Discerning Emotional Abuse in Relationships, by Xan West (2016-10-14).
D&D For Young DMs and Players 3: The X-Card, by Rory Bristol (2016-10-03). Interesting example of content warnings in practice (in the context of roleplaying games.) h/t joxn
[CW: rape, rape culture] When Men Brag About Sexual Assault, by siderea (2016-10-10). I also recommend its predecessor piece, Trump's Sexual Inkblot. This is about much more than just Trump:
The "locker-room banter" excuse says to women (and others), "you don't get to make the same natural surmises that men get to make about the very same speech acts applied to other crimes". It's a double standard: when the crime being boasted about is sexual in nature, women (and others) are supposed to give it a pass. "He's just saying that. It doesn't mean he does it."
When it comes to sexual crimes and torts, women (and others) are told they are supposed to suspend operation of their common sense. What men say when bragging about sexual misconduct is to be held in a little epistemological bubble, where none of it means, signifies, or counts in any way outside the bubble. Within the bubble – the rhetorical "locker-room" – those speech acts are to be understood and evaluated only by a special set of rules, which insist such utterances are not of relevance to the (presumed female) parties spoken of, only to the (presumed male) parties spoken to. Those utterances are not to be taken outside of the bubble; they are not to be exposed to reasoned contemplation in the light of anything outside the bubble whatsoever. We are to pretend under all circumstances not to have heard that which we have heard that men arrogate to the bubble; we are to pretend not to know anything the knowing of which men arrogate to the bubble. It is, Orwellianly, knowledge that, if we know it, we are forbidden to know.
[CW: suicide, discussion of mental illness hospitalization] Suicide Didn’t Kill Me, But Capitalism Might, by Beck Levy (2016-09-09). 'The bottom line is that in this ongoing crisis, “awareness” and “ending stigma” are toothless if depoliticized. All the awareness in the world won’t dismantle for-profit healthcare. Applying free-market principles to human needs wreaks havoc on our bodies.'
North Carolina Governor: My wife and I are being shunned by friends over anti-trans law, by Nick Duffy for PinkNews (2016-10-13). The lack of self-awareness here is breathtaking.
Men, You Can Survive Without Us—Please Try, by Ijeoma Oluo for The Establishment (2016-10-14). "All of this fear that you cannot survive without us is leaving so many of us dead."
The Ada Initiative’s legacy, one year on, by the Ada Initiative, 2016-10-17. Includes a list of ways you can continue supporting women in open technology and culture!
How False Narratives of Margaret Sanger Are Being Used to Shame Black Women, by Imani Gandy for Rewire (2016-08-20). On how Margaret Sanger's views on race have been grossly misrepresented by the pro-forced-pregnancy movement.
on #notallmen, derailing, and the fury it causes, by Jay (2015-08-01). Because this can never be said enough times:
Let’s talk about metonymy.
thefreedictionary.com defines the kind of metonymy I’m talking about as “a figure of speech in which the name of one object or concept is used for that of another to which it is related, as “scepter” for “sovereignty,” or “the bottle” for “strong drink”. So, if we extrapolate, we see how saying “I hate men” could stand in for “I hate the kind of man that rapes, kills, refuses to listen to me, voids my agency, trivializes my experiences, speaks over me, and makes jokes at my expense.”
You can see how the one is quicker and easier than the other.
White Nonsense: Alt-right trolls are arguing over genetic tests they think “prove” their whiteness, by Elspeth Reeve for Vice (2016-10-09). White supremacists got their 23andMe results and you won't believe what happened next! (Truly delightful.)
Election Update: Women Are Defeating Donald Trump, by Nate Silver for FiveThirtyEight (2016-10-11). Good.
100% of the people I considered 'heroes' in the tech scene when I was 17 have ended up massively disappointing 25yo me :(
But maybe if I was a 15yo in India who just got internet now (than 10y ago), my heroes would be ppl like @b0rk and @brainwane, not ESR/pg.
I am overwhelmed.
Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for literature. I am still kind of blown away. I mean... He's one of my personal heroes, and I've always known that there's a difference between a songwriter and a poet who sets their poems to music. The latter are quite rare. Most -- all? -- songwriters know which side of the divide they fall on. But... But... Nobel Prize!
Meanwhile, here I am on Desolation Row. Our predicted storm of the century wasn't even the storm of the decade; but it still did quite a lot of damage. The zipper on my pants broke -- again. We have a crack in the floor of our basement, which of course water is coming up through. I cut a corner too close and badly scraped the side of the van. What's left of my self-confidence is somewhat in tatters.
They're spoon-feeding Cassanova
To get him to feel more assured
Then they'll kill him with self-confidence
After poisoning him with words.
Ok, so at least I don't have to worry about that. Also on the plus side in no particular order, we never lost power, we can see the crack because I have been procrastinating getting the floor re-done since our flood last year, our second tenant has moved in, and all the damage to the van was cosmetic. So there's that.
Rather an unproductive week at work.( Notes & links, as usual )
sasha_feather and I just watched a six Oscar-winning animated shorts. I borrowed the library disc for Shaun Tan’s surreal, confused, and ultimately sweet “The Lost Thing.” It lives up to Tan’s very high standard, and We enjoyed it very much.
Then we were blown away by the documentary animation “Ryan” by Chris Landsreth. ( YouTube embed )
I will admit that I don't understand the rules: 1 won't combine with 2, but 2 and 2 make 3. Rotating the board in six directions is a ton of fun.
(Massively inaccessible to screen reader users.)
[CW: discussion of disordered eating] I Wasn't Addicted To Food. I Was Addicted to Dieting, by Virgie Tovar for Ravishly (2016-10-06). "...I do have a tendency to use experiences the way addicts use substances, because I learned addictive behavioral frameworks growing up." How when food gets used in a way that resembles an addiction, it's actually dieting that people use to distance themselves from their own feelings and reactions, not eating -- the "impulse to create emergencies and drama."
Trans Girl Periods. Yes, that’s right. No, I’m being serious. Just read the damn article, by Alaina Kailyn (2016-10-06). Bodies are so fascinating! I hadn't known that for many trans women, taking the same dosage of exogenous hormones every day still causes hormones to fluctuate, producing the same emotional ups and downs many cis women experience as part of the menstrual cycle, as the body adjusts its own production of hormones in response to the external feedback.
Fuck Portlandia, by In Other Words staff (2016-09-30). "...the last time the show filmed in our space, the production crew asked to us to remove the Black Lives Matter sign on our window."
Elon Musk Follows Zero Women on Twitter, by Sarah Jeong (2016-10-04). "Of course, Musk often retweets articles about Tesla Motors or SpaceX, which means he’s probably retweeted articles written by women. After all, about half the planet is occupied by people who aren’t men, and it would take a lot of effort to manage to completely erase them."
Idiocracy Is a Cruel Movie and You Should Be Ashamed For Liking It, by Matt Novak for Gizmodo (2014-07-29). I've never seen this movie and always thought there was something deeply anti-human about it, and Novak explains exactly what it is.
Trump and the Truth, by David Remnick, Eyal Press, Adam Davidson, and Adam Gopnik for the New Yorker (2016-09). This was written before That Video was released; it's still good to see a small number of Trump's lies systematically exposed.
More Evidence That Open Offices Make People Less Social, by Drake Baer for New York magazine (2016-09-16). Not that facts are going to persuade managers to reject open offices, since open offices were never instituted based on facts, but it's still nice to have facts. "...people who work in open-office plans had worse co-worker friendships than people who had private or shared offices" is something that resonates with my experience, since the sensory overload of an open office is such a drain on my resources that it makes me want to spend as little time in my office -- and by extension, with coworkers -- as possible.
Artificial Intelligence’s White Guy Problem, by Kate Crawford for the New York Times (2016-06-25). "Currently the loudest voices debating the potential dangers of superintelligence are affluent white men, and, perhaps for them, the biggest threat is the rise of an artificially intelligent apex predator.
But for those who already face marginalization or bias, the threats are here."
Your ‘Political Beliefs’ Don’t Justify Racism, by Andrew Wang for the Huffington Post (2016-09-21). I've been waiting for somebody to connect the dots as to how "political diversity" is how fascists sneak their ideology through the back door. This isn't quite that, but it approaches that. (I tried to write about it in "Opinions Are Abundant and Low-Value", too, but since then it's gotten clearer and clearer how transparent "political diversity" is as a veneer over white supremacy and fascism.)
"Political diversity is valuable. But a definition of political diversity that does not emphasize the reality of identity politics is amorphous, and overlooks how these discussions are often the first issues to be unwelcome and disrespected in the political arena. What then forms is a guise under which racist views must be tolerated. And when such a tolerance is made explicit by an educational institution, that institution becomes an enabler of racist rhetoric."
I especially appreciated this insight into how paradoxically limiting it is to use American two-party politics as the metric for "diversity of opinion": "...it becomes almost impossible to move beyond a partisan realm of discourse when traditional politics have been selected by institutions as the starting and ending point of debate."
[CW: discussion of fatphobia and bullying] Emotional Implications of Weight Stigma Across Middle School: The Role of Weight-Based Peer Discrimination, by Jaana Juvonen, Leah M. Lessard, Hannah L. Schacter, and Luisana Suchilt in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. I read the abstract and another article summarizing this one, about how it's weight stigma, not being fat, that harms the mental health of fat middle school students. (Chorus of "well, duh" from every fat person in the room.)
This Transgender Boy Gave A Powerful Speech To Counter Fear At His School, by David Mack for Buzzfeed (2016-09-14). In a better world, adults would come for other adults who terrorize 12-year-olds because of their amorphous fears -- in this world, 12-year-olds have to stand up for themselves against those adults, and Ari Bowman, a 12-year-old trans boy, did that; you can watch a video of his speech to school board officials.
In my case — and the case of my deaf friends who prefer to not use residual hearing when there’s another access option available — we’re patching across multiple languages/modalities on a time delay, and that triggers two competing thought streams. If you want to know what that feels like, try to fluently type a letter to one friend while speaking to another on a different topic. Physically, you can do it — your eyeballs and hands are on the written letter, your ears and mouth are in the spoken conversation — but your brain will struggle. Don’t switch back and forth between them (which is what most people will immediately start to do) — actually do both tasks in parallel. It’s very, very hard. In our case, one stream is lossy auditory English as the speaker utters something, and the other is clear written English or clear ASL visuals some seconds behind it. (Assuming your provider is good. Sometimes this data stream is … less clear and accurate than one might like.) Merging/reconciling the two streams is one heck of a mental load… and since we can shut off the lossy auditory English as “noise” rather than “signal,” sometimes we do.
"Oral deaf audio MacGyver: identifying speakers"
Pain levels, in particular standing for any amount of time unsupported in the evening, have been pretty high lately. Mostly hips, though there's still some pain in the right leg. Do not like, and it makes me snappish as well as lazy. Also, I was extremely congested last weekend and well into the week. In combination with the muscle aches and weakness Sunday I almost suspect flu. Almost. Some kind of virus, certainly.
I worked a little on my setlist; most of what little practicing I did was guitar. Which is ok; my fingers were kind of in bad shape and my playing obviously needed the work as well. It's mostly going to be off my (still-planned) second album, so I thought a little about Amethyst Rose and felt sorry for myself for not marking her birthday this year.
Quote of the week, from a T-shirt by way of G:
Most programmers struggle with 2 things:
0. Cache invalidation.
1: Naming things.
2: Off-by-one errors.
It doesn't mention being on call or facing hard deadlines, but those are right up there. It's been an uneventful oncall this time -- the only times I was awakened at 4:30am were by Ticia. I also spent altogether too much time in meetings, when I should have been working the ticket queue.
I continue to be wasting too much time on Quora, and quite a bit reading poetry and fiction on DW. Well, at least Q keeps my word count up, and I've been getting a little positiveifeedback via Twitter. I mostly don't try to track everything, but you'll find one of the better answers below at the end of yesterday's notes.( Notes & links, as usual )
As a general principle, you can show through your behavior that with everything you do, you're thinking through what effect it might have on queer people. The way to demonstrate your intent is not to tell people what it is, but to act on it.
When I was 16 I was dating a guy who was older than me. I won't say how much older -- if I did, you would probably think poorly of him. But what I wish to recall here is a way in which he was wiser than me, perhaps due to being older, perhaps not. At this point in my life, I believed that I was a heterosexual girl, and as far as I know, everybody else also believed that about me. My boyfriend and I went to Boston Pride together. It was my first Pride event, and I don't remember why I wanted to go. I didn't know that I was queer until about two years later. Maybe there was a band playing that I wanted to hear. In any case, I tried to hold hands with him while we were walking through the park to get to the festival. He said that no, we shouldn't hold hands, because it wasn't tasteful for us as a hetero couple to do that at a queer event.
I was ashamed of myself both for having broken a rule and for not having known the rule existed, but I didn't want to admit that, so instead I was mad at him for pointing it out. Surely, I thought, everybody around us should know that we're people who think it should be safe for everyone to hold hands. They should just know that our hand-holding was saying that; not "Look at us, it's safe for us to hold hands in public but it's not safe for you."
I don't hold it against my past self that much for being so narcissistic -- I was 16 and had pretty limited life experience. But nevertheless, I was wrong. I was wrong even though we actually were a gay couple. It's just that neither of us knew it at the time. We experienced heterosexual privilege because we could both be sure that no one was going to look at us and react in the way that homophobes do when they think they see a queer couple.
I also want to note that 1997 was a different time, and context is important. Maybe it would be okay for a couple with heterosexual privilege to hold hands at Pride now. What remains the same, and what will remain the same as long as there's inequality between queer people and heterosexual people, is that there are things that have a different meaning when somebody with heterosexual privilege does it. Indeed, that's precisely what "privilege" means: that the same action can have different consequences, different risks and benefits, depending on who's doing it.
If you are a person experiencing conditional heterosexual privilege at any given moment, what I expect you to do in order to be an ally is to quietly reflect along these lines: "Hmm, am I in a space where it's safe for queer people to make out? Because if I am, then great, I'm going to make out with my partner with reckless abandon. But if I'm not, then I'm not going to do that, because I don't wish to take advantage of my heterosexual privilege. If queer people would get hurt for doing it, I don't want to be the one who's doing it all the while knowing that my queer friends in the same room can't do the same." I expect this more strongly from people who are in a life stage where they've been exposed to enough different perspectives that they can take other people's point of view. (In other words, I don't hold 16-year-olds in 2016 to higher standards than I hold my past 16-year-old self.) And so if someone isn't making this mental calculation, I notice, and I conclude that they're not thinking about how queer people will feel about what they're doing. And then I conclude I'm not safe, because I'm not in the group of people whose welfare is being looked after.
Why might people (any people) engage in public displays of affection, anyway? They might not have any private place in which to be affectionate, which is another reason I don't hold younger people to this standard all that strictly. That can be true both for people with, and without heterosexual privilege in a given situation. They might be swept away by the tide of overwhelming lust -- again, I cut younger people more slack here, since overwhelming lust does tend to take precedence over awareness of others when overwhelming lust is new to you, and that's OK with me. But there are other reasons. Maybe you decided "I would like to let other people here know that I'm a man who has the status that comes from a reasonably attractive woman being willing to let me stick my tongue down her throat." Maybe you didn't, but if you have a choice in the matter -- if you're getting all up on your partner because you weighed the costs and benefits and concluded the benefit to you was greater -- then there's a reason why you're choosing to do it in public.
For people who are affected by homophobia and/or transmisogyny in a given context, at a given moment, displaying affection can be an act of defiance; there's a reason that kiss-ins are a form of protest. I think that we would all agree there are still boundaries as to what it's acceptable to do, sexually or romantically, in front of others who didn't consent to see it. Within the community, we might disagree as to where those boundaries are (for example, some queer people would prefer not to see nudity at Pride marches, others prioritize moving the Overton window when it comes to what kinds and degrees of sexuality are acceptable in public), but we agree that there are boundaries. But systematic homophobia means that the same actions have a different meaning when the people doing them are perceived as being a heterosexual couple.
I don't think it's too much to ask that people think about how what they're doing might affect other people in the context they're in, because I think if you already assessed your surroundings well enough to make the decision to neck in public, I'm going to expect that you also thought through what effect it has on the people around you -- you already concluded that it was safe for you to do this, so I don't think it's asking too much to consider others' well-being too. (And again, I expect more of that consideration from people who are past the age where sex is so new to them that it's easy to get pulled under by a wave of lust and act without thinking.)
So when people with heterosexual privilege who are roughly grad-school age or older are smooching in public, to me that's a signal of an unsafe space. (If they're younger, it doesn't give me enough information to draw that conclusion.) It's unsafe because I know that the people doing that aren't thinking about how queer people might feel about it, and if they're not thinking about that, it's probably not the norm to think about it here. Inattention to (relatively) little slights goes hand in hand with callous disregard for bigger ones.
You might reasonably ask how far it goes, the obligation not to rub in other people's faces "here I am, safely doing the thing you can't do without risking your neck." For example, in the US when the right to marry wasn't universal, there were heterosexuals who refused to get legally married until everybody was allowed to do so. I think that's a nice gesture, but I don't think anyone was obliged to do it. Marriage has financial and social benefits (which is precisely why we were fighting for it in the first place), and I don't think that the collective benefit of a heterosexual person forgoing marriage exceeds the individual cost to that person of not getting married when they would have done it otherwise. If refraining from marriage isn't obligatory whereas being discreet about what you do with your partner is, where do you draw the line? That's really up to you and what you can be comfortable with -- there's no rulebook for how to be a decent human being.
I don't think it's too much to ask when I ask middle-aged people with heterosexual privilege to refrain from making out and heavy petting in, say, the front row of a concert. After all, if you're that age and you can afford concert tickets, you can probably make out later at home, without bothering anybody else. (I don't mind heterosexuals as long as they don't flaunt it in public.) Not every queer person is going to agree with me on this, and ultimately, if you're heterosexual or if you're in a relationship that doesn't make you susceptible to homophobic violence, who you agree with is up to you and your conscience.
I'm trying to be careful to address people with heterosexual privilege here -- conditional or not -- rather than heterosexual people because the effect of two people who really are cis and heterosexual laying it on too thick in public is indistinguishable from the effect of two people doing the same thing who aren't cis, or who aren't heterosexual, or both. It's important to respect people's self-identification, but also important -- if we're going to live in an interdependent world -- to recognize that privilege exists and that both self-identification and others' perceptions of your identity mediate that privilege. If you're trying to tell me that I can't call out any instance of heterosexual privilege in action without first interviewing the people involved as to their sexual orientation, I'm going to say that you're gaslighting me. "What if they're actually pansexual or genderqueer?" re-centers the conversation on the people doing harm rather than the people being harmed. It's a silencing tactic, because the effect is to shame people out of talking about privilege. And it's a gaslighting tactic, because the effect is to cause marginalized people to question their own perceptions of reality. ("You're not really seeing what you think you see.") Saying "this shouldn't affect you because I'm not heterosexual" is more or less the same as saying "I didn't intend to to harm", and we know that intent doesn't determine effects. Both statements are demands that one's own narrative be privileged over anybody else's.
What matters more than the specific subject of PDAs is that if you tell me there is literally nothing you would give up -- no way in which you would make yourself uncomfortable, no matter how small -- for the sake of making queer people more comfortable, then you're just saying you don't care about queer people. If you're not willing to put anything on the line for us, then at least be honest about it and don't gaslight us by telling us you care.
Do you like this post? Support me on Patreon and help me write more like it.