Eater of Trees

Archive for the ‘Ranting about Kyriarchy’ Category

Okay most of this has been said before I think, but still, I got irritated by someone identifying as an ally being terrible recently, so! Large analytic post.  If you know why self-identified allies are often a problem, this probably isn’t anything new.

tl;dr: Being an ally means encouraging people to call you out more, not less.

Cis feminists will often expect to be treated as heroic “allies” for mentioning trans people in passing occasionally, while not doing anything to reassess their conceptions of gender and gender oppression, and like, they expect to be criticized less when they fuck up because “they’re on your side!”

And it’s actually not just cisfeminism, it’s more or less every sort of ally ever.

This seems to be very blatantly coming from a place where the only type of real oppression is the most violent overt harm, and maybe erasure, but from this perspective erasure is “nobody ever mentions you in passing ever” not “every narrative in society is constructed with the assumption that you are not possible”.

It all ultimately comes from the desire, common amongst privileged people, to use marginalized people for their own personal glory.  Your only worth is to make them seem like an awesome person for saving you.  Except they aren’t actually saving you, and they don’t want to actually put any effort into helping you.

And basically, this is just another way to marginalize you, objectify you, and force you out of the discourse.  People who say things like this are basically the enemy.  And when they say “attack the real enemy!” this is a blatant attempt to divert your energy from helping yourself into helping them.  You can be sure that these people never will consider diverting their energy into helping you; and once their oppressions have fallen, they’re more then happy to assume a new place in the status quo.

But this leads to a strange sort of twisted logic where allies think that because they’ve given some ground, they should be less a target of criticism.  This only makes the slightest bit of sense if your primary goal is to keep the status quo as intact as possible.  And moreover, it actually is entirely the opposite of what you’d think an ally should be.

See, a recurring part of a marginalized person’s life is being constantly bombarded by oppressive ideas.  Nobody has the energy to call these all out, or even to acknowledge them.  Especially when nearly everyone will respond hostilely to such attempts.

See, the person who’s an ally, in the actual sense that that word means, not in the “self aggrandizing privileged person who uses your struggles to make themselves look better”, would be someone who, when they do something fucked up, would be willing to listen to you if you explain how.

Like I will critique the actions of my close friends far more often then people I don’t know, because with my established relationship with my close friends, its far more likely that they’ll listen and productive discussion will ensue.

See, nobody is going to ever be not oppressive.  That just doesn’t happen.  There’s too many sorts of oppression.  Oppression is too ingrained in everything.  And oppressed people don’t all agree on everything.  And these things may be contradictory in their needs*. It may be possible to fix things in the future more or less, but now? Nope.

This doesn’t mean oppression is okay, which is why being open to listening is so important.  If you can’t be perfect, it becomes especially important to fix the and be aware of the damage that’s done.

But by saying you’re an ally, you’re saying you want to change things.  And that starts by reconceptualizing how you see the world.  Which starts by listening to marginalized people and acknowledging how the systems that are in place do not help them, and creating an environment in which they can openly discuss these things.

Basically, by saying you’re an ally, you’re saying “You should call me out more.  You’re saying, “rather then rolling your eyes and moving on when I hurt you, you should tell me, because I’m willing to be different from most privileged people, and actually listen.”

And if you try to insist that because you’re “on the same side” as us that we shouldn’t discuss our marginalization around you, you’re not on our side in the slightest.

*Like with pronouns, to be fully accepting of genders we basically need to allow people to make their pronouns whatever they want, but my learning disabilities mean, that like names, I’m really really bad at attaching those to people, which would be best served by having a small finite list of pronouns. …I definitely think the former is the better choice, assuming people actually acknowledge that people’s memories are not unlimited and there are good genderless options to fall back on if you’re memory is full of holes.  But basically, these marginalizations are entirely contradictory in what would best serve them.

Or like, the way my autism works I tend to use elaborate and sometimes weirdly precise language, and… oh hey that can be super inaccessible sometimes.  But on the other hand people insisting I should talk like normal people and not describe my emotions as “transient psychotic dysphoria” when “sad” would work is a very significant part of my oppression (both for the autism and the transient psychotic dysphoria, which… isn’t actually the same as being sad, though the meanings of the terms overlap)

But yeah, the gist of this is a lot of the ways to counter oppressions overlap and so simple solutions aren’t actually possible. Which makes openness to discussion all the more important.

[Cross posted–with some edits–from Fuck Yeah Borderline People.]

So one of the traits of borderlineness is a pathological need for attention.  Like we’re not talking “you want people to pay attention to you” here, either, we’re talking “if people ignore you, you have a psychotic meltdown and hide in the closet sobbing because everyone hates you forever” or “if you go too long without talking to other people (like, twenty minutes or so), you’ll start developing severe disassociative symptoms, such as, say, random strangers walking into your head to help keep you company.”

Like, you may have noticed I’m three people.  Yeah one of those showed up because I was bored as fuck because it was 4AM and nobody was awake, and because the person who showed up thought it would be amusing to, well, show up, and the other showed up after I spent a weekend convinced that none of my friends cared about me.  Frequently sobbing in a box it my bathroom.

(This isn’t to say multiplicity and borderlineness are always connected, it should be noted, but there seems to be some correlation and in my case and several other people’s, they definitely are connected.)

Another thing borderlineness tends to do is result in general instability of your identity, or a tendency to define yourself based on what other people think.  And again, we’re not talking, “you like to go along with your peer group” here.  We’re talking “You are more or less incapable of believing your own intuitions unless someone else validates them.”  Like, for example! I went through a stage where I was convinced that my periodic attraction to men was completely irrelevant; obviously I couldn’t really be queer because it just didn’t count.  Until I mentioned it to one of my friends and they invited me to the LGBT support group.

(Obvious note here: this was before I realized I was trans so I would’ve been percieving attraction men as gay and to women as het, even though the opposite is more accurate)

Or, this can lead to situations where another person disagrees with you, and so obviously they are right about things, and you’re just mistaken.  Because there’s no way you could be write about something if other people disagree.  Even if something is say, your gender identity that the other person has NO WAY AT ALL of knowing.

Anyway, this whole thing can lead to an attachment to labels, and a desire to label absolutely everything about yourself.  Because unless there’s a socially accepted label, obviously that personality trait doesn’t really exist!  And a desire to explore EVERY POSSIBLE identity since, after all, you’re basically incapable of telling who you are.  Even if you’re obviously one thing one moment, wait a few weeks and your self doubt and inability to process your identity will show up again, and WAIT MAYBE NOT.

This all leads to a tendency to have idiosyncratic, and frequently unstable identities.  Or, in my case, its like that one species of crab that picks up random sediment and glues it onto itself to make a shell. (And I maaaay have gotten that metaphor from someone else.  You also tend to pick up personality traits randomly from everyone around you, since, after all, you’re not you, you’re them.)

And so I have a list of all the brain issues I have, for example, and it has nineteen entries.  Some of which are really not typical (sharing your head with other people, for example)

What this ends up doing, is it makes other people decide you’re trying to be super unique for attention.  Because, honestly, you are trying to get attention.  Wanting attention is a normal human thing, though the psychotic meltdowns are a bit less so.  And you are trying to establish yourself as an individual, because, well, you’re basically incapable of it, so you just don’t stop trying.

But see, labels like Special Snowflake are then thrown at you, because obviously no NORMAL person would be transfeminine AND autistic AND plural AND have a dozen other varieties of neurodivergence.  So clearly you’re just trying to get attention! And attention seeking is terrible forever! (sarcasm)

…and yes, “special snowflake” is used like that, trust me, I’ve seen it happen first hand.

(This is not the only way in which it is problematic, it should be noted.  The term is also inevitably extremely gendered and is frequently used against people, especially women, who attempt to differentiate themselves from the mainstream culture.)

It’s not ableist to acknowledge that people have varying ability levels.  I mean obviously come on that’s like, one of the most basic points of disability theory.

Intelligence is ableist because it isn’t actually a thing.  It’s a bunch of things, and often they aren’t correlated at all (See for example specific learning disabilities; like I’m completely unable to remember things in the short term and get distracted all the time and forget what I was doing but as soon as something is in my long term memory it is staying there forever.)

Like the best way to put it seems to be to realize it’s not really one specific thing.  It’s not even that there’s lots of ways to be intelligent—which there are—it’s that if you talk about intelligence we have no way of knowing if we’re talking about being able to remember facts, being good at processing numbers, having a wide knowledge base (like knowing twenty five languages, for example), or even readily using wikipedia so you’ll have answers to other people’s questions.

It is probably worth breaking the idea down into its component parts here, because really my ability to grasp complex concepts quickly and my tendency to become completely lost if a person uses weird organization or is at all poetic are very different things, and they’d both be considered intelligence or lack thereof.  Plus, the way people talk about it now it doesn’t even really mean anything because it’s super vague and, well, a ton of unrelated things.

The other reason it’s ableist is because people without intelligence, or specific facits thereof, are treated like shit and get their autonomy denied them and generally are abused and unaccommodated so they can’t use the abilities they do have (like, I learn really fast and have a ridiculously good memory but then I have no ability to focus and can’t read books very well, so I failed out of college.  Even though basically intellectual things are basically what I’m best at, and actually because of my other disabilities are practically all I can do)

It should also be noted that it’s not “intelligence” that’s privileged; it’s a bit more complex then intelligence is privileged and lack of it is disprivileged.  In my experience it’s really productivity that’s privileged; I mean i got forced into segregated special ed classes and generally had no material ever that was remotely appropriate to my ability level (either because it was completely impossible for me to do—I completely left the essay portion of the SAT I took blank—or because it was stuff I’d learned years ago and they didn’t know anything better to do then teach it to me six times in a row), but I was generally regarded as “intelligent”.

Certainly there’s privilege in there, including my access to an education and resources and not being completely written off as uneducatable for any of various reasons.  But in my experience, testing at the ceiling of IQ tests mostly resulted in everyone insisting I needed to be perfect at everything, and punishing me when I was merely above average.  That’s… not privilege.

(But insulting people for lack of intelligence? That’s ridiculously ableist; like there’s no way it could be interpreted as not.  So seriously stop using words like “stupid” to attack people)

[Trigger warning: ableist slurs]

Because the most condescending things I can think of are “Wow, you’re so fucking stupid,” or “Wow that’s fucking stupid.” Or even “You’re delusional.”

Like all of those are ableist as fuck.

Or, another great way to be condescending is to insist that someone is “childish” or “juvenile”, which, obviously, is great until you realize you’re saying that someone’s opinions are invalid because they’re like young people.

And even more so then just that these are comparisons to oppressed groups, this further are entirely condescending based on the idea that they invalidate people’s ability to have an opinion.  Or have any sort of responsibility for their actions at all.  After all, if someone is “delusional” obviously anything they say can’t be valid because it’s just a product of a delusion. Same with “stupid”; obviously the person’s statements can’t be valid, because “stupid” people do not make valid statements, because they can’t think.

Or if you’re saying someone’s actions are juvenile, obviously they shouldn’t be allowed to do something because of that, again, you’re saying “Your like a child, people should violate your right to self-determination to ensure you don’t do the choice you’re doing.”

So are there any good ways to be condescending as fuck without being ableist or ageist?

I’m leaning towards “You’re being oppressive so your opinion is completely fucking irrelevant” or possibly “your understanding of this issue is so fucking biased there’s nothing you could say on it that could possibly have any relevance”.

I’m wary of invoking privilege though to be condescending, not that privileged people don’t merit it frequently, but that privileged people often act like douchebags about the fact that “people use privilege as an insult!” which is mostly bullshit, we generally only do that when we’re extremely pissed at the world or when said privileged person is doing really fucked shit because of their privilege.

But I don’t particularly want to give them more fodder for their bullshit.

[Note: this post was written by my headmate]

Trigger warning: unpleasant sexual experiences

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I basically want to break down the way society divides up interpersonal relationships, because it seems a lot of the time the way society declares normative relationships to work has little basis in reality, and that, considering often normative relationship models are quite limiting, it seems to me that the obvious thing is to go tell them to fuck themselves.

In detail, of course, because you’re me, and that’s what you do.  Some people watch movies or play games with their friends, others write elaborate deconstructionist theory posts on their blogs… with their friends.*

Anyway, it seems like the way mononormativity works is there’s two, maybe a few more, but mostly two major classes of relationships.  First, you have the Serious Romantic Relationship, it generally consists of romantic attraction, sexual attraction, and a relatively overt degree of identification and commitment (and by commitment here I mean “you will put an effort into making this relationship work”; I know also because of mononormativity commitment and monogamy are often conflated.).

You’re also expected to only have one of it, and it’s expected to have all these parts.  Also it is Serious Business.  Though I have noticed a lot of motifs where actually having a strong friendship with the person is considered optional.  Which is probably a symptom of homosocial norms (ie men hang out with men, women hang out with women type things.)

Now, in addition to this type of relationship, you have everything else.  Other relationships are supposed to be not sexual and not romantic.  Really the definitions are a lot looser here I think, though some degree of commitment probably is involved.  They’re also less Serious Business, which is probably why society has been a lot looser at defining them. (Not that there aren’t tropes for them, like BFFs or bromance or the like, they’re definitely discussed.)

But basically the obvious extension to rejecting the idea that There Can Only Be One with regards to Serious Romantic Relationships, is that really, there’s no reason to accept the validity of the definition as a whole period.  This is especially clear to me also I am somewhat less sexual than normative, which tends to me quite honestly I don’t particularly care one way or another about sexual interactions. (There’s also a varying degree of sexuality in interactions, obviously; it’s not always clear where said boundaries are, either, and I do like certain types of physical interactions that are moderately less sexual quite a bit, and often they feel more engaging emotionally then normative sex.  But that is yet another rant.)

Basically, if I take the sexual requirement and the monogamy requirement out of the Serious Romantic Relationship, and can include sexuality in nonromantic relationships, it becomes increasingly clear that you could easily also add romantic attraction to a non-SSR, at which point the distinction rapidly becomes meaningless, and it becomes apparent that, fuck this, you might as well make your own categories, mixing and matching tropes from other types of relationships society likes to insist are the Only Way.

So anyway the obvious practical result of this theory is that me and Devyn went and created a new category because we didn’t think the ones that existed did want we wanted, and we ended up calling it “brain twins” because we seem to have weirdly-but-awesomely similar problems and histories.

And for some further areas this could be expanded on, I didn’t really touch much on family either, which I think is probably an important element of this, I haven’t had too extensive identification of people as my family so I’m not super experienced at this.  Obviously the main tropes with family seems to be you’re supposed to be commited to them (whether you like them or not, which, obviously is a prime thing for abuse) and that you’re genetically similar to them, or they are your One Serious Romantic Relationship.

Nor did I touch on heteronormativity or, for that matter, how cissexism contributes to this (Serious Romantic Relationships are always between One Man and One Woman and obviously we can always readily tell who’s a man and who’s a woman and who’s one person and nobody’s anything else) or how commitment goes from being a healthy thing (“Let’s put some effort into resolve conflicts!”) to an extremely unhealthy thing (“Care about your family! Wait what your parents are abusive? YOU STILL MUST CARE ABOUT THEM THEY REALLY LOVE YOU.”) in the hands of kyriarchy.

There’s also a point, which occured to me recently, is that a further extension of this theory is also that you could quite readily have a relationship that is called, for example, “marriage” but lacks almost if not all the characteristics of a Serious Romantic Relationship, beyond, of course, the name, and that, furthermore, this relationship would be entirely valid as marriage.  Which, obviously does mean we are threatening the sanctity of marriage.  …but more obviously, marriage shouldn’t have any sanctity in the first place, that undermines people’s ability to live their lives how they want.

*I have the BEST friends. 😛 …also I now have a Deconstruct All Things category. Ha!

Colorblindness isn’t rare, and at least one of WordPress’s themes is completely inaccessible to me.  (Red hyperlinks, black text, no underlining except with mouseover.  Can’t see the difference.) I haven’t looked at the others in depth or anything but how do you manage to make your prepackaged themes inaccesible.  You’re not a person throwing up a blog in thirty seconds and not putting that much thought into their theme, you’re one of the most popular blogging sites on the internet.

This is something you should have figured out by now!