gaudior: (be the change)
This is a call for people to sign a petition to give people the option of donating to NASA when they file their taxes. It could raise tremendous amounts of money for an organization which does important work, but is sadly underfunded. Go sign!

gaudior: (be the change)
Usually, in discussions of cultural appropriation, a white writer will say something along the lines of, "But you're saying that if I write anything about other cultures, you'll accuse me of cultural appropriation! If that's so, maybe I should just write about nothing but white people!" The usual (and, I think, sensible) response to this is, "There are worse things than trying and getting it wrong, the most important of which is not trying. Do your best, and use the criticism you get to do it better the next time-- if you're a professional writer, you'd better be able to handle the fact that not everyone will love everything you do without taking it personally."

This makes sense to me. But it also makes sense to me to create a basic set of guidelines and list of writers who have written about other cultures very well and respectfully, for two reasons. The first is that this will be an easy answer for people who raise the question spuriously and rhetorically-- one can just link them here. The second is that for people who ask the question because they are genuinely confused and want to write skillfully and respectfully about cultures not there own, it seems useful to try to set out basic guidelines and examples. To this end, I would very much appreciate others' suggestions for additions and revisions to these lists.

It is worth noting that I am far from the first person to write guidelines. My favorite is Nisi Shawl's essay Appropriate Cultural Appropriation which clearly and eloquently describes how to write well about cultures not your own; her use of Diantha Day Sprouse's metaphor of Invaders, Tourists and Guests is particularly useful. Elizabeth Bear also did a set of guidelines in her essay whatever you're doing, you're probably wrong. A number of similar posts were compiled by Micole and Rydra Wong here,, and they're definitely worth a perusal. I have not, however, found a compiled list of good examples of books and other media which do it well, so I hope that that may be a useful contribution to the dialogue.

Basic Guidelines. )
List of Books and Authors Whom I Believe Write Well About Cultures Not Their Own. )
gaudior: (be the change)
I was talking to B about foreign policy, and had an insight about one way of viewing world politics. It's the view I've held more-or-less unconsciously for many years, and I don't know how relevant it feels to other people, but I thought I'd share.

Namely: As a white American, I would talk about how we (whites and Americans) oppress everyone else in the world-- how our actions (currently and historically) are responsible for the vast amount of misery out there, and how other people's hatred of whites and/or Americans is completely justified because of what we've done.

Leaving aside for the moment the truth of this, I am struck by the fact that as a worldview, it can be tremendously reassuring. Because it suggests that whites and/or Americans are so powerful that we can cause all the pain in the world.

In my opinion, most worldviews are designed to perform the unconscious functions of making us feel both Good and Safe. The universe is huge, full of overwhelming amounts of information, and innately dangerous (we're all gonna die, sooner or later). We rely on our worldviews to make sense of it and our place in it, in a way that lets us feel secure enough to function. And if we need to distort or ignore some facts to feel that security, we'll generally do so for as long as we possibly can.

The worldview "whites and/or Americans are evil oppressors" fills these needs neatly. It would let me feel that I was Good because I, as a liberal, saw that racism/imperialism is bad, and so I felt virtuous about wanting to work against them. But it also, without my realizing it, let me feel Safe because no matter what I could do, I was still part of this immensely powerful group. If our group is so strong that it can do all this damage-- well, then it's also strong enough to protect me, keep me safe from all the bad things out here. I might disagree with other whites and/or Americans, but doing so could not remove from me the power they/we hold.

Now, all worldviews may be flawed in this way (certainly, the view, "Americans are good, everyone else is bad, and we're the strongest and can beat them up!" also makes us feel both Good and Safe, but has definite drawbacks). But I am troubled by this particular flaw because I believe it works directly against the goal it claims to be attempting.

Namely: if I felt safe because our group is powerful enough to cause all the ills of the world-- then I could not feel safe if other groups gained power. My conscious desire for people of color and/or developing countries to become empowered went directly against my unconscious desire to feel safe.

This has many manifestations. One, as B pointed out, was my tendency to assume that, for example, the terrorist attack on September 11th was caused solely by response to American oppression-- not by, for example, the influence by the Saudi Arabian monarchy on the rest of the region-- or, indeed, anything else being done by the people living in the Middle East. I assumed that terrorists were "misguided" or angry about American injustices toward them-- because that is so much less frightening than the idea that people might have a real ideology opposed to ours, and the willingness to act on it to defeat us.

Another manifestation (one which I don't think I did so much, but which I recognize in other people) is one of white allies in anti-racism work basically trying to take over the movement-- because they believe that they need to rescue the poor people of color from their horrible plight. This leads to white allies not listening to POC, putting forth solutions to non-existent problems while ignoring the real ones, complaining about how POC would make more progress if they would just change their "tone," etc. (I also notice this particularly in disability activism, where disabled people saying they want the kinds of help they want, not the kinds that non-disabled people assume they need, are often met with considerable resistance and accusations of ingratitude.)

Now, it is very important to note that this does not mean that white and American people don't have a lot of power and the responsibility for tremendous misery, both historically and currently. We do, and I think it is incredibly important to work to dismantle that abusive power.

My point is that if we do not look at our unconscious motivations for doing that work, we may find ourselves accidentally working against our stated goals. If we cling to White Guilt, it can keep us from hearing the voices of the people of color who have the best grasp of what is actually happening. That guilt is a marvelous unconscious compromise; it lets us imagine our group to be all-powerful, but absolves us of the possibility of doing anything real about the harm we do. We can both be all-powerful (Evil White Americans oppress the WHOLE WORLD!), and powerless (we can never make up for all the Evil our group has done, so there's no point in trying-- and anyway, it's not our fault, because we are good liberals!).

The better position, I think, is one of having an awareness of exactly how much power we do and don't have. As a white American, I do have a great deal of privilege, and can use it to make the world a little better or a little worse. But people from other countries, and people of color, also have power. They look at their own situations and make their own decisions about the best route to take. And on the other hand, America is not immune from others' actions and beliefs-- September 11th was not our idea, it was genuinely people wanting to hurt us because they hated us. Everyone has some power-- not all, not none-- and a realistic worldview must realize and accept that.

I am not Safe because I am a white American. Nor am I Good for thinking that racism and imperialism are bad. I am a vulnerable, imperfect person, like everyone else. And it is only together, as a united group of vulnerable, imperfect people, that we can change the world.

gaudior: (pink)
I like this meme. I feel less defensive than some about my love for female characters, but I've been reading Joanna Russ, who talks a lot about how (at the time she's writing, mostly 70s and 80s, as well as historically) you don't find women who do things in fiction. She has this list in her essay "What Can A Heroine Do?: Or, Why Women Can't Write" in her book To Write Like A Woman, of stories you never see, including such plots as:

1. Two strong women battle for supremacy in the early West.
2. A young girl in Minnesota finds her womanhood by killing a bear.

and other things which, in 1971 when the essay was written, women just weren't allowed to do in fiction.

I like this meme as a celebration of how things have changed, as well as (FUCK YOU) how far we have to go.

So, yay.

From [ profile] yhlee, originally by [ profile] dsudis
So I was adding some new interests to my LJ profile and found myself feeling defensive every time I typed a female name, thinking, basically, FUCK YOU, SHE'S AWESOME, because I felt as if someone somewhere was going to be criticizing my love for them.

So, anyway, then I made a list of women who make me want to say FUCK YOU, SHE'S AWESOME. They are far from the only women who are awesome, or the only women people need to be told to step off of, but they are the top ten I feel that way about, right now, off the top of my head.

If you want to argue with me about the awesomeness of any of these women, I am afraid I will simply be referring you to the subject line. THAT IS ALL.

Because here's the thing, I totally accept that not everyone's going to like every character I love, but I'm really tired of feeling like I'm going on the defensive every time I admit to loving a female character.

Starbuck (BSG)
President Roslin (BSG)
Nanny Ogg (Pratchett)
Granny Weatherwax (Pratchett)
Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan (Bujold)
Honda Tohru (Fruits Basket)
Tenjou Utena (Shoujo Kakumei Utena)
Buttercup (PowerPuff Girls)
Willow Rosenberg (Buffy)
Setsuna Subaru (Also Lady Momoe, and, come to think of it, every single other female character in the anime Shingu, which is a far more awesome anime than most people realize)

I'm also thinking about something Lila and I were discussing recently (also related to Joanna Russ); the fact that, when we were kids, we could find very few kids' books with strong female friendships which weren't girls-books-for-girls (heavy focus on clothes, make-up, and boys, e.g., the Babysitters' Club). Which led me to dig out my first-ten-pages-of-a-terrible-novel (I have a lot of those, from high school and college) which was a kids' book about five girls in, I think, Victorian England, having an adventure. It was godsawful cliched, except that I was clearly trying very hard to write something where there was more than one way of being a girl, and just about succeeding.

Surely other people have done the same, and with better success. Can y'all recommend some kids' books which have strong friendships between girls who do things, not just girls who do girl-things?


Reading: Joanna Russ, On Strike Against God: A Lesbian Love Story. Peter S. Beagle, We Never Talk About My Brother.
gaudior: (utena/anthy)
Please answer "yes" only if this is a genuine preference-- you like it better than any of the options offered in the previous poll.

[Poll #1453077]
gaudior: (utena/anthy)
I was talking to a (moderate, politics-wise) friend this evening about gay marriage. He advanced the idea that everyone, straight and gay, should have civil unions, which include all the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage, but don't use the word. Instead, the word "marriage" should be reserved for religious institutions, which can then decide for themselves whether they will perform same-sex marriages.

This is not a new idea. This is, in fact, an idea which I myself advanced early in the debate, and someone told me, "No, that's a bad idea-- no-one will vote for it."

But it just keeps coming up. I've heard the idea proposed half-a-dozen times over the last few years, always by relatively moderate people, all of whom seem to think that they've come up with it on their own.

And I do know a number of arguments as to why people want to insist on actual legalized gay marriage (not the least of which is that it seems entirely likely to happen, and soon)(and all the difficulties involved in things like, say, Catholic hospitals not wanting to allow unionized queer couples visitation and adoption on their premises). But I find myself curious about the numbers.

So, o my (admittedly biased) sample:

[Poll #1452891]

And this raises the question-- if it turned out that a majority did favor this plan, should same-sex marriage advocates change tactics? Or not?



(Upon request, I have added the following questions, for people who like the status quo in New Jersey, here. That's, civil unions for queers, legal marriages for straight people. Unfortunately, lj will not allow me to revise a poll, or add another poll to a pre-existing entry-- otherwise, I would edit this into the original.)

ETA: Okay, so, on further reflection, I clearly did not think this entry through very thoroughly at all. It is, as many people have pointed out, a bad poll, poorly worded, and unlikely to get results which are in any way representative of the general population. If I were being a real social scientist, this would have been my test-run, in which I found out all the things wrong with the poll before revising it, running it by another test pool, and then taking it to a large, anonymous, randomized sample, preferably with multiple methods of reaching participants of a good range of demographics.

Which was clearly not my intent. Honestly, I just wanted an ideas-check-- "Hey, I've heard this idea from a bunch of people, but I don't see any moves towards it-- howcome? Is it a bad idea, and if so, why, so that the next half-dozen times someone proposes it to me, I'll have ideas about what to say?" Or it might have been possible that it was a good idea, which for some reason no-one had proposed, in which case, I might have wanted to take more action. But I didn't have a real agenda besides finding out what people thought, and looking for more ideas.

So, my apologies for taking so long to respond to people's interesting and insightful comments-- I was somewhat overwhelmed by just how many responses I got! But. Onwards.

gaudior: (saiyuki)
Three notes:

1) This is what I think right now (based on a fair bit of research and experience, but still). It is neither absolute truth nor what all theorists think, nor necessarily what I will think in twenty years.
2) While I've tried to make this sufficiently non-specific that it shouldn't be too triggery, I'm putting it behind a cut-tag anyway.
3) If anyone can tell me how I'm incorrect, I'd welcome additions and revisions.

How Trauma Works, and How You Recover )
gaudior: (Utena fight)
Went to worldcon! It was awesome! Hopefully I shall post more details presently!

At the moment, though, inspired by a recent post by a friend (friends-locked, or I'd link), I'd like to post the results of an experiment. See, my mother raised me feminist, and did a damn fine job of it-- I think I'm more comfortable with being female, and yet confident to do what I want with my life, than most other women I know. A large part of this was my unconscious construction of blinders that keep me from noticing and reacting to the tremendous number of signals I receive, all the time, telling me that:

1) because I'm female, I should act in certain ways
2) because I'm female, I should not act in certain ways, and in fact would not be physically/mentally/emotionally able to do so
3) because I'm female, I have certain qualities (usually negative, but also positive)
4) because I'm female, my purpose is to serve, care for, and please others, especially males
5) all other females and males should also act accordingly.

So I decided to try taking the blinders off. For exactly one twenty-four hour period last week, I would make a note of every single thing I noticed which reminded me of these messages.

Results below. )

Note that this is just things that jumped out at me. I didn't analyze clothing and hairstyle, or the fact that I was doing the laundry, or anything else under the surface. That's 1200 words of nothing but in-your-face gender-role reinscriptions.

And I try to ignore these, most of the time. Try to say that I am simply myself, try to be guided by my own beliefs, opinions and desires on this subject, not those which are all around me, constantly, insisting that I am something else. And I'm amazed at how often I succeed.

But doing this experiment makes me wonder. If I didn't have to spend all this effort insisting against all odds on being myself-- if I could just live in a world where people like me were the norm, or at very least widely accepted-- what could I do with all that energy? What could I be?


Reading: C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength. Elizabeth Enright, Thimble Summer. Rumer Godden, In this House of Brede.
gaudior: (be the change)
Note: This entry is not meant to discourage anyone who might be thinking about getting into therapy. For there are many excellent and helpful therapists out there, and even the people complaining about them often said "while this therapist was awful, my current therapist is great!" But I am hoping to learn more about how to be better at my job, and knowing what not to do is very useful.

So, yesterday I spent some time Googling the phrase "terrible therapists" and seeing what I found. This list featured a number of the main ones that people mentioned, including the therapist:

*falling asleep during the session
*talking too much about him/herself, especially about his/her trauma
*touching the client and/or trying to make the relationship sexual
*showing up late
*taking phone calls or otherwise letting him/herself be distracted during session (worst story I found online: the therapist had locked her mother (who had Alzheimer's) in a car just outside her office, and watched her mother over the client's shoulder-- and at one point, ran out of the session to go sit in the car with her mother, who was trying to unlock the door. Dear GODS.)

Other things people mentioned in online discussion forums included the therapist:

*imposing his/her religious views on the client (whether Christians wanting the client to pray with them, or therapists who do things like "turned down the lights, lit some healing herb incense, and started to waft it around the room.")
*telling clients something along the lines of "cheer up, it's not so bad! You're young! At least you didn't get raped! You can get over these feelings if you put your mind to it!" etc. Which are sentiments which might be supportive if said with empathy-- but the way these people describe it, it sounds more like a denial of their pain or their right to their pain than an offering of hope for their eventually feeling better.
*sitting in silence, particularly at the beginning of the session (Interestingly, this is a technique which has often been recommended to me by supervisors. The idea is to let the client guide the session without the therapist's imposing his/her ideas. But I think that if you don't explain that that's what you're doing, and why, it just leads to people feeling socially awkward and uncomfortable, as many, many, many people on the forums complained about feeling).
*not giving advice/feedback to people who want it
*giving advice/feedback to people who don't want it
*giving bad advice, or overly simplistic advice ("imagine your anxiety as a piece of feces, and flush it away down your toilet! Now it's gone!") or advice that clearly won't work for this person
*seeming to not remember what the client told him/her about in previous sessions
*not recommending medication when it would be useful
*insisting on medication when it would not be useful, or to the exclusion of other treatments
*criticizing the client-- implying strongly that the client is in pain because there's something wrong with him/her, or because s/he is choosing to be
*refusing to work with a client who self-injures, or who will not sign a suicide contract (this is also something supervisors have recommended to me. It's in part a way to prevent liability, and to prevent therapist burn-out. Which are, like, worthwhile, but people on the forums seemed to find them really unempathetic.)
*not investigating possible medical causes of physical problems, but insisting that they are psychological
*insisting that s/he is right and the client is wrong
*seeming overly formal, distant, and/or anxious
*seeming to play "games" to make the client admit something, show anger, etc.

An overall theme I noticed is that a bad therapist is one who seems to not "get" you, and to not care about you-- whereas someone who honestly does care and understand can be forgiven lapses. Best example is therapists crying; some people praised their therapists for tearing up when the client talked about something really sad, as they felt that it meant the therapist was really with them, really empathized, cared and understood. Other people criticized their therapists for crying, as they felt this meant the therapist "had issues and could not listen to some one elses' in a professional manner"-- that the therapist was crying about his/her own pain, not the client's. Similarly, a therapist with good rapport can (and, I believe, often should) respectfully point out when a client's behavior is contributing to his/her situation-- but it must be done from a stance of "hey, person I care about and respect, want to hear about a way you could have more power and control and make your life better?" rather than "this is all your fault, and that's why I'm better and smarter than you." And a good therapist will usually know the client well enough to judge which way s/he will take it, and be sensitive to that.

But what else am I missing? What bad experiences have people had with therapists? What would you recommend a therapist do or never do?

gaudior: (be the change)
About Patricia Wrede's new novel The Thirteenth Child.

But much more about the history of America, and First Nations people, and names, and emptiness. She's done that thing she does where she has a new and original thought and phrases it clearly and chillingly and eloquently. I love when she does that.

Go read!


(My own thought on the book is that a book about an America which is not founded on generations of genocide could be fascinating in how it could point out the flaws in our own America, and how different our "white-washed" history is from one genuinely not built on bloodshed. But I am told that is not this book?)
gaudior: (Default)
So, it occurs to me that when I posted about Sassafrass several days ago, it was meant to be as much advertisement as update. Not just, "yay, I'm in a group!" but also, "behold, dear readers, music that you probably want to listen to because it's awesome!" And I revised the entry to reflect that, but like, a day later, so people probably didn't see.

So, at the risk of re-posting: these songs are great. Really gorgeous philosophically complex lyrics, really gorgeous musically complex harmonies. I muchly recommend it if you like folk or filk or Renaissance music or a capella or any of the above. Although, as Levar Burton would say, you don't have to take my word for it-- there are samples of a lot of the songs on the website. Go listen!

Also, some of my most favorite lyrics:

From "Tumbling Away": I need a cause for what I am/I need the world to have a plan/I need for man to have a Maker, but still be free.

From "Daughter of Apocalypse": I see her dancing through the crowd, a succubus among the flock/As graceful as a corpse's shroud and beautiful as Ragnarok.

From "The Earth and the Water and the Wind": For a moment, it's there; a single point where (the past and the present and the wind) times here and times done and times still to come (the earth and the water and the wind)

From "The Enepet Folksong": Take your West as a lover, tire of her, take another-- when you are dying, mine is the soul you name.

From "Wild Angel": Through the forest comes a crying across the crocused floor

From "All the Time in the World": His presence turned the greys to gold and drizzle to diamond.

From "Ideo Gloria": (translated from the French) On this day, Hell shall ring/With the songs damned sing/Cursing God, distant King/Who refused to save us/To damnation gave us.

...and pretty much just the entirety of "Threadbare Dragon." Because yay.



Reading: still Possession, by A.S. Byatt. Still enjoying it, tho.
gaudior: (utena/anthy)
So, I am deeply fond of Tales of MU, thank you [ profile] weirdquark for pointing me at it lo these many months ago. It's a daily-updated serialized online novel about a half-demon and her friends' first semester at college. There's a tremendous amount of queer, kinky, poly sex, which is fun, as well as a pretty well-worked out magical system (the author seems to be having a great deal of fun with making a world almost exactly parallel to ours in most ways, but in which the basic laws of the universe actually make science unrealistic. She doesn't play as much as I might like with second-order consequences, because she's fairly bound by the parallels, but she also puts a good bit of thought into it, and that's fun). Interesting characters, very good character development (the gradual development of the golem's free will and sense of identity is really well done and made of awesome). The plot sprawls a bit, which I think has to do with it being posted as it's written, but overall, I'm hooked. (Also, she uses "non-human sentient species" in many ways as a metaphor for race-- but she also deals with racial differences among humans, and colonialism, and how race-relations among humans interact with the lives of non-human sentient species, and for that, she is made of win.)

The thing I don't like, though, is the comments thread. Because while the text itself strikes me as very awesome in regards to sex, gender, power, etc, the commentors come off, often enough, like frat-boys. And I am really sick of people calling the protagonist a "stupid slut," or hating the trans character or the very poly character while praising the monogamous straight white male to the skies. Because all of the major characters are, in my opinion, interestingly flawed, but also sympathetic. And it kind of sucks to see people reading about these people through lenses that they're not questioning. I mean, maybe they will question them a bit, after a while? But I'm not seeing it there. And it annoys me.

So: read the story. Skip the comments.

OMG my colloquium (dissertation defense) is TOMORROW OMG OMG OMG OMG GAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!

gaudior: (Utena fight)
And so much of me should-be-writing-a-paper. But I wanted to repost a few things, mostly in reaction to the Open-Source Boob Project kerfluffle. For those who don't know about it, this all started when a guy named [ profile] theferrett and a few of his friends had one of those cool moments that happen among friends sometimes, where you all let down your boundaries around physical intimacy and engage in a whole lot of mutual groping without any real sexual intent, just to enjoy each other's bodies. Which is, in my opinion, fine. The problem was that, being fans at a con, they said, "This is awesome! Let's get lots of other people to join in!" So they propositioned some random passers-by, who didn't object very loudly, and they decided they should make it a meme. They started wearing buttons announcing their participation in this "project," which basically said that anyone passing by could ask a person wearing the button whether the passerby could grope the button-wearer, without insult. There was a focus on breasts (see the name), but when asked, the people involved said that many types of touch were permitted, including grabbing guys' asses and chests (though not balls), by people of both sexes toward people of both sexes.

The major difficulty with this, in my opinion, is that it would have worked nicely in a culture which does not have a long tradition of violence against women, women's bodies being seen as property for the taking, women being pressured through a variety of means to see their bodies as property for the taking, and women's sole route to power of any kind being through the use and sale of their bodies. However, we don't live in a culture like that. And a lot of the discourse in the (1300 comment long!) thread was around [ profile] theferrett and his friends saying, "No, I don't want to live in this kind of culture. So we don't! And you're all just being silly," and a lot of people saying "..." Only with lots more eloquence.

I recommend the comment thread, as it has a lot of interesting discussion, and only a few trolls.

Here, though, I'm posting two things. One is my comment, which is also up on [ profile] theferrett's journal, but buried on the fifth page of comments, and I liked it, so I'm reproducing it here:

So, on the one hand, I'd disagree with people who are seeing [ profile] theferrett and his friends as having done a Very Bad Thing. Everyone's descriptions make it sound like this was a genuine attempt, by a bunch of friends, to try for a moment to live in a world in which touch and sexuality don't have the baggage of fear and patriarchy that they carry in the rest of our lives. And that's a cool idea.

But there's something I've noticed in the entry and these comments which puts me firmly in the "the way this is being discussed is pretty damn objectifying" camp.

So, I don't know about anyone else, but my breasts are erogenous zones, chock-full of nerve endings. If someone is touching my breasts, one of two things is happening. Either a) I'm turned on, or b) I'm dissociating, trying hard not to be present and aware of the sensation and its impact on me. I don't have a trauma history, but I do have times (at the doctor, say) when I'm trying to be as unaware as possible of what's going on in my body, because it feels emotionally uncomfortable.

Now, a number of women have talked about being involved in this event, and, in the comments I've read so far, none of them have talked about feeling aroused. Instead, they say things like what [ profile] zoethe said several threads upstream: "I felt empowered by the ability to say, 'Yes, I can choose to share my bounty with others.'" The focus is not on the women's physical sexual pleasure. It's on their pleasure at being able to have their bodies appreciated by someone else. [ profile] ewin said it even more clearly: "I really dig on the idea of letting as many folks as possible appreciate these boobs before they droop, you know? They have a lot of pep left in them, and they're just SITTING there right now, doing nothing. It's a shame." That statement makes it sound like [ profile] ewin doesn't see her breasts as being there for her pleasure except as someone else might enjoy them.

Now, I can see two possible reasons for this. One is that the women were sexually aroused by all of this, and didn't want to say so-- because that is embarrassing, intimate, and/or forbidden by the traditional view of women which forbids us from seeking sexual satisfaction for our own sake, not someone else's. But the other possible reason is that people actually weren't aroused, because they were dissociated from what they were experiencing physically, because they really were doing this only as breasts to be appreciated.

I wasn't there, so I don't know what it felt like from the inside. But I know that I'd feel a lot more comfortable with this idea if the women involved were saying "I enjoyed this because free petting feels really good!" rather than "I enjoyed this because it's nice to have my assets appreciated."

The other thing I want to re-post is, yes, a meme, but also a vow I'm taking seriously. And want it to spread. Because this is the point where talking on the internet turns into real action, that can cause real change.

The Open-Source Women-Backing-Each-Other-Up Campaign

Here's my pledge: if I see somebody groping you in public, and you're not moaning Yes! Yes! Yes!, I will break through your Somebody Else's Problem invisibility field and come over and ask if you're okay. If your situation looks dangerous enough I can't help on my own, I will call over friends or, if it's a situation in which I think the cops would be on your side, I will call the cops. If you're being harassed by a guy*, you can say so to me, even if you don't know me. I pledge I will distract him so you can get away, or I will tell him that he needs to leave, or whatever I can do to the best of my ability. I pledge that yes, actually, because you are a woman I will give you the benefit of the doubt. If you tell me that a guy just did something shitty to you I will not refuse to look at any evidence and tell you that I know him and he's a great guy and you must have been imagining things. I have great loyalty to my male friends but I will not allow that to blind me to the fact that none of us are saints and even my best friends can screw up and may need to be called on it. I pledge that I will walk you to your car if you don't feel safe walking alone at night, and then you can drive me to mine.

Yes, even at Wiscon. I pledge that even if I don't know you, if there is a creepy guy following you around, you can say so, and I will not say to you go hide in your room; I will say to him go find another party, or if necessary, go home. I will come with you if you need to talk to the con organizers. I will not make you feel like your right to control over your own body is not a big deal.

And I will do this whether or not I like you, or even know you. It's not about liking you. It's about the fact that we need to back each other up, and I will need you to do this for me some day.


*Or a girl. Despite the statistics, men do not have a monopoly on sexual aggression.
gaudior: (saiyuki)
So advice-giving is one of the major temptations in my profession. Because these people come to you with problems, right, and they want help, and they're really sad/scared/etc, and you really want to fix it. And sometimes it seems really obvious that if they just did x, it would be better.

And while some shrinks will go ahead and recommend x, that's not my approach. Because the thing is, if x is really obvious, they've quite often already thought of it (or someone else has already recommended it), and there's a reason you don't know about that x wouldn't work. Sometimes that reason seems stupid or irrational or embarassing, and they don't want to tell it to you. Sometimes it's unconscious. Sometimes they just haven't gotten a chance to say it yet. But in any of these cases, your recommending x either means they argue with you, or they nod and smile and don't do it, or they agree with you that they really should, and then they beat themselves up for not doing it. None of which are productive.

So my usual approach is to not give advice. To ask questions and listen and empathize and give back my understanding of the problem, and let them come up with it on their own. If one solution seems really obvious, I might ask whether they've already thought of it, or ask questions that (if I think I can be subtle enough) lead gently in that direction. But those have to be non-rhetorical questions, questions to which I'm genuinely listening for the answer, and will change my mind if I hear something other than what I expect.

Because a lot of the time, when I really want to give advice, it's because there is no easy solution, and I want there to be. Sometimes, life really sucks, and there's nothing I or the client can do about it. Those are the times when I either have to sit with the sadness and fear of the situation-- or try vainly to find a way of controlling it by saying, "Do this, and it will fix it!" And then if the client doesn't take my advice, I can blame him or her for it, or (more likely for me) blame his or her disorders and issues and past pain. So I can feel like at least it's not my fault, and I have the illusion of control over the fact that sometimes, the universe really, uncontrollably sucks.

I'm getting better, I think, at not doing that. At sitting with the fact that sometimes, it just hurts, and there's no way out but through. At believing I'm useful even if I can't fix everything.

There are, however, times when my wanting to give advice feels very different-- and when I indulge it wholeheartedly. Those are when I'm fairly sure that the advice I have will not be something the person has heard before, or thought of him/herself. Sometimes it's strictly medical (although in the days of Google, those are less frequent). More often, it's social (why, yes, young White woman from the East Coast, you do have a culture. And it's one of the major things you're dealing with right now). I still tend to be cautious about it-- there are very few new ideas under the sun. But in those times, I can tell that I'm not trying to control my clients' pain by telling them what to do. Instead, I'm giving them new ideas, things that might expand their worldview. I don't know for sure that this will help them, and it certainly won't solve all their problems. But if I can give advice that gives someone something new to think about... well, it's fun, is all.

I like my job.

gaudior: (Utena fight)
So, a little while ago, [ profile] teenybuffalo posted the following link. It leads to an essay arguing that slash is anti-feminist. I disliked the essay in general-- I found the author, Dissenter's, sarcasm obnoxious, and I was very unimpressed with her disabling all comments except from people with whom she agreed.* But I think that it did make a number of interesting arguments. cut for (relatively old) theory. )More importantly, I think that any generalization about slash and why people write it is just that-- a generalization. So exceptions can be found to it, because we're talking about human creativity, and that's all about exceptions. What Dissenter has pointed out, I feel, is not the flaws in slash, but the flaws inbad slash. She's right that, in badly-written slash, you do find a fair number of things like weepy "feminized" non-consenting bottoms, bitchy or nonexistant female characters, etc, and she's right that these things are problematic. But I think her mistake is in assuming that these are features of all slash.

So... I've come up with a rating system, based loosely on her essay, of "how feminist your slash is." Because I believe that we can find a whole lot of stories which subvert the patriarchy in all kinds of fun ways.****

So: The Feminist Slash-Rating Scale

Give the story one point each if:

*the pairing do not fall into easily-visible "top/bottom=masculine/feminine" roles. Especially if they don't have a clear top and bottom.

*the female characters are fully-developed, admirable and three-dimensional, not "vapid, stupid, cold, calculating, grasping, unfairly demanding, physically disgusting, and generally lacking in any desire at all except for an overwhelming need to get married and have children."

*the female characters have sex drives, and are in no way condemned for this

*the sex is chosen and enjoyed by both/all parties, not forced on the bottom by the top.

*the characters actually deal with homophobia or the other social consequences of homosexuality in their context

*the characters think deeply about what this relationship means for their sexual and/or gender identities.

*the primary pairing is femmeslash (and is about the characters as people, not just for lezbeyun pr0n).

*the characters are actually canonically gay.

*the original source was written by a woman.

*the author plays with the characters' gender(s) in an interesting way (i.e., doing something other than simply recreating a heterosexual relationship).

*the characters raise a child together (without one of them simply being rewritten to take on the traditional feminine/mother role).****

Two points if the author is consciously addressing and playing with any of the issues raised by the above.

My own fic, Mercy of the Fallen, only scores a 5 or 6, depending on your interpretation of cannon. I think [ profile] askerian's Teamworkverse gets a 6. The Sith Academygets 10 points, muchly because it gets a number of two-pointers because of its parodic playing with genre. E.E. Beck's extremely brilliant Vorkosigan fics, A Deeper Season and What Passing Bells****** together score 8 without any playing with genre at all, just because it's that good.

...but I'm actually surprised to realize that the fics I like aren't scoring higher. Hm. Can anyone find something that scores a perfect 11, or better? Does such a fic exist? If not, can people find other fics that score high (or, conversely, explain to me ways that the scale's no good)?

Yay, feminism.


* because, in her words, "Clearly I am not in agreement with those who think slash is radical/progressive/feminist. Clearly, those who do think slash is radical/progressive/feminist are not in agreement with me. Going around in endless circles about whether it is or it isn’t does not, in my book, constitute a constructive or informative discussion." I find her dismissal of the idea that anyone (including her) might have logical or persuasive arguments, and might have something to teach each other... problematic.

** New Battlestar Galactica this week! YAAAYYY!!! Starbuck and President Roslin and SQUEE!!!

***I cannot overemphasize how strongly I disagree with the idea that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is not feminist.

****And besides, I'm almost done with my dissertation, and I want recs! Now!

****I'm not including two of Dissenter's criteria-- a slash pairing breaking up to marry women, and authors who defensively insist on their own heterosexuality and get very upset if anyone mistakes them for a lesbian-- because I've never seen them. I'm sure they exist, but not in the slash I read. Have other people seen these things?

*****I'd been planning to rec these anyway, because they are SO GOOD. Seriously, it felt like getting a new Vorkosigan book, and I've really been missing those. It's Miles/Gregor slash, but it works.
gaudior: (hostility)
At some point, I decided recently, I want to write a book entitled something like Psychoanalytic Concepts in Plain English. And it will explain all of these interesting ideas in human terms, words of one syllable, such that they stop being abstract and actually make sense.

One part of it, I think, will be to have lots of quoted passages-- from memoirs and fiction and such-- that demonstrate each concept.

This one will be for 'transference.' )

It is possible someone has already written such a book. In which case, I hope someone points it out to me before I do too much work on this one. Grin.

gaudior: (hostility)
I totally need to write this article in a few years when I've had more experience and clients.

But who the hell will publish it? )
gaudior: (sable)
And now, ladies and gentleman, we have come to the VERY LAST ROUND. Who shall triumph? Who shall fall?

And... who shall be the ultimate couple of absolute uke/seme-ness?

And how much fun would it be if they were to then switch?


Vote! )
Thank you all for playing, it's been made of awesome!

gaudior: (sable)
The Semi-Finals

So exciting! Voting is now closed-- please go to the FINAL ROUND!

Voting! )
gaudior: (sable)
And on we go, to places more and more excellently brain-breaking.


Now with 50% more disturbingly pretty! )

Cast your votes! Voting is now closed, thanks! You know what to do!
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