Saturday, December 22, 2007

Assumptions make you and me very confused.

So I was at work when a sales rep who was helping us out with the holiday rush invited me to the following party:

...yeah. A Christmas party, labeled "Holiday Hookups," with interlocking Mars/Venus symbols below it.

I stare at it blankly for a few moments, then go after the rep. I tap meaningfully at the symbols: "This isn't my kind of party." He looks at me. Tap, tap, tap. Finally he says, "Oh, you don't have to hook up with anybody if you don't want."

Whoosh. No, I'm not part of your group.

I look at the back of the card. The party starts at 11 pm and goes to "???", it says. "Donations in advance" are $30 for guys and $10 for girls (and, I have no doubt, if this was questioned, someone would talk about how much easier and more advantageous it makes things for girls). It's in one of the biggest and most dangerous cities in the state.

But hey, it's got an open bar all night! What could possibly go wrong?

Me, I think I'll be playing City of Heroes or Super Mario Galaxy instead. I'm sure there's a happy medium between the two options somewhere, but for now, this helps me feel more secure about my extreme...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Evicting the victim.

Until the seventeenth century (at least according to my dictionary), victim simply meant "an animal offered as a sacrifice." I would note that this is suspiciously similar to the literal definition of scapegoat. And we all know what a scapegoat is.

This is something that's been brewing in me at least since I responded to this thread on Livejournal. But it's probably been there a while longer, really.

Blame-the-victim mentality is so deeply entrenched in society we almost don't realize how far it stretches. We may encounter it in a case of rape and decry it there; we may see it buried in homophobia and try to strike back at it there; we may slap it down when it comes up regarding bullying. But we don't often sit back and realize that all those different manifestations spring from that one tendency.

"I don't mind gay people, but if they're going to flaunt themselves like that, they should be prepared for the consequences."

"A kid committed suicide because he was being called names at school? What a little pussy."

"You're the one who married him; you're the one who has to get him into rehab."

"You've got to ask yourself, what was a pretty girl like her doing there at that hour anyway?"

"If that town's really so racist, the black people should just move out."

"If he was really doing all that to his daughter, why didn't the kid speak up sooner?"

It's pernicious. It's everywhere. And I think I understand why: our society, in its current dysfunctional form, needs to blame the victim.

The bullies, the abusive addicts, the rapists, the gay-bashers, the racists, the child abusers (that is, the majority of child abusers who are actually otherwise respectable family members): they are a part of society. They are woven into its fabric, institutionalized, with their names engraved in little plaques on a walkway. "Mr. & Mrs. We Hate Gay People and their little boy Nerdpuncher contributed. They belong."

Bad things happen in this society, though. The people interested in preserving it will deny this when possible, but sometimes it's not possible. And that's when they need a class of people to blame it on.

And here come the victims--of course they are people but it's much easier to simply call them victims, sacrifices for the state religion. The victims are so convenient, in some ways. They're already admitting that there's a problem, which is something most people would rather not--how big a step is it to tell them to take responsibility for that problem? Besides, they've proven, by virtue of being a victim, that they are weaker than the members of society who beat them down.

Of course, it's society that has failed these people. But Society Can't Fail. So they must have failed society; they must not belong. They must be victims--

--and with that label, they are removed from society. The sins of the community are placed on them, and they are released into the wilderness. And unlike the abusers, who are a part of society, they become acceptable targets for blame.


Our society needs to blame the victim, because otherwise, it would have to turn that scathing eye inwards. And then it might have to change.

Monday, July 23, 2007


It's been too long, but finally, while going over a friend's old battle over self-definition--

(Tangential: you cannot disagree with self-definition. You can think it silly, you can fail to understand it, you can find it alien, but you can't disagree. It doesn't involve you; it says so in the word itself, for crying out loud.)

--I finally understand the itch that lodged behind my skull when, years ago when I first realized my sexuality, I read about a woman who called herself lesbian for political reasons.

I know now that that's called a "lesbian separatist." At the time, it simply seemed wrong. I couldn't quite articulate why--I could mumble about how politics don't come into it, about how it doesn't work that way, but I couldn't put a word to it.

Now I can. It's called appropriation.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Finding religion in all the wrong places.

Over two years ago, curled up in bed, I had a fever-vision.

Something is running through a desert in my brain. I've had that happen occasionally recently, but due to a combination of my own mistrust of my brain and that very special Jewish guilt (how dare I contemplate cheating on Hashem, even though I've never had a meaningful relationship with Him!), I've tried to ignore it.

It's a jackal, or some kind of strange dog. After tonight's hallucination/conversation, I'm inclined to believe the latter. In any case, I was sufficiently tired and fevered that this time, when I saw it with my severely astigmatic mind's eye...I zoomed in.

He/it started looking more like a than a jackal, and he (He?) said, "You. Mine." I shied away, but he kept saying it, and I suddenly, almost wordlessly asked him to break me so I could put myself back together.

I haven't seen Him since, but then, I haven't gone looking. I still don't know if I could live with the Jewish guilt.

The point is this: it is past time for me to start putting myself back together, and that is what I will be trying to describe here; that and the bits of the world around me that I want to help put back together.

I am twenty-one going on twenty-two. I dropped out of high school at seventeen. I have no job and have never had one; I have never succeeded in going to college for more than a semester. I have a lot of guilt over this, but, in fits and starts, when I'm not too scared of failure to even try, I work on changing it.

I will talk about that here: about the trouble with fitting a self that's not very cooperative into a world that's even less. I will also talk about the things that bother me about that world and the people in it.

And someday I would like to find my center. Maybe there I can talk to that strange dog again.