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So I keep meaning to post, but general insanity have been keeping me from having the time to do so. I am not exactly enjoying my Philosophy course, when normally I take to discussion-based courses like this one like a duck to water, and I've been trying to figure out why. The teacher's discussion style is fairly similar to Dr. M's, at least superficially, and I am very fond of Dr. M and really miss the Political Science course I took with him.

Partly it's this: Philosophy, or at least the aspects that this guy is trying to teach me, are explicitly concerned with what should be without allowances for reality, when I vastly prefer discussing what is and using that as a bridgepoint for thinking about what should be. I'm a scientist, or at least will be; my entire mental framework is based around objectively trying to figure out what is and then do something about it. Reality is important, and it drives me insane when people regard it as just sort of an obstacle to thoughtplay.

Partly it's this: the man is an anarchist, what the fuck, does he realize how unworkable that is? He keeps saying things like "and if the psychologists are right about us being driven by self-interest..." which also drives me up the wall, because I can't interpret human behavior by and large as not being driven by self-interest in the majority of cases. And he keeps attributing Western self-interest to the Western state, which is a whole different level of annoyance, because even in other types of cultures you still see warlords and power vacuums and all the problems that make anarchy impossible. I haven't particularly thought of a way to counter his moral position, but then I'm not concerned with should bes when I can't make is work effectively.

And partly he's just a bit of an asshole, and also he keeps bringing up abortion. It's like a pet topic for him. That and animal rights, which I have issues with because of all the batshittery in the movement. Also the rampant racism and classism in some of the major groups. (PETA, I'm looking at you.) His lack of professionalism in talking about his pet subjects also bugs me. I'm of the opinion that professors, or teachers of any sort, necessarily must have a power divide between themselves and the students in order to teach effectively, and the consequence of that power divide is that you do not get to advance your pet subjects if the class isn't about that. Letting me know you're unprofessional enough to abuse that power divide makes me less inclined to listen to you, and if you don't think there's a power divide there at all I can't shut up and listen in any effective manner.

Also, the one other person in the class who talks at anything like the same level I do (yeah, I'm loud and opinionated) is a physics guy. I don't, as a rule, get on with physics guys. Bleh.
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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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There has recently been a kerfluffle on AVEN regarding whether it is appropriate to tell newbies when they're being offensive. Obviously, I am involved--I love a good argument too much not to be, and in fact it was my comment which started it--but what really hit me was an assertion that, in an argument, a person who becomes obviously angry has lost. (Or, extended, the first person to talk about emotion has lost.)

That strikes me as foolishness. Anger in service of a cause is what fuels that cause. Anger, properly harnessed, is power. If you never get angry about the topic you're debating, you don't care about it enough to make it win. An angerless debate has no spirit, no heart, no passion. Which I suppose is the point, to reduce debate to a sport rather than a productive discussion. Under this rationale, you cannot believe in anything, any more, or else you cannot discuss it; and what on earth is the point of an argument when the only method of choosing sides is assignation, because no one cares about either one! You can't even say "the point is learning how to debate," because if no one can debate topics important to them, we're back to the problem of no one caring. It's a road down the path to Brave New World.

You know, I'm actually quite a cerebral person. It has taken me years to figure out how to label my emotions, how to deal with them, and how to channel them most effectively. Last week I was accused of being a Vulcan. (Yes, really.) And yet the more I consider this, the more value I place in emotion, and more I reject the idea that only completely dispassionate analysis is of any use. Don't get me wrong; I love analysis. It is how I experience the world. But analysis alone, with no conviction and no heart, is worthless. Passionate people get stuff done; people who won't emotionally commit to anything and play their sophist games in the sand. I know which I would rather be. 
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Last day of class with Dr. M today. Which I am really going to miss, even without the compliments on my amazing arguing skills I get occasionally from my classmates. (Sometimes I worry I took over that class. It was like it was expressly designed for me--so glad L made me take it.) I think compliments are awesome and that people should give them more. I know really well what I am and am not good at, but sometimes it's really hard to remember what my strengths are. Especially when they're so intimately connected to my weaknesses; I know that my love of a great argument and conviction in what I believe in is a big part of why I do so well in that class, but the flip side of it is that I have a pronounced tendency to leap down people's throats without warning. So yes, more compliments! 

In other words, I wish people would stop fucking using evolution wrong. But that's not new. I do not care if you've never studied it before, common sense would tell you not to use it until you do know what you're talking about!
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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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I hate driving. I hate dealing with the seat, I hate having to stay in the same tightened position for ages, but most of all I hate the focusing and the spatial reckoning. I suck at both of them. Focusing less so, especially if I can get out on the highway and chill when traffic isn't too bad, but I goddamn hate having to judge spatial distances. I'm crap at it. I know I'm not good at it, it's why I won't parallel park at all and why I leave as much distance as I possibly can between cars and why I wait forever at turns until no one is coming. It's a big reason I'm a rather timid driver--because I cannot trust myself to adequately judge distances when I drive. The only reason I drive is because frankly, not being a driver in America, particularly suburban America, is more trouble than sucking it up and getting behind the wheel. (If I had the option of hassle-free, affordable public transport, you can bet I would be on that like a shot. As it is, once-every-hour bus service doesn't cut it.)

Consequently, I am not really all that enthused about the best solution I can think of for my summer woes, which involves a week of commuting back and forth between my parents' house and my university, which is an hour-and-half drive each way. This is especially not fun because I have a 9:30 class, which means I'll have to shove my sister on the bus, grab a half-assed breakfast for myself if I even remember, and run for the car. So there's no way to pull this off without feeling rushed, really, or to avoid rush hour.

You know what doesn't make it better? Hearing that my dad vocally opposes this, despite it being the only real way to work this (since missing four days of a fifteen-day class is not an option, and they need me at home to keep an eye on my sisters), because he thinks I'm a terrible driver. Having both of my parents admonish me not to get into accidents. Knowing that neither parent will trust me to drive them places if they can help it. Hearing them tell me they don't have any faith in my driving skills.

Driving while me is tiring and frustrating enough without having other people tell me over and over that I suck at it, okay? I know I suck at it. I know I have had an accident. I know I'm slow and I take my time and I leave a crapload of space, which apparently means I am not "decisive" enough. I do not need to have other people question my competence when I'm doing it just fine for myself. 
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So I was sitting in Dr. M's class today, and he brought up the menu conundrum; that is, as the number of choices available increases, the level of anxiety and fear about making one increases. His particular example was the habit of educated college students not being able to choose what to do with their lives, because it's all on us to decide. He argued that without tradition, and without really being encouraged or able to seek advice from older adults about what they thought we should do, it became the burden of the young person to come up with a life path completely from scratch--and he pointed out just how difficult and terrifying having to do that really is.

And it was all I could do not to burst out laughing. Bitterly. My entire life revolves around trying to find a path of meaning after throwing aside the central construction to the "accepted" path of the culture I live in. I mean, romance is so important to our cultural narratives that we can't even tell a single story without making a subplot for the main character to begin a romantic relationship. When there's no extended family, it's all about the nuclear family, and there's nothing for me in the traditional path to creating one without the whole attraction thing. I could do it, but I would be lying to myself and, more importantly, to someone I at least purported to care about, and I can't countenance that. So that leaves me with making my own path, and all that entails, because even if I'm not closing the possibility that I might one day be interested romantically in another human being or that another type of unconventional relationship exists that would work with who and what I am, I'm not counting on it. There's no point in planning on something which is unlikely to happen.

So I get to define what family is. I have all the choice in the world, and all I can do is walk into the future and try to live each day as it comes. I always hated those assignments I got in high school, when I was expected to plan out my future and say where I wanted to be in ten or twenty years. How can I know that? There's nothing to tell me how my life should go, no easy ubiquitous story to hear and build on. There's no story of my life out there at all, so all I can do is tell mine, day by day, and make it up on the fly. Maybe one day I'll be able to help younger asexuals figure it out, maybe one day I'll have something coherent to say.

Later, divorce came up in the class discussion. As class ended, I brought up the point that divorce isn't necessarily bad, and the conversation ended up with Dr. M going on about this new trend of women in their thirties marrying only because they want children, and then divorcing early once the kids are there. And I thought "wow, that's my life plan, except that I'd rather use a sperm donor entirely." I love that class, but there have been so many moments when I think to myself "yeah, and you don't know the half of it" when things come up. And I can't even say or do anything, because I'm damn sure not coming out to an entire class. There's feeling of being outside a house, and looking in--I can think of few things more alienating.
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It would be really, really nice if for once I could log onto AVEN, scroll through the posts, and not see some new and exciting post implying that my sexual orientation is a form of/is caused by/is linked to some sort of mental illness. It's depressing and rage-inducing and upsetting all at once, and I can never figure out how to deal with it without exploding. (Seriously, schizophrenia?)

Going to AVEN is supposed to remind me I'm not the only one. It's supposed to remind me that I'm fine the way I am, that there's nothing wrong with me, that it's okay for me to be asexual. That's why I come here. I don't come here to scroll through endless questions about whether my sexuality is caused by a mental illness on the same fucking board which is supposed to be for promoting asexuality as a sexual orientation. I'm tired of it.

And hell, I am an asexual with a less-than-typical brain. I am an asexual with touch issues, with people issues. But does that make my sexuality any less real? I mean, hating neck touches and not being able to tolerate ball games don't really mask the fact that I don't get tingly in my vulva for anyone. When you get down to it, are the non-neurotypical (in the broadest sense of the word) not allowed to have a sexuality? Because let me tell you, most of 'em aren't asexual. They might get treated as if they were, but that's another issue. If I wanted to fuck someone, I think I would notice, autism or no, touch issues or no.

It's almost making me want to leave, and that would be a shame, because I am fond of the community. But I think I need to evaluate whether or not staying is especially healthy for me. 


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