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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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Oh my god, I feel like I got punched in the uterus. Ow. Ow ow ow.

In other news, today's winner for Insanely Persistent Fly goes to Male Fly Number Eight, who attempted copulation 44 times before finally succeeding. This was essentially all of his mating strategy. For thirty-six minutes.

Also, I get to plantsit for Dr. D in exchange for money! HOORAY. And there was poetry written today instead of focusing in Philosophy. DOUBLE YAY. I'm so used to having a permanent block that getting something creative that I actually like written makes me very, very happy. 

In other news, I'm going home this weekend. If I don't chicken out, I'll finally have a chance to talk with my mother about the horrible panic attack I had in Italy and how her response was full of fail, and also the asexuality thing. I love her, but... I'm so tired of her saying insanely hurtful things without thinking every time I become halfway vulnerable. And dammit, this wasn't the first panic attack/overstimulation issue I've had in public and it probably won't be the last, especially if I cave to my mom's occasional guilt-tripping on behalf of my dad and go to a football game. I may as well be brave now and have the uncomfortable conversations, because if I don't I think I will probably start trying to avoid my parents and never be able to tell them why. And I miss them. 
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So we went over the chapter on Love and Relationships in my Psychology of Women course today. And it was generally no worse than I expected it to be, especially since there's a chunk of the chapter on lesbian relationships near the end and it's pretty good at not being heteronormative so I don't feel completely erased most of the time.

Except for this: as a class activity, we were asked to write down a list of qualities we wanted in a person we'd want to marry, and then a list of qualities we'd want in a person we'd want to have sex with. Fine. I can do the first one, anyway, at least in theory; and I figured I could just ignore the second one since there's no way in which it applied to me. But then we were instructed to break up in groups with at least one guy in them (this class is maybe 90% female) and discuss the characteristics we put down. Okay, I thought. Fine. I'll just... try to unobtrusively get through the discussion without sharing anything. (I'm not sure whether it could have worked--I'm normally pretty talkative and loud in that class, but on the other hand it was a pretty freaking big group, maybe twenty people.)

And then the girl next to me, who I've been snarking and chatting with off and on since class started, asks me what I put down. Which... er. I ended up saying that I identified as asexual so I really didn't have anything to put down, and she seemed to confuse that with identifying as genderless (and asked me "when did I decide") so I spent most of the rest of the allotted time for discussion clarifying that. It ended well, but I wasn't planning to come out in that class except to the professor (which I already have done, through an email about asexual-as-orientation vs. asexual-as-"intersex"-status), and I felt more than a bit blindsided by the whole thing--and also really, really invisible, because it was clear from the exercise that people who weren't sexually attracted to others were just not considered at all. Which on one level I get--yay visibility, and this is why--but at the same time it's rather depressing. 
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So I haven't written in here in a while, largely because I've been working until I'm exhausted. Last week, I was commuting to Athens and back every day and then doing family chores at home while my parents were gone. This week, I've been settling into the new room and my new job, which is awesome even if all making vials of fly food is a bit repetitive. Doesn't matter, since the people are awesome, especially my supervisor B.

Anyway, I recently got my hair cut. Well, cut shorter than it was, anyway; it used to be a good three to four inches when it was freshly done and now it's a one-inch pixie cut. And I'd actually wanted to do that for a long time; I've always wanted very short hair, and I've been gradually choosing shorter and shorter cuts and inching my way to what I really want--hair which won't be in my eyes or on my neck or cause tangles or need a lot of work in the morning. The hairdresser I went to also has short hair and made me feel great about choosing the cut I did. I was so pleased on the way home that I sang the entire way back, loud punchy enthusiastic songs. I love this haircut.

And then my parents came home and saw it. And the look of horror on my parents' faces just made me die inside, just a little. My mother in particular seemed particularly upset, and since she was the one to drive me back to Athens I got stuck with her in the car expressing how upset she was that I'd decided to get a short pixie cut without styling it. She was very insistent that if you want to have short hair, you should wear make up and feminine clothing and big earrings to make your femininity obvious. I even asked her "what, do you want me to get my ears pierced?" because I wanted her to just stop. (I have no desire to pierce my ears.)

She also told me that the (women's!) polo shirts I like are "really a men's style" despite the fact that when I wear them, they hug my body and emphasize my waist and curves. But I guess the collar makes them MANLY or something. And then when I said "look, I'll buy paste and put it in my hair of a morning and all" to placate her, and I said "I just liked the way pixie hair cuts looked, okay?" because I was by this point really defensive and a little upset, she said "Good. I just don't want to be around when some girl tries to pick you up, okay?" ...really? Really? 

I just don't know how to be myself around her. I don't know why she's so hung up on my gender expression--it's mine, and I've told her repeatedly that if I get mistaken for gay or hit on by lesbian women, I'm not going to be any more upset or weirded out than if a guy hits on me. Hell, I told her that I don't identify as straight about a month ago. I don't know why she thinks that I would give a damn if someone female wanted to date me. Do I need to say "Mom, I identify as queer, what with the whole asexual thing, and furthermore I think I'd actually rather be in a relationship with a woman if I wanted to be in one at all?" (Not that I've ever had a crush on anyone, it's more that I generally get along much better with women than with men.) And I don't know how to bring that up without hurting her, because I know she loves me and I really suspect that a lot of this is her projecting her own issues with femininity onto me. And I get it a lot, because K is the easy heterosexual Catholic feminine daughter who is sweet and nice and doesn't keep coming up with uncomfortable personal revelations. 

Hah. I used to think that all I wanted out of my parents was to quit asking me who I had a crush on and asking me if I was gay and wanted to come out to them. Now I'm not so sure. Now I've had a taste of people who accept me for who I am, at least in the gender/orientation way, and my god is that ever intoxicating. (J came by to see me for the first time since I cut my hair the other day and looked surprised for a moment and then immediately said "Wow, I like your haircut, it looks good on you!" I'd been terrified she would judge me about it too, maybe not quite rationally, and proceeded to tell her exactly how awesome she was and how upset I'd been about my parents.)

For my final paper for my Psych of Women class, I have to transgress a gender norm and write about it. And there's a note at the end of it which says that my professor hopes that the assignment will give us "increased compassion for those who violate gender roles every day." Which... I just feel so bitter about, because I'm freaking cis. I'm not genderqueer or trans or neutrois. There's nothing wrong with those things, but it's not me. And I'm so very fucking tired of having my gender expression policed because I maybe don't always scream "LOOK AT ME I'm A GIRL GIRL GIRL SEE MY GIRLINESS" from a distance. It's at the point where I maybe say I'm more butch than I really am because every possible choice I make about my appearance that is less than feminine brings on the "but you'll be perceived badly" from her.  
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I just had someone tell me to my face that America should not interfere in the practice of honor killings, because that would be interfering in someone's culture. Words cannot express how angry I am--I think this is the first time I've truly lost my temper in that class, as a matter of fact.

See, when we designate culture an all-express-paid pass to hurt people, when we say that we can't interfere in someone's beliefs even if they're hurting people, what we say to the person being hurt is "You don't matter enough to cause an argument over." When we designate culture more important than individual rights, we abandon anyone oppressed by that culture to the dogs.

Culture is not more important than lives. Tradition is not more important than people. I break tradition every damn day by being who and what I am, okay? Fifty years ago, it was American culture for women to get married right out of high school and not work unless they had to, for gay people to live closeted their whole lives, for black and white people to be segregated. We threw those traditions out, and America's a better place for it. But our culture changed! Yeah... for the better.

I hate it when structures and ideas are viewed as more important than people are.

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