https://www.facebook.com/michael.arnovitz.3/posts/1078105772254828

This is a good article, but I'm not sure if makes a strong case against *progressive* criticism of Clinton. It makes a strong argument to Clinton being better than Trump, and that Republican objections to her (at least relative to Trump, or Jeb Bush) is logically unsound. Full marks there.

It makes a strong overall case for Clinton being more honest than most politicians, and experienced, and being unfairly punished for being a woman - and this applies across the political spectrum. Again, well done.

But it seems to be trying to coast on that to "and democrats should love her too." When it claims that "The fact that these views [from left and right] could not possibly apply to the same person does not seem to give either side pause," it fails to take pause itself and consider that, for people on the left, she might be uncomfortably centrist relative to other options. And in this, this article, like many other articles, falls into the trap of false appeals of progressive unity,

For a lot of people, myself included, the evaluation comes down to what policies Clinton will implement *as compared to other alternatives on the left.* She's in favour of abortion access and has a stance on gun control that is in line with the bare minimum for most countries, and these are plusses. But on other issues, how does she stack up against alternatives like Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein (and, fingers crossed, Elizabeth Warren for VP - who is like the political frame of Sanders and the experience of Clinton combined) - not to mention the #1 Clinton alternative above all - Hillary Clinton as she stands with a few simple campaign modifications. And in this realm, Clinton (or current-Clinton) is not as strong as the alternatives, and, worse, she, and the media that supports her, seems to show little interest in addressing her own shortcomings:

1. For example, while this article makes a strong case for the value of speaking gigs, it fails to explain why, despite her "looking into it" she won't make their content public. This seems trivial, and it pales compared to Trump (while also raising the question of who would pay Trump to speak for them, and who would trust someone who makes that decision with any other decision) but it's suspect within the larger context. Like Clinton, it also fails to address where her campaign money is coming from - a problem that Sanders and Stein do not have. Admittedly Stein doesn't have a lot of money and has 0% chance of winning, but the fact that this correlation is normal points to how much we've gotten used to the system of legalized bribery that is "campaign contributions." This is fixable. Yet she won't fix it.

2. For me, this article, like Clinton, fails to address the idea of political dynasties and the concentration of power along class and blood lines that comes with them. I'm willing to give Clinton a cautious pass on this *because* she is a woman and until now she simply could not have run for president and won. If she could have done so in the 90s, Bill would have been first husband and that would have been as good a presidency if not a considerably better one because I think she's a better option than Bill, and I don't think the Republicans could have spun the VP sleeping around into the fiasco that The Sex Trials became. But if were she Bill's brother or some other male relative, I'd want her off the ticket. Still, as it stands, for a country in the midst of a runaway class system to choose a president who further cements an aristrocracy strikes me as a problem. Yes, again, she's "not as bad as Trump," but how does she stack up to other options, including a reflective verison of herself.

3. Most glaringly, this article, like Clinton herself, fails to address her comfort with the status quo of American militarism - which is a HUGE drawback as the US's joyful habit of blowing its riches on an army drives the globe to waste national resources on arming up, diverts money away from things we actually need, kills a lot of innocent people, and perpetuates imperialism. Consider the US "military status quo" campaign policy reframed: "We're in debt and have an ongoing healthcare crisis, so let's keep spending one sixth of our budget on war despite the fact that it's kind of weird for a country with 5% of the population to have 35% of the global war budget, then use our army for spurious reasons, then watch what happens when everyone else realizes that if they don't follow our example, they might get invaded, if not by us, then by someone competing with us." What kind of a political system - and what kind of a candidate for "most powerful person on Earth" - lets this fly unchallenged?

All I want from Clinton is a small amount of movement on #1 and #3, and perhaps, in an ideal world, an acknowledgement of #2 (easily framed as "at least I'm not Bush - ha ha") and I'll take time off from work to come and campaign for her. I don't think this is much to ask. Until then, I resent this and other articles' (and, for that matter, every other worldly instance of) disingenuous appeal to progressive unity - i.e. "Anyone who doesn't shelve their concerns and get onside is motivated by and helping The Other Side." I believe that I can't, and shouldn't, trust a leader who lacks the ability to listen to simple obvious criticisms and make minimal change.

As a US citizen, I will still vote for her. I acknowledge that the US Presidential election is anomalous compared to most of my decision-making as in every other case, from groceries to voting, I have at least two viable choices that are "Not Trump." Here this is not the case, and I agree with the article that she has that going for her. But, in my opinion, she is by her own ongoing choices, demonstrating that she is not a "good" president. Merely an okay one. And if she loses votes because she is too inert to address simple, gender-egalitarian, valid, and rational concerns, she will have brought that on herself.
The burden is actually on the authour to prove this assertion, not the people objecting to him.

However, I can still take a crack at it. While writing this, I see that Jessica seems to have a handle on it from a rules-based argument. I'll take it from a utlitarian standpoint.

This argument can be boiled down to
- If we let (minority) access (majority) space/benefit, then
1. (majority) will feel uncomfortable, and
2. (majority) will assault or harass minority

Okay - actually, stepping away from utilitarianism for a moment, this can be used to used to justify excluding any marginalized group from anything. It has been used w/r/t women in the army, women in mixed airplane seating (currently on El-Al), women in bars, women in business networking, black americans in desegregated schools, indigenous people being allowed off reserve, gay marriage, whatever. Take from that what you will.

Back to utilitarianism:
#1 is stronger if that marginalized group is a numerical minority. #2 is population-indifferent as the more people who gain access, the more people "at risk"

Since this is a utilitarian argument, we can put aside any (strong) argument to rights to or duties to equality and concentrate on the effect. Throughout this proof, as it becomes increasingly obvious that this is not a complicated argument, I will become proportionately increasingly sarcastic.

For #1.
Once (minority) people are allowed (majority) spaces, (majority) will just get used to it (e.g., we now work next to left-handed people, nevermind the fact that they may be possessed by the devil). Or at least members of (majority) can get used to it if they choose. However, (minority) cannot get used to not accessing the space or service in question, hence the demand in the first place

Thus, indefinitely barring (minority) people from equal access will have indefinite detrimental effect on (minority), while permitting (minority) access will have a detrimental effect on a small portion of (majority) for the finite period of time until this issue will be forgotten.

Note, I say "indefinite" rather than "infinite." This difference is not permanent, as at some point in the future I am willing to concede, for the sake of argument, humanity will either go extinct or invent a Star-Trek-like way of making the service in question so obselete that no-one uses it. So, I will concede that if the apocalypse occurs tomorrow or if we invent a way to beam our bodily wastes into the reagent chamber of the antimatter reactor by the end of the week, this argument may not hold, in which case I will be happy to reconsider my views.

However, if we for some reason want to look at the short term (although I can see no reason to do so - unless there's a rogue moon on it's way here right now, or MIT is about to spring something on us) we can still measure this.

X = (the detrimental effect of denial of service) x (number of people affected)
Y = (detrimental effect of provision of service) x (number of people affected).
X >=<Y ? Being able to excrete wastes is a basic biological function common to all life. And for humans to do so so outside of a washroom in a public space is illegal. (leading one to the interesting point where one's dog may have more rights than oneself). So not being able to use public facilities (since trans exclusion effectively bars trans people from both male and female spaces, as the harassment or risk for using the "legal" space can still, in most trans people's estimate, outweigh the benefits of using said space) effectively bar one from any public life in a space that uses washrooms (so this may not apply to some lumberjacks). Most estimates of the transgender population cover around 0.3%. The number of cissexed people who are sufficiently gender-variant to be harmed by trans exclusion from washrooms is harder to quantify, but I'd guess that a realistic estimate is 0.7%. The economy also suffers from this lack of public participation, causing a detrimental effect on society as a whole. Compare this to the inconvenience of being next to someone in the washroom who makes one feel uncomfortable, multiplied by the number of people who *at first* give a flying fuck (10% in schools to maybe 50% at a Ted Cruz fundraiser - I say 50% as, even assuming 100% objection to peeing near a trans person, about half of trans people will pass unnoticed). So on day one of trans integration we have X = Being barred from say half(?) of public life * (0.01) + general economic cost of restricting people from public life Y = Mild passing discomfort * (0.1-0.5) (also: as mentioned above, Y decreases with each passing day.) Argument #2 - In the estimation of the people seeking access, potential harassment during inclusion isn't as bad as exclusion. Unless they are somehow(???) wrong, that's the end of the assessment.

 

http://slutist.com/why-i-cant-do-it-with-atheists-and-how-magick-made-me-less-of-an-asshole/

 I like that this article is calling for pluralism. And that it questions the line between trying to be right for the sake of understanding how the world actually works and dismantle injustice (e.g., as per the authour, dead babies aren't waiting in heaven, and life is unfair for most who don't share her privilege), and trying to prove someone wrong in order to push a political agenda on them. Kudos for that.


I also find a giant and ironic hole in her argument. The authour is taking her personal emotionally liberating experience with Wicca and making some dangerously unsubstantiated claims (e.g. "we witches are the most hated of all.") while ignoring the problems common to many highly vocal but not all practices of Wicca (i.e. unreflective Eurocentrism in a variety of forms, a habit of historical revisionism based on truthiness-centred pseudoresearch, and celebrating itself as sexually liberating while often being about as radical as Sex and The City - and then pushing all this on other people as something they must, on some level, accept). What is ironic and problematic is that every one of these problems *has a clear parallel* with her misgivings towards Atheism.

But consider - both are non-majoritarian metaphysical models whose practitioners are concentrated in the under-50 set with a privileged social position who, in seeking alternative universal models to what they feel is an oppressive majority, evangelize without first interrogating their own shit. In my opinion, from what she's objecting to in her article, that's the real problem - not Atheism, or even Christianity (or Wicca) but evangelizing without reflection.

http://www.dailyxtra.com/vancouver/news-and-ideas/news/trans-woman-leading-mens-rights-group-183906

 

 Oh that is interesting. And, as someone who has a post-bac from SFU's Women's Studies department, yet who does not identify as a feminist (although my politics generally agree with those who do), I have many many thoughts! I don't know if any of these would be good column fodder, but it's pretty much consensus among trans women that being read as a cis woman is much safer, easier and generally more privileged than being read as a transgressively feminine man. In my case, I was shocked to realize that even though I was never perceived as a man in a dress, I still had an easier time with day to day gender stuff after transition than before, insofar as being perceived as a hundred-yarder butch dyke was way easier than being read as maybe possibly gay.


In "Whipping Girl" Julia Serano postited that as hatred of femininty=mysogyny, so discrimination of trans women is actually a clear expression of latent sexism without the veneer of militarist masculinity that prevents the more violent expressions of patriarchy day to day. This sounds smart, and it truly is smart is, and it made a big difference in getting trans women access to community and lifesaving services, but the more I think about it, and most attempts to discuss gender in anti-oppression space, the more I see people trying to discuss observations of prejudice along any axis so as to shoehorn it into what was originally a second-wave feminist frame that was extremely limited and flawed to begin with. Even most of third wave feminism is still built on this foundation, endlessly renovating the limitations of second-wave feminism to fit reality. This would be like trying to modify Lamark to account for Darwinist evolution, or trying to use the language and worldview of elemental bodily humours in Gallenic medicine to describe neurochemistry ("Prozac preserves the fiery character of the sanguine humour, thus balancing out water, and combatting melancholy. It's like a little salamander cage!").
 
The problem is that every conversation still has to satisfy this original frame. And yet the more *most people* look at gender, the more most people gather that discrimination around gender acts differently than discrimination around race, ability or birthplace. I can't think of any significant downside of being white, predominantly able-bodied, or having dual citizenship in rich countries. But even not looking at what happens to visible trans women, when we look at incarceration rates, lifespan, some forms of homelessless, and gay-bashing, it seems that being male has some really shitty sides. Contemporary feminism tries to reconcile this by describing "toxic masculinity withing a framework of classism, sexism and racism" and ventures into "patriarchy is bad for everyone" but can't seem to ever say that under many circumstances, being (perceived as) male is grounds for some pretty brutal discrimination - i.e. sexism.
 
Where this costs us is that when people come to an understanding of gender through observation first, and when those observations include watching really awful gender-related shit happen to males they care about, and then they run into feminist theory, and see that it barely acknowledges this, then hand-waves away any attempt to directly address it as a problem unto itself (because the people who disagree either "just need to be educated" or "are the enemy"). Those people then need to reconcile facts with theory. What do they do then? (1) Most people shrug, shuffle and keep their opinions behind closed doors and stay the fuck away from activism, (2) some use the feminist frame to rationalize it, (3) some (like myself) who can both keep up with academic verbal gymnastics and are not highly dependent on anti-oppression circles for security or community can defend their standpoint that acknowledges the range of observations but frames it within anti-oppression social signals in a way that doesn't have them labelled a "traitor" but they never organize because that space is a tug of war between #2 above, and the (4)th option, "Men's Rights Activism."
 
As near as I can tell, most trans people have intimate personal observations that leave us facing one of the choices above. Those of us at a distance from anti-oppression use #1, those of us in it use #2 because we know we'll lose any verbal throw-down about gender. But this was bound to happen eventually.
 
The whole MRA scene is a good example of how the left totally fails to reconcile theory (which is usually mostly accurate and wouldn't require that much change to account for data) with fact, and what happens when we do. People whose well-being depends upon a particular problem being addressed go to the right. Because the right will listen to them, give them an explanation and hope for change.
 
Another good example of this is hiring or admission quotas that acknowledge race but not class. Poor whites who used to be able to make up for being screwed by classism by benefitting from racism, lose part of that edge and now have to compete toe-to-toe with rich whites like myself. They naturally feel shafted. The left could have done the smart thing and fought for race *and* class quotas and made allies (in ways that have been *very* successful in the past like the "Fusionists," to the point that the rich whites of the South built the segregation system to undercut it), but we didn't, and instead we fight against these poor whites. So the poor whites blame anti-racism and vote for Trump. Nice work left wing. Slow clap.
 
This failure to acknowledge real problems at the top of someone else's priority list even undercuts trans activism internally. AFAB cis-spectrum people who have seen shitty things happen to themselves and other AFAB people in childhood really do have grounds to question what the hell trans women would know about that kind of sexism. Some trans women like myself had a pretty easy gender-related ride in childhood, and yeah, I don't have that particular crappy experience, and I do keep my mouth shut. Other trans women got beaten and raped as kids, specifically because they broke gender rules, and they have a *very* good idea what childhood sexism looks like. But trans activism sticks to a soundbite of "we were always girls" and hopes that no-one questions it. For the most part this works. But when it fails to grapple with people with the above observation, said people find that TERFs are ready with answers.
 
(See also: when people see corruption in unions and try to address it openly; and for the mirror Left/Right image, how police inability to deal with complaints has lead to the current media state of affairs)
 
Unfortunately, when you tries to address these problems in anti-oppression circles, unless you're a verbal ninja with in-group social status, either someone tries to "educate" you or they label you as the enemy - and even then, if you want to make change, you *never* go after the central ideological tenets. If we could deal with this and have discussions based on more on reason than ideology, we'd win over a lot more people and win a lot more battles.


 

IS "THE COTTON CEILING" RAPEY?


It's a little more complicated than that. Consider the sentence "I'd never date a ____________"

Then rotate through a list of marginalized groups. Looks, body type, disability. Then extend from that to "our community is about sexuality. And anyone here who I wouldn't fuck is't really one of us."


Example consequences: A friend of mine is at a diner on the drive. She can hear two women checking her out - perceiving her as a hot androgynous dyke. Then one says, with a note of disugst "oh, check the tattoo" (it reads "Trans Grrl") and they back off.

A gay or lesbian "community' play party where the dominant social groups don't want to see anyone who is trans, old and/or fat.

Or someone saying "oh, she's dating a trans woman - she's not really a lesbian then"

Consider someone also saying "I'd never date a bisexual." Is a bisexual rolling her eyes at this entitled to what's in her pants, or expressing healthy exasperation.


I've also had someone set me up with her queer/lesbian-spectrum acquaintance who thought I was genderqueer-hot. But then she found out I was a trans *woman* and since, in her opinion, trans women can't be hot genderqueers (???) she dropped the idea like a hot potato. This has also happened, where someone who hit on me at a dyke march had a personal profile where she didn't want to date anyone CAMAB. Now I don't want to date either of these people. But that they'd find me attractive and then rule me out because I'm transitioning *towards* what they have explicity said they find attractive is a little fucked up, and it speaks to wider issues in terms of access to community.


Cis bisexuals, heavy people, people of colour and PWD all object to this treatment and each gets dismissed - usually in a very particular way to that group. When trans women do it, we see blogs that this objection is rapey - as that feeds into the frame that when trans women object to exclusion from women's space, we're "being intrusive," which flashes over to explaining away of any assertiveness from a trans woman in women's spaces as being an example of male instrusion, approriativeness etc...

It's a hard thing to sound bite without playing into that.

How to discuss it?
 Ah yes. I'm in a weird space where, although I'm MtF, I'm cis-passable, have never done sex-work, am economically secure (well, secure-ish after I financed a TV show on spec), have all the surgery I want and am often masculine-of-centre, and so most of the major stressors/misogyny that trans women experience, I do not. And yet I'm an advocate. When I'm around trans women I tend to STFU, and yet I'm also part of the demographic. Weird.

I don't know what to do about that. It's really important to have open discussion that deals with all possible objections, as that allows social progress to be backed by critical thought. On the other hand, so many people who don't take a certain level of societal shit don't *have a fucking clue* as to how to have those discussions with people who do - and those who do often have their hackles up 24/7... I don't know what to do. It's not just trans. Indigenous rights, disability access, etcetera, could also benefit both in the short and long term from actually hashing through common concerns and objections, and not expecting that everyone should follow the party line as that only persuades people who are already onside. I don't know what the solution is.

And without that dialogue, communities try to convince the world using really shitty arguments and half-assed sound-bites because no one has challenged them *in dialogue*

e.g.
"This war/occupation/country is illegal!" Isn't 'legal' a social construction? If this atrocity was legal (and to the people doing it, it is), would that make our bombing campaign okay? If not, then what does legal have to do with it? Isn't the problem that it's morally abhorrent and causes gross human suffering? Then go with that!



ON SEX VS. GENDER AS A GROUNDS FOR DISCRIMINATION

 Ooh. That's an interesting conversation. 

 
Looong message ahead!
 
Usually what you're describing is parsed as a matter of 'sex rather than gender.' As in "genitals and therefore sex have such a huge impact on our lives that we need to examine this separately from gender roles and identity."
 
We really do need to have a cultural dialogue around it but it's hard to get any nuance in it because of the political situation.
 
Trans people started in by using sex vs gender to appeal to a 1970s feminist rubric that introduced "gender" into the english language outside of grammar to mean what it does today, with an emphasis on gender being socially constructed and therefore fluid and consciously redirectable. However, terfs picked this up about three years ago and, since it sounds like something that excludes are trans women categorically without negotiation or ambiguity, used it to turn any existing women's organizing they could into AFAB-only (and de-facto cis-only by also riding on women's 'gender' organizing without examining the logic behind creating this intersection of cis + woman). And thus it became a terf dog whistle.
 
If they were were organizing around, say, menstruation or abortion then it might make sense - although if it were genuine it would also raise the question of whether cis women who could not menstruate or get pregnant (i.e. like trans women) should be included, and uterus-bearing trans guys would have to be included as well, one would think. It also gets used to reframe everything in terms of girlhood vs boyhood, thus making whatever trans exclusion was unacceptable last week into something that is now ideologically justifiable, even if it has nothing to do with the actual organizing. For example: the former Michigan Womyn's Music Festival - it was all about women on all of their publicity, until someone asked about trans people, and then suddenly camping, vegetarian food and folk music was reframed as all a part of healing from the trauma of girlhood... for the duration of the conversation - as soon as the conversation was over, the festival was "about women" again. And, on an ethical level, it's dodgy to shut out a highly marginalized group because a political theory says it's okay.
 
Without this damned culture war, we could examine this distinction and find nuance and I really wish we could because gender and privilege is really fucking complicated in ways the sound-bite (and thus, usually non-intersectional) liberal feminism can never grasp. And the inside scoop from trans women is that this form of privilege is, well, complicated. And "complicated" doesn't make for good dialogue when some very aggressive people are looking for any out-of-context quote to slam you with.
 
For example, when I'm dealing with particular middle-aged cis lesbians, I have to watch my tongue about playing male roles because they perceive it as using male privilege - which, admittedly, it is (although I'd rather not be in the situation where I could just audition for more female roles) - but this in their eyes undercuts my gender identity. However, for no logical reason, cissexed butch women, and cis women with masculine frames and voices, are never subject to this judgment and are even celebrated for dealing with basically the same problem (being blocked from most female roles) by doing exactly the same thing. This double standard happens in a lot of circumstances, which is one reason why I limit involvement with anything lesbian - that and the cold shoulder that my usually-bi girlfriends receive.
 
The actual experience of trans women in childhood and its relative measure of shittyness to what cis women experience varies from context to context much as it does with adult experiences. In adult life, I know some corporate trans women who transitioned in middle age who were like "Wow. I used to be on top and now I'm at the bottom," much as one would expect. I also know trans women who will talk how the amount of sexual harassment has gone *down* since they transitioned, since they were perceived as feminine gay men who were 24/7 fair game for masculine dudes before, but now, although they pass as cis, men don't bother them as much because there are clearer social codes around what's not acceptable. In my case, as an adult, I switched from being perceived as a somewhat gender-variant man to being perceived as a highly gender-variant woman, and I actually find that latter is a lot easier day to day. Some trans guys are very surprised to find that transitioning to passing as cis-male makes their gendered life a lot harder this could be a matter of gender expression (the opposite of my experience) or race (e.g. *some* black, indigenous and latino dudes who experience a sharp uptick in police harassment during transition).
 
And so, likewise for childhood. It was, counter to what I would expect from theory, kind of the opposite of my adult experience: since I was not very  feminine, my childhood was usually very easy up until puberty at least. And I keep this in mind and give space to people, cis or trans, who did run headlong into sexism. For me, there was some gender stuff in the way, but my mom was a liberal feminist and she helped *a lot* and so it wasn't awful, just the usual run of shit that a lot of people, trans and cis, put up with. So I try to be mindful of this privilege. Outside of myself though, I don't have as many anecdotes because I don't talk about it much with my friends - very much on purpose. Some flat out refuse to discuss it because of whatever happened to them. That's often when a lot of people's PTSD suicide attempts started, so something must have been bad. Some people over 40 got institutionalized. A weirdly high number of people were perceived as transgressively feminine and therefore 'defective' and fair game for intensive bullying or rape, and for them, the social permission to walk around outside meant nothing when they were subject to all the things one would fear would happen to a cis girl if she was allowed out (but none of the social repercussions for the people causing the harm), and being allowed to take shop instead of home ec doesn't really make up for that - especially because shop had more intensive bullying. So when someone uses this to exclude them from women's organizing? To hold the wrong gender over them now as it was them and use it again to leave them to fend for their selves strikes me as lacking compassion, but probably because the people doing it are acting on a shortsighted understanding.
 
What's the logical error in this? Consider the following: most of the powerful and wealthy people in the world are assigned male. Being assigned male is correlated with privilege. Therefore trans women share this privilege.
 
The flaw in this argument becomes clear when you substitute "attracted to women" for "assigned male:"
 
"Most of the powerful and wealthy people in the world are predominately attracted to women. Being predominantly attracted to women is correlated with privilege. Therefore lesbians share this privilege."
 
It's a matter of intersections and complications. If someone has no sandwich and you have a peanut butter sandwich, is that a privilege? Yes, unless you're allergic to peanuts. Likewise, assigned male? Like girls? Great, if you're a dude. Not so great if you're not - probably. But there are always variances and exceptions, from individual to individual.
 
Does that make anything clearer?

(And how you can't say who is better off, a person who experiences, x1y1z3, vs x2y2z1 vs x1y4z1.5)

_____

Actually I think that some forms of privilege not only can be quantified, but should. In fact, quantification is what allows us to determine whether a given social category is a form of privilege or oppression, and this has real consequences.


Examples:

When people want to deny trans women access to women's resources like emergency shelters, they usually argue that trans women have too much male privilege. Without quantification, this can only be contested through an ideological argument that ultimately has no measure of falsifiability (it can't be proven to be wrong) and thus is irresolvable. This then leads to a decades-long stalemate between the (thankfully increasingly rare) women's organizations with moderate to low resrouces and trans people with low to no resources. If, instead, we ask what the criteria are for admission to this shelter (limited income, risk of violence from partner, in society and in men's shelters) we can establish that trans and cis women both need to get into these things - actually, trans women, on average, need them more. Were the people trying to exclude trans folk to actually listen to this form of argument, access would improve and with it, quality of life.

Another example is the frequent claim in politics that indigenous people have it easy and clearly have a form of privilege over white people - due to band bursaries, reduced taxes and government programs. If one quantifies the very limited value of these (frequently slow) bursaries (which are limited to people with membership of a band that can afford them), the marginal gain from buying goods tax-free less the opportunity cost that comes from living on reserve (which is necessary to get these discounts), and the actual value of these government programs, and then if one compares it to the cash value of white employability, reduced police harassment and the average intergenerational wealth transfer, one can conclude that the average's individual's person's experience, it is actually the case being white that is a form of privilege versus being indigenous. This has policy implications. And it has numerous parallels in other discussions over equity measures.

While many incidents of privilege are still hard to quantify, the social categories through that determine when and how they occur often track with quality of life data, and from this, you ca get a picture of what's easier. This can allow apply within one form of privilege - for example, the 1965 book The Vertical Mosaic quantified different forms of racial privilege in Canada, and this ranking of racial ancestry versus life outcomes and political power still holds. From this, one can also state that, for example, all forms of neurodiversity (mild ASD vs Schizophrenia) are not equal burdens - and this too can be quantified, as is done with physical ability in the Paralympics.

Using this method, you actually can answer the questions above. You can do so holistically, or for each variable or combination thereof as experienced differently by two people of differing social situation. When the numbers are so close as to be swayed by small difference in interpretation, you can conclude that both can expect roughly equal but different outcomes. But when there is no reasonable equivalence, you can say who has it worse off in a given category (and the situations in which it has an effect), or overall.



 The more I write more opinion columns for Daily Xtra​, the more I attention to how other columnists do their job. One common method is to be needlessly inflammatory, substituting rhetoric for reason while ignoring the arguments of those who disagree with you and generally using logical fallacies to advance an agenda that your audience already agrees with. But you can also make logical arguments founded on well-cited data - and you can combine it with passion and wit. If you do it well, you should change the minds of your own readers. Or at least advance the dialogue with people who disagree with you.
 
So I try to make sure that every column I write is based in a combination of past study and present research. I know it works if it challenges my assumptions to the point where my conclusion is no longer the same as when I started writing it. And I like to think that this is why I hold my opinions. Because opinions can be facts, or they can at least be well-grounded in facts. But we forget this.
 
When we see that we can prove how transuranic elements decay, but we can't ultimately answer prove what god(s) want(s) us to do with our genitals or if ze/they exist(s), we conclude that particle physics and gay rights are totally separate realms of argument, subject to different rules. It's true that the morality of an action cannot ultimately be logically proven. However, the components of an argument that reach a moral conclusion *can.* Thus, while it is reasonable to take a pass on the issue of divine interest in our groins, we can prove whether or not gay marriage affects particular social indicators. And while we know how plutonium turns into other elements in very dangerous ways, we cannot prove the morality of eating it - we know the latter is lethal to the diner and probably everyone around them, but we can't actually prove it's wrong. 
 
The reason I don't agree with a lot of culturally conservative viewpoints is not one of mere bias. I grew up in a conservative area where these viewpoints were the vast majority. I know them. When I moved, I saw the arguments for and against various issues, and realized that usually, especially on cultural issues, the left simply has stronger arguments. Often this was because the left had arguments that engaged with the right while the right had arguments that engaged with little other than re-stating a baseless opinion.
 
That there is no quantifiable social detriment to gay marriage, and that there is no evidence to support that trans inclusion will have a detrimental impact on quality of life is part of why these causes tend to win in court, even before judges with contrasting politics - because judges are called upon to meticulously and publicly justify their opinion, and when your entire professional body of work is weighed on that basis, it's harder to go off the rails.
 
So I believe it is a columnists' job to construct arguments that are sound, grounded, relevant and interesting. And the more I look at other people in the field of punditry, I wish that other columnists covering issues relevant to human rights would do their damn job too.
 
Failing that (see, this is where the wit comes in), I would be happy to see less dutiful columnists address particle physics, or neurology, or paediatric nursing with the same reckless knee-jerk usually-conservative abandon that they treat human rights. Because I would actually enjoy reading someone's take on what Leviticus says about Bohr's model of the atom, or how they just weren't raised to believe in spindle neurons, or how we can alleviate respiratory ailments by just having a stronger work ethic. That would still be illogical, but at least it would be creative.

Boxes

Apr. 16th, 2015 01:25 am
Two characters, both near and dear to me. Chris and Emily. A scruffy, ethical contract-killer and staunch defender of friends, even when they barely understand human beings. And a chirpy, energetic science nerd, full of optimism. One masculine; one feminine. One is an established character for a TV show. The other is a larp character who I want to do cool things with.

I had a box set aside for Emily's things, but I started taking them out to wear day-to-day. Her black, sequinned skirt. Her purple hoody.

As for Chris, today I took the lat of zer masculine, military things, packed them into a box today and took them to set. They are moving into fiction now.

Chris has reached zer jumping off point, has waited, and can now serves purpose greater than just 'being.' But ze can also be aside from my daily life. I'm just not that butch anymore.

Emily, on the other hand, I think we'll be seeing a lot more of her - or at least her elements.
 There's a column floating around by Miranda Yardley about why it's okay to organize women's spaces according to sex assigned at birth. I wrote the start of a rebuttal and didn't want it to go to waste.
 
____
 
I'd suggest reading Julia Serano's "excluded" on this matter. I have a copy I can lend you.
 
____
 
A quick aside before I begin. I get that she's trans, but I don't know what is up with Miranda Yardley. Imagine having one vocal gay person who believes that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. Then imagine religious conservative groups plastering that person's name and words all over their media. 
 
Yardley has long been one well-off member of a minority that takes the side of a system that is making life difficult (and often shorter) for that minority, including those without her advantages in life. The champions of that system can then point to her as a token example of a minority that agrees with them. Look at a sizeable chunk of the people who cite her columns. Look at what else those people have to say about trans folk. It's not pretty.
 
____
 
REBUTTAL:
 
In my experience, the use of "sex" (or rather 'sex as assigned at birth') as a rallying point for "gender-critical" feminist organizing only developed because people wanted a way to justify their exclusion of transgender women that squared with a superficial progressive rhetoric. They used to use "youth socialization" as the benchmark of authentic womanhood as they assumed that no trans women experience it. Now that trans women are coming out young and do in fact get to grow up being regarded as female, they are moving over to "sex" in the hopes that this time it will stick and people won't look at it too critically. 
 
It can be demonstrated that "sex-based organizing" is only a rhetorical device as it does not focus on uteruses another traditionally female anatomy in its political concerns. Further,  trans men (who should, in theory be welcome) are not admitted, while women of variant intersex/reproductive statuses are admitted (when in theory they should not be). Rather, sex-based organizing relies on politics are otherwise identical to hostile outmoded exclusive policies that preceded them. Moreover, the spaces that tout sex-based organizing are pretty much always rabidly transphobic. It's not a coincidence.
 
This model does not acknowledge intersectionality. It oversimplifies being assigned male at birth as a free ticket and paints all trans women as being highly privileged dudes who one day decided to shuck off one identity to go slum it in another less privileged one. It's true that some trans women had no issues prior to transition, had alpha male careers and then made the switch, yes. However (1) it has yet to be demonstrated that excluding there are tangible benefits to excluding these (previously privileged, now marginalized) people, and, more importantly, (2) *most trans women do not experience this.*
 
I can tell you, most trans women can tell you, and any transgender-related quality-of-life statistic you want to check can tell you that if you are presenting as a woman, it is MUCH safer in this society to be perceived as CAFAB (Coercively Assigned Female at Birth - "female sex"). I go out of my way to get people to assume that I am CAFAB because I would not have been able to get my training, travel, be able to do my job, or even be safe on the street otherwise.
 
But if that does not satisfy the author, I can put it another way: We know that the majority of trans women (especially those who are visibly assigned male at birth, and especially those experiencing other forms of oppression such as immigration status, race, and ability) experience incredibly high rates of unemployment, violence, incarceration and mortality. Given this, is it just to go out of one's way to build a theoretical framework to exclude them from community and rights-based organizing?
 
Also to keep in mind: the exclusion of trans women from feminist (and lesbian) organizing operates pretty much in tandem with the exclusion of bisexuals, femmes and sex-workers. The logic in all cases is that one's personal gender behaviour (in partners, gender expression, identity, and work) must follow the party line. That ain't good feminism in my book.
[Name redacted] how do you quantify to what extent something is anti-liberal and misogynistic and stack it up against other entities like say colonialism, evangelical Christianity, or intercontinental slavery (which, admittedly, overlap/ped) to decide it is the "most?" Also - do you consider the Hadith to be a Islamic, or merely tradition? What about Sufi? Or are we just talking the Qu'ran? (Not the Penguin translation I hope ). Or do you mean politicians who justify their actions as being Islamic? Wahabi'ism? Islamic Socialism? Over what span of time? Do you consider the rejection of the use of the "zero" by the Catholic Church (because it was too Muslim) to be anti-liberal, or would something more recent like (see my next comment) be a better example? What is especially bad about Indonesia versus another country of comparable economic, geographic and historical circumstance?

The subtext: it's hard to qualify what's the most fucked up, especially when you can't draw a clear line around what is and is not a religion, and especially when there's a lot of bad to go around.
Just now · Like

__________________

The most fucked up thing in my mind is that we're going to war with a group that has roots in the Taliban - a group that was trained and armed by Christian religious conservative governments on our side to fight the Soviets, who were an invading Atheist state (who, on top of the Giant War Machine, turned "international women's day" into a day to thank housewives for keep on given'er). There's a lot of violence and misogyny to go around.

Despite the above fracas, there are Christian, Muslim and Atheist roots for equality and peace.

I don't agree with the Qu'ran, but I also have serious bones to pick with sexism and technophobia in the Dao De Jing, rape culture in the Torah, and sexism in online Atheist communities. What's in a religion's core matters, but there's a lot to be said for what we do with it.

The way out of repeating this mess for future generations is, IMHO, not to form alliances based on being a dick to a mutual enemy, but on finding common ground for progress. And there's a lot of room for that.
I remember being harassed a a CFS women's caucus, which was part of a larger "progressive organization's" strategy to misgender me as a means of... actually I don't know what they thought that would accomplish. Deeply antagonizing people is not a good way of getting them to say "let's keep paying these people large amounts of money." This was 2007-2008, and I'm now 33.

I've had people say that what we did to push Lu's Pharmacy to admit trans women was "letting the patriarchy win."

The next time someone makes some kind of arument that ends in "believing women are equal is the definition of being a feminist," I may fold my post-bac in women's studies into a paper airplane and chuck it at them.


Back in the early 2000s, prior to transition, I was unable to access the books on gender in the library at the SFU Women's Centre (this was before Nadine Chambers' trans-friendly term), which delayed my coming out... as a woman. This delay had some psychological and medical consequences for me, and also prevented me from being able to fully be of use to my community.

Fortunately, I was able to find hep elsewhere - eventually.

For me, that's still a raw point with conventional women's organizing - even "trans-inclusive" organizations (I use scare quotes as "not kicking us out" is, in my opinion, not the same as "including us") there's still the assumption that it's on trans women to sort out our gender issues Somewhere Else while cis women and CAFAB trans folks can use the informational resources and community for help. Once trans women have done the most gut-wrenching and often dangerous part, *then* we're welcome to come in... for support. But that's kinda late, y'know?

To question whether one needs a clear gender identity before accessing a gendered space (or at least for CAMAB folks) is a political frontier in women's organizing. Disputing it is almost sacriligeous, at least judging from the reaction one gets. But it's actually really weird when you think about it. Consider: we have youth programs that will admit trans girls, but they rarely have a mechanism in place so that trans girls can come out in the first place (and then survive), which means that even in trans-inclusive girls' orgs, most trans girls are effectively barred from entry - not by the overt actions of the organization, but by its conscious inaction in the face of a hostile society.

When I bring this up, the response I get is often that there are resources available Somewhere Else and that trans people (or rather trans women) can use those until they come out to the standards of the women's organization. (Unless they're genderqueer, in which case they experience sexism, trans-misogyny, transphobia and... no direct support) The people saying this usually overlook that the T* resources are almost always smaller, poorer, open less, and more geographically dispersed.

Imagine if LGBT organizing took this approach - only providing people with access once they've already clearly and publicly come out. We wouldn't get a lot done. The beauty of more flexible spaces is that you can get/give support now and make up your mind later.

One might ask: "How are we supposed to have clearly deliniated women's spaces when people aren't out as women?"

Another might answer: "If your 'woman' can't be clearly deliniated, how can you have clearly-deliniated women's space?"

I am grateful for the Cat. On Thursday, she arranged for her old chum to walk me through basic makeup. A week prior, she came with me for professional acting headshots in three genders. On Friday, following her advice, I took the day off and actually slept well. I will have to do more of this.


The following are steeped in dream-allegory. Usually to sci-fi and, to a rarer extend other forms of spec fic, as I consume it. On TV first, then on film, then in larp it seems (this is new!), then in text.

I am told that other people on the spectrum also relate to their world in pop nerd culture allegory.



On a side note, these are following up on an earlier week where I dreamed I was acting in contemporary American re-makes of two shows: Ghost in the Shell and... something else. Curiously, GITS and BSG are both being rebooted South of the border.





Ogres and Fairies

A woman and her partner are in a field in a large garden on a fine and misty morning. Their relationship is strained. Both are pale. Her hair is black and shoulder-length; zer hair is a dark tawny, boyish and ragged.

As if someone had torn open a bag high above, small gifts - hats, rings, and other jewellery - rain out of the sky. The partner becomes larger, more ogreish as ze sweeps them up in zer hands. The woman becomes smaller, blocked out of the showering by her partners thorny, lumpy mass.

Someone tosses a pair of homemade lace butterfly wings, the size of an actual butterfly. Perfect. Beautiful. And a carryable size. But the ogre sweeps them up in zer hands. But now, somehow, there are actual butterfly wings. The woman, now tiny, dashes out to collect them. She catches them.

I strap them onto my back and fly off.

I hide in a dugout cabin as The Owners come past. Youths all, gabbing. Terrible and dangerous. And also huge in relation to my current size. I am about to leave when a young owner, looking eight if she were a human, and her mother come in. If I am caught, it would be unpleasant. If I am caught fleeing, it would be worse.

I dart up to alight on a rafter. Their conversation sounds normal, but I can't parse a single word. Like they are exchanging the idea of speech.

Eventually they leave. So do I.



A long corridor in a hospital. Extended care. Degenerative neural diseases. I mean a *long* corridor. It is the way between Their world and ours.

I flit above everyone, on the exposed pipes and ducts all painted hospital-white.

Two patients are there, Distressed and semi-coherent,  on suicide watch. One reports surviving abuse. She is referred to a psychiatrist.


There is a police department that misses me, a Captain. The two officers do not know that I am in the room with them, listening from behind some books on a desk. They speak of the people they've interviewed. It is a procedural show that I am in then? Alright then. I'll look into this, all tiny and absent.

I flit back to the hospital. To one of the patients in interview, she shudders in an armchair. Why so distressed now? I overhear their conversation - ah - it is the psychiatrist that is abusing her. Mystery solved! Now how to go about-

-the patient is up off her chair and over to the psychiatrist. She stabs him in the neck with a screw driver six, seven, eight, nine times. And she leaves.

Well, shit. Suddenly showing up and talking to her wouldn't exactly work. She'll Disbelieve me or crush me.

I am gone.


Out, in a sunny misty street. I run into an old friend.

The pixie woman flies up at her old friend. To attract her attention. The friend sees, the refugee pixie and acknowledges her, and her changed state. This, or something like it, has happened before. The ogre-partner - there is news of zer. The specifics are... what? Strange. Depressing. Alien. Full of closure. 

I can't hear the details as I am viewing from down on the ground. Now I am wearing all green to match my tawny hair. I have no wings. I am like a grasshopper. I am her male counterpart. I leap up to participate in the conversation, feeling somewhat left out.



This is a clear reference to Changeling: the Lost, which I played on Saturday.

I have been that tawny-and-green lad before. Ze is a guide for those who journey through other states of consciousness.

I have also been a winged Fairie in dreams. But full sized, with great billowing black wings, riding the currents of night. Also female then.





An Exodus after Caprica

They never found a planet. Not one unoccupied, or one willing to receive them. The intervening decades have not been kind but they have been formative. And our generation has grown up in dark, steel-and-glass spaces between stars. It is always night for us. Harsh sunlight without an atmosphere? That is not "day." It is like one hot light in a dark theatre.

There were spaces of other survivors from other colonies - despotic and with a certain reliance on cannibalism. We learned from them. But we were compassionate.

We are here. In a garden. At night, more or less. A nice place to stroll under lattice windows that keep out the vacuum. A small sun in the distance perhaps. But always night.

I explain our history things to the latest round of nuggets, as we call any student now. It was a term favoured by a woman like my grandmother-of-position if not of-genes. Her name was Starbuck. I carry that name too.

We are here.


Look at other dreams of BSG for contrast



Why these dreams are unusual:

from John Varley's Steel Beach.

Context: Hildy Johnson is one of the few humans on Luna who grew up on Earth. Ze is a newspaper reporter. Ze lives as a newspaperman, reporting in a society where people don't really read any more, but ze's employed in large part because because the Central Computer ("CC") has figured out that if humans don't spend a few hours a week engaged in some kind of "work" - even if it's standing around staring at an automated construction site while leaning on a shovel - we start to go a bit poorly in the head.

Even someone as well-adjusted as Hildy has attempted suicide four times. The last three were at home in private. The CC intervened, then wiped zer memory of the event. Most recently however, ze deliberately got into a barfight with a very large engineered thug. Ze remembers lying on an operating table... and then waking up on a desert island? Weird.

That was a year ago. It's an easily-inhabited island, curiously so. It's been a simple enough survival effort. But today a ship stopped off and a man in a uniform came ashore, claiming to be a figurative embodiment of the Central Computer, who had created a short hallucination with a year of memories attached. i.e. a dream

Before, if things collapsed, at least there was air to breathe.

Nowhere in the solar system did humans now live where the air was free. To "forget" how to implant memories in the human brain the CC would no doubt have to forget many other things. He would have to limit his abilities and, as he pointed out, unless he decreased his intelligence deliberately to a point that might endanger the very humans he was designed to protect, he would re-chisel this particular wheel in due time. And it was also true that the CC of Mars or Triton would certainly discover the techniques on their own, though the rumor was none of the other planetary computers was so far evolved as the Lunar CC. As nations which often found themselves in competition, the Eight Worlds did not encourage a lot of intercourse between their central cybernets. So all the reasons he stated sounded reasonable. It was railroad time, so somebody would build a choo-choo. But what didn't ring true was what the CC had left out. He liked the new capability. He was as pleased as a child with a new toy monorail.

"I have one further proof," the Admiral said. "It involves something I mentioned earlier. Acts that were out of character. This is the biggest one, and it involves you not noticing something that, if these memories had been generated by you, you surely would have noticed. You would have spotted it by now yourself, except I've kept your mind occupied. You haven't had time to really think back to the operating table, and the time immediately before that."

"It's not exactly fresh in my mind."

"Of course not. It feels as if it all happened a year ago."

"So what is it? What didn't I notice?"

"That you are female."

"Well, of course I'm—"

Words fail me again. How many degrees of surprise can there be?

Imagine the worst possible one, then square it, and you'll have some notion of how surprised I was. Not when I looked reflexively down at my body, which was, as the CC had said and I had known all along, female. No, the real shock came when I thought back to that day in the Blind Pig. Because that was the first moment in one year that I had realized I had been male when I got in the fight. I had been male when I went on the operating table.

And I had been female when I appeared on the beach of Scarpa Island.

 

And I simply had never noticed it.
 

 

Something continues to shake loose in my unconscious. Something regendered, properly gendered. This is very healthy.

I went to larp last night. I NPC'd, which means that I played a supporting character in other people's stories. Her name was Emily Watkins, and her goal was to Save the World through Science!

It's an understandable goal for her. She had a lot of faith in science. She probably used to be some gifted type who wound up doing research for DARPA before realizing that (1) she needed to transition and (2) building drones was actually not as good a contribution to humanity as she'd been led to believe. In any case, she stole access to the ground ingredients for a kind of spatial-informaional singularity, more as a "fuck you" to her superiors. She saw what happened to people who leaked info and she was indifferent to whether she lived to be one of them.

This system didn't expose the military industrial complex, but it also didn't irradiate her (much). Instead, it knocked her stepped out of time into a higher reality. In this extra-ordinary non-space, she'd technomagically edited her own memories to give herself a self-consistent physical/mental life history on the Clavius Colonies, on Luna's Southern hemisphere, where she grew up in a peaceful posthuman multifaith/multiculture microecologically-aided water mining, where she ultimately took on the ("summer") job of operating the fusion reactor. I'm sure this sounded like a good idea at the time, but when her fantasy world ended in a nightmare invasion of hostile weaponized von neuman systems - the descendants of what she used to build - she got bounced back to Earth with no idea how to operate without the usual comforts of airtight rock shelters, postscarcity cultural-economics, somatic freedom, mindcasting or socialist-libertarian-Sharia. And there was that matter of re-learning English instead of proto-Marainic Interlingua.


She's pretty cracking smart, so a few months after her rough return, she entered the imaginary charity ball, elegant in a plum and silver gown, loudly lamenting "this attire is impractical." (Which it is compared to a multipocketed low-G coverall suit with the usual assortment of sensors, tailored microbes and emergency vacuum survival gear) Then she roughly threw her backpack into the corner and asked for instructions on socializing.

Conversation starters included:

"It rains a lot right now."

"The... Canucks are playing hockey."


The entire event took place at an imaginary charity ball where, to elude the Faerie Lords, everyone's identity was magically concealed. No-one could recognize anyone else. This could be a problem as she was there to track down and apprehend a spy. But for Emily, who has both aspergers and prosopagnosia to go with it, not being able to recognize people was nothing unusual. When she figured out that everyone else was having trouble, she gave a chuckle at how "So... neurotypicals are operating on my level. Dope."



Quotes:

"If the cord is giving you so much trouble, why not just quantum-tunnel it?"

"It's still not haram here? I've never consumed ethyl alcohol at these concentrations before.  I mean, you said that I've done it twice, but all that I remember is waking up with a headache. Ooh! More champagne? And it's free? Please!"

(forty minutes later, with her head on a table) "Why do people consume this!? Why don't you just gland your drugs!?"


"The don't like to be called 'robots.' It's rude, due to the implications of slavery. Thank you for the offer of employment nonetheless, but I'm not an abiotic person. Tomasz is building one though."

"Sure. Sure. Wõ shì hen xão xìexìe. Ní. Oh right. English. And then I say. I am also well. I thank... you."




Anyhow. This character is an exercise in being completely unfiltered. In terms of speech (see above examples), in reacting to people (hitting a 1654 pirate in the back of the head after a relatively-mild in-character  rape joke) and in terms of gender. I din't not have that creeping feeling of operating in a pre-tranisitional state at all. AT ALL. Which is very rare, especially of late. I also felt pretty. And that was pretty darn nice. I also felt more confident and calm afterwards.


I'm not sure what this means, but I'll have to find it again.


There are so many soicla media sites, so many blogs, and I don't like to see my writing going unindexed

even when it's a complaint letter to FIDO, the phone company.

________

 I'd like to file a complaint.

 
I've been receiving robocalls from Fido about an unspecified "urgent matter." I've already paid my bill via EBT, and the only reason I was late in paying is that, despite several requests to receive an electronic bill, they still don't arrive - which makes it hard for me to know what I'm supposed to pay until I get an "overdue" text message.
 
Although I haven't had any success in getting my bill over email, I've found the staff helpful up until today. The first person I spoke to asked me for my identifying information and my PIN, and I gave it, then gave to her agaIn later. She transferred me to billing, who asked for my PIN. I thought this was odd and, because I'm skittish about handing out PINs, mentioned that I'd already given it twice. She seemed to find my pointing this out to be objectionable and took a cold attitude. I gave my pin. During our conversation, she then repeatedly called me "sir" (I have a deep voice) despite my correcting her about my gender several times - and, I presume, her having my name ("Amy") on file.
 
I didn't like the robocalls in the first place. I really don't like them when I've already paid. And I don't like taking attitude or being referred to as male during a phone call that I shouldn't have had to make in the first place. I would like to please not receive any more automated calls (and, if possible, by bill over email or epost.ca). I would also like for someone to please have a word with the staff in the call centre about referring to customers by the correct gender. They often call me sir, but until today, have been quick to correct their mistake.
 
I have a contract at present, but my future purchasing decisions regarding Fido vs. Google Voice or another carrier as well as recommendations to friends will very much depend on whether the robocalls and misgendering continues or stops. I hope it stops and we can enjoy an ongoing business relationship.
 
   Thank you for your attention and consideration,
 
   Amy Fox

Up for a stroll 05:30 in the old industrial patch near Hastings where I used to live. Just near the big warehouses that double as music studios. I walk towards the sun rising over Grandview.

Lucid? Almost lucid?

A crowd of people run South, up the bicycle path. It's like a cross-section of Vancouver is out jogging this morning.

I turn North. Wow. There's a lot of people here.

I pull one woman aside. 

"What are you doing?" I ask.

She turns - close-cropped graying hair and a retroreflective blue-striped tracksuit - a smirk.

"Helping you dream" she says.

And she runs off.

 

Hermes has been trying to get my acknowledgement, my attention, my respect for some time.
__________________
 

Imagine  a jagged mountain shaped like a kolrabi, top and bottom.

It floats, slowly rotating two or more kilometers above the rural valley.

Like a Laputa. But this is no refuge for idle intellectuals. The minds here are honed and their edge tested.

Well, maybe not that honed. I am in slow orbit of its mass, π/12 off the equitorial. Its Higgs Bosons, tilted and skewed off of spacetime by psychic whim, keep it heavy and high off the earth and me, attuned to it with the help of my suit, in freefloat around it. I lost my grip some time ago, likely having blown a test to scale in properly. I can only hope not to make an ass of myself on the way in.

The main equitorial dock rotates into view. And oblong rectangle and much more 

Okay. Adjust my descent. I twist my mass a few degrees, but I'm not skilled, not powerful enough to make it. I'm going scrape hard, then slip out of orbit. It's a long way down to the Earth - or more likely, and worse, it's a public rescue. Not a fall, but a fail.

Rotate the mass of the pod and slip the aft into the Earth's well 10% and invert the spacetimeplane on the reverse. θ -> π/12? I think. My teacher thinks. She thinks in my head. I think in her head.


We think.

And the sixty or so students within do that. Their/our applied subjectivity gently nudges our mass-existence onto the slope of the Earth's gravity well on one side and away from the other. The structure, tugged by the Earth, tilts. Mass shifts. I float/coast/freefall...

...through the dock. And inside. Uninjured.

It's like Giger took up interior decoration. It's like termites ran Ikea. It's alive, sort of. Not like us. Obediant yet terrifyingly dominant. Smooth. Peanut coloured, pea, and muted saffron. Rounded, arched, rippled. Translucent lights added with orthodox electrics powered by repurposed digestive acids. Beautiful.

I float across and into the main classroom, rotating on my back and looking "ahead" through my shaggy brown hair and over my nose-ring. I coast down, and gently pitch until I land on the foot-high radial ripples that are our chairs, our benches. I catch my breath.

My instructor, our psychic queen in her heavy diving suit, smiles.

Well done. She thinks, and turns to the class.

What? Oh. Was that the test? Is she pleased. I slipped off. I fucked up the climb. Was that a set-up? Or just an obvious consequence of my behaviour that she foresaw and... used?

My mark is solid. I am in the top tier. There is another like me. I catch a glimpse of her. Like the rest of our class our uniforms are beetle-like; leathery, chitenously armoured and symbiotic. Tendons for strength-amplification and gas-cycling lumps that keep us alive and tethered to the psychic mass. We are perfection in utero.

"You are going to be going into the deep unconscious" she speak not with her cortex but with her larynx, as she does when she means business.

Oh. This is the final exam. Right.

"You will be walking around the world. In the dark. For about three weeks. You will be facing the deep subconscious fears projected from one of your classmates."

I've heard of this. This is what separates the children from the women.

"This is a 3 out of 13 on difficulty. Pack food. Team up."

And a tent. Something to bound your space and shield your subjectivity from that monstrously infinite holy blackness.

Also - the scale actually goes from 1 to 13 and then over from 1 to 3 again in the "lethal to all" super-range.

We're babies at this.

And yeah. I'm scared.

I catch her eye quickly. Not the teacher-queen; the other one like me. Except she is pale and black-haired, with black-framed rectangle glasses. Fifteen years old. Picture Homura. But I know her in waking life. This is Brook, just under different circumstances. Eyes brush past. We know. We are among the best of grades but we are not social alphas. We learn because we love it. And we do not want to stand in the alphas' way. We let the social acknowledgment of peership fall slack and turn away.

But her and I on a team? Unstoppable. Or at least optimal. Not really fair to everyone else though. We should take along someone who is struggling. Not someone who fails because she makes trouble. Just someone who is a bit behind. I mean, how else would this be fair? Or a proper challenge?

And, another question seemingly unrelated - whose fears will be actualized in that dark place?

Ah. Of course. To keep it fair.

No.

Our Queen doesn't believe in fair. To keep it a challenge.

It will be one of us. Her or me.

Is it "Challenge Accepted?"

 


Damn the alarm clock. That was just getting good.

 

 

Consider. The offer of dream-help.

Consider: Watching "Hearts of Darkness." About the making of Apocalypse Now.

Watching Coppola talk about growing by facing your fears by becoming them, then moving past. Watching how messed up US/Vietnam-war films are, and how incredibly colonialist just-short-of-hate-speech the source text is. My fear of being a bad person. Of being thought a bad person. Facing that. A recent incident that prompted two earlier posts is the penultimate exam. Facing that. Coming out better, one hopes. Still facing th
at. To be thought is to become? No, too weak. I'll need to do something more direct. This is going to take awhile.


Consider:

What lacked in my life that I struggle to make up for?

Body/identity integrity. Ostracized. Bored.

This by contrast: Gender integration. Included by those who matter. Engaged, eager and challenged.


Consider:

Night-terror-like spatial distortions in closing my eyes under the effects of Wellbutrin



Consider:

Eleanor Lamb. Emma Frost. Homura Akemi and Sakaya Miki. Psychonauts

I really missed having a media-archetype-saturated science-fiction dream


Consider:

Dreams of acrobatics in lunar G

Dreams of trying to find gender euphoria in adolescence that were interrupted by waking, much like this one, because I was on the wrong track. Am I know in this residual pining? If so, how? Detect and fix. The solution is in fear. In becoming it.

 

 

Beautfully shot. Great integration of candlelight. Well-acted.

It's great to see movies about how slavery is the horribly unjust foundation of contemporary America. We need more of this sort of historical awareness. Not that Django is historically accurate, nor does it claims to be. It's kind of a trend with Tarantino what with Inglorious Bastards and all. But what's curious is how, the further we get from the present, the less people care about historical inaccuracy. WWII is more precious than the antibellum South, and no-one cares about wild flights of imagination in the medieval period.

The gender politics are crap. There is some terrible use of the "damsel in distress" trope, with one exception  - the inversion of the "man of colour menacing white women" trope. But not enough to redeem the gender politics. I could write on it, but Tracy Bealer has already said it better.

The only thing I have to add to that essy on gender is that it's curious how the damsel never actually gets raped during the story (as it would make her "less pure"), and the hero never gets castrated (as he'd become "less of a man"). I'd kind of prefer the movie if this wasn't the case. Because that's how slavery worked - you cross the people in charge, and they make an example of you.

For a movie about slavery, and for a blacksploitation movie, the middle has a lot of Candie and Schultz (white leads) talking. However, this changes towards the end as the last two leads are Django and Stephen.

Also, it shows that interpersonal violence is usually not about two people facing off, but one person getting the drop on the other. The "face-off" between two mortal rivals only happens when one person leverages the indisputable advantage of force to push their world-view on the other (like how an armed police officer will lecture you about being in the park after it closes... even though it hasn't closed yet) and it's an act of courage to give back-talk. I like that.

___

 

Follow up thought: I realize now that the filmmakers managed to mostly (completely?) ignore shade, which is kind of an important axis of how slavery was organized in the 1860s. Is a slave 100% african? Exactly half white, half-black? Less than 1/8 and 7/8ths? Somewhere between categories? This measure of white vs. black blood was an important indicator of relative status, and who did what jobs (i.e. housework vs. fieldwork). But Django seems to have passed it by. Oops. Might want to talk to casting about that.

 Prior to transition, I was hesitant to be involved in activist/"anti-O" spaces as people would *tell* me what my gender experience was. I "obviously" was safe to walk alone at night. I was "obviously" welcome in technical spaces. The jobs I wanted were "obviously" available to me. And so on.

 
This behaviour was framed as acceptable as I was assumed to be on the privileged side of gender. If I had a contradictory opinion, or contradictory-yet-obvious interpretation of a personal experience or that of a friend, these spaces perceived them to be wrong, because of 'my ignorance born out of privilege.' This held even when those opinions were questioning the binary models on which this privilege was allegedly assigned. I half came to believe these voices, and half came to avoid them. 
 
So in transition, I figured that I was going to hit a wall of sexism. But it never materialized. People in technical spaces valued my opinions more, at night, people perceived me as less of a threat and threatened me less, and I could work with children so much more freely. When it came to moving in the world perceived as a somewhat gender-variant cissexed man, versus moving the world while perceived as a *highly* gender-variant FAAB person (of varying genders) the latter proved to be much better.
 
This is to say that I was already experiencing sexism on account of my gender expression. I still do, just less.
 
While being perceived as male is usually a privilege, it is not always such. In fact, it can exacerbate some forms of oppression. My androgyny is often tolerated, even welcomed on a woman. But on a man, it was grounds for exclusion. In many people's lives, due to lines of race, ability, class and even simple chance, individual guys, or people who are perceived as such, have gender experiences that are anywhere from obstructive to dangerous to dehumanizing - repeatedly. Such a matrix of repeated, socially-targeted, awful gendered experiences would, were the person in question not perceived as male, be labelled "oppression on the grounds of gender."
 
A lot of anti-oppression assumptions around gender are still modelled on a non-intersectional (and thus highly privileged) second-wave framework of womanhood versus manhood. There are a lot of times where being perceived as CAMAB/male (these two being same thing in cis-society's eyes) can be very dangerous, not just occasionally but repeatedly.
 
If, as activists, we do not engage with the nuances of gender, we will lose the people who live within these nuances. And they will be right to have left. Just as anyone whose oppression is excluded from a dialogue around the sorts of oppression that affect them will be justified in avoiding it.
 
We need to change this. I see it happening. In some places. I would like to see more.

I've decided that I absolutely adore it when people quote me, or refer to my writing.

"And I could just respond by pointing to the excellent essay by Amy Fox in Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme  but I’d rather go on engaging myself here. (If there is any hope for us all, it lies with butches like Amy Fox.)"

http://truequeerlove.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/nothing-can-be-said-of-being-butch.html

 

Anniversary

Aug. 7th, 2013 12:58 am
 I have been out to myself for seven years, and twenty-two and a half hours.

Best decision I ever made
 Ongoing dreams of transition being undone. This time, waking up as Donald Duck with everyone always remembering me as such, including my wife and three kids. Long tearful conversation fails to make anyone believe my case.

On some level, I think my subconscious refuses to accept that I've transitioned.

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