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Sunday, November 22nd, 2009
8:52 am
“Pam is determined to not let barriers stop her from experiencing the best health and quality of life she can. Likewise, Pam did not let barriers stop her from finishing an undergraduate degree in Psychology and then earning a Masters in Psychology with a Specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy.”

I found this in a livejournal today. I believe that sentences like these are harmful to PWDs. By saying that she “did not let barriers stop her”, it is implied that other PWDs who have not been able to stand up under the crush of discrimination do let barriers stop them. The operative word here is “let”. By using this word, it is saying that if PWDs do not kill themselves trying to live a “normal” life, then they have let the barriers win - they have thrown in the towel, the fault is theirs.

It is saying that there are exceptional PWDs, then there is everyone else, those PWDs who are too weak to deal with life. It is saying that Pam has succeeded in navigating this able-bodied world, so why can’t you? To be up front, I am doing what Pam is doing. I am going to school and getting a degree despite the difficulties. But I don’t feel right saying that I “don’t let the barriers stop me”; this says to me that the onus on getting through the able-bodied world is on the PWDs, and if you’re strong enough then you’ll make the cut. This does nothing to point to the fact that PWDs should not have to fight through barriers. It says nothing about the other side of the equation, the who put those barriers there?

I am tired of PWDs getting cookies from able-bodied people when we figure out some way to navigate their able-bodied world.

With many other types of discrimination, the focus is not on the traits of bravery of the marginalized who build their lives under the crush, but on the discrimination itself. But with PWDs, when they succeed despite inaccessibility there is a gush of how “inspirational and strong” they are. The focus is not on who made it so difficult to begin with: the able-bodied community that has been dominant in this country (and every other country) since its inception. It is like the able-bodied community saying, “You are so strong to deal with all the crap we give you!” and then expecting PWDs to be grateful for the compliment. This is why when able-bodied people say to me, “You’re so inspirational!” I feel like spitting on them. Because I do not inspire them to, say, fight for my accessibility; I inspire them to have a feel-good moment with themselves. This “compliment” has never been about me, but about what able-bodied people wish for themselves.

For many years I have noticed this cognitive dissonance of able-bodied society. PWDs are often portrayed in such a magical, positive light: we are brave, we are sweet and humble, we are heroes. Yet the way we are treated does not jive with this image. This is because the image is not about us at all – we are the Other, we are here to give able-bodied people good feelings, not to have wills of our own. A small paranoid part of me thinks that maybe inaccessibility serves a purpose: it creates a hard-luck world from which inspiring figures emerge who serve to make able-bodied people feel good (augh!). The next step in consciousness raising is for able-bodied people to begin to think about just why it is that PWDs need such strength and bravery in the first place.

There has been far too much attention paid to the bravery and strength of PWDs, and not nearly enough paid to the removal of the things that make bravery necessary. I cannot bear one more “feel good” story about a PWD coming back from the brink and overcoming obstacles and not letting the bastards get them down. These stories serve the dual purpose of assuaging able-bodied guilt and creating a sense of superiority, nothing more. For PWDs, these stories serve to add to the guilt we already feel for simply existing; not only are we disabled, but we must make a superhuman effort to make it in the able-bodied world, or we are pathetic and useless.

Able-bodied people need to believe that PWDs are “brave and inspirational”, otherwise they might begin to feel guilt from the knowledge of the state of the world we are made to live in. I believe that able-bodied people know, or at least have a good idea, of just how bad it is for us, and this is why when they come “face-to-face” (Stocker article) with PWD they often fall all over themselves trying to do the “right” thing – and unfortunately, for them the “right” thing entails getting rid of any guilt feelings (“because if I don’t feel guilty then I didn’t do anything wrong”). I find myself having to constantly put people at ease with my presence, and after a while it becomes tiring and even insulting. I am tired of helping able-bodied people get through the tough feelings they have that they created for themselves by discriminating against us. Stop looking to me to sooth your AB guilt – I have enough shit to deal with already.

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Monday, October 20th, 2008
12:25 pm
Last week in my class "The Chicano Community" we watched Salt of the Earth: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_of_the_Earth . The film was blacklisted in the US (meaning it was declared communist and subsequently banned in many places.) It was created by many Hollywood people who were also blacklisted at the time, 1954. The extent of the treatment of feminist issues in a film this old really warmed my heart. The families that populate the mining town go on strike for better sanitation and working conditions.

Near the end of the film our teacher told us to watch for the look on the main characters face. When she comes in the door after spending the day on the picket line, her face is glowing. She is filled with new found power and confidence; not only as a Latina, but as a woman in general. The women have to stand up to their men in order to stand up to the white men who were treating all of them so badly. Her face was glowing with a double victory she was sharing with all the women in the mining town; her face was glowing with the knowledge that she was going to go out tomorrow and do the same thing.

After the movie was over our teacher paced back and forth at the front of the room, his usual pattern for lectures. He was talking about the glow in her face and how he loved the movie and how every time he thought about it...at this point he paused in his speech; I was looking at something on my desk and I did not look up, because I knew he often did this when he was thinking. But then he started to speak again and his voice broke and cut off; I looked up and realized that he was getting very emotional. He told us to remember that glow in her face, and then he told us a story:

Some years ago he was showing the same movie to another class, and he lectured a bit afterward. He noticed a woman sitting in the back who kept scrunching up her face and shaking her head in apparent disgust. He was distracted by this but kept on talking about the union that is the subject of the movie. At the end of class he went to her and asked what was up. She proceeded to tell him that his lecture was wrong, that it was not Ramon Quintero who was president of the union, but Esperanza, and the reason she knew this was because Esperanza Quintero was her grandmother. She said that she had proof, and would bring it the next day.

Sure enough, the next day she brought a bunch of documents: fliers from the union, newsletters, clippings, and photos. It was in fact her grandmother, and her grandmother was in fact president of the union. Esperanza and Ramon eventually moved to Santa Rosa, California, she said. Esperanza became a nurse.

My teacher pauses in the story. He quietly says that ten years ago she was murdered -- by Ramon.

There are gasps in the room, muted exclamations and curses -- I end up using the latter.

He goes on to talk about education, and how some men don't want their wives to get education because then they start to get ideas. I think back to the movie, and of how the actors who played Esperanza (she herself was an extra in the movie) fought with Ramon for the right to work the strike line. About two-thirds of the women in the village were participating, and at first Esperanza would only serve coffee to the women strikers, a way to be close to the action. But soon that was not enough for her; her ambition grew, and she wanted to walk the line. Ramon objected not only on social grounds ("It's just not done!"), but because he found out that he really did not like housework and child care. He felt like he was "doing nothing" -- Esperanza quickly and sincerely corrected him.

In the end they got some of their demands met, but the real thrust of the movie seemed to be about the awakening that comes with a shift in perspective, and the new found power and responsibility that can come with that. The Mexican-American men discovered that they had power among the wealthier and better-connected white men; the Mexican-American women found that they had power among not only the same white men, but among the men in their own community as well. The glow on Esperanza's face is real, even though yes, she is an actor playing Esperanza; many of the people in the film were actual participants in the strike, children included, and you can feel this through the screen, no matter who is on it.

The film closes on her face. And then our teacher tells us that Ramon, the man she argued with in the kitchen, the man who discovered that it took a huge amount of wood to get hot water and suddenly decided that sanitation demands weren't as small as he thought, the man who eventually and quietly ended up supporting her desire to participate in the process, was the one who ended up taking her life. My teacher didn't offer any details; no one asked for any. It seemed to be a communal wave of thought: there was this wonder, this Why?, but then it settled in as we quickly realized that it didn't matter. There was no explanation that would sooth the shock.

He left us with the thought of women and education, and how that threatens the status quo. Then our speaker arrived: a woman, a single Latina mother who had worked her way up in local government.

I was in a pretty bad mood for the rest of the day. It's strange to be angry at something that has come and gone, ten years ago even, and when you were doing something else entirely. It's just hard to think about the relationship between Esperanza and Ramon deteriorating to that point. In the movie there is a scene where they are arguing in the kitchen; Ramon raises his hand to strike her, but he pauses. And Esperanza says No, that is the old way. She doesn't try to stop his hand, she doesn't raise her arms to protect herself. She just offers those words.

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Thursday, October 2nd, 2008
11:20 am
I'm kind of freaking out about tonight's VP debate. I think if McCain wins, I just might have an anxiety attack. I will be trying to distract myself until 6pm tonight. I'm thinking about going into town and watching it at the Democratic office with others, just so I won't feel so alone!

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Tuesday, August 12th, 2008
11:01 am
Argh, my body has been hurting pretty badly for about a week now. I start to feel a bit helpless when this happens, for many reasons. I don't have a car, and when my body is like this I have a hard time pushing myself around town and riding the bus. I need to make an appointment with my doctor to try and get him to do something about the pain. I don't want a change in medication, I want action. Physical therapy.

It's really hard mentally at this point as well. Times like this, when the aches and jolts just do not stop, day after day after day, are the times when I desire suicide. I don't contemplate it, because I have pretty much decided that I'm not going to do it in this life; my life, and this decision, may change in the future, but right now that's where I'm at.

So I just long for it. I feel like a piece of shit, having to lay around for so long, but what else can I do? It's just hard to think about all the other people my age who are out and partying and working and living. And while I do have my reservations about participating in an event put on by repressive countries, thank god for the Olympics. At least I can watch other people kick ass. But the advertising, my lord...it's getting to me. Also, I read an opinion piece on women's gymnastics, and I now have even more qualms about watching them. (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/09/opinion/09bissinger.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=opinion). It's kind of a creepy (heh) article, so be warned. Here's one quote: " I will watch women’s beach volleyball, not because it’s a sport, but because skimpily-clad leggy women rolling in sand does put me in a state of excitement right up there with mud wrestling (no doubt the next sanctioned Olympic sport given NBC’s need for strong television ratings and the correct calculus that soft-core porn under the guise of sport does have its benefits)." He talks about the fake-sweet hugging of gymnasts after they perform, and how the relationship between the gymnasts and the older male coaches is very unbalanced when it comes to power and status, and how this relationship gets abused.

It's not necessarily the pseudo-sexualization of the young women, it's the fact that when the begin training they are children, and as children they don't have the foresight to know exactly what their sport is doing to their developing bodies. They don't know that the flexibility that the coaches demand (and many do demand, because they simply want to win) can cause them to have arthritis and other injuries and conditions by the time they are 25, they don't know that they are allowed to say "no" to their coaches when they are asked to do something that does not feel right. One line of the editorial stuck in my head; it was about the Olympics women's gym team, and how elite a place on the team was...and how no one sees the fact that that team has left a string of broken bodies in its wake, bodies of young teenage girls who tried and failed and are now paying the price.

So, there it is: this sport is one that basically creates disability in many young women/girls. The reason I don't have such a problem with men's gymnastics is that the men are much older: 20, 21, 26, etc. They are adults who have the ability to make their own decisions about the future of their bodies. I don't even like calling it "women's gymnastics", because I think that creates an image of adults who fully understand the consequences of their actions on their bodies.

It's tough; most of them are 16. Sixteen is that age where you have to start letting them make decisions, but IMO I think the things they are asked to do in the gym have consequences that they can't really wrap their heads around, so they can't really make a truly informed decision. I suppose now comes an often heard lament about children: where are the parents?

(Some of them are on the sidelines, pushing their kids just as hard as the coaches.)

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Wednesday, July 30th, 2008
10:36 am
Ugh, I feel like such a piece of crap today, and it's not a good day to feel that way. Later on today I'm going in with my bf for our counseling appointment, and we're probably going to start talking about something that I find very upsetting -- a fight we had during which I had something thrown at me. I don't feel like I have the strength today to stand up for myself. I don't feel good enough about myself to be righteously angry, only desperately angry. I don't feel like I have the clear mindframe to make sure my voice is heard. I know I should bring these feelings up in the session, and I probably will, but that won't take away the feeling of standing on a tightrope forty feet up. If I'm finding it hard to see myself as a good person, then how can I take care of myself? People don't stand up for themselves when they think themselves worthless, and that's how I'm thinking today. One small ray of hope, though: the fact that I am writing this shows me that I must think that some part of my feelings are important enough to record and to share. These days when I hate myself I tend to write nothing, because writing about yourself is for people who, at some level, feel their lives are worth recording.

That's what's scaring me about the way I've felt toward myself for the past few years. I haven't been writing...not because I have nothing to say, but because what worth do my words have? Writing is for healing, healing is for taking care of yourself, taking care of yourself is for those who believe there is someone to care for. I don't feel that there is anyone to care for in me, and I do wish that others felt the same, so that I could leave. As it is, though, I care so much about not upsetting others that I cannot leave.

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Friday, June 20th, 2008
11:00 am
I was wondering if anyone else has had experience with the Kirby vacuum, or, more accurately, the Kirby vacuum sales experience. These people are the masters of the creepy, pushy sales pitch, and I confess that the other night I became trapped in one.

Kirby sucksCollapse )

If someone comes to your door offering you a free carpet cleaning as a promotion, Just Say No!

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Friday, May 23rd, 2008
11:37 am
Haven't updated this journal in months -- I use it mostly for communities. It's hard to write these days, going through mental issues. Everything is interconnected, and most days I have a hard time picking one or two thoughts out of my head and going with them; usually it all dissolves in a mess of epic proportions. There's so much going on inside, and my mind recoils with the action of trying to put anything down. Why is it that writing is causing me so much anxiety, when before it was a way for me to deal with my anxiety? Perhaps there are ugly things inside, and my mind is trying to prevent them from coming out. Probably because it would be painful. I guess I'll simply keep writing about this feeling until one day the writing breaks through a barrier and the words come flowing out in such a flood as to drown the person I am, and mold the person I will become.

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Sunday, February 17th, 2008
11:57 am
The more I observe polyamourous communities, relationships, problems, stories etc., there is one theme that keeps coming up that, in my opinion, people have their heads in the sand about.

Most poly experiences I have had are within pagan communities, and communities that could only be described as "hippie", "free love", and "pseudo-commune". There was usually a focus on women's sexuality. These were communities where women were encouraged to get naked, to dance naked, to be sexually affectionate with other women while in a group. The overlying motivation for this atmosphere was to allow women to be freer with their bodies and with their sexuality. Goddess worship is heavy on that.

Yet I felt inhibited, still. Why was that? I could walk around naked in a group of my friends and feel appreciated and supported. It's taken me many years to figure out what it was that felt out of place.

The men did not walk around naked, generally, unless it was really hot. I myself did not get to appreciate nude male bodies. Funny, now that I think back, I remember most of the men being shy about it, and when a guy did not walk around nude it was not really noticed. But If there were women walking around naked, and I, say, was not, I felt the question in the air around me: Why not? You sure would look good naked, are you shy? Don't be...don't worry, we worship you here...
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***********************************

...and then I would faint right away, followed by walling myself up in my house and warding off phone calls.

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Wednesday, December 5th, 2007
1:43 pm
So I'm starting to realize just how damaging thta old relationship was for me, and why. All these years later, I find myself looking at my bookshelf, remembering when he asked me what kind of books I liked to read. Fiction books, I told him. Oh, he said. Do you like any other books?

Any real books, his tone meant. Any books that mattered. And how did this make me feel, as someone who might find herself writing fiction one day? So I find myself looking at that bookshelf and thinking, all I have are fiction books. How embarrassing.

I had a very critical family. It was all they knew, really. And it became all I knew, to the point where I find myself over and over getting into relationships with controlling, critical people. Because to me, that is what love is. So when he became very critical and controlling, I didn't see anything amiss, except the fact that I was acting stupid and couldn't seem to do anything right without his help or approval. There was so much lip service in the relationship, I think I got blinded to what was done by what was said.

And yes, it was just like my relationship with my mother. I have a lot of anger toward her, if you couldn't tell. Our relationship is better than it used to be, partly because she's mellowed and also because I've learned to see through the games and love her because she is my mother, and desires, just like me, to not suffer. But her critical attitude ruled and shaped me. I came out of that having no experience with my own judgement, because everything I did was up for approval or disapproval by her. So, that relationship with him, and all the others, on top of that...I'm starting to realize that I do not trust myself, do not believe in myself, do not believe that I have the ability to run my own life...but at least now I'm also starting to realize that it's not my fault that I feel that way.

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Thursday, August 16th, 2007
10:52 am
I have a hard time feeling comfortable being naked in my own house.

It seems I can’t stop seeing my body in a sexual light. I think it’s fine to see one’s self in a sexual way, but it seems I can’t see myself in any other way than that. I think the problem is that I have had the male gaze programmed into me. Breasts = sex, thighs = sex, ass = sex. Neck, feet, lips, I can see all of my body parts in adverts and on billboards, selling beer and phone service and life insurance. I cannot see my body in its own right. I cannot see it as just a body. At age 29 I am just now building the courage to stop sucking in my stomach so much. To not feel horribly embarrassed when a jolt makes my boobs jiggle. To not be afraid to run around. To reclaim something that has always been mine.

I feel like a bad feminist. Aren’t I supposed to say fuck all that, and be able to go around my own house naked? But I can’t. Even when the blinds are closed, I have images of movies like Porky’s and M*A*S*H in my head, frat boy movies when their only goal is the conquering of the female body, and all the ways they tried to spy on, trick, and shame women. I worry about the sliver of window that the blinds don’t cover. I have two sliding glass doors in my living room, and even with the blinds pulled over them, I am still aware of the two HUGE windows that they are. I make sure my door is locked - my bf has a key, and I even worry about him coming in while I’m hanging out naked, and the “wow!” moment as he realizes I’m naked. Of course he’s seen me naked hundreds of times…it’s just…it’s just I am so sick of my body feeling like everyone wants a piece of it, for better or for worse. I feel like when I am finally feeling alone enough to be naked, something will happen to thrust sex into the situation, no matter what I do or say or feel.

I want to experience my naked-ness as my own. Even at the happy-hippy-pagan parties I used to go to, where nudity was common, the women were watched and commented on. (As an aside, those pagan guys crack me up, the ones that seem so anti-macho yet are obviously affected by our male-gaze culture - they try so hard to separate themselves from “those guys”, yet they can still be as piggish as those guys, they just hide it better by dressing it up in goddess-talk.) I would sometimes join the nudity anyway, and I ended up feeling so self-conscious, because it was like, Hey, Mahlia’s finally taken off her clothes, look look! And I would get compliments from guys who thought they were making me feel better about myself. But they weren’t. They made me embarrassed and angry, because even in the space where I thought I was “safe” because it was pagan, the men still bought into the societal message that told them that I needed male sexual approval to feel better.

After a while I started to get annoyed by all the naked goddess pictures around, because there sure weren’t loads of pictures of the Horned god. I started to realize that the place where I thought I was safe, even worshipped, because of my femininity, was just basically another group that liked naked pictures of women on the walls just like mechanics put up their girlie calendars. Honestly, I felt pretty crushed by this realization, and it has really turned me off of paganism.

So I guess I’m now in this place in life where I don’t trust the world to provide an environment where I can be both naked and safe, even my own house. Even in the shower. And I find I feel shame because of this feeling. I feel like the epitome of a weak woman, jelly-willed and paranoid. I wonder, have I bought into the fear? And is that such a bad thing? I feel like even in my own house, some man may see me and assume that I’m doing it for others, for him, for the fact that I’m a slut.

Have I mentioned that I don’t eat much, and I think that one of the reasons for that is so my breasts will stay small?

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Thursday, July 26th, 2007
11:58 am
I wrote up some stuff on women with disabilities, society, and domestic violence.

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current mood: anxious

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Wednesday, July 11th, 2007
12:18 pm
I'm finding out recently that many of my relationships, past and current, are or have been emotionally abusive. And I'm realizing that the "normal", typical hetero American relationship is emotionally abusive. We accept men who stonewall their emotions. We accept women who manipulate to get what they want. Because "that's just the way men/women are". I learned this pattern well, from my culture and also from my household. Thirty years of living like this, and I am finally realizing how pervasive it has been in my life, how influential in the shaping of my personality, how much it has affected my brain chemisty. I was subjected to it all throughout my childhood, and I never knew. It was just the way things were. My dad didn't talk or get close, and my mom was so unpredictable and irritable that she had us all tip-toeing around to please her, anticipating her moods, changing our behaviors to act accordingly. There was no room for my personality when she was around, because her level of self-absorption didn't allow it. She learned that from my grandma, whose self-absorption is even more pronounced, and I learned it from my mom and practiced it in my own relationships up until several years ago. Now that I have stopped abusing, I have found myself on the other end.

I fit the profile of a victim very well. Very, very well. I have a responsibility to myself to get myself out of this position. I need to stop walking on eggshells simply because I am afraid of breaking the calm. I need to vocalize the fact that such a fragile environment does not feel secure to me, does not feel loving or respectful.

current mood: sad

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Sunday, June 3rd, 2007
7:46 am
“I’m the last E____ now,” he said, using his last name. I looked at him questioningly.

“Well, I mean, there are my sisters, but I’m, like, the last male E____.” I didn’t say anything. I didn’t have the capacity of mind at the moment to argue. But my heart hurt. So, if he’s “the last E____”, does that mean my brother is the last C____, and I…well, what am I? A person who changes (loses) her name and provides children, and perhaps a little income?

I feel like I’m shrinking. When it comes to family dynamics, I am Shakespeare’s Sister. I have strength unbounded, and half of my family are surprised to discover that, and the other half doesn’t see it at all. I am a daughter, and somehow having children is supposed to make up for the restrictions placed on me. My personality is too strong for them, un-lady like.

I am so sick from the talk this past week. My aunt, saying that she was just more comfortable with boy babies, and she didn’t know why. When the boy and girl baby were held face to face, there were the obligatory “Oh look, they’re flirting!” comments. The things said about my brother’s family, which contains his wife and his two daughters, how he is “outnumbered”, something else about “estrogen”. I was sitting there, with two empty-nest mothers and two new mothers, and I felt unlike them. They were laughing and enjoying talk like only mothers can, and I felt empty, blank, and virginal yet sluttish at the same time. There’s this feeling, somehow having a baby “redeems” a woman - see, all that fucking wasn’t sluttish-ness, but a pure and right action. Mothers can’t be sluts. Did you ever notice that? A woman having a baby is looked at very differently from a woman who is not and has never been. Us virgin wombs, we don’t “grow up”, we’re irresponsible, we must not be mature enough yet. We don’t understand that girl babies are quieter and less rambunctious than boy babies; I wince when I overhear that one, because I know the story of me “hardly ever crying” as a baby will be told. My niece is called a “tomboy” (etymology, anyone?) because she likes karate and has tons of energy. Having girl babies is like firing blanks. A boy baby, now there’s one that can lead a family. This one will be a patriarch, someday.

I can lead a family. I can takes the genes forward, my DNA is just as strong as his, if not stronger. I can take the baton and carry on the features, the patterns, the full blood of our family into my children and I can handle the risks. I’m having flashbacks of my father, of they way he looked at me when he discovered that I liked gory books, or science, or that I got a tattoo; the look would say, and he would sometimes outright say, “You like that stuff? That’s just weird”. I find myself wishing that my dad had seen past the fact that I was a Little Girl, and had just seen how much I was like him.

The mothers seemed a bit taken aback when the babies end up liking me and laying quietly in my arms. An anomaly. Surprise in their voices. The baby is two months old, and I think of how much of her gender structure is already set up. The other baby is a boy, and I think, is it wrong to be jealous of a baby? I can see his field expanding in ways that I knew I couldn’t even fathom. In that moment I feel an unbounded powerlessness; this tiny, tiny baby has a better chance than I do in life.

And what of my name? Swallowed by time, with every other Mrs. John Jones. My ring is to be the flowery decoration of the tree that carries his ring, which is engraved with “X WAS HERE”. “Maiden name”, what is that? It is a leaf that falls, and is then pressed into a dusty old book, where it is forgotten.

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Friday, April 27th, 2007
9:02 am
Ok, I think I can talk about this now.

So, a few months ago I was coming back from the store. As usual, I had my lap full of groceries, as well as a bag hanging off the back of my wheelchair. I had just finished pushing myself up the hill, which usually takes me about ten minutes. I looked up and saw my neighbor coming toward me - he also uses a chair, so we have something to talk about. I had just put my brakes on about halfway to stop myself at the top of the incline so I could talk to him.
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Wednesday, April 25th, 2007
10:59 am
My modem has failed. I know I don't update very often, but now that I have hardly any web time I really want to! Blargh. More to come.

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Wednesday, April 11th, 2007
11:58 am
I wonder what my sex life would be like if I wasn’t a woman.

I wonder what it would be like to not feel inherently sexualized. I wonder if I would feel more sexual about my body if it wasn’t on stage all the time. I saw a post about blow jobs recently - I wonder how I would feel about them if they weren’t expected of me. If I hadn’t done them so many times when I would have rather not.

What would my life be like, if, when getting into a relationship with a man, I assumed that oral sex for me was a given? What would my life be like if my partner was thankful to find me, because most women didn’t suck cock? How would that change how I felt about sex? About myself?

How would I feel about sex if it were my bits that were orally worshipped in every pornographic het video? Would I feel differently about sex if it were my fluids that were ingested every which way, smeared everywhere, licked off a plate or another man’s ass?

What would my sex life be like if most of my partner’s clothes were made to show off the sexual parts of his anatomy? What would it be like to not feel weird about spreading my legs wide open when I sit, not worrying if I’m presenting my genitals to the world, and taking up space while doing it? What would it be like to look at my naked breasts and not think of sex, because I have not been conditioned to see them in that light?

What would my sex drive be like if I didn’t have to consider sexual assault? Would I feel differently about being penetrated if I didn’t have to guard my orifices? Would desire come easier to me if I didn’t have to switch gears so harshly from street persona to warm, loving, at-home persona? Would I feel differently about spreading myself open to the man I loved if I weren’t trained to squeeze my legs so tightly all day long? What would it be like to think so freely about threesomes and not have to consider safety? Would I have felt more sexual with any of my male partners if I had been the one who was physically stronger?

How would I feel about my body, if it were male bodies selling beer, motor oil and ice cream? If the men in those ads wore tight pants, so all we women could see and admire the size of their bulging, airbrushed packages?

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Monday, March 12th, 2007
2:21 pm
I wonder, are we more sensitive than men, or are we just trained that way because they want a safe shoulder to come to home to and cry on?

I’ve been thinking about this lately. Women being given the job of being the caretakers of men’s souls. Not simply through religion, but also through our honed emotional sensitivity.

I was watching “That 70’s Show” the other day (American TV comedy about teens growing up in 70’s culture), and there was the following scene:

(Hyde has problems. He’s feeling down, and he needs to talk to someone. He goes to his friend Donna.)

Hyde: Hey man, can I talk to you about how I feel?

Donna: (Pauses.) Ok, but, just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean I won’t totally make fun of you.

(Big laffs.)

…And I thought, “bitch” (even while I laughed). The part of my brain that’s been warped by patriarchy for 29 years still finds a voice sometimes. I try to use those times to examine just why I had that thought.

So, why is Donna a “bitch”? You could say she was picking on him by preemptively stating that she was most likely going to laugh at him, and that that wasn’t very nice. True. But it’s deeper than that. With that one line Donna is bucking some sort of system. Hyde assumes that she is going to be a soft place for him to land, and she states otherwise. In fact, he doesn’t even have to say that he’s expecting her to be sympathetic for the gag to work - it’s assumed. That’s why the joke works. Donna breaks out of some mold, disses Hyde (it seems), and once again asserts her independent character.

There’s another example I’m thinking of, but I don’t think I can find it quickly, and I don’t want to stop writing to look for it, so I‘ll go by memory. It’s in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The main female character in the story, Miss Mina, is everything an upper-class 19th century Victorian man could want: fragile, pretty, soft-willed and faint of heart, handkerchief perpetually pressed to her breast. She sits in the parlor, or in her locked bedroom, while the men go out to try and slay Dracula.

When the men come back in the morning, they are often shocked and exhausted from the carnage they have seen. One man in particular goes to Mina for “healing”: He needs a woman because he has to break down. They all admit to this freely - in fact, the other men lavish Mina with praise and thanks for “what she has done for him“. After he leaves her side he joins the men again, with a dry face and a steady heart.

Ah, here it is: “I suppose there is something in woman’s nature that makes a man free to break down before her and express his feelings on the tender or emotional side without feeling it derogatory to his manhood…” For days “he had been unable to speak with anyone, as a man must speak in his times of sorrow. There was no woman whose sympathy could be given to him, or with whom…he could speak freely.” And later on, “then noticing my red eyes, he went on: ‘Ah, I see you [(Mina)] have been comforting him. Poor old fellow! He needs it. No one but a woman can help a man when he is in trouble of the heart; and he had no one to comfort him.’”

Here’s another interesting line, said to Mina: “We are men and are able to bear; but you must be our star and our hope, and we shall act all the more freely that you are not in danger, such as we.” Mina’s reaction to being told to stay behind: “…but their minds were made up, and, though it was a bitter pill for me to swallow, I could say nothing, save to accept their chivalrous care of me.”

Is emotional sensitivity programmed into women because men find it a necessary part of competition for domination? We are not inherently more sensitive - but we are told that it is indeed our nature, told by warriors who need a soft place to land at the end of the day. Perhaps millenia of women being the ones to open their arms after the battle is through has caused us to assume an inherent gentleness in them. Here in America “coming home from the battle” is often expressed through the husband coming home from the office: Comfy chair, newspaper, slippers, silence and dinner, all provided by the wife.

Is this a reason why some feel so strongly against women in combat? After all, if women start to experience the things the men experience, who is going to be left to catch the men? Who is going to be the one whose soul is untarnished by the harsh realities of war, thereby providing the warrior with innocent love to counter the sinful terror he has participated in?

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Saturday, January 6th, 2007
10:44 am - more wikipedia
"Recent court discussions in Manitoba have investigated the legality and ethical permissibility of involuntary sterilization of the mentally disabled. Focusing on those individuals found legally incompetent, the 1990 and 1992 reports outlined the scenarios where an involuntary sterilization could be warranted. As stated by the 1990 discussion, three conditions are necessary for an individual to undergo any medical procedure.

-The individual must be informed of both the nature, and risks/benefits of the procedure.
-The consent must be voluntary, not the product of coercion, threat, or fraud.
-The individual must be competent enough to give the above consent.

Individuals who are legally incompetent include minors and sufficiently-disabled adults.

The discussion reached a consensus that involuntary sterilization (or sterilization with substituted consent) is only permissible if it has an explicit positive effect on the physical or mental health of the individual: this is called therapeutic sterilization. One such case involved was a seriously disabled girl with an aversive phobia to blood, who was scheduled to undergo a hysterectomy. The rationale of the surgery was not eugenic, but rather to protect the girl from the direct mental trauma that would likely arise upon initiation of menses. This judgement was seen to be on the very threshold between therapeutic and nontherapeutic surgical intervention.

This discussion also cites a landmark case in substituted consent known as the Mrs. E. vs. Eve case. In it, a mother, "Mrs. E.", wished to have her moderately intellectually disabled daughter "Eve" sterilized to save her the emotional distress potentially caused by pregnancy and childbirth. Additionally, it was argued that Eve would neither be capable of using any other method of contraception, nor caring for a child should she become pregnant. Since the sterilization was not explicitly therapeutic and carried grave physical harm and an intrusion on Eve's rights, Mrs. E. could not be given the authority to have her daughter sterilized.

It was then explored whether or not the government itself could make the decision, using parens patriae jurisdiction. Parens patriae allows the government to make authorizations in the "best interests" where no other source of consent can be attained; this includes children and mentally disabled persons. In the Eve case, the risks were deemed too high and the benefits too obscure to authorize a nontherapeutic sterilization via parens patriae juristiction, since a surgical sterilization is an irreversible procedure."

...but Ashley is not in Canada, where involuntary sterilization is considered battery by law. She is in Seattle, where she is an angel and not a person. She is "other", and people think they get to subjectively define "quality-of-life" for her.

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Friday, January 5th, 2007
1:19 pm - Pillow Angels
http://community.livejournal.com/feminist/2790722.html?nc=224

For those of you not in the feminist community:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6229799.stm
http://ashleytreatment.spaces.live.com/blog/


Many people seem to think that doing this to Ashley is OK. In light of this, there are some things I'd like to bring to attention.

From Wikipedia:

"In May 1939, when Hitler had already determined to attack Poland in the summer or autumn of that year, the parents of a severely deformed child born near Leipzig wrote to Hitler seeking his permission for their child to be put to death.[20] Hitler approved this, and authorised the creation of the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registering of Serious Hereditary and Congenital Illnesses (Reichsausschuss zur wissenschaftlichen Erfassung erb- und anlagebedingter schwerer Leiden), headed by Karl Brandt, his personal physician, and administered by Herbert Linden of the Interior Ministry and an SS officer, Viktor Brack. Brandt and Bouhler were authorised to approve applications to put children in similar circumstances to death.[21]

This precedent was used to establish a program of killing children with severe disabilities from which the voluntary element soon disappeared. From August the Interior Ministry required doctors and midwives to report all cases of newborns with severe disabilities. Those to be killed were "all children under three years of age in whom any of the following 'serious hereditary diseases' were 'suspected': idiocy and mongolism (especially when associated with blindness and deafness); microcephaly; hydrocephaly; malformations of all kinds, especially of limbs, head, and spinal column; and paralysis, including spastic conditions."[22] The reports were assessed by a panel of medical experts, of whom three were required to give their approval before a child could be killed."

Many of these children won't understand they're being killed, though, so why not? And it doesn't really matter how you do it, because they can't conceive of anything even approaching dignity. And when they're dead, why not just throw them in a furnace? Corpses don't know what's going on - no loss of dignity there.

Seriously, Ashley is her own person - she is not a doll, she is not a burden, she is not some quasi-human to whom dignity does not apply.

I'll probably have more to say on this later.

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Tuesday, November 14th, 2006
9:40 am
I remember one time my dad tickling me, to the point of me not being able to breathe well. Tears were streaming from my eyes, but I was laughing, but the laughter was uncontrollable, it wasn’t funny ha-ha laughter. My body was being stimulated via tickling and couldn’t stop jumping like a raw nerve. When he finally relented I gasped and started to sob, and then he knew what had happened. I got up off the floor and ran into my room. I shut the door, crying, my heart pounding, scared, embarrassed that I felt scared, didn’t want to make my dad feel any worse. I gulped down my sobs as he apologized over and over again through the door. I straightened out my voice the best I could and told him that I was ok, I was alright, I just couldn’t breathe and I got scared, but I was ok now. All this through the door. A little while later I came out and he apologized again, and I felt it was my duty to make my dad feel better, so I insisted that it was all ok. I don’t really like to be tickled anymore, unless I literally ask for it, which I sometimes do. When I feel it’s been too long since I’ve had a good laugh, I have asked my partners to tickle me. It’s good, because I ask for it verbally, and I also control the intensity.

I did not trust people who tickled my feet against my will. That is, my feet could be tickled, but when I said stop you’d better stop, or I would start to kick very hard and indiscriminately. It was partly because of an involuntary bodily reaction, but there was also panic in there. It was not strange for me to feel like I was going to burst into stupid sobs if my feet were out of my control. (I just had to fix that whole paragraph so it was in the past tense, ‘cause you know, feet and all…paralysis is still kind of new for me.)

One time two male friends I had were tickling another female friend of ours. One held her down and another tickled. I was laughing along, but watching her face, because I knew what the panic felt like when some threshold was crossed. And then her face turned, and she was scared, and I knew, and I tried to get them to stop but they weren't looking at her face, and finally the changing tone and volume of our voices got through to them and they realized she was kind of freaked out, and they stopped, and apologized.

What was I watching for? When I speak of “some threshold”, what is that? What line was crossed? And how was it that I knew, instinctively, to watch her face? Even before she expressed her discomfort and fear I knew that it was probably coming, because the men were a little lost in their “conquering” of her. (This was all very playful, and I do not think the men were being purposefully mean or anything.) I think the speed at which she fell under their physical control freaked her out, and I also felt freaked out, a bystander, seeing all this. I saw that to the guys, well, they had no idea, of course, what it is like to live in a body that most men can control. That is, a body that our society tells people that men can control/dominate, and that it often becomes a reality.

How did I know to watch? How did I know that there was a good possibility she was going to get scared? How did I know that the men would not be watching for this? How did I know that they would approach the situation just like my dad did? Can the tickle scene get a little too close to an echo of a rape scene? Why is it that men do not like to be tickled, on average (anecdotal)? Why is it that men tend to guard their “tickle spots” so seriously? And why did I just mention a rape scene right after I mentioned my dad? I don’t think he did anything, really, that is, I can’t think of or remember anything like that. I do think, however, that I was probably molested by an adult male figure, and since then I have had an ever-present sexual view of father-figures, one that makes my skin crawl.

Anyway, what was I talking about? Tickling. It’s not a bad thing. I’m just wondering how it fits in to physical dominance. Boys didn’t tickle other boys, especially as they got older. I’m also thinking of those big guys, you know, those big huge guy friends you had that liked to pick up their small female friends. Out of the blue, usually. I had that occasionally (I’m not that small). I would usually stop laughing, act real serious, and put on this vibe that basically said, “Ok, you got me you stupid child, here’s a cookie strong boy!” because I would be getting more and more amped up, ready to freak out and flail my legs and arms and start biting. But that’s NOT COOL, you’re supposed to squeal and laugh and protest weakly while he does whatever the hell he wants with you.

I remember my parents making me hug one of my uncles. He picked me up and gave me a big squeeze. My heart beat flew, because I knew that he beat his children when they were bad. I held my breath, lest anything bad come out of my mouth.

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