jhameia: ME! (Default)
I was only allowed 350 - 500 words, so this one's topped at 566 words:


A very incomplete view of The Human Condition )
jhameia: ME! (Default)
Because it's been a long time since I posted anything remotely academic on this LJ! I've been posting stuff over at my Tumblr, but this is a nice neat response, and my prof told me it was good, and I even presented on this reading, so, here it is.

Read more... )
jhameia: ME! (Call To Arms)
There is this very long and painful thread over at Feministing wherein a survivor of an assault wrote in to ask for advice, since the assault has left her unable to enjoy sex with her boyfriend anymore, and her social life is completely ruined because her "friends" are complete and utter douchebags.

There's a lot of bandying around of "was it assault???? LEGALLY PERSONALLY FROM AN OBJECTIVE POINT OF VIEW SINCE WE ARE STRANGERS WE CAN TOTALLY TELL AND DEBATE OVER WHAT IS OBVIOUSLY SOMETHING VERY PERSONAL TO THIS PERSON." Frankly? I find that to be a lot of fucking noise. The problem with this isn't "we don't know the whole story" (what, so we don't need to know anything beyond "she's completely traumatized by some douchebag's taking advantage of her" to lend her support?) - "we don't know the whole story" already pre-supposes a set of conditions that not everyone can agree on. We can't we let victims work through it and help them name what happened to them themselves. I was once in a situation which could be called assault, but I don't name it that. It makes me feel better to be able to call the shots on what's happened in my own life. It would be irritating to have someone else butt in and say "OF COURSE IT WAS. YOU HAVE TO DO A, B AND C NOW".

There's also a lot of bandying of individual responsibility when drunk. Look, if you know you're out of control when you're drunk, it's probably a bad idea to be drinking. Also a bad idea to be around other people who drink. But you probably already know that, so whatever. It doesn't cancel out the fact that bad shit happened to you that was out of your control due to someone else's douchebaggery. (Also, it should be noted that a) she was harangued to drink, despite the caveat she presented already, and b) the "just say no" thing? Try doing that when you're surrounded by people you're supposed to trust who keep telling you otherwise and get cross with you when you don't.) And everyone else who's saying "well, you do have to admit to some responsibility to the situation because you drank, and since you consented to the drinking, you consented to anything that happened next" - buddies, she doesn't have to admit to doing something she didn't fucking want to do in the first place and ended up doing because, hey, guess what! She was drunk! I subscribe to the idea of "enthusiastic participation", if not just "enthusiastic consent", sober, authentic, honest, un-pushed for.

Anyways, that's not the biggest problem I have right now.

My problem is with the idea that "when you're out drinking, you're responsible for yourself, and your friends are not responsible for your actions." There is this idea that "you're an adult, you can't expect your friends to police and monitor your own actions, you should be doing it yourself." This said without a trace of irony, even though many of us go out partying with people we feel safe with, which is why we picked them in the first place. This underlying idea said, even though we trust our friends to look out for us and help us.

Listen, if you're out partying with a friend whom you know gets out of control because she drinks too much? It is, indeed, your fucking business to make sure she doesn't get into trouble for it. If you know she has the tendency to drink too much and is making visible effort not to? It is, indeed, your fucking business to help her monitor her drinks. If you notice someone else trying to pressure her into drinking when she clearly doesn't want to? It is, indeed, your fucking business to tell that someone else to fuck right the hell off. If she's drinking anyway and you know she might do something she'll regret later? It is, indeed, your fucking business to make sure she gets out of the situation as safely as possible.

And frankly? If you're choosing to hang out with other people and making sure everyone has a great time, it is, indeed, your fucking business to make sure everyone is safe (not just feels safe) and to accomodate any desire of theirs to not want to participate in your own form of fun. If they don't want to dance, and they walk off the floor when you try to get them to, you carrying on dancing while keeping an eye on them. If they don't want to drink, stop harrassing them to drink (yes, this has happened to me before, and it's a pain in the ass. Ah, but I'm lucky - most people end up drinking anyway and regret it).

If you DIDN'T want to ruin your own fun by having to help your friend out? You should have chosen not to hang with such a party-pooper in the first goddamn place and found someone else who wouldn't impinge on your own drunken fun.

It is seriously not that hard.

Part of being friends is taking care of each other. This is not about policing our friends. This is not about monitoring their every action and taking notes and ruining their fun. This is not about playing a parent. This is not about giving up our own fun, either. One assumes that if you want to get together with friends, the point is to create happy memories.

It is already unfortunate enough for a lot of us that the people we thought we know and trust turn out to be complete and utter douchebags who can't be arsed about your personal safety and well-being. It is bad enough that many of us find that the people we consider our friends are not, not really. It is bad enough many people find themselves violated, manipulated, lied to, and/or otherwise hurt by people we considered close to us.

If you can't, or won't, take at least a bit of responsibility and DO something in these situations you KNOW might end up dangerous for people should one of you guys get out of control, then you bear some blame for any fallout in the aftermath of the whole sordid affair.

I know we live in some fuck-assed "individualistic" society where people apparently look out only for themselves - that doesn't make it ideal, and since we know it isn't, we ought to all be making sure we play our part.

Just, ugh, I can't believe that this is even an issue. But I see it SO MUCH, I can't not say anything about it.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
Damn it, [livejournal.com profile] eiko82, you were right, he HAS been let out way too fucking early.

Fuck you, Kyle Payne.

Urgh.

Didn't he even say he wouldn't blog until "the feminist community" had welcomed him back or something? WTF?

Urgh.
jhameia: ME! (Joline)
There's half a ton of debate out there (as well as a media circus) about the woman who had an IVF procedure with EIGHT embryos and all of them resulted in pregnancy.

Fishy things about this?

- She already has 6 children.
- One is a special-needs child.
- She's recently filed for bankruptcy.
- She's basically relying on the support of her family.
- She claims she didn't know that all eight embryos would take in this procedure, but having conceived several more times before through the same procedure, surely she would have realized it was possible to end up with eight babies?

I'm trying very hard not to pass judgement on what she's doing with herself: it IS her body, and it's her business what she does with her body. Just as every woman has a right to an abortion, so should every woman have a right to motherhood.

And then I think about Somel in Herland's response to Van's question about criminal types having children in that country, and when she replies that those women weren't allowed to raise their children, Van says, "I thought motherhood was for all of you."

"Yes, motherhood, maternity, the right to bear children. But raising children is left to our highest artists," comes the answer.

Which is how I feel in this case - a woman has the prerogrative to keep or dispose of an embryo as long as it is within her body and mostly a biological parasite. However, once it is OUT, a child is a life now (albeit a financial, psychological, emotional parasite until it becomes more independent), to which society must be responsible. (That's why pro-lifers are annoying... for them it's just the pregnancy that matters, and beyond that, they expect the woman to be on her own - or preferrably with a man - to raise the child.)

This woman's not exactly in a country where children are very highly regarded (except as methods of social control) - maybe if she was in a country more like Herland where each child could be guaranteed of the best possible start to life because the entire country is geared towards caring for the next generation, this situation wouldn't sound so awful as it does.

But as it stands, I find her incredibly irresponsible to have so many children without being completely capable of providing for them, short of publicity (similar to the Duggars) - not for what she's done with her body, but for her existing children. However, her choice has been made, and there will be eight more little children in the world to consider.

And the rest of the media and public stares a-goggle as if it were a freakshow, rather than a situation to be taken seriously, pointing fingers and blaming her for being the crazy one. And I want to know what crazy IVF clinic she went to that implants EIGHT embryos under the assumption that only ONE will take. Here I thought they implanted at most two or three, not EIGHT.

I think we forget how true the old adage "it takes a village to raise a single child" is.

I hope some kind people pitch in and help her out. I don't think it'll happen, seeing as she's a single, unmarried WoC. Still, I hope her kids grow up okay. It's really hard to raise children in today's world, much less a large family like that.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
I just finished reading Herland, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

What a brilliant book. So ahead of its time. Shit, so ahead of OUR time.

It's a bit like reading Real Adult Sex, what with the beautifully feminist narrative in a male voice questioning masculinity values with that keen intellectual tone.

What a brilliant setting: a country of people who work together, in tandem, for self-improvement and the improvement of the community - for the higher education of the children to ensure they have the best start possible in life, and the happiest lives ahead of them. A country in which children are of paramount importance, and each child grows up with so many choices ahead of them to cheerfully work towards. A place where industry is happiness, and everything is so fluid, things change as soon as they are no longer practical. A world where women have forgotten how to fear and treat men as equals, loving men for who they are, rather than for what they can give. Where children set about live from their parents, not for, and in service to the next generation, not the generations gone before.

And yet inexplicably, a place where women long to see Fatherhood in place, equal with the greatness of Motherhood, and willing to accept males into their world to see that ideal realized, even if it takes forever.

What a curious book, especially if you take into consideration the following:

Gilman wrote the Yellow Wallpaper to depict how hard post-partum depression was on her. Granted, the motherhood wasn't the problem: the men were.

She gave up her daughter to the care of her ex-husband and his new wife (the three of them were great friends despite the divorce) so she could focus on social activism and STILL provide her daughter with the stability a child needs.

In a sense, Herland is like an extension of her action. And though it stigmatized her back then, why shouldn't it work now? We know the nuclear family isn't economically sustainable. We know educating children from young, stimulating their minds, by playing with them or reading with them, gives them the best possible start in life. We know that having extended family around enables them to have a great cushion in childhood.

And Herland covers that and so much more. I mean, one could see this gender-neutral nation as a nation of both men and women, once we give up notions of proprietry and ideals of marriage, division between the public and the private.

Shit, this novella was miles ahead of Victorian ideals, and frankly, it's still miles ahead of us. We got a lot of work to do, everybody.
jhameia: ME! (Joline)
I was meandering around the Internetz like I normally do and came across this link, an essay on why women possibly empathize with Sarah Palin, and in this, the writer, Judith Warner, draws a comparison between Palin and Elle Woods, from the Legally Blonde movies. I've only ever seen the first one, and it happens to be one of my feel-good movies.

Warner writes: "You don’t have to be female to suffer from Impostor Syndrome either — I learned the phrase only recently from a male friend, who puts a darned good face forward. But I think that women today — and perhaps in particular those who once thought they could not only do it all but do it perfectly, with virtuosity — are unique in the extent to which they bond over their sense of imposture.

...

The “Legally Blonde” fairy tales spin around the idea that, because Elle believes in herself, she can do anything. Never mind the steps that she skips. Never mind the fact that — in the rarefied realms of Harvard Law and Washington policymaking — she isn’t the intellectual equal of her peers. Self-confidence conquers all! (“Of course she doesn’t have that,” said Laura Bush of Palin this week when asked if the vice presidential pick had sufficient foreign policy experience. “You know, that’s not been her role. But I think she is a very quick study.”)
"

The last paragraph is what bugs me the most: It implies that Elle Woods got to the point where she did at the end of the movie... by faking it.

And you know what? She didn't. She got to where she did through sheer effort, hard work, and a bit of tacky comedy.

I love Elle Woods. She undergoes some harsh realities and transforms from a silly, self-centered love-struck girl into a woman using what comes naturally to her to win her case. At the beginning of her law school term, she snubs the ones she considers the outcasts and freaks whom she wouldn't be caught dead with in high school, only to find out that this ISN'T high school, and her lack of intellectual capacity makes HER a freak. That was the first point for me in liking her; she's the HS freak who is, for all intents and purpose, too stupid to be where she is. I empathized with that, because I've been there. I've been in the position where people are nice to me only so they can mock me (like how Elle is invited to a "costume party" only to be mocked for showing up as a Playboy Bunny). I've been in positions where the teacher asks me pointed questions just to show how unprepared I am. From that point on, Elle is one of the "little guys".

But through it all, Elle doesn't come off as FAKE. She genuinely gets upset by these outcomes where her sense of entitlement gets her in trouble. Unlike Palin, Elle isn't sheltered from the consquences of her ignorance, her privilege, her sense of entitlement, and lack of intellectual capacity. She is derided, mocked, and sent out of class on her first day. She is dumped for being a "dumb blonde".

But the great thing about Elle is that she doesn't let this get her down. From the start of the movie, she resolved to do whatever she can to get her man back, even if it means taking on this momentous, ultra-boring task of becoming his intellectual equal. Within the first act, Elle is seen studying for the SATs. She confuses her friends by sitting in her room surrounded by books, reading them intently, and studying her way, rather than seducing anybody, to get the scores she needs to get into law school.

The costume party is another turnaround point for her - she realizes that these people are NOT going to accept her because she's not part of their special little intellectual elite. Does she pack her bags and go home? NO! She hits the books, hardcore: she reads in bed with her pet dog, she has her manicurist quiz her, she takes the books with her to the gym...

More interestingly, she starts answering questions in class. It takes quite a bit of courage to be the one always putting your hand up first in class, but she does it, making up for her first-day flub. Palin, on the other hand, isn't proving her mettle by putting herself out there; she allows the McCain campaign to shunt her away from the press, and when she does have press interviews, she's clearly not doing her fucking homework. Look, if the media's fucking MOCKING me about the fact that I have no foreign policy experience, the LAST thing I'm going to do is appear ignorant about it, and the FIRST thing I'd do is study my fucking ass off to make sure I know what the hell I'm talking about. Elle would do it.

So Elle gets to be one of the top 5 in the class chosen to assist her professor in an actual lawsuit. And she LOVES it. She finds that she no longer finds her ex to be the center of her universe and revels in the joy of an achievement she attained all by herself, through her own efforts, an achievement that is prestigious and even BETTER than being married to a rich man's son. OK, this doesn't have much to do with Palin, but I wanted to point out how awesome this is.

Another difference between Palin and Elle? PALIN IS MEAN! And she doesn't even feel bad about it! Elle snubs the outcast guy at the beginning, but later on, while passing by him, sees him trying to ask another girl out, and is being blown off. She takes a few steps away, stops, turns around, and proceeds to make a fuss as if he's some hotshot awesome fuck who didn't call her back. She walks away again, getting him a date, and she has a small satisfied smile on her face. (Later, he helps her out in the courtroom.) She never does anything to really ruin anybody, and she certainly doesn't go out of her way to hurt people. Palin tried to get a librarian fired because said librarian refused to ban books for her, and I'm sure you've read a little bit about Troopergate. WTF?

Elle didn't get by with "native intelligence" and "self-confidence"; she studies hard, fighting back against the reputation she has as a self-absorbed, flighty Barbie doll who shouldn't be at Harvard. And when Callahan hits on her, she's genuinely horrified that for all her hard work, sense of integrity and quick thinking, she's still seen as nothing more than a sex object: the Playboy Bunny of the party. Palin is a GOVERNER... and she touts herself as a hockey mom?? Who never had high ambitions in the first place? What the eff?? Elle WANTED to be on Callahan's team, and she GOT there by wanting it bad enough to do the necessary work; she doesn't take it for granted. Palin just gets picked out of the blue and dismisses it as a fluke with a toss of her hair. Just. Ugh.

Elle is so upset by being seen as nothing but a pretty face she even quits. And why the hell wouldn't she? She fought so hard, and all that effort is dismissed because she could be patronized to and treated like an inferior. So she quits, angry and hurt. Palin is being sheltered, patronized to, touted as physically gorgeous as if that was all that matters... and she doesn't show any annoyance at that. And she should.

(And let's not forget Elle's funny-ass video essay: "I feel comfortable using legal jargon in everyday life" - someone wolf-whistles - "I OBJECT!" Small thing, I know, but obviously she doesn't approve of someone wolf-whistling at her, just as women shouldn't in general.)

Sarah Palin isn't stupid... she's a governer, for chrissakes. But she's nothing like Elle Woods - Palin's brand of confidence borders on the arrogance of Bush, and her speeches betray a blind faith in God that's uncomfortably familiar. She allows herself to be kept out of sight, and even if she believes she deserves the veep position, she certainly isn't showing that she truly does.

Elle Woods may have intended to be some sort of "self-confidence wins the day" fairytale from Hollywood, but her valedictorian (!!!) speech makes it clear how she really got to where she did: Passion. Not just decency, not just self-confidence, not just ignoring the dumb pricks who keep you down - but wanting something badly enough for itself that you drive yourself to achieve it. She got some help along the way, of course, because it's not like anybody could go it alone, but she took their advice, heeded their words, and came out better for it.

So, Sarah Palin =! Elle Woods.
jhameia: ME! (Call To Arms)
Okay, this is really just me jumping on the FUCK YOU KYLE PAYNE bandwagon, and I've gone through every other post written by just about everybody else, just to see if they've missed anything.

The long story short, Kyle Payne, a so-called male feminist, ally, rape crisis counsellor, residence life officer and all assorted glowing little things that prove he's a Good Guy, sexually assaulted an unconscious student. Lots of shit has been flung at this point. And it's only recently that he underwent trial for his actions. There's also talk about his having pornography (child porn, even) in his possession, and I do not even WANT to know whether he got off on hearing the stories of the women he had been "counselling".

But wait! Kyle felt the need to defend himself, to show the truth about himself! To be "open and honest", because we, his beloved female audience, deserve to know what he's currently going through! And what he went through, with that initial sexual assault.

I shall paraphrase it to you, and you can find it if you google him because I don't feel like linking to this clusterfuck, and his message basically runs like this (implications of his statements in brackets):

I want to explain my shit, and I would really appreciate feedback and questions! [I would like to butter up some sympathy for my sorry ass!] I was told to escort this drunk and almost unconscious student back to her dorm, and I did. [Give me a cookie, I did my job!] While she was laying there unconscious, I got this irresistible urge to touch her boobie! And I did! I filmed it and stuff. It was only a few seconds, I swear! [The Evil Patriarchy Made Me Do It OMG!] I'm so sorry, I hope she's okay and stuff, and I'm sorry to everybody else! I hope you all will forgive me! [Hopefully if I grovel enough you will take pity on my pathetic ass and ask for a lighter sentence!] Everyone's so SHOCKED at me for having done what I did, and I can't even tell you why I did it! [The Evil Patriarchy Made Me Do It OMG and I Am Incapable of Taking Responsibility!] I've been undergoing some therapy, and turns out I have issues leftover from childhood, which I tried to make up for by working sooooooo hard on helping other people, but I guess I'm not totally over it! In fact, all my advocacy work made me worse! [I'm fucked up! My fucked-upness is to blame for my fuck-up!] No matter what I've studied, turns out that I Didn't Confront The Patriarchy Enough! [Not my fault! It's the Patriarchy's fault!] My life has sucked since this: I couldn't go to graduation, I can't get a decent job now, I've been banned from campus, now everyone else looks at me suspiciously. [Because I TOTALLY DO NOT THINK I DESERVE THIS JUST FOR VIOLATING SOMEBODY'S BOOBIE, K? Haven't I suffered enough??] This is now a chance for me to really transform myself and learn my lesson! [Because obviously, respect for other humans, dignity, and the general ability to leave the room when I felt the urge to do something bad was not something I learnt.] Even worse, now I'm disallowed from helping people, and I feel like committing suicide because no one trusts me anymore. [It's all your fault for making me feel like wanting to die! Stop persecuting me!] And some pro-pornie has been promoting a smear campaign against me, making me look worse than I actually am. [Because all I did was expose and film a girl's breast for my enjoyment, omgwtf's so wrong with that?] I would like anybody and everybody to e-mail me to discuss... well, to discuss me! [Because obviously *I* am SO IMPORTANT!] I shall now refrain from posting about feminist issues, even if I do identify as feminist, until I'm welcomed back to the feminist community. [Because although what I did was horrifyingly ANTI-feminist, misogynist, and dehumanizing, obviously the things I've done warrants a parade when I have finally redeemed myself!]

Firstly, WHERE THE HELL DOES BUDDY GET OFF THINKING HE'S EVER GOING TO BE WELCOMED BACK INTO ANY FEMINIST COMMUNITY AFTER WHAT HE'S DONE??????????????? Talk about male entitlement! Talk about shithead privilege! Talk about dense and stupid!

Secondly, I would like to draw attention to exactly what he wrote with regards to the encounter, because it's fucking priceless:

On January 3, 2007, I was invited to assist an intoxicated female student at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. Following my responsibilities as a resident advisor, I looked after this student in her dorm room to ensure her safety and evaluated whether or not medical attention was necessary. Fortunately, medical attention was not necessary. However, as I will explain, some of my actions while assisting the student were harmful and inappropriate.

While caring for the female student, I felt a sudden impulse to expose her breast. Not knowing how to deal with this feeling at the time – and to put it more clearly, not knowing how to make sense of such an urge, given my personal values and my politics – I acted upon it. With a digital camera I kept with me regularly, I briefly photographed and took a few seconds of video of the woman’s breast. She did not consent to this act, nor did she have any knowledge of it at the time. This event ended as quickly as it began, leaving me in a state of disbelief at what I had done.


Look at what he put into bold. Look at the words "briefly", and "a few seconds". You know what this is? A dog-whistle into our subconscious, to make us think, "well, gosh darn! It couldn't have been THAT bad, it was just a few seconds of her life that her boobie was filmed for some asshole's entertainment without her consent!"

Then look at the first two sentence of that second paragraph I quoted: I felt a sudden impulse to expose her breast. Not knowing how to deal with this feeling at the time – and to put it more clearly, not knowing how to make sense of such an urge, given my personal values and my politics – I acted upon it.

BUDDY, EVERY NORMAL HUMAN BEING GETS THIS *IMPULSE* FROM TIME TO TIME. It's pretty normal sexual psychology. Obviously, Kyle here is being ingenuous by claiming "I didn't know what to do!" Can you honestly believe that bullshit? This here creature worked as a rape crisis counsellor, for chrissakes. Did studies on feminist theory, for chrissakes. For all that academic theorizing, he couldn't come up with a practical course of action that didn't involve violating her? FER REAL?

If you believe that kind of bullshit, you're either very naive, or very stupid. Lots of people get that kind of feeling all the time. Even if we DO get confused about how we feel, the last thing we generally do is ACT ON IT. USUALLY, WE LEAVE THE SITUATION ASAP.

Please, Mr. Payne. We feminists are cleverer than your misogynist brain obviously thinks we are.

We do NOT need your help in our community. Rest assured, whatever work you have done is completely debunked based on what you have done that proves you CANNOT be trusted. Hell, all the work you've done is now in suspect. You were NOT THAT VALUED that we will accept you back into our community, much less WELCOME you.

All I see in this letter is a snivelling pathetic coward who, a long time ago, figured, "better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission."

I see this attitude a LOT. And I have to say, IT FUCKING BUGS ME. There are certain times when I can see how it applies, but too often, "forgiveness before permission" is used and abused in so many ways, and KYLE PAYNE IS ABUSING IT RIGHT NOW.

If he had truly felt sorry for what he had done, RIGHT AFTER THE INCIDENT, IN JANUARY 2007, he would have taken himself to a counsellor, or to the police, confessed what he did, and asked for therapy right then and there. NOT when it's all being aired out like this. NOT when he finally got caught for the liar he is. No, he probably thought that, if the day every comes when he got caught, all he had to do was write a carefully written letter that says everything the public probably wants to hear from an assailant, and ask for forgiveness.

He claims he wants to take responsibility for what he's done. Well, I don't see it in his letter. I see someone trying to scrape up enough sympathy for a lighter sentence. If he truly wanted to own what he did, he would willingly go to jail, and take the harshest punishment.

But no, he wants to ingratiate himself back to where he was. No, never, no way, nuh-uh, F.O.D.

Again, Ren has a shitload of links to others who have different takes on this fucker. I suggest them. Very good reading for a slow night. My particular favourite is Jeff Pack's, since he takes apart the entire post.



*I can't claim this one. PhysioProf said somewhere, "My day is complete when wackaloons go wackadoodle", and Screaming Lemur quoted it on her blog. It was kind of hard not to resist using it.
jhameia: ME! (Illuminated Idea)
I've spoken time and again about the concept of impersonality in R. W. Emerson's writings to my professor, who finds the concept fascinating, and he has tried time and again to impress on us the importance of impersonality, coupled with the risks of getting too involved. Essentially, the key of impersonality is to become so selfless that the self can encompass anything - everything can be appreciated and loved equally because it all has inherent goodness.

There're, of course, several points where this simply is incommensurable - if you want to be impersonal, then how alive are you? The contemplative life has always been comparable to death - a state of complete stillness to comprehend the cosmos. It's an extremely Buddhistic concept, which I never reconciled myself with.

I don't believe the concept of impersonality helps make a person become a human being - if anything, it lends itself to the concepts of post-humanism with its question of "what is human? Can we be completely impersonal and still be human?" My simple answer is no. Human nature likes to find out about things, it likes to change things in its environment, it likes to experiment, and it doesn't just "let things be", because if we did that, we wouldn't really be any much different than animals.

Impersonality, I believe, also leads to the huge post-modern problem of alienation. We see this all the time, especially with the burgeoning technological advances we make. We don't have to go to the bank and see a real bank teller anymore, because we can do it online. We don't babysit our own kids, we make them sit in front of the television. We don't go out and make friends, we make them online.

Don't get me wrong, the Internet is wonderful. It helped me grow up as a person because I met so many types of people that I never would have met otherwise. But for some, it becomes a dependency because they become too afraid to go out and see who's in their immediate vicinity, and partake of emotional bonds safely behind a screen. (This doesn't include people who become very emotionally bonded to their online friends.) But do we really partake of life if we remain faceless beings behind a screen?

That, in itself, is a form of impersonality - we don't necessarily participate in other people's lives, we just sit back and observe. We oftimes don't pass judgement, because we're not there.

Simply put, impersonality can lead to alienation, a highly uncomfortable human state. There're people who achieve impersonality and are perfectly content with it (I won't say happy, because the word "happy" implies a certain extreme). They're content to just sit back and do nothing, and let the world unfold itself. But I don't think, for most part, that all humans are capable of this.

Alienation is a problem of mine and I know a lot of other people share this too. That is why, I think, it's a dangerous thing to tout impersonality as a good thing. So here's a song that depicts my sense of alienation - David Bowie's Space Oddity.


Ground control to Major Tom
Ground control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on

Ground control to Major Tom
Commencing countdown, engines on
Check ignition and may God's love be with you

Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five,
Four, three, two, one, liftoff

This is Ground Control to Major Tom
You've really made the grade
And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear
Now it's time to leave the capsule if you dare

This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I'm stepping through the door
And I'm floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today

For here
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do

Though I'm past one hundred thousand miles
I'm feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell me wife I love her very much, she knows

Ground Control to Major Tom
Your circuit's dead, there's something wrong
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you....

Here am I floating round my tin can
Far above the moon
Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do.
jhameia: ME! (Under Control)
I'm on page 28 out of 52. That's not bad, right? I think I'm so slow because I pause every so often to scribble something down on it.

Anyway, here're my current notes:

Immortality =/= eternity.
Immortality is deathlessness, endurance through time.
Eternity is transcendence beyond life and death, beyond time.

Beacuse everything in the Green world, both nature and divinities, were immortal but generally share the same nature/characteristics as humanity (consider that the Gods are like exaggerated forms of Man), mortality was the defining characteristic of mankind.

Immortality is when the individual life doesn't die.
Individual life rises out of biological life.
But biological life is circular, ever moving, in the large scale of things. Even as things die, other things are being born, and on and on and on and on.
Individual life, however, the life of a man is linear, it begins at some point and ends at another point. The mortal is immortal through the lasting things he produces that outlives his biological, mortal life. Thus, the mortal man who strives to be the best, giving up mortal things for immortal fame are the true humans, while those who content themselves with mortality and never strive beyond that are little more than animals. I obviously have a problem with the last bit, but then, we've moved beyond that sort of thinking. For most part.

Interestingly, it's not possible to contemplate eternityn (lead the life of pure contemplation) if one is concerned with leaving some trace of thought. The eternal is thus only experienced beyond the realm of men, as a single man's experience, and it's a kind of death in itself.

Therefore, the vita activa, which seeks to establish a kind of immortality, ruins any experience of eternity, since the eternal needs absolute quiet that the quest of immortality ruins with its busywork.




So: human inventions. Now, a lot of scientific inventions that we take for granted today weren't exactly created for any particularly practical reason in mind, and most inventions are created because, well, as humans, we like trivia. We like knowledge. Even if it serves us no particularly practical purpose, it's just fun to know things like how pink and blue mixed together creates purple. Science ties into philosophy, philo sophia, the love of wisdom, where we like to think things out and see what happens.

The point where science breaks off from philosophy, though, is where science concerns itself with doing, action, in order to make sure of the truth of their theory. Philosophic concerns are mostly observations and contemplation. Science is application through action. But you can't really be sure with philosophy.

Science isn't permanent in its theories either, though, and doesn't have to make sense to Mister Regular John Doe. Do you understand physics? I don't. But physics is a complicated, important science. Sciences, in general, create implications on religions which can be very offensive, because the regular stuff that doesn't make sense, that the religious right like to say doesn't have to make sense because God created it and we shouldn't question what God made, that regular stuff, the nonsensical, becomes a truth in the applications of science.
A world that is the product of a divine, ineffable god can't be understood by man, or men can't understand what he didn't make, so he can't understand nature. But science does try to understand things, and succeeds, and apparently that's fucked.

Because of the reversals in theories that happen all the time in science or philosophy, the poor fuckers in philosophy become jaded and this has a consequence in modern philosophy, in which we think our inner senses make us know what reality is really like, and that consequence is that philosophers turn away from the world, the people they share it with, and the truth that comes alongside living in the world and become misanthropic motherfuckers.
It's worse because in this innner world he doesn't even find a permanent eternal truth either, poor sod, because all he ends up with are the cnostant shiftings of sensual and mental perceptions.

Because science doesn't need philosophy anymore, philosophers either became epistomologists or mouthpieces of their times, expressing the problems faced by their times clearly.
jhameia: ME! (Under Control)
This will be an update as I read this damn thing.

Suffice to say, I'm becoming fast annoyed at this outlook on life. A footnote says that freedom was understood to consiste of a) status, b) personal inviolability, c) freedom of economic activity, d)right of unrestricted movement. As a result, the slave is completely out, a craftsman isn't even mentioned because the craftsman is limited by his compulsion to work, and a merchant is out because os his compulsion to keep accumulating shit. This means the only people who're actually free are those who freely i) enjoy a life of consuming the beautiful, ii) devote their life to the polis (politics?) which produces beautiful deeds, and iii) devotes their lives to thinking about eternal, beautiful thing (good because it doesn't produce or affect current beautiful things).

Firstly, this devalues pretty much 90% of the human population who support that last 10%, ON THEIR BACKS. I can't believe how petty and ignorant this is. And this is Aristotle! I can't believe that a thinking philosopher would be so arrogant to believe that he is better than 90% of the population simply because he has leisure time to sit and think - there is a reason why he had no economic limits, and the reason was because of the 90% of people then! This harkens back to both Marilyn French and the current book I'm reading ("When God Was A Woman") on why men are so powerful: because women were too busy working in the domestic space to notice men were getting big-headed about their free time and what exactly the free time meant. I don't know how more time spent in public space means greater autonomy and thus superiority, but that's pretty fucked.

This is some serious being-out-of-touch with the common man here. Just because you've got time and inclination to go vote for (and participate in the politics of) how to rule everybody else doesn't make you better.

Even with the disappearance of the city-state, action wasn't becoming valued, but contemplation was seen as the ideal "free" way of life. The ideal of Christians (and many other religions too) that contemplation is superior to action is a move to be free from worldliness, but it doesn't exclude it to a small ruling elite; religion made it a right of all people. Why? Well, it's just easier to keep people in line if you promise them something beyond death, so they shouldn't complain in this life.

I'm actually rather irked by the idea that contemplation > action. It's true that if a person doesn't contemplate, their actions won't really have much thought nor quality behind them. But to think without acting is impotent and equally as worthless. You can have all the opinions you want, but you better stand up for what you believe.

Okay, here's a direct statement:
JUst as war takes place for the sake pf peace, thus every kind of activity ... must culminate in the absolute quiet of contemplation.
That is. Wow. A TERRIBLE ANALOGY.

Here's a paraphrase of a statement:
The reason why contemplation > activity is because anything a human does / produces could never measure up to the perfection of the cosmos, which govern themselves. This perfection, however, is visible only when the human mind is completely quiet and contemplative.
jhameia: ME! (Call To Arms)
I bought a book today: "A Difficult Decision: A compassionate Book About Abortion" by Joy Gardner. Glancing through the list of contents, I decided this was a must-have in my personal library. It's not a prepossessing book - it's shoddily binded with two messy staples and it won't fold properly. The thing looks photocopied, but it's readable in stark black text on light brown sturdy paper.

I can't seem to find a date on when this was written - there's a note on the cover which says that the entire text has been reproduced, but the content has been condensed so the page numbers are inaccurate. Mysteriously, it also says, "It is unknown if the original book is still unavailable", and the text was taken from the Florida School of Midwifery. "If you are able to copy any or all of this to pass on to people, it is encouraged. No permission was received in the first place, besides information is to be shared NOT stored."

It begins with a preface that lists down Ms. Gardner's beliefs regarding abortion, most of them fair and lacking judgement towards those who do and don't. It also clearly states that this book is also geared towards the partners of the women - men.

It moves on to consider circumstances surrounding abortion - how to make the decision? What if the woman wants to keep the baby? What are her options? What comes of adoption? And what about the men? What about their considerations, their reactions and the consequences of the abortion on them? It's sympathetic to both camps, and to many sides of the story.

This book then discusses biological ways of discerning at which stage of pregnancy a woman is in, and what methods of abortion are available for certain stages of pregnancy. It talks about pregnancy and fetal stages, about pregnancy tests, and other accompaying problems. The next chapter moves onto the spiritual aspect of pregnancy - can mothers speak to their children before they're born? When does a fetus contain a living soul? There's a little exercise which helps a woman decide what she wants to do through visualization. And of course, no discussion of spirituality can end without a discussion on the sacredness of life.

(For Wiccans, this is very similar to pathworking.)

(And life is sacred. That's why we don't bring in children into the world unless we truly revere their right to the world. We don't bring children in "just because", or because we have no choice. It must be a choice. We can choose to respect a child as a life full of possibilities, or we can choose to view a child as a burden and a responsibility to shoulder, just because it furthers the species.

If you came from ShinraOnline, you might remember Galladoorn. His daughter Madison was an accident, but he says, "she's the best accident that ever happened to me!" He married the mother and they're a beautiful, loving, godly couple.)

Gardner moves on to discuss the politics attached to abortion - no surpise there, because the issue is really fraught. Her position is that pro-life is anti-choice, while pro-choice means a woman is free to choose whether she will keep the baby or not, and she should be supported in her decision. Pro-lifers also have this insistence on abolishing abortion, but lack care for the women who DO choose to keep their babies, but don't have the resources to. That was something I had never really considered before - I knew that lack of resources was a reason for abortion (it would be one of mine), but I suppose I lack faith in society to provide me with such precious resource, to help me keep my baby. So the book's not all about abortion, but what options a woman can also consider, if she wants to keep the baby.

It may be politics, but these are morality considerations too. We as a society sometimes forget that women also choose to keep their babies as they also choose to abort. We forget single mothers need our help too, and in many places in the world, they are still shunned. It's a hard choice, isn't it? Shunned as a single mother, but denied an abortion. It's hardly a position any woman would want to be in, and as a result, many of us end up shutting down our sexuality, refusing to deal with it for fear of being in such a position.

Then there are descriptions of the procedures, what is done, what a woman may feel during those times, the risks attached. There are home remedies that induce abortion (none scientifically tested, though) - and finally, ways of dealing with the grief that accompanies an abortion.

There are cruel, callous people in the world who get abortions regularly as a form of contraception. They have no respect for the possibility of life within their wombs, seeing it as a minor inconvenience and squashing the flame as easily as flicking a switch. These women may have their reasons for believing so. If I knew someone who did that and gave me no satisfactory answer ("because I didn't want it" is not a good answer for using abortion as a contraceptive), I would tell her off in her face, and possibly spit on her.

An abortion IS an inconvenience, but for many women, it's a traumatic event - it's a death. And as with all deaths, we must grieve.

There are "case studies", more like examples of people who have had abortions and how they coped with it. And finally, a satisfactory closing of a spiritual belief, and a kindly word for those who may be going through this particular tribulation in life.

With the first twenty pages, I'm moved. I can't read this without crying. As a woman who believes in sexual freedom and liberation, these are important considerations I have to make regarding my body. What do I do to prevent having children before I'm ready? What happens if I have a child? What if I'm raped? Do I keep it? Do I have the support system required for such a responsibility? Do I have the emotional strength to go through with a pregnancy of a child that wasn't wanted?

More importantly, what are my options?

As a human being, I have the right to know what my choices are in face of adversity. What if someday, while I'm off contraceptives, I'm raped and I conceive from it? What if an accident with my partner occurs? How do I deal with an unwanted / unexpected pregnancy when I'm not ready for a child? What questions do I ask, what answers will I get?

Because we still live in a feckless society that prefers to scorn women that face this adversity instead of helping them, these are important considerations for a woman. She must know she has choices before she can take responsibility for herself, and she also has the responsibility to find out for herself her choices in all aspects of life. The people who love her also have the responsibility of helping her become educated on her choices on this issue, too. All human beings have the responsibility of helping each other out in knowing our choices in life.

I don't want to be in such a position, where I'd have to make such a decision, but in the eventuality that it happens, I can't run from it, but it's MY choice to say "Yes" or "No". Normally, I"m a cynical person and I sometimes don't care about certain things - sometimes I lack empathy because I'm so involved in what's going on in my world. If I could live like that all the time (like how so many people do), I wouldn't be at this computer crying. But I feel for these people and I understand their position.

This problem may never be mine, for all I know, but it still hits close to home, as a woman and as a person who wants to be a parent someday.

It's not that I can't help it, but I am pro-choice, and I choose to care.


It's a great book. For those in Halifax, you can get it at Venus Envy.
jhameia: ME! (Call To Arms)
I read an article on the scandal at Duke University, where three lacrosse players were accused of raping a black stripper, and Rolling Stones Magazine went to cover the story. Reading it, I'm not sure I care whether or not the lacrosse players were or weren't guilty of the crime (DNA test results show that they weren't, but that's neither here nor there for me), but more on the culture of sex and gender relations on that campus. Beyond the surface of the fact that these girls believed in supporting their own schoolmates, was a really outdated idea that these guys "didn't have to rape just to have sex".

Hello? What millenuim are you living in? Rape isn't about sex: it's about control. Did you simply miss the memo?

But I can see why these guys don't HAVE to rape someone else - they already get their kicks through controlling these girls: several instances in that article point to the girls' insecurity and need for social acceptance, hence the parties and the hookups and sororities. It's a sex culture where girls believe they use their sexuality to control the freshmen, but honestly, they're just sexually harrassing the frosh under orders from fraternity members. And why are they hazing the frosh anyway? Does it make them feel so much better to sexually demean someone of the opposite sex?

The word "fear" comes up very often in the article: fear of being labelled a "terrible", fear of not being good enough, fear of not being seen as sexy or beautiful. This fear means they will demean themselves just to get to the upcoming frat ball. They'll hook up with guys, who probably aren't that into them.

It's never the guys who're lucky to have the girls. The girls are always the lucky ones to have hooked up.

And get this, these guys with the prestige and the status: They're lacrosse players.

What?

Lacrosse isn't exactly what I'd call cool! I mean, if it was like, basketball, or football, hell, even rugby, MAYBE. But lacrosse? Net-wielding ballcatchers are COOL?

Oh bitch please!

The fact that these girls are answering to these guys are sure signs that the sexual revolution has been completely lost on them. Sorry to say, but on that campus, there isn't any sexual liberation, they're just whores. And there is a big difference.

This article made me really fucking angry, because we're into the new millenium with information being exchanged at a fast rate. You'd think these girls would've picked up by now that sex isn't exactly the best way to go about things. How is it that beautiful intelligent people still have to dumb themselves down for idiots? Why do these guys have so much prestige? Who hands it to them? Why do these idiot girls still perpetuate this culture? What are they afraid of?

It's not a new story, true, but you know what, it's worth re-telling and it's worth getting angry about. It's millenia old, and it has to change. It won't change if people don't care about it.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] aput83, for pointing out this fucking garbage to us at [livejournal.com profile] malaysians.

Here's my response AND letter to the Editor of the Star newspaper. Anything in italics is what I wish I could say, but didn't in the final draft. )

And that potshot was for the smart people at [livejournal.com profile] malaysians.

How much do you want to bet that it either won't be published or will be heavily edited, [livejournal.com profile] aput83??
jhameia: ME! (Illuminated Idea)
I'm done with the Victorian paper, but I wish I could have done better on it. Now I have my Feminism & Orientalism to do, due Monday, and my books on it are overdue and they will be late and continue to be late and I don't care.

So I read Reading the Vampire instead. It's actually a required text for one of the English courses here on the Gothic narrative, but I'm not fond of the Gothic genre, so I passed up on that. The fact that it's held over in Dartmouth may also have had something to do with my decision. It's an interesting text though, even if I wanted to scream when I came across queer theory (I saw so much of it in researching Oscar Wilde. I don't mean to say queer theory isn't important, it's as important as gender studies, but dammit, let the gay men be gay).

I kinda plodded along in my reading, and it brought up Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula - that's the one with Gary Oldman as Dracula and Winona as Mina. Now that I think about, it really isn't Bram Stoker's Dracula, considering how far it departed in terms of plot. I mean, I suppose Vlad the Impaler's wife Elisabeth killing herself after she finds out wrongly that Vlad's dead, and Vlad waiting forever and a half for her to be reborn is kind of canon by now, but it's not Bram Stoker! I remember that this Mina was also all swoony and giving in to Dracula (she willingly drink's Dracula's blood). HELLOOOOO?

Mina Harker in the original novel, by contrast, was perfectly capable of handling herself, helping the men along the way. It was HER suggestion that Van Helsing hypnotise her so they could look for Dracula, and SHE's the one who types up stuff from Dr. Seward's voice recorder. Mina was at least aware of the New Women, and had her own spunk.

This shows up NOWHERE in the film, now that I think about it. That makes me feel very betrayed. Instead, the film's Mina goes all "Oh Vlad I love you!" at the end of the movie. So much for being Jonathan Harker's fiancee. So much for fidelity. So much for women power. So much for being "Bram Stoker's Dracula". Bah.

Anyway, after reading that book, I really want to read Carmilla now *puts that on to-read list*

The book also covered a nice range of different aspects in reading vampire novels / watching vampire films - seeing the vampire as a capitalist, as an Other, as an unidentifiable (something that is usually in the realm of Frankenstein study) and as the uncontrollable (feminine). Really makes me realize how very misogynistic so many of these old texts are... I wonder if I could find any man-undermining texts out there that don't come from the 19th / 20th centuries? I mean, even Anne Rice had mostly male characters - I was disappointed when Claudia was shot off the scene, I really liked Claudia. You figure that a heterosexual mother would have more female characters in her novels, but most of the important relationships (and families) are comprised of male members - again, this isn't a bad thing, but it seems the only gender that becomes empowered in vampire canons tend to be male - Carmilla is destroyed (so that the men can re-assert their masculinity, and hell, Laura isn't even involved in the discussion). But Carmilla, interestingly enough, also gets to have her say, so I really want to read that text to see how le Fanu treats Carmilla's character.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
Just finished watching Part II.

Let me get this straight, this show has been listing off the best music vids from THIS decade, the previous decade, and the PREVIOUS decade...

They've got a silly little romance story from Europe featuring a mix of live-action and comic style animation and big fluffy 80's hair with pretty boy faces (this is A-Ha's Take On Me)...

They have a vid featuring a girl prancing around the streets in a bee suit...

And they don't have Interstellar 5555?

North America!
jhameia: ME! (Illuminated Idea)
Hrm. Wow.

I knew I loved Oscar Wilde for his paradoxes and his comedic spirit, but I just read An Ideal Husband. Maybe I'm just being sentimental (considering my ex-boyfriend has just opened communication with me again) or maybe I'm just depressed, but that ending made me cry. I just love happy endings where people in love make grotesquely adorable declarations to each other. And where people in love are equals and honest with each other.

Salome was interesting, but a bit Theatre of the Absurd-ish for me. For a single act, there's plenty of belief suspension needed. I'd find it a bit of a challenge to do, really, because there're so many characters and thus a lot of people hanging around for no real reason except to wait for their lines. It's a bit bizarre. But one must remember, Oscar Wilde detested the real.

I suppose I shall have to get back to the Decay of Lying and the Artist as Critic. Then I can really get cracking on this research paper. I need to talk to Dr. Perkin about the research material too. And I really need to refine my research questions. The proposal paper was really just me throwing out all my ideas just so I could get 200-300 words on paper, so it turned out really quite horrid.

From questioning Wilde's principles and whether they apply themselves all the time to his works, I was wondering maybe I could think about his aesthetics and applying his aesthetics to himself. But I also want to question how important those aesthetics are with regards to morality. The Happy Prince, the Importance of Being Ernest, An Ideal Husband... all these have some really strong moral themes regarding honesty and although the superficial in these stories are charming, it's the morality tale which hits home the hardest. Even Dorian Gray had a moral. (It's just not terribly overt.) Really. Oscar Wilde could talk himself blue about cleverness and being pretty and carpe diem, but it's not terribly well reflected in his works so far.

I don't know yet. I'll have to read the articles I borrowed.

I also have some really awesome books! I managed to get The Aesthetics of Self-Invention: Oscar Wilde to David Bowie. It's like - Evolution! (The other day it was Men in Makeup: David Bowie to The Killers.) I also have Oscar Wilde: The Poetics of Ambiguity. It looks like it covers some things I want to say.

Let me read the critical essays first. Perhaps I really ought to be reading all of his works, just to make sure my bases, but I'm sure Dr. Perkin will go "*gasp* no!"
jhameia: ME! (Illuminated Idea)
Here's another quote from my calendar:

"The 'otherising' of women is the oldest oppression known to our species, and it's the model, the template, for all other oppressions." ~ Robin Morgan, Sisterhood is Powerful scribe

While I hesitate to call the otherising of women the oldest, seeing as I don't want to presume on human history, I could say, yes, 'otherising' is definitely the model for oppressing others.

To make someone the Other is to make them different - since difference frightens the normal human, the proper reaction is to attempt to make this Other inferior, so that there is an excuse for oppression and imposition of one's own ideals. Making someone else the Other, and hence inferior, also gives one a sense of control - "I am the True One, they are the Other and must be made True, or close to it."

As a child from a colonized country and having studied my own history (Yes, you little Malaysian runts, I liked Malaysian history), I understand being an "Other". The British made Others of the Malays, Chinese and Indians, even to each other. Even today we see each other as Others, even though we don't care to admit it (that's why affirmative action is in place).

When I came here to Canada, I was the Other as well, and hung out with other Others until it became quite apparent due to my language skills and thought-patterns that I was not quite so Other.

It is the idea of Otherising that makes so many people forget that we are all, in the end, human.

But what do we do? The idea of the "us" and "them" makes people so comfortable, they sit in their comfort zones and forget to acknowledge one another until their neglect of understanding turns into fear which breeds hatred.

It takes so much effort to care about the world, because there's so much to care about. It's just easier to dismiss the rest of the world - it's someone else's problem, it doesn't concern me. That's a kind of oppression too - failure to take action against oppression breeds even more oppression.

If we recognize we are all someone else's Other deep down inside, what then? Do we feel adrift from the rest of the world? The rest of humanity? Do we not have one common shard deep inside, that even though we are all Others, perhaps - perhaps it's the Otherness we each and all individually own that we have in common?

Are we such an Other then?

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