Pessimism is Easy . . .
Thursday, March 20, 2008
. . . . except, in the long run, it's not, actually.
(*WARNING!!!! Please don appropriate "Receiving A Portly-Dyke Lecture" garb now! I am consciously not going to be using my usual "in my opinion/experience", or "I think that . . . " language during this post.*)
Pessimism is easy -- in terms of Group-Support.
You're actually quite likely to find a lot of people who will happily join you in bitching, moaning, complaining, snarking, and whinging, and who will enthusiastically support you to bitch, moan, complain, snark, and whinge.
You may also gain some bonus "cool-and-arty" points by being incredibly, over-the-top pessimistic (but you're going to have to work very hard at this, as generalized Pessimism seems to have become the Order of the Day).
Pessimism is easy in the "making an effort" department, too -- because if "Life sucks, then you die" and "The world is going to shit and that's just how it is" -- then you are relieved of any responsibility to change anything -- including yourself-- because after all -- What's the use?
Pessimism is easy . . . . until . . . .
Until you have children, or an incredible idea for your new business, or you fall in love . . . . or you realize that maybe, just maybe, you might actually want to go on living, after all -- for whatever reason.
I'm not a Pollyanna by any stretch of the imagination.
I've seen my share of shit in half a Century.
However, I'm really, truly, and completely sick of hearing people conflate "pessimism" with "realism" as follows:
"I'm just being realistic! Human beings are fucked up!!"
Bullshit. I call bullshit to this.
Yeah, I've experienced my share of asshole-ish behavior from human beings, but if I'm really, truly, scientific and logical about my personal statistics, I've had my ass pulled out of the flames by other humans way more often than I've had my ass plunged into the flames by them.
That's just a statistical fact of my life -- and to say anything different is . . . . is . . . . just unrealistic.
I'd be all about Teh Pessimism . . . . if it had ever accomplished anything -- if it had actually saved me from heartbreak (which it didn't), or prepared me for a crisis (which it didn't), or changed the world (which it hasn't).
Face the facts.
If you really, truly believed that your economy/relationship/town/country/species/world/universe
was simply going down the tubes and there was nothing you could do to stop it, you actually wouldn't get out of bed tomorrow -- you wouldn't take your anti-depressants -- you wouldn't be considering looking for a lover/partner, or thinking about having children, or looking for a job, or ruminating about whether to change jobs, or wondering about what you might eat for dinner later tonight or for breakfast tomorrow, or pondering what to post on your blog, or whether you should start a blog . . .
. . . and if you really, truly believed: "Life sucks, then you die" -- you sure as hell wouldn't be reading this fucking blog!
See, I don't think that pessimism is really all that easy -- I think it actually takes a lot of energy to squelch that amazingly persistent: "But . . . but . . . I want to Live!" impulse that seems to spring eternal in the human breast.
I do think that Pessimism is lazy (lots of peer-support, no personal action required).
And dishonest. ("I'm going to bitch and moan as if this stuff matters to me while simultaneously acting as if it doesn't matter to me because it's pointless and we're all going to hell in a handcart.")
And ultimately -- Pessimism is ineffective. (Point me to a single thriving and sustainable culture that was firmly and consciously based in Pessimism, and I promise that I won't get out of bed ever again.)
I'm not advocating for some kind of Shiny-Happy-People-Holding-Hands form of Optimism here. I'm not going all Dr. Pangloss on your ass.
In fact, I'd like to throw the whole Pessimism/Optimism dichotomy right out the fucking window.
It has become so mired with the notion of some perverse warfare between black-clad nihilists smoking cigarettes under street lamps and appliquéd-jumper-clad moms sharing recipes at the park that it is now virtually inoperative as a structure for meaningful philosophical discussion. (And for that, Leibniz and Schopenhauer can be karmically consigned to meet each other again and again and again and again and again on the eternal-blind-date-from-hell, as far as I'm concerned.)
Instead, I want to look at what really works to do what it claims it wants to do.
I don't care if you call "expecting the worst": Pessimism, or a host of other names.
I don't care if you call "expecting the best": Optimism, or a host of other names.
I'm advocating expecting NOTHING, and instead, examining what we have-- what we actually ARE experiencing -- right now.
Sometimes we will realize that some of what we "have" sucks ass (an economic basis that relies on the abuse of workers and the destruction of the environment, high gas prices, mortgage crisis, tepid relationship, faithless friends etc.) -- but sometimes -- and perhaps many times, or even better -- most times -- we will realize that much of what we "have" not only does not suck ass, but is astounding and amazing (incredible choices about food, housing, clothing, friends, lovers -- computers that do incredible service for us and potentially, for the whole species -- actual possessions and relationships that enhance and expand us, etc., etc., etc.) .
This is not "Optimism" -- it's Realism.
Let's get Real.
Posted byPortlyDyke at 2:30 AM
Well now, THAT wasn't so bad, was it?
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Last Saturday morning, at 9:35 am, we had a little electrical "blip". It was very short -- resulting in a power outage of, maybe, 20 seconds. People all over town reported that they experienced it as well, and there was no storm in the area, so I assume it was some sort of systemic problem.
When the microwave started flashing 12:00, and I heard my UPS screech out its warning beep, I wasn't too worried -- we had lost power for much longer, and the UPS/surge suppressor had preserved my computer just as it ought.
But then . . . .
When I went to start up my computer (which shouldn't have shut down, according to my UPS manual), I got this weird error message . . . . a message that I didn't recognize and which . . . didn't look good.
I fiddled about a bit with my usual emergency measures, but nothing . . . . nada . . . . zilch. So I called the motherboard manufacturer (as the error had to do with my mobo being able to find my hard-drive, and it wouldn't allow me to get into setup to reconfigure).
Several hours (and calls) later, I had removed and replaced RAM sticks, flashed the BIOS, etc., etc., etc. -- and the tech on the phone finally admitted to me that he was pretty sure the mobo was toast.
BIG bummer. I had built this puppy with my own two hands, exactly one year and 21 days earlier. Which meant that the one year warranty from the reseller had expired 21 days ago, and while I had a 3 year warranty from the manufacturer, their RMA process is 10 - 30 days (after they receive the faulty part).
I wept, both quietly and not-so-quietly, at several junctures during this process.
I had choices, but all of them stunk. Go out and buy a new mobo (if I could find one -- turns out the local computer store doesn't stock them, and this means a 45 minute drive to a computer store that might -- I said might -- have one), then send in the mobo for RMA and wait 10 - 30 days. I could always ebay the replacement mobo once I got my really expensive, really good mobo back, I guess. Being out of computer contact for 30 days was out of the question, as much of my work is done via computer. Not to mention that the withdrawal period for the blog-reading/commenting/writing addiction was unimaginable at that moment.
As an aside, one of the few disadvantages of living in a picturesque little tourist town which has passed ordinances to keep "Big Box" stores out of the area is that . . . . there are no "Big Box" stores in the area.
I did the last-ditch test recommended by the mobo manufacturer and went and bought an entirely new stick of RAM (which the local store did have) and tried the computer. Nothing.
It's Saturday morning.
I can't even begin the RMA process on the mobo until Monday.
All of my most critical information is stuck inside a computer that I can't start, because I'm so smart and all and put the information inside it, on the two reliable and expensive and humungous hard drives about which I thought -- "Oh ho ho, so smart am I! I will have them back each other up!" -- forgetting that none of the other "back-up" computers that I own can read those particular SATA drives.
I wept again.
Then I began limping along on a ten-year old laptop with a teensy-tiny screen to attempt to research whether I could somehow access the hard-drives with an adaptor, or throw them into an external case while I waited for my mobo (or my purchase of a new mobo).
I had forgotten just how slooooow this laptop was, and had forgotten that web-designers have long since stopped worrying about people with slow connections and tiny screens and don't give a flying fuck if you have to scroll a million miles to see an eighth of the screen with all the vital fucking information that you need in an emergency.
At that moment, I was IM'd by a person I know in town who is also a computer repair and tech trainer. I asked if they had such a magical device as the one I was researching, and it turned out they did. I drove to their house and picked it up.
When I returned and plugged the drives in to back them up to an external, one of the drives didn't work, and the techie, IMing me again to check in on how I was doing (just because she's as much of a curious computer geek as I am), mentioned that the error I had gotten might have been a bad drive, not a fried mobo -- and suggested that I put the drive that WAS working back in and see if I got the same error. And I didn't. And I began to breath a bit easier.
Turns out, after all that, it was one zapped drive -- not both -- just one. Phew. Breathe. Weep some more.
Problem was - the backup drive didn't contain the system -- but no prob -- I had a backup of the system. Yes, I would be installing some shit, but my data, for the most part, was still there. After harsh experience, I'm a bit of a back-up nut, but that doesn't mean that I'm always completely smart about it, or that bad things can't happen during a restore. So, I dutifully backed everything up again (slowly, via the limping laptop), and went to bed late Saturday night, ready to awaken on Sunday and make the 90 minute round-trip drive to buy myself a new drive (if they had them, which I would call first thing on Sun. morn to find out).
I have left out something about this day: In the middle of the whole fiasco (post mobo-death pronouncement and pre techie-savior help), I had a full on Fit of Pique.
"Why had this happened!?!?! I had all the protection I was supposed to have! I did all the right things!! Why me!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!"
I don't whine very often. However, I can state for the record that I did whine. Loudly. Longly.
I whined while my beloved gently uttered things like: "Well, if you ascribe to the theory that you create your reality, what do you think this might be telling you?"
At which I whinged even more pathetically, and vociferously denied that there could be any meaningful spiritual aspect to a completely bizarre and unwarranted power failure mixed with a failed Uninterruptable Power Supply. In the midst of this, I even managed to spew some completely disconnected bile about a human being that I was already mad at (which, strangely, seemed to help).
At any rate, next day, during the "church hour", I called the heathen-ridden, open-on-Sunday computer store which is 45 minutes away and inquired about hard drives. Which they said they had.
The beloved and I piled into the vehicle for an unaccustomed adventure (as you may know, I filled my gas tank last December or so -- we don't drive much these days). We had a good chat about my melt-down of the previous day, and creating our own realities and such, and I got my drive(s). Home again, home again, jiggety jig.
Where I discovered that the store-clerk had given me the wrong type of drives. So I called them and got a bit bitchy and asked them to check if they had the "right" drives, and if so, would the person on the phone personally go to their stock room and get two of them, and assure me, upon pain of death, that they had the right type of drives in their hot little hands, in which case I would drive over AGAIN and pick them up.
Which I did. This time, solo. Giving me further time to reflect.
The store-owner knocked some dough off the price for my trouble, and I actually got bigger and better drives than I might have. Home again, home again, jiggety jog.
Where I began restoring and installing and restoring and installing and remembering that there are a million little tweaks that you made to the system which you will never remember you made . . . . until they aren't tweaked anymore.
And I backed the whole fucking thing up, matched perfectly, to the second new drive, system included. The whole fucking thing this time, and an external back up, just to be certain sure.
So, here are the miracles and spiritual developments that I got out of a 20-second power blip and a failed hard drive:
1) The computer tech and I used to be close friends. We've had a civil but cautious relationship in the last couple of years after an unresolved conflict, and I would probably not have had contact with her if we had not just recently reconnected over the story of a mutual acquaintance who was undergoing some difficulties. She IM'd me the day before my computer crisis, and had she not, would probably have not IM'd me the day of the crisis itself. If she had not IM'd me, I would not have contacted her to ask her a business/computer question on a weekend. In the course of our communications about the computer, we ended up having a long conversation about the unresolved conflict that we had and the ongoing dynamics of our relationship as friends that I feel certain we would not have had otherwise. We both stated that we were glad that we were talking about it.
2) The bile I spewed about the person who I was "mad at" (but who was completely unconnected with the computer situation) might never have come to my attention -- or, at the very least, would have come up later -- and I got some very good insights about my own personal triggers and patterns by watching myself transfer my frustration about the computer onto this person.
3) I did actually come to my senses and listen to my beloved, and began looking at the "metaphoric" aspects of the computer situation: a) a seemingly random event which bypasses my usual forms of "protection" creates a situation in which I cannot access the information that I have stored, b) turns out that the access problem is NOT the fault of my "central processor", but is, in fact, a difficulty in the actual place I've stored the information -- it's not like it's "forgotten" -- I'm just not getting to it, and c) the situation makes it necessary for me to look elsewhere for solutions -- in places I might not normally have looked, and specifically, to access resources that I've had in the past (the laptop, the erstwhile friend, etc.), but that I haven't been using.
All of which is helping me to resolve this situation about the person I'm "mad at".
Well now, that wasn't so bad, was it?
Posted byPortlyDyke at 1:56 AM
Blog Vacation for Real
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Dear Readers -- Today, I had a motherboard meltdown. I'm blogging this from a "spare" computer that is balky, and it will probably be several days before my mobo is replaced, so there may be radio silence from the Portly Dyke until at least mid-week.
Visualize swift recovery for Charlie -- the computer of my dreams.
Posted byPortlyDyke at 3:35 PM
Thursday, March 13, 2008
I've been writing a lot recently about men and women and feminism and misogyny and sexism. So . . . . .
Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:50 PM
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Posted byPortlyDyke at 2:01 AM
It Is Truly A Sad, Sad Day
Monday, March 10, 2008
I give you the season finale of "Mr. Deity". No word yet whether Sony and Crackle will be signing the Big Guy for a third season.
Don't miss the interview with Mr. Deity at Moving Targets blog.
Posted byPortlyDyke at 9:45 PM
I'll Do It
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Recently, I wrote a post about one of the ways I think men are damaged by sexism and misogyny. I was surprised at the number of feminist women (I think they were all women, but I may be wrong about that) who assumed that I was somehow asking them to take responsibility for the healing of this damage, or that I had somehow implied that this damage was the fault of feminism. I read and reread my post to see if/where I might have even slightly intimated such a thing, and I honestly couldn't find it.
I understand feminist women's anger at the patriarchal system, and at men (and women) who participate in sexism and misogyny. I understand their fatigue and impatience in the seemingly glacial movement toward change (teaspoon by teaspoon), and I understand why they feel like they're the only ones doing anything about it.
I understand it because I've been there, with my own anger, and fatigue, and impatience, and loneliness, and feelings of futility.
At one point in my life, I lived on lesbian separatist land for three years -- land where men were literally not allowed to set foot on the property without the full advance consensus of every woman living there -- because I needed a complete respite from the rigors of life as a woman in patriarchal society (or as much of a respite as I could possibly get). I believe that this retreat into women-only space was also a very necessary part of my healing process as a survivor of severe abuse.
I don't want any woman whose level of exhaustion with (or simple personal choice not to engage in) the "education of men about feminism" to engage in that activity.
I fully agree that it's not any woman's responsibility to educate men (or even other women) about sexism and misogyny, just as it's not a person of color's responsibility to educate white people about racism.
But . . . I'll do it.
I'll do it, not because it's my responsibility, but because it's my choice.
I'll do it because I believe that no human being is "born" sexist, misogynist, racist, classist, or homophobic. They are born into societies that are sexist, misogynist, racist, classist, and homophobic, and they are systematically trained to accept these systems , even though these systems are not truly natural to them.
I'll do it because I know that I didn't spring full-blown from the brow of the Goddess Diana as a Paragon of Feminism one day. I spent years un-learning a lifetime of conditioning toward self-hatred, self-devaluation, and gender-role entrainment. I had to awaken from the stupor that allowed me to miss subtle (and even grossly overt) misogyny in language and interaction, advertising, and the culture in general.
I'll do it because I realize that I am still doing this -- still unlearning -- still awakening, and I need other people to help give me new eyes and ears to help me see and hear what I've missed because I was born into a culture so saturated with sexism and misogyny that the forest is obscured among the trees.
I'll do it because I know that seeing the problem in the forest is even more difficult when you're not one of the trees that is slated for the saw-mill -- because without the help of friends and associates who are people of color, I would probably not have begun to lift the few teaspoons that I have in examining my own racism and white privilege -- without the help of friends and associates who are transsexual, I would probably not have been able to begin to etch away at the boulder of transphobia that is in me.
I'll do it because it wasn't their responsibility to educate me -- but they did. They bothered with me -- they held me as capable of change -- and I have profound gratitude that they took their time and energy to do so, and that they continue to invest that time and energy to do so -- and if, one day, they choose to stop, and tell me that they are exhausted and need a break from hanging out with my privileged, slow-learning, white/cisgendered ass, I will respect that completely, and my gratitude will not be diminished.
I'll do it, not because I think it's the "right" thing to do, not because I think that men are incapable of getting educated without me, not because anyone "needs" me to do it, or because I think I'll get some "Really Good Person" award (in my head or from someone else) -- in fact, I'll do it even if other people think I'm being a "really bad person" for doing it.
I'll do it because it's the only thing that makes sense to me right now, from my current life perspective and understanding of how things work (or at least, how they have worked for me) -- and I'll do it as long as I think that it's a logical, rational avenue of action -- as long as I see benefit in it, and I don't think of it, or feel it, as a burden.
I'll do it because I want to.
Posted byPortlyDyke at 10:40 PM
Robbing the Hearts of Men
Friday, March 7, 2008
It's long been my view that sexism and misogyny do every bit as much damage to men as to women.
Before you go all Outraged-Feminist on my ass -- read on, please.
I believe that the very things that men complain about -- needing to be "the strong one", "the provider", the "bread-winner" -- are a direct result of sexism and misogyny which attempts to cast human beings in rigid gender-based roles from which they believe they cannot escape.
I believe that the very things that men complain about -- feeling under- or un-appreciated, misunderstood, or unseen -- are compounded by the fact that the gender-based role of the guy is to be "strong and silent" -- to "suck it up and be a man" -- because, if he's doing that, how the fuck are we supposed to know what's going on inside him?
Yes, I believe that men have "privilege" over women -- no matter what their stratum on the great pyramid of oppression -- poor men generally still possess privilege more than poor women, black men generally still possess privilege more than black women, etc. (and yes, I know there are exceptions, but I am consciously choosing to speak in cultural generalities -- So sue me!).
However, I think that, at the level of basic existence as a human being, any privilege obtained by being male in this culture is probably cold comfort when you consider the real toll that sexism and misogyny take on those who identify as, or are considered Man/Male/Men/Males.
Here's one of the ways that I believe this toll is taken:
In our society (at least), the following traits are considered primarily "female/womanly":
Tender, Emotional, Vulnerable, Receptive, Passive, Compassionate.
(OK -- you can argue with me about this if you want, but I challenge you to ask 10 people who you know to listen to these words read aloud -- without prepping them beforehand about the context of your query -- and ask them to assign the words as either Male or Female. I'm not saying that this is "what is so" about men and women, I'm saying that this is the overwhelmingly common cultural perception/expectation.)
This is where the toll is paid:
If you are living in a misogynist, sexist society where privilege is awarded automatically by virtue of manliness/maleness or perceived manliness/maleness, and therefore, being womanly/female is an undesirable (if not despicable) position, then you are going to work hard to avoid the culturally-acceptable traits of womanliness.
This, I believe, is one of the tragedies of sexism for men in our culture -- the abrogation of their right to "have a heart" -- a full-range emotional body.
Men feel -- because they're human. They experience moments of tenderness, and vulnerability, and emotion (yes, emotions other than rage) -- as well as moments of compassion, and receptivity, and passivity.
The problem is: They can't express that without looking like a woman. Which, in a sexist, misogynist society, would be a bad thing. A thing that loses you jobs, and gets you called "pussy", and "mangina", and subjects you to suggestions that you "sit to pee" -- which would all be BAD, because being anything like a woman/female human is BAD.
Bad and wrong.
This is one of the tolls of sexism and misogyny for men -- they are robbed of their hearts.
Which to me, is tragic.
My father is 81 now, and 17 years ago, just after his retirement, I went with him and my mom to see the movie "The Doctor". The theater was crowded, so I sat in a seat in the row directly in front of my mom and dad, and during the film, I heard this distinct sniffling behind me, and assumed it was my mom. As we left the theater, I noticed my dad's eyes were all swollen and puffy.
I said: "Were you the one who was crying?"
He replied: "Yeah. I don't know what it is. Ever since I retired, I just cry at almost anything . . . . . . . . It's kind of a relief."
I was curious about this. I understood that there was probably a very basic shift from needing to wear the "mask" (required of both men and women) in the work environment (being "businesslike" or "professional"=not showing emotion) -- but I suspected that there was something more.
Since one of the prime stereotypes of what it is to "be a man" in this society is that you are valued for the profession that you have, and the work you produce, it seems to me that my father's retirement from his profession was also, in some way, a resignation from some need to adhere to an entire range of stringent cultural expectations of maleness.
His softening has continued through the last 17 years, and he and I had a particularly sweet moment where we were both blubbing away together at a Little House on the Prairie re-run during a visit. Friends have reported similar "softening" in their elderly fathers.
Think about this the next time you hear someone say the words: "Be a man!"
Actually look at the situation in which this comes up, and think about what is being demanded. In my experience, it usually means: Shut up about your feelings. Grit your teeth and bear your pain and don't let anyone know you're feeling it. Don't show it on your face, don't talk about it, square your shoulders and your jaw and carry on like everything's OK -- hide it however you can.
That, to me, is unbearably sad.
Little boys who cry are "sissies" (aka -- "girl-like").
This wouldn't, and couldn't, be a problem if being a woman, or being like a woman, wasn't a very bad thing -- and training a human being to devalue someone else on a basis that truly, logically makes no sense at all (women by virtue of their physical anatomy, people of color by virtue of their skin color, queer people by virtue of their choice of who to have sex with) requires deep and continuous programming.
Boys cry. They cry from the moment they are born. If they didn't cry as infants, you'd worry about this.
The indoctrination required to train a human being out of one of the deepest human responses (emotionality) is a staggering task when you really think about it -- yet it is done, systematically and thoroughly -- male children are taught to control and suppress any emotion which falls outside the acceptable stereotypical range for "real men" from very early on -- and I believe that it is these stifled emotions in men which so often erupt in the only emotion that is consider "gender-appropriate" -- anger.
After all -- if you'd been denied the right to express the rest of the human emotional range (sad, bad, scared, etc.), don't you think you'd be a bit pissed off, too?
My male friends have reported, in moments of vulnerability, how intense the pressure to "be a man" can be -- how difficult it is for them to cry in front of other men (or in front of anyone) -- how much they fear being perceived as "weak" or passive. A straight, male friend went out last Halloween in drag, and reported that he felt unsafe the entire time he was in public -- because he was a virtual woman for the night.
Personally, I think that in a misogynist culture, one of the only things you can do that is worse than actually being a woman is to be/become a woman, or be/become like a woman. I believe that this is the reason that "sissies" are so often brutally targeted on the playground, and effeminate gay men and drag queens and jail-house punks are traditionally beaten severely and killed in hideous ways -- they have betrayed the privilege of maleness by daring to exhibit behaviors that make them like women.
(Similar punishment is doled out for women who dare to aspire to "manliness" -- think "Boys Don't Cry" -- but that's a different post entirely.)
Of all the ways that sexism and misogyny harm men, I honestly believe that this is the worst -- that men are expected by society to give up these crucial parts of their humanity -- their ability to connect with other human beings emotionally, to express their vulnerability and tenderness without being mocked, and to associate fully with their authentic selves.
This post was inspired by an email exchange that I had with a friend, in which we discussed recent flare-ups of what we both see as sexism and misogyny among men who we consider to be allies, and whether it was really possible for a man in our culture to fully embrace feminism. I found myself typing this:
"I believe that it is possible, but that it's difficult in the way that really deeply ingrained shit is difficult -- like healing from trauma.As much as I want my sisters to be able to walk the world in safety, with their full range of self honored and recognized, and their horizons broad and unhindered by misogyny, so, too, I want my brothers to be be able to walk the world in safety, with their full range of self honored and recognized, and their hearts wide open to the world, unhindered by misogyny.
In fact, I do think that men in our society are traumatized by sexism and misogyny -- they just haven't felt the wound yet, like someone who is dissociated -- and they're terrified of feeling it."
Posted byPortlyDyke at 10:31 PM
H/T to Madness in Women
Posted byPortlyDyke at 4:21 PM
Have I Ever Told You . . . .
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
. . . . how much I love Joy Nash (creator of the "Fat Rant" on youtube)?
Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:24 PM
Monday, March 3, 2008
I don't get a lot of hostile commenters at this blog -- it's small and insignificant (except to me and a handful of readers) -- but at other blogs I frequent as a reader and commenter, I often see insults and invective tossed around.
Hell, I've been known to get in a zinger or two myself, if the asshattedness gets overt enough.
One of the things that amuses me, though, is when someone has attempted to "insult" me by writing things like "You're just a fat lesbo who couldn't get a man if she tried!", or has attempted a frontal assault on a fat-acceptance blog by spouting something like: "You obese cow!", or sallied forth to decimate a progressive feminist blog by screeching "You're all a bunch of man-hating dykes!"
Honestly -- these people need new writers.
Here's the thing about "traditional" insults -- a) they stop having much power after you've heard them a million times (usually from the mouths of people whose ideas about other things seem so wrong-headed that you think: "They don't approve of me . . . . I must be doing something right!"), and b) when people use something that you've already clearly and unashamedly owned, it really isn't much of an insult (ie: "You're just a fat lesbo . . . " -- Hmmm, Let's see -- Portly . . . . Check! -- Dyke . . . . . Check! -- leaving me simply with the desire to type: "Glad you noticed my handle. You get an 'A' for reading comprehension.")
So, tonight, I got to thinking about what someone actually might say to me that I would honestly feel "zinged" by --- and I discovered that there's not much left. I know I'm a roly-poly little pervert, and I not only don't mind that -- I actually like it.
Sure, it's inconvenient being queer sometimes (you know, civil rights, physical safety, and all that bother), but I stopped whining and started working on resolving that crap long ago (moving out of Kansas was a good start), and I'm now at an age where if someone decides they don't like me because I am fat, or queer, -- well -- they just aren't people who I will choose to waste much, if any, of my time on.
Hence, "fat fucking lesbo" doesn't even raise my chin-whiskers anymore.
Someone could accuse me of being stubborn, or relentless, or of monopolizing a conversation -- they could attempt to zing me with comments about how I vacillate, or how I often don't follow through on things that I say I'll do (mumblemumblemumblerepeatedpromisestoblogdaily, coughcough-putting labels on all my posts). They could even go for the soft tissue and accuse me of being a mental case.
But see, they'd be right. So, how would that be an insult?
I suppose they could say something to the effect that, as a queer, I'm worthless, bad, and need to be eradicated from the face of the Earth -- but if they said something like that, they'd just be wrong -- so how would that be an insult?
I think that, in order for an insult to truly "take", it has to be something that simultaneously possesses a seed of truth, and it has to be something that you don't want to own.
If someone wants to call me a loud-mouthed, opinionated know-it-all, and my response is "Yeah, tell me something I don't know,"-- the energy of the intended insult is simply absorbed and that energy then belongs to me. To do with as I please.
My beloved has a phrase for this: Spiritual Aikido.
So as I was cogitating on all this, and wondering what little disowned aspects I might have that could still get me all up and sputtering if they were thrown at me, I got to wondering about trolls and the like, and how they take the insults that are thrown at them -- do they feel wounded or upset by what people say to them? Or do they already know that they are acting like assholes? Just a thought.
I know that coming to a greater knowledge and understanding of myself -- forthrightly facing and owning things that I used to think of as "flaws" in myself (which I now think of as simply "qualities"), has rendered me pretty much insult-proof. I no longer have many heroic images of myself, but I also don't have a big pedestal to get hurled off of.
So, here's a bit of Portly advice for you, if you want it -- next time someone "insults" you, and it upsets you, look for that seed of truth, and how you may want to distance yourself from it -- then either step up and proudly own it -- or, if it's hogwash, leave the speaker to cleanse a pig with it.
I think that this whole line of thought started when I saw the following video clip (again, it's Crackle -- be sure to pause it if you don't want to watch the unending comedy line-up of inconsistent quality that follows the first video) -- this clip was notable to me in that it contains not only the rarity of a woman stand-up, but a woman stand-up of menopausal character.
Notice, however, what "Mrs. Hughes" does with the very first line of her set -- she makes a joke that lets the audience know that she knows she's fat by cultural standards -- thus (I believe) derailing a whole set of possible hecklers. She proceeds to her second line and also lets the audience know that she knows she's "old" by cultural standards.
Having done comedy myself, I recognize the efficacy of this -- I started all my sets (especially if I was playing in a venue that was not primarily LGBT, with a forthright identification of myself as queer -- in a funny way -- for the same reason).
Here's to Mrs. Hughes and becoming "insult-proof".
Posted byPortlyDyke at 10:08 PM
A Little Saturday Night Comedy
Saturday, March 1, 2008
In the interest of combating sex-phobia, here's a tidbit -- (Disclaimer: I don't vouch for any of the rest of the "comedy" in Crackle's queue, and some of it was AWFUL, so you probably want to hit pause unless you're adventurous -- or bored -- or both).
Posted byPortlyDyke at 4:33 PM