in which my dad is not completely fail.

my dad just got a new bass player for his band, which was a bunch of dudes. Now it is a bunch of dudes, and a woman. which is sometimes an untenable position. She is also trans*. I don’t know which ending to that word or if trans alone is her preference when she feels the need to discuss that part of her life.

anyway. I barely said hello to the band all night. I went to watch TV with my mom. I went to go get a piece of cake from the freezer (on the other side of were they were practicing), and noticed that almost everyone had left except for one guy. as I was passing by with my newly acquired cake, I hear the band mate say something out of earshot. My dad, in a moment of win, replies “she, SHE , it’s not easy for me either , but I’ll get used to it. it is important to respect peoples preferences”

It is not complete automatic acceptance, but it is good faith and respectful of the pronouns she prefers. not only that, it is standing up to someone who is not respecting the pronouns she prefers. (I would add identities not preferences is preferable, but it was such a leap forward I hate to diminish the achievement)

Of course I only categorize the evening as “not completely fail” because of an exchange after the last band member finally left.

I wanted to provide positive reinforcement so I thanked my father for correcting his band mate. and he said something like “I wasn’t sure how the band would react, but most of them feel like me, as long as it can play, then whatever”

I cringed! I might have literally done a facepalm. I informed my father that no one likes to be referred to as “it”. He explained that he wanted to say something gender neutral, to express the views of the band. I understand his intent and all, and I understand how annoying it is that there is not a generally accepted gender neutral tone (not one accepted enough so I can use it in a scholarly paper or anything like that) but, FACEPALM I say. So I informed him of zie and hir. so that was a bit fail. but not completely. My dad is respecting an individuals identity and wishes, even though they are foreign to him. so it is a step.

Ironically I was discussing various identities with my mother a few days prior (gender identities, sexual identities and polyamorous vs monogamous). I was saying that all of these were on a spectrum, and had to inform her of the Kinsey Scale to talk about the others having a continuous scale like that. (though I didn’t bring up asexuality) . My mother’s response was, “well, I’m not likely to meet any of those people, so I don’t need to know about this stuff.”

Granted she hardly ever meets anyone since she is introverted and mostly retired, so she can do what she likes. But she teaches a yoga class. you don’t know who in your class identifies as what. “those people” are everywhere!!!

It is privileged attitude that “they” exist somewhere else away from “us”. I was getting frustrated with the conversation because I was trying to “gently” explain the consequences of our various privileges. She understands the “I don’t get targeted for violence” part of privilege, but not much beyond that. It was getting really frustrating trying to explain that we need more positive lgbtqi characters in mainstream stories. she kept saying that “they” already have some gay films, so they should be happy with that. (headdesk).

So I gave up. I was about to get upset, and it would not have done any good.

party in consent culture

I usually don’t drink because I’m afraid. I mean, I don’t consciously think, “I’m uncomfortable with this situation.” But last night I went to a party where I did feel 100% safe. It is only when I juxtapose this to other parties that I realized something was wrong.

Even around my nudist friends, I would not get drunk and naked. I was at a (clothed) party with the nudist crowed, and Rich started hitting on me as soon as he found out I did a shot of tequila. Um…. yeah…. (I use his name because I do not protect the identities of would-be rapists who think they just need a girl with beer goggles to get laid, and don’t consider that to have consent neither party’s judgment can be impaired)

But last night was amazing. I’d known some of the people for a decade. Others were new to me, but they were all screened by my friends. And they were all open and honest about sex and relationships, and lots of them had slept with at least one of my friends. (so not only personality screened, but personality in bed screened) My friends would not sleep with people who did not communicate with all their partners. They wouldn’t sleep with someone who used sex to control and gain power.

It was consent culture. I got really drunk for the first time in many many months. I was talking to this guy about everything under the sun. but I had no fears drunk and chatting. It was safe. When I mentioned I was feeling a little too drunk I handed him my drink. He brought me some water. I started to feel better so we bee-lined to the hot tub. Because of our influence the hot tub quickly became a nude space.

I was sitting in a hot tub in mixed company, naked and drunk. It was just hanging out. It wasn’t sexual towards me. There was sex at the party, there were lots of people who sleep with each other at the party. No one grabbed my ass even in jest.

But can you imagine the court case if I was assaulted in that context? she was drunk, why would you be naked if you didn’t intend to have sex? she regularly hangs out naked with old men that she has hugged! She has had sex more than once before! And she was at least a decade younger than all the other people at the party at a big house! She must have been LOOKING for a rich man or something!

I was drunk so I went to bed there, as many people did. I was half naked in one of the guest rooms (they have a Gi-normous house). But I have no doubt that if passed out completely naked on a couch or bed that I would have been perfectly safe. imagine doing that at a frat party.

It is so wonderful that that house is a pocket of consent culture in a wasteland.

It is fucked up that personal safety is remarkable. But I’m glad it exists at all.

monkey’s, porn and consent

Yesterday a(nother) liberal dood I know wanted to share how science totally rocks.  his evidence is that a study was done that shows monkey’s like porn and he read about it on the internet. now I don’t know if he read about it at ABC, but I figured if I was going to rant about it, I should look up an article about it.

Then he got really upset that i thought it was horrible. Later he even sent me an email along the lines of, “but I’m a nice guy why do you think I’m a horrible person?” Which makes the issue, not about my reaction to porn, not about rape culture, not about animal captivity, but about poor him and his feelings. Because my feelings hurt his feelings and that is so mean.

This means that I now I have to spend my time letting him know I don’t think he is a horrible person. Well I have to do this if i want to keep the peace. And I do want to keep the peace since I work with him, and we rely on each other to help each other out when studying, and things like that. GRRRR.

But on to the monkeys. First, the article is about how “The study is the first to show that monkeys appraise visual information for its social value and can then use this data to spontaneously discriminate between images of their fellow monkeys.”

but just like with humans the scientists understood “monkeys” to mean MALE BODIED monkeys.

Twelve adult male rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) participated in the study

so already there was bias. that female bodied monkey’s don’t count and we don’t need to see how they think since they are the “other sex” anyway.

The monkey’s were given headshots of both males and females, and hindquarters of females to look at. The article does not discuss how the monkeys responded to headshots of the females. but high social ranking males and female hindquarters were “paid for” more often.

Did they pay for headshots of the women too? would they pay for hindquarter shots of the socially high ranking males? how do we know that “sexiness” of the picture had anything to do with it? Maybe social desirability of the subject was important regardless of the position of the monkey in the camera frame. (not to mention that heteronormative assumptions are made about all subjects in the test).  So again, bias about how humans (i.e. heterosexual male humans) view naked pictures comes into how the experiment was organised, and how the data is interpreted:

Camerer says it is “no surprise” that male monkeys “really like looking at female posteriors”. But he is puzzled that males would pay with juice to see high-status males, but would not look at them for very long.

so already we can see this is a problematic study, immersed in patriarchal structure. feminsiting has a post today about science being used to objectify (human) women.

But what about the monkeys? they were “housed in captivity”.  And someone tells me about this study and expects me to be thrilled because no monkey’s were “physically harmed”(quote from self proclaimed nice guy)? Um… vegan here, I’m for autonomy of creatures. that means I’m against captive animals as a slave class for experimentation, regardless of the nature of the experiment.

And onto the issue of consent. This is the biggest issue involved. I don’t know about you, but If I was hanging around and people took pictures of my genitals and butt, and then sold it as porn to someone else, I’d feel angry and violated. But we can do that to monkeys, and its no big deal. More specifically, we can do that to FEMALE BODIED monkeys and it is  SCIENCE.

But you know what? People do this to FEMALE BODIED PEOPLE too. and there is no recourse. If I’m at a nude beach, and someone takes a picture to use as porn, that’s sick right? but shit like this happens, and it is legal, since I’m in a public place. CREEPY. Even if it were illegal, I can’t go to the cops. That could close down the beach, and everyone would “know” its my own fault, and really I wanted it anyway because otherwise I wouldn’t have been naked and teasing men with my nudity.

so this whole taking pornographic pictures without consent issue is both personal and political.

Just more evidence that female bodies are the bodies of the sex class. To be used by men, for sex and porn whenever they want to.  Whether it is male scientists using female monkey bodies to observe monkey objectification, or male monkeys paying to view female bodies as a commodity. Or if it is male humans jerking off in public at a female body who is minding her business and just wants to enjoy the beach. Female bodies are only good for sexual gratification of men and to hell with what women think about it.  Guess what that looks like to me: rape culture.

but you know, getting upset about this hurts the feelings of all those liberal nice guys who really do respect women “both as a group and as individuals”, but who still find this study awesome. /snark.

non vegans thinking that vegan food makes me feel guilty

WE DON’T WANT TO MAKE CHILDREN FEEL GUILT OR SHAME!

this was said in an email to me. a noble goal in general.  in specific, I get to feel shamed and guilty.

GAH!.  backstory.  I volunteered to be part of a team that teaches 3rd and 4rth graders about various world holidays.  We rotate out.  so I’m only teaching every couple of months.  (it’s a once a week thing.)

There is food preparation for many holidays.  I don’t want to be involved in feeding children dead things.  that is so gross.  don’t want to prepare it, don’t want to encourage it.  which is not to say that I actively discourage meat eating.  That is not my place (legally it is the parent’s place).

I clearly stated these boundaries.  Another member suggested that we make vegan versions of everything where possible.  I was so happy I nearly cried.  he’s even an omnivore.  but thought it would be a great way to show accpetance of vegans and for kids to learn about that option.

it is now causing a shit storm.  woot.  and as THE VEGAN. I’m in the middle of it.  I really just want to wail on people about why it is important to be vegan in general.  but bleah.  it would make the shit storm bigger.  this person is obviously feeling guilt and shame.  they must be uncomfortable with their own diet.  if they are that uncomfortable with their dietary chocies why force them on the kids? most other people are happy to learn about new food.  they like food.  more food options means MORE FOOD!!!! isn’t that good?

also the greater organisation is looking into ethical eating as its big 4 year study right now.  so shouldn’t we be considering this?  the labor situation is one of the worst, the environtmental affects are some of the worst, the hurt to living creatures that feel pain is just dreadful.

but because I made someone think about by my mere existence.  Its my fault.

fighting the fight with allies, shouldn’t be like this.

this weekend was, well, not so fun.

I think I need to find another cause. And this sucks. I believe in equality. so I can fight that on many fronts, so its not the end of the world. The problem is I don’t have the energy to fight it on all fronts, at the same time. Especially since I don’t feel like I have a safe space now that I’m back in the states. Especially when I have to fight the fight with very little support within a group that is supposed to be a safe space.

I’ve been doing a lot of work fighting for equal marriage. (that’s same sex marriage to all of you who aren’t clued into the lingo.) I’ve been having a few doubts about my involvement.

1. I would much rather abolish the word marriage from legal documents. fundemental unit of the patriarchy and all that.
2. the debate is phrased as any “TWO” people should be able to get married. that leaves out a lot of my friends and their relationships. Polyamorous groups should not be denied hospital visitation rights because only two of the people are really married. There should be a document that says, “hey we’re family, we take care of each other and we have the rights and responsibilities of being family”
3. this document should be available regardless of the sexual or non sexual nature of the relationships. If I want my best friend as my next of kin and we look after each other as family, it shouldn’t matter that our relationship isn’t romantic in nature.

now on top of these concerns, I’m getting fed up with the sexism in the movement. let me retarget that. I’m getting fed up with sexism in the group I’m working with. oh, and the racist comments, and the biphobia, and transphobia and other remarks I probably haven’t even noticed yet. (plus everyone likes to tell me about how they like bloody steak and other products of rape, torture and murder.)

I understand people aren’t perfect. I mess up all the time. I’m still learning about how to mindfully watch my language. But I’d like to think I’m genuinely trying. This weekend was the leadership retreat, so we had a lot of time with each other. We also, largely because i had earlier brought up my concerns, had a discussion about being more mindful in our speech.

It was a very useful discussion as it helped me identify who I wanted to work with more and who I wanted to avoid. I had been trying to take everything with a grain of salt, focus on the issue at hand, all that stuff. but there are some things I can’t ignore. a member of the “team” posted a racist remark on my facebook.

I updated my status to reflect that one of my friends is looking for a home for their dog. the Nice Guy(tm) NG commented and I commented back:

NG: I was going to type something really off message. *lips sealed*
me: you get a gold star for keeping it to yourself. I’m very proud of you.
other dudely man: But now I just want to know Nice Guy(tm)’s off-color comment about dogs. :(
me: I already deleted it. I don’t allow that type of thing on any page associate with me.
NG: You’re so silly Lauren. ♥

now you can guess that there was a comment by the Nice Guy that isn’t shown in this exchange. as i deleted I don’t have the original text, but it was something like: “Plus my Vietnamese friend would be upset if I started talking about how he eats dog”

wha…?

so I deleted. I would have removed the person from being my friend, but we work together. so I had a discussion with the chapter leader. and thats how we ended up with the discussion.

this is in addition to people slut shaming, constant use of the word “bitch”, gossip about how the bi-guy is really gay, (“I mean really.. he’s just sooo effeminate”). wha? in a group that is fighting for “equality”?

in the course of the discussion the racist Facebook comment was brought up by the Nice Guy(tm). he doesn’t get how it’s racist. “I mean, my friend really does eat dog, it’s a true statment!”

wha?

I start getting really upset. he feels upset and “victimized” because I didn’t explain it to him at the time. He doesn’t get it. It is obvious that I should spoon feed him the information. and he’s studied sociology, so he knows about this stuff.

I mean, come on. I call bull shit on that. actually bull shit can be useful as fertilizer, I call carnivore shit on that. because their poo is that much more gross and full of disease. (I love kitties, but they have super icky poo) The point is, if he truly believed it wasn’t “that” offensive, why did he self screen at first. why not just make the statement if its not racist?

so that was awkward for everyone who witnessed our heated argument.

The next morning at breakfast everyone was talking about how if we make everything PC then we can’t do anything, because everything is offensive to someone. the thing for me is, who are we offending. am i offending someone I am at odds with? am I offending the Mormons? because generally my existence offends a lot of people. and trying to not be hurtful to oppressed groups when our individual privilege gets in our way of being compassionate, is different from the “moral Majority” being offended that women want equal pay. (or whatever).

the burden should be taken up by the privileged. This is our way of dealing with our own biases and recognizing ways to improve ourselves as human beings. so the breakfast group completely diminished the impact of the discussion the previous night.

The leadership team is mostly gay men. there is one bi guy, me, another straight girl and a bi girl. could it be at all possible we’d have more women if there were fewer sexist jokes? maybe?

the moment that takes the cake. we go the the park, someone’s boyfriend meets up with us. He has volunteered and as the bf of one of the leaders so he is tagging along on the leadership retreat. At the park he decides to share a joke that someone sent him:

“a man is getting into bed with his wife, she says ‘I have a headacke’ he says, ‘perfect, i’ve just been powdering my penis with asprin, you can take it orally or anally”

what progress. I call him out on it. he tries to backtrack and apologize, “i’m not really sexist”, and “all my female friends thought was funny” because a man talking about forcing his penis in a woman’s mouth or anus
must be hilarious. wtf? yeah.

I get up and go for a walk and call a friend. I need to get away from this person. eventually I come back. I’m tired and I left half my stuff at the house where we are having the “retreat” I end up sleeping there a while, then meeting up with a friend. she lets me know, there are lots of causes, maybe there’s another way to be involved in the issue that is not with this group. those are probably true statements

I have brought in so many volunteers, I have raised so much money for this group. at least I know the money goes back into the community. I do think they use money well as an org. I think that the type of work being done is useful. but I’m too tired to fight all these fights at once.

Of course you know a rapist.

I was tag surfing and came across Luddite Journo’s Post which was commenting on the comments on a post by Kiwi Politico.

and I mean, COME ON. who are these people who have never met a rapist? if 1 in 6 women are the victims of a a rape or attempted rape in their lifetime and 73% of rapes are committed by a non-stranger, do the math.

I have my suspicions about some people and keep my distance. but how many people walking down the street are rapists? maybe less than 1 in 6. but still. how many people are in a grocery store when you go shopping? how many are men? even if it is 1 in 20 you are around them and they are around you. In your families, in your nightclubs, in your churches, at your weddings.

turning a blind eye, or sticking your fingers in your ears and going “nya nya nya” doesn’t change reality. it only creates a culture that makes excuses, a culture that when faced with it will allow rapists to go free. OMG!! that’s rape culture.

TO ALL CA VOTERS

PLEASE:

VOTE NO on PROP 8

VOTE NO on PROP 4

we should never vote to take rights away from anyone.  Besides, you never if next time it will be your rights.

My absentee ballot got lost in a “computer glitch”.  My vote has been taken away from me.  If you are still allowed your voice I ask you raise it in peace, tolerance and freedom.

Just saying

I read Full Frontal Feminism a while ago.   and it was ok.  It was definitely not written for an already feminist audience.  but whatever.  It read a bit like an extended blog post, which is not a complaint, just an observation.  I mean, I read blog posts all the time (I even read jessica’s blog all the time…).

Anyhoooo, I do have a bit of a critique.  Jessica tells young women to never, ever sleep with a guy who is pro-life/ anti choice.  I don’t have the exact quote the book is not currently in front of me and I’m at an internet cafe so, I’m not digging it up.

This irked me.  I think that doing away with the women=sex=vagina thing is fundamental to feminism.  and I just feel that it’s not appropriate to use your sexuality to reward men.  or rather it’s not ok to tell other people to use their bodies to reward men with good politics.  I mean, shouldn’t sex be about what *I* want?

Maybe what I want is to convert people to my political way of thinking, but maybe, just maybe, I want an orgasm. Or to be physically close to someone because I need that every so often in life.  And I personally probably wouldn’t be attracted to or feel safe around anyone who was anti-choice, so I personally probably wouldn’t sleep with them.

The whole idea of it seems just a bit too much like PETA telling us that we should use our bodies as a form of outreach which is something most feminists condemn….

If an individual wants to use sex as outreach, good for them, but don’t think it’s cool to suggest I SHOULD do the same.

I can only hit my head against a wall so many times before I get a concussion

I was in the kitchen at the hostel and Phil comes in.  Yes that’s his real name because assholes don’t need their names protected.  Anyway, he has to dress up for work.  in a theme.  He was rightfully bemoaning this and then said, “well at least hte theme has been picked out, it’s “saved by the bell”  and since most people don’t know about it it’s really just a generic “school” thing”.  (ok I’m paraphrasing, it was a couple days ago I can’t remember the entire conversation….)

He continues, “so I’ve got a cheap white shirt and I’ll just right something studenty on it like ‘so and so’s so gay.”

I for once don’t bite my tongue (yay me), “but something that is less of a homophobic slur, right?”

“well I wasn’t really going ot right that, and i mean it ironically”

I keep trying to explain that it is still hurtful, and inappropriate language since it’s origins are what a group of people self identify as, and it is being used to say that things like that group of people are wrong.  and even if it is a joke it perpetuates an acceptance of that language.

He became defensive because asking him to not use homophobic language was stifling his white male middle-class heterosexual life.  He see’s himself as a "nice guy" so he wouldn’t admit that he was in the wrong, because then he’s have to change to still be a “nice guy”.

I’m. just. so. angry.  This is someone who thinks they are modern and forward thinking and nice.  I just don’t know what to do.  it’s so depressing.

The sheltered life I live

Last night I watched a documentary on “Xtreme!” breastfeeding.  (ok it was on “extreme” breastfeeding but that’s not nearly as fun to type.)

Anyhoo.  I was suddenly in a discussion about breastfeeding in public with the other occupant of the hostel.  Firstly a man kept saying that “the jury is out on whether breast milk is really best”

technically true but their is strong evidence to suggest that it is better to breast feed if you are able.  (cough* colostrom cough*)  So his view was if you are in public you should give them cows milk.

I kept trying to explain that regular cows milk is not the  most healthy choice for babies as it has a different protein/ carb ratio than human milk.

He then thought that I was automatically biased because I believe in veganism.

I kept trying to explain that babies need baby formula not plain cows milk because there are big differeneces between cows and humans so other animals milk needs to be modified for babie consumption because they can’t digest plain cows milk.

I kept gettting wound up.  not just because someone kept comparing breastfeeding to taking a shit, but because it was outside the realm of possibility in my head that anyone I got along with would do such a thing.  ( I can feel my blood begining to pump faster just remembering the conversation)

Back home I don’t think I know anyone who would be offended by someone breastfeeding in public.  Not only that but I’m pretty sure that most people would support rights for women breastfeeding in public.

It made me realise that I don’t discuss issues with people that will be controversial.  I didn’t conciously think that breastfeeding was so controversial as I sheltered myself so well, but i somehow manage to avoid the topic with people who disagree with me.  I think I’m genuinely afraid.  There are consequences to airing an opinion.  I’m in a society that though “laws” may protect my rights, they are not enforcable.  If I do or say something that is controversial lots of people will do their best at making my life more difficult than it currently is.  If I speak up against an injustice I will have to deal with even more shit that the origianl injustice.  This  silences people, gives them no voice.

I write here because I can be anonymous.  I can have my voice, though not as connected with myself.  it’s absolutely shocking that I lack the courage to stand up for myself and things “i beleive in.”  I just get tired of being greeted with animosity.  I know lots of people suggest that, “oh if people don’t accept you as you are they aren’t good enough friends.”   But I need people.  I cannot survive without human companionship (and I mean out side of the bed room even).  So I need to be friends with the enemy sometimes.  I’m not currently in a position to find a community of support.  I live with these people.  I need to get along with them at the moment.

But damn it’s frustrating.  But I resolve to speak up more anyway.

Published in: on June 17, 2008 at 10:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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