This is pretty much why that whole "treat women as 'pre-pregnant'" debacle a few years back never bothered me in the slightest, at least not when it comes to my own person. (Although I do appreciate your pain if you felt it dealt with you adversely or threateningly.)

My threats, though, are different. For women like me, this was far more "ooh, look, a nice change" than a "threat." In this country, my virginity was never prized or fetishized but taken for granted as nonexistent and irrelevant -- I would more likely be feared as an exploitative welfare queen and baby factory overrunning the land, and over the course of this country's history women like me were more likely to be sterilized without their knowledge than forced to be a "Quiverful."

So, yeah.

Note: Comments on that section are notoriously heinous. You're warned.
I DO take too long to realize I'm mad...

... But I'm improving.

Here is a dynamic I have encountered an astounding amount of times in the past few weeks, and man but I'm heartily sick of it.

Speaker 1: [offhand] You know, Problem X.


Speaker 1: Yes, but, talking about Problem X right now. Problem X not gone.

Speaker 2: Well yes that's true, kind of LIKE PROBLEM Y and also Z, and Q which is in the news a lot right now, and P which is talked about on college campuses a lot, and also Eleven. That I'm really awesome for being aware of, and I'm sure YOU'RE not, and I will subtly remind you of this with leading and passive-aggressive language that I am sure you will not pick up on, because I'm clever like that. And aren't you being just like the terrorists for even bringing it up?

Speaker 1: Why are you having such an intense problem with my mentioning Problem X?

Speaker 2: Oh I'm SO NOT. and here is some very brief qualification to show that I'm not indifferent about X or wouldn't be quite so indifferent if I had more time on my hands and also I lived through the 60s, and anyway maybe I'm just not relating to your point very well because my social group/city/state/country/continent/has a FAR better track record than yours on issues Omega, Gimmel, and Thorn, so nyahh but isn't M, L, and Pearblossom Soup more important? And Group 12 has Problem X too! (even if it's in a way that isn't remotely a good parallel but YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN) You're not looking at the big picture!

Problem X: [quietly] :-(

I am not even kidding, it's like somebody passed out a rehearsal script for the same radio drama. The deja-vu is giving me whiplash.

Bzuh? Can more than one bad thing not exist simultaneously in the world? Can a person not be concerned with more than one issue? There is not so limited an amount of suffering in the world -- one group having some doesn't deprive anybody else of theirs.* It's not a contest. Nobody wins. There's not a blue ribbon waiting.

This is that derailing thing all the kids are talkin' about nowadays. Isn't it.

*slaps folk*

*THERE'S THAT DEJA-VU AGAIN. I'm sure I've said this, in exactly the same words, at least forty times since I've had this LJ, not to even bring up my entire life before...
Or, "Reifying Race"
(A little something I wrote last year. It stewed, became relevant again, and embiggened. ~__^)

I am not a monad: I'm not indivisible; I'm not a single faceless interchangeable part of a homogeneous greater whole; I am more than the sum of my concrete, measurable parts. And I will not be subsumed; I will not disappear.

This post is written from a U.S.-centric point of view.

My senior year of college, in literary theory class, I was taught the term "reification." It means, simply, "to make real." To take an abstract and to treat it like a solid, to take the theoretical and treat it as though it were tangible (in order to make it discussable at all). Also important -- to recognize that the intangible view of the thing is not necessarily less valid than the tangible, but that to fail to differentiate can be disastrous.

Example. "Democracy." Nice word. Positive connotations. Millions of people feeling warm and fuzzy when they hear it (a tangible result, come to think of it -- this is chemical, and therefore physically measurable ~__^).

Democracy is not an object. It cannot be bottled, or held in the hands, or studied in a lab. People cannot even agree on what it is. In the cantons of Switzerland, people go out and vote individually on issues. (It takes a while.) In the U.S., citizens hold popularity contests vote to choose representatives who will pack up and go to a small city that is not actually affiliated with any State and has no representation in Congress to go and vote on issues. (Still takes a while, actually.) In, what, ancient Athens or whatever, voting on issues happened, but only amongst a small elite group of resident men of a certain income. All of these places do/did describe what they were doing as "democracy."

It's fluid, it's abstract, it's subject to interpretation, and yet people refer to it as something that can be "spread" or "shared" or even "owned." We call it "living" and "vibrant" and add to it anthropomorphic and other traits that it may or may not have, but does not necessarily have by definition. Universality, desirability to all people, inherent moral value. We use the phrase "our democracy" (generally just a heartwarming little example of synecdoche in which "democracy" stands in for "nation," but sometimes as an actual possession) -- it is a very, very malleable and esoteric thing, but it would take a prime idiot *coughGARYKAMYIAcough* a really, really specific sort of intractable and nonempathetic mind-set to conclude that this sort of thing therefore did not exist*.

Just because something is not dissectible or viewable under a microscope does not mean 1. That it has no existence as a concept or 2. That is has no quantifiable effect on the lives of real people or 3. That it doesn't matter.

Democracy. Different sorts of "-isms." "Rights." "Citizenship."

(Er, has anybody seen a quark yet? I'm not a physicist. ^______^)

How far you wanna go? "Ethnicity"? "Language?" (Heck, Swedes and Norwegians understand each other quite well, and I've heard tell that some small subsets of Lithuanians are supposed to be able to muddle through Sanskrit. Difference between Hindi and Urdu? Nearly purely political. And when exactly does a pidgin graduate to a patois, or a creole to a bona fide language?)


How fluid are these things, and who gets to define them, and how different are the things they bring to mind for different people? (Emphasis on the word "DIFFERENT." Which is not a dirty word.)

Since they're vague, since they don't "exist" in any consistently, uniformly, universally quantifiable form, shall we put the kibosh on mention of all these things? Shall we deem them irrelevant? And go the rest of our days gingerly talking around them?

How 'bout "race?"

Especially U.S.-centric bits coming up now )

Next-day edit after being COMPLETELY unable to let this go to an extent that scares me a bit:

I was gonna lj-cut that, but eh.

In light of the following, people need to be pretty effing circumspect when telling other people how to refer to themselves, I think.

1. Language was the first thing that enslaved Africans in the "New World" were deprived of in order to make them easier to control -- same-tribe/same-language people were separated at every opportunity.

2. Native Americans, same thing. In many learning institutions geared toward assimilating children speaking anything but the "target tongue" would result in corporal punishment. (Not even getting into the whole evangelism and rooting-out-of-previous-belief-system business.)

3. Gaelic languages have nearly disappeared because of this same thing. Really, it's an established technique across the board, I'd think.

4. 20th-century Japanese occupation of Korea, same deal.

5. Heh. As a kid, my dad sat up in his Port Antonio, Jamaica, elementary school singing "When I was an apprentice in fair Lincolnshire." Never set foot in England in his life. Okay, that one just makes me (and my family) giggle. I needed a giggle there. Shaddup. ^_________^

6. Groups of people who have managed to maintain a cohesive identity throughout exile, oppression and dispersion did it primarily through language. Retaining the language enabled them to retain major, vital aspects of their culture. I'm thinking of Jewish people, Koreans in China, Haitians in New York City, Cajuns ...the folk of Bretagne, to an extent...

7. I am wrong, aren't I, in thinking this "oooh, don't talk in terms of race" nonsense only comes up when it's an Obama or a Tan talking about how who they are affected how they grew up and developed their sense of self, and not when a Watson is all "anyone who has had black employees knows how blame stupid they are amIrite" -- right? It's because of the nature of the things I tend to read, right? SOMEONE must have used that argument against Watson. Right? RIGHT? *is plead-y* (It's still a crap argument, but it's far less infuriating when deployed against the vile. No fair, I know, I know...)

8. One of my UCL classmates was a Swedish girl who told me that because she had learned lit-crit in English, she could not do any of her assignments in Swedish -- she had trouble even thinking about her literary theory courses in her native tongue. She lacked the vocabulary. (Luckily -- as UCL is an English institution, I think I can safely call it that? predominantly English-language at least -- this conversation was pretty theoretical.)

9. Language matters.
"Bitch is the new Black."

Everything about this phrase offends me.

1. The hell? Sexism isn't "new", and the "bitch" denigration isn't a recently discovered concept. [deleted -- insensitive comment about the privileged* thinking things are new just because the things in question are only just now biting them in the ass.] Sexism is and continues to be the oldest and most pervasive prejudice in the goddamned world. Sexism pervades all the other prejudices. It is entwined like a parasite at the root of homophobia; its vocabulary comes into play to denigrate and objectify whole nations of people as inherently "effeminate" or "wild," "oversexed," "animalistic"; it's used as a rallying cry, "save the women from the [insert adjective] hordes!" for nearly every movement vile or noble that ever was -- it's not something that has just recently supplanted race prejudice. And only by making that point can I make the following:

2. Corollary: Not only is racial and ethnic prejudice not new either -- it's also not obsolete. Just because anti-black discrimination is no longer LEGAL in the U.S. doesn't mean it has GONE AWAY. And the legislation was not done away with all that long ago -- just a couple of years before I was born. AND legislation does NOT automatically change people's hearts and minds. And pointing that shit out is NOT automatically "playing a race card." (And while it's undeniable that some people do play such cards, you would think that knowing somebody and talking to them for ten or so years would give you a clue as to how their opinions might be formed and how valid they are and how prone they are or are not to exaggeration, and might actually listen rather than dismissing them out of hand, no I'm not talking to anyone in particular, why would you get that impression? ;-D )

3. Also, NONE of this exists in a fucking vacuum. Proving that one group's prejudice "does not exist" or "is not as bad what I suffer" does not automatically prove that yours does exist -- if anything, just the opposite -- you play DIRECTLY into the hands of those who would denigrate and dismiss us all as crybabies with vivid imaginations.

The more we bicker over the who-is-most-oppressed, the more we will all be even more oppressed. It is not a competition, and there is absolutely no prize.

Heh. I am actually out of breath. )

This is not the damn time to be scoring talking points on racism versus sexism. Not unless we ALL address BOTH these things in light of the following: )

This is the time during which we need to be scoring talking points about the selfishness and entitlement that stifles and crushes the individual, versus the shared goals and needs that can be addressed to allow the individual to flourish -- and which system of government, and which philosophy of political power, more accurately embodies either of those. The Democratic establishment are playing right into the hands of those who would divide and conquer, and I despair.

*And yeah, depending on the context, I do include myself in there: I am Western and middle class.
**And oh my lord, isn't that the POINT we've been trying to make for centuries!!!??
***Am I the only one that is bugged by this? I totally blame the Boomers. :-D
**** Whoops. Okay, that last book is not quite on-topic as I presented it, but it's still pretty damn scary so read it anyway.
Confirmed:I have this

So now they want to give me blood tests and biopsies and chest x-rays oh my to make sure I don't have this
which hits primarily African Americans and Swedes/Danes, which is kind of a weird sort of demographic overlap.

cut for mild bitchery )
I have having my slow anger problem again. You know, the one where I tell myself and honestly believe I'm not f*cking pissed off until days and days later when I realize that I'm so angry I'm giving myself intestinal distress, by which point it's too late to bring it up without looking like a grudge-holding freak who's blowing everything out of proportion. Well, I am a grudge holding freak, so what. And if I do blow sh8t out of f*cking proportion, it's not me who started THAT.

I swore to myself that I would not be put in the position of apologizing and soothing-of-hurt-feelings when I have done nothing bloody wrong, and yet here I am abasing myself again. I am not the freak in this situation.



fuck it.

I'm done.



December 2013

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