Monday, January 26, 2015

Living Alone vs Being Lonely

Some how, I haven't really felt lonely living alone.

[caption id="attachment_516" align="alignnone" width="319"]IMG_1357 My Messy Apartment[/caption]

I wonder if I have an appreciation for alone time as an inherent part of my personality. As an introvert, I require time away from others in order to refresh. I went to visit one of the dorm cats, Mitten, and was struck by how tiny the student rooms were. People are living in tiny little match stick boxes. That can't make you happy. While you do have large common areas to share if you need to stretch, you also have to share them with other people. More so, even in your room you might have a roommate or be affected by outside noise - be it city noise or common area noise or neighbor noise. For me, this was extremely stressful. But my living conditions forced me to be used to closely living with about 14 people for almost 3 years. Some people love this same aspect of dorm life.
One of my favorite things about living in Random Hall is that when I want to be alone, which is often, I can escape into my room or a quiet place and when I don’t want to be alone, which is also often, I can always find somebody else awake to hang out with. The only time when everyone seems to be asleep is 8 am on a Sunday. (Lydia at MIT admissions blog)

But I also think there are things you can do to improve your comfort with yourself as yourself by yourself. Living alone doesn't have to be lonely.

A major factor in my satisfaction is how and why I changed my living situation. In some ways, I did so on my own terms. In others, I had limited choices. I wrote about my first feelings of living alone, the things I appreciated but also some of the difficulties. I haven't written all the messy details of why I moved out on my own. But I can say that for my happiness making the change to live on my own needed to be on my own terms. It was motivated about having things on my own terms, having my life in my control.

  • By acknowledging why you live alone, you have a rubric to measure your contentment. 

  • Ask yourself what made you change your living situation

  • Ask yourself how you think your living situation changes or describes you

  • Ask yourself what you enjoy about your living situation

As I said, I purposefully took time to get to know myself. I've written about setting tea for myself or the quiet routines of drawing. I also really find it grounding to take care of my plants. (Grounding! ha! like dirt! Get it?) I love to take the time to smell the fresh dirt or sit by the window; reflecting and thinking while you create with your body is great for self-love. Another great technique is yoga or meditation.

Finally, take the time to go out and be around other people. This can be low energy low commitment human contact or high energy high commitment get togethers. If I feel lonely, I open my window. The sounds of the courtyard drift up into my room: children laughing, birds chirping, rustling wind. I also schedule larger hangouts. I'm looking forward to a fancy tea later this month to celebrate the end of fall + IAP. Reach out to your friends to hang out. Call your family. Hug your cat.

Photo on 9-17-14 at 7.35 PM #4

A caveat that I will repeat from my other post: have reasonable expectations for spending time with others once you live alone. You aren't going to see your friends as much. Some friends may be too lazy to come over. Others are busy. Time away from your friends isn't your fault. Being alone is not a flaw. Living on your own, you won't always have someone to hang out with. Even living with one other person, you won't always have someone to hang out with the way you did in a dorm. That's not bad or wrong. It's just something to get used to. Personally, I loved getting back into the mentality of having time to myself but I did struggle with the process of hearing 'no, I can't come over.'

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Mental Illness and Violence

i also think it’s scary that we can’t distinguish between mental illness that is without violence and abuse that includes violence. Our media doesn't distinguish suicides that include violence towards others and those that don’t. Our media often covers suicides in a way that incites and valorizes the dead. Worst, our media conflates suicides with suicide-murders and covers both in a sensational way that encourages copy cats.

I think one key aspect of why we speak of these very different things in similar ways in how we categorize mental illness. We think all mental illness is the same and that all mental illness is violence. We don't distinguish severity or cause. As someone who has been dealing with mental illness my whole life, I’ve got to say -  Not all mentally ill people are violent. Not all mentally ill people hurt themselves. Not all mentally ill people hurt others.
The belief that persons with mental illness are dangerous is a significant factor in the development of stigma and discrimination (Corrigan, et al., 2002). [...]People with psychiatric disabilities are far more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent crime (Appleby, et al., 2001). (via promote acceptance)

This conflagration is part of the process of stigmatizing mentally ill people. It's also dismissive of our work in managing our conditions.

If you hurt or abuse someone else while mentally ill that’s still on you and is your responsibility. If you can’t handle that responsibility, you need to be in intense treatment, probably a residential program. We, adults with mental illness, are responsible for managing our conditions with the help of trained medical professionals.  It’s a dangerous and irresponsible to be an adult choosing to engage in abusive/violent/dangerous behavior. You are putting yourself and others at risk when you go against your treatment plan or fail to perform your responsibilities in your treatment. It’s a completely different thing if you’re a kid and are being denied medical assistance by your guardians; that's not your fault or your responsibility as a child. I’m saying this as someone who entered foster care as a minor to GET access to assistance.

I really dislike being lumped in with violent people. I am not a violent person. I don't have that profile. Let me repeat: I am not a violent person. Being mentally ill doesn't make me violent. It's dangerous to put a non-violent person with violent people; I have felt unsafe during treatments because facilities put non-violent people with violent people.
“Research has shown that the vast majority of people who are violent do not suffer from mental illnesses (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).” (via promote acceptance)

Mental illness is not an excuse for violent or abusive behavior. Again: mental illness is not the cause of abusive behavior. Mental illness is not an reason to allow abusive behavior.
Even when mental illness or addiction is a factor, it is not the cause of a man's abuse of his partner (why does he do that?)

We never respectfully consider that this mentally ill person might have actually had some active choices about dealing with mental illness. This is extremely disrespectful: mentally ill people are capable of making complex nuanced choices. Respect that! Most of the mentally ill are responsible for our own treatment. While we do require support, we are not children. We work hard to support ourselves, manage our conditions, and help one another. Don't ignore or trivialize our work by dismissing the effort expended those of us who manage well and without violence. 

We really dismiss how much people consider and try to act with concern and love for others even when considering leaving their own life. For example, we easily recognize the cruelty of murderers who desecrate the body of their victims, meaning the family has an unpleasant burial that can’t be open casket. But we have no sense of the compassion for their loved ones that a suicidal person may have in considering means that won’t destroy their body. We attribute a woman's vanity for her choice to use pills that won’t destroy their body rather than love for those she leaves behind. Why do we do this? Open question: Why do we do this?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dying your hair isn't radical

I haven't written the post yet, but I really want to write a long post about the differences between the alternative culture vs radical culture. Reading the DGR chapter was so illuminating for my experiences living in the east campus culture at MIT.

Before writing that post, I wanted to cover this new trend.

Dying your armpit hair unnatural colors

Dying your armpit hair unnatural colors is intended to challenge beauty norms of hairless armpits. It's the 'radical' version of having your eyebrows match your blue hair. The goal is to make it socially acceptable for women grow out their armpit hair. The method is that young women are making their grown out armpit hair beautiful and groomed. Hairy armpits are presumed to be dirty, smelly, and un-groomed. By dying their hair an unexpected color, these women and girls demonstrate that they are carefully grooming their armpit hair. Then, by sharing images of themselves casually or focally displaying their dyed armpit hair, they wish to create a new norm.

Now, I should point out that have I participated in the alternative culture. I had blue hair for about a year. I lived in a dorm and campus where dyed and alternative looks are both common and accepted. I am also aware of the general lack of acceptance for some of these body modifications. I know and respect my female friends who have unnatural hair colors, piercings, and tattoos.I'm not mocking the girls who participate in alternative culture or who want to challenge harmful beauty standards for women.

I think it's really commendable to take charge of your appearance as a woman; I'm working on improving my acceptance of my body. I also think it's important for feminists to use a political analysis of our actions. As Daly writes of Jeffreys, "The facts come alive, for the feminist author has no hidden agenda of hiding the horrors." I hope to follow that example of female solidarity by speaking of my lived experience and addressing fellow women activists.

[caption id="attachment_537" align="aligncenter" width="300"]blue hair Me looking hella punk with blue hair in my blue MIT hoodie[/caption]

Analysis: Claims

I'm going to make a claim: this claim is literally the entire premise of my argument. If you need evidence of this claim, please refer to Beauty and Misogyny by Sheila Jeffreys or Chapter 4 of Gyn/ecology by Mary Daly.

My claim: Feminist beauty campaigns should be based on women in their whole, healthy, and strong form. Feminist beauty should be about appreciating women's unaltered natural form and creating a culture of embodying strength.

I'm aware that all bodies are culturally constructed and trained so there's some linguistic lack of nuance in saying 'unaltered' or 'natural'. To clear this confusion, I mean that female bodies are usually coded as vessels of impurity that must be altered in order to be natural or healthy. Women can and should enjoy and appreciate their born bodies as life giving and strong; we don't need to undergo changes that don't improve our health.

Feminist beauty should not be about appealing to men or performing submissive, painful, or feminine practices. Often the cultural construction and alteration of female bodies requires pain as purification or rite of passage. Female bodies should not need different shameful, painful, or active alterations than male bodies.

Throw away comment: getting healthy and strong doesn't have to be painful for men or women. Working out doesn't have to involve pain, vomitting, or shame.

I'm also going to claim that beauty standards are adaptive means of political control.
Evidently, males were able to change their aesthetic standards for female beauty when their politics required this. (Gyn/ecology, Chapter 4, Daly)

Again if you need these claims explained in more detail, please refer to the readings linked as these claims are based in decades of feminist literature, study, and work.

Analysis: Radical Root

I don't think that armpit hair dying is going to get to the root of the desire for control of women's bodies.

Again, the campaign's appeal to acceptance is essentially that women have expended considerable energy modifying their bodies. This expenditure of effort and visible modification of the female body are the core of marking the underarm as clean, healthy, and acceptable. Further, this grooming is in line with other beauty practices for acceptable female hair.

I would liken armpit dying to eyebrow grooming and dying. Women are allowed to have this one bit of hair on their face, but in exchange this hair has very specific parameters. Women are supposed to shave, wax, pluck their peach fuzz, side burns and other facial hair. The only hair that may remain is eyebrow hair. This hair must be groomed, plucked, waxed, dyed, brushed, etc. Make up must be applied to hold the hair in place. Many women who participate in alternative fashion dye their eyebrows to match their head-hair color; others completely shave their eyebrows and draw on matching eyebrows. Eyebrow beauty practice isn't feminist. Eyebrow beauty practice is another means to mark female compliance to unnecessary, arduous, and possibly painful body alterations. Armpit hair dying seems to be a very similar practice to me.

[caption id="attachment_536" align="alignnone" width="249"]beautyhurts Beauty Hurts image by Andrea Dworkins[/caption]


As this image shows, female beauty hurt is about modifications. Armpit hair dying is an unnecessary modification. Men don't have to dye their armpit hair for their bodies to be seen as clean, healthy, or acceptable. Our campaign as feminists should be to limit the number of modifications women need to perform to their bodies.

Returning to the idea that femininity is an adaptable practice of political control, I think this campaign is easily adapted to uphold femininity, especially racist femininity. Consider how this campaign plays out for our women of color, with long curly coarse hair that resists this hair dying. Consider how it could be painful to expect black women to relax, bleach, and then dye their underarm hair. Are these women included in this campaign? Do women of color have the same access as white women?


SO dying armpit hair is not radical or feminist. The implicit argument of the action is that armpit hair can be just as groomed, treated, and cordoned as any other female’s body hair for feminine performance. The appeal to acceptance is that by adding another complex (and likely painful) grooming routine we can replace shaving.

Adding more grooming and feminine alterations to women’s daily routines is not a feminist enterprise of loving the female body as it is, clean healthy and whole.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


I am the kind of monster who build towns.

This is an extension of my earlier writing which is a response to a very intelligent woman gently writing about a very entitled man writing about a) his man-nerd-pain of being denied sex in his nerdolescence and b) serial sexual abusers being denied MIT's resources.

My politics are personal, my personal political. But I am told: my trauma, my depression, my anxiety cannot be the basis of my work. The wounds I suffered can't be acknowledge as my strength. I cannot point out when I am reasonably afraid or angry. It's not allowed. 
It is a real shame that Aaronson picked up Andrea Dworkin rather than any of the many feminist theorists and writers who manage to combine raw rage with refusal to resort to sexual shame as an instructive tool. (via article)

The woman - prude, hysteric, shrew - cannot base her work or writing on the real and lived trauma of male violence.  I embrace my foster sisters who were sex repulsed due to sexual abuse. I recognize the young lesbians and the young aces. I applaud Dworkin's testimony against her medical rape and childhood abuse. These women and girls have their angry painful reasons to never want the sexual attention of men. And these reasons are valid.
We were told repeatedly, we ugly, shy nerdy girls, that we were not even worthy of the category "woman". It wasn't just that we were too shy to approach anyone, although we were; it was that we knew if we did we'd be called crazy. (via article)

Some of us don't want to approach any male and are labeled crazy on that basis.

These gendered marketing pitches by pharmaceutical companies built on earlier notions that single women, lesbian women, or inconveniently-opinionated women were pathological. Hysteria is the most obvious example but only a decade earlier, American single women, working women and "nonfeminine" women who chose not to be mothers, were pathologized in books like Modern Women: the Lost Sex that argued that women who wanted to leave the home were deeply ill. (Laurel Braitman, Animal Madness: A Natural History of Disorder, Thesis 2013)

To acknowledge that all of us are living in a world of sexual terror and to imagine a different way of living is to "weaponize shame." Again, I'll go hoarse shaming rapists and sexual abusers. I'll lose friends for it, lose friends for hating male abuse and abusers. And, in a long tradition, I'll be the monstrous hysteric for doing so.
Here’s one clue:  most feminists, like most women generally, are straight, and date men.  Many of the people leading his sexual-assault prevention workshops probably had boyfriends.  Many of the feminist writers he read were married to men. (a parade of heterosexuality)

Heterosexuality gets trotted out. Women's availability to men validates. The lesbian teachers are the minority, unfortunate evidence of the validity of woman-hating because they are not willing to date men. Stop it. I'm pissed and I want you to stop doing this same heterosexual turd soup dish-out.

There is a disgusting history of women shutting out the (lesbian) hysteric woman from feminist discourse. The woman who talks a little too loudly about hating men is never welcome. The woman who is honest about her anger at rape in her politics is worse still. The lavender menace is at once named, othered, and shut out. What sort of feminism is it to shut out Dworkin, the survivor of a rape and a self-identified lesbian? What sort of feminism is it to call the voicing anger and pain abusers weaponized shame? What sort of feminism is it to cut out the crazy, hysteric, mentally ill, neuro atypical women?

I'm that woman who heard women and young girls talk about their gendered sexual assault and rape and in turn hated abusive men. I'm part of that imaginary "cabal of man-hating feminists" who will never have sex with a man willingly. I am the ghostly affirmation of the lavender menace; I hate rapists; I'm anti-porn; I don't want to be called a slut. I am hysterical for talking about male violence, angry or crying. Or perhaps, I am hysterical that I must still be talking about this.

A politic based on righteous anger at the sexual abuse of girls is real and valid. Women are labeled ugly, fat, crazy, shrewish, unloved if she speaks these truths and traumas.
“Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.”
Josephine Hart, Damage

Some of us learned we would never be desirable. And more than that: We don't want to be desirable.  

We don't want men to accept us, date us, validate us, fuck us, consume us.

I don't dream of shedding my skin. I dream of transforming the world around me, to one of empathy and compassion.
If you are a savage, stand up.
If you are a witch, a dark queen, a black knight,
If you are a mummer, a pixie, a sprite,
If you are a pirate, a tomcat, a wright,
If you swear by the moon and you fight the hard fight,
Come stand by me.

(via Valente's LJ)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Prilla-illa boop on the Nose

[caption id="attachment_509" align="alignnone" width="380"]IMG_1345 Boop! on your nose![/caption]

I'm one of those weird people that has a strong opinion on animal training. I think that any animal you have should be trained to be safe and respectful of people. Prilla isn't declawed; I don't trim her claws. But she knows not to bite or scratch people. Even if you purposefully irritate her, she warns you with her words and her paws before giving a play-bite that doesn't scratch the skin. She knows that 'No' means you stop and walk away. Anyone can touch her. Anyone at all can pick her up. She doesn't scratch the furniture; she scratches her posts. I think the difficulty with training cats is that you must be very consistent with food-based motivation.

Prilla used to be very well trained even beyond that. She'd come when called. I was getting her to be used to the carrier. After that I was going to teach her fetch. But with the days I've been away for Thanksgiving and Christmas, she's forgotten those tricks.

I did learn that she actually likes me. She's gotten friendlier with people while I'm around. My friend who cat sat was surprised that Prilla turned into a sour puss without me. I was surprised to hear that she was unfriendly without me around.  I was even more surprised to come back to a needy cuddly cat. Literal non stop purring for the first day I was back. I was a little touched, but also felt a bit guilty for leaving her. Maybe she needs some sort of interactive toy going when I'm gone for more than a day?

Photo on 10-26-14 at 7.09 PM #3

Now she knows I'm not leaving for good so she's back to being an independent young cat. We have a new routine where she sits with me in the morning as I check my email. But she's reassured that I'm not permanently leaving her. Comfortable enough to get irritated with me anyway!

I want to get her back to being very very well trained. It takes a lot of patience and consistency to train any animal. But also with a cat, you have to motivate them to be interested in the training. Prilla doesn't necessarily want to please me. We're more roommates than pack mates. So playfulness in the training and rewards for smalls steps keep her interested. Of course, each session should be a little bit more difficult. Prilla likes to test how close she really needs to get in order to receive a treat.

A while ago I got her a vest and leash for walking outdoors. One day I could be walking Prilla around Boston like Dali did with Babou. Maybe when it's warmer.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="359"] Dali and Babou[/caption]

Nerdiness: I am a monster

I am a monster you don't have to imagine.

I don't generally make it my business to engage with men on feminist issues. It's not my responsibility to teach every college male - if he wants me to tutor him in human decency he can hit up my paypal ( as easily as he pays MITPAY. In this post, I refer and respond to several sources mainly because I felt that Laurie Penny's response while well written, constructive, and engaging was not where I wanted to leave the discussion.

But I'm getting real tired of these whining young men in STEM fields. Of the grown male authors who refer to nerdy women and girls as an underutilized resource. Of the entitled men who frighten children with pornography of fictional ponies. All of their anger seems to be based on the fact they didn't 'get some' in high school and/or college. To quote a fictional lesbian:
Jenny: Oh, fuck off, Mark. It's not my job to make you a better man and I don't give a shit if I've made you a better man. It's not a fucking woman's job to be consumed and invaded and spat out so that some fucking man can evolve. (The L Word)

Becoming us, dating us, consuming us is not the answer to your problems. 

We are our own unconquerable people.

Yet another STEM man has decided to rationalize his support of a known sexual abuser by describing the bullying he experienced as a white heterosexual male nerd.
My recurring fantasy, through this period, was to have been born a woman, or a gay man, or best of all, completely asexual, so that I could simply devote my life to math, like my hero Paul Erdös did. (comment 171)

I’ve always felt a special kinship with gays and lesbians, precisely because the sense of having to hide from the world, of being hissed at for a sexual makeup that you never chose, is one that I can relate to on a visceral level. (another of his post)

First off: How entitled to you have to be to want to steal my skin, my identity, my sexuality for yourself? You do not have any kinship with me or the LGB people. You have married your wife! It is legal for you to marry your wife! You will not be fired from your job because you are married to your wife or express your heterosexuality! If I wish to enter an Boston marriage with a woman, I will have to very carefully choose where I live and work. I would have only been able to do so since Oct 16, 2014 in my home state of Virginia with 43% of polled people being opposed to this ability. There is no federal protection against firing LGB people. You have literally no visceral kinship with us; you are not us. You don't get to feel a kinship our blood and sweat, our bodies beaten or dead. Nor do you express "kinship" with lesbian women by linking to an article that addresses sexist work place discrimination by countering with the ability of heterosexual women to get responses from men on a dating website. How do you manage to call lesbians your kin and also erase lesbians? STOP. Stop stealing us, consuming our pain from your very very safe place as a grown up.

Secondly: I live at the intersection of your fantasies: I was and am a woman, asexual. I was a geek.

In middle and high school I was ruthlessly teased for those precise reasons. For so very many things more.

For being mulatto - for my wide nose, my frizzy curly hair, my just-too-southern-black accent. For being short. For my asthma. For wearing glasses. For being too bookish. For getting good grades. For being quiet.

I was always the Before of the Princess Diaries, simultaneously invisible and subject to ridicule. The very qualities that he imagines as freeing him to devote himself to his academics created a barrier so onerous, socially and academically, I fell behind my academics and became suicidally depressed. To the point I had to go to a therapeutic home with attached school for some time.  I don't mean to discount what this man experienced in his boyhood or to compare traumas. What I mean to point out is that my identity is not a fantasy or an escape. Quite the opposite. Bullying due to my intersectional identity negatively affected my academic focus and performance.

Inhabiting my positionality is not a release from fear but rather to live in the intersection of different fears. 

Finallyhis imagining is based on the fact that he refuses actually know us. We do already exist. We do document and discuss our experiences with discrimination and bullying. We don't have to be imagined by a man. It seems impossible to me that a grown educated man be unaware that there are black women who like science. Or non-het women who like comics, lesbians as the heroines of comics. He chooses not know our lived experiences with layered discrimination. He refers to his (mis)reading of white radfem texts to establish his authority and validate his refusal to listen to other voices, including women of color and lesbian women.

Here is another radical feminist and a woman of color: bell hooks
They are quick to tell me I am different, not like the "real" feminists who hate men, who are angry. I assure them I am as real and as radical a feminist as one can be, and if they dare to come any closer to feminism they will see it is not how they have imagined it. (via bell hooks, feminism is for everybody)

She describes his familiar tacts of purposeful misidentification or refusal of identity. To continue to imagine us, he must refuse to respect our reality, our history. She recognizes that these are techniques of dismissal.
Much as I try to understand other people’s perspectives, the first reference to my 'male privilege' — my privilege! — is approximately where I get off the train, because it’s so alien to my actual lived experience (comment 171 via article)

These are the perspectives of my geeky friends, my intimate experiences, my academic training.

I knew all the other "imaginary" nerds: the gay geeks, the black nerds, the poor nerds, the young girl geeks. I knew the girl who relied on the public library for her books and generously loaned those books to kids who couldn't get to the library. I knew the girls who longed to be noticed, appreciated, by those nerdy boys who mocked us, tested our knowledge, discounted our thoughts. I knew too the boys who wanted to be known by other boys, who wrongly thought those white het male geeks would be a little less racist, a little less homophobic, a little less classist. I knew the heated discussion of black music between AfroSamurai, Boondocks, and Samurai Champloo. I knew the feminine discounted knowledge: the shojo manga with frilly titles and the Tamora Pierce that wasn't real fantasy.

Monstrous words, dripping frogs not pearls.

So what terms do we engage with these men on? How do we respond to our dismissal? How do we escape the bullying and discrimination?

Even when we try to escape to the intellectual world, we find sex or race or class based discrimination in professional fields. We can never forget or move on from the middle school bullying because we are not part of the STEM communities that validate and empower each other based on that shared experience. Nor do we share 'that' het white male experience of nerdiness bullying. Again, women and minorities face an intersection of different fears.
Unlike Aaronson, I was also female, so when I tried to pull myself out of that hell into a life of the mind, I found sexism standing in my way. I am still punished every day by men who believe that I do not deserve my work as a writer and scholar. Some escape it's turned out to be. (via article)

Even when we describe our perspectives in the "right" ways we are dismissed.

He refuses to confront the truth of what we live whether narrative or rhetorical, quantitative or qualitative. Presumably he doesn't accept the racism and sexism described in AYA; maybe that's not a real comic book or a real description of lacking privilege. As he admits, he "read many studies and task force reports about gender bias" so he has been faced with empirical evidence too.
Harassment of any kind is not acceptable behavior at MIT; it is inconsistent with the commitment to excellence that characterizes MIT's activities. [...] The Institute is committed under this policy to stopping harassment and associated retaliatory behavior. All MIT supervisors have a responsibility to act to stop harassment in the areas under their supervision (MIT policy on sexual harassment)

Again this 97% feminist ally is a man who is choosing to support a known abuser, who wants to return a venue to a known sexual abuser despite MIT's clear policy on no tolerance for sexual harassment. Let's not forget: this whole thing started because he wants to keep up the lectures of a known male sexual abuser. He wants the details of the harassment public, regardless of the victim's needs and wants - even if she's (or any other abused women) embarrassed. To him, the "wrong message about MIT's values" is to enforce the policy of no tolerance for sexual harassment. He refuses to listen to women's experiences or research. The last 3% are apparently the points that actually matter, convert to action. Penny, you need to address this blatant sexism in your feminist response! 
Most men are disturbed by hatred and fear of women, by male violence against women, even the men who perpetuate this violence. But they fear letting go of the benefits. They are not certain what will happen to the world they know most intimately if patriarchy changes. So they find it easier to passively support male domination even when they know in their minds and hearts that it is wrong. (bell hooks, feminism is for everybody)

Of course some pissant will come along to tell women speaking of work discrimination that we should be grateful that men might just fuck us:
This comes across so strongly as “my suffering is worse than your suffering” spiel, so much so that I’m tempted to argue it and review a bunch of experiments like how even the least attractive women on dating sites get far more interest than men. Or how women asking random people for sex on the street get accepted more than two-thirds of the time, but men trying the same get zero percent. Or how the same study shows that the women who get declined get declined politely, while the men are treated with disgust and contempt. (via said pissant)

Where is is the 97% of his agreement to call this pissant out? No, he commend and links to them.

It seems to me we are going to be dismissed no matter what, whether we have lived experience, detailed studies, or institutional policy on our side. These male nerds are not going to assist us in ending the bullying, abuse, and discrimination because they insist it never happened even as they platform sexual abusers.

Let's reverse the patriarchal reversal: What are we to ask him?

Monsters who tear down houses

There are a lot of young men out there - I suspect even now - who sometimes wish they'd been born when things were a bit easier, when the balance of male versus female sexual shame was tilted more sharply by the formal rituals of patriarchy, when men could just take or be assigned what they wanted, as long as they were also white and straight.

There are a lot of older men out there who long for that real or imagined world more openly, and without any of Aaronson's nuance and compassion. I would challenge men to analyse that longing, to see it for what it is. And then to resist it. You are smarter and better than that. (via article)

What exactly is nuanced about wanting male power back? What exactly is compassionate about wanting to revert to assigning women as property, chattel, and objects? What does it say about a person that they are well adapted to the contractual and ritualized exchange of women as property-objects? What does that predict about how they approach their relationships? Why does he resist anti-rape campaigns so adamantly? What about his behavior with women makes him fear accusations of sexual abuse? Why do we as women keep pretending that there are not class interests at stake here?

Whose passion is validated? Male passion, specifically male violent fantasies. She ignores the real truth in the fantasy, a dangerous violence in male power fantasy. This man isn't stupid. He's knowingly choosing to engage in this fantasy just as he is knowingly recounting it as a ploy for sympathy. He is aware of the power imbalance in his fantasy; that female vulnerability is precisely what's appealing to him. The patriarchy is a power hierarchy designed to be beneficial to men; smart men came up with it to protect their class interests.  You can't extend compassion to someone who wants you back in chains.

In case you'd rather deal in fantasy, for a geeky parallel: Why do men like slave!Leia so much more than any other incarnation of Leia? More than normal!Leia or senator!Leia or warrior!Leia or pilot!Leia? Why do we allow men to sexually fantasize about a strong young woman when she is at her most silent and vulnerable? What does it say about male nerd culture that men want to 'remember' back to the time when she was in chains and sexually available against her will?

Why do we excuse these monstrous fantasies? Why do we validate them? Why don't we admit the truth - these men are the same slime slugs as any male who fantasies about taking away women's rights and self determination.  Let's do what Leia did.

  • Kill the male fantasy by taking hold of the very chains.

  • Reject it outright as wrong and abusive.

  • Build our own revolutionary world.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Motion City Soundtrack

I really really really adore Motion City Soundtrack. Since coming to Boston, I've seen them almost every year at the Paradise City Rock Club. Their music has gotten me through some tough times in the past. I've been listening to them for years, since middle school. "Even if it kills me" is basically my anthem for getting through issues during term. Looking forward, I'm going to see them in January.

The band has been active in giving back. They've made comments against bullying. They've also helped about supporting people with mental health and addiction issues. They've spoken in support of LGBT+ people including releasing a new song through an activist support group. Justin, especially, has spoken about his experiences with addiction and mental health. As their sound has changed, MCS has kept their connection to the fans. I can't express how inspiring it is to hear and see people consistently and whole heartedly speak out and support young people.

Recently, Justin was on a panel. About music, creativity, and mental health. It also includes song performances from each of the speakers! Go watch the thing!

The whole panel is quite good, but if you don't have time for the whole thing I pulled out a few quotes that really spoke to me.
Well it's interesting because in the recovery process there is a sense of kind of elation and excitement that happens once you identify, or you're willing to admit, I have a problem. Oh this is going to be easy. Now I stopped. I took alcohol out of the picture. I took drugs out of the picture. But then what you realize, when you were using drugs and alcohol you were actually escaping from real sort of emotional issues in your life. [...] So what happens is: Once you get those things out of your system, you have to really dig down. (Adam Levy, At this time 6:44)

Here is the cut to the sweet darling speaking about his experience! A little earlier he plays with Andy Bothwell of Astronautalis.
Oh yeah. I should go to the place that scares. And that was the first time that I ever made a decision that went against everything I wanted to do. And it was the first time that I ever attacked it. And I don't know where it came from. [..] It's been doing the hard thing over and over. (Justin, at this time 40:09)

I was sober in terms of not using. But I was fighting everything. I don't know how to go into detail, it was like this constant fist clenching and teeth clenching way of getting through life. (Justin, at this time 41:09)

Then he played a song "Everything that Hurts" written for the group "Everyone is gay" I promise I didn't cry.

can promise I laughed when they all, in synch, said that NO you don't need to be unwell or in pain to produce good art or be a productive creative.
It's romantic and it is a great story. But it's no way to live your life. (Caroline Smith)

Learning to change - so deep. And the idea that Andy spoke about, that this is a constant struggle and that there is no fix.

I think maybe I'll come back to this in a little while and write how these quotes affected me or link them to my own struggles and development. I think that hearing all of these diverse perspectives in one place and in conversation with each other is really useful and constructive.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Year's Resolutions

These are my 2015 resolutions

  • Walk outside every day

  • Exercise for 30 minutes daily

  • Journal daily

  • Draw daily

  • Intervene in negative spirals

  • Vote! Volunteer! Be politically active!

  • Study smarter and more regularly

  • Ask for help

  • Take photos

  • Local or organic food

I feel like every year the resolutions are the same. But as I said in May 2014: "These habits are about long term wisdom rather than short term results." So it's okay that the goals keep showing up; some of these are about life long habits and goals.

Get out of the apartment everyday


Listen to my body

Walk or exercise for 30 minutes daily

Eat something when hungry

Eat at least 1 healthy meal each day

Journal daily

Wake up and sleep at a regular time

I mean, you can even go back to 2013 and find some of the same resolutions!


Progress is happening. It's amazing to think how much has improved in my life over the course of a few years. I feel so much more in control of my life; I feel like I'm finally in a place to start giving back and helping others. I know myself as a person much better - I feel comfortable expressing who I am and who I want to be. I have the space and security to do so as well.

As far as concrete improvement:

I've definitely improved a regular sleep cycle. Like, a drastic improvement. I am up most days at 7 or 8am. In bed by midnight or earlier. This really helps to balance my moods. I've found that it's best to keep the same schedule no matter what the external needs are. Also, I need my morning tea. I'm absolutely useless until noon without it. My push goal is to track my productivity over the course of a day to find my best hours. 

I've been cooking for myself and eating healthy for almost a year now. I've tried the organic local delivery thing. I did and am still doing the bring your lunch to work thing. I've cut back significantly on delivery food. At this point, almost all of my food is either local or organic. It's great for my mood, health, and budget. My goal is to lock in on ALL of it either local or organic. 

I blog twice weekly most of the year with occasional breaks. I'm really proud of the changes and improvements I've made in my blog, slow and steady. I think the quality of my writing has improved; I've started focusing on political and topical subjects. I want this blog to be useful to me and others too. I'd like to really launch the blog in 2015. I think the one thing I really want to focus on is adding images to my blog. 

I'm living on my own and supporting myself. I think I'd need pages to describe what a difference this has made in my quality and control of life. I feel so proud of being and knowing me at last. I'd like to stretch myself to improve on the things I love to do.

I'm dressing and looking how I want. Over on facebook, I have a post about the 4 years of hair changes: blue hair, long hair, short hair, curly hair, keratin hair! I've embraced my natural curly hair and my current color. I'd still like to try being a red head! I'm also wearing more bright colors and jewelry. I've also been trying different make up looks and totally fallen in love with gold and blue eye liner.  I've written that I feel better when I look better. I love the surprised exclamations from my friends, Are your eyes really lined with gold!?! There have of course been mistakes and strange things, but I love that too. It's fun to learn and explore what does and doesn't work for an outfit or style. But most of all, I love that I am expressing myself. I'd like to start exercising so that I can express my self - my own body - more.