he saves them all by pulling out a "judo katana" (I shit you not) in the face of a gun and calmly lectures the mugger into fright.  Then his L.O. kisses him in thanks, but he doesn't even smile, he's just "doing his duty".

When I read this story, my first thought was horror at limerence, as it is every time I cross paths with it.  I've always found this obsessive state to be a terrible thing.  But the comments kept mocking this story for the MRA drivel that it is, which I initially overlooked.  So, I was hit by a connection. This entire subculture is completely fueled by limerence and tainted by misogyny, like a particularly potent and noxious gasoline additive. That combination leads to exactly this group of people.

I don't know what to do with this connection that I always kinda knew but never really had it out in front of me before.  But as someone who thinks of limerence as almost a mental disorder, like any other obsessive disorder (disclaimer: I have at least 2 of them myself), I feel that this connection Means Something.

In the book, Love and Limerence by Dorothy Tennov, the author goes on to explain that there are people who are prone to limerence and people who are not prone to limerence (although people not "prone" to it can still have experienced it, just not regularly). And the people who are not prone to it have a very difficult time understanding exactly what it is, but when they do seem to understand it, they all think it sounds like the worst mental state ever to be in. It doesn't sound pleasant at all, it sounds like torture. If they do have a brush with it, they all universally hate the experience and take steps to avoid it in the future.

People who are prone to limerence can range from people who think it's awful to people who think it's fun, much like those who are prone to NRE. It's an emotional roller coaster, and some people enjoy roller coasters while some people don't.

But people who are not prone to limerence have more trouble understanding it. When you read the book, if you think "OMG that's totally me!", then you are probably prone to limerence.  If you read it and say "well, I experience some of these things too, have I ever had limerence?" but then get to the chapter describing what not-limerence is and then give a sigh of relief, you're probably not prone to limerence.

I am *not* prone to limerence, in spite of a brief visit to Limerenceville in my hormonal puberty stage for a handful of teen actors.  To me, I think it sounds like the most horrible awful thing a person can go thorough, but I also really dislike NRE, which is much less ... just less.  Toxic maybe? It'll make you make bad decisions, kinda like being drunk, but I don't think it's *inherently* an objectifying, brain-fucking, selfish mental state to be in, which I think of limerence as.

And to suddenly realize that this is what incels are going through, and the fact that nobody outside of a few narrow "relationship and the brain" communities know about it, means that we have no structures in place for building up defenses for it or treating it once limerence has taken root.  We even have rom-coms ('80s movies are lousy with limerence!) celebrating and rewarding it!  Throw in systemic support for misogyny and boom!  A culture ready-made to create MRA incels.
joreth: (anger)
"These people cut off contact with their own adult-child because they disapproved of them. They DIED never reconciling! Would you really ask someone to make their own parents give them up?!"

Well, since the parents CHOSE to die never having reconciled with their adult-child, then I'd say they deserved what they got.  The parents are not the ones deserving of sympathy in this story, and their feelings are not the ones I'm interested in protecting.

The adult-child, on the other hand, did not deserve to have such shitty parents, but it's also not their fault that the parents disowned them (also, can I point out the inherent issue with the phrase "disowned" involving familial relationships?  Parents are not the "owners" of children, they have their own autonomy, especially once they reach the age of majority and become legally autonomous).

There is no asking of a person to *make their parents* be shitty parents.  The parents are already shitty parents.  That the adult-child does something to trigger a really shitty response doesn't change the fact that the parents were shitty to begin with.  The adult-child's behaviour is the *trigger*, not the cause of the shittiness.

So this is a faulty question to begin with.  Nobody can ask or tell anyone else to *make* their parents do something that their parents are going to do.

For example, my grandfather refused to come to my parents' wedding because my mother is Mexican.  He was racist.  My mother could have asked my father not to marry her, to avoid pushing his father into boycotting the wedding.  Or my mother could have insisted that he marry her anyway, knowing that this would result in a rift between my father and his father.

But in reality, my parents loved each other and my grandfather was a shitty, racist parent.  If they had not gotten married, my grandfather would still have been a shitty, racist parent.  My parents getting married or not getting married didn't change that.  My mom wanting to marry my dad in spite of my grandfather not being there for him didn't MAKE my grandfather not be there for him. My grandfather did that all by himself. Because he was a shitty, racist parent.

And while no child deserves shitty parents, anyone who chooses to cut off contact with a relative deserves to not have that relative in their life anymore.

Sometimes that's a good thing - someone cutting off contact with an abusive relative deserves to have a life free of their abuse.  Sometimes it's a bad thing, but cutting off contact with a decent human being because you feel entitled to how they live their lives means that you fucking deserve to not have them in your life anymore.

So, yeah, if a parent is willing to cut off contact with an adult-child in the first place, particularly for something like the adult-child having the audacity of being their own person, then I am absolutely in favor of whatever anguish they feel at not having their adult-children in their lives anymore because they choose to do it.

There's a really simple way to avoid the pain of losing an adult-child in this particular way - don't be a shitty parent and cut off contact with your adult-children for being their own person or loving people you don't love.  That's not the fault of the adult-child, that's entirely the fault of the shitty parent.
joreth: (being wise)
So, this is interesting. I'm putting together a playlist of love songs that don't suck. Basically, I just want songs that are merely absent of exclusivity in their lyrics and absent of promises of forever. And I'm grading those criteria gently. I recognize that, while I have found tons of songs that *technically* qualify as poly-ISH, in that they're explicitly about multiple partners in one way or another, most of those songs actually suck. They are either poorly produced, or they're joke or satire, or they're just badly written.

So if I want to get all schmoopy with music, I'll settle for songs that I can apply to any individual partner because they don't actively prohibit the presence of others outright or they don't violate autonomy by making promises that can't be kept and so reasonably shouldn't be made. In other words, if I can't have good quality "I love you and you and you" or "I love you, but not to the exclusion of the others I also love" in songs, then I'll take "I love you but without 'forever' and 'only you'".

So, now to my point.

I had the song I'll Be by Edwin McCain in my library. But as I added it to my YouTube playlist, I thought "why don't I just double check the lyrics, in case I'm missing some context that plain text might help me see?"

When I looked up the lyrics, I started to get a little wibbly about its inclusion in the list, what with it's line about "love suicide" and its future tense implying a promise. So I looked up the meaning of the song, and I learned that it was never intended as a love song, but of a guy processing his feelings during a breakup.

And, ironically, his explanation actually made me feel better about including it as a love song that doesn't suck.
"It was the end of a relationship for me, and it was also an admission of my inability to function in a relationship, hence the love suicide line. And it was the hope that I would be better, grow and be better as a person. I was struggling with some personal problems at the time, as well, so it was all of those things. It was this admission of failure and this prayer that I could be a better person, wrapped up as sort of the end of a relationship kind of thought. "
To me, an admission of one's faults that contributed to the demise of a relationship and the motivation to become a better person through one's experience in a relationship IS a song about love. Maybe the relationship ended, but he is taking responsibility for his own part in the demise, he is using the experience to be a better version of himself and to grow, and he is not holding onto bitterness when he says he'll continue to be a fan of her and her work. Those are very loving acts.

I wish all breakups were as positive as that, even though this particular breakup was traumatic for him. Some breakups are relatively painless (but likely a little bit uncomfortable), and some are just fucking torture. But if this is how we come away from them, regardless of how much they hurt to go through, I will have considered that a successful ending (or "transition").
joreth: (polyamory)
Holidays in polyamory, even the "romantic" ones are much the same as any other holiday, only maybe with more schedules to consult (honestly, with 2 kids, godparents, and extended relatives, it's not any more schedules to consult than my monogamous childhood).
  • Many polys spend V-Day alone because they don't have any partners at the moment, like single people.
     
  • Many polys spend V-Day alone because their partners are long distance, like many monogamous people such as couples with one or both in active duty military service overseas.
     
  • Many polys spend V-Day alone because they didn't win the priority to get that exact day to celebrate, like a lot of partnered people whose partners work in emergency services and have to work that day.
     
  • Many polys spend V-Day alone because they don't celebrate, like some monogamous people who are conscientious objectors.
     
  • Many polys spend V-Day with partners but not doing anything different than any other day because they don't celebrate, like some monogamous people who are conscientious objectors.
     
  • Many polys celebrate V-Day on alternate days, like many monogamous people who are busy on the exact day like when it falls in the middle of the week, and polys might choose to celebrate on alternate days for the same busyness reasons or because they have multiple partners so they have multiple celebrations.
     
  • Many polys celebrate V-Day with as many of their partners and metamours as they can get at the same time, just like many monogamous people who celebrate a romantic holiday with their partners and their friends, or make it a family holiday with the kids, or with their entire extended families.
It's really no different than being monogamous (meaning that there are all kinds of ways to celebrate holidays even among monogamous people), and it doesn't *have* to be a big, stressful thing - at least, it doesn't have to be a *different* stressful thing. Some of y'all want to make this holiday really important and then stress out about it, no matter how many partners y'all have.

It's really very simple. Ask your partners how they feel about the holiday. Then find the compromise that makes everyone feel cared for without putting anyone out too much. If this is a big deal to one or more partners, then make it a big deal. If it's not, then don't. Express your own preferences too.

Go out together as a group. Have your own coupley dates all on different days. Give gifts. Don't give gifts. Deliberately avoid the materialistic, couple-centric commercialism by NOT celebrating your romantic relationships, but by celebrating your *metamour* relationships instead. 

It's really not any different from monogamous people, except for a small percentage of us who might have group sex. That's probably different from monogamy. Depending on your definition of "monogamy".  But other than that, most of us celebrate like monogamous people do. If you're new to poly and stressing out about how to celebrate: relax. It doesn't have to be any more complicated than the holiday normally is.

But a word of caution - if you're new to this and you're starting out by "opening up", make a point to ask your newer partners what their feelings are on the subject, and try to prioritize *their* feelings, because they get the short end of the stick in most other things.

And if there's really a conflict between your partners, then opt for either the group date or the alternate dates where *nobody* gets The Day for themselves. Part of learning to be ethically poly is learning that we all have to give up some of our privileges and expectations in order for everyone to feel safe enough to want to concede theirs in return. You learn to trust by giving trust. You get their cooperation by being cooperative at them.

For those who do celebrate some version of Valentine's Day, consider sending your *metamours* V-Day cards or gifts, taking your metamours out for dinner instead of (or in addition to) your partners, and if you're into the whole gift thing, consider mother-jewelry to symbolize polyamory with birthstones to represent everyone in the polycule instead of the typical exclusive-heart type jewelry.

I mean, it can be emotionally challenging to figure out how to celebrate romantic holidays when one has multiple partners - who is going to be left out by not getting the fancy dinner on that exact day? So subvert that by sending the partners off and take your metamours out instead. Or go out with everyone all at once, and have the one-on-one dates *all* on some other day so that nobody gets The Day but everyone together does.

Send a card to your metamour telling them how much they mean to you. Buy your partners and metamours jewelry that has room for more-than-one like mom- or dad-jewelry with birthstones. Turn a mono-centric, commercial holiday into a celebration of non-mono relationships with very little extra effort - just take your metamours into consideration and prioritize them instead of your romantic connections for this one day.

And what about metafores? Those former metamours who are basically still family even though you no longer have a mutual partner? Those people who, in some cases, are "the best thing I got out of my relationship with our partner was you"? Why not spend this day appreciating their place in your life, a place they might not occupy had it not been for a partner who is no longer in the picture? Send them a "glad you're in my life" card or FB post too!

Me, personally, instead of Valentine's day, I'll be celebrating Villaintine's Day by wishing my metamours and metametamours a happy Villaintine's Day and possibly scheming with my Villaintines, as good Villaintines do.

#MadEngineer #Chaosbunny #KillerOfDreams #TheOutsideContractor #HarbringerDestine #VillaintinesDay #SinglesAwarenessDay #NeverTooEarlyToStartPlanningWorldDomination #IMeanGangingUpOnMutualPartners #IMeanExpressingLoveAndGratitudeForMyPolycule #PolyHolidays
joreth: (::headdesk::)
Monkey Brain:  Winter is coming.

Me:  That fucking show! This is Florida, it's not that dramatic.

Monkey Brain:  You must bulk up for the winter. You need calories.

Me:  Shut up, I do not. It's frickin' 86 degrees outside and anyway, I have heat at the house.

Monkey Brain:  Winter is coming.

Me:  Stop saying that!

Monkey Brain:  Eat all the things.

Me:  I DO NOT NEED INSULATION FOR WINTER!

Monkey Brain:  Chocolate. Pastries. Cheese. Sugar. Carbs. Winter is coming.

Me:  I hate you.

#EatingSeason #BrainChemistrySucks
joreth: (cool)
Just finished The Punisher [on November 27th]. I really liked it. Maybe not Luke Cage caliber but better than Daredevil and I really liked Daredevil. I think I'd put it in the same category, for me, as Jessica Jones. Both characters are just so fucking broken.

I thought that Luke Cage was possibly a better quality of script and story, but I liked the tragic damage of Jessica Jones better. Punisher had that same tragic damage. Where Jessica Jones explored the woman's experience of abuse and PTSD through domestic violence, and *finally* showed us a dimensional female character who is messy and complex, Punisher showed us a man's experience of toxic masculinity and addressing violent trauma from within a violent worldview.

"How do you live in the silence between gunshots?"

So basically any Netflix Marvel story that doesn't involve Danny Rand is worth watching.

Huh, here's an interesting thought: in a surprising turn of events, the woman, black man, blind man, and working class man all have depth and nuance while the rich white guy is flat, sullen, whiny, foolish, boorish, and manages to make even the group dynamic all about him.

So, like real life then.
joreth: (strong)
www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/what-its-like-to-win-the-lottery-as-a-woman/2017/11/24/c90f67ea-cd69-11e7-9d3a-bcbe2af58c3a_story.html

When I was in junior high and high school, my teachers and administration were all very good about telling us what domestic violence looked like. I vowed at an early age that if anyone ever so much as raised a hand to me, whether he followed through or not, whether he expressed remorse afterwards or not, there would be no second chances. I was vocal about this vow. I told everyone how I felt about anger and violence. I didn't even allow anyone to touch me in any manner if they were angry. And I have never been in a physically violent relationship.

But what my schools were not good about was explaining the more subtle forms of violence - emotional and sexual abuse. Sure, we knew that "no means no", but nobody ever mentioned what it meant to have him keep you up all night, every night, begging for sex, so that you suffered chronic sleep deprivation over a series of weeks, and what that sleep deprivation does to you emotionally and physically, so that eventually you say yes just to get a full 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Nobody explained when yes means no.

So by the time I reached my mid 30s, I believed I had only been in one abusive relationship, and that it didn't "stick" because I got myself out relatively quickly and easily. And even that relationship I didn't recognize as abusive until years afterwards. I just thought he was a dick.

The thing with emotional abuse is that it tears down your sense of self, of who you are, right to your core, so that you end up hollow and empty, not a real person anymore. And that's something that, for some reason, I have never had taken away from me. So, in a sense, I was correct that abuse aimed at me doesn't "stick". In that sense, I am a lottery winner.

But the author of this piece talks of being stalked, but never touched. That's what makes her a lottery winner. I, however, was "touched", many times by many abusers. I just didn't recognize it, so I could turn my back and walk away.

I dated someone whose victim tried to tell me in that incomprehensible way that victims call out for help but that nobody can understand. He didn't touch me, so I didn't see it. Until he did try to touch me. And even then, I still averted my eyes. I tried to reassure him, certain that his unreasonable behaviour was merely insecurity that, if I could just reassure him enough, he'd learn to move past.

But he didn't want reassurance, he wanted control. So when I reassured but didn't bend to his control (it didn't stick), *he* dumped *me*, to the shock of everyone closest to us. To everyone who was close enough to know, I was his healthiest and most stable relationship at that time. Literally every other relationship in his life was falling apart at the seams. Nobody anticipated our break, or that he would be the one to initiate.

I won the lottery. I saw what happened to those for whom his abuse did "stick".

Abusive tactics are taught as a matter of course in this culture. They are celebrated in pop culture, they are modeled in our parents, they are accepted by all as The Way Things Should Be. Everyone has picked up some of these tactics somewhere along the line and everyone has used them or excused them in their own behaviour and on behalf of others.

But the vast majority of that time, they are not in "abusive relationships". They are not performed as a foundational part of an overarching goal to dominate and control another. They are often used as ... time savers. Someone wants a certain outcome, manipulating the flow of information just a little is easier. A child won't eat her brussel sprouts, says she doesn't like them. Mom gaslight her "yes you do" because it's just too much effort to have a reasonable conversation with a finicky 3 year old and because her mom told her the same thing so it obviously can't be all that bad of a tactic.

In my relationships, however, it has taken me until nearly middle age to recognize that a harried mom trying to get her kid to eat healthy is not the same kind of disempowering, entitled sense of possession the gaslighting, coercion, manipulation, and controlling that most of my exes have done to me - that what my exes did to me isn't as dismissable as what that exhausted mom does to her child even though it's the same *tactic*. I just didn't recognize what my exes did to me as abuse at the time because nobody told me what it looked like and it didn't "stick".

I won the lottery. I've bedded down with wolves and didn't get eaten, although I got nicked a bit here and there. I won the lottery. So far.
joreth: (polyamory)
I have, on occasion, offered to host "guest posts" for people I know who wanted to write something they felt was important but didn't feel like their own platform was the appropriate place for it, for whatever reason. I'm not really known as a blogger with a large audience, but I figure with my history of topics I can probably afford to host certain posts when others can't or would rather not.

So, today I'm providing a platform for Leni Hester on Facebook, who wrote the following post in a group that I and others felt would make an excellent public resource and reference article. They asked for name attribution only, no link-backs. Linked references and commentary at the bottom added by me.



A PSA for Unicorn Hunters! For those of us who enjoy playing with couples, here are some things I wish you would keep in mind:
  1. I'm HUMAN. Unicorn hunting sounds really icky and violent.

  2. The risk is ALL mine. If anything goes wrong between us, I mean ANYTHING--she gets insecure, he loses his 'momentum', indigestion, I tell a joke you don't find funny, you name it--I'm the one who pays. It'll be "okay, party's over, please get dressed and get out" and no matter how I feel, i get to drive home in tears while you two do self-care and cuddle.

  3. Couple Privilege. Yes I know your relationship is the center of your lives. It is not the center of MINE. If protecting the "sanctity" of your relationship supersedes my physical health, my safety, my feelings, and my time--it's obvious y'all don't want a lover. Y'all want a sextoy. Please check out Babes in Toyland for an inanimate object, and leave the actual human beings alone.

  4. One Penis Policy. Hahahahahahaha! You're hilarious, bro.

  5. Babysitting and House chores. No, I will not watch Chad Jr. and Becky Marie while you have date night. I know for a fact, you will NOT pay me for that time. You want me to help clean up before we have a date? Sure! Then I expect YOU BOTH to come over and help me paint or help me move. Not holding my breath.

  6. Ghosting. Eventually you two will meet someone cuter, hotter or less intimidating to the wife, at which point I will be expected to have the good manners to just disappear. My hurt feelings will be proof that I'm crazy, my anger will be proof I'm a bitch, and the fact that I had sex with you will be used against me.

  7. Offended by this? If y'all can't behave courteously, that's not on me. Maybe look into why these simple boundaries feel unreasonable, and be honest: do you really want to be poly? If you want the sex but hate having to care for another person, maybe poly is not for you. Figure this out before you pull another person into your drama.


And this shouldn't need to be said, but it does:  This is not the place for #NotAllUnicornHunters.  We already know that there are people out there who happen to already be partnered and who happen to like threesomes and triads but who aren't doing these kinds of things.  Congratulations, you don't suck.  But instead of centering yourselves yet again by reminding everyone here that you're Not One Of THOSE Couples, you could instead talk to *other couples* and tell them not to be like this. 

People who are technically part of a privileged group but who consciously and conscientiously object to a stratified privileged society don't tend to feel offended or insulted or even guilty when people who are part of a disenfranchised group talk about the problems between the groups.  They already know that they're not the targets or the objects of the criticism, so they don't take it personally and they can really hear the criticism without feeling attacked.  And they can feel secure in turning to others in their group to say "see this?  This is a problem that our group contributes to.  As a member of this group, I think we can do better."

So if you're not one of Those Couples, then be one of these other kinds of couples instead.  *We* are not the ones who need to know, in this space, that you are an exception to the rule.  It's your brethren who need to know that you are not one of Those Couples and you disapprove of those who are, that you will not defend them or hide them, that you will stand up to them and help us make our communities less welcoming to their toxicity.

We don't need to hear yet again that #NotAllCouples.  We need to see it by your actions, which includes not centering yourselves in our discussions, but signal-boosting and supporting us in the spaces where we aren't normally heard.
joreth: (polyamory)
https://medium.com/@PolyamoryINC/the-most-skipped-step-when-opening-a-relationship-f1f67abbbd49
"What you didn’t realize when you were living in the cocoon of a monogamous relationship is how much of a monogamous relationship is a favorable breeding ground for codependence. ...

Disentanglement will help 90% of that go away. And it’s rather simple. And you can do it all before you ever go on a single date.

Step 1 - Pick a night, any night, and leave. ...

Step 2 - Make the night random. ...

Step 3 - Get comfortable having to ask each other for date nights. ...

Step 4 - Now, and only now, ease into dating other people."

This. Thisthisthisthisthis.

All of this.

There is only one thing I would amend this with:

This article is about not subsuming your identity into your relationships (usually into your couple) and how avoid doing that. It calls this a single step - disentanglement - but then goes on to give 4 steps on how to disentangle yourselves from a codependent (read: monogamous) relationship. It even insists that people who intend to remain monogamous learn how to disentangle themselves for their own relationship health, which I totally agree.

In the last step, you finally get to the part where you "open up" your relationship and start dating people. I totally agree that you should do all this other work first, so the dating part will be a long, slow process because you have to do this other stuff first.

This article *does* point out that people have trouble keeping to plans and to learn to forgive yourself for not following the timeline exactly. So what I'd like to amend is really very nitpicky and only because I've seen people who don't engage in polyamory in good faith abuse this otherwise well-intentioned advice.  But I think it's *really* important, important enough to mention.

The article insists that you start out dating slow - only once a month, and then not until a few months in do you start kissing, and another month in for making out, etc. What I don't want to see happen is for couples to make "agreements" that they won't have a date night with a new partner more than once a month for 4 months, and then they won't kiss their new partner until month 5, and they won't start making out with their new partner until month 6, etc.

This guideline is supposed to teach you how to *disentangle* yourself from your partner. If you start making *agreements* with each other that dictate what you can and can't do with people who are not present there to negotiate the agreement, and when you can and can't do them, that's the exact opposite of learning how to disentangle yourself.

Yes, please learn how to be an independent individual while partnered before you stick your toes in the poly pool. PLEASE do this first! But don't then undo all that work by sitting down with your spouse and making "agreements" with each other about how quickly or slowly your forays into dating will go.

The point of the slow speed in the article is to make sure that you really learn to disentangle yourselves first, to give yourselves time to become full people again, and not these weird amalgamated conjoined spouses. The point of the slow speed is not to then yank yourselves back together with agreements that dictate other people's behaviour, particularly if it feels contrary to the wants and desires of those people who are behaving and who aren't the one enforcing the agreement.

Yes, we absolutely want you to take things slow - as slow as you need to! Just don't shoot yourselves in the foot by doing exactly the opposite of the whole point of this advice, which is to become independent people. Don't follow up all that hard work learning how to be whole and complete with some kind of "rule" or "agreement" to connect you back together again.

The article even says that this monthly timeline thing is a *guideline*. If you don't happen to have anyone of interest when you're ready for this step, then make it a *personal* goal to try dating once a month because that's a pretty reasonable goal to start with. But then once you meet someone and you're ready to start dating them, make sure you talk to them directly about your concerns and your process and decide *with them* how frequently the two of you will share this experience together.

Because let me tell you, as the new partner feeling New Relationship Excitement, seeing you, their new love interest, only once a month *fucking sucks*.  It's going to feel like torture not seeing you for a whole month, doubly so if the reason is because "I made a promise to my spouse and they won't let me go out with you more often" (which adds resentment on top of the yearning), so get their input on how often they want to see you and how often you are both available to see each other before making any decisions about frequency.

Then you can let your existing partner know what you've *decided* with your new partner and work with your existing partner on reassuring them or compensating for your time apart, or whatever it is that needs to happen so that the decision *you've made with the new partner's input* can be acted on with consideration.

Remember, the whole point is to become independent people engaged in an interdependent relationship. Don't undo all your hard work with old, codependent habits.

joreth: (polyamory)
Not too long ago, Professor Sex contacted me and asked if I had some extra energy reserves to address a question she had. She asked, if I was on a poly/CNM social networking site (not a dating site but there are no moderators/rules about dating etc.) and I see the following post: "Hey folks, we are a secured married couple in seek of a third to complete our triad. Any women in our state?" --- if I were to assume that they were well meaning and just needed to be educated, how would I reply to that?

So I wrote out a long response. And a whole ton of it got used in an article addressing Unicorn Hunters! I think it's a great article (not just because it uses so much of my own material) and I'm so pleased to have something like this I can bookmark and link to in all the forums whenever this subject comes up. I like it because the tone is so much nicer than I usually end up being because I'm out of patience, and yet it doesn't mince any words or pussyfoot around the subject, or even make allowances. That's a really hard line to toe.

I even got to throw some love out to my dear metamour, Maxine, when the link to her blog post about poly unicorn math was included. Remember, I have now added tags for all my blog articles on Unicorn Hunting, Hierarchy, Couple Privilege, Triads, and Solo Poly, which are all related to the subject of this article. Most of the posts under those tags are decidedly not so polite in tone.  But if you're looking for more of my opinions on the subject, they can be found here.

I was also asked a second question, which may or may not find its way into another article someday.

In your opinion, is there an ethical way to "unicorn hunt"?

No. The term was specifically coined to describe an unethical practice. By definition, it is unethical. The words themselves mean "mythological, non-human creature" and "predatory". It is a label for behaviour that is dehumanizing, objectifying, and predatory. I write more about how and why it's unethical on my blog.

There is, however, an ethical way to form a triad that happens to have two bisexual women and one straight man - and that's by simply being one of those people and managing to run into the other two people and having the relationship form naturally out of the compatibility between those people. Don't try for one. Be open about who you are and what you have to offer a relationship, and be open to meeting all kinds of people and considering all kinds of relationships. An FMF triad may form out of the people you meet that way, and if it happens organically, without any prescripting of roles or having anybody in the relationship tell another person in the relationship what they can and can't do with their own bodies, minds, or emotions, then it might be an ethical FMF triad.

Don't try to find people for the spaces in your life, find spaces for the people in your life.
joreth: (polyamory)
I want to respond to everyone who ever utters the phrase "open our relationship" with the following:
Stop saying that phrase. Every time you want to say that, replace it with "deconstruct our relationship and reconstruct it as a new, open relationship". And then start *seeing* your relationship as a brand new relationship that is open, not an existing relationship that is identical in every way to the old one except now you can talk to or fuck other people.

Because you are not "opening up". You have to rebuild your relationship from the ground up, with new paradigms and new assumptions and new expectations.  Your new partners are not entering an existing relationship, even if they date both of you. They are constructing WITH YOU a whole new set of structures.

You are not adding on a rumpus room to an existing house that doesn't change anything about the rest of the house and where you can conveniently close the door when you want to pretend that it doesn't exist.

You are building a whole new building complex with multiple structures that interact with each other and share infrastructure while maintaining separate other elements that all add up to one beautiful complex of dwellings that each inhabitant ought to have, not just a say in designing, but the *final* say in designing the part in which they inhabit over anyone who lives in other parts.

So stop saying you want to "open up your relationship". You're not "opening up". You need to "deconstruct" your relationship, and rebuild something totally new that might have some similar elements, like all houses have plumbing, or whatever, but it's still a new relationship with new assumptions and expectations and totally different property lines.

Don't say you are "opening up", say you are "deconstructing" your relationship and constructing new ones.
I think if we all start using this language instead, it will really hammer the point home and make everyone think about what they're doing in a different way, which will hopefully lead to more intentional, more compassionate, and less fearful relationship practices.

You can't "protect" your "existing relationship" if that relationship is already gone because you're deconstructing it to build something totally new. Raze it to the ground, like any construction project requires you to remove what's there before you start building something new.

And, like any good construction project, you start with the foundation that will properly support the rest of the structures. Don't build something on top of a foundation that wasn't intended for this type of building in the first place.

(For more on this subject, click on the tags below, especially for unicorn hunting and couple privilege)

joreth: (feminism)
Women aren't "more complicated". Women actually have very simple needs - safety, love, companionship; mostly safety. But the world we live in is complicated.  We have to do a lot of mental calculus to try and stay safe. Sometimes, it takes Rube Goldbergian levels of precautions to maintain our safety.  So, when you think that "women are complicated", what you're actually seeing is "men make women do complicated things to protect themselves".

And that's why you can't "figure women out" - there isn't a single formula to "what women want" because 1) women are not all the same person, and 2) if we were that easy to "figure out", then we'd lose our safety net.  If those men who are dangerous figured out how we were protecting ourselves from them, we'd lose our protection. So we are invested in maintaining the illusion that everything is OK, that we like you, and that you're wonderful.

But since that's clearly a lie, you may occasionally see the cracks in our stories. We're not "complicated", keeping men placated is a complicated job. Sometimes we're not always seamless about it.

If you want women to not be "complicated" with you, then YOU have to put in the effort to prove that you're trustworthy enough for the women in your life to put away the survival tactics. That will take time and patience on your part.  And even then, some women may never put away the tactics. And they don't have to. They don't owe you their trust. Feeling entitled to that trust because you're "one of the good guys" pretty much makes you one of those guys they need the safety tactics for in the first place.

That's how complicated you guys make it.



This rant follows up my previous rant on Women As Feral Cats and inspired by the following collection of tweets:
"Seeing some folks I follow circulating a point that's worth drawing a bit of attention to. One of the oldest canards in low-denominator comedy is that women are inscrutable and men can't understand them. There's a reason for this and it ain't funny.

By the time a man reaches adulthood he has probably heard that women constantly say one thing and mean another, and that they are impossible to understand at least a thousand times. To some extent he probably believes this to be true.

And to a degree it is. Women VERY frequently say one thing and mean another, display expressions or reactions that don't jibe with their feelings, and so on. But it's actually really easy to decode once you understand why it happens. It is survival behavior.

While some men choose to become skilled dissemblers, men are not -required- to learn very much subterfuge at all -- looking calm while you'd like to strangle your boss is the biggie. Women face a completely different situation.

Women spend their lives surrounded by people who are, on average, bigger than they are, socially privileged over them, both more inclined to immediate anger (testosterone is a hell of a thing) AND more socially encouraged to express it, and best of all? Cherry on top?

Some of these dudes around them are extremely dangerous, others are not, and most of the time it is impossible to tell the two apart on sight, or even from extended contact. Often the only way to find out is to say or do something that might make a man blow up and see if he does.

This is not a great way of finding out what kind of guy a woman is dealing with for the same reason we don't use pogo sticks to test for buried land mines. It's often th eonly one available, though. So, VERY SENSIBLY, women will generally just opt not to run the test.

What that means is smiling at a man's flirting in a closed or isolated space, or laughing at an uncomfortable joke because the room is full of men and all of them are laughing.

Men are not only -not- required to learn dissembling, they -are- taught to seek affirmation of self-worth from women. They take these reactions at face value because they very much want to. And this can build uncomfortable or dangerous cycles and relationships.

Lemme be real clear on this point: Women do this because the way our society is currently set up, they have absolutely no better option available to them. They quite rightly value their safety over offering legibility to people who might seriously hurt or even kill them.

So while this may be frustrating to guys, it is not on women to behave differently as long as the social baseline for masculine behaviour is a toxic stew of lionized violence and anger. They're gonna smile and laugh as long as a huge % of men present a serious potential threat.

But let's say that you weren't raised by fucking spiders and your reaction to this isn't annoyance but instead serious concern, because you DON'T want to freak women out but now you realize you might have been reading "oh god go away" as "yes chat me up more in this elevator."

A few simple tells that you're doing something that's putting a woman's hackles up, which will follow outward affirmative signals: She leaves the area; she changes the subject; she moves herself or the two of you toward other people, esp. other women; she doesn't flirt/joke back; or, her rejoinder doesn't match what you put out there-- a compliment, for example, eliciting "thanks" or "haha" rather than a return compliment. All of these have a good chance of translating to "you are overstepping my boundaries but I don't feel safe saying so."

There's a good chance that when you spot this, your frist instinct is going to be to say something like "Am I making you uncomfortable?" or "Did I say something wrong?" That's what a good dude would ask, right? Welllll it's not the worst response but it's not a good one, either.

Those questions have a very good chance of getting back a response calculated to calm you down rather than an honest answer, because you have STILL offered no real indication you won't blow up when rebuffed. You see, those are also questions an irritated dude would ask.

It puts the woman on the spot and makes her pull off an immediate calculation-- is this guy actually concerned or is he feeling offended because he realized that wasn't a real laugh? Am I in more danger now, or less?

If you are in doubt it's usually best to back off, provide some breathing room, and then once the situation has a low threat index (non-confined space, potentially supportive people nearby), boot up honesty.exe:

"Hey, if the jokes about clown dicks are over the line, please let me know and I'll cut that out." Not just interrogation about her real feelings, but proactive information about the reaction that an honest response will provoke from you.

That's not some kind of cheat-code to human interaction, mind. People are complicated as fuck and women don't come off an assembly line at a factory.

But it's generally a better base-line set of guidelines for social navigation than either taking everything at face value or assuming the female mind was forged from the same inscrutable mystic bullshit as Harry Potter's wand.

Oh and this should go without saying but if you put forward the promise that you're not going to blow up, for the love of fuck, STICK TO IT. Offering a guy candor is an act of trust, be worthy of it.

tl;dr: Women have simple needs (safety) and live in a more dangerous world than men, which requires more precautions to maintain safety than most dudes have to worry about. Mocking them or getting mad at them for exercising basic safety precautions is an asshole move.

Understand the world you're part of, practice empathy for people who got dealt a different hand in the game of life than you did, and don't be an asshole, the world has too many of those already. It's not that hard once you know what you're doing. The End."
~ Holden Shearer
joreth: (Xmas Kitties)
For me, the difficulty I have with holidays is not about having to spend time with family (either of origin or of choice). Even though I am MUCH more radical on just about every single topic than almost all of them (with the exception of my immediate polycule, the Tangle, who I *don't* get to spend holidays with anyway because of distance), I still like spending holiday time with family.

The difficulty I have is when the holiday gatherings include people my family is close to. So, like, if I host something, it's all people I get along with. But if I go to their house, usually the only people I connect with are the ones I bring with me and the hosts. Because I am the more radical one, my friends are less radical. And then they have friends who are less radical, or otherwise different from them, and those friends have spouses who are similarly more conservative than the friends-of-friends, and so on and so forth.

So, for me, the difficulty of holidays is the anxiety of attending a gathering which will have a high but unknown probability of running into someone who has a perspective that I strongly, personally, disagree with, and I'll have to do mental calculus about how to respond.  Even choosing to do nothing takes a mental toll on me, so just being in that space with that person is exhausting and trying.

These days, I'm becoming more and more anxious and undesiring of attending social functions simply because I don't want to deal with "friends of friends" who are, say, Trump supporters, or who casually joke about rape, or who throw in the random mildly racist statement (even if it's "benevolent" racism), or who feel the need to remark "well, to each his own, but *I* couldn't do it!" when they first figure out that I'm poly, etc.

Like, even when I choose to let it all slide so that I never once get into an argument, I still don't want to deal with it. A part of me wants to say "I like you well enough, but your friends suck and I can't pretend to be nice to them anymore, even though they're being perfectly polite to me."

But if I did that every time I got an invitation to something, I'd literally never leave my house or socialize again. Because there's ALWAYS someone around who says or thinks something awful, and even though socializing takes energy because I'm an introvert, I'm still human, which is a social species, so I still need some social contact.

But today I'm feeling it. I had absolutely no bad or awkward encounters on Thanksgiving. Nobody said anything within my earshot to make me uncomfortable. But I was on edge the whole time waiting for it.

And I'm thinking about all the other upcoming holiday parties - parties that I actively want to attend - and thinking about all the different times that I'm going to be feeling this anxiety about dealing with people I don't like when I'm there to have a good time.

And today, I just don't wanna.
joreth: (Bad Computer!)
I am so sick of people excusing -isms because "that's just how things were back then." My grandfather was a decent employer to his Mexican fieldhands who worked in his orchards. He was still fucking racist. He didn't attend my parents' wedding - his own son! - because my mother is Mexican.

Women weren't allowed to be sexual, so they had to "allow" a man to "entice" them into sexual situations, so it wouldn't be "her fault". That's still fucking sexist and rapey, even if "everyone did it that way". The very definition of Rape Culture is that coercion, manipulation, assault, and rape are so normalized in society that it's "just how things are".

Benevolent -isms go hand-in-hand with malicious -isms. The "nice" version can't exist without the "bad" version. And, in fact, when someone upholds the "nice" version, they are more likely to "punish" someone for failing to live up to the high standards and fit in the narrow box of the "nice" version.

So, like, women are "nurturing", which is heralded as a virtue, right? Until a woman *isn't* "nurturing", and then she's punished for it and forced back into that role.

So, sure, the people "back then" didn't see anything racist or sexist or whatever-ist about what they were doing. IT WAS STILL FUCKING RACIST OR SEXIST OR WHATEVER-IST.

Maybe they can't be "blamed" for "not knowing any better", but I can still fucking hate examples of them reveling in their ignorance because their behaviour violates my own value system and what they "didn't know any better" about "back then" is WHY I'M FIGHTING WITH RACIST SEXIST WHATEVER-IST ASSHOLES STILL TODAY.

That behaviour "back then" directly led to everything I'm fighting against now, and the struggle to maintain control over my own agency every single fucking day. Because "back then" is the precedent that we still haven't crawled out of.

Today, we supposedly "know better", but the whole fucking reason we're in the political mess we're in is because enough people wanted to go back to the "good ol' days" when all that shit was "just how things are" and nobody seemed to mind because they didn't have the power to speak up if they did.

So no, I'm not going to forgive my predecessors just because they "didn't know any better back then", because they're the reason why things are still fucked up today.
joreth: (feminism)
B movie idea: Bad action flick of a wildly implausible conspiracy story with kung fu Hilary Clinton a la Sigourney Weaver in Defenders.

How much better would Defenders have been as satire mocking "Hilary kills all her rivals" conspiracists? White, privileged, whiney Rand makes more sense in this context - poor little rich kid mad at the white lady taking over the world and making teh menz feel bad about themselves.

I'm thinking an Inglorious Basterds absurdist romp where Hilary is just over the top karate awesome and evil, personally assassinating her rivals and co-conspirators alike to build her empire and keep her secrets. Alexandra Clinton running around spin-kicking Berniebros and Donny Jr. getting his ass handed to him by the evil Progressive Alliance while he stares torturedly into the distance at how much his rich life sucks?

And, seriously, cast Sigourney Weaver. She did Galaxy Quest, she can do action and satire simultaneously.
joreth: (anger)
Gaten Matarazzo, who plays Dustin on “Stranger Things”, says that he couldn't get any acting jobs for 2 years because of his condition. He says that "they couldn’t write in a disability into the show because they had already written the script.”

Hey, writers! You don't actually have to write in a disability into a show. People with disabilities have lives. They have adventures. They have friends and families and enemies. They do things and they know things.

If Stranger Things had never added that one tiny scene where one of the friends teases Dustin about his lisp, and Dustin says "I told you a million times, my teeth are coming in, it's called cleidocranial dysplasia", the show would have been EXACTLY THE SAME.

You don't have to give people with disabilities a "reason" for existing in the story. You don't have to give women a "reason" for existing in the story. You don't have to give people of color a "reason" for existing in the story. You don't have to give trans people a "reason" for existing in the story. You don't have to give not-straight people a reason for existing in the story.

A story happens, people are part of it, and lots of times, those people happen to be people with disabilities, or women, or POC, or trans, or gay, or bi, or anything other than white straight cismen.  Just write the fucking story, and then cast someone who can deliver the lines convincingly in it. Or, if it's a text-based medium, just write the fucking story and then change around some of the pronouns or descriptors just because.

Like, the terrible Tom Cruise version of War of the Worlds could have been the exact same fucking movie if you had cast a woman in the role, or a person of color, or someone with a hearing challenge. Especially since the character didn't survive by some amazing abilities that he magically had exactly the right ones at the right time (like most of Tom Cruise's movies), but he survived pretty much on pure, blind luck (which is one of the many reasons I hated the film).

Straight white men don't need any particular "reason" to be in stories. Nobody writes a story and then says "wait a minute, we need a reason why he's straight and white for him to be doing this... I know! Let's write in a series of awkward flashbacks showing his struggle growing up where he likes girls or he doesn't experience racism, and how that leads him on his path to where he is today!"

We don't need to create a romantic subplot to give the women a reason to be in the story. We don't need to set a movie in the "ghetto" to give the character a reason to be black (which is different from setting a movie in the "ghetto" because we want to tell the experience of being in the "ghetto"). We don't need to explain away a character's disability if the story isn't actually about their disability.

Stories don't need to be rewritten to accommodate disabled people, or women, or POC, or anyone else. Only if the story itself is about the experience of being that particular kind of person. But an action film? A drama? A comedy? Just talking about people's lives and adventures? We all have them.

If their disability literally prevents them from doing the thing (like, probably a deaf character couldn't be one of those safe-crackers who listens to the tumblers to open safes), then, OK.  But, like, this one actor with cerebral palsy talked about auditioning for a character *who had cerebral palsy*. She wasn't hired because the director was afraid her disability would prevent her from being able to physically handle the role.

As she pointed out, SHE HAS CEREBRAL PALSY. If SHE can't do those things, then the CHARACTER CAN'T EITHER.

So, just write your fucking stories and then cast people in them who can deliver the lines. You don't need to "write into the script" something to explain away your casting choice unless you are directly contradicting something in the script. "The character existed and had relationships and adventures" is not directly contradicting things like "the character also has a disability" or "the character also has a vagina" or "the character also has brown skin".
joreth: (anger)
I see a lot of people say things like "I wish I had known this lesson before, then I wouldn't have ..." I've said it myself. But I also spend LOTS of time repeating things in poly forums that the community has collectively learned over the decades the hard way.

In my more cynical moments, I don't think most of us would really have changed things had we known because some of this shit WAS known. I see plenty of people being told what will happen, who get *mad* that people are warning them, and go off and do it anyway.

How many times have you had someone ask your advice, not listened to you, the thing you predicted happened, then they complain about it happening? Or they do it again next opportunity?

My ranting on the internet is predicated on the premise that we don't need to burn our own hands in order to learn that fire is hot. Our entire educational system is based on the idea that people learn things the hard way first and then we tell others about it so we can keep moving forward as a society, each new generation standing on the shoulders of those who came before.

But no, let's continue to fuck up our relationships and governments as if we've never seen or done this shit before. And then wail about "if only we'd known ahead of time, we would have done it differently!"

Y'all know. You just don't want to know.
joreth: (Default)
 
This is pretty accurate, I think. I'm on the Relaxed side of the spectrum but not very far, so I have some bits of On Edge anxiety. I'm also on the Engaging edge of the spectrum but just *barely*, so I have a lot of Avoidant traits too:

Relaxed-Engaging (Secure): Relaxed-Engaging individuals tend to have good self-esteem and typically find it easy to share their feelings and opinions with others. They spend less time fretting and second-guessing themselves than individuals in the other three quadrants, [all me] and they generally find it easy to ask others for help or support when in need [I do not find it easy to ask for help].

They are usually straightforward and trusting in their relations with others [I am straightforward, but not always so trusting], and their usual state is one of being open, approachable, and relaxed [I am open but I am not always perceived as "approachable" because some people find me intimidating, apparently]. For this reason, they typically have fewer interpersonal defenses than others [this is patently not me - I have tons of interpersonal defenses].

They naturally seek to connect with others while remaining realistic about the transformative power of intimate relationships: Relaxed-Engaging individuals don't expect to be swept off their feet, or to have their entire world turned upside-down by the arrival of some romantic savior or the like - they're already "comfortable in their own skin," so to speak. Instead, they seek to cultivate simple virtues, such as mutual trust and a sense of shared intimacy with others. They generally don't play games, but seek to establish uncomplicated and mutually beneficial relationships. [This is definitely all me]

Relaxed-Avoidant (Dismissive): Individuals in this quadrant often take a dim view of others, preferring to keep their distance and guard against invasions of their autonomy and privacy [I am cynical and my experience has been that my autonomy will be violated repeatedly because the world experiences me as "woman", so life has made me "avoidant" in this sense].

Relaxed-Avoidant personalities tend to have a strong belief that others are too different from them for truly intimate relations to be worthwhile. They may have a spouse and family, and even be solidly anchored in a stable network of friends and acquaintances, but at the end of the day, they tend to avoid entering into relations where emotional interdependence and intimacy are required [I do not avoid intimacy or emotional interdependence and in fact crave it, I just don't find it very often because people really *are* very different from me, at least in how we each perceive the world. It is because of the fact that I don't avoid these things that I keep finding how different I am from most people].

Unlike individuals who fall in the On Edge-Avoidant quadrant, Dismissive personalities tend to be quite content keeping their deepest feelings and views to themselves, and they often have a deeply-held belief that the opinions of others are mildly irrelevant or even second-rate [Again, I don't keep my feelings and views to myself - I blast them from the rooftops, but I do tend to think that other people's opinions are basically irrelevant]. Consequently, many Dismissive types are often quite good at dissimulating, that is, appearing to share their innermost thoughts, while in reality, they are simply appeasing others without ever letting them come close. [Yep, not me at all. What you see is what you get]

Independent and proud of it [me], these individuals can typically achieve remarkable feats of social manipulation and self-restraint [funny, but every time I've tried to do this, in order to "better" a community, I've failed spectacularly], but on the downside, they may have trouble kicking bad habits (such as drinking or smoking) which they can enjoy in solitude and use to comfort themselves, independently of the company of others [not me at all].

They can frequently be unmotivated or lazy with regard to the duties that others expect of them [depends - if it's expected of me and I didn't agree to it, i.e. gender roles, I'm unmotivated to adhere, but if it's something I agreed to like working out with a friend, I'll stick to it better than if I didn't have their expectation to motivate me], but on the other hand, they are often very original (since they are not hindered by concerns about having to conform to the expectations of the group).

Finally, they also tend to be intelligent risk-takers, since they are at heart relaxed and cool under fire. [yep, me]

The Horizontal Axis: Relaxed-On Edge

This axis pertains to the individual's root affection towards themselves. Roughly speaking, individuals who fall towards the Relaxed end of this axis appear self-sufficient, confident, and low in anxiety when engaged in social situations. In short, they give off the impression of being at ease with themselves.  [yep, me]

By contrast, individuals who fall towards the On Edge end of the spectrum tend to give off an impression of being more vulnerable or concerned than their Relaxed counterparts. In a nutshell, On Edge individuals feel a sense of unease about themselves whereas Relaxed individuals tend to be more at ease. [this is accurate of my experience being Relaxed]

A complicating factor in the precise administration of this axis is that On Edge personalities have often learned to counteract their root uneasiness, for example by being intensely gregarious and charming, thus causing others to believe that they really are Relaxed (whereas in reality, they are overcompensating because they feel that if they did not, others would not notice them). [Yep, this is not me, so being on the Relaxed side of the axis is accurate]

The Vertical Axis: Engaging-Avoidant

This axis pertains to the individual's root affection towards others. As a general rule, individuals who fall towards the Engaging end of the axis appear approachable, open-hearted, and open to forming relationships with others. In short, they give off the impression that one could easily become friends with them and form a relation where they will keep you in their thoughts. [Depends - some people tell me that I appear approachable, open-hearted, that I'm a good listener, that they surprised themselves by confiding things in me they haven't told others, but some people say the opposite of me]

By contrast, individuals who fall towards the Avoidant end of the spectrum tend to give off an impression of independence, coldness, aloofness, and of being hard to approach. [This is what the other people say of me, so it depends on the person and whether they associate "independence" with coldness and being hard to approach or whether they find "self-confidence" to be "indimidating"]

In essence, Avoidant individuals feel a sense of unease about others whereas Engaging individuals tend to have fewer fears about forming connections with others. [This is why I'm on the Engaging side, but just barely. I don't feel unease or fear about connecting with others, I just don't often think it's worth trying when I can tell that we're very different people]

Avoidant individuals may give off the impression of being simply private or closed, but according to Attachment Style Theory, this demeanor is really an adaptation; a counterattack against their root feeling of uneasiness about others. [And this is why I'm not Avoidant, but just barely. My closed-off-ness is a defense mechanism, but it's not in response to "unease". To me, it's like wearing a seatbelt - I'm playing the odds and choosing caution, that's all]

(Note that an Avoidant Attachment Style is not the same as an Avoidant Personality Style.)
joreth: (being wise)
I'm an introvert. That means that I spend a lot of time in my head. Introversion does not mean shyness, or lack of social skills, it means that interactions with people outside of one's monkeysphere is taxing on the emotional reserves and one will need some alone-time to "recharge". That's all it means.

If you like socializing and like people, but you feel tired after *most* (not all) social interactions and want to spend some time by yourself or with just one or a few close intimates, you're an introvert, not an "ambivert". But introversion / extroversion is a whole other topic. Because introverts "get energy" from being by themselves, that often leads introverts to being very introspective as well. MY VERSION of introversion includes having imaginary conversations with people. Lots of them.

By the time I've said something out loud, it's been rolling around in my brain for a while now. Unlike extroverts, I'm not "thinking things through out loud". I'm now sharing conclusions. I've reached a conclusion *about my viewpoint*, but since a viewpoint can be changed with more information, it doesn't necessarily mean that I've found The Answer To Life, The Universe, And Everything (42), just that I know what my subjective position is on the subject. Now, either I need something from outside, or I'm done and I'm making an announcement.

Some extroverts, particularly those with a P in their personality designations, when they hear "I want you to do something", what they actually hear is "Hey! An option! There's a thing that exists! Just FYI, for you to add to your list of options!" When an introvert like me says something, though, I'm actually saying "I've made a decision that this is a thing that needs addressing."

So, when I say "we need to talk about this", I'll say it gently. I'll say "hey, I'd like to talk about this when you have a moment" or something flexible or soft like that. But some people will hear that and think "OK, there's no time limit so it must be not a big deal. I'll get around to it when I feel like it."

But what I'm *actually* saying is "I want your full and undivided attention to address this thing. I am not going to infringe on your autonomy to decide when on your behalf, because that will only add resentment to the difficult conversation, so I'm giving you a warning that you need to choose some time that you can dedicate to this thing, because it will require your attention."

When I say things like "I need to talk about something", it's the Check Engine light going on - this isn't the moment that the car explodes in a fireball, but it's not idle chatter either. If you don't address it, that fireball is in your future. You should probably address it while it's something as simple as needing oil, not when you're sitting on the side of the highway, stranded, with black smoke pouring out from under the hood.

So every day that goes by after I've said "I need this from you" is a day that I give up a little more on you. It's one day's less worth of trust that you care about me or have my interests at heart. It's one day's less worth of caring that I have back towards you for this being a mutual exchange between us.

And eventually, that caring, compassion, and trust that I give up reaches a bottom where I can't care about you anymore. You stop being People for me, and there is likely nothing you can ever do to win back that trust. I will always see you as The Person Who Does Not Care Enough To Talk To Me When I Say I Need It. I will always expect you to let me down. I will always assume that anything you do that's positive for me is for a selfish reason and that I can count on you removing your effort as soon as it's no longer convenient for you.

And it doesn't even matter if you have a Really Good Reason for putting off talking to me. Because I do not pick moments to have Talks willy-nilly. Like, I've seen those romantic couples who get into fights at parties that make everyone around them uncomfortable. I've even had those partners who picks fights with me right before bedtime on work nights, or when I'm on my way out the door.

One of them actually scheduled to come over to my house one weekend, was 3 HOURS LATE, I was already in bed and had to get up to let him in, where he then insisted on having a Talk, and I had to be up for a dance performance the next morning where my appearance and my focus was actually important. I even told him on the phone when he called to say that he was finally on the road that I could not stay up that night because of my responsibility the next day.  So I don't do that shit to others. I'll give you space to choose a mutually less-inconvenient time. That's why it doesn't matter to me if you have a Really Good Reason for just continuing to not talk to me. The longer you put it off, the more I distrust you.

I once had a partner who started dating a poly newbie. She had all the usual problems adjusting to poly. After about a year, I put my foot down and said "do something about this". So he approached her and she said she couldn't talk about the problem anymore. She wanted a 6-week moratorium where she didn't have to hear anything about polyamory or his other partners at all. She wanted 6 freaking weeks where she could pretend it was just her and him.

So 6 weeks go by without them talking about it (but otherwise being in a relationship together). And then another week. And then another week. After about the 3rd or 4th month of not discussing her inability to be in a poly relationship after I said she needs to show some improvement at being in a poly relationship, let alone him reminding her that her sunset clause was up, I broke up with him. I could not trust her, and because he saw no problem with that, I could not trust him either.

So, by the time someone in your life says "there's something on my mind..." it means FUCKING PAY ATTENTION THIS IS SERIOUS. If it's not serious, they'll probably tell you that. Unless you know for a fact that this person is the type of extrovert who likes just throwing shit out there and has no attachment to anything they're saying, and that what they're saying right now is indeed one of those things, then assume that every time someone in your life says that they want to talk or that they want you to do something for them, that this is a bid for your attention that will get weighed against all the other bids for attention, and the longer you refuse to acknowledge that bid, the more they will pull away from you.

Dr. John Gottman at the The Gottman Institute has written entire volumes on bids for attention. Bids for attention are basically any statement or gesture towards another person that requests their attention back in some way. It could be as simple as saying "I talked to my sister the other day." That's a complete statement, not a question, so it might seem like it doesn't require an answer. But what it means is "I'd like to chat with you."

If you don't pause for a moment to say "Really? What about?", then you turn away from their bid for attention. If you *can't* turn towards their bid for attention right then, you should say "I'd love to hear about it, as soon as I'm done with this thing, OK?" That's still a "turn towards" or a positive response to a bid.

"We need to talk" and "I need you to do something" are much clearer than "I'm hungry [aka hint hint I want you to take me to dinner]". Those are obvious bids for attention. Not all bids for attention will be that clear, but that doesn't make them "passive-aggressive", or even "indirect communication". Gottman's research shows that couples who turn away from or turn against bids for attention have a higher chance of divorce. His predictability on this subject is in the 80-90s% rate. People who do not turn towards bids for attention WILL LOSE THE TRUST OF THE PERSON MAKING THE BID. And loss of trust leads to the end of a relationship. Pretty much every time.

Gottman's research is primarily on heterosexual romantic monogamous couples. But, just like the 5 Love Languages that has similar perspective limitations, it's actually applicable to *any* interpersonal relationship - friends, parents & children, coworkers, and in poly relationships, metamours. Orientation is also irrelevant, although there may be some cultural differences in expression and in response proportions.

Saying "I need this from you" or "we need to talk" is what Gottman calls a Sliding Door moment. That exact moment that the bid is offered is not usually the big blow-up ending. But that's the moment that the decision the other person makes that leads inevitably towards the path - the make it or break it moment.

If you've not ever seen the movie Sliding Doors, and you can still stomach Gwyneth Paltrow, I recommend it. It's a brilliant film that explores possibilities. What happens when the door to the train stays open just long enough to catch it? What happens when you just barely miss it? Whether the door slides shut in front of you or behind you isn't a noteworthy event, by itself. But the chain of events that stem from when the door shuts leads to very different outcomes.

Bids for attention, particularly large bids like "I have been thinking of something for a while and it's a big enough deal that I'm finally saying something about it and it needs to be addressed" are sliding door moments. Every day that this bid is not addressed is lost trust.

Lost trust leads to the end of relationships. By the time I'm willing to verbally say "this is a problem and we need to talk about it", it's a Big Fucking Deal and we need to talk about it. Every day that we don't talk about it is a massive withdrawal from our shared Trust Account. When that balance hits zero, you stop being People to me and I close myself out of the account. You can then start trying to build up more trust again, but I very likely will never trust you again once I've checked out, no matter what you do.
joreth: (boxed in)
https://theestablishment.co/so-youve-sexually-harassed-or-abused-someone-what-now-ed49a934bab1

When my metamour was being abused by our mutual partner, he accused her of abusing him. That was part of his abuse of her, but that's not actually the point I want to make about it. When he did that, she immediately wracked her brain to see how she could be abusing him.  She didn't get defensive, she was horrified. "How could I be abusing the man I love?!" She went into therapy to try and figure out how she was being abusive and how to stop. She spent weeks, months, searching her soul, tearing herself inside out to find this monster that he said was in there.

Every time someone accuses me of being awful, if I don't already agree to it, I call up Franklin and ask "do I do this? Am I this person?"

The point here is that good people are concerned with how others perceive them, and whether they have blindness when that perception differs from their own. Good people want to know if they've hurt someone so that they can stop hurting them.  Some people (who also do good things and have people who love them and who love others) do not. When accused of hurting others, they get defensive. They don't see how it was possible. They assume that their own perception of events was the correct one.

You have hurt people. Yes, you. Everyone has. You have hurt people and you have done so thinking that you were right, justified, or that you didn't hurt them at all and it's all in their head. Sometimes you are correct, but sometimes you are not. You have hurt people.

Now is a good time in our culture to own up to that. If you actually care about others, or even if you just care about what people think of you, then you will look back in your history to try and find the times when you hurt someone, or when you could have hurt someone, or when someone may have felt hurt by you even though you didn't *technically* hurt them but you put yourself in a position for them to feel hurt by you.

You have hurt people. Abuse victims know what it's like to hear that accusation and to feel concerned, ashamed, afraid that it might be true. Abuse victims know what it's like to actually care enough about someone else that when they are accused of hurting them, they stop and look.

Abusers look for "good people" who are exploitable. That compassion, that caring is exploitable. That compassion and caring is also one of their superpowers. Abusers abuse because they feel justified in doing so. They believe that their actions are the correct actions to take. There are two paths here that you can take.

You have hurt people. Which direction are you going to go from that?
joreth: (Xmas Kitties)
I don't understand the question of how do poly people decide whose family to visit for holidays.

Or rather, I understand the question in the sense that I understand English, but the underlying premise that assumes that making holiday decisions is somehow *different* for poly people than everyone else is what I don't understand. Strike that. I "understand" even that premise, what I'm trying to say is that why *they* don't see that their question has this premise and why it's problematic is frustrating for me.

Every time someone asks that, I just think "did you really grow up with a mom and a dad who were still married to each other and literally no other family anywhere so that your family never had to answer this question at any point during your childhood? Do families like that actually exist? Because I know they're not the norm."

And I ask that as a child of two parents who got married to each other right out of high school and remain married to this day and who actually *do* live in a city with no other blood relatives in the same city. Because we still had family nearby, and we still made family-of-choice out of friends and neighbors, as most people do.

There was always a question in my home growing up - do we visit mom's sister an hour away, mom's adult nephew's family about half an hour away, dad's brother about 2 hours away, dad's sister, dad's mother or dad's father (who were divorced) - all about 7 hours away, mom & dad's best friends or mom & dad's other best friends (in our city), or the godparents a couple of neighborhoods over?

My parents solved that one by putting out hors d'oeuvres and having everyone else and the neighbors (literally) drop in at our house throughout the day if they could.

This isn't a poly problem but a people problem of any "nuclear family" growing up and starting families of their own which makes the whole concept of "family" into this giant branching tree with conflicting schedules and priorities. My dad grew up in a nuclear family but once he and his siblings became adults, there were 5 new "nuclear" families to consider.

My mom also grew up in a nuclear home, but when her generation became adults, that made 8 more nuclear families to visit. So when my mom and dad created their own nuclear family, they were still connected to their own nuclear-family-of-origin but being adults that meant 13 different households.

Since "who to visit for the holidays" isn't a poly problem, growing up we did what everyone else did - made decisions for each holiday based on a million different variables including time, money, distance, children's school schedules, who we saw last year, and then we try to pack as many of everyone who didn't get eliminated by conflicting schedules, finances, or priorities into one event.

I handle poly holidays the same way I handled holidays while monogamous - talk with everyone involved, see who wants to host and who wants to travel, balance time and money against preferences, and make decisions based on all of that information every time a question of "who to visit during the holidays" comes up. It's a different answer every time even one of those variables changes, and most years at least one of those variables is guaranteed to change.

With so many families scattered around the country and around the globe, usually the problem is pretty simply sorted out by who is even in physical proximity to visit in the first place. Most years, that doesn't leave us with more than 2 or 3 options, logistically speaking, and house-hopping is totally an option with so few choices to reasonably choose from.

But honestly? If I could make the whole country scale way back on how important these damn holidays are and just spend the time quietly at home, away from repetitive holiday music and obligatory gift exchanges, I'd rather do that. Or better yet, working.  My friends and I manage to find plenty of reasons to host large food-centered gatherings so if it's the food and the gathering part that I wanted, I don't need an over-commercialized holiday shoved down my throat to get it.

But, back to the point. Most of the questions I get about polyamory can quite easily be answered with "I dunno, how do YOU deal with it? Because it's probably pretty similar to how you do things."

Since the question isn't really the question. The *real* question is "but are you even people? How do you people if you're not people?"
joreth: (sex)
Interesting. The term "sex negative" refers to the philosophy that sex is bad, dirty, dangerous, or wrong, unless it occurs within a very narrow range of circumstances (i.e. within a marriage for procreation). "Sex negative" is pretty much what it sounds like - that sex is a negative thing, possibly with some exceptions.

But "sex positive" doesn't mean the opposite. "Sex positive" does not mean that all sex is good (with maybe some exceptions), it just means that sex isn't *inherently* bad.

So "sex negative" means that sex is actively bad, but "sex positive" means an absence of an active descriptor about sex.

It seems that, because of the way our society chooses one particular thing to herald, not just as "normal" but as "the One True Way", most of my own philosophies have to do with saying "well, I'm not for OR against it, I'm just absent a positive affirmation in this thing that everyone else is saying."

I'm atheist, which doesn't necessarily mean "there are no gods", it just means an absence of belief in gods. I'm non-monogamous, which doesn't necessarily mean that I'm opposed to monogamy, just that I don't do it, even when I only have one partner at a time.

I'm sex-positive, which doesn't mean that I think all sex is good or that people should be having all the sex all the time, just that I don't think that sex is, by it's very nature, bad, and you can have it or not as you see fit. And there was that meme a while back about "I'm not liberal, I just think the earth is more than 6,000 years old but I can see how you'd think that's liberal by comparison". When extremism reigns supreme, even a middle ground can seem extremist next to it.

No point here, it just came to my awareness that a lot of subcultures exist because we don't have any other way to say "well, but I'm not THAT." And that's a big enough deal to have its own subcultures, labels, and ideologies around it.

This is also a reminder that "sex positive" doesn't mean "all the sex, all the time, for all the people". Some assholes get all offended when we don't make space for their desires because they feel entitled to expressing their "sexuality" (psst ... being a rapist isn't your "orientation" or your "sexuality, just sayin'). Just because you have feelz, it doesn't mean you're entitled to a platform to express them at others.

"Sex positive" just means that *if* consenting people like doing sexyfuntimes together, that's cool, but if not, that's cool too.

But sex-negativity is such a strongly enforced worldview that we have to add "positive" to the other descriptor just to indicate what really is more of a neutral position, because "neutral" is a subversive, radical act in a culture that swings way too far to the "negative" side.
joreth: (boxed in)

I'm working on an analogy of privacy vs. secrecy vs. transparency. I looked *everywhere* through my blog to find some post talking about the difference between these 3 things. I'm *sure* I've talked about it before, but it seems to have only been in comments and not archived here anywhere. I could find a couple of posts where I'm railing against Those Couples who tell each other "everything" where they think it's acceptable to "protect their relationship" by violating other people's privacy, but nothing that that merely described the difference between the 3 terms (that people often use interchangeably) and nothing that defended either privacy or transparency.

There's also a recent Poly Weekly episode with Casey Blake, who talks about the difference, but I'd have to go back and listen to the whole episode to find the specific quotes. I think she also talks about it in her book, which I'd now like to read. The analogy is coming up at the end. But first, a story that I usually tell to illustrate the point:
 



I once dated this guy, who had an ex-girlfriend. She and I used to be friends, until I started dating him about a year after they broke up. Apparently I broke the Girl Code by dating a friend's ex-boyfriend. Then she actually got me blackballed from the local union office in that town so that I couldn't work anymore (all 3 of us worked in the industry together). Anyway, I thought they both brought out the worst in each other, so I didn't start dating him until we ran into each other a year later and he said he wanted her completely out of his life because he recognized they were bad for each other, and while we were dating, I was opposed to him even being friends with her, let alone getting back together (for the millionth time).

One day, we were hanging out at my place, just catching up and talking about our lives. He mentioned "the other day", but was kind of dodgy about it. I asked some questions, as I do when I'm engaged in my partners' stories and want to know about who they are and what they do in their lives. His answers were even more dodgy. So I started asking questions as I do when I'm suspicious that I'm not getting the full story.

After a bit, he got all pissed off at me for "prying", so I got all pissed off at him for keeping secrets. What could he possibly be doing that he would actively lie to me to keep me from finding out? Finally, he blurted out that he had spent the day with his ex because she had a run-in with her abusive mom* and since he had a similar upbringing and they originally bonded over that shared abusive childhood, she called the only person she knew who she could talk to about it. So he listened to her and comforted her.

But that was supposed to be a secret, and now I "forced" him to divulge "private" information about someone who didn't agree to telling me those details. He yelled at me about not respecting "privacy" and now look what I had made him do. So I blinked at him a moment, and then said "you didn't have to tell me her secrets. You didn't have to tell me the details of her trauma. All you had to say was that she had a personal thing that she needed to talk to someone about, and it's a thing she feels safe talking to *you* about, and that's how you spent your day. I don't need to know anything about *her* intimate life, I wanted to know about *your day*."
 



It's not actually that hard to maintain privacy (yours or someone else's) while still maintaining transparency in a relationship. A simple "yes, there is something, but I don't want to talk about it," usually suffices. Also "that's not my story to tell, I'm sorry." Also, "I spent time with a friend who is going through some shit that they don't want me to share, but that's where I was the other day for 5 hours." Admit that there is *something*, acknowledge that you are not going to share the details, and then let it go. Privacy and transparency at the same time.

I tell this story frequently as an illustration of the difference between privacy and secrecy, so it really ought to be a permanent page here in the blog for future reference. But I also want something pithy to trot out that's a little more lighthearted, a little more memorable, a little more repeatable. Kinda like my "polyamory is multiple loves, there may or may not be marriage / polygamy is multiple marriages, there may or may not be love" slogans.

I haven't gotten the pithy part down yet, but I did get the concept out. I'm hoping that writing it out here, for the first time, will give me something to refer back to, and then refine over time as I use it in conversation more and more, and eventually I'll find a way to boil it down to something meme-able.

Every mother I know has made jokes about not knowing what it's like to pee without an audience for the first 5 years of a child's life.

Privacy is your partner being able to go to the bathroom without an audience.

Transparency is knowing what they're doing in that bathroom and that it doesn't hurt you or them (i.e. they really are peeing, not doing drugs or sneaking cigarettes or scheduling a date to cheat on you), but you don't need to watch or hear the details about it because that's their business.

Unless, y'know, you have that kind of relationship where you talk about your bathroom habits. *Shrug* I'm not judging. But it's your partner's bathroom habits, so it's your partner's call on what to share. But they don't *have* to share, because they're transparent about the fact that they're going to the bathroom.

Secrecy is not telling you that they go to the bathroom and taking measures to keep you from finding out that they use the bathroom, whether they are using drugs in the bathroom or really just peeing.

Now, when it comes to other people -

Privacy is your partner's other partner being able to go to the bathroom while your partner is visiting them without you witnessing it or getting a text update about it. Even if their bathroom habits differ from yours.

Transparency is knowing that your partner and their other partner do, indeed, go to the bathroom (separately) when they spend time together, but you don't *need* to know the details - you're aware that it happens because you know they're both humans who use the loo occasionally.

Secrecy is your partner refusing to admit that their other partner uses the bathroom, like ever, or that they leave the door open to use the bathroom when they visit even though you don't care if they leave the door open or shut and you already assume that they use the bathroom because they're human, or maybe they refuse to divulge that they do other things in the bathroom - dangerous things - that could harm themselves, your partner, or even you by extension, so that you don't have the information necessary to make informed decisions about your own body or relationship with your mutual partner given the context.

Everyone deserves the right to pee without an audience (unless they want an audience, and then they ought to find an audience who wants to *be* an audience). Everyone deserves to know that their partners do, in fact, pee because not peeing means they're probably not human and that's kind of important information. Nobody should deliberately, through lies, omission, or obfuscation, keep anyone else in the dark about the fact that pee happens.



* She doesn't actually have an abusive mom. I changed the nature of her trauma to protect her privacy, even though this was more than a decade ago and we haven't spoken to each other since before then. But it was a trauma of similar enough kind or similar enough intensity that this will suffice.

joreth: (boxed in)
I have feral cats living under my house. I love cats. I've been trying to win their trust for months and very slowly succeeding.

Feral cats have very good reasons for not trusting people. People generally suck when it comes to treatment of animals. Their literal lives depend on them being cautious and wary of humans.  I have never once felt bad or offended that a stray cat doesn't trust me immediately and can't tell me apart from those assholes who want to hurt them. I am bigger than they are and I have all the power in the world over their existence. I understand their safety requires them to start out by distrusting me. It's not personal to me, it's what they need to do to survive.

I don't always feel like I have "all the power in the world". Some things still have power over me. Hell, even the ferals manage to get in a good scratch now and then if I get too close. And that scratch has a high chance of getting infected, them being ferals and all, and I could actually catch something from them that could kill me.

And yet, I am still bigger and stronger than they are and I have *more* of a chance of seriously harming them than they do of me, even with their "unfair advantage" of dirty claws. Plus, I have the weight of society behind me, that doesn't much like stray animals running around. Even if I often feel trod on by that very society myself.

Women are like feral cats in this way. We live in a world with creatures bigger than we are that have power over our existence, and a system set up to support them, and some of them want to hurt us and we can't tell who they are from the ones that don't until they grab our tails.

Some women trust easily because they've had no or few bad experiences and they get lucky and their trust is never betrayed.

Some women don't trust easily and they miss out on the wonderful bond that they could have had with the nice guy who genuinely cares for them and really wouldn't hurt them.

Some women trust easily and get tortured and killed for it. Some women don't trust easily and still get tortured and killed.

Not all men, just like not all humans. As one of those humans who does not torture and kill cats (one of the majority, I might add), and as one of the few who is actively trying to provide a safe place and nourishment for some cats, I am #NotAllHumans, but I am not suffering any sort of self-esteem or rejection crisis just because these cats are taking their time figuring out that I am Not All Humans.

The vast majority of stray and feral cats will never trust me, some even actively cross the street to avoid me even when I crouch down and call out to them in a friendly way. They run from me, but I don't want to hurt them. I want to offer them food and kindness and pettings that would feel good.

They don't know that. They might never know that if they don't take a chance and trust me, but not taking a chance on me might save their lives someday when they don't take a chance on someone else. I'll get over it. I'll find other cats who do trust me, if that's really what I want.

And I'll patiently continue to put food in the bowl on my porch for the ones under my house, the ones closest to me, even if they never learn to trust me, because I care about their health and safety. Their safety is more important to me than my ego over whether or not they like me.

Some might try to say that it's different, because we have a drive to bond to other people. These people obviously have never been inside my head and don't know how strong the drive is to bond with cats. Honestly, I'd rather bond with cats than with most people. My need to develop relationships with tiny furry predators is stronger than my need for sex. At least sex I can do by myself if I really want to.

The point is that it's not about the Humans and it's not about the Men. It's about what's good for the cats and the women. It's not about *me* when a cat rejects me or doesn't even give me a chance. It's about the cat and what they need to do for their survival.

Rejection sucks. But it's not about you, so suck it up and move on. There are other cats in the world, many of whom will be happy to rub up on your ankles and claw your face in the middle of the night.
joreth: (polyamory)
I write a lot about the non-possessiveness of love.  This was my latest comment on someone's FB post:

I cannot share my partners because my partners are not my possessions to share. Their body, minds, emotions, and time do not belong to me, they belong to them and them alone, and THEY choose to share THEMSELVES with me (and anyone else).

What they choose to give of themselves to others is not something taken away from me because it was never mine to begin with.

What they give of themselves to me is a gift. And only when received without entitlement and without obligation does it remain a gift. Otherwise it is a tithing, and I am nobody's lord and master to be tithed to.

We are equal partners in this partnership. That which I choose to share of mine, I share freely. That which they choose to share of theirs with me, they share freely. Together, it blends into a wonderful new entity that is our relationship.

But always it is made up of mine and theirs, and we each retain sole ownership of ourselves - our bodies, our minds, our emotions, and our time - to share with whom we choose.

Nobody can take that away from me which is not mine to begin with. My partners are not mine to share, they share themselves with me, and that is exactly what makes relationships so special, so unique, and so irreplaceable.
joreth: (boxed in)
https://medium.com/@emmalindsay/if-we-fire-all-sexual-assaulters-will-we-end-up-firing-everyone-bca0db236174

The headline is inflammatory. It makes it sound like the article will be one of those strawman arguments defending the "right" to sexual assault and criticizing the "over-sensitive liberal left" for being big whiny babies accusing everyone of rape and trying to wiggle out of accountability.

But it's more about acknowledging that everyone *is* culpable in perpetuating #RapeCulture and about looking inside ourselves for at least part of the solution.

If the #MeToo campaign made you feel better, gave you a sense of solidarity, had some benefit for you, then I'm genuinely happy that it helped you. It did not help me. It made me feel weary, cynical, and apathetic. So, even though I also raised my hand in #MeToo, I also took that opportunity to join another set of ranks - one that acknowledged my own participation in rape culture and in hurting other people. It's only by acknowledging it that we can even begin the work to change it.

As I've said before, abusers abuse people not because they have "feelings", like they're angry or afraid because everyone has those feelings, but because they have *beliefs* - they believe right down to their toes that what they did is justified and right. As long as they have those beliefs, they will never change their abuse. Abusers abuse because they believe they are right to do so. They believe they have the right to control other people in an attempt to manage their own feelings. Accusing them of abuse only makes them feel and react indignantly, offended, insulted, and more angry, because they believe they are *righteous* in their behaviour.

Rape culture is just more of that. People sexually assault, not because they're "overcome with lust", but because they believe they are good people, and since they are "good people", what they did must not be assault. They have a justification for it. They believe that they did not do anything wrong.

And as long as they continue to believe that, they, like abusers, will not change.

So we need to stop seeing people who do bad things as cardboard, cartoon evil villains, and start seeing them as complex people who have absorbed the very messages our society tells them to absorb and they believe they are right for having done so.

That has to start with ourselves. That has to start with it becoming "cool" to see the complexity in people, and "trendy" to look at ourselves deeply and acknowledge our actions, and morally right to accept accountability for those actions. We have to make it the more socially acceptable path to model and reward humility and accountability over strength and confidence (two of my own traits I am most proud of, btw, so this is not easy for me).

Nobody will be perfect. I'm sure there are plenty of things that I still believe I was "right" to do that others think I was wrong about. But I will start by acknowledging my participation in rape culture *even as I was a victim of it* my whole life, and I will apologize, and I will seek to change my behaviour in the future because sometimes that's all we can do when something is too far past or the people we have hurt are too far out of our lives to make reparations towards them personally.

But the hard part is that I am seen by society as a woman. My standing up to "MeToo" my participation, rather than my experiences, isn't what will fix things. It will take people seen as men, and respected as men, doing it visible and frequently to turn the tide of society.

Because otherwise, I am just a tu quoque example "well women do shitty things too!" defense.

"And, part of what was creepy about that night, is that I was hooking up with that girl for social status, not to connect with her. Of course I was tuned out to what she was feeling sexually; I was completely numbing my own sexual desires in pursuit of ego gratification. I wanted the feelings of success that would come after hooking up with her, but wasn’t much interested in the feelings of connection that came during hooking up. I wanted to fuck her as quickly as possible and get it over with just so I could say that I’d done it."

"How could people enjoy, and demand, being sexual with my body when they could knew it was hurting me?

The answer, I believe, is that they were in pursuit of ego gratification. They were disconnected from what we both were feeling, and were instead focused on the “accomplishment” of hooking up with me. The gratification they wanted wasn’t the gratification of connecting with another human, but rather achieving something in the eyes of society."

"Even if I didn’t do anything to her without consent, I think what I did was bad for her. I think I hurt her. "

"However, I think most of us *have* participated in the culture of sexual harassment in one way or another. There is not a sharp divide between the “evil” men in the headlines and a mostly innocent public; rather there is a spectrum that we will all find ourselves on."

"Sexual assault is a natural and obvious extension of our culture. It is a natural extension of values that we all have internalized."


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