Getting Away from the Micro-Blog

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I took a weekend off Twitter – or rather, off tweeting. I still skimmed my Twitter feed, but I didn’t feel like my own self-expression was welcome.

When I returned, I tweeted a long stream of thoughts, replying to myself to keep the flow in context, instead of writing long-form in a place like here. I’m completely aware that virtually nobody reads me here. Not many people read me on Twitter, as much as I’d like to become one of those regular people who somehow amasses thousands of followers who enjoy reading my sociological insight and scatological wit. Either way I’m shouting into a void.

It’s much easier to write out a thought and publish it as it happens than to let it expand into the paragraphs of a reasonable-length blog post. I’ve lost many well-constructed sentences in my head because I’m walking while thinking of them, and the perfect wording never comes back when I get to the resources that let me solidify it into written words.

Younger people are criticized for stopping mid-conversation to post something on social media, as if that is an impairment in emotional intelligence. I mean, in many cases it is, and it’s obnoxious when there’s little actual purpose to it. But it would likely be lost otherwise. Not everybody has the memory to transcribe a conversation as well as it was spoken. That’s not a basic human skill lost to the convenience of communication that them darn kids take for granted these days. The general population has always been distributed along a range of memory skills; there are just more channels to complain about it in public discussion.

I’m trying to put more of my private stress factors into paragraphs as self-administered therapy. Publicly stated thoughts can start out in point form (or at least tweet form) and be elaborated on in places like here. I have a lot more to say than I get around to saying. It may not be taken in by many readers, but a coherent thought should also be comprehensive. It’s for my benefit to get back to paragraphs.

I’d Fuck Me

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There’s a commercial that I see when streaming videos online (the price to pay for legal entertainment) for a Philips grooming device. A ruggedly bearded man goes through the grooming process and with each new facial hair style he escalates on his own evaluation of his attractiveness:

Never mind that he’s not actually very attractive with that moustache; beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder, and if he’s the man he wants to attract, it only matters if he’d fuck him.

That is more or less a process I go through many mornings. Some mornings, like, say, a Monday, I will accept the limitations of a bad hair day, or restrict makeup to foundation and mascara. Some weekends, when I don’t plan on going anywhere or looking in the mirror much. I won’t put makeup on at all. When I will be doing a lot of physical labour I don’t worry about my hair style, because the more effort I put into it the more injustice I will feel when sweat and humidity erodes any meaning it should’ve had.

Outside of those conditions, I aim for a look that makes me sexually attractive to myself. I’m heterosexual, but I am even more so a narcissist. I think everyone else should be, too, when it comes to putting themselves together to present to the world.

This is with the prerequisite of self-respect, in the sense of owning your own sexuality and loving yourself to a certain degree. Nobody should have to be scantily clad to look good. In a work environment, or just in the public where there’s no intention to pursue a mate, you should be impressed with your own sense of style to a degree of admiration. This doesn’t have to be sexual, if that’s not what makes you feel good in your own skin. You can dress yourself to look like a leader you would follow, a person you would hire to do the job you aspire to have, or a stranger you’d strike up conversation with in hopes of becoming a friend.

The important step is to drop any insecurities that may be instilled in you, walls that would prevent you from ever admitting any form of self-love. The man in that commercial is making huge leaps to break one of the shackles of masculinity – that a man can see something sexual in another man, without being any less manly himself. (This is making an assumption that the man in the commercial is heterosexual and looking to impress women; nonetheless, the target audience seems to be broader and the character shows an overall level of masculinity that meets the level of acceptability in heteronormative masculine behaviour.)

Desired partners for sexual activity ≠ people in whom you can see sex appeal. Worry not about what you are led to believe the gender(s) of your sexual desire would find attractive enough to start a sexual relationship. There needn’t be skimpy clothes worn, nor heels or nightclub levels of makeup painted on. Just look at your face, and find the beauty and confidence – enough that you don’t need anyone else to think the same.

Opinions getting thrown around like shit flung by monkeys

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What makes it particularly hard to write is that I have nothing of value to say – or at least the value of what I say falls victim to oversupply in a market with mediocre demand. I fucking hate economics.

There’s a lot to say for improvement, though. Within myself and amongst my peers, opinions are changing. Ten years ago, celebrity nude photos or sex tapes being leaked brought mock upon the classiness of the celebrities involved. Now, and maybe this is just because it’s affecting our dearies like Jennifer Lawrence who is charming and talented and white, more people are asserting that we should not blame the person exposed, but the violators of privacy. There’s also the attached message that people should be more aware of the security flaws of where they’re storing such things, which is true but off track. The most important issue and moral lesson here is that pictures of the private lives of private individuals that are intended to remain private should always be respected as private. Celebrities are still private individuals when they’re off the job. Even people as public as politicians and royalty have the right to privacy. Whatever doesn’t affect their public duties is private business – from Kate Middleton’s topless sunbathing at a secluded beach house to J. Edgar Hoover’s wardrobe around the house. We all decry the morality of paparazzi who stalk celebrities for photos. The people who hack into personal accounts and steal photos are a different medium of paparazzi, along with intellectual property thieves having not taken the pictures to begin with. Fucking shameful.

This same line of thinking should be applied to the controversy around games journalism, about the sexual activity of an independent game developer and the people who review games for a living. I haven’t read deeply into the details. I don’t want to, and I don’t need to. I’m not deeply invested in video game culture and don’t read any games journalism, but since a lot of people I know and/or read do, I’ve gathered the basics. The official outrage is of corruption in journalism – but the blame is going to a woman game developer who is a sexual being. This misfocus has the “gamer” community eating its tail, with many vocal enthusiasts veering off course to get mad at women for playing games and having general opinions. If it were really about corruption in journalism, it would be focusing on holding the journalists accountable – and a good place to start would be in monetary payoffs, or free vacations, or whatever else large games companies can afford to do to get better publicity. It was never pushing that point, and even when it was trying to call out sexual payoffs it was still holding denial that people outside of stereotypes are genuine “gamers”. Like the Fake Geek Girl, a group of people who want to justify their ownership of a subculture are having a collective temper tantrum about the diversity that makes them feel insecure.

But the temper tantrum of a community that sets aside a lot of time to be alone at home on a computer to pretend they’re surrounded by violence and gore gets threatening. They’re generally anonymous in playing games, and that’s their modus operandus online outside gaming activity as well. With anonymity, they can use the same competitive tactics expected in violence-based gaming. This is how several women vocal in the video game medium are being threatened – anonymously, but criminally, to the extent of violence against these women and their families. Anita Sarkeesian is a cultural critic who wants to foster critical thinking and broadening of approaches to video games, but to the men who want the status quo this is enough to warrant threats of rape and murder – enough to motivate digging for details on where Sarkeesian and her family live. The response of local law enforcement, to whom she’s gone on several occasions so far, has been “Why do you keep making these videos, then?” Sigh.

It doesn’t even appear in the minds of most people flinging shit from the other side that this all comes down to embedded misogyny and a sense of ownership over women’s bodies and voices. The threat that this other side feels to themselves is…what? That perhaps they may have to consider the implications of their statements and actions? That their market share of a particular industry will shrink, and so no games they like will ever be made again? (I said I hate economics, but that’s a huge fallacy – video games aren’t a physical resource, so making more of one genre doesn’t necessarily require making less of another.) Some comments have actually been made that men who will never be able to “get with” celebrity women are entitled to nude images so they can at least have something to masturbate to. There is plenty of legal pornography out there, available for free or at a reasonable price for quality and security. Consider your options before supporting something illegal and terribly unethical. If that still doesn’t do it for you, consider yourself a terrible person. Yeah, that was my shit I just flung at you. Fucking monkeys.

The Silence Effect from Eavesdropping in a Crowd

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It’s not as easy to come up with things to write about on the internet anymore. I live in a very different world from my LiveJournal days 4-14 years in the past; I had less of a job at stake, more time at the computer to type, and a much narrower audience of strangers and confidantes. I thought my feelings meant something (they didn’t). There was more privacy and less at stake, or so my rose coloured retrospect portrays. Regardless of the difference in consequences, I was still far less timid in written expression than I am now.

There are a lot of things I want to tell the world, but I’m not paid to do so and my skills have deteriorated as I’ve been paid to do other things. I’ve also learned how little my opinions matter on what matters to the bulk of the world. I don’t have insight on social problems that the people actually facing them do, and the social problems I actually face are far less social and/or far lesser problems.

There’s a lot I’d like to share into the void, but I can’t. Other people are at stake. Code names are immature and easily deciphered. If the few tuning ears were strangers like they used to be, it wouldn’t be such a risk. But I’m followed with intent. If anyone’s reading this, you want to crack into my life and secrecy – and there’s a very good reason I can’t let you do that.

Taking Laughter for Granted

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I am not a person filled with energy and a quick and sharp wit. I don’t provide the world with an abundance of entertainment and perspective on how immense the possibilities of human experience are by being able to flip everything over into something passionate and moving. I haven’t pushed myself to create the greatest possible art to touch as many people as possible in deep and forever changing ways.

When I get the depressed, and when I think of death, it seems like such a small sway in pace and perspective to the mediocrity I’ve settled for that it doesn’t strike me as severely or quickly. I’m useless to society at large, which I guess has put me less at risk.

Anybody who’s laughed in the past 35 years has been touched by Robin Williams. We’ve been so moved by the laughter and excitement he’s riled up in us, and we didn’t know how severely the pendulum swung. Motherfucker. The greatest tragedy is the greatest comedy plus death. Actual death.

#FeministsAreUgly

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As the tale goes, the #FeministsAreUgly hashtag on Twitter was started by @cheuya and @LilyBolourian facetiously. Both are feminists and neither is ugly – not that it matters.

Discussions about feminism eventually get to the heterosexual, gender binary politics and stop there – because men feel a threat to their physical pleasure and reduce anything further women say to a lack of getting cock, or something along those lines. (Not ALL men, but enough excessively vocal ones to be maliciously hostile and harass any woman wanting to have a say. Sit down, guys.) This heterosexuality is linked to a standard of beauty that is woven into the patriarchy – but that doesn’t necessarily make it an enemy of feminism.

Women should do things for their own pleasure and comfort, including the option of dressing to please their own aesthetic tastes and perhaps sexual arousal from looking in the mirror. As an effect of patriarchy, heterosexual women have the advantage of being able to see sexual attractiveness in other women, and themselves, without their heterosexuality being questioned. Yes, that’s patriarchy, and it’s to the disadvantage of men. Join us, men who want to pose sexily in front of the mirror for their own entertainment and not be emasculated or have their sexual orientation put under scrutiny. We are fighting the same fight.

In fact, I can defend my use of makeup and fashion not only as for my own pleasure in defiance of serving the male gaze, but also as an egalitarian value I’ve held for my entire life. It’s documented back to the age of 14 when I was putting makeup (albeit goth) on male classmates on a band trip to Regina, Saskatchewan, and I had been advocating that for well over a year. I’ve always maintained that men could use their faces as canvasses and learn the art of tricking the eye. I will defend any man who does so as not sacrificing any of his self-determination nor any of his sexuality or attractiveness to women.

I’m not attractive to everybody and I’m unattractive in a general sense some of the time. I can make ugly faces as cited above, but I can quickly reassemble myself into a sociable expression. We’re all multifaceted characters. Many women picked up on the #FeministsAreUgly hashtag and confidently posted selfies of their appearance – images of themselves that they respect and believe are worthy of representing who they are. The myth that feminism aims to destroy the concept of beauty needs to be tackled before confident girls and women distance themselves from ideas that empower them to assert their agency. Hostility towards femme, traditionally beautiful appearances only further reduces identities to gendered characteristics, and that isn’t feminism. There’s beauty privilege, without question, that often parallels ableism or classism and racism as well (*cough* “exotic”), but that’s in the depths of this rabbit hole I’m only describing in vague words at this point.

Indeed it’s a very messy rabbit hole – but we should be comfortable decorating it as we please. For our comfort and enjoyment and to please ourselves.

Cisgender Heteronormativity and Why We Should All Learn Those Words

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All of the masked or blatant bigotry of our relatives who live a far enough distance to see rarely have become manifests of Facebook timelines. This cuts back on the number of chain emails that nobody under 50 ever wants to see in their inbox, but the content is not quite as easy as checking a box and clicking “delete” before even opening the message. There’s the option of hiding certain people from our timelines, but their comments on posts of people we don’t hide will show. We can skim past them and mostly ignore them, but the meme images -likely stolen from uncredited creators, written with incorrect spelling or poor grammar, or just factually inaccurate propaganda to reaffirm existing prejudices -will stick out, and we’ll be drawn to them and all the horrible things they have to say. People will share articles and posts from pages they follow that come with an attached image and synopsis that our fast reading eyes absorb even though we don’t try. If you have older, bigoted, or just ignorant relatives on Facebook, you cannot avoid this.

And just like internet interactions as a whole, you cannot use the medium through which they’re spreading their backwardness to explain to them what’s wrong with their behaviour. There’s scant a thing as effective internet debate to genuinely educate somebody and change their mind, so anything you say will be turned into a personal argument. Nobody has to actually read what you say in its entirety, if at all, before assuming their place in rambling the same position you’re calling them on. You have to be a very patient educator to get anywhere – even just convincing them to post less crap.

I will divulge minimal details of the story that links this to the title: a relative of mine who’s vocal about LGBT issues posted one of those dreaded images with text on it. It wasn’t an ignorant one; it stated facts that everybody should know, about the origins of gay rights movements and why there is no comparison between a gay pride parade and a straight pride parade. A mutual relative of ours, in the wee hours of the night, went on a multi-comment grammatical nightmare of misspellings, poor and insufficient punctuation, rambling non-sequiturs, and drifting off into irrelevant territory. There were pouts of victimhood for straight people who don’t like the term straight or wanting to be distinguished from LGBT people. There were I-know-a-gay-person (or at least someone presumed to be gay based on stereotypes and whathaveyou) excuses. There was defensiveness on how LGBT rights somehow seek to invalidate heterosexual marriages. A lot of these statements contradicted each other. The relative who posted the image eventually responded with “…I think you’re entirely missing the point.”

Caricatures of old people with homogenous social circles and no awareness of cultural change aside, there is a lot about the diversity of sexual and gender identities that escapes most people. There’s a significant blind spot covering the concept that difference goes in both directions. “Normal” is still too often used by people who are heterosexual or cisgender – especially the latter, which is a newer concept and makes people think about their own selves more than they’d ever be comfortable.

Heteronormativity is a scarier word than heterosexual. Even where acceptance of the LGB in LGBT is lacking, people are willing to use “heterosexual” to describe themselves as “not homosexual”. But the “heterosexual” they speak of is still synonymous with “normal”. It’s understood as more “natural” than same-sex attraction, and how things have always been and are largely meant to be. To have that view challenged is a punch in the face of people who stick their face in places uncomfortably close to unwelcoming fists of people who are not being listened to. Learn the word, and the meaning behind it: heteronormativity is a social concept that dictates people are straight until proven otherwise. Children are straight until they grow up to be gay. Animals are straight unless someone catches two males of the species fucking (two females are just sharing childrearing duties among their group). Heteronormativity is the background that nobody has to pay attention to. If there are two extras in a scene flirting with each other at another table in the restaurant, they are going to be heterosexual. If they were same-sex, that MUST have something to do with the plot. Otherwise they wouldn’t have put it in there, right?

Cisnormativity is even more deeply embedded, and it will take a lot of sitting and absorbing for most people to learn what this means and accept that it’s there. I am a cisgender woman; despite all of my off-path characteristics of not wanting romance, marriage, children, a beautiful garden, designer purses, or flowers every February, I still reflect on my identity and see that it matches my biology. I’m comfortable with the female traits of my body, and I don’t see a fundamental gender conflict with how people perceive and gender me and what I feel at the very base of my self. That is a privilege. I don’t constantly struggle with every mention of my name or when feminine pronouns are used. Being cisgender is part of my identity. It’s not the default or “normal” that most people see it as. Even those who want to be accepting and encouraging of trans* people to become their best might be sympathizing from the wrong angle. Treating it as an illness, instead of viewing it as a divergence of personal growth, excludes the use of the word “cisgender”.

If straight cisgender people were more aware of these blind spots and the barriers they reinforce for LGBT people, they wouldn’t get so outraged or say such prejudiced things on social media. Instead we’d, well, have to shake our heads at every other problem they are blind to. I was going to list a few examples, but I wouldn’t stop myself in time to maintain your attention. We have so many products of ignorance to disassemble. Just by recent example did this particular one come to mind. As a cisgender straight woman it doesn’t follow me everywhere I go, but every so often it pops up on Facebook.