So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

20 October, 2009

Unwritten Letters

Dear ____________,

You don't know me. We met in passing at your son's first wedding; you asked something about the logistics while I was setting up the centrepieces on the reception tables, I answered you, and when I was done with my task I fled to the bride's room to hide from you. I'm sure you figured out that I was his lover when they insisted on taking photographs that included me (as well as my husband) over your objections. I'm sure that it was not lost on you that we helped clean up the place as if we were part of the basic logistics, not merely guests, and were the ones who said the last goodbyes as all the wedding guests drifted away.

There was a time you liked the idea of me, wanted to meet me - back when you thought of me as a human being. A fellow potter, perhaps, or someone who could provide useful advice. Someone who was important to your son, yes, and I suppose that was a part of why you said you were looking forward to the opportunity.

I have this thing, though, that I won't meet people under false pretences if I can possibly avoid it. I most particularly will not step under their roof with the expectation that I will be lying to them, and pretending to be anything other than his partner would be a deception. I have a particular sense of hallpeace that I will not be so easily brought to violate; it would be an insult and a dishonor to my host were I to do so.

I know that I stopped being a person to you as soon as you knew. I was no longer someone with a set of shared interests, someone who was a major presence in your son's life; I was a symbol of so many things gone wrong, and that symbol overwhelmed any human fellowship we might have had.

I know and understand that you were hurt badly and betrayed by a partner who was unfaithful to you. I wish I could tell you that I will not betray your son and be heard, or that his devotion to me was not a betrayal of his legal spouse. I do not know how to mend this at all, or even if it is mendable; it is certainly not anything I can touch, because you have made me your enemy whether I will it or not.

There is nobody in the world beyond my immediate family whose recognition matters more to me than yours; nobody I want more to acknowledge me as his wife. I think that you are one of the people who has mattered to him most in the world, which means your regard matters to me. It might be better for me if I could dismiss it as a matter of insignificance, but that is not within my power. I am vulnerable to you; I cannot say I like it, but I acknowledge it and accept it. My dedication to your son means that you have that gut shot available to you, and that is okay.

When he and I got married, we had long, long talks about who to invite. We brought in our community as witnesses, because marriage is a thing about community. I invited my father and my brother. He wound up inviting no relatives, because he could not expect you to understand. I know how much it meant to me to have my father there, especially recognising that he is not perfectly comfortable with the structure of my family. I wish we could have opened our ceremony to include you.

I wish I could spare him the pain of all this. Or at least that I could set my own pain and anxiousness aside and just hold him rather than be plagued with tearing weakness that means that he must comfort me instead of the other way around. Every time you and he talk, I see his pain and frustration, not just at your refusal to see me or your refusal to see him, but at losing you. I wish things were different, that he did not feel forced into a choice between his mother and his wife, that ... I just wish things were different.

I wish I could talk to you and put it right, never mind that what is wrong is in a place I could not touch if I tried. There is a part of me that fervently believes that if you could see us, spend a little time with us, get to know us and our family, that you might come to forgive us for not being the white picket fence family you wanted your son to have. I know this is a fantasy, a little dream world that I spin to make it seem like this could possibly be under my control and thus something I could fix, something that could fall into a realm I could affect. Something that I could change, make better. Something that I could heal.

I know that I cannot, and it may never be better, never be different. Which is why, while I may write you letters in my mind, I cannot send them.

14 October, 2009

Angles of Approach

Shapely Prose recently hosted a discussion of how to approach women in public, the comments on which had me thinking about a lot of things.

The comment that particularly got me was this one, which included the question: "But, if this is the case, then why don’t more women approach men?"

I wish I knew what good that was supposed to do.

Now, I don't get hassled on the subway or whatever terribly often these days. I don't know if it's the area I live in or that of the people in the vicinity I have sufficient armouring to make me not look like a good mark (between the wedding rings, the leather jacket, the frequent headphones and/or book, and the tendency to pull my hat down over my eyes and nap). But I cannot for the life of me see how more women approaching men will change what hassles I do get.

I mean, I've been over 50% of the initiation effort for every relationship I've been in other than the one that ended in attempted rape. (And that does not make me any the more comfortable with random approaches. It, in fact, makes me more aggressive about pursuing actual interests because I don't want them approaching me lest I go all woobly-minded.)

If I were doing this in the hope of fixing street harassment it would be, you know, a total, dismal failure. Because not only do nitwits on the street not know whether or not I'd tell them if I was interested in them, they do not care. They are expressing less articulate versions of this guy's argument (when they're not just trying to get a response out of a woman):

I think a lot of men will think along this line – “what’s the point of her thinking I’m a trustworthy person if we don’t have that conversation and there’s still at least the possibility of Penis tourism and, possibly, 100 pretty babies.”

If you’re interested in talking to her, but you don’t talk to her because of her assumed boundaries, and you don’t risk to be rejected, you may feel good about yourself, being the trustworthy person that you are, but you don’t get anything else for it.


And that’s where the problem is. In a very real way, I think, for him, the more rational approach would be to politely say hello and see if he’s interested, always being alert about her reactions, and withdrawing if she shows any kind of disinterest. That way, while having been interrupted, she may even get the impression that the guy was able to understand her saying no – to him. A no that was not assumed, but real.

The comments were closed at Shapely Prose before I could reply to this, and it's a hard time to formulate it. But I'm left with ... what a modern-capitalism notion of transactional analysis. Immediate profit potential over long-term gain.

I mean, there's this thousand-comment long thread about how this sort of thing means that women out in public are more likely to be closed down and unwilling to engage with people, which, as a long-term system, doesn't do well for what this guy claims to be wanting to get. But the miniscule chance of that one-in-a-lot shot at getting laid means continuing to degrade the environment such that women feel the need to be on guard in public, thereby keeping those odds nice and low.

Cannot think past end of penis, apparently.

I commented recently on not liking being approached in part because the relationship started that way ended in attempted rape? Got this response, quoted verbatim:

"It's not fair to deprive men of the ability to approach you because one raped you."

Kinda oozes sex appeal, doesn't it? Look at what I'm missing!

01 October, 2009

The Invisible Woman

A few weeks back, I think it was, now, there were a number of people blogging about invisible disabilities and the sorts of effects they have. And I considered rattling around and doing the questionnaire, a bit, but decided against it for a variety of reasons.

I did want to highlight Erynn Laurie's post about things people say, though.

One of the things about these ... things (okay, must stop being word-clever or I'll sound like gibberish to myself) is the way so many of them wind up wedging themselves into the mind. Invisible disability can become even invisible to the person who has it.

And there's an entire fucking industry of cultural crap designed to keep it that way.

Have a look at this article, which a friend linked recently.

Do you see what I see?

In case you missed it, what I see is this paragraph:

In the past, researchers have raised allegations of ghostwriting in articles about quality-of-life drugs like antidepressants, painkillers and diet pills. But the situation has become more serious this year after a few editors said they had discovered ghostwriting in manuscripts about life-and-death products like cancer and hematology drugs.

Yeah, those antidepressants and painkillers. Not life-and-death at all. It's not like people commit suicide for their lack or anything like that. It's not like they can make a difference between soul-sucking misery and a life worth living, or even the possibility to live it in anything resembling a half-functional way.

And you know why people can write paragraphs like that?

Because people who need antidepressants or painkillers are socially constructed as weak. Our disabilities are personal failures, quirks of neurology that any proper person would have been able to handle already, really, honestly, would you shut up and stop whining?

I know someone who begins every comment on their struggle to get their invisible illnesses treated with a comment about how they're such a whiner and it's all in their head and they need to pull up those bootstraps and stop being so pathetic - and I don't know how much of that is serious belief and how much is voicing those gremlins so they can function. And for all that I wish that that little voice would stop plaguing that person so loudly, I ...

... can't say that I don't have it too.

I mean, I can claim that I'm too disabled to be able to stably hold down an office job. But I know I did it for a while, right? Enough to pay the rent, even though I slowly whittled myself down into someone who couldn't engage with anything she actually valued because every last bit of me was spent on keeping that job and doing it reasonably well. That's not an inability to function. "You know, deep down, you're just a lazy ass, not someone who genuinely can't handle that."


Half of what I do sometimes is justifying. It's okay that I don't chase Corporate America, because I have written so many words today. It's okay that I don't put on my pink-collar drag and go answer phones until I want to scream because I took some time to teach someone or help them out of a bad spot. Lately, it's okay that I don't do that because it's not like I could bring in enough income to pay for childcare anyway, right?


Because it's invisible, and not even the sort of invisible that other people would believe is real if they knew. I don't have a heart condition like my brother; that's a real disability. I'm just ... touched in the head. A little blue. And I should get over the stuff that I haven't gotten over, I'm such a useless whiny bitch sometimes.