gaudior: (Default)
Okay, this one I'm not even torn about, I'm just mad.

Munch, by Matthew Van Fleet, is a cute, funny board book with a simple premise: animals have mouths, and do different things with them!

For the most part, these things are value neutral. The mouths nibble, laugh, sing, etc.

For the most part, the animals are animals-- human sorts of facial expressions, but no clothing or other identifying markers, including any signs of gender.

Except for the hippo, who is wearing a pink-and-red bow. What does she do with her mouth? "Some mouths don't know when to shut-- blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!"


Why is patriarchy so fucking insidious and omnipresent? How am I supposed to protect my child from this when it's bloody everywhere?

I'm not supposed to protect my child from this; I'm supposed to give them tools so they can recognize it and fight it on their own.


For the moment, at least, my mom suggested, and [personal profile] sovay concurred, that a little judicious application of white-out and a grey marker should fix the problem. Fox can recognize and fight sexism on their own when they can, you know, talk.




May. 19th, 2017 07:12 am
gaudior: (Default)
So, who else spent yesterday constantly refreshing Twitter and the Associated Press with a mix of excitement and dread?

Mostly excitement, for me-- I mean, I have spent the last three decades hearing that the American government is based on "a series of checks and balances" to keep things from ever getting too dire. They are very dire now indeed, but if those checks are starting to get their balancing on, that would be pretty great.

Otherwise, I get to come to terms with the notion that the entire country is run primarily by racist, sexist oligarchs who would do anything to preserve their power, and that only outright revolution will actually stop them.

It's just... I cannot get used to how many different genres the next few years could be. And how rapidly it goes back and forth, which one is most likely.

I like the one where this is all the lead-up to the rise of the diverse and rainbow-strewn socialist utopia, but while I'll keep working for that one, I'm not holding my breath.


Reading: Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, Ibram X. Kendi
gaudior: (Default)
So, I was delighted to find this book in the box that [Unknown site tag] very kindly sent to Fox. I remembered loving it as a kid, and thought it would be great to read it to my own kid.

And then I read it. And... um.

The Monster at the End of This Book is a Sesame Street book starring "your lovable, furry old pal Grover," who is horrified to read the title and realize that there is, indeed, a monster (!) at the end of the book. Being terrified of monsters, Grover begs you not to turn any pages, to avoid getting to the end of the book. When you insist on turning page after page, he tries new and more elaborate ways to stop you-- asking, pleading, building bigger and bigger walls, eventually just begging. You turn the penultimate page anyway, and it turns out that the monster at the end of the book is-- Grover himself! Not scary at all! "And you were so frightened," Grover mocks you. And then, on the very last page, he mutters quietly, "Oh, I am so embarrassed."

So, on the one hand, this book is so fun. You, the parent, get to read the Grover voice, which is expressive as only a Muppet can be. For a kid, it's your very first meta-- the character on the page is aware of you, looking right at you, talking to you! You get to affect what happens to them! And you are very strong-- strong enough to knock down a brick wall, strong enough to overcome everything the character is trying to do to stop you.

On the other hand, I've spent the past decade or so thinking a lot about consent. And rape culture. And gaslighting. And... wow, this book sure does have all those things in them, and not in the way I'd like.

I feel a little ridiculous bringing this up. It's just a kid's book, there's nothing sexual about it. I had it read to me (many, many times), and I don't go around raping people.

And yet, I know that for all my conscious political convictions, my unconscious is soaking in the background radiation of sexism, racism, and everything else that I've been absorbing from the culture around me for decades. Fox will get a big dose of that from the real world no matter what we do (their doctor and nurse both love them, but: their doctor is male, and White; their nurse is female, and Black, and guess who's in charge?), but we could try to minimize it.

The toughest part is that I actually think the boundary-smashing is a big part of what makes the book so fun for kids. Kids spend their whole lives with powerful adults telling them "no," putting boundaries around what they can do. Kids rarely have their own "no" listened to. And in many ways, this is a good thing-- no, they really should not get to run in the street. Yes, they do need to go to bed when they're tired. And a good parent will try not to say "no" excessively, and will try to compromise with kids in the details surrounding what the kid has to do for their (and our) health and wellbeing. But still: kids run into a lot of boundaries they can't get around. It's liberating, awesome fun to, for once, get to tear those boundaries into a million pieces-- and have it turn out to be okay in the end. A more collaborative kind of meta might be amusing, but it wouldn't have the kind of visceral delight that you get from making Grover (who is, let's not forget, voiced by your parent, the person who usually has such firm no's) wail about you overcoming his every obstacle.

I'm not sure what to do about this. I want to teach Fox to enjoy problematic media, because everything is problematic. It's just-- that enjoyment will involve conversations about the thing-- why it's fun, what the problems are. I've got a while to figure it out with this book, because Fox doesn't speak in words yet.* What they're getting from the book now is probably "colors! Maybe those are images of real things (?) And Mom's voice is doing funny things. Also, I can whack this thing and make a noise, and I can 'turn' the 'pages,' whoa."

But I'm not sure what to say when I do. "Wow, I'm glad that this book is just pretend?" That sort of messes up the meta. I don't want to reinforce the moral the book seems to have-- "See, he turned out to like it in the end! That makes it okay that you did what he didn't want!"

...except that that is also something that happens to kids a lot. I mean, a famous story in my family is "Gaudior and the French Toast." As a child, I utterly refused to eat French Toast. I insisted that it was Disgusting! and Terrible! and I would Never, Ever, Ever do it! My mother, noting that I had never tasted French Toast, suggested I try a bite. I tried a bite. It was delicious. I loved French Toast.

A major difference here, of course, is that issues with consent for adults revolve around person A forcing person B into something for the benefit of A. With kids, at least in theory, person A is forcing person B into something for the benefit of B. Kids, we figure, don't know what's good for them. That's why kids can't consent to sex: their consent or lack thereof is based on insufficient knowledge of the world, so it's meaningless.

But you can't raise someone for eighteen years with the message that their consent or the lack thereof is meaningless, and then expect them to understand that consent is very important the instant we consider them legally old enough to have sex. "Kids' consent doesn't matter" segues neatly into "my consent never matters" for girls, and "being an adult means you can force other people instead of them forcing you" for boys. Neither of which is a reasonable message, but you see where they get it from.

I don't have good answers for this one, and Fox is now up from their nap. To be continued, I suppose.


*They have one word: "hey!" or "hi!" meaning "pay attention to me!" I don't think that's so much understanding that words have meaning as knowing that people react to them making that sound, and they like when people react.
gaudior: (Default)
So, I've heard that as a six-month-old, Fox (not their IRL name) should recognize their name. The difficulty with this is: here are the things that we call our baby:

Little Cub
Little Cubling
Little Cublet
Smol One
Little Smol
Little Fox
Little Sea-Eyed Fox
Little Ocean-Eyed Fox
Hey, there.

So, they are basically doomed.

OTOH, they don't know my name either, as I don't go around referring to myself as "Mommy" in the third person, and everyone else calls me by my given name. They are making a valiant effort at naming [personal profile] rushthatspeaks as "Dadadadadadada," so we'll go with that.


(Oh, and, because I haven't posted in basically ever: does anyone not want to see kid posts? Should I set up a filter?)
gaudior: (Default)
Hey, so-- I have not written much anywhere since Fox was born. But I am getting better at typing one-handed/at naptime, and I've written a few Tumblr posts that are actually long and substantive. Would people be interested in my reposting them here?
gaudior: (Default)
There's a certain amount of irony to the fact that when I accidentally went over to my LJ friends-list, the first several entries there were from the (predominantly Russian) "abandoned places" community.
gaudior: (Default)
Oh, what a great idea!

(sorry for the lack of html, I've got a baby bottle in the other hand. Grin.)
gaudior: (Default)
Hi, folks! I wouldn't say I'm back, per se, but... a lot of people are really sad about what's going on on LJ, and as I said to [personal profile] sovay, it's reminding me rather a lot of the time when our ancestors were also forced to flee their homes in Russia.

So I thought it would be nice to come through and say hi as the community is hopefully reconstructing itself in this new land of opportunity and more transparent terms of service.


gaudior: (Default)
Hi, folks. I think it's time to call it: I'm not really using livejournal/dreamwidth much these days.

This is bittersweet, because lj was the first place online where I found a home. I got my journal in 2002, so it's been almost 15 years. I've made friends here, heard great stories, figured out a lot about myself and the world. But I haven't made an entry in almost four months, and that was just to wish my wife a happy birthday.

I think there are a few reasons for my absence. One is that I've been really enjoying tumblr ( I'm taking pride in curating a positivity blog, a place where people can enjoy spending time. I'm also finding it incredibly helpful for self-care on rough days.

Because the other reason I'm not here: I think doing therapy full-time is actually using most of my writing brain. I spend up to eight hours every day thinking hard about feelings, motivations, change, ongoing story, and how to put those things into words that will communicate the ideas most clearly and empathetically. When I get home, I'm tired. My wordcount is way down for writing fiction, and while I do keep writing it, it's so much slower than it used to be. I think I just don't have many words left to introspect and report here. (It's worth noting that I've been planning to make this entry for months, but only doing it now when I've been on vacation for five days.)

So I'm not journalling, and I don't want to just gradually dwindle and disappear. I want to say a proper goodbye. This is not to say that I'm not going to be reading other people's journals, because I really enjoy those. (Though if something happens that you really want to be SURE I know about, please feel free to tweet at me (gaudiorrr) or email! And Tumblr and Twitter will be an excellent way to keep track of what I'm up to) But I think that there may be a long time before I make another entry, and I wanted to say thank you all, so much, for the years I've spent here.

Thank you. This has been a wonderful place to be.

Take care,
gaudior: (Default)
Happy birthday best wife! May you have a year of reading and cooking and love and friendship and joy and calm relaxation and good health and editing and career success and good books and good stories and good movies and good conversations and cute cats and dog-sized dogs and tasty food and interesting travel and slugs and cities and parenting and hope and health and fun and dignity.

Always dignity.

Love you.
gaudior: (Default)
My body is not wrong or broken. My body is mine. Unique.

I can fight it to try to make it act like someone else's. Or I can learn it-- what it needs, what it feels, what it wants, how it moves. What it can do.

One of those choices feels a lot better than the other.


Reading: Ms. Marvel vol 1-3
gaudior: (drive!)

In the Pit, specifically. Speakers, music, and barbecue!
gaudior: (Default)
(This is a post originally posted on my tumblr, but I bet it gets better comments here!)

Here is an example from my life.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show and its associated audience callbacks is, arguably, homophobic, transphobic, slut-shaming (in that the audience yells “Slut!” whenever the female lead says or does anything), rape-apologistic, probably classist, has almost no representation of characters of color, and so forth. The end of the film very firmly reinstates the monogamous, patriarchal norm: the queer characters are dead and the leads are shown crawling through desolate ruins singing the take-away message that “all I know is/deep down inside I’m bleeding.”

I’m pretty sure that if it had not had all those elements to reassure the mainstream viewer, it would not have been popular enough to be shown to high-school kids in Wisconsin in 1995.

Because in addition to those things, Rocky was also the first time I had ever seen on-screen:

two women kissing
two men being sexually intimate
a “man” dressed in “women’s” clothes who was portrayed as sexy rather than as a joke
a same-sex wedding-type-thing
a female character talking about sex as something she enjoyed for her own fulfillment rather than to look attractive to a guy

And it was also the first environment I was ever in that encouraged me to play with sexuality and gender.

We’re doing better now than we were twenty years ago, and that’s awesome. The internet creates amazing spaces where we can connect to each other without needing to go through something that’s making a profit for someone who will be worried about being too controversial. I’m delighted about that. And I think it’s great that we’re being thoughtful about our fiction, taking it seriously enough to critique it.

I just also think it’s really important to notice the multiple, multi-layered personal meanings that we as individuals associate with works of fiction. Because when I was a little queer in Shorewood, Wisconsin in the 90s, if I hadn’t had Rocky and Dan Savage (then called “Hey, Faggot”) and Buffy and The Birdcage, I wouldn’t have had much of anything. The problematic stuff was what got through the gate-keepers, I think in no small part because its problematicness made it less threatening to them.

But it was still enough to get me thinking about the world outside those gates.
gaudior: (Karkat)
al Theories (what do you mean, the title of my entry is too long?)


Client: The lightbulb is burned out.
Psychodynamic Therapist: Hmm. How do you feel about that?
C: Um, I don't know, annoyed?
PT: Is this feeling of annoyance familiar? When's the last time you felt this way?
C: ... probably the last time a lightbulb burned out?
PT: Interesting! What sorts of things do you associate with a burned-out lightbulb?
C: Darkness. Look, could we just change the lightbulb?
PT: Huh. I mean, yes, we could, but it seems like you're feeling a lot of resistance to talking about your annoyance about lightbulbs. I wonder whether there's something more complicated going on here? Let's explore it!
C: ...

Client: I'm mortal, and I'm going to die.
CBT Therapist: All right, let's look at this logically. What are some challenges to that thought?
C: ... there is no challenge. It's a fact. I'm gonna die.
CBTT: So the automatic negative cognition that comes is "I'm gonna die."
C: ...yes?
CBTT: So let's look at some ways that we can interrupt that automatic thought. Here, take this worksheet, and write down a detailed description of what's happening before you have that thought. And then take this worksheet and write down some challenges to the thought, like "I'm not dead right now," and "I've never died before, so why would I assume I'm going to die later?"
C: That sounds completely pointless.
CBTT: Okay, I know this is hard work, but we can't do much unless you do it. What are some things getting in the way of your being able to do the worksheet?
C: ... I mean, nothing. I can do the worksheet. It's just dumb. Because I am mortal, and I am going to die.
CBT: All right, well, give it a try and see what happens!
C: ...

gaudior: (I must write!)
Hey, does anyone know any really, really readable (like, relatively fast-moving, more stories-about-people than theory-driven, fun) books about New York/Brooklyn in the 1930s and 40s, and/or about World War II?

Asking for a friend.

(Who is writing an Avengers fanfic.)

(And is me.)

(I'm aware that the world does not have a dearth of Avengers fanfic, but-- I'm having fun. I haven't had this kind of enjoyment and enthusiasm for writing for over a year. Most of the past year, I've either not written at all, or felt like I was dredging words out of my brain with a fork, and they weren't even very good words. But this-- I'm writing every time I've got a spare minute, and I'm finding more of them than I thought I had. I have about 15.5k words so far, and I like the words I've got. And if this fic is nothing but fun for me and food for my id-- well, those are still good things! So I am writing it. And book recommendations would be really helpful-- I have a hard time getting through a lot of nonfiction, especially if it's dense, but I trust you guys to have some good ideas!)

gaudior: (Default)
Is there more snow? Since thou dost give me pains,
Let me remember thee what thou hast promised,
Which is not yet performed me.

I mean, seriously, dude.


Reading: Hostage, Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith
gaudior: (reassurance)
A few years ago, I wrote an entry called Advice to a Young Therapist. I've learned some things since then, so it seemed like a good time for another one.

In looking these over, they seem a lot more grim than the last set I wrote. The odd thing is, I think I'm happier and calmer and less in danger of burn-out than I was when I wrote the last one by a factor of about a million. I think that's because I really, really believe #10. So maybe skip to that one, if this is depressing?

Your client sees you through the same lens they see everyone else in their lives. )

Your goal is not for you to be the most important person in your clients' life; it's for them to learn to build other relationships that they can rely on instead of you. )

3. Know your frame. )

4. Also, pay attention to what the frame means to the client. )

5. One of the hardest things about recovering from/leaving abusive relationships is that they are relationships. )

6. Your client getting better at being in therapy is not the same as your client getting better. )

7. Learn the difference between anxiety and fear, and stay safe. )

8. No, seriously, self-care. )

9. You are a conduit for wisdom to flow from one survivor to another. )

You don't have all of the power or none of the power. You have some of the power. )


*This point was driven home by reading The Flock: The Autobiography of a Multiple Personality by Joan Frances Casey, featuring the journal of her therapist, Lynn Wilson. In this memoir, Casey describes how her therapist, and her therapist's husband, became substitute parents for her to replace her abusive ones, complete with hugs, cuddling, trips to their lake house, etc. Casey finds this treatment wonderfully restorative until the point where Wilson, pretty abruptly, decides that this is too much for her, and suddenly places boundaries. For a while, she and Casey continue to work together, but then Wilson and her husband die suddenly in a boating accident. After that, Casey declares that she is suddenly completely integrated! And totally fine! And living a perfectly good life! Well, except for the alcoholism and depression. But basically fine!

So, like, don't try to be everything to your clients. Because what if you die in a boating accident?

** There are some therapists who think that the client should start talking at the beginning of the hour, so that they talk about what's important to them, not just what they think the therapist wants them to say. That's all well and good, but you need to for the love of all the gods TELL THE CLIENT THAT. They can't telepathically divine your intentions, they haven't read the same books you have, and they have no flippin' clue why you're just sitting there staring at them. So they will come up with an explanation for it-- that you're putting them in a stressful situation to see how crazy they are, that you're a creep, that you're too uninterested in them as a person to bother simple politeness like "good morning"-- etc. This is not conducive to good therapeutic rapport!
gaudior: (Default)
The secret of eternal youth is to keep trying new things. You can experience that pure, youthful feeling of "AAAAAGH I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE FUCK I'M DOING HEEEELLLLLLP!!!!" over and over again, your whole life long.


Reading: The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad, Minister Faust.
gaudior: (Default)
Happy birthday, [personal profile] jinian! May you have a year of love and friendship and interesting genes in interesting plants and cheerful-colored hair and better weather and health to you and all you love and purring cats and good books and music and movies and cool crafts projects and fun and play and good days and tasty food and interesting cooking and general cheer!

gaudior: (Karkat)
Wherein A Hemoanomalous Mutant Summons A Group of Misfits, Including Crippled Cullbait, a Sopor-Addict, An Unfit and Politically Incorrect Heiress, A Feral Lowblood, and Various Other Disreputable Sorts, to Join A Plot Which Will Destroy Alternia and Wipe Out the Troll Empire, Allying Themselves With Enemy Aliens, and Rampaging Across the Universe Until Her Imperious Condescension Herself Battles Them One on One and Defeats Them. Featuring Scenes of Graphic Conciliation, In-Depth Descriptions of Two Major Heresies, Interspecies Relationships in Multiple Quadrants, An Unspeakably Large Cast More Than Half of Whom Are Aliens, Too Many Deaths and Resurrections to Count, An Unreasonably Casual Approach to Metaphysics, and A Lot of Swearing.

(Homestuck would SO be banned for half of its characters...)


Reading: Steven Brust, Iorich. Carla Speed McNeil, Third World. Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, Saga.
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