My Underdogs, or “Over-There Problems”

I have recently come to understand what people mean when they talk about white feminists. So much is a statement about the color of their skin though that is certainly a major contributing factor but a statement about their attitude. A white feminist is the opposite of an intersectional feminist.

If you LARPed as I do you may have heard the phrase “that’s an over there problem.” It’s primarily used to indicate that whatever task has been presented, whatever non-player character has been sent to beg their help while certainly pressing in an in game context, is far too much trouble for them in and out of game context.  The players involved simply do not wish to walk that far or exert that much energy. It bothers me and for some time I have not been able to put my finger on exactly why, besides the fact that it was a phrase which could be uttered without anyone thinking you were a total jerk for letting that poor NPC die because you were lazy…because “not everyone can be a hero.” Well no, not everyone can be a hero, but at least then can not sit back smoke cigs and watch the NPCs get slaughtered like it’s nothing.

But I think the reason it really bugs me is that it’s not just a LARP thing. To the ‘white feminist’ issues of racism, heterosexism, cissexism, and ableism constitute an over there problem. These are real world situations and while the player characters in a LARP can often afford to ignore the distressed farmer due to their meta knowledge that it is merely a game, we have no such luxury as regards real world social justice. The white feminists has the luxury of separating these things from their feminism because these things do not directly impact their own lives as much as sexism does, and so do not regard these problems as real. No, not everyone can be the hero, but if inequities don’t at least bother you, if seeing people act in reprehensible ways doesn’t at least make you think less of them, then you’re either not engaging with the world, or you’re a ‘white feminist’

This came to me in the form of a nasty surprise when during the discussion of race a person I had previously considered to be an ally and a good feminist referred to the act of my calling out a serious case of racism, as inappropriate.Considering a person who said racist things to be a racist, was wrong, because I could not hold others to my lofty standard of, well of not spewing racist crap, and I was further wrong in ‘attacking’ one of the nicest people on the board, they say, for telling her I considered her behavior of excusing racism instead of admitting that the person she was defending was being a total racist, to be reprehensible, and to make her complicit in said racism. And this is what was said…

“I know you’re very passionate about your underdogs but…” Wait: MY underdogs? That phrase has stuck with me for months, dancing at the back of my mind like a horrific taunting child.I barely made it past that phrase, but it was the beginning of the end. There wasn’t enough backing. It became an internet pile on and I was underneath. I left the group, and not on good terms, but it was clear from then on there was no point in staying. The few good people there were too invested in their friendships with the ‘white feminists’ to speak up.

But lets back up for a moment unpack that idea:

“MY underdogs.” I’ve been given ownership in this phrase of marginalized people because what, they’re pets? You can’t own people, we’ve been thru that crap already. So what does it really mean? It’s a way for the speaker to indicate that she belives that no one involved in this conversation, no one in this facebook group, cares about these people but me.

“My UNDERDOGS.” Underdogs are people you expect to loose, and no one makes a fuss when they do. They were smaller. They were weaker. They weren’t as skilled at the sport, or game at hand. They’re so brave just for fighting, and sometimes they eeke out a win by some unconventional means, but no one’s kidding themselves that the underdog is as good as the perennial winner. To these white feminists, women were an oppressed class, but people of color, disabled people, transgender people, these are people to be pittied like the underdog, for their differences which make them less.

This is why we need intersectionalism. Feminists, all feminists, need to recognize the validity of other axis of oppression and be willing to stand up against that which does not personally affect them, for no other reason than that seeing that injustice perpetrated makes them ANGRY. We need to take it more personally when oppression is happening in our presence, even if it’s not ‘your’ fight. There is NO SUCH THING as an “over there problem,” and they’re NOT MY UNDERDOGS.

Get with it, or get out of the way.

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Iron Man 3: I got nothing…

Lets talk about Iron Man 3. If you haven’t seen it yet, firstly, you should but I’m keeping all the spoilers below the cut though so bear with me for the time being.

I cannot decide, at present if this is my favorite, or least favorite Iron Man movie. Iron Man tops Iron Man 2 for sure, but I keep waffling on this one and it’s because I can’t decide if I like more that they went where they went with this movie, or hate more that they forgot they were going there halfway thru, in order to get on with the customary action movie boom-bang-combat-a-ramma.

The definitely good news is that the cast is fully intact. We’ve got RDJ, and Gwenyth Paltro as Tony and Pepper, Jon Favreau and Don Cheedle are back as Happy and Roady, and Dum-E the robot arm puts in it’s appearance as well. Also the movie makes reference to not only the previous Iron Man movies but also to Avengers and Thor, keeping it well and tied in with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Apparently Marvel thinks they can do another Iron Man movie with or without RDJ… which is so not going to fly unless it’s with. The cast is important to these movies.

Ok now we’re heading for spoilers so drop out if you haven’t seen the movie yet… Continue reading

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Relative Definitions of “Maturity” or “Morality”?

When there’s a conflict regarding the entertainment value of a certain situation, it often comes down to a conflict of belief over what constitutes “maturity.” The party who finds the situation to lack entertainment value finds themselves considering the party who thinks it’s entertaining to be “immature” while conversely the entertained person finds the unamused to be “no fun.”

At first glance this appears to be a fully relativistic situation, which if you have fully relativistic morals it can be… which means that what it really comes down to is not a conflict of maturity level, (unless the amused party is of an age where their personal moral compass is still developing) but of clashing moral values.

Let us, for example, take the basest of humor. Bodily functions.

Let us start for example with the supposition that someone farts.

To the person who’s moral compass is prescribed by social pressure and archaic etiquette requirements, we shall call this class of person more conservative, a person passing gas, in any circumstance, can be dealt with in one of two ways. Either the person can put themselves forward directly, as a policer of others, bodies by  directly shaming the flatulent party, or they can apply more oblique social pressure in the form of raucous laughter meant to induce embarrassment in the flatulent one, who has transgressed by failing to remove themselves from the presence of others before expelling gas. This comes with the added bonus of forming social bond with anyone else present who also laughs, and thus makes their agreement clear in ways they would be less prone to do in a situation of direct confrontation. As a result many more conservative types persist in considering farts funny well into adulthood, labeling those who vocally disagree as “no fun.”

To the person who’s moral compass is prescribed by more practical concerns of harm done, and direct cause and effect, without regard for more traditional etiquette, let us say someone more progressive, a person passing gas is in many circumstances something to be simply ignored and moved past. To these people flatulence is a natural consequence of being human and the transgression would be to comment at all unless the flatulence in question has caused a lingering effect (like a foul odor) and in any case ridiculing laughter would be considered to cause more harm than good, and so the proper response would be taking action to mitigate the effect (opening a window and fanning the air.) As a result these party would consider the laughter of the above conservative parties to be the transgression, rather than the fart, labeling their reactions “immature.”

Now conversely, lets us say that someone, in the course of a joke, mentions that they are menstruating.

The more conservative party, would not be able to laugh, regardless of whether the joke in question was funny, as that would constitute agreement with the speaker’s transgression of failing to hide their current menstrual status. They would consider anyone who does laugh to be “immature” for not realizing this transgression, or for realizing it and giving tacit agreement thru laughter.

Meanwhile the more progressive individuals, if the joke is otherwise funny would be likely to laugh, as they consider menstruation to be a fact of life, and no impact whatsoever on the relative entertainment value of the joke. If called to the mat over this by the above conservative types, they would have to consider them to be “no fun.”

In a purely relativistic situation each party could describe the other as “immature” because they naturally expect that a fully developed moral compass is identical to their own. This is a mistake. In truth the party considering the other to be “immature” is likely to be the immature party, due to their own underdeveloped relationship to critical thinking, which if applied would bring them to the conclusion that it’s a morality issue, not a maturity one. It’s an easy enough mistake to make, particularly as the more conservative viewpoint actually mimics quite closely the childhood body humor phase which most of us grow well out of. It’s a folly I’ve found myself perpetrating in the past.

It’s not about who’s more mature. It’s about who’s morality is “correct.”

And I would put forth that the “correct” position is that of the more progressive person who recognizes bodily functions as being for the most part below the need for comment. Why? Because we all fart. It’s a consequence of having a human body, and those who have a problem with a fart often have a problem with other bodily functions and their existence as well.

There is no shame in a fart, or in a burp.  There’s no shame in vomiting, or having bowel trouble. There is no shame in menstruation, or not menstruating, or being pregnant, or not being able to be pregnant. There is no shame in an unwanted erection, or erectile dysfunction. There is no shame in having genitals, whatever they may be like, however they may match or mismatch with your gender identity, and however you choose to use them with other consenting parties. There is no shame in wearing underwear, or not. There’s no shame in a woman’s exposed breasts if she chooses to bear them. There’s no shame in being fat. There’s no shame in being skinny.

The position which shames bodies is the morally wrong position, from where I sit.

8^)

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That’s Not How Being a Human Being Works!!!!

So, in the wake of the Stuebenville convictions, and the pitiful sentences handed down, I attempted a conversation with my boyfriend this morning about rape culture…

Mayo: So now all the news outlets are going on and on about the poor widdle rapists and how their lives are ruined. UGH.

DB: Wait, Are you SEROUS?

Mayo: Yup.

DB: But that doesn’t doesn’t even make any SENSE!!!!

That’s my DB. He’s a good person. Not a “Nice Guy” but a genuinely good person. He’s also very sheltered by his privilege. Apparently this morning, in conversation with me, was the first time he’d discovered the sheer prevalence of rape culture. To DB, the adherents of such behavior are few, far between, and about as universally ridiculed as openly racist people shouting racial slurs on the street corner, rather than approximately as multitudinous and tacitly approved of as homophobes and transphobes, who still think they don’t “count” as bigots because they’re right, and God is on their side. But even as sheltered as he is, it took him less than half a second once provided a window into Rape Culture, to intuitively understand that it’s fucked up wrong. This is why he’s a good person.

Mayo: It doesn’t have to make sense, they’re MRAs.

DB: I don’t understand how they can even TRY and say that it was her fault. She was unconscious!!! How does an unconscious person agree to sex?

Mayo: They don’t understand the concept of enthusiastic consent. They’re on about how she didn’t clearly and firmly say “no” so it wasn’t rape.

DB: What’s enthusiastic consent?

Mayo: The idea that she doesn’t have to say “NO,” but the lack of a “YES” means there’s no consent.

DB: But there IS no consent without a YES!!!!!

At this point the poor dear is incredibly flustered and incredibly shrill. He’s never heard of enthusiastic consent because he’s never heard of any OTHER kid of consent. Either she said yes, completely in the absence of any type of coercion, or it’s not on.

Mayo: I know that, and you know that, but you’d be surprised the number of people who don’t get that, and that’s where you get these kinds of people on the internet moaning on about how the girl should take responsibility for her part in her own freaking rape, and be punished along with the boys who did it.

DB: But… that’s not how consent works! That’s not how being a DECENT PERSON Works!!! THAT’S NOT HOW BEING A HUMAN BEING WORKS!!!!

Now what’s the point in relaying this story, beyond the fact that it’s mildly amusing his brains breaking like this? The point is that even as divorced as he is from it, DB provides proof of the existence of rape culture. He and other children raised like him, somehow isolated from and blind to such influences, don’t even comprehend the idea. There is no overriding human nature that creates these ideas in the minds of men. They are not reacting as is “natural” to a society that has “stripped their manhood” or denied them sex. They are raised on the idea that they are somehow entitled to sex, and that women’s default position is not NO but YES, they are TAUGHT Rape Culture. It’s not something that just happens, and there IS another way.

And we need to stop teaching them that, and teach them how being a human being REALLY works.

8^/

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Everyone Shut Up. Shut up Now.

Dear Everyone,

What happened at Sandy Hook is terrible, awful, and incredibly hard to process. It makes people want to tear their newspapers, kick their televisions and throw their laptops, when these media deliver them the news, never mind the devastation and life wrenching calamity that it has caused to those close to it.

What it is NOT is a platform for you to get up on and soapbox.

Seriously.

STOP TRAGICRAFTINGSTOP SCREAMING FOR GUN BANS. STOP INSISTING WE ARM THE TEACHERS. STOP PROSELYTIZING IN POEMS.

And for the love of all things good and nice…

STOP DIAGNOSING THE KILLER.

When you tie shootings to mental illness you do a complete disservice to the public good. You are villainizing an already marginalized sector of the populace based on no good facts what so ever. You are making it harder to seek treatment and harder to gain acceptance for every single person with a mental illness or neurovariance.

As much as some people are trying to help, by pushing for easier access to mental health assistance, they are harming the very people they are trying to help by more or less implicitly stating that untreated mental illness is the root of criminal violence. That will only lead to more labeling of people who are DIFFERENT as people who are DANGEROUS.

Ms. Lisa Long, and her emotional confession of fear of her child, has not helped matters. Publicly likening your own mentally ill child to a spree killer is cruel to that child, and proports to speak for the dead. Don’t get me started on “mommy blogging” either, which seems to be some people’s defense for that terrible article. A mother’s need for support does not actually entitle her to publicly record all of her kids growing pains and wrongdoings in a medium (the internet) from which they can never be fully removed.

I see a lot of voices rising up with the idea that she’s somehow courageous for speaking up about something that might make others judge her… but since it seems to be done at the expense of her clearly already in pain child, no that is not courage. Courageous voices are the ones pointing out what it is really like to BE that scary kid, and how entirely unfair it is of the media to treat people in vulnerable groups as threats rather than the endangered people they actually are.

I can see that a few mainstream news sources have picked up on this issue, as regards the speculation (and that’s all it is) that the shooter may have had Aspergers syndrome, but it doesn’t matter what he may or may not have had. The problem is all this armchair psychology trying to link a horrible act to mental illness because no “normal” person could ever have perpetrated this crime. “Normal” people cannot be driven to these things. “Normal” people never snap and go on a spree. “Normal” people are nothing to be fearful of… just those crazy people.

Shut up. You’re not helping anyone.

X^0

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