joreth: (anger)
Alright, let's get this down on "paper", so to speak, so that I don't have to keep retyping it several times every December.  It's the time of year for That Song.  You know the one.  The creepy date rape song.  "But it's not rapey!   It's about feminine empowerment!  Historical context!  It gave women an excuse in a time when they couldn't be openly sexual and needed an excuse to do what they wanted to do!"

Bullshit.

Basically all these "but historical context!" defenses are not exactly true.  They're a retcon justification because people feel guilty about liking a holiday song about date rape (and one that actually has abso-fucking-lutely nothing to do with Christmas).
ret·con
/ˈretkän/
noun
1. (in a film, television series, or other fictional work) a piece of new information that imposes a different interpretation on previously described events, typically used to facilitate a dramatic plot shift or account for an inconsistency.

verb
1. revise (an aspect of a fictional work) retrospectively, typically by introducing a piece of new information that imposes a different interpretation on previously described events.
Let's talk context then if you want to talk context.

Sure, in the 1940s, women did not have the freedom to openly desire sex and (I'm told - I did not verify it but I will concede that this is probably true because it doesn't matter for my point) some people used to use the line "hey, what's in this drink?" wink wink nudge nudge know-what-I-mean? to absolve themselves of responsibility or accountability for the sex that they were about to have.  That was a thing.

But that was not a thing *in this song*.

Let's start with the background.  The song was co-written by a husband and wife team, Frank Loesser and Lynn Garland.  In their social set, in the '40s in Hollywood, there was, apparently, very stiff competition for who could throw the best parties.  Hosts were expected to, not only provide the location and refreshments for said party, but actually *be* the entertainment, with singing, dancing, performing, whatever.  Whoever was the best entertainment got invited to all the other best parties.  And in Hollywood, who you knew was of paramount importance.  It not only determined your spot in the social scene, but also got you employment, which affected your livelihood.  So this was a Big Fucking Deal.

So the husband and wife duo wrote the song as the climax to their party, hoping it would make them popular.  And it did.  They literally moved up in social class because of that song.  "It was their ticket to caviar and truffles", Garland once said.  It made them so popular that MGM offered to buy the rights to it 4 years later and Loesser went on to write several other popular songs for movies and this one in particular even won an Academy Award.

The song is a call-and-response type song, with the characters in the song being named Wolf and Mouse, i.e. Predator and Prey.  Loesser even introduced himself as "the evil of two Loessers" BECAUSE OF THE ROLE HE PLAYED IN THE SONG.   Loesser would probably defend his line about "evil of two Loessers" as being witty, a play on words.  Shakespeare played with words all the time!   He certainly didn't *mean* that he was really evil, right?  It's just a joke!  Don't take everything so seriously!

Except that Schrodinger's Douchebag says that too.  Schrodinger's Douchebag is the guy who makes assholey statements, and only after his comments are not received well, tries to excuse them as "just a joke".  You don't know if he's seriously a rapist / racist / bigot / other asshole or just a dude with a bad sense of "humor" - he's both! - until you call him on it.

So, OK, that's a little ... weird, but a bad "joke" is just one thing, right?  Well, the next thing that happened was Garland did not want to sell the song.  She thought of it as "their" song.  But Loesser sold it out from under her anyway.  Garland felt so betrayed by this, she describes the betrayal as akin to being cheated on.  I believe the specific quote was something about her feeling as though she had actually walked in on her husband having sex with another woman.

This led to a huge fight which, by some accounts, contributed to the downfall of their marriage and they eventually divorced.  So here we have a man who puts his own wants above his wife's needs (or strongly felt wants).  Why is it so difficult to believe that he would write a song about pressuring a woman and not even understand that it was bad or why?  It shouldn't be so difficult to accept that a man who would do this to his own wife probably has no problem with "wearing her down" and doesn't think his song represents straight up assault.  

We have here a pattern where a man just, like many straight men, didn't think about what he was saying or how it would affect women, particularly the women in his life, and he, like everyone else that year, was merely a product of his time and not able to foresee 70 years later where we now recognize the deeply disturbing "boys will be boys" patriarchal reinforcement of the "what's in this drink wink wink" joke.

Frankly, I don't think he thought about his lyrics all that much at all, let alone tried to write some weird, backwards, 1940s female "empowerment" anthem.   I don't think he deliberately set out to be an evil villain writing an ode to date rape either, I think he just flat out didn't consider all the implications of a bubbly song where one person keeps pushing for sex and the other keeps rejecting but eventually capitulates.  Y'know, like the Blurred Lines song - it's bubbly, it's cute, it's got a catchy hook, but ultimately it's about street harassment, like, he literally said that he wrote the song by imagining a dirty old man yelling things out to hot chicks as they passed by on the street.  But people love it because it's bubble-gum pop.  Same as this song.

Only with this one, we're *defending* it as a "joke" people used to use because women couldn't be openly sexual.  THAT'S PART OF THE PROBLEM.  Women needed that kind of excuse because they were not allowed to have their own agency.  So romanticizing this song only reinforces the message that a woman's "no" is really just her needing a better excuse, so if you keep "offering" her excuses (i.e. pushing her), eventually she'll find one she can use and give in.  Keep pressuring her!  She wants it!  It's for her own good!  It's empowering!

That's some fucked up shit.

But back in the '40s, they didn't really know better, apparently.   Women used what avenues they had for expressing their sexuality, and at the time, "what's in this drink?" was what they had.  They, and Frank Loesser, were not thinking how, in the next century, women who had taken back some of their agency would be constantly fighting to keep what we have managed to wrestle back precisely because of this line of reasoning - that "no" doesn't mean "no", it means "try harder" because we just need to be given the right push in the right direction.

But as the saying goes, when we know better, we do better.  Not knowing any better back then isn't a good enough excuse to keep it around now.  It may have been considered "innocent" in the '40s or even "necessary" because of the restrictions that women had, but now we know better.  We know both the legitimately terrifying implications of the lyrics in this song as sung straight and we know the patriarchal implications of the lyrics in this song as sung "flirty".  He didn't know any better back then, but we know better now.

So now let's get to the context of the song itself.

When Loesser and Garland were performing this song at parties, it was a huge hit ... but only within their social circle.  It didn't reach mainstream attention until it appeared in the movie Neptune's Daughter, which is a really odd movie for this song, only partly because the movie takes place in the summer, not the winter.   The movie is about an "aquatic ballet dancer" and swim suit designer who mistakenly believes that a South American polo team captain is pursuing her sister but who really wants to date her, and who accepts a date with the team captain just to keep him from dating her sister.

Got that?  Swimmer lady thinks polo captain is putting the moves on her sister.  Polo captain is not, and wants to date swimmer lady.  So polo captain asks swimmer lady out on a date.  Swimmer lady agrees to a date with polo captain in order to keep a guy she thinks is a predator away from her sister, but she doesn't like him.  She ends up liking him later though, because it's a rom-com musical from the '40s.

Actually, I could have just said "because it's a rom-com" and stopped there, because "two people who don't like each other and don't communicate with each other end up married and we're supposed to think this is a good thing" is basically the entire motivation for the rom-com genre.

Meanwhile, her sister is pursuing some other guy who she mistakes for this polo team captain, and since he usually has poor luck with women, he lets her believe in his mistaken identity.   What follows is a comedy of errors and mistaken identity that somehow manages to go from two women who go on a date with two men, get mad at them for things they did not do, learn the truth eventually, and go from being mad at them to marrying them.  After one date.   Because the movie was written by men in the '40s who followed formulaic story-writing to sell more movie tickets.

This film clearly does not show a woman looking for an excuse to stay.  The scene is played as a woman legitimately trying to leave.  So, on this date where the swimmer is grudgingly spending time with the polo captain, he puts the moves on her.  But she still thinks he's a disreputable jerk who is courting her sister and she is only out with him to protect her sister from him.  She is NOT into him (yet).

She grimaces when she tastes the drink ("what's in this drink?") and it's NOT storming outside - the Wolf is lying to her about the weather to get her to stay.  It's summer in California, the entire premise of the song is a manipulation to get someone to stay against their will.  She is playing the character as annoyed and legitimately trying to leave.

The Mouse is not trying to save her reputation, she is trying to give him a soft rejection, as women were (and still are) trained to do, to avoid punishment for rejection by passing the responsibility onto someone the aggressor would have more respect for (her parents, the neighbors, etc.).  It's just another variation on "I have a boyfriend" - she is trying to give excuses that he will find valid without saying she's not interested and risking making him feel rejected and hurt by her disinterest.

The reverse gender scene in the same movie is even worse.  Later, the sister is on the date with the pretend polo captain and she is obviously, aggressively, and annoyingly pursuing him.  The man is visibly angry at her and trying to leave, and she is physically forceful with him to get him to stay.  Apparently, because it's a woman assaulting a man, that makes it funny.  But it's not any less rapey when a woman does it to a man, and sometimes it's worse because patriarchy.

Very shortly afterwards, each of the couples apparently gets over all of this harassment and mistaken assumptions and they get married.   Which is exactly the sort of narrative that "what's in this drink wink wink" promotes.  So even if it *was* the joke-excuse, it's *still* harmful to idolize it *today* because the lesson is that when a woman says "no", she means "keep trying until we find a loophole" and that eventually the man will wear her down and win the girl for himself.

Sure, maybe some women did have to find some kind of "excuse" to save her reputation because she didn't have the freedom to say yes back then.  BUT THAT'S ALSO PART OF THE PROBLEM, and also not the point. 1) That merely perpetuates the myth today that a woman's "no" can't be trusted because men just need to give her an "excuse" to say yes; and 2) that is clearly not the context *of this song*.

That is retconning the song to assuage our modern consciences for liking it.

The writer here is not a man concerned with either protecting a woman's virtue or subverting sexual mores for women's freedom.  He did not write some female empowerment anthem in which a sexually active woman gets to have the sex she wants by justifying it with the right excuse.

He is just what the Wolf appears to be - a selfish, egotistical man more interested in what he gets out of things than in how it affects the women around him, and fully believing he is entitled to whatever he wants at the expense of what the women around him, particularly his own wife, want.  Which was absolutely status quo then and still is today.

And the producers who bought the song and the director who directed the scenes did not feel that the message was "no, really, I want to have sex, just give me an excuse".  They very clearly saw the song as someone legitimately rejecting another person because that's how they directed the actors to play the scene.

AND THAT'S HOW THE REST OF THE WORLD SAW AND HEARD THIS SONG FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME

How's that for context?

Just admit you like the song even though it's problematic.  Own that shit!  Have y'all heard the music I listen to?  I listen to pop country for fuck's sake!  You like that song, the lyrics are disturbing but the tune is catchy. Just accept it.

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: (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)
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: (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: (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: (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: (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: (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: (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 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: (being wise)

As a kid, I grew up on Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, and Crystal Gale. That was '70s country. Crystal Gale is the reason I gave to my parents, when I was finally old enough to articulate rather than just scream and throw a tantrum, how much I hated having my hair cut. I had my own 8-track stereo in the room I shared with my sister and a stack of cartridges with these '70s country icons (among others).

Then, as I started going to school and became aware of the social strata of popularity, I decided that I wanted to be one of the "cool kids". So I dumped the country in favor of Madonna, Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul, Corey Hart, and Culture Club.

Then, around 8th grade, I hit my rebellious phase and decided that being "cool" wasn't cool anymore, so I got into edgier music like glam rock, hard rock, and metal. If my mom wanted to throw the album in the trash, I thought it was great - Poison, Motley Crue, Alice Cooper, Metallica, Lita Ford, Def Leppard, Megadeath, Slayer, Skid Row, Ratt, etc.

But I still secretly harbored an interest in country. I wouldn't even admit this to myself, but it's true. And then, in my junior year, I found myself at a school dance with two guys who were vying for my attention, both of whom were total metalheads. We were standing in the courtyard as I desperately tried to make this encounter less awkward, when the Alan Jackson song, Chatahoochie, came over the speakers.

These two blond haired guys wearing ripped, stone-washed jeans, black band t-shirts, and heavy leather motorcycle boots playing passive-aggressive dominance games with each other both immediately stopped their one-upmanship, looked at each other, and shouted in unison "Chatahoochie!" and ran back inside the building together, while I stood there with my mouth hanging open.

Still under the mesmerizing sway of popular opinion (only now it was the "we're all so unique that we reject the mainstream in exactly the same way" type of "popular"), I decided that if these two rockers could like country music, that was enough permission for me to like it again. So I got into country music right then and there, with Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, Tim McGraw, and Faith Hill.

About a year or two later, I was driving my sister around (who was not *quite* old enough for her license yet to drive herself). She liked rap and hip hop, which bothered the hell out of me. I couldn't stand the lack of melody lines and complex harmonies and the overwhelming percussion to almost the exclusion of any other instrument.

But it was my car, so it was my music. I don't remember if a Dixie Chicks song came on the radio and my sister expressed an interest in it, if the song was on one of my mix tapes, or if *she* put the music in herself. But somehow or another, she ended up admitting to liking the Chicks "because they're not really country".

So I said to her, "honey, they're bluegrass! They're more country than any of these other country stars on the radio!" She insisted that she didn't like country music, just the Chicks, who didn't "count".

This is the first memory I have of noticing the inconsistencies with the phrase "I like everything but country and rap". How could anyone like bluegrass music but not "country"? And then, a popular country song hit the charts that was released as a hip hop ballad almost at the same time. It was exactly the same, except for the accents of the singers - white twang vs. "urban" (i.e. "black").

This song became huge radio hits on their respective stations, but I noticed that A) most people had no idea that there was a version in the genre that they "hated", and B) when they did find out, they were outraged and they "hated" the other version in spite of using almost the exact same backing track and being nearly identical except for the singers' accents.

That started me down the path of learning about how the different genres influenced each other, which led me to the history of music in general (well, that and I was forced to take a Musical Theory class, which didn't actually teach us much "theory" (which I got more from my piano teacher) but did spend the whole semester traveling through time showing us how music genres begat other music genres), which finally led me to the conclusion that people who "like everything but country and rap" are full of shit. Including myself.

I have never been able to articulate why this now bugs me so much. I spend a lot of time rambling about the frustration of people who just don't know their music history. But this article simplifies the whole thing. This isn't just a widespread musical ignorance, it's a deliberate marketing decision to racially segregate an industry. And we all buy into it, literally almost a century later.

"That’s when the “everything but country” comment started to bug me. I figured people just weren’t trying, heard Toby Keith on the radio, and changed the station. Still, I couldn’t understand how some of the people I knew who were deeply interested in music like I was couldn’t see the light and recognize the worth of country music."

"“Everything but country and rap” at its core is a class issue. I just needed someone else to say it, and it confirmed why it had been bugging me. ... Where there’s class issues, there are race issues. This is no surprise. But that’s where the story of “everything but country and rap” starts: a formal racial division."

"When popular recorded music was first able to be distributed and marketed in the 1920s, a decision had to be made. This is the South-- do we keep all of the blues-based music together? That would mean white and black in one category. It was an easy answer at the time: no. This created two, in Hubbs’ words, “racially distinct marketing categories:” hillbilly and race."

"While they seem completely separate, hip hop and country sit on the extremes of the spectrum of popular musical genres, and find themselves subject to many of the same criticisms. This, to me, threw open the door on why “everything but country and rap” is a bigger deal than it seems. Authenticity is important in both musical communities, both policed inwardly and from outside listeners."

“Authenticity seekers today reject modern commercial country and its market-driven anything-goes stylistic idiom, idealizing past artists and purist notions of a genuine folk idiom,” Hubbs explains. In embracing this fantasy, listeners forget that “country has always been a commercial music.”

"To admit you like country music is admitting you like something inherently and purely working class, which jeopardizes your status as middle class. ... The middle class white actively avoid identifying with country music and hip hop because it represents something they’re afraid of being perceived as: something other than white, and something lower than middle class."

"Country and hip hop are seen as extremes: one very conservative, religious, and traditional, and the other vulgar and violent. ... These blanket statement topics are how the cultural majority is taught to interpret these genres. There’s no discussion that these are very rich groupings of music, with many vibrant subgenres of their own. ... The anxiety that causes people to avoid being fans of these genres, however, prevents understanding this. It all sounds the same because it all sounds different than what you listen to."

I've been trying really hard over the last several years to describe the sounds that I like or dislike, rather than blindly listing entire genres. I prefer melodic music, even better if it's in my own vocal range. I also like catchy hooks, and I also like complex harmonies and intricate interplay among different instruments. This means that I do occasionally like some songs that fall under the "rap" and "hip hop" genre titles because these are rich and diverse genres that sometimes incorporate these elements.

I don't like "country" so much as I like the sound of fiddles, banjos, and Southern accents, specifically. I am more likely to find that in country music, but not always. I also like blues bass lines, so I'm also going to find that in a lot of country music, because what's more "white culture" than appropriating "black" art?

After my departure from pop music into rock and metal, I adopted the typical rocker arrogance (which has since turned into hipster snobbery) where I didn't like anything "popular" because "everyone else liked it" (completely oblivious to the immense popularity of my own hard rock idols who filled stadiums with thousands and thousands of fans).

It has taken me a really long time to finally admit that I do actually like pop music. When I first started admitting to it, I tried to soften the revelation by saying that I only got into it because I do ballroom dancing, and we have an aging-out problem. It's really hard to continue bringing in new dancers when the dance style is an older style associated with older music.

So, as you might have noticed if you watch Dancing With The Stars, a lot of dancers have been dancing to modern pop music, partly in an effort to attract newer, younger dancers, but also because some of those dancers *are* new and younger and that's the kind of music they like.

If someone looked at me sideways for having a pop song or artist on my playlist, I would shrug and say "I'm a dancer. I build playlists, and this is what brings people in." But, honestly? It's on my playlist because I fucking like the song. Maybe not my YouTube playlists, which are deliberately built to introduce people to partner dancing and get them to learn how to identify rhythms suitable to each dance style.

But my personal playlists on my iPod contain songs that I like to listen to. And yeah, I have music from Nickleback, Britney Spears, NSYNC, and about half the former-Disney-bubblegum-artist squad. That music is commercially successful because it capitalizes on sounds *that people like to hear*.

So here is yet another rant on why I dislike when people dismiss entire genres of music when I know that they haven't put in the time to actually experience those genres. You can't always help the sounds that you like or dislike, and that's not what I'm talking about. I don't care if you don't like the sound of a fiddle. But that's not "country music". I don't care if you don't like lyrics that "glorify violence", but that's not "rap music".

What has bothered me about the "I like everything but country and rap" is something that I didn't have the words to explain - this is an inherently classist and racist attitude that was deliberately, consciously, developed in our society by a commercial mega-industry for the two-fold purpose of increasing profits and solidifying bigotry in our society.

http://www.runoutnumbers.com/blog/2015/11/16/everything-except-country-and-rap

(One of these days, I still want to put together an audio quiz with little snippets of songs and challenge people to identify the song as country or not, because I bet that people who don't listen to the genre and don't recognize the songs won't do well on that test.

I also plan to put together a YouTube video of snippets of songs that exemplify the different subgenres of country music, to show the diversity of the genre - Zydeco sounds WAY different from Beach Country which sounds way different from Southwestern Country which sounds way different from Pop Country which sounds way different from this new rap/sing-talk/country crossover thing, and sometimes it's *really* hard to tell if a song is bluegrass or Irish folk music.)

joreth: (anger)
https://wearyourvoicemag.com/identities/feminism/mindy-kalings-brother-slut-shamed-distract-bizarre-race-experiment

There's this thing that some people do. When they belong to a class of people that has some (or a lot) of discrimination against them, some people choose to embrace their oppressors, their oppressors' values, and their oppressors' worldviews.

My mom is a good person, generally speaking, and I love her. I consider her a friend as well as a mother, and I talk to her about almost everything. She grew up a poor Mexican in the '50s and '60s. Her father actually had money for a while, long enough to pay for the eldest daughter's extravagant Quinceañera and send her to private school.

But by the time the other kids were old enough for similar things, my grandfather lost all his money and the family became poor.

My grandparents were immigrants and never did learn English. Oh, they spoke a few words here and there, but they never really picked it up. They deliberately sent their children to English-speaking schools and encouraged assimilation, so that their children would have more opportunities in the US than they had. Which is not a terrible hope to have for children.

So my mom speaks English with no accent (unless she's just back from visiting her sisters who still live in Texas and still speak Spanish at home, and then the accent peeks out again). She also married a white man whose parents were financially comfortable, a little bit racist, and also believed in their children improving on the lives that their parents started them with.

I am a 2nd generation, US-born Mexican descendant. I didn't learn Spanish until high school - in school. And I learned Castilian Spanish (that means, the language spoken in Spain and taught from textbooks with "proper" grammar, not the language of my grandparents).  And my mother still never spoke it to me - she wasn't refusing, she just never remembered to. It was no longer "her" language. She has to convert to Spanish, like a native English speaker, in order to speak it now.  So, to this day, I can't have a conversation in Spanish because I still can't "hear" it and I can only remember a handful of words, mostly cuss words that I picked up in grammar school from my Mexican peers.

My accent, my look, everything about me screams "white & middle class" because that's how I was raised. I went to private school, I was told to expect a bright future full of academic achievements and middle class adventures. I listen to country music for fuck's sake. And metal, back in the '80s.

I wrote before about my recent acceptance of the label "chicana". When I was growing up, a chicana was a lower class Mexican - the 1st generation descendant of immigrants and someone who did not speak proper English, did not live in a respectable neighborhood, dressed slutty, did only "bad girl" things like drinking and smoking and having sex, was probably in a gang, and likely had no future to look forward to other than more of the same - blue collar jobs, lots of children, and an ugly house in an ugly neighborhood.

I was not one of *those* Mexicans.

I grew up in the suburbs in a white neighborhood where a lot of my neighbors probably had that outlook. But I also went to public school whose district zoning was written to include my middle class housing tract as well as those Latino ghettos. So I was exposed to plenty of chicanos in my early days.

And yet, I still had that view of them. Which I got mainly from my parents. They were people who didn't respect themselves. We did. They were people who didn't *want* a better future, because my mom and her parents did want a better future for their progeny, and since they achieved it, obviously it was available there for anyone who wanted it badly enough to work for it. Since they didn't achieve it, obviously they didn't want it badly enough.  My mom embraced assimilation. Being of the light-skinned variety of Mexican and having a white husband, white name (through marriage), and no accent probably helped a lot. But she improved her lot in life by assimilating. So, obviously, assimilation is a good thing, no?

My mom worries about me because I live in a poor neighborhood. She specifically asked me about the racial makeup of the neighborhood as part of her worrying. My parents are the sort who would nod approvingly at Cosby (before his fall from grace) when he declared that black people were hurting themselves by wearing baggy jeans and speaking with their accents. If they just cleaned themselves up (i.e. adopted white values of appearance and decorum), they, too, could reap the benefits that white people enjoyed.

I remember my dad complaining endlessly about baggy pants, especially in the car when he would see "gangbangers" walking down the street. I also remember my mom telling me the story of how, when they were moving from Texas to California while engaged, to start their new life together, my parents were refused service at some establishment or another (a restaurant, a hotel, I don't remember) because the establishment didn't serve "hippies".

Now, my parents were NEVER hippies. But they were married in 1968. So my mom had hair almost as long as mine, and it was very straight, and my dad grew a big mustache when he got out of the military and had that shaggy '70s version of "short" hair, which of course was not short enough for conservatives who were born 20 years earlier. And they drove a van. You know ... one of *those* '70s vans (but it had real seats in it, not a bed).  I also remember my mom telling me about the discrimination she experienced when some establishments recognized that they were an interracial couple. Hateful things screamed at my parents when they were together in public, once someone recognized my mom as Mexican.

Mom even refused to allow me to attend a formal dance at my high school called The Black & White Charity Ball ("black & white" being slang for black-tie, tux-formal) with a guy I was kinda sorta dating who happened to be black.  She was afraid that I would experience discrimination for being in an interracial relationship (the irony that *I* was interracial all by myself was lost on her although I did point it out) and she was so upset by the experience that she was willing to prevent me from having that experience even if it meant hurting me by forbidding me to attend a dance with a guy I liked because of his skin color.

The point is that my parents knew what discrimination felt like, but they also believed that they could *do* things that would reduce or remove that discrimination. As long as they followed the rules, they would be treated like the class whose rules they followed. This is what allows people to tell BLM protestors that the secret to not being murdered while black is to just comply with police. Be a good little Negro, son, and the White Man won't harass you.

Except my parents *could* benefit from following the rules, not because following the rules gets you privilege, but because there are other things beyond their control that determine how willing society is to throw them a bone that they mistake as a privilege. Like whether they're more Spaniard in coloring or indigenous in coloring. Or how much progress has been made in the culture at large.

This goes back to my other post about Godot not being a person of color, and how we are not all the same in our oppression. There are a lot of us with more melanin in our skin or who say words differently than Becky from Wisconsin, but our experiences are not the same as each others'. Some of us are afforded more, or at least different, privileges from the rest.

As was mentioned in the comments of that post on Facebook, this is how That Asshole who killed Treyvon Martin could experience discrimination as a Latino man and still enjoy an enormous amount of white privilege in the killing of Treyvon and his other racist assaults and insults.

People of Latin American descent are *legally* classified as "white", unless they identify as Afro-Latinx (and then they're just "black" like Gina Torres from Firefly, because y'all black people are all the same thing, right?). That gives us some privileges that people who are not classified as "white" don't get. Like being allowed to vote or marry white people before black people could do either.

So here is someone who looks a lot like the US's current favorite whipping boy who still manages to think that Affirmative Action hurts the "more deserving people" (whites and Indians, apparently) and that black people are unfairly privileged in this country.

Because, if part of your culture includes embracing assimilation the way that many Latinx people, especially older people, encourage assimilation of their children to trade for future success, a member of an oppressed class can find some amount of what looks like privilege under your oppressors. This is one of the many (and brilliant) strategies for perpetuating oppression.

It's much like benevolent sexism. "Act like a Lady and we'll treat you like a queen. But fall of the pedestal we put you on, and you'll learn exactly how much we really hate you by the long fall and the hard bottom. You are only deserving of privileges as long as you meet our qualifications for them.

And when we punish you, we'll even tell you that some of your punishments are actually privileges. Like what an 'honor' it is to be a stay-at-home mom. You're just so much naturally better at it than men! What do you need a silly thing like an education or a career or your own income for when you can have babies?!"

"No, but Asians are just good at math! And medicine! They're all doctors and engineers! What? It's a compliment! It can't be racism, I was being nice!" Toe the line, meet white standards, and you'll be thrown some table scraps that you've been convinced are gourmet meals.

"Whose a good boy? Whose a good boy? Do you want a treat? Sit! Speak! Shake! Stay! Good boy! Here you go, here's a treat for you! We love you! Just remember, though, if you ever step out of line and pee in our favorite shoes, it's the pound for you!"*

Keep us all distracted from the white upper class oppression by keeping us looking to the side and down. Engage us in their oppression like a bully finding a shy loner and getting him to do the bully's dirty work in the hopes of one day being accepted by the charismatic and powerful bully.

"Sure, you can join our club. Just as soon as you publicly humiliate your sister, and oh, by the way, the difficulty you're having joining our elite group? Yeah, that's these black people's fault. Might want to go do something about that too."
joreth: (feminism)
https://t.co/vYkCwB2LDV

I've been having conversations like this all weekend because, legally speaking, in the US, people of Latin American descent are classified as "white". As in, when it was illegal for a black person to marry a white person, it was never illegal (in the US) for a Mexican to marry a white person. We have never been "equal" to whites, but we were still classified as the same species, unlike black people who were literally classified for a time as subhuman.

There has absolutely been oppression and hatred and bigotry directed at any number of nationalities, ethnicities, and skin tones. It has not all been the *same*. I'm not even going to rank any of it - it was just *different* for us all. Our cultural histories are *different*. So when it comes to representation, someone of my heritage, or Gadot's heritage, cannot stand in for all POC, and sometimes not for any POC.

I may be Chicana, but the world sees me (and therefore treats me) as white, so my experiences, especially my successes, can't be used as examples of POC success or representation. As for Gadot, I will let the people most affected by her speak for or about her.

"But what about all the black AND Latinx people who tell me that POC is an umbrella term that includes black people, Latinx, Pacific Islanders, and Middle Easterners? Are you saying I'm wrong to call them all POC?"

You've been somewhat misled. If you look on any census or many government stat questionnaires, "Hispanic" is not a race. We still have to classify ourselves as white in the race category.

"Latin American" was created by white people to replace (and is often used interchangeably with) "Hispanic" because Peru speaks Portuguese and white USians wanted a single word to refer to a dozen different distinct nationalities rather than acknowledge us as all different. People from those regions do not call ourselves Latin American. We usually refer to our country of origin - Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, etc. or even more locally by tribe or indigenous affiliation like other Native American people.

That's like Italians and Irish people all calling themselves "European", except if the US invaded Europe, colonized it, and then said "since we've renamed your continent Europe, you're all just Europeans now because we want to track you all but we really don't care enough about your individual cultures to track you that granularly.  And, not only are you all just "European", you're also all white, because you're not black.  But if you are black, you're not "European", you're still just black."

Because people of South American descent are discriminated against, we are often brought under the umbrella of "POC" because black and brown and red and yellow are all colors of skin and none have the status of "white".

But a success or a representation of one of us is not a success or a representation of us all. Our various histories of oppression are *different* and one group overcoming a hurdle is not representative of all people of color and all their distinctive hurdles.

As, for example, the issue of marriage mentioned above. Mexican children were always able, legally, to go to school with white children, as another example. A Mexican getting a degree from a "white" university is not a "win" for black people, who were legally barred from entry into white schools. That accomplishment does not represent all POC and should not be celebrated as such.

And another point - South America is a colonized continent with an incredibly diverse ethnic and racial background. We are not all brown. For a long time, there was even a strict caste system in place based on how much white or indigenous or African ancestry one had. Being from Mexico could mean that I'm African-Mexican or Native Mexican or Spaniard (which is white) or some mix.

Mexican people in particular, of those with South American heritage, have been trying to gain some control over our nomenclature, but nobody seems to hear us. They just keep calling us "Hispanic" and "Latino/a/x" whether we want to be called that or not.

And then there is a segment of our population who is all about embracing assimilation and our colonizers and invaders. They'll vehemently defend those terms or tell you that its not problematic to use them, that it's not a big deal. Some of these people voted for Hair Gropenführer and made headlines when they were surprised to find their totally legal asses deported anyway.

So whether we fall under the POC umbrella depends on who is speaking and the context of the subject. But a success for one member is not a success for us all. Maybe if all POC finally figure out that we outnumber the white folk when we're all counted as one bloc and we rise up unified, but that probably won't happen.  When it comes to POC rights and being equal, then we can all band together as one group.  But when it comes to specific types of discrimination or specific landmarks and historical progress, we cannot each stand in for us all.  

The history of Jews is not my history as a descendant of Mexicans.  The history of Africans in the US is not my history as a descendant of Mexicans.  And Gadot headlining a successful action film is a huge win for women in film and entertainment, but not a win for "POC", let alone WOC.  Talk to me when a person of obvious African ancestry headlines a successful action film, or when an Asian actor headlines as the romantic lead or a successful action character that isn't a martial arts expert.  Or a Mexican (playing a Mexican character, because there are some women of Latin American descent who occasionally play no specific ethnicity and pass as white) headlines anything not as a villain or in a film not related to drug cartels.

And then come talk to me when those landmark films are a drop in the bucket and we no longer need to point out "well, there was This Film who had This One Actor who did This Thing" to somehow "disprove" that racism doesn't happen in Hollywood.

#ContextualPOC
joreth: (being wise)
Sometimes people feel like the answers they're getting aren't helpful. Sometimes, it's because those answers *aren't* helpful and they're missing the point.

But sometimes it's because the question they're asking isn't relevant to the problem at hand because they have all these implicit assumptions about the subject matter that are incorrect. In order to actually solve the problem, they have to look at the problem from a totally different angle.

So the answers sound like they're coming out of left field. Which they might be, but that's because the ball you think you hit down the center is actually *in* left field and you're looking in the wrong place because that's where you expect the ball to be, but it's not.

If it sounds like they didn't answer your question, that may be because your question is nonsensical in the given circumstances, so they answered the question that you should have asked instead.  In order to make sense of it, you will have to look around the corners of your own question and its embedded assumptions to see what the actual problem is and how to solve it.

#YouCanNotSolvePolyProblemsWithMonogamousAssumptions #YouCanNotSolveMedicalProblemsWithAbleistAssumptions #YouCanNotSolveDiscriminationProblemsWithRacistOrSexistAssumptions #YouCanNotSolvePersonalProblemsWithStereotypicalAssumptions
joreth: (boxed in)
Hypothetical boss of part-time employee: Yeah, we're gonna need an official diagnosis from a doctor in order to accommodate your "condition".

Me: OK, well, since I don't have health insurance because I'm a part-time employee, I don't have a doctor anymore. This may come as a surprise to you, but doctors don't hand out certificates when they diagnose people with "Congratulations! You have a debilitating illness!" on them.

I don't have any paperwork "proving" that I have a condition, that's not how medical diagnoses work, and I will have to go back to a doctor and pay out of pocket to get one, assuming I can find a doctor who will do that (sharing medical information is a violation of patient privacy, btw, which can be a federal offense, so demanding "proof" is legally questionable, at best).

Which, by the way, will require an invasive exploratory surgery and a hospital stay for a "non-emergency" procedure because that's the only way to diagnose this particular condition. So we're talking tens of thousands of dollars for a doctor to tell me what I already know and which doesn't change the fact of my existence with this condition - whether a doctor recognizes it or not doesn't make the pain and vomiting any less.

And it will also put me out of commission for a few weeks so I won't be able to come into work anyway, or earn any money to pay for the surgery.

OR... you could just believe me that I have a chronic, debilitating condition that affects my ability to work sometimes and make at least as many concessions for me as you do for the pregnant women who are allowed to sit down more often or are given other tasks to make up for the lower amount of manual labor that they do or can call out or rearrange their schedule to accommodate their condition.

All *I'm* asking for is to not get fired if I have to call in sick more than some blanket number of days per year when I show up the rest of the time and when I am a satisfactory employee while I'm there.

I know it's a hardship on the rest of the team when people call in sick. I'm just saying, don't pick some arbitrary number of days that a person can call in sick and then fire people when they hit that number. This needs to be handled with more context and nuance regarding the individual person, and expecting part-time, minimum wage workers to have access to healthcare including the ability to get "doctor's notes" to excuse them is not a solution.
joreth: (feminism)

In honor of today, a little history and a video about labels.

Today is not Mexican Independence Day and is not as widely celebrated in Mexico as it is in the US. When it is celebrated in Mexico, it is done so as a military memorial kind of day. It's only in the US that it's celebrated as a generic "yay Mexican culture" day. This date is actually the anniversary of Mexico's triumph over France during one battle (in a war that they ultimately lost). This is important to the US because, had Mexico not defeated France in this battle, the French would have been in a position to aid the Confederacy during the US Civil War, turning the tide of history.

It *started out* as a holiday celebrated by Mexican gold miners and farmers in California, who were excited about the defeat of the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 and was celebrated only in California until about the 1940s when the Chicano movement started to fight for Mexicano civil rights in the US. Then it spread out across the country, but still mostly among people of Mexican descent or in areas with high Mexican populations.

It wasn't until the 1980s when fucking beer companies decided to use the holiday to market their products that the rest of the US got in on the act. So, pretty much everything about this holiday as it's celebrated today is literal cultural appropriation capitalism. No one but the Chicano activists cared about "Mexican culture" until beer companies told us we could get drunk to "celebrate" in order to sell us more beer.

Y'know what? I'd actually kinda welcome the US "appropriating" Cinco de Mayo if the reason was that we were celebrating Mexico's symbolic victory *because* that victory meant that the Union won the Civil War, instead of "hey, we have a lot of Mexicans here, so let's throw them a bone by selling them beer with Spanish names and letting them have parades once a year to pretend that we like having them in our country".

Like, if we acknowledged that this one battle led to the defeat of the Confederacy, so we metaphorically reached across the border to shake Mexico's hand to say "thanks for being badasses, we benefited from the sacrifices that your military made in its own struggle for independence and we honor your fallen", I don't think I'd have any problem with the US celebrating another country's holiday.

"Today, class, we celebrate a small victory of our neighbors against their invaders. Even though those invaders ultimately won, this single victory kept those invaders distracted from us long enough for our own government to clean house and defeat the rebel traitors in our midst.

And, to thank them for their sacrifice, we offered our military support to oust their invaders once we handled our own rebel factions. So we celebrate in solidarity with a nation whose success is inextricably linked to our own."

#PatrioticCompersion

The Battle of Puebla

The actual history behind the holiday is kinda fascinating. The Mexican-American war and the Reform War basically bankrupted Mexico, so they tried to suspend paying off their foreign debts for a couple of years. France, led by Napoleon III, said "no way, Jose" and invaded Mexico. In a massive battle where France totally outnumbered Mexico, the smaller Mexican army managed to defeat the French at a fort they tried to occupy.

This wasn't a strategically important battle, but this military version of the David & Goliath story boosted Mexican morale, which led to the Mexicans in the mining towns in California during the Gold Rush celebrating the victory that led to the US version of the holiday. Shortly afterwards, France sent 30,000 troops and totally crushed Mexico, installing their own emperor, although France continued to be besieged by Mexican guerrilla attacks. The following year, the US Civil War was over.

If Mexico hadn't had that one win, France would have occupied Mexico much sooner and been in a position to aid the Confederacy. But instead, they were busy with their own war with Mexico and by the time they had resources to devote to our own conflict, the US Civil War was already coming to its conclusion.

France held control of Mexico for only about 3 years because, with our own war over, we sent aid to Mexico to help get the French out. Napoleon III didn't much care for the thought of tangling directly with a now united USA, especially when he was also dealing with the Prussians, so he withdrew.

In addition, since the Battle of Pueblo, no European military force has invaded any country in the Americas.


Nowadays, what to call people of Mexican ancestry living in the US has become its own political battle. Growing up, I did not identify as Hispanic because I don't natively speak Spanish, although the term is applied to people with ethnic ties to Spanish-speaking countries. When I referred to my heritage, I preferred Latina. It was much later that I learned of the term Mestizo, which is more accurate for me - a person of mixed European and indigenous Amerindian descent (which is accurate for most people from Latin America, being descended from Spaniards & Native Americans during the Spanish occupation of Latin American lands).

The term Mestizo has a checkered past, being associated with the casta system (a system of racial hierarchy imposed on the Americas by Spanish elites). But in Mexico in particular, during the struggle for Mexican independence, Mestizos made up a political majority so the term became central to the new independent Mexican identity and became more about the dual nature of heritage and ethnicity than the casta system.

As a youth, I rejected the term Chicana because I heard it as a borderline slur used by white people. I wasn't one of *those* Mexicans, therefore I wasn't chicana. But later, I learned the history of the term and came to adopt it over Latina. Latina / Latino is an colonialist term imposed upon those whose whose ancestry or ethnic heritage comes from one of the many, diverse countries in Latin America.

I also rejected the term chola for the same reasons. Cholo has been in use since the 1600s and is another casta term. It also means someone of mixed European and Amerindian descent, but the proportions are different. It means the offspring of a mestizo and a full-blooded Amerindian. Because that makes someone lower on the casta ladder, the term became synonymous with lower class.

After the rise of gangs in California in the 1970s and spreading into the 1990s, cholo came to refer to specifically Mexican-Americans who were in gangs or who adopted stereotypical attire, because of the word's association with lower class, which is the only way that I knew the term at the time. So, because I wasn't one of *those* Mexicans, I rejected the term chola as well, although I have not since reconsidered adopting the label, as it still doesn't fit me as well as mestizo or chicana.

People of Latin American regions do not typically refer to themselves as Latin American, instead usually preferring to identify more locally as the region from which they come, like Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, or even more specifically, the pueblo (village or tribal) identification such as Mayan, Zapotec, Mixtec, Huasteco, or any of hundreds of other indigenous groups. Generally only the US refers to people of those regions as Latino.

"Latino" is basically like calling someone "European" and ignoring their country of origin, only if we had colonized Europe (instead of the other way around) and then named them all generic "European" whether they liked it or not just to make it easier for our census bureau and corporate marketing departments.

In the 1960s, the Chicano Movement was started to fight for civil rights for people of Mexican descent in the US. Chicano was originally a pejorative and is still used that way by some, but some Mexican-Americans chose to reclaim the label, specifically for activists.

"According to the Handbook of Texas:

Inspired by the courage of the farmworkers, by the California strikes led by César Chávez, and by the Anglo-American youth revolt of the period, many Mexican-American university students came to participate in a crusade for social betterment that was known as the Chicano movement. They used Chicano to denote their rediscovered heritage, their youthful assertiveness, and their militant agenda. Though these students and their supporters used Chicano to refer to the entire Mexican-American population, they understood it to have a more direct application to the politically active parts of the Tejano community."

"For Chicanos, the term usually implies being 'neither from here, nor from there' in reference to the US and Mexico. As a mixture of cultures from both countries, being Chicano represents the struggle of being institutionally acculturated into the Anglo-dominated society of the United States, while maintaining the cultural sense developed as a Latin-American cultured, US-born Mexican child."
"Juan Bruce-Novoa wrote in 1990: 'A Chicano lives in the space between the hyphen in Mexican-American'".
"And as Chicanos come to terms with what it means to be a part of two worlds, post-colonialism, they must now deal with the fact that they have one foot in the Anglo-dominated world, that they are indigenous to and contribute, in their own, unique cultural experience, to the American melting pot; and all the while having another foot in New World they descended from, Latin-American, Spanish-dominated through conquest and Anglo-dominated through American Manifest Destiny, empiricism, and greed."
"Journalist Rodolfo Acuña writes: When and why the Latino identity came about is a more involved story. Essentially, politicians, the media, and marketers find it convenient to deal with the different U.S. Spanish-speaking people under one umbrella. However, many people with Spanish surnames contest the term Latino. They claim it is misleading because no Latino or Hispanic nationality exists since no Latino state exists, so generalizing the term Latino slights the various national identities included under the umbrella."
It should also be pointed out that none of this refers to *race*. The US counts Hispanic / Latino as "white" even though we are not white or are of mixed ancestry. Mexicans are typically descended from Spaniards (counted as "white") and Native Americans almost equally, with something like 10% of African ancestry mixed in. In fact, genetic research on Latin Americans, and Mexicans specifically, show a very strong paternal European line with a strong maternal Amerindian line - meaning that our mixed ancestry is overwhelmingly due to colonization of conquering Spanish men impregnating local women so often that the entire genetic makeup of the country was changed to a predominantly mixed ethnicity of nearly equal amounts of European genetics through male genes and indigenous genetics through female genes. This, in itself, is an interesting rabbit hole to explore.

 

Incidentally, this is why I have not accepted this new shorthand for polyamory as "polyam". The argument is that "poly" is short for "Polynesian" and we are somehow oppressing "Polynesian" people by using this term for polyamory, in spite of the fact that the term "poly" is actually Greek and is a prefix for a great many things. Much like the controversy between Latino & Chicano, "Polynesian" is a controversial term among people for whom that term applies. Some accept it readily just as some of Mexican descent accept "Latino".

But others recognize it as a symbol of their colonization and do not self-identify as "Polynesian", instead preferring to identify more locally as the region from which they come, much like many don't like to refer to themselves as Latino and instead refer to themselves from more local regions like Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, or even more specifically, the pueblo (village or tribal) identification such as Mayan, Zapotec, Mixtec, Huasteco, or any of hundreds of other indigenous groups.

Like the myriad cultures in the region known to the US as the Polynesian Isles, each region in Latin America has its own distinct culture, identifiably and often contentiously separate from its neighbors. I empathize with and strongly identify with those under the "Polynesian" label who reject the term as a symbol of colonization because of my own ethnic relationship to colonizationally imposed ethnicity labels.

With many decades having passed, the debate about accepting our colonizers' labels for ourselves vs. maintaining our ethnic identity vs. breaking off and creating a new identity that accommodates our split heritage continues, even among ourselves. I choose the terms that reflect my split heritage because I feel split, torn, apart from, and I choose terms that celebrate and encourage activism and deliberate intent and personal choice.

I like the terms "chicana" and "mestizo" (the lower case is appropriate in Mexican Spanish) over "Hispanic" or "Latina" because I like the association with civil rights, activism, and the acknowledgement of a unique culture that results from the blending of the old ethnic ancestry and the new country into which one is born. Although I still use Latinx because that is more readily understandable, I am mestizo or chicana - a person of mixed ethnicity with ties to Mexico but no place in Mexican culture; an activist who is struggling to find her own place in this world with pressures to assimilate battling with pressures to recognize and remember; someone who is neither from here, nor from there; a person with a rich cultural tapestry and yet no home.

 

 


joreth: (Kitty Eyes)
I'm hearing rumblings of people upset because Beyonce is playing or played at the CMAs this year. The excuse is that she's not a country artist so she doesn't belong at the CMAs. Other people have pointed out the hypocrisy here with other non-country artists being invited guests to previous CMAs so it's likely more about hidden racism or sexism, so I'm not going to reiterate that here (although, because of that, I think it's incredibly fitting that she sang with the Dixie Chicks, who had their own brush with sexism and intolerance rampant in the country music scene).

What I am going to do is get on my soapbox about the "purity" of music.

YOUR COUNTRY MUSIC IS NOT AND HAS NEVER BEEN "PURE COUNTRY".

Neither has your rock and roll, or any other genre of music, for that matter.

All music has evolved and blended and stolen and shared with other styles of music. That's what art does, as an expression of feelings by people who have experiences. No one lives in a bubble and we are all influenced by other people, but art itself *deliberately* influences other art and *deliberately* allows itself to be influenced.

When pressed, most people who complain about the "pop" in "country" seem to think that Hank Williams. and Johnny Cash are the epitome of "country", as if country music was invented in an isolation lab in the late 1950s and lived on an island until the 1970s, when it got "corrupted" by outside influences and money.

I got news for you - that's not how "country" started, nor is it what "country" music *is*. Even Johnny Cash listened to Nine Inch Nails and appreciated and respected the musical artistry of Trent Reznor. One of Johnny Cash's greatest songs was also one of his last songs and it was a cover of a Nine Inch Nails song. It's hard to think of two genres of contemporary musicians further apart than those two, but because they were consummate musicians, they understood the complex, intertwined relationship that all music genres have with each other.




People seem most offended at the idea of country music and rock music blending, but the two genres (including pop music - I know neither genres' fans are willing to admit any relation to "pop music", but more on that later) are inextricably linked, twisting and spinning and folding and mixing around with each other from day one.  "Country" music can be traced to its most heavily influential roots of Irish and other European folk music *strongly* blended with the cultural appropriation of jazz, which evolved out of a massive cultural appropriation of Negro music. Same with rock, btw.

"In the beginning", the music that eventually became known as "country" was a blend. They took some of the favorite musical instruments of poor white people and added the melodies, harmonies, and rhythms of poor black people. "Country" has never been "pure".  Later (but not much later), rock and roll came along, which took that poor white music mixed with poor black music and threw in a little urbanization by removing some of the regional "twang", in one sense "sanitizing" the music for popular consumption.

In other words, rock and roll was the first modern "pop" music, a white-washed, pseudo-innovative, stolen version of music originally being made by people "the masses" weren't "ready" to hear.

Don't get me wrong, I love rock and roll music. I'm merely describing it. Because I love it, I won't let myself close my eyes to its origins or its cultural impact. In spite of the controversy and the upper classes trying to ban and block the progress of rock music, it was still originally a toned-down, less creative, less musically *interesting*, more polished version of other people's "edgier" music intended for commercialization. Exactly what rock snobs complain about "pop" music.  And none of the modern sub-genres of rock, including disco, industrial, electronica, British Invasion, metal, etc. would exist if it hadn't been for that white-washed, sanitized "pop" music.

But back to country.

Country music, like rock music, isn't a single genre. I have two long-term YouTube projects on the back burner that I may or may never get around to: 1) is playing snippets of songs and having the listener attempt to guess if the song is technically classified as "country" or "rock", and if the listener doesn't already know the songs, I'm willing to bet that most people will find this challenging.  A lot of "identifying" music into their respective genres is actually identifying the singer's accent, which is in a sense, a form of racism - if there is a southern twang, it must be country, if there is an urban roughness it must be rock, and if there is a "black" voice it must be R&B or rap or "whatever black people sing" (depending on how blatant the racism of person doing the identifying is), but switch out singers and some of this music becomes identifiable as a different genre by many people, even with characteristic instruments;

and 2) is sharing sub-genres of "country" music (based on my own categorization, not necessarily any "official" categorization, mainly because I don't think one exists, although there may have been other "unofficial" attempts) and giving examples to illustrate the diversity of this genre that so many people think is a single monolithic genre or, at best, 3 sub-genres based on decade ('50s vs. '70s vs. today's "pop country" that somehow "doesn't count").

As a preview, just off the top of my head, some sub-gengres include: Southwestern country (with Native American and "old west" influences), zydeco country, bluegrass country, Caribbean country & its sister "beach" country, jump blues country, slide blues country, old-timey country, country rap, and country electronica, just to name what first popped into my head. I'm quite sure I can think of more distinct categories, as could some of you if any of you listen to country music.  If I played music from those categories for you, I guarantee that even non-country listeners could tell the difference.  But non-country listeners, by definition, don't listen to country and are likely not aware of all these different styles, even if they have actually been exposed to it at some point before.  And some country listeners are too busy trying to preserve the "purity" of whichever version they think is the One True Country to acknowledge the existence of the others or to dismiss them as a few fringe songs out there somewhere rather than a whole genre on their own.  But they exist and they have celebrity artists and cultures all their own.

So, Beyonce guest starred at the CMAs. OH NOES! What is country music coming to?!?! Well, I'll tell you. Country music is continuing on the path it has always traveled, by being an incredibly rich, diverse, and complex musical art form that is influenced by and borrows and steals from other cultures and other styles of music. Whether you *like* it or not is a different question and I'm not trying to make people *like* it, but "country" music is an amazingly colorful, intricate, heterogeneous art form, filled with hope and and anger and feminism and misogyny and racism and tolerance and anger and passion and love and deep sadness and great joy and silly fun and everything that makes up the human experience.

As we are not all the same person, so country music is not all the same sound. It is made up of the same conflicting, contradictory mishmash that we are as a species, comprised of the same capacity for transcendence and depravity, for simplicity and complexity, and influenced by the world around it, as we are.

I love taxonomy. I love categories and boxes and neat labels. But if being poly has taught me anything, it's that labels for X and Z may be necessary but that Y is something messy and in between, and *that's OK*.

So, welcome Beyonce, to the racist, sexist, yet beautiful world of country music. Where we are all different, and more the same for those differences.



The really ironic part is that, in the middle of the performance, they broke into a few bars of a Dixie Chicks classic song that literally complains about the "impurity" problem of country music:

They sound tired byt they don't sound Haggard (Merle Haggard)
They got money but they don't have Cash (Johnny Cash)

And for reference, the original song, which is quite Louisiana blues all on its own and lends itself very easily to a "country" version (if you don't count this as "country" to begin with).  Certainly the subject matter is a common country trope - lessons from daddy, guns, and women retaliating against domestic violence:
joreth: (being wise)
We all know them, those people who say "I don't like labels. I can't be summarized by a couple of terms", and they steadfastly refuse to use certain terms. Maybe even some of us are those people. I know that I've been known to say things like that in my time.

But lately this has been driving me up the wall. See, we have this thing, it's called "language". It's a collections of sounds that, when put together in a certain order, represents things, people, places, actions, concepts, etc. We make these sounds when we exhale air deliberately while vibrating our vocal chords and contracting the muscles in our tongues, jaws, lips, and even face. We make them to convey ideas. We make them because we want other people to know something. And the reason they know what we're doing when we do this strange thing called "talking", is because we have collectively agreed on the meanings of these collections of sounds.

Now, the meanings are pretty arbitrary when it comes right down to it. Oh sure, we can take a specific word, and trace it back to its roots and say that this is why these particular collections of sounds mean that concept. But the original set of sounds, the ones that didn't come from anywhere else, doesn't really *mean* anything to the rest of the universe ... or to people who did not agree on its meaning, such as people who speak a different language. Certainly other people in other places didn't require making that specific collection of sounds to mean that concept when they try to convey it to others, and no other species of life on the planet requires that particular collection of sounds when they try to convey that concept to another. Although there are some similarities - we are all related, after all.

But to get back to the point, "labels" are what we use to communicate. Without them, we don't communicate. Period. If I were to ask a guest to have a seat on the sofa, the word "sofa" is a label. We all generally understand what a "sofa" is, although I guarantee that every single one of you has a slightly different picture in your head when you read that word. And, when you really stop to think about it, sofas are pretty diverse. They come in different sizes, different fabric covers, different colors, some have cushions, some have padding, some have beds folded up inside of them. Really, how on earth does anyone actually know what I mean when I say "sofa" if we have this much diversity among sofas?

Because humans like to classify things, to categorize them, to organize them. Maybe individual people do not, but humans as a species do. It's how we learn anything about the universe. We group things together, like with like, and we separate things that are different. Doing this has led to a collective understanding of the universe that allows you to stare at a glowing box and understand the thoughts of someone like me, who may be on the other side of the planet from you without ever having physically seen me or heard my voice, as I rant about the meaning and usage of labels. This entire LJ post is predicated on the fact that everyone reading it has a more-or-less similar understanding of the meaning of each of these words - the collections of symbols that we have, again, arbitrarily chosen to represent those collections of sounds, that we have chosen to represent concepts.

But taxonomy is messy, it's imprecise. Things do not fit neatly into little boxes and categories, as any biologist or sociologist will tell you. And there are often more than one way to categorize things. But that doesn't mean we throw the baby out with the bathwater. It means that we factor that into our usage of the system. We assign meanings to those collections of sounds that are sufficiently broad enough to include the entire diverse range of things that *are* that concept even if they're not exactly the same, but specific enough to exclude those things that really are *not* that concept.

And the distinction between those that are and those that are not is not a line. It's sort of a fuzzy fade or gradation. Some gradations may be wider and softer than others. And there will also almost always be exceptions, things that *are* a particular concept even though they don't fit the category definition. Such as penguins and ostriches. When I say the word "bird", you all have a pretty good idea of the animal I'm talking about. Most of you will immediately think of something that is warm-blooded, egg-laying, smaller than people, covered in feathers, and flies. But some of you will think of an animal that does not have all of those criteria. And the rest of you will come up with animals that are technically "birds" but that do not have all of those traits too, only later, after the first image you came up with.

But I can tell you a story about walking along the beach and coming across these little birds on the sand, running back and forth towards the ocean and away from the ocean with the waves. And most of you will know what I'm talking about, even if you've never seen these particular birds before. It's not actually important, in this story, to give you the exact, biological classification for these specific birds. That's not the point I'm trying to make. All that matters is that you have a general idea of what a bird is, and can imagine something kind of close to what I saw so that you don't lose the thread of the story.

If the specific type of bird is important, we can have a further discussion, in which we get into the dirty details. For instance, if I tell you that one was flying in the air and suddenly dive-bombed me and landed on my head, it might be important to know how big this particular bird was, and whether it was a raptor sort of bird with sharp claws and a flesh-rendering beak. Those sort of details change the whole tone of the story. In that case, it would be useful to further define what I meant by "bird".

And once I have further defined what I meant, I can continue to use the word "bird" as a shorthand to summarize everything we have discussed about this particular bird, so that I don't have to say "so then this small, feathered, flight-enabled, warm-blooded, egg-laying life-form that was approximately 4 inches long from beak to tail with blue coloring and short, spindly legs, landed on my head and started walking around on the top of my head! The small, feathered, flight-enabled, warm-blooded, egg-laying life-form that was approximately 4 inches long from beak to tail with blue coloring and short, spindly legs looked at my friends and emitted a short, high-pitched sound from its open beak..." You can see how that would get tedious.

So when I get into semantics arguments, it is because language is so important in conveying ideas and concepts to one another ... communication (imagine that, a polyamorist interested in communication). Terms that are too narrow exclude things that should rightfully be included. Terms that are too broad render that word useless. The trick, I think, is to give a term sort of a checklist of criteria. And if something has the majority of items on the checklist, then it's probably safe to include it under the umbrella of the term.

Labels for people serve this same important purpose. They summarize us in a general sort of way, they shape our identity, and they provide a common point for which others can identify as "similar to me", which often leads to that sense of community that seems to be so important to humans (as a species, clearly not to some individuals). Expecting them to be exactly accurate for every single detail is expecting too much out of labels. But throwing them away as useless entirely is to discard the very foundation of how we communicate.

This is, of course, not the same thing as adopting a label as part of your personal identity. A person can be, for instance, a feminist while not *identifying* as a feminist. And there may be some very valid reasons for not choosing a label as a personal identity. But if a label has a checklist of criteria, and you fit the majority of them, then you technically *are* that label, whether you choose to identify as it or not.

Polyamorist/monogamist/swinger, atheist/deist/theist, straight/bi/gay/queer, feminist/mysoginist, wooager/rationalist, orinthologist/couldn't-identify-a-robin-if-it-told-me-so-itself-ist, whatever. Words have meaning. Their meaning is important. While it may be important in some cases to try and remove value judgements when using certain labels (particularly labels that identify people who are not yourself, but then again, sometimes it is important to have a value judgement for certain labels, y'know, like murderer), removing the label itself from one's vocabulary is not usually the answer to removing value judgement. In fact, some groups of people have successfully reversed the value judgement attached to a particular label, and continued to use it.

The word "queer", for instance, means strange, odd, unusual. It became a derogatory label for homosexuals some time ago (I have no idea when, it's not important for this point, but it was a long time ago), since homosexuals were considered strange, odd, or unusual. And since being strange was supposed to be a bad thing, calling someone strange, odd, or unusual - queer - was an insult. Well, getting people who hate you to stop calling you a particular word, especially if you're a minority who is not protected by law, is a pretty daunting task.

So instead, someone or someones chose to change the tone rather than the word. It *still* means strange, odd, and unusual, and it *still* is a label used for gay people. But now it doesn't necessarily mean "bad" (which, incidentally, was not part of the actual definition, just the cultural association), it doesn't necessarily convey that negative tone, and some people wear that label with pride.

This is sort of a sidenote, but when people talk about taking back a word, this is how it's done. Taking back a word doesn't mean changing its definition, it means changing the tone attached to the definition. When people claim to try and "take back the word" by making it mean the exact opposite of the definition, or worse, making it mean its original meaning and the opposite simultaneously, not only is this incorrect, but it's pretty damn-near impossible, and it actually renders the word useless. So I have a problem with that. But, I digress.

Labels. You don't have to choose any label to make up part of your personal identity. But the phrases "I don't believe in labels" and "I don't fit in any boxes or categories" and like sentiments are just silly and pretentious. Of course you believe in labels, otherwise you couldn't communicate with anyone beyond basic emotional concepts like fear, danger, and sleepy, (which, incidentally, the rest of us are labeling).

People who "don't believe in labels" A) just don't like the fact that taxonomy is messy, and if they don't fit exactly, precisely, and without exceptions, they want to throw the whole system out; B) don't understand what is meant by "label" and its necessarily fuzzy borders; or C) dislike association with other people who happen to also fit that particular label and are seeking to distance themselves from Those People.

So, by all means, don't identify as a particular label if you don't want to. I don't, at this time, identify as a transhumanist, in spite of the fact that all of my partners are, and everything they have to say on the subject is something I agree with. The main reason I don't add "transhumanist" to my collection of identity labels is simply because I don't feel as though I know enough about the label to justify accepting it, although I may, in fact, actually fit that label. But don't summarily dismiss all labels as useless or misleading because that would be deeply incorrect.

Labels are the very core, the foundation, of how we communicate. But you may be expecting too much from them. Remember that they are shorthand and a common point of connection to build communities. They are not exact, but they should be specific enough to exclude those concepts that, were they included, would render the label meaningless. They are not meant to displace discussion and explanation. They are meant to summarize it, to give concepts a focal point.

Removing a label from your vocabulary requires you to explain each and every time you want to communicate a particular concept. Maybe it's not clear from my lengthy and verbose blog posts, but I would find conversation like that tedious and repetitive if I had to explain certain concepts over and over again, and I'm sure my listeners would quickly tire of listening to me.  In fact, my "me manual" tag is precisely because I get frustrated when I have to explain certain things over and over again, so I can just point someone to that tag if they want to learn some commonly-explained concepts in dealing with me.

So go ahead, don't attach a particular label to your identity. But don't look down your nose at everyone else who uses language as the tool it is meant to be, by claiming that you are too complex to be labeled. I have news for you - you are labeled. Pretentious, tedious, holier-than-thou ... you have far more labels than you realize.

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