Contact from Outer Space

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For the past two years, I’ve presented scholarship at a specific convention.  Today, the day I’m giving my presentation, I get a text from The Sailor.

We broke up – strike that- I ended the relationship because of his racism and benevolent sexism. These were, unfortunately, attitudes he was unable or unwilling to explore and deconstruct.  I don’t view the breakup as animosity filled, and I don’t​ think he does either (but I don’t know, and I work to not assume other’s feelings). 
His message felt weird, because why send it? We’ve had one point of contact since the breakup (medical stuff).  I’ve ,admittedly, avoided going to the one place I’m likely to see him.  Maybe he’d put the con in his calendar, maybe he saw an ad online (I cut off social network contact).  
It just feels like a weird way to re-establish contact.  Probably because my scholarship deals so heavily with issues of social justice and feminism it feels especially odd. 

Of course this may simply be his attempt to reach out and be friends?  It would give him something to contact me about.  It’s innocuous enough to ask about, what to most people probably feels like a big deal.  Presentations just aren’t that big a deal to me anymore.  

I’m sad that things didn’t workout with us. And in an irrational (is that even a fair word), I’m angry at him and disappointed.  No, I’m not angry at him. 

I’m angry at myself. I’m angry that once again I became involved with someone who can’t view me as a whole person. Even after I was as honest as possible, he didn’t actually hear me.  Maybe that’s a side effect of his broken world view.

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Truth and Consequences

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CW… TW… Abuse, sexual assault, and very personal content.  Feel free to skip this if you need to. 

A friend posted this article on her FB page.

“I’m Not Going to Choose a Side”

It led to a nuanced and deep discussion on this topic.  I didn’t share my thoughts on her page or my own.  I am sharing them here.

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Building Safe Communities

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A friend recently posted about the widespread sexual assault, harassment, and abuse in a community she belongs to. 

I’ve learned over the years that not everyone seeks community, so let’s be clear on the definition.  Community is this case refers to groups of people brought together by a shared passion or goal.  Fan communities, for example, often physically come together for conventions. Often communities share virtual space as well: Facebook groups, message boards, blog circles, and other digital meetups. 

Because the people in the community often share a passion, one that isn’t widely shared outside, these communities can quickly feel and seem intimate and familial.  

I have never found a community that is actually safe, especially for women.  

I went to my first goth club at 16.  I’m shy by nature. I went, watched, and of course danced.  I watched domestic abuse in the club, and I watched security do very little. I often saw women harassed. Men invading their personal space, touching them, following them around (or more terrifying following them back to their cars).  

Over the years, I watched some of the more obvious stuff stop.  Security was quicker to break up fights of any kind. Women began reporting creepers, and security at least gave the appearance of caring. 

Over the years at these clubs I’ve been groped, including a man putting his hand inside my panties. I’ve been called all manner of names for turning down offers of drinks. I’ve been followed around the club, including to my car. I stopped clubbing for a few years.  

After I returned, I saw many of the same things going on.  But I heard a lot more about how it was a “community” and the goth kids “take care of their own.” And how “creepers and harassers were driven out.” None of these things are true.  I dated a regular at the clubs. He’s a man with a history of abuse. No one said anything to me – one person told a friend of mine, but no one else. Maybe I wasn’t “one of their own?”  I was sexually assaulted at a club. 

 I was encouraged to report his stalking behavior to the club owner. Long story short, unless I went to the police, the owner wouldn’t do anything.  Even if I got a restraining order, all she would do was keep him out if I got to the club first.  I told the head of security at the club. His words “I’ve heard this about him before.” 

I’ve seen other abusive men in the scene. I see their victims disappear, but the men stay.  I hear people in the scene shut down conversations about it with all the bullshit one expects. “There’s two sides,” “not my problem,” “he/she is always cool to me…”

I’ve watched those that stand up and complain get driven away or driven to silence.  

For my part, I left. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t see him. I couldn’t stand the gossip that I was a liar. I couldn’t take the doubt I heard in people’s comments. 

Will I return to the clubs? Maybe. I’ve gone to a couple of events at a club run by other people. Do I think it’s safer? No, but no one there claims it’s a community that cares. 

 No one claims it’s a haven.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make communities safe, but I don’t know the answer. What I can do is spend my money in places that try to do better. 

Fangirls Don’t Ruin Anything

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File this under things I abhor, fans who blame women for their favorite shows being “ruined.”  There has been a lot of discussion about the new Doctor Who.  Let me be transparent, I’m not much of a Doctor Who fan.  I watched some of the seasons with David Tennant and Matt Smith.  Of course, I watched the episode written by Neil Gaiman.

With that out of the way, fuck everyone citing the failure of Capaldi’s Doctor as the fault of fangirls.  BTW according to the statistics supported by Gallyfrey Base, the Capaldi seasons didn’t perform worse.  The decline in viewership numbers reflects the increase in watching asynchronously (as in DVRs and buying episodes from streaming services).  So in the end, it isn’t a real decline at all.

And even if women didn’t like Capaldi that likely wouldn’t matter to TV/Film execs who rarely consider women a target audience.

For the record: I didn’t like Capaldi.  Not because he wasn’t hot – or whatever. But because the few episodes I caught with him, he came across as a bully – and I don’t do shows with assholes in the lead.  White guys being assholes is real life for me.  Further, as Moffet gets more and more bad press for being a misogynist tool, I find it harder and harder to enjoy a show that he profits from.  Perhaps more people should stop supporting him (which may be another issue).

Further, even if there’s a fan base that only watches DW because the actor was/is hot… Why is that wrong?  Where’s the demarcation of “real fan” vs “fan for the wrong reason?” I watch a variety of shows for a variety of reasons. Often I’m looking for innovative story telling. After finishing grad school (with a literature degree), I find a lot of storytelling to be predictable and honestly boring.  In contrast, I also adore comfortable shows.  After 13 seasons, I still come back to Supernatural. Is it ground breaking tv? Nope. But it’s familiar. It’s full of characters I like.  However, even if I watched it because the stars were hot, why would that be a problem? 

I know that Hollywood doesn’t care about women audiences.  They act like every high grossing film that women love is a fluke.  I don’t see any evidence that BBC is more enlightened in their thinking.

What evidence exists to support that BBC chose a younger man is the fault of women viewers (other than fans looking to blame women for something)? The fan base has been clamoring for a diverse Doctor – but nowhere in those discussions (in media outlets) did I hear people calling for a younger Doctor.  In fact, most of the actors I saw (Gillian Anderson, Ildris Elba, and Tilda Swinton) are far from TV standards of young.

This outcry of blaming (what I believe are non-existent) fangirls for changing a show is scaffolded by misogyny, with perhaps a dash of “fake fangirl” for good measure.   Fans, regardless of the franchise, have little if no control over their shows (even if they develop an attitude of entitlement).  Ask Star Trek fans about Enterprise if you are unclear.  ST has a history of being the most interested in fans (including the OST accepting fan scripts).  Yet they made a shitty spinoff that most fans publically and vocally hated.  Why? Because some exec somewhere thought it would make money.

So that’s the thing fans, we don’t own our favorites.  This is someone else’s art.  If you don’t like it, get over your ‘fan girls ruin everything mindset’ and visit us in the land of fanfic.  You know the place where fangirls go to MAKE the show they want – all without whining (at least much) about how the overwhelmingly white, male writers (directors, execs, and actors) make all the choices.

Capitalism and Consent

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I had a conversation today that made me think. The Sailor had accepted a job as a recruiter (another post may come up about my growing difficuly with his job).  

To the point, he mentioned wanting to join a book club and how that would be another recruitment location.  I said it wouldn’t. That it was dishonest and, well, just shitty.  I explained that to me, such a plan violates the consent of those on the group.  If I join a bookclub, I consent to reading and talking about a book.  I don’t consent to be marketed to. 

It occured to me that capitalism is part of our consent problem in the US.  Many people think it’s always ok to try to sell something to someone/anyone.  Ads crowd every inch of our lives.  Billboards crowd out skylines.  At least most apps (on my Android anyway) tell me there will be ads, and I can opt to not use the app if I want.  

But there seems to a prevailing attitude that it’s ok to try to sell something everywhere.  The business, the chance to earn money supercedes consent.

I don’t know if he understood my perspective. He compared it to dating a church. I pointed out that is the same issue and just as problematic. If a person is going to the event with an “ulterior motive” that’s a problem. It’s dishonest. If I’m going to church, I’m going for worship and fellowship, not to find a mate. I wonder, in this hypothetical scenario, if this person is attending for the purpose of finding a date, would his/her membership continue once a date was found?  

I see this is different than I’m at church. Over the course of donuts and Bible study (or whatever people do at church), I find that I enjoy a person’s company or that we also share a love of French New Wave Cinema, a relationship can form.  I’m pretty sure that’s how people make friends. But if I’m there to sell Amway or Herbalife or whatever, I’ve infringed on the church goers consent. They consented to Jesus and donuts not a tele-markwting call. 

 I know if I’m in a book club, and another member brings up irrelevant points, like being in the military or bring a parent or being single – unless the book is about this topic (or this perspective is part of an analysis) I’m likely going to leave the bookclub. I had a history class like that once. The professor let some students derail the conversation into their personal lives (no connection to the text/time period). It was a terrible class because we never stayed on topic.  

In any discussion, people drift and tangents happen. But to force the topic, to ignore the purpose of the group, for profit or recruitment or dating violates consent.  

I can’t help but wonder how much of society’s issues with consent are tied into this. We privilege capitalism, the hunt for the dollar, over everything else. Why should consent matter?

Of Covens and Candor

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I’ve been part of a heathenry/asatru meetup group for awhile now. Surprisingly, there aren’t any such groups in the area.  Oh there are some farther afield, in another county.  

The group had been fortunate to have a couple of wonderful, generous Heathens attend and share their knowledge.  At the last meetup, me and another member talked about creating a mission statement for the group. She hoped that it may help us recruit members who are seeking the same path.  I’d like to keep the group as egalitarian as possible, and I’d like to push for a social justice statement as well…

I’m both excited and scared of this step.  There’s a core group of maybe 6 of us, with varying levels of magical, pagan, and heathen backgrounds.  At least 2 of us are interested in Seidr, but I’m not sure if everyone is onboard with that. It’s a far more esoteric element, and perhaps the least tied to hard re-creation ( which attracts many to asatur/heathenry).  I admit that I’m also afraid of that level of intimacy and connection with a new group of people.  I find my trust so often misplaced.  

But I’m also excited. I’m brimming with ideas and practices I want to try and share. I want to build something inclusive, scholarly, familial, and ecstatic.  I want a group that functions without leaders, without hierarchy. I want everyone to have a voice, and to feel that they can explore this path.

Love Magic

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My sailor invited me to a class at our local witchy shop on love magic.  I admit to not being a fan of “love magic” – but it sounded like fun.  In talking about the class, he actually had very sweet reasons for wanting to go.

So I said I was in.  I asked about RSVPing for the class because I was going to be at the shop for another event.  I figured it would be a way that I could buy his ticket too, and surprise him.

He realized there might be a potential scheduling issue.  A few days later he said we couldn’t go together.  Now, I understood going in that he and his wife are not totally out.  Although, I did think they were out at the shop.  That could just be my misunderstanding.  I know that she has a family member who sometimes attends events – and there have been a few events where we had to be not together.

valentines-day-victorian-traditions-with-good-looking-for-the-most-beautiful-victorian-valentines-day-decorations-to-reference     heartflowers

But… but I don’t know why it bothered me that we couldn’t go.

I’ve been straight forward that I cannot tolerate being shamed or treated as a homewrecker.  I said I absolutely wouldn’t stand for that at the shop.  Maybe I felt a twinge of that.  Like I’m good enough to make out with at the shop, but I’m not good enough to be in love with.  Which isn’t really fair, or accurate, as he invited me.  He wanted to go.  His wife wasn’t ok with it.  And I do understand being concerned about getting outed.  People talk – and if they are talking about us, it could easily get back to her sister. I’m sure that’s not a comfortable conversation to have.

I think it makes me wonder how comfortable she is if he and I have an emotional connection.  It wasn’t an issue at Lupercalia. Or any of the other rituals we’ve attended (except the one her sister was at).  So it just feels like there’s something to love aspect.

Where does this leave me? I need confirmation that him being in love with me is ok with her. And I think I may need a boundary at the shop.  Perhaps making it a totally platonic space is the way to go.

Mantras

I declared 2016 was the year of “My Life”(the Billy Joel song).  I worked on owning my life choices, accepting them without shame or fear, and speaking honestly.

I’ve come out as poly to my mother. It went better than expected, but she is less than understanding. I’m adopting the Dan Savage “give it a year,” approach.  If after a year, her suggestion that I need to get divorced (and her new tact that my partner is clearly unhappy) didn’t change, then I will remove myself from her life.  

I’m trying to be more open/honest in other ways as well. I’ll mention seeing a therapist, being disabled, being pagan, and being poly casually. At work, I disclose less.  Like many people, I have no job security.  I’m working on not censuring myself when I talk about the things I care about.  

It was my year of finding my inner wolf.  Manifesting a fierceness. And perhaps finding my pack.   

This year, I didn’t attend Saturnalia, but I’ve decided this is my year of living deliciously.  In the amazing film “The Witch” the man in black asks Thomasin if she would “like to live deliciously?” – so this year I’m working on “living deliciously.” Saying yes to the sensual and hedonistic things. Saying yes to theater, dance, to experience. Making time for pleasure, self care, and the people in my life.