A great new succinct definition for Sexism
Thursday, April 24, 2008, 06:48 AM - Politics, Gender Politics
So I was reading this morning about an interesting incident.

It appears that, in the beginning, quite spontaneously, a woman in a hallway at a hotel at a convention told a bunch of guys, "Feel my boobs! It's okay!" and therein began " The Open-Source Boob Project". Quoth the Ferrett :

At Penguicon, we had buttons to give away. There were two small buttons, one for each camp: A green button that said, "YES, you may" and a red button that said "NO, you may not." And anyone who had those buttons on, whether you knew them or not, was someone you could approach and ask:

"Excuse me, but may I touch your breasts?"

And if you weren't a total lout - the women retained their right to say no, of course - they would push their chests out, and you would be allowed into the sanctity of it. That exchange of happiness where one person are told with gropes and touches that they are desirable and the other is someone who's allowed to desire.

For a moment, everything that was awkward about high school would fade away and you could just say what was on your mind. It was as though parts of me were being healed whenever I did it, and I touched at least fifteen sets of boobs at Penguicon. It never got old, surprisingly.

Some women didn't want to. That was fine. We never demanded anything of anyone. And if you didn't want to put yours up for the Project but you wanted to touch, well, that was fine, too. It was simply for folks who felt like being open.

It was a raging success at Penguicon.... And there haven't been any hookups that I know of thanks to the Open-Source Boob Project. It is, as I said, a very special thing. (Though I wouldn't rule it out if two single people exchanged a moment.) And we'll probably do it at other cons, because it's strangely wholesome and sexual at the same time.


Reactions to this caused the originators to backtrack somewhat on their admittedly adolescent male utopia and clarify.

Reactions to the reactions included this wonderful piece that contains one of the very best most succinct definitions of racism and sexism I've ever encountered. See the second paragraph.

I love free speech. (within limits, obviously).

This reminds me of my own story of asking what shouldn't ever have been asked. But you'll have to ask me directly for the details of that. It shouldn't be published.

Meanwhile, back in the victorian era, we have idiots like John McCain doing the same sorts of things. Sigh.

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Thoughts about archetypes this morning
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 11:50 AM - Political Science, Philosophy, Sociology, Gender Politics
Archetypes - Anthropomorphisation of our aspirations.

There are different parts of our brain, or different ways of using them which we use in different situations. Sometimes, a particular situation can lend itself to more than one type of thinking.

How to live one's life is such a situation.

In particular, when making decisions about ethics or morals, we can choose to use rational thought or intuition (spirit?) or emotional empathy with another person, living or imaginary to decide how best to proceed.

I view archetypes as imaginary beings whose beliefs and 'ways of being' are so cool that I want to emulate them. Rather than deciding each individual choice in life based on rational analysis, which I sometimes am in the mood to do, I relax into an understanding, empathetic mimicking of the archetype and how he or she might behave in my situation.

This calls for archetypes who are actually *in* situations like those in which I find myself.

Most archetypes with which I'm familiar come from a time period in which the work of living required many different kinds of decisions than the time in which we are living now and so do not so easily lend themselves to addressing our problems.

For example, if I am trying to choose between multiple large conglomerate mega-corporations for, say, my internet access provision, it doesn't do much good to consider, "which internet service provider might Jesus or Zeus have chosen?".

So instead, I look for contemporary archetypes. Jimmy Carter, Emilia Earhart, Matthew Diaz , George Soros, Ehren Watada and those old men from the movie, "Secondhand Lions " all come to mind.

These are people living (mostly) in times more similar to mine than, say, Epocrates or Euripides.

But I initially looked for them based on my own choices about particular kinds of situations where the currently available archetypes didn't appear to serve me.

James Bond, for example, while a fine example of western thought in terms of his seeking after all knowledge and experience, is woefully inadequate for demonstrating how best to interact with women. At least, in my not-so-humble opinion. No doubt, there're plenty of men and women who might disagree with me. To each their own.

On the other hand, what kind of man shall I be towards women? This is a problem very well suited for an archetypal answer, but alas, I haven't found an acceptable one yet. Instead, sometimes I try to be the 17th century lord of the manor, entirely responsible for the welfare of those in my charge, while at other times, I try to be like my old friend Richard, a consummate listener, able to not just pay attention to the feelings of the women in my life, but to take the time and energy to -where possible- deeply understand where they're coming from, even in very complex emotional situations. {But without poor Richard's secret alcohol habit}.

Of course, this means that I spend my time listening instead of acting or pursuing my own joy sometimes. I admit that as an infant, I felt abandoned and to this day I still see very often remnants of my own need for attention (and so I pay attention to get attention more than most). I recognize that there are lots of disadvantages to being this way, but one can only choose some of what one is, ya know?

So when I'm thinking that I just did something I'm not proud of (like stare at the chest of the 20 year old girl I was dancing with in class the other day) I give myself a bit of a break and remind myself that I'm still a work in progress, that even as I would prefer to behave towards her as a friendly uncle (of the non-slimy variety, obviously) I still live in this body which hasn't had the opportunities to look at women up close very often and that part of me which is still a horny boy still exists and must be allowed to do his thing, preferably in ways that do not harm any actual people, like her. Then, after the feeling passes, I re-tell the story of what happened as I would like to have had it happen; not that I lie to myself about what I did- Goddess knows, that'd be worse -but I satisfy myself that I can be proud of my interactions the next time I'm with her and I'm not feeling those feelings and I can behave towards her the way I would like to see myself doing so. And it works - the next time I was with her, I was able to be more of a person and less of a dirty old man.

So in a sense, part of my need for archetypes has diminished since I've adopted that habit of retelling stories of my experiences in the ways I would like to have behaved. This way, I construct over time my own archetype. And on several memorable occasions, people have led me to think that I did such a good job that I served as the archetype for others. I am most proud of those moments, albeit unaware of them as they happened.

But maybe this is all just an excuse 'cause I can't really think of any archetypes that address the times in which we're currently living. I mean, we're experiencing the decline of the American empire and it is scary, confusing and even the most honorable person living in the USA these days has to admit that by participating in the economy (and how can we not do so?) we tacitly support the government that has been supporting the US Dollar and US Corporations for at least the last 50 years by killing and torturing civilians all over the world.

Even this morning, I was reading the fine print of Clinton and Obama's plans for Iraq, and they at least, to me, appear to be exactly like what the current crooks are doing, albeit with fewer troops. They don't want to remove entirely from there because that's where the oil is and they're either not strong enough to withstand pressure from the big oil companies, or -even more scary if they're right- believe that the long term survival of the United States if so precarious without steeling the oil of the Iraqi people that it is worth it to continue this butchery so we can keep living in the style to which we've as a country become accustomed.

Often times, I have considered the merits of going to live on a collective farm somewhere, but that seems like an abdication of my responsibility to fellow humans to do whatever I can to stop the war machine. In the USA, we are so naive that we think it is possible that our votes count; that we actually have some control -even collectively- over our government.

When I went around Europe in 2003 and apologized everywhere I went for my horrible government, they all sympathized and said that they understood that it wasn't my fault, but I still imagined a tiny underpinning of subconscious, "But you better vote the bastards out" in some of those discussions, for which I cannot blame them.

But when I got to Ukraine and apologized there, they laughed in my face and patted me on the head (metaphorically, that is) and shouted, "Look - how quaint! How cute -- he is actually so naive that he thinks he has control over his government!". Pretty funny, eh? Especially coming from a people who had their own electile dysfunction a few years ago, and what did they do? They set up a tent city in downtown Kiev through an entire winter until they got the candidate they wanted back in power, over the one who officially won the vote! Now, That's what I call democracy! (Of course, there are lots of indications that the guy they were voting for was the one western governments wanted in power and so that tent city was paid for by the CIA and so forth, but since I have no way of knowing the truth one way or the other about that at this time, I prefer to believe in the 'people standing up to authority' model instead. :o)

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A profound discovery
Thursday, December 1, 2005, 12:11 PM - English, Gender Politics
This morning I was reading a story for English 102 about a young girl who must travel to another town for her uncle's imminent demise. He is on his deathbed and among his relatives, he specifically asks for her, a particularly vivacious young women who -in the beginning- notices how her own strength and vitality are powerful enough to transform the dirty looks men give her into wholesome feelings of lust for life.

She encounters her uncle and he asks the priest to perform a "death wedding" of sorts so -he says and the whole family believes- she can inherit all his stuff. But her intuition knows better; she goes through the ritual because it is expected of her. But she dies inside. Then, after everyone has left, in shock she follows orders, sacrificing her youth and innocence to him as he stubbornly refuses to die- he keeps himself alive on his lust for her.

It is precisely this youth and beauty and exhuberance that she looses so he can selfishly keep himself alive a few more years. It is a terrible tradgety. I felt very strongly for her, but -surprisingly- even more strongly I found myself able to imagine his feelings. As though the quest for a more young, beautiful vavacious lover occupying my waking thoughts these past 12 years has been nothing but a blind selfish drive to become young again myself by sacraficing the youth and beauty (and innocence) of some young woman's vavacious lifeforce.

I am ashamed and at the same time, elated that I have finally identified the feelings which have been driving me for so long. Having identified them, I now can decide the proper course of action (mourne them and move on) instead of remaining stuck as I have been for so long. This was the key to a problem I've had for ten or more years. A great weight has been lifted.

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