Wednesday, May 30, 2007


My grandmother died this morning. I don't deal very well with death, it never seems real to me. The funeral will probably be Friday or Saturday, across the country. I'll probably be avoiding blogs for a bit, serious topics are kind of depressing right now.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

unmarked cases

I read and loved this post of Dw3t-Hthr's when it was first posted, but I didn't realise at the time just how *useful* the concept is. I've since discovered myself referring to unmarked cases like everyone knows what I mean, so I figure I'll put up a link so that people have a chance in hell of understanding me. Also, it's a super post and you should read it even if you plan to never encounter my writing again.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

and also

In a sort of lead-up to Renegade Evolution's blog for sex ed day (the fourth), I'd like to extend the following to y'all, as I did on my livejournal:

Ask me questions about kinky sex (I figure if you're reading my journal, you know the basics). I am not an expert, but I play one in the bedroom have a decent grounding and some ideas on where to look for more info. I promise, I will answer all questions with at the least, a couple links from google that seem not to be bullshit, and personal experience if I have it (though some stories need to be cleared with the boyfriend first). Hell, ask me about lube brands or where to buy restraints or positions or anything! I live to serve no not like that! your educational needs, because lack of knowledge bothers me. Anonymous comments are perfectly welcome. No shame need be involved.

I don't know a whole bunch, have a lot to say about, or even feel very qualified to talk about sex ed in schools, so I'll just perform some. I always wanted to be a teacher growing up...let me educate you!

change and control

Joel over at NTs Are Weird has a post up about anxiety, control, and change that really made me think. I think best in writing, so here we go. (Disclaimer: this is about *me* and my own experiences. I do not claim to represent Joel or anybody else regardless of diagnosis. Now hopefully I can keep myself from the urge to disclaim every sentence individually)

I commented, "I hadn’t thought about the relationship between change and control before. I’m not so fond of change myself, but I hadn’t previously tied it to how much I don’t like feeling helpless when things are out of my control. It makes a lot of sense to me that when I’m in a familiar environment or I have a routine, I expect to only come up against things I have control over, problems I have already solved, and this reduces my anxiety greatly."

This is part of it, for sure. I like to forget about my anxiety, dismissing it as something I overcame in high school (cognitive-behavioral therapy did *a lot* to help me get over my nasty social anxiety) or something that only happens when I'm really stressed, but my recent sojourn off my anti-depressants made me realise that I do have anxiety (Tangent: normally I hate that "have x" construction, because it distances the person from the condition, and in the case of mental, emotional, and congnitive stuff often seens to me to be avoidance of responsibility for one's own actions: "I do thus and so because I have x/because of my x". In this case, however, I would say that it is not true that I "am anxious" because it's sporadic, situational, specific. I may be deluding myself. Who knows. End tangent.) And it's worse when I'm in new situations or when I'm not in control of something.

I've also been realising lately the number of other ways in which my dislike of change surfaces. I like to do things in large chunks, with minimal switching between them. I am beginning to wonder if some of my sleep habits are down to this -- I don't want to go to bed (like right now for example, *cough*) because I'm "on a roll", there's something interesting me that I don't want to let go of, and telling myself that it will be there in the morning is wholly unsatisfactory (and half the time untrue, as I move on to something else).

I don't shower often enough because to do so involves stopping whatever I'm doing, going to shower, and then starting something up again. (Also, the physical sensation changes in temperature and wet/dry ness bother me, and I hate hate hate putting clothes on when I'm damp. Not to mention my thick, waist-length hair takes all day to dry. Tangent.) I realise as I think over this that one of the things the psychs keep saying is that I have "problems with initiation" -- with starting things. And maybe it's not only that I have trouble starting the "go take a shower" process, but also that I know I'll have to initiate something else after, that there's actually a whole mess of things that go along with stopping what I'm doing, and that my inertia is a reaction to this.

This inertia really frustrates me sometimes. It's not just that I have trouble starting schoolwork or unpleasant chores. I have trouble showering. I have trouble putting down my book to get up and do something else that I *want* to do, that I chose to do and have been telling myself to do all week. I have trouble making myself food. And yet I realise that part of me thinks of it all as "laziness", the part of me that thought too hard about test scores and my "academic potential". Sigh. I am slowly, slowly, working on excising that part of myself and coming to understand my shortcomings as part of myself, but it's hard.

Again, I seem to have strayed from my topic. Perhaps I will come back to this, pick out subtopics (this turned out to be broader than I'd thought) and write more in-depth on things.

Friday, May 18, 2007

durr, what she said

Kim at Bastante Already has a really good post up about appearance, and how unacceptable it is for women to like theirs. I don't have any clever words right now, so go read hers.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Speech patterns

Internet debate has prompted me to wonder about the differences in the ways men and women speak. Not the tonal variation kind of thing (women are more likely to express emphasis with variation in tone, men speak in more of a monotone and emphasise with volume or handwaving or what have you), but choice of words and more macro stuff. A preliminary google was not that helpful, so I'll go off my own perceptions here. Obviously other people may disagree with me, I've conducted no formal studies.

First off, read that last sentence again. I'm apologigizing for what I'm about to say, and pre-emptively hedging. I often find myself wanting to make an extensive disclaimer before I weigh in on charged subjects, just in case I'm wrong someone disagrees with me. It's foreign to me to assert my own correctness. I'm more likely to say "I disagree" than "you're wrong" no matter how sure I am of the subject. It seems extremely rude to me to say the latter. I feel like I need to protect my interlocutor's feelings even when they're flat-out mistaken. This leads to a lot of minimizing language like "might", and statements about why I might be wrong. It's of course possible that this isn't a female thing, but related to some other reason that I'm not all that assertive, but I'm guessing that it's a gender thing. Men who are assertive are strong, whereas women who are assertive are bitchy or bossy.

Another thing is questions. There was a day at the looney bin when I was forbidden to ask questions (thinking about this pisses me off, but is not the point), and it brought my attention to how often I do. Not just as requests for information, but as alternatives to, say, commands. "Could you do x?" as opposed to "please do x". Once again, it feels rude to use the imperative. And "would it be possible to y?" rather than "we should do y". It's hedging again, I think, and it also leaves the other person the opportunity to say no. It's like I'm building in a grammatical method of shooting me down -- it would be ruder to say "no, we shouldn't do y" to the latter than to say "no, it's not possible" because, well, that's a valid answer to the question. And really, thinking about it, I classify statements as a more male way of talking than questions.

Upon a secondary google as I write, I find the following on tag questions:

"Lakoff (1975) observed that, in certain contexts, women use question tags more frequently than men do. She defines the tag-question as 'a declarative statement without the assumption that the statement is to be believed by the addressee: one has an out, as with questions. [The] tag gives the addressee leeway, not forcing him [sic] to go along with the views of the speaker.' (Lakoff 1975:16)" (from this site)

[An actual definition of tag questions is that they're those little, two-word questions that one tacks onto the end of a statement: "You are coming aren't you?" "It sure is wet out, isn't it?" "He can do this, can't he?"]

Evidently further studies have been contradictory on which gender uses tag-questions more, but I would tend to agree with the bit I quoted above on the general motivations behind this kind of language.

Any input?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Tinky-Winky has something to say

In an attempt to bring good out of bad, I've just donated some money to Planned Parenthood in honor of Jerry Falwell's death. I would put forth that this is a very good time to donate to your favorite pagan, abortionist, feminist, gay or lesbian-type cause. Seeing as I'm about three and a half of those, myself, I'm pretty glad that Falwell's toxic brand of "religion" is down one leader today.

Monday, May 14, 2007

only women can dress sluttily

Well, this article on MSN cheeses me right the fuck off. It's an article in the "career advice" section about how "risqué outfits" can hamper advancement in the workplace. It addresses only women. It talks about push up bras and short skirts, gives cases of women who've been in court about their advancement and their dress. Mentions men only in an attempt to pretend that the article includes them.

And this is in the "general career" section, and purports to be gender-neutral. That's what pisses me off -- I totally agree that dressing sexily is not appropriate for most office workplaces, and that it's probably even grounds for not advancing. But the disgusting gender bias of the article really gets to me.

According to Eric Matusewitch, deputy director of the New York City Equal Employment Practices Commission, the courts consider "sexy" attire to be clothing that is particularly revealing and of extreme fit, as well as excessive use of makeup.

Do men have to worry about "revealing" clothing? There's not a whole lot of a man's body that's considered inappropriate to show -- the chest is fine, for one. "Extreme fit" can apply to men as well, sure, tight jeans would be "too sexy", but I'm guessing this one is aimed mostly at chests. And as for the last, I doubt they even considered men when writing in "excessive makeup" (which, I guess, would be any).

To those who argue that this discriminates against women, Matusewitch replies, "The code applies equally to both sexes. So, if employers require men to dress conservatively, they can require women to avoid tight, flashy and revealing outfits as well."

If the code applies equally to both sexes, why is there not a single mention in this article about how men have this problem, or how men can avoid dressing inappropriately for the office? Also, look at the language here: men should "dress conservatively" -- one word, and a positive action. Women should "avoid tight, flashy, and revealing outfits" -- three words, and it's a "do not". Real equal.

Despite this article's attempt to seem generic (it's not until the third paragraph that the word "women" is mentioned), the list of guidelines consists of the following categories: skirts ("too little is too much"), tops ("a bra should be worn"), dresses ("acoid overly-snug fits"), pants ("shun [styles] that expose the midriff"), shoes ("heels should be no higher than two inches" with the assumption that heels will be worn), hair ("avoid the teased, over-processed look" ?!), and makeup ("avoid heavy eyeliner or evening lipsticks").

I'm not even going to get into the shame and body-hatred inherent in the closing "If you want a job, dress the part. If you want to show off your body... well, that's what your free time is for."

UGH! MSN, if I ever had respect for you, it's so gone.

Friday, May 11, 2007


I just read RE's post about class and how she grew up. Combined with a prompt on I wanna say Fetch Me My Axe about parents and how they've shaped how we think, I'm now thinking about the ways in which I'm a product of my upbringing.

First off: rich white American. I often feel a sense of distance towards a number of social concerns because I've never been there. I've always had enough to eat, I've always had somewhere to live, I had a good education. Hell, I've never in my life been beaten up. I've never been harassed on the bus. Bandaids match my skin color It really blows my mind to think about how things are overseas, where things like having clean water are a concern. I pretty much can't imagine them; I have always been comfortable. It seems like a different world.

My parents both have graduate degrees in the sciences. I grew up in a house full of books, and learned to read before I went to kindergarten. Nature and nurture conspired to make me the kid grade-school teachers love. Intellectual curiosity was fostered, and I never got yelled at for asking questions. My parents put a high value on education. This was both good and bad, really. I wound up internalizing the academic barometer for success in a big way. Maybe this works for some people and they feel great about themselves. Not for me. Every time I didn't finish something on time, every time I did poorly on an assignment, I knew I was disappointing my parents and my teachers, and I felt like a bad person. Four years since my learning disability diagnosis, three years out of a hellishly stressful high school environment, and I'm just starting to break free of this mindset. I am finally starting to realise that no individual action defines my worth. I don't think I have to be The Best at everything. I point to this mindset as a significant cause of my daddy issues, my eating disorder, my academic anxiety, my general inability to have any sane perspective on myself.

My mother is the child of an alcoholic. She is spectactularly good at sticking her fingers in her ears and ignoring anything bad. She sees what she wants to see despite any evidence to the contrary. Not only did I inherit this ability (which sucks) but I was shaped by it big-time. I wound up with the idea that I need to take care of all my shit on my own without help. I wound up feeling like bad things need to be a secret, like I need to shield people from things in my life that might upset them. Amazingly enough, this extends to therapists! It's very hard for me to ask for help. I often feel like my negative emotions are insignificant, overreactions, whining, or otherwise invalid and not to be brought up in polite company.

I think I got my LD from my father. All of his social skills were learned intellectually, by rote, after long practise in a managerial job. In thirty years I may be the same. I don't know if growing up with him, not having the usual interactions, influenced anything, or if my neurology makes it moot. I suddenly wonder if his amusing overplanning, the colored file folders he brings on every trip with printouts of his rental car, hotel, flight information, and any interesting tourist sites, is all just overcompensation for organizational skills as sucky as mine. I wonder if he gets so cranky when he's planning and leading things because it doesn't come naturally and it wears. Hopefully in thirty years I will not be like this. I am lucky here: I can rely on my boyfriend for these things and it's socially acceptable. My father is The Man Of The House. Maybe he doesn't want to be, maybe after taking care of his four younger siblings as a child he's stuck in a role he never wanted but doesn't know any alternatives to.

[This part is a bit of a tangent] I took a year off from school between high school and college. I hadn't realised previously that I could have a life that did not revolve around school. I didn't know there were alternatives. You go to school, you go to college, you Get A Good Job. Then what? I think next on that calendar is dying. I don't like that plan anymore. I see a big contrast between how I live now, even when I am in school, and the way I approached life before. Freshmen who didn't take time off seem to be different. Or maybe other people realise how to live on their own, and I was just slow to pick up on it. I think some people do, but so many remind me of myself in high school, fitting a life in around the edges of class and work.

It's late, I'm getting distracted from my topic, I'll leave it here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

so I like sex, ok?

I'm not sure how to make this deep, or anything. But I've run across a couple of things lately that make me feel like I should get this out there, for such limited values of "out there' as I have available, anyway.

I like sex. I, in fact, like sex with men, and with penises. I don't think this makes me not a feminist. I don't think enjoying penetrative sex means I'm buying into patriarchal gender opression. I, actually, don't even think that enjoying being tied down or hit with the variety of toys I keep in a white chest means I'm buying into etc. I can see why one might assume that, but there are a couple of things that always bubble frustratedly to my lips when reading such assumptions.

There are, out there in the wide world of everybody's-not-exactly-the-same, men who like to be tied down and beaten by women. There are men who do this with other men, and women who do it with other women. There are couples of whatever gender combination who swap back and forth who's getting hit -- this was my first introduction to kinky shit, as a matter of fact. I'm not saying that there aren't women who like to bottom because they've been fucked up in some way, or because they think that's their only option aside from lights-off-missionary-position. Ditto men who top. But I find it unfair to dismiss all BDSM based on these cases when others exist. I suppose it's hell on your arguments to acknowledge that there are people who enjoy both sides of power and sensation play though, since that makes it separable from opression. Oh well, those people are all freaks anyway, and shoudl be ignored. We know what's best for them.

Not to mention nonsexual BDSM. I enjoy being hit on the back with really heavy thick floggers (really, it's like massage). So every so often, usually after my college's fetish club has an informational meeting, I meet up with the current girlfriend of an ex of mine and she whacks me. All clothes remain on, and there is actually no power dynamic involved. She stops when I ask her to, or moves or lightens up. Because I enjoy the sensation, and she likes hitting people. She thanks me afterwards, which always makes me a bit confused since I feel like I got most of the fun out of it.

I can't say much on the topic of porn, really. I've posed for naked pictures, and felt like I was getting away with something to be paid for it. I'm cool with the idea that people I don't know might jerk off to them, though I'd prefer if they wouldn't actually tell me about this, as in the case of one particularly obnoxious guy at my college who found me on facebook. If it's objectifying, it's a type of objectification I'm ok with participating in, especially considering that I'm sure I get objectified walking down the street, and at least this time I got paid. I enjoy looking at porn, though most of it is unappealing to me. I still don't think this makes me not a feminist. Sure, maybe in that perfect world, there wouldn't be any porn, but until then, I'm living in this world, and I'm not enough of an idealist to think that attempting to get rid of porn is better than accepting it as a reality and working to make it better.