I know I haven’t posted since June. I’ve been dealing with my health for most of the summer, actually.
First weekend in July is my annual bacchanal (if you can call it that when I don’t drink my ass off because I’m a lightweight when it comes to alcohol) at CONvergence. Don’t get me wrong, drinking at the con is not an issue. But after a couple of years ago when most of the volunteers and many of the con-goers nicknamed the convention “VomitCon,” it is expected that people will, as the alcohol ads say, Drink Responsibly. It is the only time a year I intentionally push past my physical issues. Oh, I sit quite a lot (I usually spend the con in the smoker’s area [called due to smoking laws, “Smoker’s Paradise”] talking to old friends I only see at the convention and making new ones). I use my cane. And I don’t completely destroy myself. Yet it requires a number of months to completely recover from the major spoon deficit.
This post is only one of a number of posts regarding the white middle class in the U.S.A. The reality of social justice can only happen if we white people understand the where, how, when and why our privilege came about. I have recently had it shoved in my face (by someone I went to school with, and therefore they had the same information taught to them) that many of our white population’s understanding of history is literally “alternative fact” based.
Unless we white people understand our history and our European ethnic history, in particular, we white people — in general — will never understand how both institutional privilege and personal privilege have developed into what we have today.
Too many of us white people only EVER look at our personal and individual current conditions, ignoring that very important history. The “minorities” who live side by side with us cannot ever ignore white history.
I will try to post this at the top of every post I write in this series. I will attempt to keep each post to a summary, as re-teaching history to the US’s white population is a monumental task. I can only hope that my summaries will encourage my fellow white people to look deeper into our culture’s history and learn a thing or two.
To understand privilege, we need to go all the way back to ancient history to what is often arrogantly called “Western Civilization.” More often than not, “Western Civilization” is primarily the history of Europe and its colonies. “Eastern Civilization,” on the other hand, isn’t defined by a specific people or type of people. It is defined as essentially anything that is not European nor Europe’s particular colonies (in schools in the U.S.A. we attempt to separate ourselves out from being a “European colony” but…as adults we should face facts…our founding WAS as sets of a number of different European countries’ colonies.
OK, so back to what has been considered the history of “Western Civilization.” This “starts” with the Roman and Greek cultures, because our European ancestors glorified those cultures over any other culture that was alive, thriving and more technologically advanced. In fact, the Assyrian Empire, the Egyptian Empire (being ruled from Nubia at the time — yes, Nubia…the same country that our people of color refer to), Ancient China and Ancient India were ALL quite active and each had more advanced technology than what the Greeks had. One of the reasons Europe glorified the Greeks is simply the person of Alexander the Great. His tactics are still studied in many “Western civilizations.” The claim is that India and China made no impact on European culture, therefore they were just never “important enough.”
While I work on a post that requires a hell of a lot of research, I ask you to be patient, just like you have been patient for most of this year because of my health issues. But here’s a quicky to keep you going.
7% of all American adults (that’s 16.4 million) people believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows.
How is this surprising to absolutely ANYONE who has a couple brain cells to rub together?
We have the person who called in to the KanKakee Daily Journal’s Speakout line (seen to the right) who may or may not have been a joke. Sadly, I have met SOME people who do actually believe that the meat in the grocery stores are in no way related to actual living animals.
Then we have Donna, “the Deer Lady,”. The audio clip from Y94 Playhouse Fargo, ND radio station states that the “Deer Crossing signs” should be moved to lower traffic areas so the deer know to avoid the higher traffic areas. Now, there is a follow-up phone call in which she admits to not knowing that the signs for people not deer. But she also claims to have been raised in a small, rural North Dakota town.
I didn’t know a lot about rural towns before moving to one, but I can tell you that there is NO person of driving age in this town that doesn’t know road signs are for PEOPLE. It takes a special kind of stupid to grow up in a rural town and not have a good basis in the facts of living in an area where you are likely to have to deal with wild animals when driving. Not counting the 2 deer or the one raccoon I’ve hit in the last 25 years of visiting my sister up here, I have also almost had an accident by a coyote crossing the rural highway (with no signs about it — but I know damned well deer are not the only animal to cross roads and I’ve primarily lived in urban spaces).
I was rewatching Halle Berry’s Catwoman tonite, and it got me thinking. I know that Wonder Woman is supposed to be this great re-visioning of what it means to be a strong, independent woman. I know many people looked at Catwoman as a complete and utter failure because of any number of excuses.
But what struck me is that what the movie does is reveals that women can only be free when they choose to define themselves, when they choose their identity and are true to it. It’s not about being “good” or being “bad,” but being who they are at their core.
For some women, being like Sharon Stone (Laurel Hadere) or Alex Borstein (Patience’s friend Sally) is who they want to be. They want to fit in with the world and build power and freedom within the limitations of what our society thinks is appropriate behavior for a woman.
They think if they can somehow attain that power (through their relative “attractiveness” or how closely to the supposed feminine ideal they can be) then they will be accorded the freedom to be themselves. The problem is, by the time that they attain that height, they have become something completely at odds with who they really are. Sadly, if they choose to try to reflect that inner truth, all of that so-called “power” or “freedom” disappears like a burst soap bubble.
The “living marble” that Laurel has become is a wonderful metaphor for this false self. We choose to try to conform as a way to keep from being hurt. We become who our family wants, who our husband or partner wants, who their children or friend group wants us to be — or who WE think they want us to be.
Sorry it has been so long, ladies and gentlemen. But my health takes first priority to everything else. Self-care has not been my forte, but I’m working hard to make it so.
It’s not the obvious rapists or misogynists that scare me. Why? Because I know how to fight that kind of obvious violence and hatred.
It’s the charmers, the manipulators — the true women-haters who turn a woman’s strength against herself. And this kind of person isn’t just some men. It’s often exactly how society has programmed both men and women. Yes, women can be this kind of perpetrator, and men can be victims too.
Many of us — myself included — give pieces of ourselves away because that’s what someone who is in love does. In the beginning, it’s only little pieces. It’s not that someone else is violently ripping apart our souls, it’s that we offer them up to be devoured.
I’ve been working on my “new patient” paperwork for evaluating a new doctor. I never assume that the doctor I am seeing will work as a primary physician until after I have an initial appointment with them. Unless they can treat me as a partner and equal in my own health, I won’t have anything to do with them.
Now, I haven’t had any real issues filling these out, but I’m glad that when the paperwork is more than 2 pages long they chose to mail it out early to give me a chance to fill it out (whereas it would not be filled out completely if I had had it at the time of my appointment — it’s 4 pages, plus pages to explain my issues).
But I came across a question that I have never seen on a new patient intake form before. They want to know if I’ve had more than 4 sexual partners.
I understand that sexuality is an important part of one’s health. Letting your doctor know about your sexual activity (and its relative health or ill health, as well as how careful or how ignorant you are about protecting yourself from STDs) is important. It is also important for them to know your sexual orientation and where you are on the whole gender spectrum.
But, it is a subject difficult for many people. Women who have had over 4 sexual interactions in their lives are told by our society that we are “dirty sluts” or “skanks.” It doesn’t bug me, but I could see some female patients avoiding the question for fear of being judged by the doctor. And that’s even BEFORE considering whether one should confide their sexual orientation, thoughts on polyamory/open relationships, transsexualism or any of thousands other issues that people fear to confide to anyone — let alone a medical professional who is supposed to have strict ethics.
It’s the specific number that bugs me. Who chooses that line in the sand? I know that “on an average” most heterosexual women have 4-5 sexual partners in their lives and most heterosexual men have maybe 6-8. I’ve never lied about the fact that my numbers are more than 10x the average for a heterosexual woman (which may be a surprise to one of my old boyfriends who found me on Facebook some months ago………I think I was still somewhere in the single digits when I was with him). But I can see some heterosexual woman (or even bisexual, not so sure about lesbians) looking at that and saying to themselves: “Oh, I’ve had 6. I must be a slut!!”
We are so very quick to judge ourselves worse than anyone else.
OK, so I took some serious liberties paraphrasing from Ben’s original quote. However, it doesn’t make my title any less true.
As with many of my posts, this one is probably going to piss off people on both sides of the political spectrum. Again, just because it pisses you off, doesn’t mean that what I am saying is false.
I have a rather eclectic group of individuals among my Facebook friends. The ONLY groups I refuse to accept a friend request from are those either on the Alt-Right or on the (not media named, but essentially means the same kind of people but on the opposite end of the spectrum) Alt-Left.
I’ll be just as blunt with my reasons for refusing them as I am with any other subject. It’s very simple — they are zealots / extremists / fanatics — and I will have absolutely NONE of those who are on the fringe if EITHERthe Left ORthe Right.
Just as an aside: I FIRMLY disagree with Thesaurus.com’s inclusion of the word ‘activist’ in their synonyms for each of the red, underlined words in the above paragraph!
Sadly, I believe that because the definition of activist includes the word vigorous, that somehow means that vigorous is exactly the same as ardor or fervor for a zealot; exactly the same as farthest from the middle or farthest removed from the ordinary or average for an extremist; or exactly the same as an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal for a fanatic. I believe that if you have absolutely ANY analytical ability you can see that the above is nowhere NEAR exactly the same.
There is a lot of discussion of resiliency among people in therapy. Why? Probably because they’ve heard their therapist say something about it, and to quote Inigo Montoya (Princess Bride)“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
There are people who use this word to describe people in other classes. For some, the actions and choices of the rich define what they think resilience is. On the other hand, there are quite a few professionals (not necessarily all involved in psychology) using the word as a goal for the poor, because if they can “just be resilient” then life will be all unicorns, rainbows and butterflies.
Guess what, people? It ain’t that way in the real world.
There are resilient and not-so-resilient people in all economic classes. Neither your economic status nor your relative financial success/failure defines your ability to be resilient.
To quote the American Psychological Association (APA) Psychology Help Center’s brochure on “The Road To Resilience” resilience is defined as:
“Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means ‘bouncing back’ from difficult experiences.”
While I’m not quite as bad as my Grammar-Nazi sister, there are some frustrations that pop up once in a while. Plus, I seem to be getting reminders in the last few months that using the correct terms — especially with your mental and physical health care personnel — is extremely important.
My frustrations with other people’s misuse of idioms include the following cringe-worthy items:
“For intensive purposes” — No, that would be “for all INTENTS AND purposes”
“Extract revenge” — “EXACT revenge”
“Part and partial” — “part and PARCEL”
“By in large” — “by AND large”
“Case and point” — “case IN point”
“Orientate” — “ORIENT” (the noun form — orientation — does NOT get translated into orientate! The correct verb form is ORIENT). The same issue seems to happen with the noun form of conversation — No, the verb form is NOT conversating. It is CONVERSING
But, that’s a bunny trail. The real issue is that too often we seem to be forgetting that just because a descriptive word or phrase makes sense to us, it rarely means the exact thing to someone else. Remember my discussion on connotation versus denotation? (links to definitions, if you didn’t read the previous post)
I had a recent interaction with someone where I was repeatedly required to ask how they were defining their terms. Sadly, their idea of “defining their terms” was to repeat the word or phrase with the inclusion of a generalized adjective (such as “very” or “extremely”). This is NOT defining your terms. In fact, it isn’t even communicating.
I’ve started and stopped this post repeatedly over the last few weeks. I can only describe this particular difficulty with posting as the writing equivalent to avoiding someone’s eyes. As I stated in March 1’s post, this relates directly to the same reasons I was physically incapable of controlling my eye contact with my therapist when we pinpointed a particularly painful memory.
The basics of the memory are described in that post. However, since my therapy session, a few other experiences kept poking at that same set of emotions, choices and actions. This repetition is what caused the epiphany. And, like many such revelations, it hit like a Mack truck.
It’s been so hard to face that epiphany that I have had anxiety attacks just about looking closer at it or dealing with the understanding. I’ve been having to focus on things that deal entirely with mathematics, even though my ability to do so has been seriously retarded by my cognitive issues. Dealing with pure equations — even though it takes me at least 10x as long (in fact, almost 70% of the last two weeks has been spent creating a completely math-based set of data collection for my physical and mental health). Before my breakdown, the data collection set up for simple data entry would have taken at most 8 hours).
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