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Thursday, January 22, 2015

How you can tell you're lying to yourself

I've been going through bit of a rough patch.
I've been very angry lately, and it's been taking a toll. It's been taking a toll on me, and it's been taking a toll on the people I love.

Sometimes, when someone feels threatened or scared, they put up a facade, a false front, and they pretend that's who they are. Sometimes, you wear that front for so long that you start to believe it's you.

But that's when things start to become uncomfortable. You see yourself talking to people in a way you normally wouldn't, and your worldview begins to shudder in an abstract way; you can tell something is wrong, but you're not quite sure why everything seems distorted and time ceases flowing in the patterns you remember. It's a clear upset, but you're too busy holding the facade to notice the damage.

I realized recently I've been putting up a bit of a "tough front." I experienced some pains I wasn't ready for, and instead of taking them and reacting to them, I rejected them and held them off by charging forward like a bull. That's not the best way to handle it.

I've been playing myself off as being more aggressive than I actually am, and for a little while, I was determined just to blaze through this last semester at community college in the least social way possible. That's a bad idea, and if I want to move forward in my life in a constructive way, I can't hide in plain sight by setting my gaze to a glare and hoping everyone leaves me alone.

So, I'd like to make two statements about myself. One of them will seem silly, but it's important to me. The other is not silly, and it needs to be taken seriously.

So first off: I'm a huge softy, and I don't hate people. I say I hate people, all of the time, at least a few times a day, but that's a lie. I really do like and care about people, and denying this is likely a defense mechanism to keep from feeling hurt when someone uses my kindness and takes my compassion and plays it like a game. Or when I'm treated like dirt every shift by customers at work.

My second statement is huge, and it's going to require some linking to back it up, unfortunately. I identify as bisexual. This means I'm attracted to both men and women, as well as people who don't identify in the gender binary.

I have a feeling some people may read this and say "no, you're not. You're just confused. You've never even been with anyone before. How would you know?"

This argument has always seemed easy to unravel to me. If you're asking this question, you are assuming that the default sexuality for humans should be straight or heterosexual.

If you're looking for a great jumping off point to understand bisexuality, or proof that it exists (because bi-erasure is a problem) here is a great feature article on it from the New York Times.

Bean out.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I finally understand postmodernism

Shocking, yes, but true: I now have a grasp on postmodernism as a philosophy.

I already had a grasp on postmodernist art and literature as a sort of deconstruction of traditional forms (Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf is one of my favorite books) but the meaning behind postmodernism in philosophy always escaped me. 

I assumed it was a cruel joke by philosophers trying to confuse poor kiddos like me who just want to know how stuff works. My philosophy-minded friend and fellow blogger, T.X. Watson (link in the blogs I like section) has informed me that's kind of true. Postmodernism is often funny because there are variances in interpretation and oftentimes it seems like no one knows what the hell is going on.

Today I was given one key phrase that made the fog of philosophy clear a little bit.

Watson said, simply enough, that postmodernism is a rejection of meta-narrative. 

At first, this made no sense to me, because I only knew literary meta-narrative, and not philosophical meta-narrative (they use a lot of the same words with different uses and it pisses me off to no end because it infrequently bars my way to understanding things.)

Turns out the meta-narrative in philosophy is the idea that there is one underlying truth that remains constant throughout the progression of existence (give or take). French philosopher Jean-Fran├žois Lyotard coined the idea in 1984 that the post-modern condition was a mistrust of the meta-narrative.

Watson pointed out, "It's funny because one of the first obvious implications of postmodernism is that mutually incompatible definitions of postmodernism are all legitimate within their own context."

So yeah, that was easy, I just needed the right wording to understand it. 

As an atheist with a basic grasp of philosophy, I guess that makes me a postmodernist. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A really accurate metaphor about gendering strangers

Mainstream culture embraces a gender binary, or the idea that there are only two genders, men and women, and that a person must fit into one of these two labels.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with a trans woman about her experiences with a group of people working on the Vagina Monologues, and she told us the perfect metaphor about passing gender.

I don't have the exact quote, I should have written it down, but I honestly wasn't preparing to write anything about the conversation we all had. However, I do remember the basic idea behind what she said.

She said that it's like people walk around with a checklist in their heads. The checklist has two sides, the two sides of the binary, and their mainstream stereotypes for each gender (men have lower voices, women have less body hair, etc.). She said that when someone meets someone for the first time, they check off the qualifiers for the gender in their head, and whatever side has the most checks, is the how the person genders you.

This kind of blew my mind as to how gender stereotyping actually works. I think it's really accurate. And clearly, it's very harmful.

Don't gender people. Don't assume you know how they identify. It can be harmful and hurtful to them.

The easiest way to not gender someone verbally is to use "they" pronouns unless otherwise informed by that person. And, if you do misgender someone, don't make a big deal out of it, apologize, correct your language and move forward.

I need to add a mandatory I'm cis gender notification here because trans representation comes from the trans community first, and my voice is less important to hear as an ally of the trans community.

Here's a good link to trans voices and resources:

I haven't checked them all out individually, but it seems as good a place to start as any.