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...for context, I'm currently playing a Baby's First Campaign in which I (and nearly all of the players) are playing D&D for the first time, which would probably be going a little bit less chaotically if we didn't also have around fifteen players. It keeps fluctuating. My partner T is our longsuffering DM, who is doing an admirable job writing a party that contains (among other things) Teddy Roosevelt If He Was a Really Classist Half Elf, a turkey vulture that ate something it shouldn't have done and acquired sapience, an accidentally sapient sixty-foot birch tree that doesn't much like humans, a very cheerful and totally deaf bard, Blair Sandburg If He Was a Bard, and a half-elf ranger who is quickly developing the reputation of being The Only Sane One In This Whole Damn Crew.
None of these is me. )
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...this is a weird, weird thought for me.

I blame the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel--found family and xenobiology are already sources of great temptation for me, and then they added abusive family dynamics that sounded just about right and sisters who are trying to cope with a legacy of a shitty, shitty parenting and bad communication caused in part by trying to deal with that, and they gave me Nebula to play with, and I just want to read all of the fic with those sisters dealing with each other.

It doesn't exist, so I guess I might have to write it. And, well, there's a Kragdu discord going that's supportive enough, I guess, and my partner is egging me on the whole time, so maybe I can do that thing. I have not yet found what I really want, which is a Guardians of the Galaxy comm modeled after Star Trek's excellent [community profile] where_no_woman. Curses.

That being said, I Don't Write Fiction. I can write, sure, but I've never written fiction seriously--it's scary, and I get intimidated, and I feel like Not A Real Fan, and mostly I just want to bury my head in the sand and hide until all the fiction goes away. Bleh.

And I'm really tired because I'm trying to do all the things at once, which is about usual for me. But. Practice makes perfect, I guess?
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"Dumbledore is ace/aro. Discuss."

Yeah, this is all Jessee's fault. The conversation turned to Dumbledore as a source of gay/queer representation on Crone Island last week, and they pinged me when they moved the conversation to a new channel with that particular summary. They were pretty accurate when they said I would have some thoughts on the topic.

Here's most of what I had to say. I started with discussing Dumbledore as gay representation, transitioned into discussing representation of marginalized groups in fiction more generally, and wound up talking generally about ace character portrayal in mainstream fiction. )
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...and I might have text walled a bit in response to someone's question, and that's got me thinking a little bit. I've been trying to write more under my Medium and my twitter accounts, partly because I'm trying to expand my skill set and partly because I would like to actually eventually get paid for some of the work I do and the things I'm good at, and hell, if I'm writing for free anyway, might as well attach it to a name I get paid under so I can actually put it on my CV without flinching or tensing up at the thought of all my identities laid bare at any cursory google search.

Look. My legal name is pretty uncommon; I have to consider that sort of thing if I want to ever get hired again. But at the same time, I'm sick of closets and I've already posted one longform commentary on autism and word use under that byline, so we'll see where my writing winds up.

more on identities under the cut )

general updates on what's been up with me )
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"Many young folks may not realize that GLBTQ/LGBTQ were not always a big happy queer family. We did not even associate with each other."

As a 26-year old queer woman whose primary identification is asexual--which is a community that stands pretty closely intertwined with bi communities, nonbinary trans communities and trans communities more generally: we are still having this fight**, within queer communities. (Especially, gods help me, on Tumblr, but also in in-person spaces and other online spaces.) And we will continue to have this fight. And as Mr. Benson also pointed out, we are stronger for having it.

See, without those fights, LGBTQ spaces would be... well, just for cisgender folks, really, because the whole reason that the T got added is that transgender folks and people who'd probably ID today as transgender* spoke up and said "HEY. You keep saying this community is for everyone, but it is damn sure not paying any attention to us! Listen up, friends, and hear our experiences!" And as a whole, the community... well, did nothing, because let's be real, there's a lot of people in that community and maybe it makes more sense to think of it as several fractured communities. But enough of a critical mass of people listened that SOME difference got made.

And at the same time, bi people were saying "Hey! Can you fucking not, with the breeder jokes and the telling me to "pick a side" and saying that I spread AIDS to straight people? Can you not call us whores or insist that we'll always drop you for an opposite-gender partner! Listen up!" And... a critical mass of people listened. And things got a little better.

And frankly, all that's not even TOUCHING on the shit that my QPOC brothers and sisters and enbies have to put up with. Black queer folk in particular watch white queer folk steal their jokes and culture and file off the serial numbers, so that it then filters through to straight mainstream people. Or you can look at the racism issues that plague many queer spaces, from dating sites to appropriation of specific cultural concepts like two-spirit identities.

It's not touching the gendered issues that pop up in queer spaces either, or the class ones, or any of another hundred little veins of intersectionality that need to be talked about. But those conversations? They're a start. And if you follow along with them, they take your communities to a way better place. I want to know, how do we have these conversations here? I was angry enough about one main PSN thread to try and bring that here, hedged with even more "white women, shut up and LISTEN" commentary, but I see from Micah Gause's thread that that probably wouldn't have worked as well as I hoped.

So admins, community, how can we productively have this conversation? And admins, here's another question I want to ask you: what 'side' of people are you going to support? The 'side' of people who want to talk about intersectionality and making the space properly inclusive, which means LISTENING to the experiences and perspectives of everyone? Or the side of people who prefer unity, whatever that means, and would rather center a more mainstream experience and silence dissent?

*[half the problem here is, on a generational scale, queer communities move through preferred language, framing, and how people conceptualize their experiences quickly--over the past hundred years, we've culturally gone through many sea changes about what given words mean exactly and what's polite, which can make discussion tricky if you haven't followed up on the newest subcultural dialect.

As one of those young kids these days and also someone with a vested interest in my community's history, I tryyyy to be clear and respectful about what I'm doing with my language, but it's hard to be perfect with it. If I'm using a word that sounds funny to you, mind contacting me or commenting and we can have a conversation? ]

**[If any of you younger queer people here don't realize that this fight is still happening, to make queer-identified spaces inclusive to everyone, do let me know! I'd be happy to talk about my experiences to anyone that likes. ]
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....and, well, I've been furiously typing on Facebook all week without much pause, except for marching. So I thought... well, might as well put the things I'm proudest of writing here now, so I can remember them.


On speaking truth to people who become defensive about it, especially in the context of speaking to Trump supporters who don't want to hear that they have destroyed our nation )

Here's what I've learned over the last five or ten years: first, you get through more than you think you do; people often take something like that and outwardly insist you're wrong, while they plant a little seed of doubt. Over time, as more people water that little doubt seed with disagreement, it grows and grows. You might not be around by the time it flowers and a person changes their hearts and minds, but that doesn't mean you aren't watering it.

Second, being too polite is counterproductive when it comes to issues that hurt you or your people directly. You have to show people that what you're talking about MATTERS. You have to show people that their actions do harm people, and sometimes you have to shock people out of complacency. This is especially something I've learned calling out family homophobia--the more polite and nonconfrontational I was, the easier it was for them to slip the whole issue under the rug and get back to Sunday dinner--even if *I* was hurting and couldn't do that.

Third, being too harsh is also counterproductive--you have to be able to extend out enough shared identity as a fellow human that they can't write you off as a faceless, scary OTHER. It's true that if you push too hard, you can alienate people and make them write you off as human before they'll let you water that seed of doubt I talked about earlier. The best way to handle that is to put a face on yourself--to say "Hi, my name is _____, and I'm a person too. I like cats" or "I fed you when you were sick" or "you and I played together as children" or "man, don't you like having a beer on a cold evening? because I do" or whatever. You put a face on yourself, you put on your personality, and you remind them that you're a human being just like they are--and therefore you're in the SAME group as them, not a different one that can be treated as a monolithic enemy.

White people, this is why being angry is our job when it comes to other white people because racist white folk are more predisposed to think of us as in-group than they are people of color--which means that it's on us to push harder than it is people of color, because we can BE more blunt and use stronger words before getting ignored than people of color can. They get written off faster as "not like me, can be dismissed", and it's a short jump from there to "not REALLY human" in the hindbrain or gut of people who aren't thinking too clearly.

On the other hand, as a queer person, I need you straight folks to speak up for me if your friends and family don't think of me as human. One of the big reasons that queer people have made strides so much faster than people of color is that we're at a particular advantage--all of us know straight people who think of us as their folk, because we're mostly born into straight families and they don't always realize we're queer until they've known and loved us and built connections with us for ten or twenty years. So when we come out, when we put a face to that identity "queer" and say "you attack queer folk, you're attacking your daughter, your cousin, your auntie, your father", well, that nudges a whole lot of people who might not have felt strongly about queer people right over to the side of "oh wow that's a PERSON." We're not abstract any more.

Now, the problem is that a lot of white people live in bubbles, bubbles where they might not know any black people, Latinx people, or Muslim people around them. This is in part because white people tend to hide and think of people of color as scary or weird or different, in part because they aren't thinking too clearly about the racism we've all accidentally absorbed from American culture. It's in everyone; you gotta make a conscious effort to work past it. And white people think that a Racist is a TERRIBLE HUMAN BEING, like a monster or something, without any other facets--because it's abstract to us, not something we can put a face on.

So our job, as white people, is to talk to defensive people and remind them that racism is a thing everyone struggles with, and that sometimes it's hard to see, BUT... that not knowing doesn't absolve you of your actions, because you should have thought to go look and do your reading before you acted. Doing a racist thing doesn't make you unloveable, but at the same time, it doesn't make you free of the guilt for the shitty situation we're in either. You let them be defensive and carry that emotional reaction, you let the emotions flow through them, and you bring it up again and again until they have sat with the emotions long enough to be capable of thinking again.

If they're emotional at you? Point out that they're being emotional. The sort of person you're talking about, Vonda, loves to claim that their viewpoint is somehow objective, but everyone else's is subjective, and their opinions are facts while everyone else's are biased and emotion driven. Don't let them keep believing that--call out that implicit belief and make them justify it. If they hurt you specifically, point out that you have a right to be angry or upset when hurt. If they claim that they have no dog in this fight, ask why they're arguing with you then, and ask why they're acting so defensive.

Basically: this isn't an argument you'll win in one go. But by having many smaller arguments, it is absolutely possible to make anyone--even the most intransigent person--re-evaluate their thoughts and change their mind. It might not be you who does it, and it will take a lot of people backing you up, and you might not be able to organize all of them. But that doesn't mean you can't be the first person to plant that seed of doubt.
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This one is a lot of fun in some ways, but I have been working for the past 9 hours on shit that is not even remotely related to my actual PhD degree. At least I'm getting paid, but seriously, self, this way lies madness and burnout. SO MUCH madness and burnout. 

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I would like to be a little more active on DW. Most of my energy right now is going to Metafilter, but not all of it, and I'd like to be in the habit of writing for myself in my own space more.

So I've got a comment on this thread forming. It's a total derail of the conversation, it's not really helpful there, but I can totally write out what I'm thinking here, right? Right.  

Plus, the internet definitely needs to hear my feelings on socializing children via the Internet. )
sciatrix: (Default) know, the one I accidentally triggered [personal profile] kaz with a few days ago. Because apparently my initial reaction to being reminded that it exists and just how badly I reacted to it (and Kaz reacted to it, and several other aces I know) is to start poking at it and taking it apart to see why I found it so upsetting. Which, by the way, is why this post is here in the first place, under lock and also behind a cut, because this is not the kind of discussion I would like to get back to the author. (I am being very forthright in a way I would not be in a public sphere.)

Also, for those of you not under Kaz' access lock, this is a fic Kaz described quite accurately as (paraphrasing) 'a distilled, concentrated syrup of a "typical" aro/wtfromantic asexual person's fears about sex, being hit on, companionship, the devaluation of friendship, being alone forever, etc.' If this is triggering for you, take that as your warning. It also contains self harm and a suicide attempt.

And now to the actual discussion )
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That terribly sad moment when you look at your term paper and realize that your fun discussion of how your topic relates to the extinction of the dinosaurs has to be cut out, because the original paper proposing the relationship was more awful than you initially realized.

Sigh. And I was excited about that bit. Back to trying to write this thing, I guess.

Also, my students keep asking me for letters of recommendation and things. It is super weird, especially since I have a pretty strong suspicion that I would look pretty bad as a letter writer compared to an actual professor. I know they're asking me because they think I know them more personally than their lecturers, who have to teach hundreds of them simultaneously, but I have a terrible memory for faces and names so that may backfire a little bit. (Actually, TAing in general has been super weird, because I went from an undergraduate student to someone teaching undergraduate students in the space of about four months. Some of my students are actually older than I am.)
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Man, I am going to really, really miss doing these when I graduate. I hope I can find a way to keep getting involved in panelling at my graduate school, because this is fun. (Also, our panel coordinator told me today they wish they had four of me, which is always really warm and fuzzy to hear. :3)

Today's was pretty chill, overall. The obligatory religion question came up, and I got to mention the atheism thing again. I had one person bring up Sheldon Cooper and go "well, Sheldon is asexual but he has feelings for a woman on the show, do you have sexual feelings for people?" which was, uhhhh. Still, better Big Bang Theory questions than House questions, I guess. (I used that one as a springboard to discuss grey-As and emphasize all the grey areas in sexuality more generally; the fact that we also had a lot of discussion about lesbians/women who mostly date other women who also occasionally date men helped to reinforce that "sexuality isn't always clear-cut!" point.)

One guy asked us all about whether we felt the need to bring up our sexual orientations or whether it came up organically or what when we met new people. All my copanelists got to say things like "well, I just mention my girlfriend where other people are mentioning their partners" or "it comes up when we're discussing which celebrities are hot" and then there was me. Sigh. I went into a brief spiel about how bringing it up is something I need to proactively do or else I'm going to get a lot of really annoying curiosity later, and also about how I basically get to do a mini-panel every time I come out because really, and then mentioned some of the segues I tend to use.

Had someone who asked mid-panel for a more in-depth explanation of asexuality than the one I breeze by in my coming-out story; that hasn't happened for a while, and usually they ask as soon as the panel starts for real. (I don't define asexuality in my intro, I just describe my coming-out experiences and that usually involves a sort of implied definition, so it's clear we're talking sexual orientation and not sex or gender.) He was pretty relaxed about it, though.

Oh, and the nature vs. nurture question came up. I have got to stop geeking out about behavior genetics when that comes up, I always want to babble on about how it's more complicated than "is it genetic?" can ever hope to get and how complicated behavior is and especially human sexuality and aaaaaagh. Er, and we got asked if there was anyone in our lives we weren't out to, and I got to explain about my very conservative extended family and how my grandmother never gets to be told and things. Can't think of anything else offhand.

Also, apparently asexuality came up in the panel for the class period before mine, and someone actually hung around from there for a whole hour to ask me a question before I got there. Apparently her best friend from high school's brother had quietly claimed to be ace all through high school and she and all her friends hadn't believed him at all or thought that was something you could be, so she was really interested in what I had to say--she was very respectful to me, but I felt bad for the poor brother! She also (again, politely) asked me my gender before she left, which I'm not sure if that was a genuine misconception about aces or just a reminder from M (who was in the panel for her class period and is genderqueer) that it's more complicated than just male/female plus my gender presentation being nonstandard.
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It was a pretty quiet crowd this time, honestly. I think it was noteworthy for being the only panel so far with two people standing for one identity (both my copanelists IDed as gay) and also no trans* representation. Most of the questions were pretty standard, although after the obligatory religion question I did have someone ask me if my parents had thought about encouraging me to be a nun. This is... really hilarious given my distinct tendency to turn into a waspish atheist when poked with the religion stick. My parents can be pretty emotionally obtuse but they're not actually stupid.

I also had someone ask me something along the lines of "Asexuality must be really, really rare--there aren't very many of you, right? So do you get hostility from gay people, too?" which felt pretty pointed given recent events. For that one I said roughly "yes, in some circumstances, gay-friendly =/= asexual friendly" and then emphasized very heavily that Lambda has been an actual safe space for me.

Also, I have hit myself in the head on inanimate objects four times today and yesterday I got a flat tire for the first time (now fixed!) and I would just like this week to be over now, please. Aaaaagh.

...but I did get a ridiculously cool mutant in my fly stocks which I am attempting to create its own stock of, anyway, so that will be an interesting side project. It had one extremely tiny eye with a ton of little eye-like blobby growths on that side of its head, which I thought was fascinating. My mentor says I should name it strawberry if I can get it to culture.
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Went grocery shopping today. Ran into not one but two of my professors in the grocery store. D: Thankfully (because I'm in a shit mood and didn't want to make nice) I was able to slink by without being recognized, but it was a near thing.

On the bright side, there was Thin Mint ice cream, which I will be stockpiling for the next two months and hissing if either of my roommates side-eyes it. MINE.
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So I just finished doing a panel! And I keep meaning to describe how they go for me, so here's a quick recap.

This panel was for a Intro to Women's Studies class, I think. My copanelists were a trans guy who has so far been on every panel with me but one and a genderqueer gay/queer-identified guy (?), so I feel like we had a pretty good mixture of people.

The questions were pretty interesting. With one exception, the ones I answered were directed at all of us, not me specifically, this time. (That one exception was "As an asexual, do you ever think about the future? And do you ever think about wanting kids or a family?") Some of the ones I remember were the inevitable "Are you religious?" questions--I think this is the first time I haven't been specifically asked about the relationship between my religion and my asexuality, actually, but I ended up discussing my atheism anyway. I was actually kind of sad I didn't get that question this time, since I'm sort of dying to use the new "only about 15% of asexuals actively identify as Christian" statistic.

We got asked about our relationships with our parents; mine actually ended up being the worst one. Someone asked how we dealt with people telling us our identities were just an attempt to be popular or get attention, and I waxed sarcastic about the trendiness levels of asexuality for a bit. Someone asked if any of us were in relationships, and so I got to use the phrase "Schroedinger's dating" again, which was pretty cool. And we got asked what our hobbies outside of Lambda were--my copanelists said "...uh, I'm an officer and it eats all my time, so... drag?" and "lying around and sleeping." I sort of looked like a deer in headlights and mentioned my brilliant decision to attempt to combine graduate school applications, my thesis, and a full courseload into one semester and cheerfully explained I had no other free time. (Which is true, although I should have mentioned knitting. Oops.)

Afterwards one of the people in the class came up to commiserate with me about how confusing romance is and how frustrating societal conceptions of romance are, so that was kind of awesome.

Now to spend the rest of my evening listening to Frank Turner and planning my Halloween costume. \o/
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A while back, I signed up for a thing my campus queer group does where they have people go into classrooms and related situations and answer questions from the standpoint of a Real Live gay/bi/trans/etc. person. Today was my first panel ever.

It was actually a lot of fun! The class was very polite and did not ask the Dreaded Masturbation Question, and I got a lot of questions directed specifically at me. Besides which, I got thanked personally by three or four people for talking about asexuality, which was kind of awesome.

I'm also working on setting up a panel-type thing for Asexual Awareness Week here. Out of curiosity, anyone in travelling distance of Athens interested in showing up and answering questions for that? I figure it's probably going to end up being just me and the other ace in said queer group, who definitely wants to be involved, but the offer to join us is open in case anyone is interested in a bit of fairly low-stress visibility.


Sep. 29th, 2011 10:40 pm
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I finally wrote up the first draft of my personal statement! I have completed the hardest bit of the hardest bit of graduate school applications! AHAHAHA YAY. Now I just have to get everyone I know to read it and proof it!

(To anyone who's been wanting actual communication with me: I am so sorry, I've been v. busy and wrapped up in work again and hitting a low-communicative phase a little bit. I'm trying to get to all the things I need to respond to but this has been taking priority, so.)
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And, uh, am sorry for not responding to comments in the last post--life has gotten away from me again and I am not good with communication when I'm stressed. Thanks to everyone who sent me comforting comments, though!

Have spent a lot of time on self-care these last few days doing things that are low-stress, trying to make myself avoid tumblr, going out to eat with friends and attempting to indoctrinate my baby sister with more geekery, that sort of thing.

I was debating writing a birthday post for Writing From Factor X, since I created the blog as a birthday present to myself last year, but I just don't have the energy to write anything right now. I feel a little bit bad about that, because it's not that I don't have things to say, but more that I just don't have the time and the energy to sit down and write out something polished and acceptable to me and, you know, self care.

(Offhand, the topics currently lurking in the back of my head are: the limits of anger in activism and the point at which you write someone off, the ways in which we are arguably reclaiming 'asexual' for ourselves from the very pejorative way it is often used to apply to people, something cogent about how isolating invisibility can be, oversimplification of concepts when doing visibility and how we can avoid that, and that godawful post about the brain worms that being aromantic/wtfromantic/whatever the hell my affectional orientation is left me with, the one that's written almost entirely up but that I'm still hesitant to post. I am not exactly hurting for topics! Just... time. Would be quite willing to have conversations about any of those, though.)

Also, I have photos of my birthday cake! (Birthday cupcakes? Birthday EXTRAVAGANZA?) We did finish making it, about five people attempted to eat it, and I am currently trying to get my lab to eat most of the rest with limited success. Next time I do something big like this, I'm going to make sure I have more mouths. Anyway, photos!

cut for large photo )


Sep. 14th, 2011 08:08 am
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So Drs. Rosemary and Peter Grant are coming to speak at my university tonight.

They are the people who did the Galapagos finch work on the adaptation of finch beak sizes to specific climate changes causing changes in the local seed populations, which is simultaneously REALLY REALLY INTERESTING and also some of the most influential work demonstrating natural selection in action. Which is VERY VERY COOL.

Going to engage in all the evolutionary biology hero worship tonight~

Also, in about an hour I should be finishing up my experiment almost completely and finishing collection of the main data on it. Which is amazing and wonderful and also slightly scary--what on earth will I be doing without actual crosses to make?

...oh, right, writing my thesis up. THESIS DEATHMARCH 2011 IS GO!
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There's a new census going up as an Asexual Awareness project! Granted, the questions are mostly basic demographics, but it'll still be pretty cool to look at when the results are in.

And hey, they're learning--you do not need an AVEN account to fill this one out and it's actually being promoted in non-AVEN spaces! Mind, they've missed two asexual communities I can think of--neither [community profile] asexual_fandom or the Transyada forum are mentioned--but this actually looks like AVEN-based asexual organizers taking baby steps to acknowledge other communities.
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...mostly because I honestly have been exhausted. I've alluded to having a finite level of energy to communicate before and I've been using it up almost entirely on meatspace stuff lately. This is my first weekend of down time in two weeks and I have been savoring it.

Cut for rambling about what I've actually been up to )

Yeaaaaah. I have no idea when I'm going to have the energy to start blogging again regularly, unfortunately. I have a bunch of topics I want to say things about, but I just have so little energy to say anything with that I've mostly been lurking in the background and hiding from just about everything.


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