theferrett: (Meazel)

My Dearest Nerds, et al:

When I was a young lad of nine, my uncle took me to my first science fiction convention – a Star Trek convention, to be precise.  It was held in a dirty basement of a hotel, a seedy thing hidden away from sight, because nerdy conventions a) weren’t terribly popular, so they couldn’t afford better spaces, and b) nerdy things were, in general, best hidden from sight.  And Star Trek Fandom was a tattered, desperate thing – the show had been cancelled seven years ago, and the movie that would bring Kirk and Spock back to life hadn’t been made yet, so the convention was a bunch of die-hards, warming their hands at the dying embers of an old TV show.

It was largely considered pathetic.

Yet upon the folding tables of the con, I found wonderment and brightness.  I could mention “The Horta” and have everyone understand that I meant an acid-secreting monster… And no one would make fun of me for that.  We made bad Star Trek puns, and people got them.  I bought two Star Trek scripts – cheap mimeographs of typewritten pages held together with a binder clip – and my Uncle Tommy bought peeling rubber Spock ears.  These were things I had always dearly wanted to own, yet didn’t think anyone else shared our interest.

This whole convention was proof that there were others like me.

I was not alone.

Thirty years later, I still carry that amazement in my bones.  That wonder that my crazy desires were shared.  And so, my friends, as one of you, I’m here to bring you an important message about fandom:

You fucking won.

It is time to stop pretending you’re a minority.

Whenever I see someone proud of geek culture, they speak as though we’re still that tatty Star Trek convention stuffed in a bad hotel’s basement – something shameful and shunned.  But seriously, guys.  Look at the movies.  What’s the top 10 movies of the year?  The Avengers, Dark Knight Rises, Hunger Games, Amazing Spider-Man.  Those are all major box-office draws, bringing millions of like-minded folks together.

And what’s bigger than movies these days?  Videogames.  Oh, there was a time when maybe your Atari or Nintendo was mocked by others, but these days?  Videogames rake in billions of dollars, are played by rock stars and sports stars alike in the back of vans; the Halo series, a science fiction saga, is so big it doesn’t need to have a movie to be iconic.

You look around, and the Internet has made computers cool, even a little bit de rigeur.  Online dating is not only acceptable, but becoming a default.  Your silly cat macros have become a part of the culture.  Cartoons are okay for adults to watch, now.  People used to mock people for carrying around a pocket calculator, but now you’d damn well better have an iPhone in your hand.

You have become the dominant culture.

Sure, there are a couple of things that never caught on – tabletop roleplaying never became cool, but that’s largely because networked videogames did a better job of bringing people together.  And sure, maybe Firefly never became the massive hit – but the point is that these days, you can admit in public that you like a show about spaceships and laser-guns, and most people find that normal.   World of Warcraft and Modern Warfare raids have become as normal as Fantasy Football.

Yet for all of that, fandom tends to have this cringing attitude that fundamentalist Christians have – the concept that because there are still people left who disagree with us, we must still be an embattled minority.  And if nerdy culture knows anything, it’s that the embattled minorities are in the right – it’s always the little guys with the moral rightness, fighting against the Big Culture of Evil!

You’re the big culture, guys.  And you’re a little evil.

Because as Greyweirdo puts it so wonderfully correctly:

Someone posted a quote on Facebook recently, that said something like “Geekery is about being enthusiastic about things we love, not decrying, not belittling.” and the very first comment to that quote that I saw was “Bullshit! I’ve never seen a geek like anything, they’re like hipsters, only they think they’re better because they pretend to be feminist or liberal sometimes.” and I found that to be just plain tragic. Because the geeks were supposed to be the good guys. But no, give them some time and they’ll be racist, slut shaming, misogynists, just as bad or even worse than any asshole you’d gleefully run down with your car. In fact, they’re far worse because they have the ingrained belief that no matter what transpires, they’re actually the victim here.

So there’s going to be some pumpkin-flavored things. Maybe that’s not to your liking, but a lot of people do like it. It’s not hurting you, no one is taking away the asiago bagel. The salmon spread is still there. Likewise, no one is taking Dr. Who off the shelf and replacing it with Twilight. No one is burning your Harry Potter set and forcing you at gun point to read 50 Shades of Gray. Get over yourselves anyway, you are in no way the monitors for what is and isn’t good. Some of you people liked the Star Trek reboot for Fancy’s sake. There’s nothing wrong with liking it, but it does rather negate you from being ANY KIND of final arbiter. Not so much because of the Star Trek thing, but because there is no final arbiter. There might be some critics who are better than others, some who have a more informed opinion, but no one has the final say.

The problem is, because you think you’re still in that Star Trek basement, heavily bullied, you have to defend this fragile culture – because if someone assaults it, even us, especially us, it will collapse like a house of cards. There just aren’t enough of us to get by, is the thinking, so we must accept everyone who wants to step into our tent.  We’re the culture of refuge – when people are feeling battered by the outside world, they come into our sheltering arms, where we never judge.

The problem is, we never judge.  And there are a lot of people standing underneath our tent, the kind of people who call people “faggots” while playing those videogames you love, slurring women…. and we tolerate it because hey, we’re just this tiny bunch of people, it doesn’t matter, we have no power and even if we did who is this affecting? Are women being objectified in gaming culture, women heroes often being presented as huge-titted rape victims or co-dependents?  Well, we don’t like that, but what does that matter?  We’re small potatoes, man…

My point, my friends, is that now that you’ve won, it’s time to decide who you are.

Are you going to be the good guys, strong enough to eject the troublemakers?  Are you willing to look hard at the troublesome aspects of how fandom often deals with women, and homosexuality, and minorities, and not just knee-jerk defend it because you like it?  (One can love something and still acknowledge the problems therein – Lord knows I love me some Kirk, who was considered progressive at the time, but hoo boy is old Star Trek saturated with various flavors of ugliness.)

Are you going to slowly slide into becoming just another judgmental group of exclusionary pricks, blind to your problems?  Are you going to quiver, powerless, and let the worst of you define you?

You did an amazing thing.  You reshaped the face of American culture.  You took marginalized hobbies and made them cool.

Now, flush with victory, can you acknowledge you did all that?  And can you do something even better? Can you stop pretending that anyone who likes Justin Bieber is a soulless jerk?  Can you look a little deeper at the midriff-baring armor that your heroines are wearing for your pleasure?  Can you transform the culture you have now into a culture that provides role models for all sexes, races, sexual preferences?

It can be done.  But doing that starts with one very critical idea: you won.

Now do something awesome with that power.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

“Baby, we’re poly; you can date all the women you want.  But no guys.”

That’s the kind of polyamory that drives me crazy.

Look, if your guy is such a brobdignagian studmuffin that after shuddering in the shadow of His tremendous cock you need no others, then great!  As the woman, you’ve made the choice not to seek other menstuffs.  I support that.  What I do not support is the polyamory model where the guy, majestically, allows his woman to date all the chicks she wants, but never men.

And it’s fucking everywhere.  As a blogger with a reasonably sizable audience, I usually enstate a cooldown time between “a friend of mine does something that vexes me” and “the day I blog about it,” just so they don’t feel like I’m picking on them.  But it never stops.  Every other fucking week, I have a good pal who meets a guy who’s wonderfully encouraging, because he wants her to have all the loving relationships she can handle – as long as they have boobs!  And no penis.  That penis is scary, y’all.

It’s so everywhere, and I just fucking hate it.

Now, not every poly relationship is the same, and I’m sure that YOUR poon-but-no-peen relationship is based on factual evidence that men are the crushers of dreams.  But what I usually see, when I look at these restrictive gardens, is a monstrous selfishness: Oh, you can have all of the sex you want, so long as it turns me on.  I think lesbian sex is the spice, and maybe if I’m lucky I’ll end up as the filling in your slut sandwich, so go on and have your fun.  Besides, we all know that women’s relationships aren’t nearly as deep or threatening as guy relationships, so it’s fun to indulge you – it’s like watching two kittens play!  You girls are so cute.

The reason I hate it is because that’s a form of polyamory, but more often than not it’s one that’s selfish, misogynistic, and dysfunctional.  It’s often a way of saying, “Everything in this relationship needs to serve my needs.”  Because I’ve talked to a lot of those women while their man is out on a date with a new girlfriend, and it’s not like they don’t get the usual poly-quivers of jealousy and terror (as these dude-types are invariably a) arrow-straight and b) always willing to find just one more woman to fuck, as long as she’s cute).  The women sit at home, not at all turned on by this new potential threat to their relationship, trying bravely to be fair because, “Well, this is an open relationship, this balancing of affections is just part of how it works.”

Except it doesn’t.  Does he ever sit at home, worried about her on a date with a guy?  No.  It’s a one-way street because when she’s flirting with a hottie male at the club he gets all OMG HIS COCK WILL SUPPLANT MINE, and that shit is just too terrible for any man to deal with – so no, just fool around with harmless little women.  (If you’ve read some of my previous rants on how dumb guys approach penises, you’ll know what I think of the whole ubercock routine.)

Look, my wife dates other men.  Is it always easy on my ego?  No.  But even the best polyamory involves a few inadvertent shots to the self-esteem.  There are people who will tell you that good polyamory involves never being jealous or insecure, and I’ll say fuck those inhuman robots right in their crankcase.  Poly has a lot of benefits when it works – but even the best of relationships will occasionally have these monkeybrain down times of, “If she’s having a really good time with someone else, can she really love me?”

Yes.  Yes, she can.  But walling off a whole fucking sex just so you don’t have to have your dark night of the soul is selfish.  Just go fucking monogamous, dude – there’s nothing wrong with that.  But no, you want your hot threesomes, and you want to sex up as many chicks as you can, and she’s conveniently bisexual so you can just let her have her explorations as long as it’s not threatening to you.

I shall repeat: If you’re the woman, and you really don’t want any men, then I say that’s great.  (As witness this excellent essay a friend of mine wrote on her trouble with “The ‘H’ Word” over on FetLife, which should be required reading.)  But if the reason you don’t want any men is because he’d melt down in jealousy, then that’s a marker of potential problem – and one where, in my experience, the woman will jump through hoops to avoid bruising his ego, but when he eventually finds someone who threatens her, suddenly he’s all “Baby, you’ve got to learn to be more open-minded!”

Generally, that means, “You have to be more open-minded about doing only things that make me happy.”  And “All the sacrifices in this poly are going to be yours.”  And “Women can’t really get attached to other women in a meaningful way.”  And I hate that.  Hate all of it.  Hate it, hate it, hate it.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

“When pollsters ask Republicans and Democrats whether the president can do anything about high gas prices, the answers reflect the usual partisan divisions in the country. About two-thirds of Republicans say the president can do something about high gas prices, and about two-thirds of Democrats say he can’t.

“But six years ago, with a Republican president in the White House, the numbers were reversed: Three-fourths of Democrats said President Bush could do something about high gas prices, while the majority of Republicans said gas prices were clearly outside the president’s control.”

I’m an honest Democrat, so I’m gonna tell you the truth: There’s not that much the President can fucking do about gas prices. So stop blaming him whether he’s Democratic or Republican or Libertarian or Green or Martian. Basically, we need this much gas to survive. Other, outside influences determine the cost of that gas, and there isn’t much we can do short-term to drop our collective usage. On a month-to-month basis, about the only thing the President can do is decide whether to open the strategic gas reserves, and even that’s a pretty stupid idea.

However, the President can influence the price of gas long-term by funding initiatives that reduce our reliance on gas. Oh, yes, I know Mr. Obama has taken a lot of heat from conservatives for investing in poor technologies like solar power, but those self-same conservative politicians back the funding of corn ethanol, which basically is like solar power except we spend infinitely more effort extracting the energy from corn farmers.

The truth is that America loves cars, and the only viable long-term strategy to reduce the effective cost of a limited resource that every other country in the world wants is to reduce our reliance on it. Sure, we can drill, baby, drill, but eventually oil’s going to get scarce enough that we’re going to regret having the transportation infrastructure of our entire country dependent on it.

Which is why we need a President who’s going to work towards other options – yes, I know, you conservatives, you have all the negative reactions towards “Let’s build trains” that most people do to kicking a baby, since it’s taking our freedom to drive wherever the fuck we want away from us! But the truth is that the paradigm of “everyone has a big ol’ expensive car” isn’t going to last forever, and we need to be prepared for the day that doesn’t work. Which will involve car regulation to mandate gas efficiency, the supporting of other technologies to at least the subsidy level and tax breaks we give to the oil companies, and – yes – an investment in public transportation that will not initially be profitable.  Just like all of those long-term military projects you never seem to mind funding.

I remember Borders, king of the bookstore world, going, “We’ll just let everyone make their mistakes in online bookselling, and then we’ll rush right in! We can make up that ground overnight!” And right now, conservative America’s going, “We’ll just let everyone else make their mistakes in creating efficient, non-gasoline-powered forms of energy, and then we’ll rush right in when we need to!” That didn’t work out so well for Borders, and it probably won’t work out so well for us. Especially since if gas hits seven bucks a gallon, which eventually it will barring the creation of biofuels, we’ll have a lot of poor people with no way to get to their jobs.

If you want someone who’s going to lower the price of gas long-term, then you gotta find a guy who believes that gas isn’t something America should rely upon. If you want someone who’s going to lower the price of gas next week, well, stop thinking that the President is a superhero who can break the laws of physics.  Whatever  party he belongs to.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

As someone who’s starting to get requests for autographs, I have to admit they puzzle me.  I’m not sure what an autograph is supposed to represent.

I mean, let me tell you that I have the entire Sandman trade paperback series scattered throughout my basement, a series I quite enjoyed.  I was also lucky enough to spend a week in Neil Gaiman’s company at Clarion.  And my friends routinely ask: “Why in God’s name didn’t you have him sign your books?”

I didn’t see a point.  Either I know Neil enough well enough to have him wave “hullo” to me at conventions, or I don’t.  If I know him that well, the signature is superfluous.  And if I don’t, well…

…there’s another author who I also spent a week learning from.  When the workshop was over, so was our relationship.  I’ve seen him/her at conventions at least six times since then, and despite a happy wave s/he has never acknowledged me once.  The single time I attempted to start up a conversation with him/her made it painfully obvious that s/he had bigger fish to fry than me.  Which is fine!  Not every teacher/student relationship needs to end in a happy acquaintanceship.  I paid my money, and got my value; series ended.

But I could have had his/her signature on a book, too.  It would have been a cold, sad thing, a timestamp to say, “We interacted here.”  Yet if that person doesn’t want to interact with me now, then what does that signature prove?  A mere co-location in time and space, coupled with a societal obligation to scrawl their name on a page.  That’s really not that much.

Yet despite the difference in our post-workshop interactions, both Neil and Unnamed Author would be a signature in a book.  And if the autograph is that useless in measuring how I know them, why have it?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve asked for autographs myself, mostly as an excuse to make feeble conversation with someone I admired.  That’s something I understand, that need to have some reason to approach your Big Damn Writing Hero.  And it’s certainly a thrill to have a memory that you met someone whose writing helped to shape who you are.  Here’s the evidence that you had thirty seconds in the presence of your hero!  Wonderful.  What a way to stimulate fond reminiscences.  Because good authors will not just sign your books – they’ll look you in the eyes, ask a question, establish a brief connection so that for a moment, you feel like they were aware of your presence and let you take that home with the book and their name in it.

The autographs themselves, however, are just this weird dross.  An afterthought.  I’m always puzzled by people who show off their autographed books proudly, as if the signature was worthwhile in and of itself.  And there are autograph-hounds who patrol conventions, looking to get signature after signature, just plopping the book down in front of you as though this was some onerous task they have to get through.  “Just sign there, don’t make it out to anyone,” they say, thumbing to the right place, valuing your scribbled name over the potential time of interacting with you, then half-turning away before you’re even done.

I don’t get it.  I’m not bashing it – hey, if it makes you happy, it’s two seconds of my time, I can do it all day.  I just don’t get the idea that a signature is worthy in and of itself.  I’m the sort of person who’s of the opinion that an autograph isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on – what matters is the moments you have with people, commemorative or not.

Thinking the ink is more important than the smile just strikes me as being very, very odd.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

My Uncle Tommy’s blood didn’t clot very well, a disease known as hemophilia, so blood pooled up in his joints.  It ate away his cartilage.  Near the end of his life, when he moved his elbow, you could hear the bones rubbing against each other whisper-thin, like two dry crackers ground together.

So he walked slow.

So I walked slow.

To this day, Gini tells me I amble glacially – because I’m used to quietly keeping Tommy’s pace, not wanting to upset him.  Oh, I could have jogged on ahead; not that Tommy would have been devastated, as I was basically his son and he would have forgiven me the world.

But he had enough reminders that he was broken and frail.  He didn’t need another one from me.  So I crept at his pace, which only got slower as the years went by, and we passed the time as two humans.

This is what you do when you have a friend who’s disabled.

Let’s be blatantly honest and say that having disabled friends is often an inconvenience verging on annoyance.  They can’t get up stairs.  They cancel at the last minute because of unpredictable sicknesses.  There’s more planning to be find the right restaurant because of their diet.

If you think it’s an inconvenience to you, imagine how it feels to them.

Every day, the world wakes up and punches your pals in the fucking face, telling them “Hey, you know all those things you want to do?  You can’t.”

You can choose to be one of those blows.  Or you can be understanding and loving and help them to live a better life.

It’s that fucking simple.

They live in a smaller world because of something they don’t have control over.  I think a good friend will take that into account, and tread that fine line between “Yes, it’s an inconvenience and you may not always be able to come along” with a lot of love and understanding and bold attempts to make room for your friend because yes, they have a condition and it deserves to be accommodated whenever possible.

Because when you are that sick, you notice the way people cancel plans with you.  The way they quietly stop inviting you to parties.  The way you don’t defend them when other, healthier people, complain that they shouldn’t have to deal with your issues.

They’re sick, not stupid, and they feel their excision from your life as keenly as a cut.  One more cut in a life filled with them.

I’m not saying I was saccharine-sweet to Tommy.  I acknowledged the difficulty of his disabledness from time to time, because we were loving humans and that means being honest.  But I never made a big deal about the way we had to get to concerts half an hour early so he could get to his seat, or how we had to stay an hour late because the crowds might bump him too hard.

Instead, I used that extra time to talk to him, companionably walking at his cane-pace, as friends.  He must have noticed that his hyperactive teenaged nephew was walking slow.

But for a time, he had the ability to live his life as though nothing was wrong with him. And that was the greatest gift I could give him.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

The book was published in 2010, and purported to be about the distant future.  And yet its opening chapter was based on a premise that wouldn’t have flown in 1995.

The book was about an antiques dealer, sitting at his desk, when a customer came in with some effects from a dead celebrity.  The antiques dealer had not heard of said celebrity, and as such told the woman that these items weren’t worth much.  As it turns out, the dealer “doesn’t get out much,” and the celebrity was in fact very big news in certain circles, and was later called upon the carpet by his boss.

Note what did not happen in this crazy future-world: not one fucking Google search.

Back when I was editing for StarCityGames, I’d get articles by people I’d never heard of.  And even as scattershot as SCG’s editorial focus was back then, I Yahoo-searched every name to make sure they hadn’t won a Pro Tour or something.  Sometimes they had, and that saved me much embarrassment.

So what we have is someone presented as a competent employee, who doesn’t think to type a name into a goddamned computer.  Which is a social failure on the part of the author, who also references a lot of old-school printouts and books hanging around in a future rife with AIs that can talk and evolve.  Won’t e-books and bookmarks have consumed those wholesale by then?

I don’t think that it’s that she’s bad at writing (the book’s quite fun otherwise!), but that she’s so busy envisioning a future where black holes and time travel matter that she’s accidentally skimming over the very changes to society that technology has wrought right now.

As a science fiction author, that vexes me.  I think it’s our job to look at how technology changes people, and part of that has to be looking at the society that we’re becoming.  Facebook is causing all sorts of havoc in the college field, because you have some sleazy hookup with someone, and wham!  Tomorrow, an embarrassing friends’ request.  That person’s now connected with you, a part of your life in a way you didn’t necessarily want but would now be a dick to refuse.

Things teenagers say are now amplified in weird ways.  Drama spirals out of control so much quicker when it’s all in the public arena, dogpiles of crazy waiting to happen.  Dumb photographs you took when you were fifteen now lurks in your Facebook archives, waiting to be revealed by employers at the worst possible moments.  And always, always there’s the possibility of your idiocy going viral, where in the blink of an eye your fun weekend project becomes the next Rebecca Black.

As people who are looking at the future, we need to examine that, and extrapolate, and figure out where all of this enmeshing of society goes.  Maybe that’s a part of my history, because at the age of 25 I started writing crazy sex stories that opened up my personal life, and twenty years later that’s such a part of my identity I can’t imagine what it would be like to not be a blogger.  But the choices I made when I was young, dumb, and full of cum are still influencing my life years later in massive ways I could not have anticipated…

…and that’s the future.  This having every word on the record.  This me, changing the details of the book so I’m not calling out another author in public, because I don’t want to start a flame war with someone whose book I think is otherwise quite good.

This is the new society we live in, where all information is just a touch away, and I think as authors we need to examine that warp and weft of our fabric more closely.  To figure out how our culture will either adjust to this craziness, or to figure out how we’ll start to bend the rules so that it becomes healthier for everyone.

Either’s okay.  My first pro-published story, Camera Obscured, is all about a boy trapped in the web of social media.  Sauerkraut Station is about a lonely girl who’s too far from the social networks, but note that there’s at least a nod to the expense of sending emails.  I’m not saying they’re works of genius, but they’re at least making concessions to the future that’s spinning off of today’s headlines.

I think the singularity is coming, but it’s not what you think.  I think it’s going to be a hideous snarl of concentration-shattering advertising and reptile-brain attention grabs and selfishness ego-shouting, and when it comes it’s going to shred us apart because the corporations will have learned how to pander to our worst desires out to three significant digits.

That’s my vision.  Yours will be different.  But please.  Apply a little thought to what’s going on now, and don’t just have the next generation of people be just like us.  They will have a lot of similarities.  But they’re growing up in science fiction now, so honor that by viewing it through a lens that is flexing and distorting as you read these words.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

So Ministry_victim asked an interesting question:

“I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on the ideas of those who believe that polyamory is an a priori genetic condition that suggests predisposition a la homosexuality.”

My thoughts on a genetic polyamory link are the exact same as my thoughts on a genetic homosexual link:

I don’t care.

Now, I do believe that there is some genetic predisposition towards homosexuality (and gender dysphoria leading to gender switches).  As many have noted, people don’t become gay for the fabulous social benefits it brings.  And I’m as guilty as any of occasionally dragging this fact out to try to convince the anti-gay faction that they should be more tolerant of homosexuals because gay people can’t effectively change the nature of their attraction.

But if.  Even if.

Even if the gays were, as some suggest, all conspiring in one big plot to annoy us fine-thinking straight people, wincing as they sucked distasteful dick and reluctantly chowed pussy out of some misplaced form of rebellion, it should still be allowed.

The truth is, gay sex is between consenting adults, and it hurts no one but those adults – there are way more deadly car accidents caused by beers than queers.  You may consider gayness to be a bad choice, but two people should be free to make bad choices together.  And what people want to do for fun in their private life is something that should be allowed, no matter how distasteful it may be to me.  There are scat-players out there, an act that fills me to the bottom of my throat with ick, but as long as they keep their apartment clean for their poor landlord I say let ‘em do as they please.

(I’d even say let ‘em wear outfits proclaiming their love of scat in a public place, but in the interests of public niceties I do request a shower before they get on the subway.)

Let’s say there are people who are indoctrinated in a seditious lifestyle, pestered into a culture that preys upon naive young people who don’t know any better, at which point they are ushered in and secluded from society and brainwashed until they come to believe that all of these evils are not just acceptable, but actually natural… And then they go out seeking new victims.

Well, there are, and the born-again Christians ring my doorbell early Saturday mornings, and I’m not looking to outlaw them.  (If they offered free hummers as part of their entry package, I might be more willing to listen.)  As such, even if gay people were an act of rebellion, I’d still say it was something that should be allowed.

We often get caught up in the “nature vs. nurture” aspect of gay and transgender issues, forgetting that this is playing to the conservative bent.  What’s important is that people all over the world should have the freedom to live their lives as they see fit assuming they’re not actively harming anyone, and as such Teh Gay Should Be Okay.

So is gay genetically disposed?  I say probably, but it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.

Now; is polyamory a genetic tendency?  That, I have no opinion on.  I’ve gotten in trouble for my assertions that polyamorous people are, by and large, much larger horndogs than the average person – which makes sense to me, given that you’re risking breaking existing relationships in search of new sexual intimacy.  (Otherwise you could just, you know, be friends.)  I’m sure there are tendencies genetically towards certain aspects that encourage polyamory, but polyamory is such a complex term, encompassing so many styles of relationships, that I don’t think a single set of genes could really cover it.

But it’s irrelevant.  I’ve heard it said that after gay marriage gets settled, they’ll be coming after the polyamorous relationships next.  Could be.  When that day comes, the genetic predisposition will be just as useless.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

So with every Valentine’s Day comes an unfortunate backlash from cantankerous singles: I’m not dating anyone.  Why should I have to endure a day dedicated to fake romance?  It’s so commercial, designed by card companies, and if you have to be reminded to be nice to your partner on a special day then it can’t be a good relationship at all yadda yadda yadda…

Look.  Nobody likes wine made from sour grapes.

Being single has its sucktacular momentsand I can understand how the day might make you feel a little blue – but I think part of being a good human involves learning to cheer for accomplishments that aren’t yours.  My lifetime dream is to have a novel published, but that doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate to the rafters when a friend of mine snags her first novel sale.  I’m not always thrilled when one of my partners finds a new boyfriend, but I still find a way to be happy for them.

Sometimes, a celebration’s not for you, and yet you should be happy for other people even though there’s nothing for you in it.

And yes, the day is commercial.  But it’s also an excuse for people to go out of their way to be kind to each other – which isn’t something we celebrate enough.  In an ideal world, perhaps every couple would be spewing wild declarations of passion to each other daily – Gini and I do – but for those who aren’t quite as open with their affections, having a day that encourages them to say “Lordy, I love you” is a Good Thing.  Not everybody’s going to be as enlightened as you.

Occasionally, someone bitter comes up with the idea of “Singles Day,” which is blackly defined as an opposite to Valentine’s Day.  I say, fuck that.  If you’re going to devise a Singles Day, let’s define one as part of the strengths of being single, the way you can pursue what you love without worry of alienating someone else, as a time to be passionate about other things, as a time to experience a different and in some ways stronger kind of life.

And if that happened, where for a day I was suffused in the reminders of all the little compromises I’ve made for love, I’d cheer the shit out of that too.  Because if your life is bettered in some way, I’m for it.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

Let us start this hootenanny by reminding you that I am chubby myself, and I am personally attracted to larger women.  So please, when discussing the horrors of fat hating, don’t make the mistake of thinking that I think fat people should be removed from sight.

That said, this article in Yahoo puts me in two distinct mindsets at once, like two muscled guys trying to cram through a door.

The headline is “Woman Loses 282 Pounds In Three Years,” and the teaser text says, “After years of being bullied, ignored, and mooed at, Natalie Strawn decided to change her life…” at which point it tells you how she lost a lot of weight and now society likes her.

On the one level, I find this to be terribly sad.  The fact that fat people are subjected to all of that loathing is pretty awful, because obviously every person you see who’s overweight is:

a)  Horrifically unhealthy, unlike all of those suave bulimics and anorexics we idolize;
b)  So slovenly lazy thanks to this accumulation of large that obviously they must be unmotivated welfare freaks with nothing of worth to give;
c)  So ugly that they’re downright rude not to immediately change themselves for our convenience.

So the fact that a fat girl gets a lot of shit is, well, sad.

On the other hand, I used to get a lot of shit when I didn’t shower for two weeks on end, and wore the same shirt for four days at a time regardless of what soup stains had accumulated.  And after a while, I asked myself the rightful question: “Self, if society thinks so poorly of me for behaving this way, is it worth the troubles, or should I change myself to be better?”

And I think of the liberal gut reaction that NO, YOU SHOULD ALWAYS BE YOURSELF, which is kinda bullshit.  There are a lot of people for whom “Be yourself” equates to “Be an asshole,” and so you see people cutting other folks off in mid-sentence and haranguing folks with their interminable rants on sports cars or fitness or the latest computer technology.

Or, in a less toxic example, you have this constant barrage of “NEVER CHANGE” and as such you have all these people who feel lonely because they’ve been taught that the world should conform to their needs, and never quite discovering that there are quite significant benefits sometimes in changing small things.  Dressing better makes people treat you better.  Listening actively makes people like you better.  Cultivating some surface knowledge of the shit you don’t care about (for me it’s sports and cars) often makes you able to bridge to topics you do care about.

You can get a lot of mileage by ignoring this constant refrain of “You’re awesome the way you are” and asking, “Say, maybe if I bathed regularly and combed my hair, people might respond better to me.”

Yes, that’s a lesson I learned.  I’m not proud to repeat it here, but hey.  Honesty’s what I do.

Fitting into society isn’t a bad thing.  A lot of times your crazy uniqueness is actually a hindrance, and maybe it’s time to learn how to, you know, work with people.  But no, everyone is a perfect snowflake, if you just stand your ground people will come to you.  In movies, anyway.  In real life, you often just sort of disintegrate on the edges of the playground as everyone carries on in their reindeer games and ignores you, able to subsist in this real-life loneliness with a straggly net of e-friends who have gathered from the corners of the globe to stand in your corner.

So I go, “Hey, if she’s getting all this flack, then why not drop some pounds?”  It’s a rational response: PEOPLE HATE FAT? DON’T BE FAT.  (Even if that’s a lot trickier than it sounds.  Permanent weight loss is hard, yo.)  Shouldn’t I be patting her on the back for a wise decision in trade-offs?

Then I see the fact that the video made the front page of Yahoo!, and my blood boils again, because the lesson here is that this fat woman used to be shit on by everyone and now she’s lost all this weight and she’s desirable and wonderful and ARE YOU LISTENING, FAT PEOPLE?  The lesson in that post-interview is not “Hey, how do you learn how to deal with jerks?” or “Really, is society’s evident spite at fat people justified on any level?” but rather EVERY FAT PERSON SHOULD DO THIS, HERE’S HOW, NOW SHE’S WORTH OUR ATTENTION.

Because you know, you don’t see these kinds of front-page miracle turn-arounds for ugly guys who groomed and dressed better and learned how to talk nice (though to be fair, there are a few fashion shows that scrape the surface of that).  No, every time something hits the front pages it’s “YOU LOST WEIGHT, NOW WE’LL SHOW YOU ON TELEVISION!” because fat-hating is so ingrained into our fucking society that we have prime-time hit shows devoted to rehabilitating these useless fat people into human beings.

And I just stall, locked like a Blue Screen of Death.  Because honestly, yes, society hates fat so much that it is a logical conclusion to lose a few pounds to get a better career, a more supportive boyfriend, health care that won’t write off your every ailment as “That’s ‘cuz yer fat, porkzilla.”  But on the other hand, isn’t losing weight just giving into what is a fucking insane desire on society’s part?  Because there’s a point at which yeah, I probably would fit in better if I never read these silly “book” things except for bestsellers and never mentioned my polyamory, but fuck that.  There are lines where you give into society and start to erode your core personality.

So I’m filled with rage and shame on all levels – because it’s the NRA and abortion argument all over again, where you have one side that’s so “NO, IT MUST BE THIS WAY” and the reaction of the other side inevitably mutates to “WELL, THE OPPOSITE OF YOUR WAY MUST BE WHAT WE WANT,” and the middle ground dissolves so that you’re left with two camps where any change to society is an assault upon your being and no, fatty, you can step out of the adipose ghetto if you just drop a few pounds and smile and dance prettily for us, and I just want to punch the entire fucking world.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

There are certain writings that are, at their core, all pretty much the same.  Teenaged love poetry.  Rants about work.  And, of course, the ever-popular “Women are a mystery” lament.

Here’s the latest one I stumbled across last week in a post on relationships:

“ATTENTION. any man who thinks he understands a woman is out of his mind. we have to accept them as they are in all their glory, misery, etc.”

Every time I see this, I want to yank the balls off of the poster and throw them in a river of estrogen.

Look.  I am a dude.  (Seriously.  Look between the cleft in my legs for my credentials.)  I have dated women, some say too many women, over the years.  And this is the wisdom I bring you from afar:

Women are – and this may astound you – humans.

They are not aliens sent here from another force, they are not goddesses who stepped down from heaven, they are not some mirror-universe biological force of evil sent to dazzle men’s minds.  When I talk to women, I find they are largely driven by the same psychological impulses that drive us all.

Now.  They have different concerns, and if you are such a narrow-minded moron that you cannot see that “Does not like football” is not equivalent to “Mysterious ethereal being,” then maybe you need to work on your skills.  Perhaps because men have been treating women as a distinct race all these years, their needs and desires do often diverge from what men busy themselves with.  They tend to be more concerned with appearance on the whole (I’m pretty sure that if someone told guys, “You have to hand your keys and wallet off to your girlfriend because there’s no pockets here, but your ass will look cute,” we’d laugh ourselves into a vomit-frenzy), and they often have some understandable insecurities about, you know, an entire media structure devoted to telling them that they’re only worthwhile for their tits and ass.

This does not make them unreachable.  You can understand a woman in the same sense you can understand any other human being – which is to say imperfectly, with eddies of startlement and surprise (“Really?  You like Hannah Montana, Phil?”), but good enough to be a solid friend.

But getting to that stage involves being the sort of person who is willing to fathom concerns that are not your own.  If you go, “Oh, she’s upset about me going out with the boys tonight, what a silly thing,” then guess what?  You failed the fucking test.  If you go, “Hrm, she’s someone who generally seems to be reasonable, and as such there’s probably some underlying psychological concern of hers, like, I dunno, maybe the fact that I come home stinking drunk and demanding sex at three in the morning every time I go out” – then you’re probably Winning.

The point is that this kind of talk is a bullshit excuse guys tell themselves because it’s easier.  Hey, if you just say that women are ephemeral and/or crazy, you don’t have to bother with absorbing another world view, amiright?  And you can just continue working women like safes, enduring all of their dumb stupid wimmen-things because that’s the only way to get pussy.

Then you wonder why they’re a little irritable sometimes.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

Here is a picture of a hand dryer. You know, that thing where you wouldn’t have washed your hands if you’d known you had to use it instead of towels.

Hand dryer.

The hand dryer’s weak cough of a drying solution is well-known. Sure, there have been modern versions of it like the Xcelerator and the Dyson AirBlade, but the classic hand dryer’s asthmatic flow means you’ll be wringing your hands for eternity, and still leave the men’s room with clammy palms. I’d actually prefer it if I pushed the button and got bacon, as the info schematic promises.

But it’s the the lower right-hand corner that gets me: “Other patents pending.” They developed this in, what, 1920? Haven’t they actually finished completing the patents on this fucking thing by now? The goddamned dryer’s been inconveniencing the stinkfingered since I was a kid, which is irritating enough – but the idea that they also have a lazy set of patent attorneys, their feet on their desks, going, “Yeah, we’ll finish those other patents some time”? It just pisses me off more. They can’t get my hands dry, and they’re slackers to boot.

What if those other patents are, like, cures to cancer? Cheap space flight? Fat-free chocolate that doesn’t taste like stale candles? I picture the World – and note that they’ve fucking copyrighted THE WORLD in their fucking logo, like they’re the fucking Illuminati or something – anyway, I picture the World(R) Dryer headquarters like that warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, just all the lost secrets of the Incas lying around in huge stacks while two gray-haired lawyers doze in the corner, oblivious to the improvements they could make in this world if they just got off the fucking couch.

And it just makes me hate these air dryers more. Grr. You fucking air dryers, with your fucking tenuous zephyr emanating from a lukewarm nozzle, now you’re not just making my fingertips wrinkled, your endlessly pending patents are causing kids to starve in Botswana. You’ve got the fucking world-savers in there, World(R) Dryer – fucking cough it up! GIVE US THE TECHNOLOGY! You fucking assholes.

I typed this with wet hands because World(R) Dryer sucks.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

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