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

30 July, 2007

Delusions of Inadequacy

E for Eclectic writes about Why Female Gender Supremacy is Ignorant Crap, and is linked from SM-Feminists with commentary and also responded to at A Place To Draw Blood Laughing, which I found by chasing links around.

And I'm not going to get into the weirdness of parsing sex- or gender-based supremacy stuff to me, as I'm sure folks can figure out how baffling that is to someone genderqueer. I mean, it needs to be noted as one of those, "Wow, your universe has no space for certain types of deviants to exist, let alone have anything to do" things, but ....

The weird thing about this stuff for me is how oddly restrictive it gets. Not just in the gender-assumption bits, or in the obvious 'men are like this, women are like that' stuff (whether it's male-superior or female-superior, it still has something of that sort), but in the whole rest of it.

Like one of the comments E got was from someone who claimed to agree with the female gender supremacy thing (I think; it's not entirely clear in context) and was full of supercilious contempt and dismissal of a woman. Which probably indicates that a woman who doesn't fit someone's model of Correct Womanhood doesn't count as a woman, and is thus beneath contempt according to The System.

And not only does one have to fit into a gender and do it the right way, one has to fit into a model of what it means to be dominant or submissive or whatever else. Which reminds me of all the posts I've seen recently about female doms/tops being expected to fulfil certain fantasies -- look a certain way, behave a certain way, be into certain things. Not be in to certain other things. (And I'm sitting here watching this one guy who comes across as obsessed with not-being-into-pain, and my thought process goes something like, "I'm not into pain, and I'm doing research about floggers on the side ...." Though that's sort of a complicated side tangent into different ways I'm a freak.)

I've run into a couple of Gorean types who think their fantasy is a model of reality -- both the masters and the kajira. (Which I want to pluralise 'kajirae'; clearly I've been reading too many Greek plays lately.) And they're very clear on what sort of behaviour a "real" woman/sub should have -- the whole demure, compliant, master-this master-that thing. It reminds me of the "How can you call yourself a sub when you're not into humiliation?" person I ran into a long time ago, the whole slender, tenuous thread one must walk in something dealing with power.

Power, for godssakes.

The whole men coming up to dominant women and casting their 'female superiority' stuff there is just ... why should those women give up their power of self-assertion about the nature of their desire for some random dude? Why should I, a switchy sub, give up my power of identity for someone whose sole reason for expecting me to have a certain set of interests and proclivities is the shape of my genitalia? (Even my master doesn't get that; if he wanted me to be something other than complete as myself, we wouldn't be terribly compatible.)

And one of the reasons I value my relationship with my liege is he doesn't play the superior/inferior game at all. We have a relationship in which certain broad forms of authority are his to claim; we also have a relationship in which each of us is good at distinctly different things, and put in a position where we can bring those strengths to our dynamic freely. (I commented, frequently, a while back that I suspect most people's expectations of a d/s relationship included less woodworking -- but I'm good at keeping track of patterns of things that need done, and thus a position in which I'm running the sequencing of repetetive tasks in his service is damn useful to him. I mean, yeah, there were times I'd have liked more kinky sex and less sanding, but that didn't change what mattered to him.) It's specialisation, not inadequacy or inferiority.

I like dealing with situations in which my power is respected enough that I'm not put in charge of things, myself. (And so does everyone else around me; I'm a holy terror when I don't have an authority I respect to defer to.)

I like models that let people find what works for them without having to wodge themselves sideways into someone else's fantasy. There are enough weirdos out there for there to be some people who have compatible stuff, and even if one never comes across one (I, personally, never expected to) other people will remain real and have their own sexualities, and will almost certainly find implementing them more important to them than implementing that of J. Random Perv.

Opening Up

A bit ago, I had dinner with a bunch of miscellaneous friends of a friend of mine, most of whom I did not know.

One of the women there was wearing a thick collar loosely around her neck. And I spent a long time sort of wondering how to ask, how to bring it up. Wondering if I'd run into another sub, someone I might be able to talk to about the whole experience of subness, wondering if we had anything in common that would make it a useful, interesting sort of conversation to have. And it's hard to ask, enquiring into the whole deeply personal realm of things, and while, yeah, if someone's collared and wearing their jewelry publically they're probably not going to be embarassed by someone noticing, but at the same time, I don't know graceful ways of asking questions. (That's a whole other can of fish.)

I spent a while talking about various things with the host of that little gathering, and commented on this, and got a response of, "Yeah, she's the bottom. I don't know if that's the right word."

I think at some point I'll drop that friend a line and ask if she'd be willing to play intermediary on the whole feeling that other person out, to see if we can talk about being collared in anything like the same language. Because I'm too awkward to just approach her cold ....

29 July, 2007


Some fascinating discussion of interactions between women over at Daisy's Dead Air has me thinking about my mother. So a little solipsistic wander down memory lane ...

So I had finally cleaned my room, not my strong point as a child. Especially that room, which had this brilliant red and orange shag rug in it that ate small objects. But I had gotten everything off the floor, put on shelves or in the cabinets at the base of the shelves (I had a set of pressed-board bookcases with cabinets in the base, one of which had a fold-down desktop). It was tidy, it was in a state of what my father called "found the floor", things were put away.

But what had to happen was that it had to pass my mother's approval.

And she was in a rage that day, partly because I was not good at cleaning to her standards -- which was partly because her standards were superhuman, and thus no seven-year-old could reasonably be expected to master them.

Her response to my accomplishment was to sweep things off the shelves, empty the cabinets, heap them all up in the center of the floor heedless of what damage she might do, screaming about my inadequacies, wanting to know how dare I consider that clean while dumping objects onto the pile. And once she'd made the heap, she snarled that all that needed to be put away -- really away -- a distinction I did not comprehend, as it had been -- or she would bag it up and throw it out.

And she left me there to cry, all my work buried in wreckage.

I think somewhere in there was where I gave up, determined that I had no idea how to win her praise, and thus it wasn't worth trying at all.

I also can't throw a damn thing away. I think that's related too.

28 July, 2007

Shadow Drums

This is something I wrote a while ago, a little bit tidied up; I figured I'd re-audience it or something.

    Apollo, the god of light, of reason, of proportion, harmony, number--Apollo blinds those who press too close in worship. Don't look straight at the sun. Go into a dark bar for a bit and have a beer with Dionysos, every now and then.

    --Ursula K. Le Guin

I tend to be of the opinion most days that the culture I grew up in believes that the Apollonian pleasures are the only true pleasures, and the Dionysian pleasures are wicked indulgences that one might sneak into but which are really flaws in character.

The results I see of this are twofold. First, that very few people are taught a healthy way of interacting with Dionysos, such that they either fear him and his servants, or are swept away by him and claim they were not themselves, not in control, not at fault, and such that they do not know how to make _use_ of the secrets of sex, of drugs, of music, of any of the other dark drumbeats of the soul. Second, that those people whose souls balance more naturally as servants of Dionysos than servants of Apollo are lost, unable to find a place where they can stand and feel that the axioms of the universe fit the way they see it.

Where are the places for the ecstatics, for the potion-makers, the dancers, the drummers, the temple harlots, the prophets, the shamans, the makers of poetry, the makers of sculpture, the painters, the singers, all of the people who try to speak to the gut rather than the head, in a culture where what is rational and _productive_ is what matters? On the edges, if anywhere at all, when the Vice Squad and the War on Some Drugs leave them alone long enough.

It's all, "Don't do that, that's bad," "You should wait until you can deal with that as an adult," "You need to be rational about this," and those things don't work so well when the sirens sing and the drums start beating. Is it any wonder that so many people can't deal with sex and drugs when they're never taught how to dance with Dionysos without getting torn to pieces by the Maenads?

And now, after reading some stuff Belledame linked to, including some commentary on Little Light's brilliant monsterdom piece, I'm puttering about reading the Bacchae....

Getting Fooled Again

I've been sort of chewing on these Moderate Voice articles since I saw them -- Joe Gandelman's "Hillary Clinton and John Edwards Trying To Cut Some Rivals Out Of Debates?" and Nick Rivera's followup, "Caught on Tape: Hillary Clinton and John Edwards Discuss Purging Democratic Rivals from Presidential Debates".

Now, historically speaking, I've voted for no-chance candidates in primaries, because even if they can't get the nomination, I want to put forth the existence of basic support for some of their message. And because I get frustrated by the whole Media-and-Party-Appointed-Talking-Head thing. The whole ... meet the new boss, same as the old boss ... of American politics feel is intensely discouraging.

And I have no idea what to do about this. No idea how to express this sense that the narrowing of the discourse alarms me. And it doesn't really matter if it's, as most of the commenters suggest, about strongarming the non-media-appointed candidates out of things (as most people there figured), or saying, "You know, you have no chance, why don't you give some time to the real candidates?", because there is the principle of bringing forward ideas involved in some cases -- does anyone seriously think Kucinich is going to win a damn thing this time any more than he did any of the last ones? I'm pretty sure he's running to get things like universal health care, marijuana decriminalisation, and an end to foreign interventionism actually into the debates as possibilities -- and it's not in my best interests to see people not asking the questions that relate to that sort of stuff.

Meanwhile: "Did YouTube Upstage Democrats At Dems Debate?" (again at TMV) and Time's "Will the G.O.P. Say No to YouTube?" The folks I know who watched the Democratic one of these said that the ordinary people asking questions were asking harder, more interesting questions than can be gotten out of the media. Only John McCain and Ron Paul have agreed to participate in the Republican version.

Fancy, actual people asking things that they care about, rather than depending on the Appointed Media Representatives to do it for them. We can't be having with that.

26 July, 2007

Who Do You Want To Be Today?

It's been one of those weeks for gnawing on questions of identity for me, which happens every so often, especially when I get moody. Being fed into by Annwyd writing about self-definition and identity and appropriation, some, and Ren's "Walking Away from Feminism" winds up oddly apropos to where I am at the moment, sort of cognitively, though not specifically.

I got a 'run along, little subbie, and get your dom to talk to me' comment recently. When I refused -- partly on the basis that why should I ask him to waste his time, partly on the basis that I'm the one with any relevant experience whatsoever -- I got completely blown off as a sub because I asked him to be my master. Because this wild communication shit is only for tops, or some such blithering nonsense. (And we get back to my embittered, "You can't expect people to do something as radical as communicate, honestly" snarkling comment elsewhere.)

But it comes around to the tangle that is the question of identity and meaning, and cycles around that a lot. There are all these adjectives and descriptive nouns kicking around, and people get all tangled up about what not only they denote, but the connotations thereof.

I've been wrestling with religious obligations, like. Gods know my religious community (in the sense of 'co-religionists') is pretty fucked up; I've no patience for any of its organised manifestations at the moment. And yet I'm trying to build something sane that can last in the same framework, even knowing that by my standards nobody has done it. (Kemetic thought takes some work to apply to moderns, and I am not satisfied that any of the extant groups has done it successfully, let alone successfully and non-abusively.) And I'm doing it off on my own -- into the desert, be a heretic, claim your elbow-room. Which is perverse for something as communitarian as most any of the ancient religions was. And so there's the whole question of what's real, what qualifies as within the faith, and these things matter.

And even on the edges of the structure, the social obligation stuff, there's my personal things, which go off into weird dark places full of lightning, and I don't even begin to know how to talk about any of that. And I come across a line that might be helpful, a reference to something in an old document, and it's ... a sentence summary, something that doesn't illuminate a damn thing. I'm chasing ghosts. (And I idly contemplate whether there's a seidhkona on this side of the continent that I could talk to, outside the boundaries of the norm, but this is all about outside the boundaries of the norm.)

These big words take wrestling. What does it mean to be ... and here's where I actually do the examining, where I sit down and try to work out what it means, if I believe this, if I am that, how that actually fits in with the world, whether that's something I want to do, whether that's someone I want to be. And I look at how people use the words, and ask myself if I can use those words on me if I differ on this, that, and the other, and sometimes the answer is yes, and sometimes it's no. And it's all part of defining how the world is working for me and around me.

I get chewing on it too hard, though, and I wind up feeling hollow; all these words making up a whole lot of nothing. It comes out feeling like it's all chasing ghosts, conjuring false meanings, what does it mean to be a woman, to be a submissive, to be a Kemetic, to be any of fifty thousand other things that are tangled up in that spooky verb 'to be'. Too much clawing at the mirror opens up the void, and then there's nothing, just the mirages of dancing photons. (And metaphysically, if 0=1, is one zero? Off to disappear up my own existence, too much looking back to figure out how I got to where I am, not enough of the actually being.)

I'm gonna go read a book. Maybe I'll find a little real in there, in memories of the lives of dead priests, servants of the gods.

25 July, 2007

Gender On A Slant

So while I was blowing off the zillions of far more productive things I should arguably be doing, I went chasing links around the blogworld to see what's up with some current miscellaneous drama.

And one of the things that I saw was something to the effect of, "Transwomen have a fundamentally different experience of gender and privilege than woman-born women".

The funny damn thing about this sort of thing is that -- back to the Lamia once more -- people talk about the experience of growing up female or living as a woman and I so often have absolutely nothing in common with them. Trans, cis, whatever, I just don't share certain experiences. Which means that I don't share this foundation of gender understanding that I'm supposed to have as a woman-born-woman or whatever the happy terminology is for it.

And so I wind up figuring that, hey, if I were to try to engage with this stuff, I'd have to go down and wrestle with snakes some more about whether or not I count as a 'real' woman, when I've already decided that it's so much easier to acknowledge that I'm a clever fake and not worry about whether women who do porn make it harder for me or whether transwomen have the same experience of gender that I do.

And it's funny, watching the occasional upswells of stuff about transwomen, the way it underscores this sense I've always had of not being a real woman, not being genuine enough to really pass. I come away with this perpetual sense that I am neither safe nor welcome in 'women's space', every time I venture out that way. (It leaves me with an idle curiosity about how I'd respond to, for example, Amber's dance classes, which she has described as some of the most genuinely supportive women's space she's found -- and I wind up wondering if the 'genuinely supportive' would actually outweigh the 'women's space' for a snake like me.)

23 July, 2007


A hemp rope is an interesting thing.

It still remembers being a plant, does a hemp rope, in the feel of its fibers; it doesn't have the harsh impersonality of one of those plasticky bits of cord. Its harshness is the rough remembrance of personality, the twining knottiness of life. Its abrasiveness is just like people.

And there's a softness to it, too, hiding in beneath the rough like a secret that it doesn't want to admit to until it knows you better. It will hold on, twining against itself like an embrace, the gentle snugging of rope against rope, rope against skin, coiled and winding in this trail of holding on.

The rough affection of the rope dances against skin as the memory of a touch; here wound around a side, there twisted around a breast, running along the neck like fingers tracing the vein. It shifts with each breath and teases the flesh into awareness, and then another touch can author blue fire in the nerves with the gingery lightness of fingertips.

The rope is a danger, wound as it is, restraining as it is, and it holds so gently, with its light caresses and promises of security. There is flight wrapped in its coils, the loosing of emotion, of trust, of the energy that burns in eyes that answer questions with nothing but the raw emotion that will not be bound.

Still and trapped and held close and loved and free.

20 July, 2007

Bodies 3: The Revelation

(Considered tagging this 'art', but 'beauty' is probably more honest.)

This is actually the most thought out of any of these 'bodies' posts, and was largely spawned by this post, titled Men Are Pretty, that someone linked to in the way that links slowly migrate through the internet via Brownian Motion. Earlier today I came across Figleaf's 'no-sex class' archive in a link that Amber dropped over at Ren's place, too, and that's in the stew too. (That's all quite long, but IMO the lot of it is worth reading through.)

I came across, the other day, someone commenting something like 'many women's sexuality is framed by how they think they are seen, rather than their own perceptions' or something like that. (I'm pretty sure I'm missing a nuance; I also think I saw it in a standard fem-theory phrasing.)

There's this huge thing, though, about how women are 'the pretty ones', the thing that P. Burke was writing in response to, and it goes beyond just the whole body thing. (At which point I start riffing on my post from last month about clothes, too.) My husband has been known to complain how difficult it is for him to get interesting and attractive clothing -- the options for strutting like a peacock within his taste are limited -- while I have the option of a stunning variety of just cuts of shirt, many of which are readily available to me without having to go to specialty stores. This is because men aren't supposed to be pretty; a man who cares about his appearance frequently gets snarled up in the homophobic dialogues of culture (or their countering responses; see also Queer Eye).

And then people say, hey, women aren't visually stimulated. Women are the ones who care about personal adornment. Women are the ones who are judged on their appearance in a professional and/or general social context. Women need to be Concerned about their bodies. Women are ...

And then people ask why women's sexuality is framed not by what they want to see, but how they are seen. In the context of this whole narrative that focuses consciousness on looking at women, suddenly, in the privacy of the bedroom, the heterosexual woman is supposed to start looking somewhere else. And I don't think that this is some sort of ingrained objectification thing, I think it's ... not having the story available, not being able to work on one's own personal dialogue and relationship with the whole concept of what it means to deal with the aesthetics of maleness. Because there really isn't a narrative for it.

Oh, there's a narrative of "Such-and-such movie star is so hawwwwwwt!", but that's all tangled up with celebrity-worship and fame and stuff that reminds me of reading those early books on pubescent development that talked about the "star crush" as a way of exploring feelings without having to act on them, due to how removed said celebrity is liable to be from one's reality. And maybe that's the start of trying to explore the aesthetics of maleness for some -- I wish it would go further, get a way of doing coherent narrative that people can respond to more usefully. (I don't think the extant narratives of female beauty are terribly good ones, either, mind.)

I mean, I can go and add to that "Men are Pretty" my own personal things -- there's this spot on the side right above the hip where there's this perfect curvature to snug a hand against. I get weirdly focused on the way the neck and shoulder and collarbone interact sometimes (which is why I find shirts with open necks or partially unbuttoned attractive on my fellows -- they draw the attention to that area), but I have a Thing for shoulders. I like longer hair than the 'traditional' male cuts (even on my ex who was best suited to a more mainstream-male style, I thought he looked best right about the point at which he started mumbling that it needed cutting). (*wave*, 'cause I'm all about waving at exes here lately, at least the ones that read this thing.) I really appreciate the way some people's bodies move -- I can recognise my husband well before he's close enough to parse features, clothes, or anything really, just from gross body movement, even in a crowd. (And what's with so many notions of 'beauty' being static, anyway? Motion is fantastic!) I like the fuzziness of my fellows' forearms, not for any particular reason, I just like it. It is fuzzy. I like remarkable noses. All that stuff.

And I can't connect that with the mainstream world at all. A while back in the passing-internet-quizzes-around part of the universe, one of them was a 'What men do you find attractive?' quiz involving picking between photographs -- and the overwhelming majority of those photographs were asking me to pick between men none of which I found particularly aesthetically appealing. Most of them were too thin, except for the overmuscled ones; most of them were diffident and unengaged in that sort of underwear-model way; when there was a model with nice hair I was supposed to be evaluating something else; etc. I just don't have the capacity to engage with this dialogue of beauty; it comes across to me as disconnected from the real world of actual aesthetics; nothing there was speaking my language of attraction or even my-that's-pretty. None of the people presented to me as choices were even close to as aesthetically pleasing as most of the guys in my normal social circle, leading me to comment in several people's journals where the quiz was posted, "Where are the geeky guys with nice shoulders?"

The narrative isn't there for me to engage with; if the question of 'attractiveness' is almost universally centered on men I don't find appealing, it gets hard to talk about at all. And that lack of narrative gets tangled up with the whole question of who gets to wear interesting clothes in bright colours, who gets to wear adornment, and who gets to be pretty. (And who is limited in some way by being evaluated primarily on prettiness, for that matter.)

I want better stories.

And pretty, pretty men.

19 July, 2007

I Want To Live In The Future (Bodies 2)

A couple folks I know have posted about the changes in their cognitive patterns relating to going through transition (in addition to the more publically visible physical and social effects thereof).

The most recent one of these left me with this sort of wistful wish to live in the future, where I can run my brain experimentally on a different hormonal soup for a while to see how the world looks different then. Whether the colours change. Whether my emotional lability changes. How I frame things, how my mind stretches to different conclusions. And so on.

The shape of my mind at the moment is something that I know is chemically moderated -- if it wasn't, as before noted, I wouldn't be as religious about taking my vitamins as I am -- and the process of watching it wobble when poked is something that I fascinates me. (For the sex end of things, 'altered consciousness' is one of the things I'm after in a lot of my kink.) The sex hormone soup I've only skimmed the edges of, with nonconsensual altered consciousness effects from first a pill formulation that had so little testosterone it rendered my psyche into monochrome (I think that it's one of the standard hormone balances, which is an interesting factoid that I don't know how to render meaningful) and later one where the 'inactive' ingredients aggravated my depression.

Back when I was partnered with someone colourblind (*waves*) I would occasionally have fleeting moments of wondering what the world looked like to someone with an invisible six. Then I learned about tetrachromatism, and I started wondering what the world looked like through those eyes, too. It's a similar urge, the expanding of perception, the wanting to be able to see what it's like from over there.

The striving after the impossible.

I want to live in the future ....

18 July, 2007


I had a disconcerting experience a few years ago.

I happened to glance at a mirror and realised, suddenly, that my body looked like it belonged to a woman. Which, well, it hadn't before, really.

It took me until my mid-twenties for my hips to broaden out that much. I think I'm done with that skeletal shifting now, but that's still something like twenty-fiveish years without hips like that and fiveish with. And yeah, I had one of those broad leather belts that's supposed to enhance the roll of those hips. so the concept of having hips and knowing how to use them isn't alien, but I bought it when I was eighteenish or twentyish and it doesn't fit anymore. (Not due to belly. Due to bone.)

It's still kind of disconcerting. Every so often I just get stuck with this sort of "Where did that shape come from?" staring. It's not a dysphoric reaction, precisely, so much as a haunting sense of the unfamiliar. Perhaps enhanced because adjustments to bone structure seem so much more out of the ordinary than changes to flesh, so much more unanticipated.

The most recent one of these got me thinking about the concept of the ideal or at least the expected body. All the stuff I got instruction on, health-wise, talked about the teen years as the maturing-to-adult-body thing, with maybe a few minor things that extended into the twenties. I can track my expected span of puberty by the years I was on medication to keep my endocrine system on normal parameters -- I went clinical at the beginning, and stopped needing the meds by the then-current diagnostic standards by the age of seventeenish. There was notable skeletal development.

But that never toggled over to 'woman's body' in my teen years. That level of development puttered along quietly in the background until it ambushed me in a bathroom some ten years after I figured I was pretty much done.

How many people's bodies sneak up on them like that? I'm not even talking about the crazed stuff about weight and what it means in surrounding culture, but that's a part of it. I'm not even talking about transness, but that's a part of it. But really, the process of being embodied is full of subtle change and manifestation of change, and how many people does it sneak up on? Is this more a comment on how hard it is to pull out distinct factors in gradual change, my own personal obliviousness, or some of the weird contexts created by a culture steeped in body-shame and body-denial?

How many women (as a for example that struck me this most recent time) got tackled by their hips when they weren't expecting it on an early, vulnerable morning and wind up obsessed with what that means about the breadth of their backsides?

17 July, 2007

Network Reality

Every so often I run into someone who figures that interactions on the 'net are somehow not genuine connections, or less real or meaningful than social connections conducted in the face-to-face world. Sometimes this is less overt, more, "Oh, these connections are missing so much of what we depend on to interact socially ..."

So a few funny things, for all this not real.

I'm apparently a social nexus. Which is funny for someone who finds dealing with people in that face-to-face world horribly stressful in the vast majority of cases. But I know and keep track of a lot of people fairly readily, and often if I don't have something handy I at least know who or where to ask. It's just easier for me to keep track of such things in the somewhat more pared-down form that is internet communication.

I've had romantic relationships start with people I met online. Some of which have gone really well. (One of which went badly, but everyone's entitled to at least one crazy ex.) I've moderated the difficulties of long-distance relationships with email, talk, and Livejournal.

I've kept track of friends and made friends in an extensive network of social connections. I've made connections that carried over into the face-to-face world through things that depended on the internet. I'm in touch with friends from high school because I found them on the internet. The more far-flung members of my social group for my brief stint in college are people I can keep track of through the internet.

I've been paid as a direct reaction to social ties I made on the internet. Once, for contributions for a book about baseball. This week, I have a contract in my mailbox waiting for me to have access to my working machine for a short essay contributing to a small-press book about wealth magic.

It's an epistolary reality, but that's still real.

Having the Wrong Sex

Thinking about what Trinity wrote here and here, and Renegade Evolution's response here, and adding my own bit to the pot.

The problem with doing all this sex regulation stuff is that, well, there's no way it's going to make everyone happy. No matter what one does or does not do with one's sex life, there will be someone out there who doesn't approve -- maybe just that wacko over there who clearly only approves of said sexuality if it involves them, but someone is going to disapprove.

Given that there's no way to get universal approval for one's sexual practices, I figure it makes more sense to start with what makes me happy, and go from there to what makes the people who are actually involved with my sexual practices happy. If there's space for making anyone else happy after I've done the responsible thing and taken care of the people who are relevant and involved with the question, maybe I'll think about it. But I probably won't think about it for all that long, because people who are creepy enough to be interested in being satisfied with my sexual practices don't deserve much thinking about.

And, y'know, I was thinking of writing something more profound here, but I'm having a hard time coming up with something to be profound about. What gets me off isn't tied to politics, brainwashing, or obedience (and if it were, I'd have a lot of fun orgasming on command); what I'm not interested in isn't made up of politics, it's just made up of uninteresting. Giving up happiness with sexuality to suit politics is a bad trade; at least when I lost happiness with sexuality because I was medically broken that wasn't choosing misery.

Choosing misery isn't virtuous. Choosing to do something with sexuality because it's in keeping with the political orthodoxy one likes or disfavored by the political orthodoxy one dislikes is still letting someone else control one's sex. (Someone who's selling their sex to an ideology has no standing in my books to be pissy about prostitution.)

No matter how sexual or not-sexual we are in any moment, there's someone out there who's convinced we're doing it wrong. I see no reason to listen to them rather than me.

11 July, 2007

From the Department of "Dur"

Bullying and teasing are among the more significant contributing factors to certain health risks in overweight children, even after other health factors, including weight, are controlled for.

Betcha that extends to other populations too.

People Are Weird About Words

(And I'm not just saying this because I'm once again being croggled by someone with a partially shared nominal religious affiliation having the little 'labels are bad' dance. Though that happening while I'm being weirded out by other people's language is at least one of those nice synchronisities of complete bafflement.)

Anyway, to be on my intended topic.

So, one of the fora I read is a discussion group for science fiction and fantasy writers. A reasonable proportion of the population of the group is made up of people who have made professional sales, including people who make their living off their professional sales; probably about half are people who hope to make professional sales someday, or (like me) who intend to write no matter what and consider it appropriate to see if that can be parlayed into income; the remainder are interested hangers-on, writers with no particular interest in publication, former writers, people who hope to write, and so on. Strictly speaking, the newsgroup bans advertising in its charter, though exceptions are made for venues offering professional pay rates, which should mention this in their posting; this is noted explicitly very early in the newsgroup FAQ, which is posted regularly.

(I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this.)

So someone came in to invite people to submit to the second issue of their small press magazine. And someone replied to say, "Okay -- your post doesn't say what you pay. Neither does your website. We're largely a professional group, here, we're not interested in being scammed or in giving away our work for free."

This gets a response from the original poster of, "Don't include that in a cover letter." And the claim that quoting rates isn't "classy", and that they do not pay for journal submissions -- those are for the fame and credential on a CV. (Er?)

Which was, well, rude enough; the other responder told her to drop dead.

Which was, well, rude enough, but at least he left after one or two posts; the next one, the original spammer's husband, informed the newsgroup that it was composed entirely of "fucking cunts", and whose next post was suggesting that all of the female posters in the newsgroup (a fair fraction of whom I've met face-to-face, incidentally) "are just male nerds who get off on using a female pseudonym" and masturbating over the responses they were getting. (I would note that I post somewhat gender-neutrally. My strongly gendered legal forename and middle name are not in my headers, and my usename is; while said usename is probably guessable as female, and is strongly gendered in its culture of origin, I doubt that many people are familiar with the names of any of Akhenaten's wives other than Nefertiti Neferneferuaten to be certain of that.)

I'm just croggled by the notion that someone thinks this is an appropriate way to enter into a group. (When I found out that the fellow was married, my response was, "And he's still got a mouth like a fourteen-year-old trying to shock great-aunt Sadie?" Kids these days, wandering the internet unsupervised ....)

I'm profoundly croggled by the whole coming in with slavering misogyny to defend one's wife. Okay, maybe the riding in on a white horse thing crosses into vaguely understandable somewhere, at some level, but I can't think I'm alone in thinking, "You know, I'm not going to be terribly impressed by, 'I defended you from those meanies, dear! I called them fucking cunts and fake women!' If he thinks 'fucking cunt' is a useful term of insult, he's not gonna be fucking mine any time soon."

I have similar thoughts about some of the trolls that hit in the alt.sports.* newsgroup I read, who seem to think that "cocksucker" is one of the nastiest things one can say about someone. I have to wonder what their girlfriends think about this. One of these days I'll have the story that that thought goes into.

It's not like it's all directed at women and bottoms either -- when I commented on this, someone responded to point out the number of synonyms for "penis" that are used to mean "obnoxious and somewhat stupid".

And then there's this PS2 ad campaign with the slogan "PS2: Because Your Girlfriend Bores You Shitless". This whole ... sense of what's appropriate, the playing to stereotype and contempt, and ... it's almost tangential, but it's the same damn noise, too.

Here is one of the demons of the culture this guy is writing from. Male genitalia are obnoxious and stupid; female genitalia (and bottoming) are venomously contemptible. This is what the encoding of the slang that gets grabbed carries with it, down in the subliminals of the use of language. These things are insults to be, these things are insults to have. Be ashamed; be especially ashamed if you are encoded 'done-to', because that makes you sickening, rather than 'doer', at which point you're merely some variety of jerk. By definition in the metamessage.

We build this world with our hands and our voices, and some people choose to build it with words that mould it out of sexual shame and contempt even for their own partners.

People are so weird.

(Hey, wait, didn't Little Light write about this back in May? Why yes, yes she did. More broadly, too.)

09 July, 2007

More other people being, y'know, brilliant:

Lots of stuff about being real and whole people out there, and I once again exhort all seven and a half of my readers to go look at it.

First, A. J. Luxton, writing about age and ageism, with minor Dr. Who spoilers:

    And I’m sitting here asking is it really that impossible to face the idea that an older person might be sexy, might be loved, might be loveable?

    Because I’m sure doing my best to face that idea. Because it’s worth everything, really, it’s life itself.

    Would I sleep with a 70-year-old now? Well, never say never, but I don’t think it’s very probable. My cultural reference points connect me to the people I count as friends, mostly people in their twenties through fifties.

    But I’d better get adjusted to the idea by the time I’m fifty, because I’m in a long-term relationship with a sizable age difference, and other people get older at the same rate that I do.

    I’m amazed by the way many people aggressively forget that.

    The fear of age is the fear of other people reminding you that you might not always be the same age you are now; that you might get older; that you might become vulnerable to death.

    Well, all of you WILL get older, and you ARE vulnerable to death. (I believe immortality is possible, but: you are vulnerable to death. That’s not an if/and/but, there.) Treating people like they don’t exist because they’re old: WILL NOT CHANGE THAT.

Trinity, on the love-hate relationship with being called "cyborg" and what it means to have that coming from the outside and how it differs from the inside:

    I am not a semiotic anything. Here I fly in the face of academia but it needs to be said: Speak plainly or shut up.

    Talk about the people. Talk about their lives. Not just about composition, message, image-making. Talk about what they've said about the image they want to present. How has the media done? Do they like their own pictures? Do they think they're presented well, as they would wish to be?

    Talk about that, if you want to talk about this.

    And take your fascination and cram it.

    If this body IS a revolution: it is my revolution.

    Not yours.

(And for an interesting sort of interaction between these two, Trinity again, on resisting being unsexed and not being willing to be blown off with, effectively, 'When you're older you won't care about sex anyway'.)

And to round up this large selection of other people's words, WordK on dealing with being silenced, not being heard, and being disagreed with from the perspective of someone who has wrestled with all three:

    The badly made point is, it takes a heck of a lot more than someone disagreeing with your opinions or your actions -- or even outright mocking what you have said or done as sheer foolishness, stupidity, or bigotry -- before you have actually been silenced. A gun to the head, the possibility of being taken down physically, the threat of stoning, deprivation of liberty, physical violence, starvation in the streets, being thrown out of your community into the desert -- these can all legitimately be called silencing. Just being told you're a flaming idiot, whether rightly or wrongly, or that you have mistreated others -- nope, that is not being silenced.

Someday, original content. For now, other people being brilliant.

08 July, 2007

For the SM-Feminists crowd ....

Quoting Miss Syl over at Sexeteria:

    I have never found any man, ever, who wanted to stay there with me at that level of animal savagery; who didn't hold back or back down and stop it before we'd really gotten there--beyond. It is a crossing over, allowing oneself to be in that state, and one needs to be willing to turn certain things off to be brave enough to stay there. Most people are not comfortable with the absence of those things.

    This doesn't mean my relationships aren't good. They are; the sex is good and very satisfying within the boundaries of how far the men I am with are willing to take it. I understand that most people don't want to go to this place. And I don't like my lovers to feel afraid or uncomfortable, and I like lots of the other places they do like to go.

    But for me, the lack of someone who can understand and connect to this state with me often leaves me feeling like a prisoner who has been kept in seclusion for many years. I long for that feelng of release; but it will take at least one other willing person to make it happen.

    No matter how many years you keep a prisoner in the darkness, though, she can still remember what a sunlit garden looks and smells and feels like.

Some of you folks might have some useful thoughts for her.

03 July, 2007

Riffing on Church and State

Some years ago, before Lawrence v. Texas, before Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health, there was a hearing in Massachusetts before the joint judiciary committees of the legislature about whether or not same-sex couples should be considered to have the right to contract marriage. It was an open session; people in general were invited to come and speak.

The thing that struck me the most oddly was one of the committee members, a devout Catholic from what he was saying, continuing to ask, "If same-sex couples can marry, won't the Catholic church be forced to marry them?"

I wished someone had pointed out that he should only worry about that after the divorcee lobby beats Catholic doctrine in single combat. (Pun not intended, but it pleases me, so I'm leaving it.)

A couple of religious groups, including Christian ones, pointed out that they were actually having to deal with restrictions on their religious practice because they couldn't certify same-sex partnerships to the same level that they were able to certify opposite-sex ones. This didn't seem to register to him as a problem -- the law was in keeping with Catholic positions on it, so changing it looked anti-Catholic to him.

I get sort of hypersensitised to this sort of thing because of being well aware of my religious minority status (people arguing about religious meanings of marriage look quite strange to someone whose religious beliefs on the subject are that it's a legal contract, for example); when people are blind even to differences in doctrine and the effects of law on even different Christian sects, the odds of a rogue polytheist being heard are very slight, no matter how sound my theology is within my faith.

Some people talk about the separation of church and state as if it's some sort of atheist plot to kill religion. Which is, I suppose, all well and good if one's perfectly confident that one's own religion is the one that will get written up in the laws when the damn things get intertwined with religious doctrine. But, again, even within Christian denominations there isn't that much agreement, so all those majority-faith folks will scream bloody murder at the impositions they want to impose on each other's churches. (And while it would be an amusing world where a devout Setian like me might get to write things up, I can't build a strong enough scaffolding to suspend my disbelief. Even if I were inclined to want to legislate my faith, in no plausible universe is it gonna happen.) Keeping religion and law in their own spheres keeps them from corrupting each other -- and they will taint each other, rendering both less useful.

The whole outbreak of "God Bless America" babble after 11 September 2001 made me cringe. Not just because I was pretty sure that most people were either blind to how exclusive the prayer was or gleeful that they could render atheists and people like me uncomfortably on the outside of the jingoism -- but because the bombing was the sort of thing that happens when people believe that gods care about nations.

(This post is a contribution to the "Blogging Against Theocracy" church and state blogswarm.)