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: (Super Tech)
I did a thing!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BTW, if you need some A/V gear or engineering done in Atlanta, I highly recommend contacting Abrupt Media.
joreth: (Bad Joreth)

https://youtu.be/XBmJay_qdNc





"In his mind, he wasn't just stealing music, he was fighting for freedom!"

Coincidentally relevant to my last post (coincidentally in that it happened to cross my feed and my attention right after making my last post).

This is an interesting observation on exactly the points I was making - 3 in particular:

  1. We are all the heroes of our own stories and we can justify everything we do from within our perspectives;

  2. That doesn't mean that there is no such thing as "right" and "wrong" just that it's more complicated and the paths to correct people need to reflect that complexity and that understanding; and

  3. We have to leave room in our communities for people to fuck up and to treat them with compassion and understanding if we want to have any hope at all in changing the culture around us to lead to fewer fuckups with lesser degrees of consequences.

Burning it all to the ground (as I have been known to do) and leaving no room for tolerance or understanding (as a community - it's still OK for an individual to not want contact with someone or to give up on someone who harmed them) doesn't prevent people from doing bad things. This is why punitive justice systems don't work. If people come to believe that they are Bad People, for whatever reason but often because their society insisted that they were Bad, they tend to think "well, fuck it, if I'm bad, then I'm going out all the way!" There has to be room for redemption. That is actually much more effective at stopping bad things from happening and in limiting those bad things that still do happen to more manageable bad things.
joreth: (Bad Computer!)
PSA: Turn your fucking phones sideways when taking video! There's a reason why, when we moved away from a mostly square screen for moving pictures, we moved towards a landscape orientation (there are several, but this is one of them).  For still photos, a portrait orientation (that's the tall, skinny frame shape) works fine with the appropriate composition because it's a static image. But for dynamic images like video, because things move horizontally more often than vertically, you need that extra space on the sides for things to move into.

When you record stuff vertically, there's a lot of moving side to side to get all the action in the frame. It's dizzying and annoying. You end up missing parts of the action because it moves off-camera quicker than you can follow it. You cut off more than you show. Yes, people are vertical and taller than they are wide, but the orientation isn't for the shape of the subject, it's for the MOTION of the subject.

Your videos look like shit. They're shaky and blurry and annoying. Please, take it from a professional camera operator - someone who people pay a lot of money to make pretty moving pictures - turn your phones to the side when you take a video. I guarantee that your videos will automatically look a hundred times better for doing this one thing alone, even if you never learn another thing about framing or composition or any movie tricks at all.
joreth: (Misty in Box)
One of my pet peeves is when people straighten something and then laugh and say "OMG I'm so OCD!"  No, you're not.  OCD is not about liking things tidy.  Yes, some people with OCD do express it in ways that include straightening things like crooked pictures or their table settings, but that's not what OCD is.  Look at the letters - OCD is about having intrusive thoughts that you obsess over, and then having compulsive behaviour that you literally cannot stop yourself from doing no matter what.  What makes it OCD is that last letter - D for Disorder.
A psychological disorder is a deviant, distressful, and dysfunctional pattern of thoughts, feelings, or behaviours that interferes with the ability to function in a healthy way.
Let me repeat that:  distressful; dysfunctional; interferes with.

When I was a child, we used to laugh at and tease my dad because he couldn't leave the house without checking that the stove was off and then asking all of us if we checked to make sure the stove was off.  Then, as he drove away from the house, he had to have everyone verify for him that the garage door was closed.  If he couldn't get verification of these things, he would sometimes even drive all the way back to make sure.  We all treated it like some kind of quirk, something worth making fun of.  Dad seemed to take our teasing in good humor, but that may be a survival trait he picked up from his own family growing up.  His family is ruthless about teasing each other.  As much as I loved hanging out with my fun-loving uncles, growing up for me was also torturous because I couldn't escape the harsh insults and criticisms from people who seemed to have a magical laser-like ability to find exactly those insults that would hurt me the most.  So when my sister and mother and I would roll our eyes and say "geez, Dad!" or "there he goes again!", it was probably pretty mild by comparison and something he was able to laugh about himself.

In college, I took my first broadcast class with a teacher who had OCD bad enough that he was, at one time, institutionalized for it.  On the first day of class, he showed us a video he had made called The Touching Tree.  He showed us this video for 2 reasons:  1) it was an example of the kinds of things he would be teaching in his course - composition, lighting, camera movements, editing, etc. and 2) it explained what having him for a teacher all semester would be like.  Watching this video I finally put a label to my father - OCD.  I had no idea that his silly quirk about the stove or the garage door or needing to check all the windows at night or not being able to sleep without a fan running or needing to have a bowl of ice cream before he could sleep or of microwaving his food even if it came right off the stove were all symptoms of a mild form of OCD.  I also had no idea that some of the intrusive thoughts and odd behaviours that I had were also OCD.

Many years after identifying that I probably had some form of OCD, I discovered another thing that explained why my OCD isn't quite the same as either my dad's or my former teacher's versions and not in ways that were accommodated for in the natural variance of expression of the disorder - I discovered that anorexia actually could *cause* OCD.  My own condition wasn't isolated as an anxiety disorder on its own, but a *symptom* of some other disorder!  So there are some specific things about me that don't *quite* line up with classic OCD.  But there are lots of things that do.

For instance, one of the expressions of OCD is getting stuck in a counting loop.  Right now, go ahead and count to yourself from 1 to 10.  If you don't have OCD, you probably just counted 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.  If you do have OCD, there's a good chance that your counting sounded more like this:  1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5...  Imagine if you had a simple task like counting inventory.  Now imagine reaching a particular number, and then thinking to yourself "wait a minute, did I skip a number?  I might have skipped one.  I did skip a number.  I better start over to make sure I didn't skip a number," and having that thought intrude repeatedly while you are trying to count so that you never finish counting.  Imagine not being able to silence that voice and not being able to stop yourself from starting over, even though you KNOW that you didn't skip a number and that this is holding you up from your job.

My version of that is songs.  In fact, while writing that paragraph about counting, in my head I now have the counting song from Sesame Street stuck in my head, but only the chorus.  I constantly have a song playing in my head.  Most people are familiar with earworms.  But what if you have never in your entire life NOT had a song stuck in your head?  And what if it's not the whole song, but one verse stuck on repeat, like a scratched record, and it's playing for hours, sometimes days?  As the song lyric is playing in my head, I'm having parallel thoughts that go like this:  "did I sing that too fast?  Thoughts travel faster than verbal sounds, I might have played that part too fast.  Yep, the tempo is too fast, if I try to sing it out loud, I'm singing faster than the song in my head.  I need to start over.  Did I faithfully recreate the entire song with all the instruments and harmonies or did I just play the lead vocals?  I'm sure I forgot the guitar in there.  I better start over.  Oops, I'm going too fast again, I better start over..."  This is why I'm always wearing headphones, or at least why I try to always have them with me.  I can drown out this broken record player with other music (and it has to be some other song, not the same song).

Sometimes, it's not a song lyric, but a spoken sentence.  If you ever watch a movie with me or listen to a podcast with me, watch my hands.  I will often tap out the rhythm of the last sentence I just heard and I'll tap it out over and over again until some other sentence or phrase catches my attention.  Sometimes I'll mouth the sentence myself just after they did, and I might silently whisper it several times.  This is an outward expression of the same loop in my head and that sentence or phrase will be repeating long after I've managed to still the tapping or whispering.

OCD is expressed in a lot of different ways, so even though it's popular to think of it as neatening up things or washing hands, that's only scratching the surface of ways that someone can have disruptive, intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.  Something that I didn't know until I talked with my teacher that first night of class is that people think that germaphobes are neat freaks but sometimes they are incredibly dirty.  It sounds counter-intuitive, but think about it - if you are *afraid* of germs, you might be too afraid to actually clean a surface where you think the germs are living.  That might get you too close to the germs.  So someone with the germaphobic expression of OCD might actually live in filth and squalor because they are too afraid of germs to clean their house.

So, you see, OCD doesn't mean simply that you like things in order.  It doesn't just mean that you like even numbers.  It doesn't only mean that you straighten crooked picture frames or place your books and DVDs all in order.  Does the thought of those things being out of order intrude on your ability to do anything else?  Are you helpless to move onto the next task until the straightening is done?  Do you repeatedly go back and check to make sure you really did straighten it correctly?  Do you know that you're acting irrationally and do you feel a sense of self-loathing that you can't control this straightening behaviour?  Then you might actually have OCD.  But just liking things straight and orderly, even if it will "bug you until you fix it" is not OCD.

My OCD is very light because my anorexia is very light.  I've only had it get out of control twice in my life and both were under extreme duress (which is actually kinda the definition of anorexia - when I feel that my life is out of my control, I seize control over the one thing I know I can control, my diet).  Most of the time, my OCD interferes with my life but in a manageable sort of way.  I'm fortunate, I have found some tricks that work just well enough that people think I'm merely quirky, like my dad, instead of actually making it hard to hold down a job or maintain social ties.  But those intrusive thoughts are still there, always running in the background.  It's a constant struggle to drown them out or channel them into helpful ways.  The compulsive behaviour is always there, interfering with my daily life.  It's a constant struggle to contain them to unnoticeable blocks of time or movements too small to notice.  If your interest in straight lines isn't something you fight with in order to be productive and prevent people from thinking you're weird, then it's probably not OCD, you just like things straight, which a lot of people do.

If you take away only one thing from this, take this:  OCD and other anxiety disorders are not about willpower or preferences.  This is not something that you can just stop if you try hard enough.  By definition, a compulsion is something that you cannot stop, at least not without help.  I didn't eat for a year and I used to do 500 crunches every night before bed, so trust me when I say that I have plenty of willpower.  And yet, I can't stop doing certain other things.  That's because these things don't fall under the category of "willpower".  Willpower doesn't touch these things.  And logicking or rationalizing them doesn't make them go away either.  Most people with OCD are very well aware that they are doing fucked up shit.  We are aware that it's not rational, that our brains are lying to us, and that other people don't do these things.  That's part of the problem - we know the truth but we can't stop anyway.  IT HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH WILLPOWER.  I can't stress that enough.  This is not something that a person can just change if you explain how ridiculous they're being.  This is not a character flaw.  This is not a sign of weakness or laziness or lack of trying.  This is a mis-wiring of the brain that mere "willpower" or "strong character" can even touch let alone fix, anymore than having trouble walking on a broken ankle is about "willpower" or having a "strong character".  It's fucking broken, we know it's broken, and it will take outside intervention to correct it and even then it may never be as good as an ankle that was never broken.

Here are some videos that explain OCD.  If you have ever straightened something up and then said to the person next to you "oh, it's just my OCD", then you need to watch these, at least the shorter ones.  And if you only watch one, watch the first one called OCD & Anxiety Disorders: Crash Course Psychology #29.  I'll include near the end the trailer for the video that my old broadcast teacher made, because the whole video is about 40 minutes long but if you have the time to watch the whole thing, I recommend it.  I'll post the whole video just after the trailer.



OCD & Anxiety Disorders: Crash Course Phsychology #29:





Debunking The Myths About OCD (TED-ed):





This Is What It's Like To Be In My Head For 3 Minutes:





A video about OCD:





Preview Of The Touching Tree by James Callner:





The Touching Tree (the full movie) by James Callner:


This movie was my introduction to OCD and it's how I learned that my dad likely has it because I recognized him in the main character.  The teacher in this film is actually *my* first film teacher.  And I don't mean that my teacher was like the film teacher, I mean that the actor who played the teacher was my professor in college.  He showed us this film both as an illustration for the sorts of things we would be learning in class and also to introduce us to his condition so that we would understand what it meant to interact with him.






Just because you like things neat and tidy, it doesn't mean you have OCD, but there is a slight possibility (2%-8% of the population) that you have something called OCPD - Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. Now, this is really confusing because the names are so similar and even the symptoms seem similar. But OCPD is characterized by a general pattern of concern with orderliness, perfectionism, excessive attention to details, mental and interpersonal control, and a need for control over one's environment, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency. People with OCPD do not generally feel the need to repeatedly perform ritualistic actions - a common symptom of OCD - and usually find pleasure in perfecting a task, whereas people with OCD are often more distressed after their actions.

According to Wikipedia: "Unlike OCPD, OCD is described as invasive, stressful, time-consuming obsessions and habits aimed at reducing the obsession related stress. OCD symptoms are at times regarded as ego-dystonic because they are experienced as alien and repulsive to the person. Therefore, there is a greater mental anxiety associated with OCD. In contrast, the symptoms seen in OCPD, though they are repetitive, are not linked with repulsive thoughts, images, or urges. OCPD characteristics and behaviors are known as ego-syntonic, as persons with the disorder view them as suitable and correct. On the other hand, the main features of perfectionism and inflexibility can result in considerable suffering in an individual with OCPD as a result of the associated need for control."

Anorexics are extremely likely to have either OCD or OCPD - or both! I likely am one of those anorexics that has both, as I have the distressful intrusive obsessive thoughts like patterns and loops of OCD as well as the satisfying feeling of lists and organization and the rigidity and inflexibility (my mother would say "stubbornness") associated with OCPD.

More about OCPD at Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obsessive%E2%80%93compulsive_personality_disorder and more about OCD at Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obsessive%E2%80%93compulsive_disorder
joreth: (Misty in Box)


www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjYUODTUsvc


This video actually made me feel sad, not good. Even after being briefly homeless myself several times in the last couple of years, I still have people who know me personally who keep posting shit on their FB feeds about homeless people and people on welfare being "lazy" or worthless or not pulling their weight in society.  And gods forbid one of them turn down a dubious job offer!  Then it's *proof* that they're lazy and worthless, even though no one asked *why* they might turn it down.  I can come up with a dozen legitimate reasons not to accept some street rando's "offer" of construction work right off the top of my head.  But no, they must be lazy and worthless and not contributing to society.

Homeless and poor people are artists, accountants, students, technicians, people in the medical field, parents, mechanics, people with degrees and experiences. Everyone thinks it's "so amazing!" that someone who looks like this man could possibly know how to play an instrument, especially one that isn't a guitar. Why shouldn't he? I do. I played for 10 years. I also played flute and percussion and I can sing. And yet, I spent nights in my car because I had nowhere else to sleep, and even more nights in friends' spare rooms and couches because I still had nowhere else to sleep.

It's not like someone who lost his home because his company downsized or because his medical bills got larger than his income could cart around a piano on the street to play for spare change. What else do people who look like him know how to do that you have no idea because you don't see them as people with pasts, but as worthless, lazy bags of bones that you try to avoid eye contact with so that you don't have to feel guilty about not dropping them a buck or two?

How much you wanna bet that most of the people giving him money for playing wouldn't have done so if he had just been sitting there on the curb? Because he might just go and buy liquor with it? Because he's not "earning" it? I used to only give money to street performers too, because I thought people had to earn the money I was giving them and that, for some inexplicable reason, a performer who "earned" his money would buy food with it whereas someone who didn't "earn" my money would just go buy drugs. This is the same man who, earlier this day, was sleeping on a park bench somewhere that no one would have given a quarter to, but now that he's performing a skill, suddenly it's "amazing" and we should "support" him.

Look, this guy is pretty good at the piano, but this video is just making me angrier and angrier because of the implications behind why this video went viral. If he had been a guy with a hipster beard and carefully gelled Bed Head hairstyle wearing skinny jeans and a hundred dollar flannel shirt playing in some cafe in Portland, no one would have watched this video except his buddies. He's good, but he's not, like, "OMG why hasn't he been signed?!?" good.  I work in entertainment, I've seen some legends, I know what "OMG why hasn't he been signed?!?" sounds like.

This video went viral because people are so fucking surprised that this decent talent could possibly come from a man who looks like this, who doesn't have a home, and is starving to death. Like a fucking freak show. And that pisses me off. "If he has that kind of talent, why is he living on the streets?" Because even people with marketable skills can't make a living off them, let alone just playing the piano. Because even talented people have drug or medical problems.  Because our economy sucks and our culture sucks and people suck.

So here's this guy, with no home and not enough to eat, who just happens to gain access to an instrument that he happens to play, and suddenly we're all "wow, this is amazing!" like it's a fucking miracle that he can do anything but drool on the sidewalk. He's a human goddamn being and it's a fucking shame that no one pays attention to him until he does something "normal" like it's revolutionary when the truth of the matter is that this IS normal. Homeless people are people, with talents, skills, knowledge, and experiences just like everyone else. It's more luck of the draw than anything you did to separate you from people like him.

I'm not intending to disparage his skill. As I said, he's pretty good. I'm pointing out what's wrong with our culture that is only really impressed with his skill because he's homeless. It's dehumanizing. He's not being praised for playing the piano, he's being praised for being a Homeless Man Who Plays The Piano Well. It's like saying "you're pretty good ... for a girl" or "you look great ... for your age", only it's actually worse because women and old people often rank higher in importance than the homeless (unless you're an old homeless woman, or worse, an old, disabled, homeless trans person of color which is, as far as I can tell, is the worst thing you could possibly be - even our feral animals are treated better than they are).

My rant is also not about the people who took the video.  Actually, the kid who took the video has started an Indegogo campaign to create a series of videos he calls Humanizing The Homeless, because he wants to do more to help as many people as he can.  He seems to realize the seriousness of the situation, and the overwhelmingness of the problem.  I think that's admirable and I hope he succeeds. No, I'm upset about our *society* that requires a video project like this in the first place before they can see homeless people as human beings.  And still, people only help those individuals who manage to get humanized for them.  Most of the people in my FB feed who are complaining about "lazy welfare cheats" are perfectly capable of humanizing certain individuals while denigrating the entire class of person at the same time.  Take me for example - because they know me as a person, they're willing to help me out, but they see me as some sort of exception.  "All homeless people are lazy drug addicts who just don't want to be helped, except for you, Joreth, you're a decent, hardworking person who just fell on some hard times, but everyone else, they're The Homeless."  They all have to prove their humanity first, before people will treat them with dignity and compassion.  I've proven my dignity and my humanity to my FB friends, and this guy proved his with his viral video, but everyone else - nah, they're not human, they're Homeless.

There have been some followup videos of this guy.  All because his video went viral, a local news team has been basically sponsoring him.  They paid for some new clothes, a new haircut, and have facilitated reconnecting him with his son and getting him into rehab.  People have been paying him to come play at their events and he even played the national anthem at an NFL game.  He's even being called a "prodigy".  As I said, he's pretty good, I'm not suggesting otherwise.  But he's actually not any better than me.  I've played music at least as complex as the songs he's wowing everyone over, and I also hear a lot of mistakes.  He's not *bad*, not even mediocre.  He's pretty good, and he knows way more instruments than I do (he studied music in college, I learned).  But the hype is all because everyone is astonished that a *homeless man* can play well at all.

So, that's wonderful that he's getting help and having experiences that he never dreamed possible.  Every video and news story on him barely mentions his drug problem, and when they do, it's only in the context of getting better.  "I want to help him clean up his act."  "See how his progress goes with rehab."  That's fucking phenomenal.  I don't think people really understand how important it is that his drug problem is being dismissed over his viral video.  I *want* people to accept him and encourage him in getting help, don't get me wrong.  The problem I'm having is that this is *not how we treat homeless people*, unless they perform for us.  What about all the other drug addicts on the street?  How often do they get spat on?  How often do they get kicked while they sit on the sidewalk with their legs splayed out?  How often do people refuse to give them money because "they're just gonna spend it on drugs or alcohol"?  This guy hadn't been through rehab yet, hadn't gotten the help he needs for his problem, but everyone's paying him to play anyway.  What if he spends all that money on drugs?  What if, once his son had found him again, he spent his next gig's paycheck on some bender and dies?

I don't think that's justification for not paying him for performing, but I think it's hypocritical to give this guy special treatment because of a fluke YouTube video while not helping any of the other millions of drug addicts, people with mental illnesses, people with medical issues, and people with just shitty economic luck.  Yes, congrats to this dude, and I genuinely, sincerely, hope this is a turning point for him and he gets a decent quality of life that everyone deserves just for being human.  But what about everyone else?  When you see the next bearded, dirty old white man on the street, are you going to stop and ask yourself, "I wonder what special skill or knowledge this guy has that makes him unique, and can I help him use that skill or knowledge to improve his quality of life?"  When you see the fat, old black woman talking to herself and pushing her shopping cart full of trash, are you going to stop and say to yourself, "she is a special, individual human being.  I wonder what makes her unique?  I wonder who she is and what her story is?  I wonder if she has any loved ones wondering where she is or what happened to her?  Can I do anything to help her get the medication she needs to stop talking to herself and to hold down a job?"  And when you sanctimonously offer someone a job that they're not qualified for or that they don't believe is real or that they have some legitimate hurdle that makes it impossible for them to accept that job, are you going to sit and talk to them about their situation, and *ask them* what would make their life better, rather than swooping in on your White Knight complex and getting pissed off that they don't fall at your feet and praise you for it?  Are you going to spend your time and look them in the eye and listen to their story and really *see* them?

Or are you going to step over them, avert your eyes when they slowly walk past your car window at a traffic light, clutch your purse or wallet, and only think they deserve money if they're "working for it", earing it in a way that impresses you, in a socially approved way, so that you can feel good about yourself by thinking that this situation could never happen to you because you're a productive member of society, unlike these lazy, crazy, sick people?  And then feel shocked and amazed at how wonderful humanity is when some other viral video comes across your Reddit feed that forces you to see the humanity in that individual while you ignore the humanity in all the other individuals not lucky enough to be recorded like a sideshow performer when they do show you their humanity?
joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)



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

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

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

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

  • Selection Bias

  • Gambler's Fallacy

  • Hot Hand Fallacy

  • Clustering Illusion

  • Apophenia

I recommend looking each one of these up, and then falling down the rabbit hole in whatever way catches your attention from there.
joreth: (Kitty Eyes)
Just to be clear, with all my liberal friends posting from liberal sources, I have yet to see anyone advocate (beyond schadenfreude wishful thinking) treating the Oregon terrorists the way that black people are treated.  I'm sure that someone, somewhere, is actually, seriously, advocating that "solution", but every single comparison I've seen from my so-called "inconsistent" liberal sources are making the comparisons for the purpose of driving home the point that the way black "criminals" and black suspects are treated is patently unfair and excessive, not to suggest that the correct approach is to turn that same police overreach onto the siege.

With one notable exception that I kinda agree with. I have seen it suggested that, *IF* (and this is a hypothetical here, not an actual suggestion for action) the excessive police brutality was turned on to white Christian males, then and only then would the people defending the police actions against black people and other minorities understand and make a stand opposing police brutality.

The suggestion was that, because mainly white people don't see that kind of brutality enforced on people who they can empathize with (i.e. who look like them and talk like them and hold the same values as them), they will need to see it happening to their "own" people in order to understand the full atrocity of militarizing police and allowing excessive force as SOP.

The hypothesizing was suggesting that the only reason to want, or even contemplate, law enforcement to treat the Oregon situation the same as the way people of color are normally treated is not to encourage or support police brutality, but because that might ironically be the only way to stop it.  The hypothetical posed wasn't to suggest that we *should* do this, but to suggest that, *if* it were done, it might have the affect of speeding up the process of getting people on board with demilitarizing police and enforcing corrective action on law enforcement, and ultimately, demilitarizing police and reducing police brutality and enforcing police accountability is the goal.

Fortunately, many of us on the liberal side of the spectrum are also sci-fi and comic book geeks. We've already explored this concept in safe, fictional outlets. I *do* believe it's true that the people supporting shit like BlueLivesMatter won't see the horror of the entrenched police brutality culture unless it's turned on them instead of people they can rationalize as somehow "deserving" it.

But the reason why all the articles and posts that I've seen comparing the treatment of white terrorists to random black people on the street are pointing out the discrepancy and hypocrisy is NOT to suggest that we legitimize the use of excessive force by turning it on white terrorists because that's basically the origin story of a bunch of villains.

Remember Unbreakable? Remember Captain America's story arc through the current crop of Marvel movies? The bad guys are all using ... questionable ... tactics to ensure the safety of the people. They all have justifiable motivations for removing people's liberties, for supporting or promoting violence, for the use of excessive force. They're trying to stop *supervillains* and *aliens* for fuck's sake - extreme measures are called for!

And, in following through with those motivations they turn into the villains.


https://youtu.be/YeT7MzDcpeg


"I believe in something greater than myself - a better world, a world without sin."
"So me and mine gotta lay down and die so you can live in your better world?"
"I'm not going to live there.  There's no place for me there, any more than there is for you.  Malcom, I'm a monster.  What I do is evil, I have no illusions about it but it must be done." ~
the most self-aware villain in nearly all of fiction.

Which is why liberals continue to compare the treatment of Those Assholes (I refuse to name mass shooters and other terrorists to reduce their fame and their reach) to the treatment of people who might be class valedictorians or sports stars or cosplayers or they might be petty criminals but who have the audacity to be doing whatever they were doing when they caught the attention of law enforcement with dark skin or an unfamiliarly pronounceable name or clothing that represents different religious beliefs. To show that these actions are villainous, not to recommend turning around and doing them to those privileged enough not to have experienced them before.

Sure, the downtrodden fantasize and daydream about doing to their oppressors what was done to them. That's the reason an entire genre of revenge fiction exists. In Revenge of the Nerds, the nerds violate the privacy and the agency of all the "cool girls", whether those specific individual girls harmed them specifically or not. Because they're the oppressed protagonists, the movie was loved and their actions were excused as justifiable ... at the time. Now, however, with a new generation of liberals willing to be more critical and hold higher standards, RotN is widely viewed as the jackoff wish fulfillment porn of sad, whiny white dudes who are the current crop of villains in geekdom (see my other post on the new SW movie for more about that).

Progressive means that progress has to be made. We continue to evolve and develop even more nuanced and finer grained understandings of social justice and freedom, forged by compassion. Liberals are not content with our parents' liberalism, but criticism of liberalism continues to see it as a static, unchanging set of dogmatic beliefs.

So when people compare the treatment of high profile, violent, white male criminals to the treatment of, basically, any person of color, it is *generally* not a hypocritical call to treat the high profile, violent, white male criminal exactly the same (although some argument could be made that a white male firing a gun AT A COP and tricking cops into proximity of a fucking bomb really is deserving of having the cop shoot back). It's to point out that even violent offenders who may or may not actually deserve that kind of response are still treated with more respect, dignity, compassion, and care than a kid with a toy gun, a guy who illegally sells cigarettes, a kid who shoplifted, and another kid who smoked a joint.

The point is to treat that child, that shop owner, those teenagers, with the bare minimum of caution and rational threat analysis and avoidance of force that a white dude with a bomb, a deluded Bonnie & Clyde wannabe white couple, and a bunch of white supremacist conspiracist dudes who want to *overthrow the federal government with automatic rifles* (yet forgot to pack enough Doritos to last the winter) get.
joreth: (Misty in Box)
This is a thing in my circles (or, it was in the circles I frequented with my abusive ex, so I'm trying to make it a thing in my current circles as well). I called it "being peopled out". Anyone can excuse themselves from a social interaction guilt-free by simply saying they were "peopled out" and either choose to leave entirely or just go somewhere nearby to be left alone for a while.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



There's this country song that's popular right now that is supposed to be kind of sad, bittersweet, but I think it's actually *almost* an understanding of how poly works.

It's called "I Got The Boy" and the chorus goes "I got the boy, she got the man". The whole song is about how the singer has this history with this man that the new girl will never have and how that makes what she had with him unique and special, while the new girl now has this future with him that the singer will never have.

It's supposed to be sad because the singer *only* has the boy and his past, and is no longer in a relationship with him now as a man. Not quite spiteful - it's not "ha ha, I got this part of him that you'll never have!" It's more like longing, where she fondly remembers what she used to have in the past and she envies what she will not have because this new girl is getting the future and it's so very different from the boy of the past because of how much he's grown and changed over the years.

But the only thing that I can think of when I hear it is "yes! That's the point! A new person can never come in and replace me because I have this whole history that connects us that she'll never have with him!" and "yes! The preexisting person has such power with the anchor of this shared history that the new person will never have! And I need to be ever-conscious of that as a preexisting partner to not wield that power over anyone else!"

Hearing this song is kind of like reading Heinlein, to me - it's like "yes, that's almost it, just a little bit further, you almost have it ... wait a minute, you're gonna stop there? But you're so close!"

This song comes so close to explaining why poly relationships work and why they're so special. It highlights that each relationship is different, unique, and that each person is going to share experiences with a partner that can never be duplicated or replicated with someone else, even if those experiences are similar. I don't like hearing this song because I want so much for it to be a positive celebration of the differences in relationships instead of this envy and regret for losing - losing to another woman, losing the future.

It's songs like these that really put it in sharp relief for me how lacking the poly community is in music and culture. We have lots of movies now, and books and comics, but we're still really lacking in the love songs, or even heartache songs (because poly heartache isn't quite the same as mono heartache). The possessive and mono-centric love songs remind me of this problem too but the songs that just almost-but-not-quite see the point *and are sad about it* (probably because they almost see the point but just miss the mark) are the songs that really make the lack of music something nearly painful for me.

Many people know now about my passion for movies, but I also have a passion for music. Before I let other hobbies take up my time and I fell out of practice, I played 3 instruments, began teaching myself another, and sang in a choir. I wanted to make music so badly that I taught myself how to read sheet music and how to play a double keyboard organ when my parents refused to "waste" money on lessons, all before age 10. The reason I got into film and video in the first place was to make music videos because I got influenced by the videos in the '90s that really brought the music video to a whole storytelling art form like a film short. My dancing is about more than just physical movement - it's about using the body as a visual representation of the music. I may not excel at any of my endeavors, but I am passionate about them.

And I feel a dearth, a loss, with the hole that the lack of music has left in our community and our poly culture.
joreth: (Swing Dance)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So inquire at your local colleges and community colleges to see if they offer dance as a P.E. class, do a google search for "social dance" in your area, check at your community halls like city parks and recreation departments or neighborhood community centers or even local churches, and just drop in at a dance studio if you happen to see one as you drive by it to ask if they offer lessons or know where you can take lessons.  It really doesn't take very long to learn how to dance socially, and to do it well enough to impress other folks.
joreth: (Super Tech)
I haven't done one of these Media Reflections in a while.  That's where I take some form of popular media like a TV show or song and use it as a springboard for some kind of commentary, usually social commentary.  I'm not necessarily talking about the medium itself, it's not like a review or a critique, but it's more of an illustration for some larger point.






I saw this video on Facebook.  A photographer used a high speed camera to take really, ultra slow-motion video and still photography of people's faces as they got stunned by a stun gun.  It's an entertaining video for a lot of reasons, but there was a comment that the photgrapher made in the behind-the-scenes video that I really wanted to comment on.

"what we found was the reactions from these people were completely different. Some of the guys looked like they were in pain, a lot of the girls looked like they were having a pleasurable experience..."

There's this thing that happens.  Guy hits on girl and makes her uncomfortable.  Girl tries to find polite way out of the situation.  Guy complains about mixed messages, then tries harder.  Girl rants on Facebook about douchebag guys at bars.  Guy accuses her of friendzoning him, playing games, threatens her with unhappy future dating Neanderthal while passing up on Nice Guys, and whines about how bitches only like jerks.

So something that I used to do (and it's still a position that I hold, I just have more to it now) is urge women to be more active communicators and to be clearer about rejection.  I always felt compassion for guys who were forced to navigate this maze of ambiguous signals.  I need clear signals myself.  I always say that we can't expect anyone to read our minds, and, to paraphse [livejournal.com profile] tacit  "you can't reasonably expect to get what you want if you don't ask for it."  I want to break down this passive communication thing that our culture seems to encourage, and I want women to embrace their sexuality and their power and be assertive about what they want and don't want.

But, here's the thing:  currently, when women *are* assertive about what they want and don't want, they are punished for it.  So, yeah, it really sucks to be given all these coded messages that you have to decipher, and yeah, it really sucks to find out that someone who seemed to be enjoying your company actually thinks you're a wanker and wishes the ground would just swallow her up so that she doesn't have to listen to you anymore.  But you know what sucks more?  Telling someone to leave you alone, even nicely, only to have him physically threaten you for not enjoying his company.

I come across as this badass bitch online because I can hold my own in an argument.  But the truth of the matter is that I'm actually pretty severely conflict averse.  I really hate conflict and I try to avoid it.  The thing is that I dislike wrong more than I dislike conflict, so if I see a wrong, the pull to correct it might be stronger than the pull to avoid the inevitable conflict.  But what people don't see from their screens is all the time and effort I spend not correcting wrongs on the internet.  That's much more obvious in person, such as at some convention or another when my friend Heidi and I were both in a group discussion about something that I can't even remember, and some idiot started spouting off "women are just thus and such, blah blah, evo-psych, biologically determined, natter natter, bullshit".  I sat quietly in my chair with my hand curled in a fist at my mouth, rolling my eyes and evaluating how much he had to spew before I was willing to interject.  She even took a picture of me because she was so amused to see me going ballistic in my own head but not speaking out.

How this is relevant is that I have found myself in several occasions recently to need to be "rescued".  At a nightclub just in one night, my male friends had to physically drag me away from guys twice who had penned me into a corner and were getting too aggressive with me.  I tried to find polite and non-confrontational ways out of the situation before I resorted to outright conflict, but my male friends jumped in before I had to resort to that.  And I really appreciated the rescue at the same time that I bitterly resented the social convention that allowed me to escape from a situation with a man that I didn't want to be in only by being claimed by another man because my own wishes to escape were not important enough to heed.  This was not the only incident in recent weeks.

Now, for the tie-in.  Women are socially punished for things like rejecting people, for being aggressive, for being too expressive (particularly if they are expressing negative emotions like pain or sadness), for not being expressive enough (especially if they are not expressing positive emotions like joy, and they are expected to do so at all times), or for being unpleasant in any way.  I don't really want to get into a debate about nature vs. nurture so I'm not speculating on the cause, but I think this video actually showed the effects of the consequences for this sort of thing.

"The guys looked like they were in pain, and a lot of the girls looked like they were having a pleasurable experience."

Everyone was feeling the exact same sensation, but, generally speaking, the men expressed discomfort while the women did not even though the sensation was decidedly uncomfortable.  Now, this isn't a perfect analogy.  The photographer also said:

"When you got hit with this taser, it was enough to make you scream, jump up out of your chair, give some great expression and emotion, but it wasn't painful enough to 1) give you any kind of permanent damage or scar, and 2) it wasn't painful enough that you didn't want to do it again. I was shocked by how many people wanted to get back in the chair and get tased a second or third time just cuz it was so fun and entertaining."

I'm quite familiar with BDSM, and, in fact, I'm specifically familiar with electrical play.  So I do understand how something can be both painful and pleasurable, or uncomfortable and still fun.  Plus, this was at a bar and the participants volunteered to get tased, so they knew it was coming.  There's a certain amount of self-selecting at play here, although the photographer did say that about 99% of people who came through the door signed the waver and got tased.  But even accounting for the fact that this wasn't a terribly strong shock and there was some social expectation of this being a fun party-sort of experience, both the men and the women still felt the same thing, and yet most of the men expressed the pain while the women mostly showed expressions of not-pain (surprise, enjoyment, etc.).  A lot of people did get back in the chair, but the photographer also says elsewhere in the video that a lot of people didn't.  The subjects moved so fast that he didn't always get the shot and he had to ask people if they would be willing to do it again, and he says that a lot of people flat-out refused to get shocked a second time.  So, it might not be bad, like on a scale of 1-10 where 10 is the worst pain you can imagine (terrible scale, by the way), but it's not exactly a feather-tickle either.

I suspect that the observation that the photographer made had something to do with the way that women are discouraged from being unpleasant and men aren't.  And, whether that's a real connection or not, I want to use this observation as an analogy to help reinforce a lesson that I've been trying to drive home lately:  Just because a woman isn't expressing her displeasure, it doesn't mean that she's not displeased.  We cannot rely on "no means no" alone.  We cannot expect that everything is a "yes" until you hear that "no".  You have to assume that everything is a "no" until you hear that yes.

Yes, it does mean that we're fighting another sort of social inertia - getting women to be more assertive and to be active communicators.  But I believe that the consequences for getting it wrong in this direction are far less dire than getting it wrong in the other direction.  It might mean that someone isn't getting laid because they were too cautions with their signals or reading signals.  I'm sorry, that sucks.  But that's far more livable than the alternative, which is someone getting pressured, coerced, or forced because she's too afraid to assert herself for whatever reason she may have for being afraid.  Perhaps if the men (assuming a hetero audience, since that's where this whole dynamic is most relevant) were willing to band together and refuse sex to women who won't own up to wanting it, the women will learn to be more assertive.

Of course, it might help the women learn to be more assertive if they weren't also punished for admitting they want it, but that's a whole other rant.  The bottom line here is that you can't always trust from a woman's social behaviour (and sometimes even private behaviour) that she is not bothered or upset about something.  I know lots of guys who have gotten "handsy" with me when I didn't want them to, and for a variety of reasons, I didn't have them arrested for assault.  Some of them have commented on the fact that I seem to be smiling and even laughing a bit while I'm physically slapping their hands away or evading them.  I have said, flat-out, that I'm uncomfortable and nervous and this is my reaction to feeling uncomfortable.  It's not like I was being threatened with harm, not like someone was trying to punch me.  It's an in-between state where I'm uncomfortable, not in imminent danger.  I have no good reaction for that situation, but the one that has developed is an awkward smile, lack of eye contact, and an edging away.  This is fairly common among women in my culture.  And even after explaining, explicitly, that I'm uncomfortable and the smile or laughter is a sign that I'm uncomfortable, usually these men kept doing what they were doing because the smile was, apparently, encouraging.

So, if you don't have some kind of pre-existing relationship with someone where you can feel confident in their non-verbal communication, you really can't rely on a woman's behaviour to indicate her level of discomfort with the situation.  You have to get confirmation and you have to keep checking in for clear consent.  I know, it's scary to think of all the women who seemed to enjoy your presence and wonder how many of them were actually uncomfortable.  It's daunting and intimidating and if you think of it too hard, it might even be enough to make one throw up his hands and give up on dating entirely.  But, really, the solution to this problem is 2-fold:  1) keep checking in and excuse yourself a bit early (take the old advice to "always leave them wanting more"); and 2) change the culture by publicly supporting and encouraging women to be more assertive while publicly discouraging things that punish them for exactly that, including talking to other men about how it's shooting themselves in the foot every time they gossip about who's being slutty or talk about their girlfriends or ex-girlfriends, or that goddamn revenge porn, or any number of other things that feminists everywhere have been complaining about forever.  #2 will take longer, but they're both equally important.  In fact, being seen doing #2 will help make the women in your life feel more safe about being honest with their feelings and reactions when you do #1.  If a woman feels safe expressing her discomfort around you, then you're less likely to get those confusing "mixed signals" from her, and you can be confident that her consent is an active consent.

joreth: (Purple Mobius)
http://www.thebookoflife.org/how-we-end-up-marrying-the-wrong-people/

This is an interesting perspective of partner selection. I'm not saying I agree with everything, and it's more cynical than I'd like (yes, I did say that), but it is interesting. I've found a lot of this to be true in mainstream society and I find most of these problems are solved within the poly community (at least, ideally) because we're doing something so different that we tend to talk about stuff that a lot of mainstream people don't. In fact, most of the complaints in this article are *reasons* why I began searching for something different in the first place, and how I came across the poly community.

"All of us are crazy in very particular ways. We’re distinctively neurotic, unbalanced and immature, but don’t know quite the details because no one ever encourages us too hard to find them out. An urgent, primary task of any lover is therefore to get a handle on the specific ways in which they are mad." - I spend a great deal of time doing introspection and discussion with people who know me well, so that I can identify exactly the ways in which I am mad. I've found this to be off-putting in mainstream society, but it's how I construct my dating profiles so that prospective partners can see it all upfront.

"We need to know the intimate functioning of the psyche of the person we’re planning to marry. We need to know their attitudes to, or stance on, authority, humiliation, introspection, sexual intimacy, projection, money, children, aging, fidelity and a hundred things besides. This knowledge won’t be available via a standard chat." - These are exactly the kinds of chats that I have with prospective and current partners, for exactly these reasons.

"We believe we seek happiness in love, but it’s not quite as simple. What at times it seems we actually seek is familiarity – which may well complicate any plans we might have for happiness." - I see this all the time in the poly community with the rules and prescription and "monogamy +1" stuff. They're not seeking happiness, they're seeking as much familiarity as possible in a relationship style that seems new and scary and different.

"One is never in a good frame of mind to choose a partner rationally when remaining single is unbearable. We have to be utterly at peace with the prospect of many years of solitude in order to have any chance of forming a good relationship. Or we’ll love no longer being single rather more than we love the partner who spared us being so." - as More Than Two says, if you can't leave the relationship, then you can't give consent. This is an abusive dynamic.

"We have for three hundred years been in collective reaction against thousands of years of very unhelpful interference based on prejudice, snobbery and lack of imagination." - our feelings must inform our reasons and our reason must take into account our feelings. They work together. It's possible to really and truly love someone and still not be good partners for each other.

"We imagine that marriage is a guarantor of the happiness we’re enjoying with someone. It will make permanent what might otherwise be fleeting. It will help us to bottle our joy," - I see this in all styles of relationship - poly, mono, etc. People are terrified of change and seek to legislate it away.

"Part of the reason we feel like getting married is to interrupt the all-consuming grip that love has over our psyches. We are exhausted by the melodramas and thrills that go nowhere. We are restless for other challenges. We hope that marriage can conclusively end love’s painful rule over our lives." - I'm at this point in my life myself. I don't even want to think about getting into another relationship. But I'm not holding onto my existing ones in order to avoid new ones; I'm content to be alone if that's what's better for me. Fortunately, I *do* happen to have good, healthy relationships at the moment. But as one partner is very LD and the other was LD for the last couple of years, I was *effectively* "alone" while in this mindset, and I would rather have stayed that way than tried to start another one. That's how I can feel confident that I am not keeping my current partners around just to avoid getting back into the dating scene.

So, interesting thoughts.

joreth: (Misty in Box)
One of my pet peeves is when people reject musical genres based on a superficial understanding of that genre. I'll give one of my own examples. I used to say that I didn't like rap because I didn't like music that disrespected women. To anyone who has ever bothered to actually listen to rap, that is clearly not a definitional element of the genre. It turns out that I don't like music that disrespects women, so that includes some rap, but also some rock and some country and some in other genres.

What I *actually* don't like about rap is that I prefer songs with a vocal melody line (preferably in my own mezzosoprano range), complex harmonies, and a richness to the instrument accompaniment whether through range of instrument selection or in how the instruments are played. *Those* are definitional elements that the genre of rap do not typically have, but using the phrase "I prefer music with..." still leaves room for exceptions within the rap category.

Rap music that has clever lyrics or that cover topics that I value like science, skepticism, feminism, diversity, etc. or that include some of those definitional elements underneath the rap vocal style can become favorite songs of mine. One of my current favorite bands is called Nuttin' But Stringz which is a hip hop duo that plays violin mixed with some rap & hip hop vocal stylings and a dance beat. And sometimes just silly songs that make me feel happy can sneak in under the exceptions, like Fresh Prince of Bel Aire and Parents Just Don't Understand.

Country music is my favorite genre these days, and even though I technically live in the south, I still hear a lot of shit talk about country music, mainly from people who do not understand the genre. The automatic default rejection of country is when people say they don't like songs about divorce and losing one's dog and pickup truck. Another is that they, like I said above, don't like songs that disrespect women. Country music is actually a genre that has more pro-feminist music than any other genre I know about other than specifically girl-power rock (or whatever it's called). Country has always supported strong female lyrics and powerful female singers. I'm working on a playlist over on YouTube that highlights some of the great feminist country music throughout the eras.

But another criticism I hear of country is how it's simple, it's bubble gum pop being cranked out by an industrial music machine with no depth or soul or even any talent in musicianship. Although there are definitely songs that hit the country pop charts that are fairly repetitive and rely on simple harmonies and melodies, I have to wonder if the people who say this have actually bothered to listen to country music before making this pronouncement.

Along the lines of my most recent post, the country genre is not an isolated box, free from influence of other genres. The artists are influenced by classical training, by great blues musicians, by poetry and literature, by hard rocking guitarists, by traditional Irish folk music, by Spanish flamenco, by the world-changing Rock And Roll of the '50s, and even by techno and electronica. And these influences can be heard and felt in current pop country music. Not every song, no. But just like rock is influenced by all these elements (Pat Benatar had classic operatic training, for instance, as have many metal musicians), country music has a wide range and, in fact, often overlaps rock in several places, enough so that there are debates as to whether particular groups or songs are rock or country. I once "won" a lighthearted argument over the Eagles by declaring them to be the rock that country is allowed to like.

When I was a teenager, I started listening to pop country. I used to listen to "classic" country as a kid, but then I got sucked into the popularity game and only listened to what was "cool" in order to try and worm my way up the schoolyard hierarchy. But in high school, I started just listening to what I liked. My sister listened to rap at the time. We hated each other's music with a passion. Then one day, driving her home from school, she put in a tape of Dixie Chicks. Shocked, I said "I thought you didn't like country music!" She said, and I quote, "I don't, but the Dixie Chicks aren't real country." I turned my eyes away from the road to face her and said "you do realize that they're actually a bluegrass band, right? It doesn't get more 'real country' than bluegrass."

I was a musician myself and had years of musical theory by that point, so I was finally starting to see the connections between music and I realized how very closely related so much of it really is. My sister had no patience for music lessons and gave up after only a semester of clarinet, never even getting to the music theory stages. Ironically, country music is now the only thing my sister and I really have in common, and we make a point to go line dancing together every time I'm in town.

Here is a song I just heard on an internet radio station called "Today's Country Hits". It's technically pop country, but I think people who think of pop country as exclusively Taylor Swift might not automatically recognize this as the same genre. I'm undecided on the lyrics at the moment, but it has a richness in the instrumental use, it changes time signatures (which some music snobs I've heard have pronounced that only classical and indie rock even know how to do and that 4/4 time is a sign of low-brow entertainment), it changes tempo, and there are obvious genre style changes within the song itself.

Liking something is a subjective experience, so I do not attempt to change people's mind about what they like. But humans are notorious storytellers, and we usually make decisions first and then rationally justify those decisions afterwards. First we decide that we don't like something, and then we decide why we don't like it. So most of the criticisms I hear about any genre of music entirely, I take exception to because they are clearly post hoc rationalizations for a subjective experience to a superficial exposure.

If you don't like it, then you don't like it. That's fine. But I have short patience for musical snobbery because there are tons of examples within whatever genre is being denigrated that do exactly what is being claimed that genre doesn't do (or that don't do what is being claimed does do). Taxonomy is fuzzy and sometimes there is no real reason why a particular song was included in a particular genre except for maybe that the artist is already classified as an artist in that genre, or that the artist has announced that his new album is a specific genre as a point to mention how they have jumped genres but we might not realize they've switched because it doesn't sound all that different from their last album (Bon Jovi, I'm looking at you here). Also, not every song has to have a deep, sociopolitical message or have the complexity of Tool to be enjoyable or even well-crafted.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVf6ulpDdGo





*The title comes from the experiment where people with brain trauma are shown two different pictures to two different sides of their brains, then they select objects from a bag, one with each hand, and explain why they chose those objects.  The side of the brain that saw a picture of a chicken can explain pulling out a toy chicken because it has control over language.  But the side of the brain that saw a picture of a mountain can't explain why that hand chose a snow shovel, so the side with language control post hoc rationalizes the shovel within the context of the chicken.
joreth: (Super Tech)
We all know the joke about listening to a country song backwards gets your dog, your wife, and your truck back, but country music has a long history of feminist values and a rich diversity of topics. I'm even building a whole YouTube playlist of feminist country songs.

I'm not saying you'll like it if you just don't like the sound, but country music isn't what most people think it is. Take this song for example...



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQ8xqyoZXCc



This is a song all about the no-win double standard of social expectations, self-acceptance, diversity, and being authentic.  There are more like it to be found in country music.  In fact, country music is one of the earliest genres to include hit songs that stand up for women's rights and alternative viewpoints, believe it or not.  I have a whole post brewing about that for later.
joreth: (Nude Drawing)
Pretty decent intro to sex (I know MANY experienced adults who still need to hear this intro because what they know is WRONG).

Pretty thorough for 6 minutes. Obviously they skimmed over some stuff, but nearly everything one should know in the first talk is at least mentioned.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBfYtEy1Ovo&sns=fb
joreth: (BDSM)
Another blogger wrote a post called When Dance Gets Kinky with some examples of BDSM elements found in dance performances.

I often use dance as a metaphor for sex and relationships, but for me, the parallels are so strong that "metaphor" is not always the right word. Dance, sex, and romantic relationships all rely on the same elements - communication first and foremost, physicality, and passion. Just like sex, dance can be done with strangers, friends, long-time partners, solo, or in groups. It can be awkward, silly, hot, fun, tender, or chaste. It can be comfortable or challenging. You can teach or learn something new or fall into predictable patterns.

Like good sex and good relationships, good dancing incorporates the skills and steps you learned from past situations to blend with the new partner, forming a unique, one-of-a-kind experience that can never be duplicated or replicated with anyone else ever again. Even with the same partner and the same steps, it will not be the same. The chemistry will be different, or it'll be more effort some times than other times, or it'll be faster or slower, or you'll hit it just right or it'll be a little bit off.

For me, dancing is not just a metaphor for sex and relationships. Dancing is almost interchangeable for sex, and what I learned from dancing I apply to relationships. The three very different activities are inextricably intertwined in my head, even though I am perfectly capable of having relationships without sex, dancing without relationships, and I certainly don't have sex with everyone I dance with! It's just that, to me, they are three sides of the same coin, as it were.

So naturally, I'm interested in examples of dance that also incorporate elements of BDSM. To stretch the coin metaphor way too far, BDSM would be the fourth side of that coin - in requiring the same elements, in who it can be done with, in the moods you can have while in a scene, and in how it can be mixed or isolated from the others. Most of my kink is separate from sex, I have to mix my kink with relationships but I don't have to mix my relationships with my kink, and I am desperately hoping to one day mix dancing and kink but finding a partner who does both (and who does my style of poly, since I can't do kink outside of a relationship) AND has that chemistry that makes any kind of relationship even possible is a pretty tall order.

Just a tip, if anyone really wanted to increase his chances with me, he'd learn to ballroom dance and be interested in at least some of my kinks and have advanced poly skills and he'd mix all that up under a rational & skeptical worldview. Seriously, the dancing & kink stuff REALLY goes a long way towards catching my attention - just as much as the poly & skeptic stuff does. None of this is a guarantee, of course, but dancing will catch my attention immediately and at least make me consider the dancer, even more than the other stuff (but, to be honest, the other three are more likely to *keep* my attention once I've decided that I'm interested).

Anyway, the examples she gives are from the TV show So You Think You Can Dance, but from a night when the dancers are doing the same choreography from previous episodes. While all 3 examples are exemplary, I am still partial to the originals just because they did them first and they are now associated in my brain with those routines. So I'm going to include the original videos in the comments, while the ones the blogger highlighted are embedded in her post:

http://reginawest.com/2012/08/16/when-dance-gets-kinky/



This dance is actually about addiction. It's passionate and entrancing and heart-wrenching and I cried when I saw it for the first time. But the blogger included it for the domineering manner of the male dancer and how rough he is with his female partner, who keeps coming back again and again for his treatment.

I want to take a moment to make absolutely clear that BDSM relationships are not about addiction and they are not abusive, 50 Shades of Fucked Up notwithstanding. They are also not exclusively about male Doms and female subs. This song and this choreography are NOT about BDSM or even about abusive relationships. The male dancer represents the addiction itself; he is the addiction personified.

But within BDSM there is role playing that superficially takes on the trappings of things that might look like abuse or pain or even addiction to someone outside of the relationship or unfamiliar with BDSM and kink. It was this superficial resemblance that attracted the blogger. Rough treatment and the resistance can sometimes be found in some BDSM scenes and the blogger's point was that there were elements of kink found in the choreography's individual steps, leading her to imply that the choreographer herself may have a background in kink to draw on.







This one is all about spanking. That should be self-evident why the blogger included it on a list of kinky elements in dance routines.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T209HHIJ8bc




The first song included on the blog post is a little different. It doesn't appear to be a remake of a past choreography and it's not one of the dances in the competition. It's one of the group dances that the contestants often perform as the opening number to kick off the show. Their performance will not be rated or included in the judges' consideration of the contest.

The video she embedded also doesn't work. At least, when I tried to watch it, it said that the user had been banned for too many copyright violations, so here's another upload of that same number:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9okkG-8BOM
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)

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

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

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

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

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



joreth: (Bad Computer!)
So there's a guy who pissed me off recently and I want to delve into it to process the incident. As ya'll know, I do a form of ballroom dancing that's called "social dancing". It's basically people who have learned at least a little bit of formal ballroom, Latin, and/or swing dancing who then go out either to public venues or to ballroom dance studios and other dance spaces and just do what they do. Sometimes we learn something new, but mostly it's about having a good time and practicing or expressing whatever amount we *have* learned. Social dancing tends to focus on being good leaders and followers - on good communication - rather than perfect form or memorizing a lot of patterns (specific dance steps within a dance style). Many people only know a handful of patterns for each dance style that they've learned. It's about communication and connection and physical activity more than excelling at a physical art or sport. Perhaps not coincidentally, that also sounds like romantic relationships - being about communication and connection and physical activity.

Some background on the kind of dancing that's related to the incident. )

So back to the incident... )


Now I have some things to say about that... )


Video of the dance )
joreth: (Super Tech)
Someone told me recently that I seem really happy and wanted to know what my secret was.  How do I work in the stressful environment I work in, how do I deal with the people I deal with, how do I live in the world we live in, and still be happy?  I have 2 "secrets" to being happy.  They may or may not work for anyone else, but this is what I do:

1) I follow my passions.  I am dirt fucking poor.  I live below the poverty line and require government assistance on a quasi-regular basis.  I'm one month away from total disaster at all times.  I've been stuck here in this state when I really would rather live elsewhere for a decade past the point I had originally planned to leave because I can't afford to move.  Why?  I have skills in several job categories and could make a decent living.  I used to do a job that paid me $25K a year entry salary, with health benefits, 15 years ago and could be quite comfortable if I had stayed there with various promotions and raises over the years.  I could move up in my current job into management or equipment/personnel coordination, with either a salaried position or lots and lots of hours at a good hourly rate.  I'm poor because I love my job.  It's my passion.  I don't work in the other industries because I'm not passionate about them.  I don't move up into management in my current job because I like, as I usually put it, playing with my toys and getting dirty.  I'm merely a technician.

Don't get me wrong, even my lowly technician gig pays me very very well, per hour or day and plenty of people make good livings doing what I do.  But I also don't work as often as I should.  Sometimes it's because I take time off for my other passions, like relationships or hobbies or vacations.  Sometimes it's because I suck at the work-politics game and I don't know how to schmooze the right people to move up the corporate ladder.  Sometimes it's because my job is more about who you know than what you know.  And sometimes it's because I failed to keep up with changing technology and have trouble finding mentors to bring me up to speed so I can't always compete in the job market.

But the point is that I love my job so much, I'm willing to live in below-poverty conditions to keep doing it.  I do what I have to in order to survive, including taking other kinds of work.  But it doesn't make me happy.  When I'm gigging, I'm happy.  When I'm costuming, I'm happy.  When I'm dancing, I'm happy.  When I'm photographing, I'm happy.  When I'm creating, I'm happy, and that's what all my passions have in common - creating something. When I take the time to indulge in my passions, no, to pursue my passions with a ferocious intensity, I am generally happy with life itself.

2) I find outlets for those things that make me unhappy.  Like ranting on the internet.  Most people who know me primarily online think I must be profoundly unhappy because all they see are my angry posts.  But I make those posts in order to get the thoughts out of my head, where, if I didn't get them out, they'd just run around in circles all day, every day.  They're like music earworms, sorta.  Some people have to listen to that very song in order to get it unstuck from their heads.  I have to rant about whatever is pissing me off in order to let it go and get on with my day getting back to the business of being happy.

People who know me in real life first, who then find my online profiles, feel a little jarred at the difference.  I don't seem like "me" to them.  But if you were to ask most of my coworkers who have either not seen my online profiles or who don't read much of Facebook or Twitter or LJ even if they have a profile there, if you were to ask them to describe me, "happy" is a common descriptor.  A boss once quipped something to the effect of not recognizing me without my smile, or if I'd lost my smile, something must seriously be wrong.  I don't remember the exact line, but the occasion stuck out in my memory because I had just lost my place to live because I was "always angry" online, even though I'd never had a harsh word IRL with that person and, in fact, had been told when we first met that he had a crush on me because he so loved how often I laughed around him.  So when that boss remarked on how being unsmiling was a rare event, it struck a chord with me.

I have periods of depression.  I get overwhelmed by stuff and I start to withdraw into myself.  I stop reaching out to my friends and loved ones, I stop going out, I start to cry more easily, and I can start to say and do things that, to someone who doesn't know what's going on, may seem out of character because I stop being able to express myself clearly.  Being a generally happy person doesn't mean never feeling any other negative emotion.

But, in general, I think I'm happy.  I love life and I think it's worth living.  I feel that death is the enemy and I can't even comprehend the idea that there might come a day when I'll be tired of life and voluntarily want to end it, even when I think of living for hundreds or thousands of years.  I joke easily and I laugh often.  Even when I'm in the depths of a depressive episode or feeling particularly down, I know, with every fiber of my being, that it'll pass and I'll be happy again.  Sometimes I even willingly indulge in periods of sadness, knowing that it's just part of the range of human emotion and expressing it can be part of getting through it.  I never need to be told after a breakup, for instance, that things will get better and I'll find someone new.  I know that, and I don't stay sad for very long.  I pretty quickly bounce back to being happy.  Even when Misty, my cat, died, I was able to be at work the next day, laughing and joking as usual with my coworkers.  I'm very much still in mourning for my cat, and I still cry at the drop of a hat when I think of her.  But the joking around at work the day after her death was not a mask I had to wear in order to get through my day.  I was genuinely happy to be working and to be with my coworkers.  And I'm creating a memorial for her, which goes along with my first point about creating making me happy.  Sadness doesn't overwhelm me and life goes on, dragging me along with it.

And I think that's essentially why I'm generally happy.  I follow my passions and I allow myself to express the negative emotions so that I can get through them and get on with the business of being happy.  I remember trying to suppress my negative emotions for a while.  I had a very troubled adolescence and, for a time, the only thing I wanted was to stop hurting.  But, even in that first depressive episode, suicide or self-harm was never a serious consideration (although I did consider them).  I shut off the negative emotions so that I wouldn't hurt.  But then, one day, I realized that I wasn't feeling any of the positive emotions either.  Well, that's not entirely true.  I still felt all my emotions, but they were all very, very muted.  I didn't feel strongly about anything.  I spent many years trying to turn back on the positive emotions without turning on the negative ones, and I failed every time.

Eventually I embraced the idea of feeling because I wanted to feel happy again.  Feeling sad on occasion was just part of the price to pay in order to feel happy.  I don't like the idea of an emotional roller coaster.  I know some people that swing from extreme to extreme, and I've heard of those who are basically emotion junkies.  And I'm not talking about any of that.  I just feel happy in a general sort of way, with moments of elation and joy, and, fortunately rare, moments of sadness.  Every couple of years I go through a depressive stage, but then I pull back out of it again.  To me, depression is not a "normal" state to be in.  Like my moments of sadness, it's something I have to occasionally go through, but those moments are like islands dotting a mostly placid but occasionally excitingly active, sea of happiness.  I'm not sure I could answer definitively about whether the chicken or the egg came first here, but I believe following my passions and allowing myself the opportunity to express and feel my sadness or anger in a controlled manner, are what cause me to be happy in life.  It could be that I have a "happy nature" and that's what gives me passions in the first place, or makes me seek out these outlets for my anger or sadness to expunge them.  But when I'm feeling down, if I can somehow find the motivation to get out and dance, or take my camera somewhere new, or get inspired by a new costume design, then my depression or anger or sadness usually lifts.  So I *think* the causal relationship goes the other way and it's that my happiness is caused by the things I do.

At any rate, I've found it to be a self-perpetuating cycle.  The more I dance, the happier I get.  The happier I am, the more I want to dance.  Same with work, same with costuming, same with photography, same with picking up some new skill or hobby even if that particular one turns out to be a phase that I drop later and never get back to.  Work is where I feel most like "me", where the most number of facets of my personality get to shine at once.  Dancing and my other hobbies are opportunities to focus on a single facet at a time; to really give each facet some undivided attention and undiluted expression.  Sometimes, that hobby is pure emotional expression, like dancing.  I was told not too long ago that he was sorry for staring, but even though he was surrounded by dancers, many in much less clothing than I, he couldn't help watching me dance.  I hadn't ever been told that before.  I've been told that people enjoy dancing with me, or they are impressed when I do a structured dance that they don't know, like swing or Bollywood, but not that my dancing was so sexy and beautiful that he couldn't help but stare.  And he wasn't hitting on me.  When he mistook my enthusiasm for dancing with him as a more personal interest, he was quick to back up and tell me that he was in a monogamous relationship.  He just genuinely felt drawn to me when I danced and was willing to tell me.  I know I'm only a mediocre or intermediate dancer, and that's OK.  I dance for myself, for the sheer joy of feeling my body move.  I dance as though my body was an instrument to join in the song.

And I think that's what people see when they say they like to watch me dance, because my technical skills are, well, they're above average but not particularly exceptional.  Because that's what I see when I feel compelled to watch someone do what they love.  I once watched an artist while he sketched me.  There was something in his expression, something I can't define, that changed everything about him.  When he concentrated on turning the visual signals he received from looking at a subject to a physical representation on paper, he was pursuing his passion.  And it showed on his face, and it made him compelling.  I think I almost fell in love just a little with him right there because of that expression.

My high school sweetheart is a performer.  He is never better than when he is performing.  He is always amazing.  His passion for his art is one of the reasons I fell in love with him in high school and one of the reasons I continue to love him to this day, even though we are no longer romantic and not even the slightest bit romantically compatible.  Back before I realized my stalker was, in fact, a stalker with Nice Guy Syndrome, back when he was just my best friend, I would sit at his feet or hours and watch him play music.  His preferred instrument at that time was guitar, but he could play anything except piano (for some reason, he couldn't put the two hands of a song together on a piano).  He put his soul into his music.  I loved another guitarist too.  He was blind, and he interpreted the world primarily through touch and sound.  Which meant that his playing was exceptional because it was the very essence of how he experienced life.  Not coincidentally, I met him at the same time that I met my high school sweetheart.  In fact, my first introduction to them was the guitarist playing accompaniment to the performer singing.  Two such passionate boys expressing themselves through their passion - it's no wonder I could never really choose between them, and it was only circumstance that kept my relationships with them separated by a decade. [livejournal.com profile] tacit is passionate about life itself, and consequently is one of the 3 or 4 happiest people I have ever known.  My Darling Boy also has many passions and is one of those people whose very presence in a room make it seem brighter, as though the sun through the window just came out from behind a cloud at the moment he walked in.  He's passionate about flying (he's a chopper pilot) and rigging and music and, like [livejournal.com profile] tacit, about life itself.

I surround myself with passionate men - men who are intensely, maybe in some cases obsessively, interested in something that makes them happy to experience.  I find this trait to be more compelling in a person than any other trait.  It might not be sufficient, on its own, to sustain a meaningful relationship with that person, but being passionate about something is a necessary element to being able to love them, for me.  That's the best thing that anyone can do to attract a romantic partner, or even friends, y'know - be passionate about something.  People who do interesting things are interesting people, and others are attracted to interesting people.  It doesn't work if you just try to do something with the goal of attracting a mate.  You have to actually feel passionate about that thing, and your passion will make you attractive - far more attractive than any nice clothing or nice car or slick pick-up line will make you, and it'll last longer than a superficial sheen's attractiveness too.

So, if you're still searching for the meaning of life and how to be happy or make your life look the way you want it to look when it doesn't, that's what I suggest you try.  It may not work for you.  Unlike those self-help books like "7 Tips Of Successful People" or whatever that try to boil life down into a series of steps guaranteed to make you rich, good looking, and happy, I'm not saying that my method will work for everyone.  But if you don't know where to even start looking, I think these two things are good to try.  Find something to feel passionate about and pursue it, and find an outlet and allow yourself to express the negative emotions every so often.  I'm not saying to revel in sadness or self-pity or anger.  I'm saying that repression of negative emotion may result in a difficulty or inability to also experience those strong positive emotions that are necessary for passion and happiness.

You may need to learn how to feel sadness or fear or anger, and consequently how to manage and get through it, before you can feel passionate about something else.  A lot of people try to manage their bad feelings by orchestrating their lives largely to avoid feeling bad feelings.  Then, when something inevitable comes along to make them feel bad, they lack the familiarity to recognize the early warning signs and the tools to manage it productively.  This can spiral, I think, into a never-ending cycle of always feeling bad and not knowing how to feel happy anymore.

[livejournal.com profile] tacit says that life rewards the path of greater courage.  I think that's essentially what I'm trying to do with my two happiness tips.  I'm certainly not claiming to never fail or fall off the path.  But I think it takes courage to feel bad and to get my hands right up in those bad feelings like mixing bread dough and really examine those feelings and deal with them.  And I think it takes courage to leap head-first into an endeavor, which is what I feel that "passion" is - feeling so strongly about something that I just leap into it, giving myself over to the creative process and rolling around in the joy of creating.  Passion, even though it's a positive emotion, can be scary.  It can put us in a place of vulnerability.  It can leave us open to criticism, condemnation, mocking, and separation.  You have to really put yourself into whatever you're passionate about, and a negative reaction about what you're doing can feel like the most intimate, fatal, of attacks.  But being passionate about something, at least for me, means that I can't help but to leap into it.

So I think my reward for pursuing my passions and for exploring and expressing the negative emotions is that I feel that I am generally happy with life.  I am rarely without romantic or sexual partners, except by choice, I often have a handful of people I can count on to be there for me when I need someone, and I enjoy life even when others might look at my situation and think it looks hard or uncomfortable.  My life, overall - the big picture - looks mostly like it does because of deliberate choices I made to make it look this way.  I'm not "lucky" to have multiple partners, or to have any specific partner.  I have these relationships because I arranged my life in such a way as to make these relationships possible.  I'm not "lucky" to be working my dream job.  I made choices that allowed me to pursue my dream job, and those choices have had some consequences and drawbacks that are part of it.  You can zoom in on any part of my life or history and find low spots or difficult spots or places where I didn't make the best choice in hindsight.  But when I pull back and look at my life as a whole, I'm generally happy with it, and the places on the timeline where I'm the most happiest are the places where I expressed my two tips the best.  I don't think that's a coincidence.
joreth: (Swing Dance)
http://www.xojane.com/entertainment/dirty-dancing-is-a-subversive-masterpiece-and-here-are-four-reasons-why

OTG YES! Dirty Dancing is such a complex, multi-layered piece of art that had such a huge impact on me and several facets of my various world-views that it's hard for me to emphasize its importance enough.  This article only addresses 4 points, but I think that's just a starting point, although a very strong starting point.  The article covers having an awkward heroine who never turns into the "beautiful, popular girl" to win the guy, having a "hot guy" like the awkward heroine for who she is as a person without being blind to her until that magical "ugly duckling" transformation, giving "the sheltered 17-year-old all the sexual agency", class politics, and illegal abortion.  Set in 1963.

It's not a "chick flick" or a rom-com, or even your typical "coming of age" story. It's a sociopolitical commentary on class struggles, women's rights, sexual agency, gender relations, communication, trust, and personal growth. Baby remains one of my all-time epitomal characters that helped to define who I am, and Johnny remains the ideal romantic partner to whom I compare all my potential partners. It's not just because he has a nice ass and abs, it's because of his integrity, his character, his personal struggles, and his values.

Dancing, to me, is not just a fun physical activity. It is a vehicle through which we can achieve personal growth and relationship enhancement, as well as a story-telling device that we can use to address controversial and taboo subjects. And this movie combines everything that I find valuable about dance - the fun, the storytelling, the catalyst for growth, the beauty, the pain, the personal expression.  I don't think it's even possible to truly "get" me without understanding this movie.  That doesn't mean that you have to have watched it in order to get me, but that you would have to be the kind of person who *would* understand this movie if you saw it in order to understand who I am as a person.  But watching it helps.

Maybe, in my copious free time that isn't today, I'll write my own full post enumerating the points and analyzing the movie the way the article does.

joreth: (anger)
Bullying is a largely invisible phenomenon.  Oh, sure, most people know it happens, but it's usually viewed as isolated cases, or just something that everyone has to go through, kind of like a rite of passage.  But it's not relegated to a few "you stink, give me your lunch money" on the playground.  It's a deep, cultural, systemic problem.  It affects every area of our culture and ignoring the "minor" stuff only gives the real, harmful bullies a place to bully with impunity.  It's the reason why feminism is still alive and necessary.  It's why women are still minorities in many professions in spite of the fact that they are just as capable in those professions (when given the proper experience & support) as men are.  It's why women are so absent* from the gaming & geek communities.  It's why we're in the 21st century and still even debating whether or not gay people should be allowed to marry.  It's why eating disorders are still distressingly common.  It's why religious thugs can get away with raping boys & girls in their care.  I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that we have these problems because we allowed them to exist.

The latest strategy of feminists is to get people to speak up about the abuse they see online & not let it go unpunished.  Women are asking men to speak up, not for their protection, but in their defense & support.  When the elevator debacle happened with Rebecca Watson, pretty much every single sex-positive, "equalist" (i.e. feminist, whether we knew it or not) guy I knew was just shocked by the torrential downpour of shit that Rebecca got just for daring to say "this kind of behaviour makes women uncomfortable.  Guys, don't do that".  Because, for the most part, "guys" don't see it.

I've had my Online Skeezballs tag forever.  I originally started posting the worst of the emails I receive online because people just didn't know.  If I complained about someone being an asshole, the response was unanimously "just block him", "just ignore him, he'll go away", and "stop worrying about it, this is some faceless stranger on the internet that you'll never meet. It isn't that big of a deal unless you let it get to you".

And yeah, an isolated incident may just be "not a big deal" and something I should not hold onto, just let go of, just ignore the bully and he'll go away.  But these aren't isolated incidents.  These are symptoms of a much larger problem - that we live in a society that excuses and ignores this kind of behaviour; in which women are afraid to wear the wrong thing or go to the wrong places or do the wrong things because if they do, then they will have brought their rape upon themselves; that gives bullies positions of power and refuses to take it away when they abuse it.

When I tell one of my horror stories, I often get "seriously? Someone did/said that?" and "you must be exaggerating/misunderstanding" and "well *I* never see anything like that".  So I post this shit so that you can see.  When people wonder why I'm "always so angry", I post why.  Imagine growing up your whole live and being bombarded with messages like that.  Imagine never having a place that is safe from these kinds of attacks.  Imagine being told from birth that you are in danger, that the danger is your own fault for being born and for making "wrong" choices, and that there is nothing anyone can do about it, you just have to suck it up and take it and eventually the bully will get bored and go away.

So I post so that people can see.  This is a PROBLEM, people.  And I encourage others to post.  And I encourage people to respond.  We need to make our society hostile towards bullies of all stripes, from the "eww, you stink!" grade school kids to the rapists and thugs who harm, maim, and kill and get away with it.

I'm not particularly strong, I'm not gifted with any sort of real fighting skills, I don't have any political leverage or friends in high places, and I don't have any money to contribute to campaigns.  So I do what I can.  I post.  I raise awareness.  And I argue and persuade.  

My call to action is to ask everyone to start posting their bullying experiences in whatever manner is safe to do so.  You don't have to engage if you don't feel safe, you can post under a pseudonym,  you can create an account just for that, separate from your regular profiles, whatever.  Post about the shit you get and let others know.  Post about it, talk about it, make sure that everyone knows that this happens all the time to a lot of different people.  Publicly shame people for poor behaviour.  

The next step is for those who have the luxury and safety to do so, confront those bullies and bullying behaviour when you can.  If you're a guy & you see or hear a guy making a sexist joke or making some girl uncomfortable, let him know that you don't approve, that he does not have the support of the guys around him (hint: condescention & derision works better than the white-knight "I am here to SAVE THE DAMSEL!" approach - tell the other guy that he's a loser rather than saying "the lady isn't interested", or better yet, say this stuff).  If you're online & you see someone getting verbally attacked, jump in and defend them.  Re-post the posts you see about this stuff so that the people around you can no longer hide their heads in the sand and say "it's no big deal" or "well *I've* never seen anything like that happen!"

Here's my latest online skeezball encounter.  I will continue to update the post as more tweets are made.  I originally made a tweet complaining about poly people going to poly events, and then saying "I was hoping to meet someone, but everyone there was already partnered".  I don't want to debate this tweet here, this is part of a larger issue that the 140 character limitation of Twitter necessarily truncates & requires incomplete, generalized, and/or soundbitey statements and is not the point of what happened next.

So I made that tweet and @isayshizzz responded "sounds like you've never heard of polyfi"

So I said "sounds like you've never heard of Twitter, where things have to be summarized in 140 characters"

So they said "I hear you're fat, old, ugly and hide behind the internet"

To which I said "wow, you're an ass"

And they said "not as much as you, claiming to be an ally for poly people but you do more harm"

At which point, I blocked them.  But then others came to my defense (much more politely than even I was here), and here is what @isayshizzz to that: "are u all fucking the old hag or what? This is why she's a cunt, she gets others to be cunty for her. Eat my asshole"

Now, if you go to their twitter feed, every single response having to do with me has been deleted, which is why I'm actually missing a bunch of them, including insinuations that this person, whom I've never met, "knows" me and thinks my "behaviour" (but not my tweets) is "harmful" to the poly community.  So I've started retweeting their tweets when I see them, now that I know they will conveniently delete them after they've had a chance to piss off whomever they're attacking.

This is what the crux of the Rebecca Watson problem was - someone makes a suggestion, maybe politely worded, maybe not, that people be a little nicer, a little more considerate, pay attention to other people, or pay attention to their own issues/actions/thoughts/whatever, and someone else responds with "OMG YOU FUCKING CUNT!"  

This is the problem.  The silencing of social justice, the implicit permission to respond to demands for social justice with violent hatred and anger, and the general acceptance of such from those around them.  If you're not doing anything at all, then you're part of the problem.  Ignoring it, pretending it doesn't exist, thinking or saying that it's not a big deal, all that is what gives these people the freedom to behave this way.  And that license for bullying is a fertile ground for creating & hiding abusers, rapists, people who commit hate crimes, racists who tie black men to their trucks & drag them on the ground until they die, homophobes & transphobes who kick the shit out of gays & trans people, and even those lone nutjobs who shoot up gyms and movie theaters.

Silence is the enabler.  Break the silence.


www.youtube.com/watch?v=5P4eVjwVd_U


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2TmllUrGqM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEUUj2RqToM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tva9vIYxLY


*When I say "absent from these communities", I don't mean they are literally not there.  I mean they are underrepresented, either because their active numbers are actually low or because they are overlooked or because, in the case of online communities, many are just hiding behind male or gender neutral pseudonyms in an effort to avoid the shit they get when the bullies find out that they're there.
joreth: (feminism)
So I had a conversation with a friend a little while ago.  He's one of the Good Guys.  He doesn't need to be explained why a woman can say "guys, that made me uncomfortable ... don't do that" and the response to send her death & rape threats is a bad thing, why it wasn't her that "started it", how it was the MRAs (Men's Rights Activists - different from people who actually believe in equal rights for everyone, including men - those are feminists) who actually blew things out of proportion & escalated the event from a footnote in a video to a community-dividing schism.

But here's where the problem is (and it's not with him, he's just a symptom).  See, he and I had lost touch for a few years because he moved for work and has recently moved back.  So he missed my whole "feminist conversion".  So we've been talking a lot about feminist issues since we got back in touch, and how I feel resentful at being dragged into the fray and why I finally now identify as a feminist.  He wanted to know why I bother to identify as a feminist now if I didn't want to in the first place.  I explained that I always was a feminst, if you just looked at the definition, or maybe made a checklist, and compared it to my actual thoughts, opinions, and feelings.

The problem was that I was misinformed about what feminism meant and how bad the problem still was.  

  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnJxqRLg9x0&list=UU7Edgk9RxP7Fm7vjQ1d-cDA&index=9&feature=plcp
 

 
This is exactly what my problem was.  I fell for the Straw Feminist bullshit.  I'm a Latina female who has always been some religious minority (not always the same minority, though).  My life should have been filled with struggle and hardship.  It wasn't.  Now, don't get me wrong, I had bad shit in my life.  But when it came to obvious gender issues, my biggest problem growing up was that my parents once admitted that insisting on a curfew even after age 18 was because I was their daughter, and if they had a son, he would have had different rules.  Although they never did have a son, so that was never tested.  My next biggest problem was that my dad wouldn't let me use his power tools.  So I bought my own and now my set is more awesome than his.

I grew up with fairly conservative parents, but in a liberal bubble.  In spite of being lower-middle class, I still went to one of the best private schools in the state, where they taught us age-appropriate, evidence-based sex ed, self-defense, and to excel in sports, academics, and politics.  I was awarded jobs easily based on my skills and experiences.  I was praised for being smart, even by the boys.  I was encouraged to play sports (just not football or wrestling) and I was told to put marriage and children on hold until I completed college and started a career, and THEN I was expected to keep my career after marriage & kids, the way my mother did.

In my liberal bubble, just as in the Straw Feminist tropes in media that the video talks about, I lived in a world where feminism was no longer needed.  Those brave women and their male allies had done their job.  We had achieved equality and, in some cases, we had gone just a little bit too far and now it was time to back off the throttle a bit and even correct some of the "overcorrections" we had made.

I did not need to identify as a feminist because I was an egalitarian.  I believed in equalty for all based on merit, skill, and interest.  I still do.  So I may have always been a feminist, but it was not one of my identity lables.  I am a lot of things, but not all of those things are important to my identity and my sense of self, so not all of those things make it to my list of identity labels.  I was born in the US, can only barely speak a few words of Spanish, and went to a predominantly white private school.  I tell people that I'm Latina when it is relevant to do so, but I don't identify as a Latina.  It is not part of my identity makeup, it's just a fact about me that happens to be true.  The "feminist" label was like that for me too - even if I hadn't misunderstood what it really meant, in my liberal bubble, the gender war had been won, so it was not important enough to my identity to attach the label "feminist".

But then I joined the skeptics and atheists communities.  And THEY made me a feminist.  Because I saw that we had not won the gender wars.  We were not "equal".  The place where I should have been the most safe, protected by reason and evidence, is the place where I was most threatened.  Oh, we have absolutely made progress!  We have wrested certain rights that have given women unprecedented power in our society.

But we're not done yet.

And this is what brings me to the story with my friend.  He is like me.  He strongly believes in equality for all, and if I present him with any sort of hypothetical situation, even if he thinks that we have currently solved that problem, he firmly, and without prodding, comes down on the side of feminism without knowing it's a feminist principle.  But because of this whole Straw Feminism problem, we had a conversation a while ago that went like this:

I was showing him some of my favorite geeky music videos (Felicia Day anyone?) and he asked "so, since you obviously like all this geeky and gamer shit, maybe I can ask you ... where are all the gamer girls?"  I said "what do you mean?  There are TONS of gamer girls!  Go to any gaming con & there are gamer girls all over the place!"  He said that when he actually plays his online multi-player games, the women are in the minority.  I told him that developer statistics of their user bases actually suggests that it's pretty close to 50/50.  He said he'd never seen that split.

I said "that's because the women are using male gaming names & not using their mics to avoid getting shit on by guys during the game."  He said none of the people he ever gamed with ever gave women a hard time.  So I sent him to Anita Sarkeesian's Wikipedia page, where he learned all about the rape threats & death threats and misogyny in gaming culture.

He had never seen it.  Probably because many of the women on his games were using guy names, so the one or two misogynists who were also on his game couldn't abuse them, and all the guys he chooses to socialize with are similar Good Guys like himself.  So I started telling him stories.  Stories of what women go through online.  Stories of men who Get It who have tried to post their own analogies so that the men who don't Get It could understand.  The schism in the skeptics communities.  I told him how we're finally seeing some response from game developers to begin talks about how to solve the problem instead of a couple of twenty-something male programmers who had a good idea & started their own company from it saying "well, he didn't abuse the TOS when he called you a fucking cunt & threatening to rape your skull is just game trash talk that doesn't mean anything".

When I reminded him that, just because he had never heard of it, that didn't mean it wasn't happening, but whether anybody knows of any given person's previous rape or assult experiences was directly proportional to how close those two people, he knew that.  I mean, I didn't have to explain it to him, he got it.  He totally grasped the fact that he didn't know how many of the women he knew had any sort of sexual assualt in their history.  And yet, because he was largely unaware of how many women he knew had some sort of sexual assault, he was largely unaware of how big the problem is.

So that's what I'm doing now.  This is why I have always posted my Online Skeezballs tag.  This is why I have always gone off on assholes on the internet.  This is why I rant about Couple's Privilege in the poly community.  People do not know.  People don't know how often this shit happens.  People do not know how much this hurts.  People do not know that what they or others are doing HURTS PEOPLE.  Every time I tell one of my whacked-out stories, someone, often a like-minded close friend, says "seriously?  That really happened?" or "do people really do that?"  Yes.  I am far too literal to resort to hyperbole very often, and when I do, it's pretty fucking obvious, like saying "a gazillion".  I also write this shit down right away because I'm terrified of misremembering or forgeting something and I cross-check with others to make sure my memories are as accurate as memories can be.  This shit happens and this shit hurts.  And people don't know.

And the reason they don't know is because we have been told, for generations, that nobody cares.  If we talk about anything from the status quo that bothers us, no one will do anything about it, except maybe try to make it our own fault.  At best, we'll be ignored.  At worst, we'll be attacked even more for speaking out.  Somehow, we'll be made to be the bad guy in all this.  So we just don't talk about it.  The first rule of Rape Culture is that we don't talk about Rape Culture.

When I first brought up the idea of Only Yes Means Yes, the single biggest criticism I got was that women never give a straight answer, so if guys waited around for a clear and unambiguous yes, then they'd never get laid.  Now, let's ignore the glaring fallacies and falsehoods in that statement and just assume, for the moment, that it's literally true - that women do not give straight answers. Women do not say yes, and women do not say no.

Did it ever occur to these guys why women don't give straight answers?  I'll break the Women's Code and explain why, just like I have always done for my guy friends when they get confounded by the mysterious species that is Women.  The reason why those women who don't give straight answers, don't give straight answers is because they are punished when they do.  A woman who says yes is a slut, but a women who says no is raped.

Of course not every single women who says no is raped every single time she says no.  But people do not take rejection gracefully, and it tends to make those of us who are smaller, or who have no fighting skills, or who have been told our entire lives that the responsibility for avoiding rape is our own, it tends to make us a little gun shy about rejecting people.  And if our personality is naturally to be quiet, shy, unassuming, or particularly sensitive to disapproval or hurting someone else's feelings, it's going to make us even more afraid to reject someone.  Most people do not give flat-out nos, not just women.  It is considered rude in our society to do so.  We do the "I'd love to, but..." and give some excuse that says that we are unable to, not that we don't want to.  But when it comes to women rejecting amorous advances, it isn't just the threat of being percieved as "rude".  It's the threat of bodily harm that often makes us afraid to say no.

Before you click on that last link, let me give you a trigger warning.  It's about a woman who had two children with an abusive man.  And when she turned down his marriage proposal, he killed her and both the children.  AFTER she reported him to the police.  AFTER she got a restraining order against him.  He killed her and the children.  For a rejection.

I've posted some of my own scary encounters.  There was the time a drunk guy hit on me and my two friends at a casino lounge and ignored every single rejection we gave him until all three of us pulled out our knives.  Then there was the guy who tried to "help" me put Fix-A-Flat in my car tire & also did not back off until I flashed my switchblade.  There's the uncountable number of dates I've been on, including just "hanging out with friends" where a "no" only got me Octopus Arms.

So when women are told, repeatedly, that our disinterest, our discomfort, even our fear, is irrelevant and unimportant, the only thing we have left to do is leave.  Or hide.

So if you want more women in your community, if you are a straight guy who wants to find a nice girl to date who shares some of your interests like gaming, or atheism, or rock climbing, or whatever, and you're looking around wondering where all the girls are, it is YOUR FAULT you can't find them.  If you are not actively contributing to the hostile environment (and if you're reading my journal, I'm going to assume that you're not, because those guys hate reading the kinds of stuff I write about), then you're probably not helping it either.  

And it's not because you're a bad guy.  It's probably because you didn't know.  Which is not your fault, but any time you have ever told a woman "oh, he's just an asshole, ignore him and he'll go away" or "I worry about you being safe, so here is a list of things that you should do to keep yourself safe" or even just didn't say anything when another guy made a derogatory comment (probably because it was kind of funny or probably because it wasn't funny but it was a joke and therefore not worth getting into a sexism argument over), then you contributed to the problem.  I know, you don't want to hear that you're part of the problem.  I certainly don't like hearing that I was part of the problem, and to this day I try to rationalize why, when *I* did it, I wasn't contributing to the problem ... when *I* did it, I had a Very Good Reason for it, and it didn't count when I did it.  You probably meant well.  Your motivation was probably because you thought you were actually helping and you wanted to help because you care.  I know, I get it.  But that's not actually how to help.

The first step is to call this shit out when you see it or hear it.  Tell guys that the joke wasn't funny, even if it kinda was, or that even though it was funny, it was still wrong.  Tell guys to stop insulting each other by using female or feminine insults (seriously, it shouldn't be an insult to "throw like a girl").  Point out that phrases like "that's so gay" and other gay jokes & insults is actually harmful to both men and women because of how it places feminine attributes as something that is negative and should be avoided.  When a woman complains about something bad that happened to her, don't tell her how to fix it.  Tell her that you're listening.  Tell her that you're here for her.  Ask her what she would like to do about it and if there is something you can do to help.  Offer to be her support if she wants to make any sort of official complaints and share with her resources where she will not be made a victim a second time for daring to complain.

And the second step is to start saying this shit unprompted.  Don't wait for someone to be an asshole in public before confronting him.  Start blogging or making Facebook posts about events you read or people you know.  An excellent tactic is to link to stories and other people's blog posts that are condemning some sexist action or assault, especially if you can get it trending on Tumblr or Reddit.  Don't link to assholes, crazies, and other fuckups - link to the people complaining about them.  That way, Google picks up the complaints and puts them at the top of searches and the assholes trying to defend themselves get buried under the fold or on second & third search pages.  You don't even have to write a blog post or confront one of these jerks yourself, just help make the problem more visible.  If you're at a party where it's socially acceptable to get a little political or talk about serious news items, bring this shit up and make it clear which side you're on.  "Dude, I read this HORRIBLE story the other day!  Can you believe this fucktard did this thing to this woman?!"

This is not about perteckting the wimmenfolk.  This is about showing your support and fighting for what is right.  I dated a 2nd degree blackbelt karate instructor.  If he were to get into an altercation while we were out together, he would have been totally capable of taking care of things himself.  He was bigger than me, stronger than me, and knew how to fight, which I didn't.  But I still would have helped.  I would have called 911 while he was too busy kicking the other guy's ass.  I would have kept the other guy's girlfriend from jumping in.  I would have cleared stuff out of his way if it looked like he might back up and trip.  Whatever, I would have helped, not because he "needed" my help, but because it would have been the right thing to do.  He and I were a team, we were on the same side, and I supported him.

That's what we need from everyone else, and I'm not just looking at the men here.  We really do need the guys to start speaking up, because the people who most need to hear these messages just don't give a shit about the women who are saying it.  If a guy hates women, it doesn't matter how loud us women are, he doesn't care and he won't listen.  That's what makes him a Bad Guy in the first place.

But women, if it is at all safe for you to do so, we also have to speak up.  I know that there are penalties for speaking up, I know that so often no one will do anything about it anyway so why bother?  Think of my friend above.  The Good Guy.  He's on our side, but he, like I, was just unaware.  It is not your fault that anything bad happens to you and you don't speak up.  But it could do some long-term good if you do.  Most women do not want to be "that bitch", they don't want to be the party downer, they don't want others thinking that all they do is complain about politics or feminism - they don't want to be that Straw Feminist.  BELIEVE me, I get it.

But I promise, if we all band together, the more of us who speak up, the easier it will be for us to speak up.  Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow.  But it will get better if we all pitch in to the best of our ability.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9rj3ahynFU&list=UUjj9EnVJUY7pTkP5MX8F9gQ&index=1&feature=plcp
joreth: (dance)
One of the drawbacks to taking dance lessons is that if you don't practice what you learned, you can forget pretty quickly. So I'm going to be posting some YouTube videos of dance instructors teaching the steps we learned in class. If you took the class, you can use these videos to practice. If you didn't take the class, you can use these videos to learn the same steps that we learned in class and then you'll be caught up with everyone else.

At the bottom is a playlist of music to dance to at home. In fact, even if you're not dancing, just play the music and move around your house, maybe while doing chores or standing in front of the stove or something, stepping to the beat of the song in the rhythm of the dance. Remember, you can practically make stuff up as you go, as long as you keep your feet moving in the proper rhythm. So drill this beat into your heads & listen to the music so that when you're out in public, when a song comes on that has a good dance beat, you'll be able to recognize it and do the proper dance to it.


joreth: (dance)
One of the drawbacks to taking dance lessons is that if you don't practice what you learned, you can forget pretty quickly.  So I'm going to be posting some YouTube videos of dance instructors teaching the steps we learned in class.  If you took the class, you can use these videos to practice.  If you didn't take the class, you can use these videos to learn the same steps that we learned in class and then you'll be caught up with everyone else.

At the bottom is a playlist of music to dance to at home.  In fact, even if you're not dancing, just play the music and move around your house, maybe while doing chores or standing in front of the stove or something, stepping to the beat of the song in the rhythm of the dance.  Remember, you can practically make stuff up as you go, as long as you keep your feet moving in the proper rhythm.  So drill this beat into your heads & listen to the music so that when you're out in public, when a song comes on that has a good dance beat, you'll be able to recognize it and do the proper dance to it.


Video instructions & links below the cut )
joreth: (polyamory)
This week, Dancing With The Stars featured ballroom dance trios! As a poly & a ballroom dancer, how could I not love it? Besides just the idea of doing ballroom dance with more than one partner, the introductions to each of the dances show some themes that I think poly people will find very familiar!

First, all of the trios are actually pre-existing couples who invited a third person in. Second, within the trios there is a mix of all dancing together and sometimes splitting up into various duos - not always losing the new member, sometimes it's one of the pre-existing members dancing alone with the new member!  In other words, sometimes they all dance together, and sometimes one of them wanders off and leaves two of them dancing alone, and sometimes the two dancing alone are not the pre-existing couple - sometimes it's one of the pre-existing couple and the new person.  All relationships need some alone time, and many experienced polys know that, even in triads, you gotta have some alone time with each of the others and you have to nurture that relationship with the new person.

As for the dances...
  • There's the FMF that you'd think would be everyone's dream but was actually very rare as the only grouping in that configuration out of all the trios on the show, and the two girls who used to be rivals but are now whole-heartedly throwing themselves into a partnership with perfect harmony.

  • There's the MFM where one guy was afraid the other guy would be "better" than him & the girl wanted to use his jealousy to her "advantage".

  • Then there's the MFM where the couple brought in the guy's brother because of his talent and skill, so they thought they would be better as a whole group for the addition (and they were).

  • There's the MFM where the first guy brought in the other guy because he knew how much the girl loved the other guy & the first guy enjoyed the "break" and letting the other guy take care of the girl some of the time.

  • And finally are the two MFMs where the girls each brought in the new guy so that the first guy could learn something from him and grow and improve themselves through relating to the new guy. Although, ironically, the dance story of both of those MFM trios was of the new guy trying to "steal the girl" and the first guy chasing off the intruder!
While not every single possible scenario found in poly triads & vees, these 6 performances and the arrangements of how they got to be trios sure cover an awful lot of poly tropes!  What was I just saying, about not being a poly issue, but a people issue?


See the dances! )

joreth: (boxed in)
I'm looking for video clips of TV shows & movies that show examples of two or more people in one or more of the following situations:

1) One person wants a gift or gifts and another either doesn't understand why or keeps fucking up the gift-giving
2) One person gives gifts to another
  a) and the other doesn't recognize or appreciate them
  b) and the other does recognize or appreciate them
3) One person wants compliments and another never gives them
4) One person compliments another often
  a) and the recipient is uncomfortable
  b) and the recipient laps it up
5) One person is regularly dismissive or critical of another
6) One person does things for another as an act of love, like home repairs or breakfast in bed
  a) and the other doesn't recognize it
  b) and the other recognizes it and appreciates it
7) One person wants another to do things for him or her, like take out the trash or clean or cook dinner
  a) and the other resists doing it and/or does so grudgingly
  b) and the other does it happily
  c) and tells the other to do those things by nagging

I do not need the actual clip (unless you know where to find it) but I do need enough information about the clip to locate it myself, such as title, episode (if it's a TV show), how far in I can find it, maybe actor or character names, etc.

These can be between romantic partners, between parents & offspring (adult or kids), between siblings, friends, coworkers, whatever.  This can be an example of the characters in these situations or it can be the characters complaining about these situations to friends or a therapist or someone.  

As an example:

joreth: (boxed in)

My house is a mess from two trips that I haven't unpacked from (or cleaned up from the original packing frenzy), the cats have fleas, and I have 3 presentations to write in less than 3 months. So naturally I'm blogging.

I was listening to a new poly podcast called Pedestrian Polyamory. I'm not entirely sure what I think of it yet, but I do like the fact that they say right in their opening that they will be talking about polymory - not tantra or paganism or woo bullshit, just polyamory. I've listened to all their episodes so far and I haven't unsubscribed yet, unlike some other poly podcasts, so I guess I don't dislike it!

The latest episode is on breaking up, and one of the hosts, Shira, came up with some breakup categories. I like categories. I like things that organize and categorize and put things in places. So I decided to write up these breakup categories. She listed 3 types, but I'm going to start with 6 and maybe add to it if I think of more. I kept a couple of her titles, but not all of them, and the descriptions are my own. Because I just like how I put things :-)

  • Failure To Launch - This is a relationship that never really went anywhere. This is when you had a date or two or three, and the both of you just kind of fizzled out and stopped following through. Maybe there was no chemistry, maybe ya'll got busy doing other things, whatever, it just never really happened.

    IMO, these are the least problematic, but the hosts of the podcast seem to think that this kind of "breakup" (if we can call it that) makes for really awkward social events when you run into them later. Shira recommends having that final confrontation where it is established that this relationship really isn't going anywhere, to avoid the post-fade-party-meetup awkwardness. I've never really found it to be that much of a problem. If we're both fading away, then I don't see much reason to feel awkward about running into each other later, but maybe that's just me. Not that I disagree with the advice to communicate, just saying that I never noticed any particular awkwardness when my Failure To Launches failed to launch. But I could just be that socially oblivious.

  • The War - Unfortunately, I have had a few of these. This is, as Shira called it, a knock-down, drag-out battle. This is a fucking mess. This is a giant train-wreck of a scene with tears and shouting, and it might even last for a few days, or weeks. In my experience, this kind of breakup often spills over into the rest of the community.

    One of my War breakups involved literally shouting at each other on the sidewalk, with him calling me a slut and me calling him a fucking asshole and demanding my stuff back. He was also my co-worker. I'm actually pretty good about maintaining a professional relationship with my exes, but he made it impossible. He picked on me and argued and got snotty every time I came around. It got so uncomfortable that other coworkers started complaining and I had to request to be scheduled on days that he was not scheduled. Then there was the infamous Freaks List Incident, where he couldn't figure out how to unsubscribe from the mailing list that our social circle uses to keep in touch about events or write an email filter for it, so he decided to insult everyone in an effort to get himself banned from the list instead.

    This is where the phrase "poly people come with references" comes in. While not a guarantee, we can estimate someone's future breakup behaviour based on their past patterns. If he has a habit of big flaming breakups, if he doesn't stay friends with his exes, if all his exes talk shit about him, take that as a warning sign. As they say, if all your exes are crazy, the thing they have in common is you.

    With this ex, his last relationship was particularly turbulent. But hey, that could have been a fluke, right? Especially since I personally witnessed a lot of their fights and it really did seem like she was the instigator and the drama queen. But that was only a single data point. I should have had more, and then I could have known that he was a fucking lunatic too.

    My other big War breakup wasn't quite so dramatic. But lack of fireworks doesn't mean that it wasn't still a War - after all, the US spent years in a Cold War that was every bit as tense, if not as bloody, as a regular war. We bickered a lot, and our breakup finally came to a head with some rather unpleasant email exchanges. OK, that's bad enough, but it was what happened afterwards that was the real problem.

    After the breakup, even though we were both prominent figures in our local community, he started avoiding me. And I don't mean that he stayed home from a couple of parties. I mean that he attended those parties, said "hello" to everyone, and pointedly ignored me. Seriously. When he got a new girlfriend, he walked up to a group of about 6 or 7 of us standing in a circle, all of whom happened to also be friends of his. He introduced his new girlfriend to everyone in the group, by name, and skipped over me.

    "Hi, I want to introduce my new girlfriend, Rebecca. Rebecca, this is Calvin and Tom and Sarah and Jessica ... and Melanie and Bob." No lie, no exaggeration, no hyperbole, just some name changes. People still talk of that incident, and not because I bring it up.

    At all subsequent parties, he would leave the room if I walked in. I actually went from room to room once, just to see if it was a coincidence, but nope, he did it every single time I went in, even if he was in the middle of conversation with someone. This is also still talked about by people. In fact, a couple of people jokingly now have a pool every time we're at the same party, for how many minutes it'll take him to leave a room after I've entered it.

    There was one time he felt he had to speak to me, and this man whom I had been in love with and spent several years with and intended to spend several more with, addressed me by Ms. My-Last-Name. Now, that's rude enough, but 1) he broke up with me (twice) and 2) I have a particular pet peeve about being addressed by my last name, and he was well aware of it. In fact, not only had he and I talked about it on several occasions, but one time, someone he met online (who did not know that we were dating) actually gave him the URL to my LJ rant about formality and suggested that my then-bf lighten up and stop calling him "mr." if he expected to become friends.

    And the final straw was when I was invited to a combination party (the party was actually 4 different parties that were all happening at the same time/location) by the host of 3 of the 4 parties (I want to say it was 2 different birthday parties, a housewarming party, & something else). Well, the fourth party happened to be my ex's birthday party, so, as the host of that party, he actually emailed me after I had received an invitation and told me I was uninvited and not to come, in spite of there being 3 other parties with different hosts who *did* invite me, along with my current partners and friends.

    Once again, I didn't properly vette my prospective partner. He *claimed* to want to remain friends with his exes, but I hadn't met any of them. I did meet his other girlfriend, so I thought that gave me enough perspective, but it didn't. In fact, the primary motivation for him dumping me is also the primary reason why he ended up breaking up with that other girlfriend too, a few months later. Patterns ... patterns are very important.

    So, this didn't involve any shouting matches on the sidewalk, but this was a particulary nasty, ugly breakup. I am not a fan of the Wars and I look down quite a bit on those who insist on breaking up in this manner. IMO, all of my War breakups were completely unnecessary and left a lot of battle damage on everyone around them as well.

  • Resource Famine - This is when there just isn't enough time or attention or something to make the relationship work. Contrary to popular opinion, love does not conquer all and "all we need is love" is a falsehood. Relationships take effort to maintain. The good relationships don't feel like "effort" or "work" because we are receiving such joy and happiness from them. But it takes more than warm fuzzies to maintain a meaningful relationship with another person. What it does take depends on the people involved and the type of relationship. But it's possible to really and truly love another person and not make a good partner for them. If you don't have enough time, enough attention, hell, even enough money or interest in sex, loving the other person is not enough.

    Sometimes lacking the resources can turn into a War, but a Resource Famine breakup is specifically when it does not turn into a War. One person or both just decides that it's not working and the relationship ends. This doesn't mean that everything is all roses and sunshine either - breakups usually suck no matter how painless they are. But painful or not, not all breakups have to end in a knock-down, drag-out Battle To The Death.

  • Fade To Black - This was not listed by the Pedestrian Polyamory podcast. This is when two people just drift apart. Don't mistake this for the first category - Failure To Launch. This is when a relationship is actually underway. In fact, this can happen years into a relationship, even to people who have built a life together. Sometimes people just move in different directions, but there isn't any specific Bad Thing or hard times or even any dislike between the people. If the relationship never moves to the living-together stage, it could die out in the same way as the Failure To Launch, with times between phone calls growing longer and longer until eventually one or both of you realizes that you're just not dating anymore.

    I have two different examples of this. The first is my NSSO partner. I met him and his live-in partner when I first moved to Florida, nearly 11 years ago now. When we met online we just clicked. I mean we CLICKED. Things were going great, and when I went home for the holidays, I met him and his partner in person. Things continued to just click. I thought of him as a partner and a major part of my life. But over the years, with my trips home becoming more and more infrequent and our lives going in different directions (I became a poly activist, they withdrew from the poly community, stuff like that) we just sort of faded out. I have very fond memories of them and I would love to reconnect sometime. But neither of us has put forth any effort in the last couple of years and somewhere along the line, I stopped thinking of him as a partner. As far as I can tell, this was a mutual fading, and if a breakup has to happen, this is probably the least painful way to go.

    My other example is my current fuckbuddy. I like casual sex and I like having a regular fuckbuddy. But I also have a low sex drive. So when I have an ongoing romantic relationship that includes sex as well as love and friendship and companionship, I tend to have fewer resources for maintaining casual relationships. There is one guy who I still think of as a "current" partner. He is, in no way, suitable for a romantic relationship. We are just way too different. But I am not suitable for him either. So, just by coincidence, he and I happen to both want exactly the kind of casual sexual relationship that we started out with.

    But I also have 3 romantic partners right now, as well as running the [livejournal.com profile] orlandopoly group, which I have increased from just a monthly discussion meeting to a full-blown social club with no fewer than 3 social activities a month in addition to the discussion meeting. Add work on top of that, and my usual mountain of hobbies, and I just don't have the time or interest in a sexual relationship that isn't also providing me with something else. Especially not when my sex drive has plummeted again. When sex is the only purpose in your relationship, and you have no sex drive, that kind of defeats the purpose of the relationship.

    He's the same way - when he gets a "real girlfriend" (he's not poly), he stops calling me. When work for him picks up, he stops calling me. This is what I mean by coincidentally both wanting the same kind of relationship with each other. This doesn't bother me because it's how I think of him, and vice versa. We didn't put each other into a particular role, this is just how things worked out between us.

    So, basically, whenever we are both "between partners", we tend to call up each other. Well, I haven't been "between partners" in quite some time now, so our infrequent trysts have now gone for a few years between hookups. My casual partner and I never have any "breakup talk" - he never calls me up to tell me he has another girlfriend, I don't email him to explain that I won't be seeing him for a while. We just kind of don't call each other. We'll explain when the other one does call and we're not available, but since we don't call each other much to begin with, we don't go out of our way to notify each other.

    Because it doesn't look like I'll be "between boyfriends" anytime soon, this is probably another Fade To Black breakup for me. I don't even know if I can still legitimately call him my fuckbuddy since it's been so long since we hooked up. Really, the only reason I still think of him in that capacity is because I still intend to call him if I ever find myself in the realm of needing a casual fuck and I have no reason to think he wouldn't be amenable to the suggestion if I ever do. So, in my mind, it's not "over", exactly, it's just not "ongoing" either. But if I never see him again, this would be a pretty classic example of Fade To Black.

  • Culture Clash - This is where two people just fundamentally want different things out of their relationship. It's not exactly the same as the Resource Famine, because they might be putting as much time, energy, attention, whatever into the relationship as it needs, or as is reasonable. But I would say that the Culture Clash is related. This is your standard mono-poly relationship, where the poly person wants a poly relationship with poly people, and the mono person wants a mono relationship with the poly person and wants him to be mono too, and there is no getting around that - they want different things from their relationship.

    This is also the Conservative Traditionalist marries what turns out to be the Progressive Mate, stereotypically seen when a "family values" man expects his wife to quit her job and become the happy homemaker, and either she isn't happy with that role, or she was happy with it until the kids turned 18 and moved out, and she was left with no life and no identity, so she goes back to school and the husband flips out over her new short haircut, wearing jeans, swearing, and her sexy liberal Philosophy professor or aggressive Women's Studies instructor.

    Again, like the Resource Famine, sometimes it's possible to really and truly love someone and still not make a good partner for them. If two people want different, and incompatible things from their relationship together, love cannot always conquer all and sometimes all we need is more than love. In fact, two people who don't love each other can get along quite amicably for an entire lifetime if their goals for their relationship with each other are similar and their needs are being met. It's maybe not the life that I would choose, but it does serve to illustrate that love is not what makes the world go 'round.

    Also, like the Resource Famine, the Culture Clash can lead to a War breakup, but it can also be a breakup all on its own, with one or both people coming to the realization that they just want different things and choosing to bow out. My ex-fiance and I broke up this way. He wanted a wife and homemaker just like his mother and I wanted someone who wasn't a pathological liar and a coercive rapist. Apparently, these things were incompatible with each other, so I left, and it didn't turn into a War.

  • The Disappearing Act - I think I hate this one the most, even more than the War. This is where things appear to be going well and someone just disappears. It doesn't fade or fizzle out, things are actually moving and there's no indication from the magician that the end is nigh.

    I wrote about my last Disappearing Act too. The last words he spoke to me were "I love you and can't wait to see you again". And then, no call, no returned call, no text, no email, nothing. I thought he might have gotten into a car accident, except he kept logging onto his MySpace page (before Facebook).

    I finally drove all the way into Bumfuck Egypt where he lived and camped out in front of house house and waited for him to get home to confront him. It was a fairly civil conversation, where he listed all kinds of excuses why he couldn't call, couldn't borrow someone's phone, and had no interent but could still access MySpace. Then he promised to call me the next day. Of course, it was all bullshit, and he disappeared again. In the age of the internet, it's hard to disappear completely, so I know where he is. But he effectively pulled a Disappearing Act as a breakup technique.

    And it fucking sucks. This is one of the most painful ways to breakup, for me at least. It usually comes as a complete surprise, it gives me no explanation for what went wrong, nothing to fix or correct, and not even any chance to get my own say in. It's a cowardly way to breakup and I hate it and I hate the people who do it. And yes, I'm still angry over this, several years later. I don't give a fuck about the guy anymore, he's clearly an asshole and I'm better off without him. I'm angry at the idea of the Disappearing Act and how it demeans the person you disappear on.

    So there you have it, several different types of breakup, some of them better than others. Some people say there is no good way to breakup with someone, and while it may be true that there is no good way, much like there is no One Right Way to be polyamorous, but here are plenty of wrong, and more wrong than other, ways. The "right" way is a way that treats the other person with dignity and respect and gives them the opportunity to learn what went wrong, so that they can put the episode behind them and move on too. Maybe not all of our exes are as deserving of respect as others, but that is still the method that makes YOU a decent person, and someone worth taking a chance on dating. Remember my advice to become a friendly ex, if you have to breakup, and avoid the War or the Disappearing Act if it's at all within your power to avoid.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsLQju2I0dU
joreth: (dance)
So, those who are part of the [livejournal.com profile] orlandopoly group have been hearing me talk about various dance events for a while now, as I've been trying to drum up interest in dancing among the group. Two dance events have really stuck out as being fantastic venues for non-ballrooom dancers, beginners, and experienced dancers alike. I want to write down a review of these venues so that everyone can hear what they're like before they go, and I can just reference this post when people ask me or when I mention that I'm going dancing again.


The first is the Atlantic Dance Hall. This used to be a swing dance club on Disney property, all decked out like a well-to-do jazz club from the art deco era. For some strange reason, Disney shut down the swing dance club about a year before Dancing With The Stars (an ABC production, which is owned by Disney) started. Personally, I think that was poor timing and even poorer marketing.

But then it re-opened as a music video nightclub. That's right, they don't just play music, they project the videos for the music they play on the wall above the dance floor. It's a pretty wide variety of music and they take requests. They tend to default to the latest pop music videos, but whenever I ask for '80s music, they play a bunch, from across several genres. I got such classics as "Baby Got Back" and "Pour Some Sugar On Me" and even "Don't Stop Believing".

What makes this such a great club to go to as a group is that it is open during the week as well as weekends, and it is totally dead during the week. Yes, this is a good thing. As I told someone recently, Atlantic Dance Hall is not the place to meet people, it's the place to bring people.

Imagine having an entire dance club reserved just for you and your friends, with a bar and a VJ that takes requests! That's what ADH is like. And, since we have the floor mostly to ourselves, it also means that I can give a few dance lessons, for anyone who asks. The last time I went, I was able to teach someone hustle, cha cha, rhumba, and we also got to do a little swing dancing. Something that non-ballroom dancers don't seem to know (or remember) is that you don't need sleepy old classical music to do partner dancing. Just knowing a few steps each of swing, cha cha, rhumba, and hustle can have you partner dancing all night long in a regular nightclub with regular music.

So if you're in the Orlando area, I highly recommend checking out the Atlantic Dance Hall. Parking is free, there is no cover charge, there is a bar, and there is usually no one else there. The most full I have ever seen the place on the weeknights that I go, there were maybe 12 people there besides me, and they didn't show up until well into the night.



The other place is the Sunday Afternoon Tea Dance. A local ballroom dance instructor has started hosting these dance parties, mostly for his students, but the dances are open to the public. He hosts several Black And White balls throughout the year, a Masquerade, something he calls a "Hole In The Wall Ball" with a variety of themes (I think the last one was, like, luau or Hawaiian shirt day or beach day or something, I dunno, I didn't make it there), and, the most recent addition, the Tea Dance.

This is not his creation - there are other tea dances around and have been for I don't know how long. For all I know, this could be a tradition going back a hundred years or something. But his is the one I've been to. And I loved it! There are tables set up around the dance floor and they serve tea in vintage china and offer scones and cucumber sandwiches and other finger foods, and everyone comes dressed up for tea in light, spring-like "tea" outfits. Then everyone dances on the dance floor to a really interesting mix of music.

As usual for a ballroom dance club, the women far outnumber the men, and the average age is much older than me. But this is how I like it, actually. There's something about a ballroom setting with older gentlemen that seems to put everyone on their best behaviour. The men are "gentlemen" without being chauvanistic. Everyone is very polite and friendly, but there is no pressure to "hookup" like at regular nightclubs. People are there to dance, not hit on the ladies.

So, because there are more women than men, I can sit down and enjoy my tea and scones because there aren't enough men to keep me dancing every song. The men are encouraged to dance as much as possible, and the host reminds the men regularly to mingle and find new partners to make sure that drinking tea isn't the only thing we get stuck doing. But if any lady wants to sit for a bit, she can politely refuse a request to dance and the gentleman just moves on to the next lady. The women are also encouraged to ask the men to dance, but I found that I danced as often as I wanted to without needing to ask anyone.

In addition to dancing to a variety of styles, he also plays mixers, which is where the women get in a line along the edge of the dance floor, and the men line up next to them. The men grab a partner from the front of the women's line, dance her around the floor, and when he reaches the back of the line, he drops her off and goes to pick up the next woman at the front of the line. This is an excellent way to make sure everyone who wants to dance gets to when there is a gender imbalance (and traditional gender roles).

There were several dance instructors there, as well as beginning dancers, of both men and women. Everyone was really friendly. The host's wife greeted me as I walked in and even remembered me from the one and only time I had been there before, several months ago. She invited me to join her at her table and introduced me to the other ladies sitting there, and everyone asked how I was and if I came dancing often and what kind of dances I knew.

The music was really an ecclectic mix. He had some classic big band stuff for fox trotting and waltz and some of the latin dances, but he also had modern popular music. Even better, though, he also had covers of popular music that were re-done to dance beats that the original songs were never intended to do. For instance, he had a cover of a song from Phantom of the Opera that was a techno remix that we could hustle to. He also had a Madonna megamix cover done in a sultry jazzy-blues style that was either a rhumba or foxtrot (I can't remember, but it was the perfect tempo). We even did a waltz to the theme song from Pirates of the Carribbean! Since many of the dancers there are students, he also calls out which dance style goes with which song, so you don't have to guess if you're not sure.

If you like ballroom dancing, this was a great venue. If you like interesting music, this was a great event. If you are new to dancing, this was a great place to learn or work on dance steps in a low-pressure, friendly environment. If you are an experienced dancer, this was a very low-key, relaxing sort of dance that just felt comfortable and light. If you like tea and watching dancing or listening to interesting music, this was an fun opportunity to do something really unique. Parking is free and the cover charge is $12 for unlimited tea and scones.



For some examples of the huge range of music styles that can be partner-danced to, here are my partner-dance playlists again:

Cha Cha
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLVzw9wVd9o&list=PL0D5FE90B2FD29929&feature=plpp_play_all



Foxtrot
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99803-NFuFw&list=PL24897C498024A0A4&feature=plpp_play_all



Hustle
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5MflfnGGUQ&list=PLB9E8F60E49152BFB&feature=plpp_play_all



Salsa
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqIIW7nxBgc&list=PL1A669B1189086444&feature=plpp_play_all



Swing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZYOJQ79DOw&list=PLB2FF1261CBC9C404&feature=plpp_play_all



Tango
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4_H65XoykY&list=PL45AADEEB03484E6B&feature=plpp_play_all



Waltz
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bZyvbUsfpw&list=PL4ABB725CEEB3EA4D&feature=plpp_play_all


joreth: (Purple Mobius)

This is a slight departure from my usual movie reviews, and I plan to do a few of them in the future. This is not about poly movies, but about poly analogues for monogamous people. It has always been my opinion that polyamory is really not any different than monogamy, only with more people. And by that, I mean that there is a wide variation among relationships that fit under the heading "monogamy" and a wide variation among relationships that fit under the heading "polyamory", and the vast majority of questions about "how do you do this in poly?" are answered with "the same way you do it in monogamy," partly because of that variation, so there is no single answer, and partly because the questions are not usually poly-specific.

For instance, whenever someone asks me how to deal with schools handling the issue of multiple parents, I answer "the same way my monogamous, hetero sister deals with them as a single parent." I then go on to explain that, on her In Case Of Emergency sheet, and the list of adults that have permission to pick up her children, she has about 5 or 6 different names, many of which do not have her child's last name and/or are not blood-related to the children. She doesn't explain that Joreth is the auntie and Sally is the babysitter and Jason is the boyfriend even though he's not the father of one kid, but is the father of the other kid, or that Larry is the grandfather and John is the godfather and Crystal is the 2nd cousin and that Sarah is mommy's best friend from high school. She just put those names down on the lists. When asked for familial relation to the child, she just circles something like "family friend" or "uncle" or whatever. My point is that "how do you deal with schools" is not a poly-specific problem and monogamous people have to deal with that same issue all the time, thanks to single parenthood and blended families. There isn't a single answer, and there isn't a different way that poly people do it from mono people, who find themselves in the same or similar situations.

Same thing goes for issues like "how do the children know who their parents are?" and "how do you keep track of everyone?" and "how do you schedule things?" The same way non-poly folk do. Being adopted, I didn't have any difficulty understanding who my "real" parents were. Kids of blended homes (meaning, divorced parents & step-parents) don't have any difficulty understanding who their "real" parents are. And so on.

Much about polyamory is not actually very unique to polyamory, and even those issues that are unique to polyamory have similar situations, if not exactly the same, in monogamous society. One of the things I like to do is try to find these poly analogues to use as bridge-building stories, in an attempt to help monogamous people better understand polyamory.

The first one I ever noticed was Sex And The City. I originally started watching the show because I have a tendency to feel alien among "normal" women. I don't understand those things that I'm told women are supposed to understand. Now, of course, I understand that there is no such thing as "normal women", just that there is a collection of criteria that various people are told is "normal" and everyone else is therefore abnormal when they don't have all the criteria, even if some of those criteria are contradictory or even mutually exclusive, all with complete disregard to the actual numbers of people who fit or don't fit any given set of criteria.

But, the point is that I never felt as though I really fit in or that I understood women very well because I didn't match what I was told I should match. So I watched the show to get an idea of what this hypothetical "normal woman" was thinking.

SATC is a show with 4 main characters that follows their romantic lives for about 6 years. Each of the women are archetypes, basically a model or an epitome of a personality type that has been repeatedly observed in US culture. By coincidence, the four women also happen to fall into the 4 main MBTI categories - NT, SP, NF, SJ - although they weren't deliberately written that way. That's what made it so popular, though. No matter what kind of person you are, almost everyone could see a little of themselves in at least one of the characters, which is why it was considered such a great examination of "the normal woman". Even men could see a little of themselves in one or more of the male side characters (and yes, the show was very gender binary - that's a complaint for another journal entry).

The show also had witty dialogue, even if you didn't like the topics. But one topic is what brings me here to this review. And that's the idea of multiple loves and intentional family.

This is a recurring theme throughout the entire 6-year lifespan. We do not see much of the girls' biological families, and what we do see is largely negative. The characters have, more or less, left their families and created their own intentional family of each other. They are there for each other in good times and bad, they support each other, they occasionally condemn each other, they squabble and hug, and they build lives around each other. It's true that all the women are heterosexual (except for one 3-episode story arc), so they are not romantically involved with each other (even for that story arc), and if there is any criticism of this as a poly analogue, that is it.

But anyone who has ever had one or more of those friends - y'know, the ones you think to call from the hospital before you call your boyfriend, the ones you go to confide in about your wife, the ones who were the first to stand up with you at your wedding and the ones who were first to get you drunk & let you cry after your divorce, the ones who have seen you without your makeup on and still love you, the ones who were there to bail you out of jail after that little misunderstanding and kept it from your spouse, the ones who were there long before you met the love of your life and, just like the love of your life, will be there until death do you part - if you've ever had those friends, then you understand just how unimportant sex is as a defining element in what makes a relationship important and meaningful in your life. Not that sex isn't important, but that there are so many other aspects to what makes a relationship meaningful, some of which matter much more.

When people ask me how I can love more than one person at a time, the answer is because we all love more than one person at a time. Our spouses are not the only people in our lives for whom we feel that deep commitment, that connection as if our very souls have found their mates, that trust that there are people we can count on for anything, that sense of elation at the idea of being with them or that sense of despair at the thought of losing them. The only difference between me and them is that I am physically attracted to more than one of the people for whom I feel that way, and occasionally I get to act on it.

Sex And The City highlights one of the many ways in which people form lasting emotional bonds with other people. Their friendship is closer than most of their romantic relationships, and has certainly outlasted all of their romantic relationships. They are closer to each other than they are to their biological families, and the men in their life are required to make room in their relationships for the other girls. When the women do find serious romantic partners, each of the men understand that he will have to "share" his partner with the other three women. Each of those men turn to the other three women for help when his partner is going through a particularly rough time and the man is not enough to help on his own. One asks the other three for communication help to patch up an argument with his girlfriend, another asks the other three to console his wife when she has a miscarriage - the men are not in an isolated, monogamous relationship, apart from any other relationships; they are in poly-ish relationships where they "share" their women with three other women, who have been there longer, know each other better, and can often provide a type of support that the men just can't. Any man who sticks around long enough has to accept it, and the good men embrace it.

Long before I ever heard of polyamory, I had friends like this. I had friends who were so close, we gave ourselves our own family name. I had friends who were so important, we made long-term, life-altering plans around each other, like where to go to college, where to live after college, and even sometimes who to date or marry. I had friendships that were so meaningful, that losing those friendships didn't feel any less devastating than losing a boyfriend. I cried for weeks after my best friend stopped talking to me. I felt like I lost a part of myself when we all went our separate ways. I even felt as though I didn't have any real identity when some of those friendships ended, the same way I sometimes had to re-evaluate who I was and what I wanted out of life when I lost a serious boyfriend and all our future plans were scrapped. It didn't matter that we weren't having sex, those relationships were important in the same way my romantic relationships were important - simultaneously equally as important and too unique to be compared to each other.

Not all monogamous people have had these kinds of friendships, of course. One of the wonderful things about the human species is its diversity. But a very common trend is to develop close emotional bonds with other people, or to want to. And for many people, those close, emotional bonds are not limited to a single bond with one person, ever, throughout the entire lifespan. Each relationship, and each emotional bond, is different, unique, individual. Even if we had a best friend in high school, and then switched to another best friend in college, those friendships are as non-interchangeable as the romantic relationships are. And if people can just wrap their heads around the idea that sex is not the single defining element in complex emotional relationships, they can see the parallels between monogamous Sex And The City intentional families, and my poly family.

joreth: (dance)
Ballroom dancing? Psshhh, that's for old fuddy-duddies! That's what people did in Europe like, 300 years ago, or like in the '50s when people used to force their kids to take lessons at summer camp! Even if I admit it looks cool when people do it well, there's no practical use for it! I mean, who plays classical music anymore anyway?

That's a common attitude I encounter when I mention that I like ballroom dancing, in spite of ballroom dancing, and dancing in general, making a huge splash in popular culture lately with two of the most popular contest-style TV shows, Dancing With The Stars and So You Think You Can Dance. And I think it's great that both shows are so popular, but something they both fail to do, is convince the average American audience that your average Joe can pick up a few steps, go out anywhere in public, and expect to show off his skills. With So You Think You Can Dance, those dancers are all professionals or have been training for years, or are otherwise exceptional athletes, who just happen to be learning new styles for this competition. In Dancing With The Stars, sure, they take "normal" people, i.e. people who have not necessarily ever danced before, and teach them how to dance, but they're celebrities that can afford (and are getting paid) to spend hours and hours every day training one-on-one with a professional dancer. And many of those celebrities are, actually, athletes, just not in dance.

So, what about the average Joe? What about you and me, who will never have the money or the time for a dedicated pro, who has no desire to enter a competition, and who just wants to go to the next family wedding and pull out a couple of moves to impress people with even less dance talent than us? What about the guy who doesn't watch the shows and hears the phrase "ballroom dancing" and thinks 18th century Vienna?

Well first, there are lots of places, especially in cities, that offer dance opportunities. It's called "social dance", and the venues offer large dance floors to just go out and have a good time, with no judges, no ballgowns, and plenty of good music. Most of these places offer free or cheap lessons about an hour before the dance floor opens up, and you don't need to sign up or commit to a series of classes. You just show up, learn a few steps, then cut a rug an hour later with everyone else! I maintain a calendar of just such events for the Orlando and Tampa areas.

Second, there is a huge misconception about what kind of music qualifies as "ballroom" dance music. There are so many different styles of dance, that there is at least one for pretty much every rhythm available in Western music. See, Western music hasn't changed much in the last hundred years. Well, OK, there have been some major changes in music styles, but the rhythms come in only a few flavors that keep getting repeated, over and over again, for decades. Yes, there are exceptions, let's not get derailed by minutae from the point here. Basically, Western music comes in 4/4, 6/8, or 3/4 time* and, for the most part, that's pretty much it. Those time signatures can be varied a little by changing which beat gets the emphasis, creating a lilting or a swing feel, and the combination of lilting/non-lilting rhythms and those 3 time signatures are what makes up the foundation for Western music ... and for ballroom dancing!

As an example, I'm going to show you my own personal music collection for dance music. Below the cut is a list of songs arranged by the type of dance that you can do to it. You'll see some specialty, foreign, classical, and classic music, but you'll also see some popular, modern music - the kind you will hear at regular nightclubs, concerts, weddings, parties (especially office parties and conferences), and even restaurants and tourist attractions! I have often broken out into dance at restaurants that had music playing over the loudspeakers, or in hotel lobbies, or waiting in line at a movie or theme park. Now, I'm not the most up-to-date when it comes to the cutting edge of pop music and rock, so my playlists might skew a bit towards the older music, but I think you'll be surprised by a few of the songs in the list, and some of them should at least give you an idea of what to look for in whatever genre you prefer or whatever's playing on the radio and in the clubs at the time you read this.

Another thing that you might notice is that the playlists are weighted a bit towards country music. The reason is because I didn't go out looking specifically for dance music, I just searched the music I already had and this is what I came up with. So the list has a lot of country partly because I just like country music, so I have more of that than any other genre, but partly because "country" is like "rock" - a hugely varied genre that has dozens of distinct sub-genres of its own. Country music is a great place to find songs for ballroom dancing, which is the primary reason why I brave the cigarette smoke & obnoxious men and visit the country bars. I know, I know, many of you are just convinced that you don't like country music, and I have no solution to that. But if you want to dance, or you want to know more about dance music, and you don't know where to start looking for music that isn't in your grandpa's record collection, country music is a great place to begin.

Clicking on the names of the artist takes you to that version of the song, mostly on YouTube, but a few from other locations if YouTube didn't have it. Most are videos, but a couple are just the audio. Several of these songs can be danced by dance styles other than the category they're listed under. I duplicated a few, but I'm sure I missed some, and I also left out a whole bunch of dance styles, like rhumba and quickstep and paso doble, primarily because they're not dance styles I know well and they're not nearly as popular outside of ballroom circles as the ones I did list.

Click to see song list and videos )


*For those with absolutely no music theory, here's a very basic summary of what those fractions mean. 4/4 time is the most common time signature and what almost all of the music you listen to is written in (even without knowing what style of music you listen to). It's the music that you can count "1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4" to if you say the numbers on the beats of the song. It sounds like the rhythm repeats itself every 4 counts, because that's what it's doing.

3/4 time is music that you can only count to 3 before you have to start over with 1. 6/8 time is, for most people with no music theory, indistinguishable from 3/4 time, but people who understand it will actually count to 6 because the beat after 6 is heavier than the beat after 3. In other words, in 3/4 time, the heaviest beat is on the one, and it repeats itself every 3 beats. In 6/8 time, it might sound like there's a heavier beat after the 3, but it's not as distinctive as the beat after 6, so that, in order for the beat on 1 to match every time you say 1, you have to put the 1 after the 6, not after the 3.

If that's confusing and you really want to understand it, I highly recommend taking a musical theory class, where they can give examples and spend more than a single paragraph trying to explain it. I find a greater understanding of how music is composed increases my enjoyment of music in general, so that's not a brush-off, I really do recommend learning musical theory.

joreth: (boxed in)
  • Courage: to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.
  • We can't practice compassion with other people if we can't first treat ourselves kindly.
  • You can't form connections without being willing to let go of who you "should" be in order to be who you are.
  • Whole-hearted people are those who fully embrace vulnerability, who believe that what makes them vulnerable makes them beautiful, and that results in a strong sense of worthiness.
  • Vulnerability is the core of shame, fear, struggle for worthiness. But also birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, love.
These quotes and paraphrases are from a TEDTalk by Brene Brown on her research into vulnerability.  These sentiments remind me strongly of [livejournal.com profile] tacit and his approach to life.  This is how I view the world too, but it took me a while longer to get here.



http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html


Brene Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk at TEDxHouston, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.
joreth: (Super Tech)
And now, to partially redeem himself after that last song, Braid Paisely singing a nice bluesey ballad about independent women:


She's Her Own Woman by Brad Paisley - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NeawYqxX2c


OK, there's the usual monogamous possessiveness implied in the phrase "she's mine", it's still pop-country, don't expect miracles - the point is that he values strength and independence in women, and doesn't equate "independence" with "lack of love" or "building walls". If more men did not believe independence & an ability to survive without him was the same thing as not loving him, I probably would not be as antagonistic or belligerent about my need for independence now. How I present myself at the beginning is not necessarily how I actually am in a relationship, but I feel as though I have to beleaguer the point in order to be understood & not set up implicit expectations of my behaviour later down the line.

For some reason, when I say "I'm independent", what the men who have tried to date me in the past hear is "I'm afraid of intimacy because I'm afraid to be left alone, so I put up this tough front, but once you convince me of your stability & trustworthiness, I'll let down my guard & you'll see how much I really do need you and need to be around you constantly even though that interferes with everything I have already stated was a priority in my life, such as work, school, hobbies, and other lovers." So I say "I won't ever call you and I'll disappear without notice for days at a time, and you'll always come last after my work, school, or hobbies" in an effort to make them hear "I love you, but I can live without you, and I need some time to myself occasionally."

Anyway, I don't think he presents his viewpoint well, and that he's a victim of his own culture with regards to language and some implicit assumptions (and the unfortunate habit of over-generalizing), but I also think his point is understandable if you know how to strip all that noise away.

Data Dump

Dec. 15th, 2010 10:24 pm
joreth: (authority)
I've had these tabs open for ages, meaning to write a post about them, and I never seem to get around to it.  So I'm throwing them all in one post:

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-discovery-may-offer-cure-for-human-papillomavirus-hpv-110968774.html - New Discovery May Offer Cure for Human Papillomavirus (HPV). "Test results confirming two of our lead compounds showed excellent in vitro antiviral activity and no cellular toxicity at dose levels tested for Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Testing was performed using the HPV 11 strain, which along with HPV type 6, is responsible for ninety percent of genital or anal warts."

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-12/uovm-mie121510.php - Marinomed's iota-carrageenan effective against H1N1. "In animal experiments, Carrageenan demonstrated equivalent efficacy when compared to the drug Tamiflu".

http://www.pnas.org/content/107/45/19195 - Evolutionary history of partible paternity in lowland South America. "Partible paternity, the conception belief that more than one man can contribute to the formation of a fetus, is common in lowland South America and characterized by nonexclusive mating relationships and various institutionalized forms of recognition and investment by multiple cofathers."

http://www.journey-quest.com/ - "JourneyQuest is a fantasy comedy web series from the creators of "The Gamers" and "The Gamers: Dorkness Rising"."

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/enemies-reason/ - "The Enemies of Reason is a two-part television documentary, written and presented by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. ... Watch the full documentary now"

http://atheistmusicblog.blogspot.com/ - " aggregate all the Atheist, Pro-Science and Free-Thinking Songs, under the one roof." (I need to comb through this and add songs to my Atheist Music YouTube Playlist

http://bababrinkman.bandcamp.com/album/the-rap-guide-to-human-nature - The Rap Guide to Human Nature by Baba Brinkman "Immediate download of 19-track album in your choice of 320k mp3, FLAC, or just about any other format you could possibly desire. Buy Now name your price"

http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/swift-blog/1160-martha-speaks-the-truth.html - Rationalist Kids Show Martha Speaks The Truth
joreth: (Xmas Kitties)
December, 2010

This was another packed year! I made another gingerbread house for the holidays last year. It was a scale model of the Haunted Mansion at Disney Paris, complete with lighting behind the sugar-glass windows. I took it to a New Year’s Eve party to be devoured. I have the whole story on my website. I will do another one this year, but I haven’t decided what yet.

For my birthday, I went to see my one of my favorite musicians, Jonathan Coulton, and I also went with a group of friends to Rebounderz, a building lined with trampolines, including the walls! A good time was had by all.

This summer saw the opening of The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter at Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure theme park. It is probably my favorite park anywhere. Islands of Adventure has all my favorite rides anyway, but WWOHP went out if its way in immersive realism. The same guy who designed and built all the movie sets built the theme park too, so it really feels like you walked right into Hogsmeade Village. More pictures are on the website.

As usual, the FLAN (Florida Local Area Network branch of the Squiggle - my romantic network) all went to Dragon*Con again, but no new costumes this time. I wore Laurie Jupiter again, since I put so much effort into making her, and I wore a bunch of t-shirts from one of my online t-shirt stores (I have three now) as advertising.  [livejournal.com profile] datan0de  and I celebrated one of our first anniversaries (we have several anniversary dates) together by riding a giant slingshot at a local carnival to symbolize falling, since it was the day we told each other we were "falling in love". Pictures and the video of our slingshot ride are up on my website.  [livejournal.com profile] tacit  and I had to celebrate our 6th year together online again, now that he lives in Oregon and couldn’t make it to Dragon*Con.

For Halloween, I had 4 parties to attend and had to turn down 2 more. One was a Dexter/serial-killer themed party, so I modified my old Mad Scientist costume since it had a butcher’s apron and added lots of knives. Another was western/Firefly/steampunk themed, so I just pulled out my old boots, hat, Wranglers, & denim duster for that. The other two were on the same night, so I dressed again in Laurie Jupiter for both of those. I even got to swing dance with one of the party guests.


In October, [livejournal.com profile] datan0de[livejournal.com profile] femetal  and I went to the Bahamas since I had such a good time last time. We went shopping, sat around on the beach, watched the sunset over the Caribbean Sea, and went snorkeling with a barracuda. I got some great underwater pictures, and several underwater videos!

Work this year has been really slow, much slower than anticipated. But I’m still working behind the scenes for live events, still operating a camera, and staying afloat. Onyx’s flea problem is almost completely cleared up and she has put on a lot of healthy weight. Misty, however, is not doing as well. She has lost a lot of weight but the vet can’t find anything wrong with her. She just doesn’t want to eat. She’s also really cranky, so I’m worried about her.

In December, I was interviewed for a UK magazine about how polyamorous people spend the holidays, and I expect to receive my copy of the magazine any day now. The answer, for me, is that I will be spending the holidays with [livejournal.com profile] datan0de[livejournal.com profile] femetal[livejournal.com profile] zensidhe , and [livejournal.com profile] redheadlass , just like last year, sleeping under the Christmas tree in the living room. I also plan to watch my nephews open their presents over Skype, just like last year.

More pictures and videos of my adventures throughout the year are on my website at www.theinnbetween.net (in the Imagery section).  Hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season!

~Joreth

joreth: (polyamory)
I was recently interviewed about the Polyamory Media Association by Manifest Positivity - a group that encourages "advocacy journalism", i.e. using the media to further the goals of one's advocacy or activism. Since that is exactly what PMA is all about, it seemed only natural that we'd team up!

http://manifestpositivity.blogspot.com/2010/05/polyamory-explained-by-poly-media.html

joreth: (boxed in)
Have ya'll seen this yet? http://www.ustream.tv/theowlbox

Meet Molly. She's a mother owl with her own reality show. Someone put a webcam in the box where she laid and is currently hatching her eggs. It's a live, streaming, 24/7 feed to see Molly, her eggs, and her new babies.

There are more live shows to check out in the sidebars.



joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)
PZ Myers of [livejournal.com profile] syndicated posted the winners of the Evolution In 2 Minutes Video Contest. Here is the winner:

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid40067014001?bclid=39317960001&bctid=24726835001



To watch the top 5 contest submissions, visit http://discovermagazine.com/contests/evolution-in-two-minutes-or-less/

joreth: (Misty Sleeping)
I nearly died from laughing so hard at the adorableness that is the red fox hunting through snow:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5YIa1NOByo



[personal profile] summer_jackel, I thought of you in particular!
joreth: (Default)
I've never felt more proud for our nation's servicemen as I did watching this single soldier fighting for the freedom of his fellow citizens:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrEbJBFWIPk&feature=player_embedded




"The woman at my polling place asked me do I believe in equality for gay and lesbian people. I was pretty surprised to be asked a question like that. It made no sense to me. Finally I asked her: what do you think I fought for in Omaha Beach?  

I have seen so much blood and guts, so much suffering, so much sacrifice, for what?  For freedom and equality.  These are the values that make America a great nation, one worth dying for.

...

I have seen with my own eyes the consequences of caste systems and it makes some people less than others or second class.  

Never again.  

We must have equal rights for everyone.  It's what this country was started for.  It takes all kinds of people to make a world war.  It doesn't make sense that some people who love each other can marry and others can't just because of who they are.  This is what we fought for in World War II, that idea that we can be different and still be equal."


joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
This is totally what it feels like arguing with theists:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KSLRjDR4aQ


Wha?!?

Sep. 30th, 2009 07:57 pm
joreth: (::headdesk::)
From PZ Myers' journal:


Do I really need to add anything to this buffoon's own words? Get the rubber room ready.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEuAVgmWt0U&feature=player_embedded


(via Below the Beltway)
Read the comments on this post...




What. The. Fuck?

"10 Commandments in a courthouse? What are you kidding me? That's horrible! Take it down!" (sarcasm)

YES!  Putting up laws from the Qu'ran would be equally horrible. Our constitution forbids the government endorsement of any religion over any other religion and that includes funding religious-themed objects with taxpayer dollars.

"'Thou Shalt Not Kill' bwah, that's too controversial!" (sarcasm)

No, it's not the message in the 10 Commandments (although I do take exception to several of them), it's spending taxpayer dollars on anything that honors or endorses religion, particularly one religion over any other.

"Can't pray in school, no no no!" (sarcasm)

Yes, yes, yes. You can still pray in school. What you can't do is be FORCED to pray by a paid employee of the state, nor can that state employee utilize the scope of his authority or materials afforded to him within the scope of his job position (time, property, etc.) to endorse or encourage any religion or religious activity over any other even if they make it optional. Not every child is Christian, not every child is *that* version of Christian, and it is not the function of the school, the teacher, or administrator, to facilitate religious activities of any sort, regardless of the children's religious affiliation. That's what churches are for.

"Can't sing Christmas carols in this country because that is too offensive!" (sarcasm)

Uh, what? I know that it is finally being discouraged for state-sponsored organizations to have Christmas-specific celebrations, instead choosing "holiday vacations" and religion-neutral music and such. And I agree with that. But unless you can show me the actual state or federal statutes where it has been made illegal to sing a Christmas carol, or can show me the case where someone was arrested for it, you're just making shit up.  However, I do take offense at the message in a lot of Christian-themed music, including Christmas carols, because they're either flat out wrong, or intolerant of others.  But you can still sing them if you want to.

Beck then goes on to show clips of school children singing praises to our President as if that were a bad thing or hypocritical because he likens it to prayer in school or singing Christmas carols in public.

Yeah, I think teaching our children in our government-funded educational system who our President is and what he is doing in the course of current events, and to express their gratitude when he does something good for the country, is entirely appropriate behaviour. I would caution against encouraging beliefs about the infallibility of our President and blind acceptance of authority, but otherwise, I don't understand why this is a problem or what it has to do AT ALL with prohibiting the government from endorsing any religion.  Apples to spaceships.

There's a big difference here. Obama actually exists and actually *does stuff* for our country.

And one of the functions of the public educational system is to educate children on those topics that will make them functioning adult members of society. Current events is one of those topics. Our educational system produces more productive adult members of society when they are taught as children how government works and the important events of the day. One of the REASONS why we have a public educational system at all is because our forefathers believed that a better educated public makes for better voters, which furthers the quality of American life.  When people who cannot afford private education make up large blocks of voters in a country that lets everyone vote and actually does what the voters vote on, it is in the country's best interest to provide those voters with basic education one way or another.

"So if those who don't believe in god are growing, what do they fill the void with?"

What void? The only void I know of is death. The idea that there is a god-shaped hole in our hearts, and not filling it with god himself either leaves us empty inside or we try to fill it with other stuff, like Capitalism, is just ... I don't even know where to begin with this one since it's so wrong in so many ways.  Follow the link, Greta Christina says it better than I could, and the topic really is big enough for its own post.

"What do they fill the void with? ... Government now will solve all your problems!" (sarcasm)

Uh, wha? Who says that? I strongly believe that Obama, as head of our nation, will do some damage control left over from the Bush administration. I believe that because his actions prior to becoming head of our nation give evidence that he does, in fact, do stuff that I agree with are good for the country. I believe that because he does, in fact, have the power to do things that will affect our nation. I never once said he was perfect. He wasn't even my first choice for Democratic candidate. And I've never met any other Obama supporter who claimed he will solve all our problems, although many of his more fervent supporters do get crowds riled up with hopeful, inspirational speeches about his ability to do that damage control and "save us" in those ways that his position as President gives him the ability to affect.

They're not talking about saving our immortal souls, or providing spiritual happiness and peace, or about anything else the position of President has no power to affect. They're talking about political power and the good that can be wrought with a kind and rational leader. The President's power is limited. Within those limits, sure, some people have very high hopes for what he can accomplish. But outside of the scope of his political reach, no one thinks Obama can fix everything.

And as the rest of the government is still made up of people - flawed & biased, some of whom are flawed and biased in ways I disagree with, the government itself will most certainly not solve "all our problems".  It continues even to create a few.  Many of the problems in my life are not solvable by government anyway - that's not its function.

Once again, Beck is just making shit up.

"America, I have a question for you. Why do you think we are as powerful as we are or have been? What did we do different than other countries?"

We secularized our government.

Most of the other nations of the world have religion inextricably entwined with their government. Ours intentionally does not. For the nations that do, there is a very strong correlation with poverty, ignorance, crime, and a lower quality of life. For the nations that don't, there is a very strong correlation with higher national wealth, low crime rates, education, and high quality of life. When we have strongly religious leaders in the White House, our stats in education, in science and technology, in crime, in employment, and in overall quality of life go down and they go back up again when our leaders do not use their imaginary friends to guide their decision-making process.

What we did different is we left god out of our government while simultaneously giving individuals the freedom to allow god into their homes.

THAT is why we are a great nation. Not "the greatest" nation, no, we have a bunch of things to work on. But it's one of the high points.

"Is it because we are just superior human beings? No, it's because we recognize god's authority."

I recommend you actually READ our government documentation and the post-documentation written to explain the documentation by our forefathers. It overwhelmingly, clearly and explicitly states that our government most decidedly does not recognize any religious or supernatural authority within the scope of governmental rights and responsibilities.

He goes on to quote the Declaration of Independence, where it says "are endowed by their Creator",  as proof that our government recognizes god's authority.  First of all, they do not specify which version of the "creator" they are talking about. And the following documents make a great deal of effort to say that the American government is to stay out of that question and to not endorse any version over another. That means that YOUR GOD, Glenn Beck, has no more place in our government than any other god.

"So many other countries get it completely wrong. They believe that human rights are handed down by some government, some body, some official in the government. It's all about *them*, not Him."

Uh, wha?! Most of the other governments *do* believe that their rights are handed down to them by a god. Even those that say the rights come from some official in the government, that official gets his power to decide those rights by divine inspiration.  Ours does the exact opposite.

In fact, the sentence in the Declaration following the Creator sentence that Beck quotes states: "That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

DERIVING THEIR POWERS FROM THE CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED.  Our leaders do not get their powers of authority from god.  The Declaration of Independence, and every other document written for or about the creation of our government says that god has no place in government and the government is for the People, by the People, and of the People.  NOT GOD.

"No government can fill the gaping hole inside of us if god is chased out!"

Again with the gaping holes! First of all, there IS NO GAPING HOLE. Second of all, government is not chasing god out of your individual body or mind or life, it's being chased out of government because YOUR GOD IS NOT MY GOD and the only way to co-exist with people of differing faiths is to have a ruling body that is neutral on the subject of god.

"Maybe we need to stop looking for more social justice and start looking at eternal justice!"

Ah ha! Here's the real point. Glenn Beck just doesn't want to help out his fellow man. Contrary to his claim about it being "all about them, not about Him", what he's really saying here is "it's all about me". He doesn't want to be responsible for other people, he doesn't think he should care about social justice. Just shoot them all and let god sort them out.

"Have you read the words (of the Battle Hymn of the Republic) or sung the words lately?"

Yes, I have. And they're very disturbing, frankly.

"'As he died to make men holy / let us die to make men free...' Let's celebrate our freedom and die for each other's freedom if we must (just not kill each other)."

Nice save there at the end.  Can we say irony? It is precisely because we have created a secular government that gives you the freedom to worship the god you do. When you give a government the power to endorse one religion over another, you remove your own freedom to worship the god of your choice, Glenn Beck. When you take away the freedom of others to have other religions or no religion at all, you leave yourself open to have your own freedom removed from you.  Nobody is free unless everyone is free.

The only reason you have the ability to worship your personal god is because we took god out of our government.
joreth: (polyamory)
I am often accused of being "unromantic" because my sense of "romance" is not what they teach us in chick flicks. I don't much care for wine and roses and candlelit dinners and walks on the beach. I mean, they can be all fine and good, but the action is not what makes something "romantic" to me, the motivation is. And, frankly, I don't drink alcohol, roses are an unnecessary expenditure, it's hard to see what I'm eating by candlelight and if it's not a rocky Pacific Coast beach and I don't have a camera, I'll get bored just walking along a beach.

It turns out that I actually *am* romantic, but the things that spell "romance" to me are the things that tell me that my partner is paying attention to *me*. Not everyone is the same tastes in things, so someone who does something unique to my particular quirks is *way* more romantic than someone who watched a sappy romantic comedy and is trying the same old, tired moves that someone somewhere said that "all women like".

I also have no belief in things like "fate" and "meant to be". People tend to post hoc rationalize their situations and see that things could only happen this way. What they can't possibly see, since we experience time in a linear fashion, is all the things that *could* be but aren't because they happened this way. In other words, if you're happy in a relationship, you can look back to all the events that led to meeting. So it seems as though things were *leading* in this direction. But that's because you can only see the consequences of what actually happened. What you can't see is who you might have met if you hadn't met this person.  And, statistically, you would have met someone else.

And for some reason, that idea is not romantic. That, if I weren't with you, I'd be with someone else. People think that implies that people are replaceable, interchangeable. And it doesn't. I might have a relationship with someone else if I weren't with the people I'm with, but it doesn't mean that this hypothetical relationship could possibly "replace" the current one. It would be a different one, with its own quirks and benefits and drawbacks.  If things ended with the current love, I couldn't go out and find the one I wasn't with and just replace it like a broken timing belt in my car.

And, as my sweetie [livejournal.com profile] datan0de said to me the other night, the sheer improbability of our getting together is part of what makes it special. The idea that someone else has decided who my partners will be and that I have no say in the matter, and nothing I do will change things doesn't make a relationship feel "special" to me. It makes it feels forced. But in a universe with an infinite number of possibilities, that something else entirely could have happened (both good and bad possibilities), *that* contributes to making the relationship feel special because it *could* have been something else, and isn't.

Now, this song is intended to be humorous, so the lyrics are intentionally written to feel awkward and increase the "unromanticness" of the concept.  But underlying the humor is the concept that it's not fate, and that doesn't diminish the love I feel in the slightest, and perhaps it enhances it, since love is not something that someone else causes us to feel, but is instead built upon shared memories and history and experiences.

And *that's* romantic to me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFpPRcBeinI



Yep yeah
If I didn't have you
If I didn't have you to hold me tight
(If I didn't have you)
If I didn't have you to lie with at night
(When I'm feeling blue)
If I didn't have you to share my sights
(Share my sights)
And to kiss me and dry my tears when I cry...
Well I, really think that I would...
Have somebody else.
(If I didn't have you)
If I didn't have you, someone else would do
Your love is one in a million
(One in a million)
You couldnt buy it at any price
(Can't buy love)
But of the 9 point 999 hundred thousand other possible loves,
Statistically some of them would be equally nice.
(Equally nice)
Or maybe not as nice but say, smarter than you...
Or dumber but better at sport or...
Tracing
I'm just saying
(I really think that I would)
Probably
(Have somebody else)
Yeah.
(If I didn't have you)
If I didn't have you someone else would do
(Someone else would surely do)
If I were a rich man
And did a diddle diddle diddle diddle diddle diddly
I guess I would be with a surgeon or a model
Or any of the royals or a kennedy
Or a nymphomaniacal exhibitionist heiress to a large chain of hotels
If I were a rich man maybe I would fiddle
Fiddle diddle diddle with the rich man girls
I'm not saying that I'd not love you if I was wealthy or handsome
But realistically there's lots of fish in the sea
And if I had a different rod I would concievably land some
Even though I am fiscally consistantly pitiable
And considerably less brad pitt than brad pitiful
And I'm really so poor and ugly that you reckon only you could possibly love me
And I
(Really think that I would)
Probably
(Have somebody else)
Oh yeah
Visual.
(If I didn't have you)
(Someone else would surely do)
Look, I'm not undervaluing what we've got when I say
That given the role chaos inevitably plays in the inherently flawed notion of fate,
It's obstruse to deduse that I've found my soulmate at the age of 17
It's just mathematically unlikely that at a university in perth
I happened to stumble on the one girl on earth specifically designed for me
And if I may conjecture a further objection love is nothing to do with destined perfection
The connection is strengthened the affection simply grows over time
Like a flower
Or a mushroom
Or a guinea pig
Or a vine
Or a sponge
Or bigotry
... or a banana (banana)
And love is made more powerful by the ongoing drama of shared experience and synergy
And a kind of symbiotic empathy or something like that...
So I trust it would go without saying
That I would feel really very sad if tomorrow you were to fall off something high
Or catch something bad
But I'm just saying
I don't think you're special
I mean... I think your special
But
You fall within a bell curve
I mean, I'm just saying I
(Think that I would)
Probably
(Have somebody else)
I think you are unique and beautiful
You make me happy just by being around
(Being around)
But objectively you would have to agree that baby when I found you
Options are relatively thin on the ground
(Thin on the ground)
You're lovely but there must be girls as lovely as you
Or maybe more open to spanking or scrabble...
I'm just saying
(That I think that I would)
Probably
(Have somebody else)
I mean I reckon it's pretty likely that if for example
My first girlfriend Jackie hadn't dumped me
After I kissed Winstons ex-girlfriend Neah at Stephs party back in 1993
And our variables would probably have been altered by the absence of that event
To have meant the advent of a tangential narrative and which we don't meet.
Which is to say there exists a theoretical hypothetical parallel life
Where what is is not as it is and I am not your husband and you are not my wife
And I am a stuntman living in LA
Married to a small blonde portugese skier
Who when she's not training
Does abstract painting
Practices yoga
And brews her own beer
And really like making home movies
And suffers neck down alopecia
But with all my heart and all my mind I know one thing is true
I have just one life and just one love and my love that love is you
And if it wasn't for you
Baby you
(I really think that I would)
(Have somebody else)
Oh yeah
(If I didn't have you)
If I didn't have you someone else would do
(Someone else would surely do)
Dooooooooooooo.

I also recommend watching http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gaid72fqzNE to see Tim perform it live.  It's also a shorter version, he cuts out several verses (which I think the song can afford to lose, actually).

joreth: (Misty in Box)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FnTcIqb6Yc




[Verse 1:]
There's a place in your heart where nobody's been.
Take me there.
Things nobody knows, not even your friends.
Take me there.
Tell me about your momma, your daddy, your home town, show me around.
I wanna see it all, don't leave anything out.

[Chorus:]
I wanna know, everything about you.
And I wanna go, down every road you've been.
Where your hopes and dreams and wishes live, where you keep the rest of your life hid.
I wanna know the girl behind that pretty stare.
Take me there.

[Verse 2:]
Your first real kiss, your first true love, you were scared.
Show me where.
You learned about life, spent your summer nights, without a care.
Take me there.
I wanna roll down mainstreet and backroads like you did when you were a kid.
What makes you who you are, tell me what your story is.

[Chorus 2x:]
I wanna know, everything about you.
And I wanna go, down every road you've been.
Where your hopes and dreams and wishes live, where you keep the rest of your life hid.
I wanna know the girl behind that pretty stare.
Take me there.

I wanna roll down mainstreet.
I wanna know your hopes and your dreams.
Take me, take me there.
Yeah.

So, other than the implications of being "the first" and "no one else", I think this is a very powerful love song and not a sentiment I see in our current culture very often.

Many people are afraid to know their partners too well, to look too closely, because if they do, they might come face to face with someone they don't like very much.  An awful lot of people date and marry people they don't actually like, because being *in* a relationship is more important than who you're in it with.

This is most clearly illustrated in the idea that we aren't ever supposed to talk about our past relationships, or tell how many people we've had sex with.  Because that means that we weren't THE FIRST or THE ONLY.  We might get insecure at the idea that our lover has done this same sexual act with someone else, has let someone else touch her that way, has let someone else see her vulnerable.  I'm not really sure *why* that's frightening.  Frankly, I'd be more terrified to find I was dating someone who *hadn't* had those experiences before.  I am, after all, in my 30s, and my dating partners tend to be close to my own age or older, so the idea that they've gone their whole lives without similar experiences means that they do not have the same level of relationship skills that I do - not even close.

I remember having a conversation with a metamour several years ago, where she questioned me whether or not I wanted to be *known*.  There was special emphasis put on that word "known".  At the time, I told her "not particularly".  And that's still mostly true.  I don't care if people really *get* me or not, so long as they leave me alone to do my thing.  The reason I spend so much time and effort trying to explain myself to people, such as in this journal and in poly lectures and through my activism, isn't because the end goal is to be *known*, but because that's the means by which I can acheive my end goal, which is to be left alone to make my own choices in peace.

But that answer is not complete, as I later discovered.  I do want to be *known* ... by certain individuals.  Particularly by people whom I want to *know*.

Of course no one will ever 100% absolutely totally and perfectly know anyone else - hell, I don't think anyone ever reaches that level with themselves (although some people get close, and I believe we should always strive to get closer).  But when I think about building intimate relationships with people, I can't quite formulate a definition for "intimate" that doesn't include that *knowing* of another person.

I want to *know* him.  As the song says, I want to know what makes him who he is.  I want to know his thoughts, his dreams, his fears, his experiences.  I want to crawl inside his head and see what it's like to be him, what makes him tick.

And I want someone who wants to do that with me ... and isn't afraid at what he finds when he tries.

In my mind, that's all part of what makes an intimate relationship.  No, we never reach the end, we never know someone completely.  But that desire to know, and the path and processes it takes to find out, those are what builds intimate relationships.

I find this song particularly valuable because it is a country song, a song in a genre that is so steeped in "tradition" and "what should be" and it feeds and buys into so many of the particularly destructive social memes and mores.  I find it especially valuable for the line "Your first real kiss, your first true love, you were scared. / Show me where" and in the chorus "I wanna know the girl behind that pretty stare."  

In the first case, not only does he acknowledge that his current love interest *had* previous partners, but he wants to know all about them because they contributed to who she is today.  It's not out of jealousy, he doesn't want a comparison, and he doesn't hide from that knowledge out of fear or jealousy either.

In the second case, far too many songs wax on and on about a woman's looks.  Many of them are just party songs - something to dance to, and, let's face it, hookups happen, so those songs are not irrelevant.  But this is the first time I've heard a song say, explicitly, "I'm interested in who you are and what's going on in your mind".  As a girl, I can't tell you how rare that sentiment actually is, and how meaningful it is to hear it said sincerely.  Sure, I've heard love songs written after the love has happened, where someone talks about the whole person.  But I've never heard it sung before where someone does *not* know the love interest and wants to.  

Usually the knowing part happens sort of by accident.  People get "lucky" because they use looks as their main criteria for finding a mate, and then, by sheer coincidence (and social training to not leave and fear of being alone) they end up with someone they can tolerate.  In songs, of course, they more than just tolerate them, they actively adore their partners.  But it still started out with a guy seeing a hot chick across the room and feeing a physical attraction.

Here, although he probably *does* feel a physical attraction (she does, after all, have a pretty stare), it's more than just "hey baby, ur hot, wanna fuck?" or even "you're awfully pretty ma'am, would you like to dance?"  He wants to know her as a full and complete person.

An awful lot of men (and women too, but since I'm a straight female, I'm going to address things from my perspective for now) want to lump women into a single category, and then spend the rest of their lives trying to figure out What Women Want.  They read books, they go to seminars, they talk to their buddies, some of them even ask a female friend or two.  They try to change something about themselves to make them more attractive to the opposite sex.

And this completely misses the point.

There is no What Women Want.  Because we all want different things.  Funny how that happens, since, y'know, we're all individual, unique, and different people.

This has come up in [livejournal.com profile] tacit's journal recently, although it's not entirely the point he was trying to make.  He was talking about society's sense of entitlement that people have regarding relationships.  People feel they are entitled to them, as if relationships (and the gender they are interested in, in this case, women) are a commodity that people somehow deserve, and if they just follow Steps 1-5, they will be rewarded with the relationship at the end.

And that sort of thinking leads to people starting forum posts on the internet that ask "hey, I've been on OKC for 6 months now and I haven't found a date yet.  What do women want?"

And it's a ridiculous question.  Because not all women want the same things.  Even women in more accurate subcategories don't want exactly the same things.  And sometimes there's just something, I dunno, chemical, that makes any individual attracted or not attracted to any other individual, regardless of whatever category they fit in or what they think they want, sort of as [livejournal.com profile] leora was postulating over in her journal.

In fact, there's even another country song out there that specifically says "I don't know what I did to deserve you, but I hope I keep doing it".  These people don't *know* each other, and that makes their world a whole lot scarier, and a whole lot more out of their own control.  If you don't know what you did to attract, keep the attention of, or "deserve" your partner, how in the hell can you possibly expect to continue to do so?  If you don't know what it is she wants or sees in you or why she sticks around, how can you feel secure in your relationship that she will continue to do so?  How can you possibly choose your actions to most likely bring about the desired response?  You can't.   It's a completely crapshoot and your life, and your relationship, are totally out of your control.

One guy in [livejournal.com profile] tacit's post actually said "I know women are individual, but there's nothing wrong with thinking about them in a category in an academic sense".  *blink blink*  yeah, actually, there is.

The closest you can get is to pick a single trait, just one, and you can talk about trends.  But that is only a single trait, and all you can say is that many or a majority, or few women like this or do that.  That tells you absolutely nothing about me and if you want to relate to me you have to throw those trends out the window and find out what *I* want or like or do or hate or am insecure about or am confident about.  Because no matter what the trends say, it is not me and you will not know me by thinking, even academically, about trends.

But this song, this character, he wants to *know* his mate.  He recognizes that she's an individual.  He sees her as unique.  He sees her as *her*.

And that's a rare quality, and one that is far more attractive than the idea that this guy sitting in front of me sees me as an incomprehensible creature, or, worse yet, that he thinks he already *does* comprehend me because he believes that All Women or even Most Women do or want or think or feel anything.  Playing the odds, figuring you'll go with "most women like X" and just assume I do too because the chances are good that I do, that still tells me that you do not see me as an individual.  You put me in a category, and objects placed in a category can be more or less interchangeable.

And I am most certainly not interchangeable.

And neither are my partners.  I see them.  I might not 100% know them, but I see them.  And I want to know them, because that helps me to see them better.  I want to know about their first kiss, their first love, the street they grew up on, their hopes and dreams and wishes, I want to know what pains them and I want to know what makes them happy.

And this is the first country song I've heard that even comes close to expressing this concept, and to acknowledge a person's individuality and uniqueness, and that their past is a very important part of who they are, and to show no fear and no shame at wanting to explore all the scary paths that are required to building an intimate relationship.

I'm fascinated by who my partners are and by what makes them who they are.  Tell me everything about you.  Tell me about your day, tell me about your past, tell me about your future.  Let me see you, let me see who you were, who you will be, who you are.  Take me there.




joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
I don't know who he is, where he's a senator of, what party he represents, and I don't care.  But I have to respect a politician who is willing to stand up and call the crazy for what it is.  The very idea that any Westernized leader can be put even in the same zip code as a man who slaughtered millions of people in his effor to create a Master Race is so ludicrous that, like Barry here, I don't even know where to start with it and I don't even want to.

You can dislike Obama for a great many legitimate things, he's certainly not perfect.  But calling him a Nazi and drawing over his picture to look like Hitler?  I'm with Barry ... what planet do you spend most of your time on?

(thanks to [personal profile] summer_jackel  for the video!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYlZiWK2Iy8&feature=player_embedded
joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
http://vodpod.com/watch/518965-gods-song-randy-newman-the-truth


Cain slew Abel Seth knew not why
For if the children of Israel were s'poseta multiply
Why must any of the children die?
So he asked the Lord
And the Lord said:
 
"Man means nothing he means less to me
than the lowiliest cactus flower
or the humblest yucca tree
he chases round this desert
cause he thinks that's where i'll be
that's why i love mankind
 
I recoil in horror from the foulness of thee
from the squalor and the filth and the misery
How we laugh up here in heaven at the prayers you offer me
That's why i love mankind"
 
The Christians and the Jews were having a jamboree
The Buddhists and the Hindus joined on satellite TV
They picked their four greatest priests
And they began to speak
They said "Lord the plague is on the world
Lord no man is free
The temples that we built to you
Have tumbled into the sea
Lord, if you won't take care of us
Won't you please please let us be?"
 
And the Lord said
And the Lord said
 
"I burn down your cities--how blind you must be
I take from you your children and you say how blessed are we
Ya'll must be crazy to put your faith in me
That's why i love mankind
You really need me
That's why i love mankind" 
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)
Fucking hilarious and totally NSFW (thanks to [livejournal.com profile] zaiah )

http://stevesullivan.co.uk/heapmov.html

joreth: (Spank)
Some interesting information about the problems with privatized health care and why a government-sponsored health care system is a better solution ... from one of the top guys in the private insurance industry.

Part 1:

Part 2:


The whole video at PBS's website directly:
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/07102009/watch2.html

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