Archive for May, 2013

Mickey Smith (Dr Who) helps Sherlock Take On Starfleet… And it’s just wrong…

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

I’ve been rather disappointed by recent movies in my favorite genre(s). I’m a Sci Fi and Fantasy fan. I like superhero movies and comics, games and RPGs (more Cyberpunk than D&D) and MTG. They’ve always been dominated by the cisgendered, straight, white and male crowd. I’ve been used to that. But, I’ve also been inspired – not only by how SF&F has been used to call out the worst bits of our society (X-Men), but also by the desire of people to make a change and to start making art that more accurately represents our very diverse world. I’m in the works of writing up my Norwescon experiences separately already, so I’ll leave that one at that.

Back to the recent movies — Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness, and the upcoming Lone Ranger. Please note that I’m not even addressing the gaping plot holes and missing pieces and the like.

Let’s go chronologically and start with Iron Man 3 (IM3). This was very much a mixed movie for me. We start out with one of my favorite actors – Sir Ben Kingsley. I adore him as an actor. He’s gone from Ghandi to Sweeny Todd. He’s talented and wonderful. He did make the character that he was given in IM3 richer. However, the storyline took a person of color (POC – a Chinese POC at that) character with a full background and turned him into a different race POC character who was a front for the now-able bodied, cisgendered, genius, white male character. Despite other issues, I did like super-Pepper stepping up and saving the day and lives including that of Tony Stark. I call this one a bit of wash, but overall on the “Meh” side.

Star Trek: Into Darkness (STID) really gets into the race-bending issues. It started out with me being a bit on the fascinated side as it mashed together actors from such a wide variety of fandom (hence, the title of this post). But, then, there was Khan Noonien Singh who is genetically engineered to be the best that human genetics has to offer. In both the TV episode that introduced the character and the first movie with this character, Khan was played by Mexican actor Ricardo Montalban. Now, ostensibly, Khan was a Sikh Indian. But, considering the time (1967), it was still a big deal to have major characters played by actual POCs. In STID, there was great character development of Khan and I thought Benedict Cumberbatch was great in the role. But, the fact that Khan is genetically engineered made the white-washing of the character even more egregious. I know that Kal Penn has been busy working for the White House. But, I think he might’ve made a great Khan with a similar mashup issue (Mickey helps Kumar fight against Harold and Starfleet).

Now, for the Lone Ranger. Now, I have to say this is, as yet, unreleased. So, this a pre-viewing set of statements. I’ve heard a lot of concern about the white-washing of Tonto. However, I have to give some credit to the casting. Tonto was not quite white-washed. Johnny Depp, while seemingly predominantly white and ostensibly a rather small part Native American, does not fully pass as being white and he at least had the good sense to consult Comanche tribal members on his role. Still, not good. But, it just goes to show that the idea that we Indians are not good enough to play ourselves when it comes to major roles is still alive and kickin’. We’re OK as “background” Indians, though. This seems to have become a common enough theme (think Twilight). Why not someone like Adam Beach or if you wanted someone who might “pass” better – Tahmoh Penikett? Actually, I think Tahmoh passes better for white than Johnny. Maybe Tahmoh should’ve been the Lone Ranger? That would’ve been fun!

Nonetheless, I have been disappointed of late with my favorite genre(s) – particularly given that it’s 2013 and not 1983 or 1993.

Don’t Treat All Men Like Rapists

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

I keep hearing this refrain that it isn’t fair or right when women treat all men as though they are rapists. On the surface, I agree. It’s not right and it sucks. At the same time, as a woman, I’m constantly admonished to protect myself. I have also been raped and gone through the process of reporting and dealing with all that entails. So, I try to take “reasonable measures” to not end up in that situation again. I’ve spent some time noodling about this as these two things don’t mesh.

Ultimately, I’ve come to the conclusion that if men don’t want to be treated like rapists, then they (in addition to everyone else) need to start working on changing the way that our world treats rape and victims of rape. What was the first thing that happened to me when reporting my rape? I was asked whether or not I said no. Then, how forcefully I said no. Then, how was I dressed. Did I yell out loudly? Did I scream? Did I cry? Then, what precautions did I take?

This wasn’t just from the police. But, also the prosecuting attorney. In order to be able to successfully prosecute, I needed to have very vocally protested and yelled loudly. I needed to have humiliated myself by yelling enough for friends to come barging into the room where I was nude and being raped. I needed to have physically fought off the rapist who was larger than I was and could hurt me. I needed to have been damaged during the rape — bruises, cuts, etc. I needed to not have been dressed provocatively. The list goes on and on. Then, after that, it came from friends and relatives and those who were worried that I might “destroy” someone’s life with my accusation.

We consistently tell rape victims that they *must* take some very specific and also some very nebulous precautions — or we will NOT get JUSTICE. Because if we didn’t take those precautions, we somehow “deserved what we got” and our justice system and peers of a jury won’t stand behind someone who didn’t take necessary “precautions.”

To me the combination of the jury system and the way that our media reports rape and the resulting reported opinions of rape — are the damning nails that go to prove that in America, we live in a culture that downplays rape and likes to blame the victim. Trials don’t focus on what the rapist did. They focus on what the victim did and whether or not they used “common-sense” precautions and whether or not they reacted and acted “appropriately.” This determines whether or not the victim’s “assertions” are “worthy” of being called rape. Your past history of consensual sex can be taken into consideration of whether or not you’re really likely to have said no this time. Apparently, according to our culture, girls who’ve said yes too many times aren’t likely to have said no at any point.

Then, if you start looking into local responses to proven rape charges, the jokes that get told, the gag orders placed on victims, and the prevalence of under-reporting — the idea that we, as a culture, are permissive of rape becomes more stark. Unlike, many articles, I won’t say that rapists are evil and deserve death. But, I do think that rape victims do deserve justice, protection, and having their rapists at least prosecuted more often and not having to deal with attacks on their character that belittle the fact that they were raped. The very idea that it’s legitimate in our politics, media, and personal lives to draw a distinction between “legitimate” rape, “forcible” rape, and all of other ugly terms just furthers the injustice and humiliation of so many rape survivors.

It’s far easier for many people to find a way to blame the victim rather than to accept that a person that you know or look up to is a rapist. We put so much baggage on that term that it’s become a hot button that ends up with many people turning a blind eye because it’s harder to look at it than it is to pretend that it doesn’t exist. Now, don’t get me wrong — this has improved over my lifetime, but we still have a long way to go.

So, at this point, in order to protect our legal rights and to have even a hope of getting justice — we must treat all men like rapists. Otherwise, we’re not being careful enough and we get what we deserve. If we don’t withhold sex enough and if we aren’t prudish enough — we’re sluts who get what we deserve. And all of the other derogatory statements aimed at shifting the blame. And after all of that, we also now have no sexual purity and no worth as future mothers and wives. As many abstinence only programs like to teach — we’re a chewed up piece of gum and no one wants a piece of used gum.

Non-Ownership Paradigm

Monday, May 6th, 2013

I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the concept of ownership of people with in our society and then, subsequently, pondering ownership within my own relationships. I started out my journey by preferring to have very specific rules about my partner’s behaviors while in a relationship with me. I was the rigid person who felt that any form of cheating was a deal-breaker that would end the relationship. I thought that it made my relationships better and safer. I thought that it gave me more security.

But, rules don’t stop a cheater. It doesn’t actually stop the lying or problems or issues. It simply sets up a punishment system. This works better for governments than it does for personal relationships. For me, it was a false sense of security that lulled me into thinking that my relationships were healthier than they were. So, then, why do we all feel the need to have these rules? I truly believed that it was a way to ensure love and to gain security. But, I began to realize that I needed to have that sense of love and security from within myself rather than looking for it externally. It was about self-esteem and being happy with who I am and making better partnership choices from within that place. In the most basic sense, I needed to really own myself and my own happiness and to truly take ownership and control of my own life. Without that, I would never be happy with anyone.

A part of this was also recognizing my partner’s right to the same self-ownership and happiness. And, then, encouraging them to grow and become the person that they want to be rather than the person that I want them to be or think that they should. It was about truly loving someone for who they are and encouraging their growth and happiness. I realized that I don’t want a partner who is with me because they either feel that they have to be or that they don’t really have a choice. I want a partner who is fully engaged in being with me because they want to be there. I don’t want to coerce them or force them or use rules to corral them into the relationship or even into the right behavior. To me, that doesn’t seem very loving.

This can be hard to wrap your head around. But, all the rules in the world really won’t change what a person chooses to do. I do like to agree on one base rule – to try to act out of love and compassion.  But, we tend to forgo the books of detailed ‘rules’ and deal in boundaries and limits. Rules generally attempt to control the behavior of others while boundaries are what you set to help you meet your needs. We talk about those boundaries and limits. Sometimes, we may push those boundaries and limits. But – because we’ve talked about them, we (ideally) have clear ideas on what can be pushed and what will break the relationship and also what is expected in exchange for pushing those boundaries and where those deal-breakers lie.

It also brings up a heavy need for honesty and self-reflection to make sure that each person has the necessary knowledge to make educated decisions about their life. It also requires accepting that your partner is the best expert on themselves and their own needs and not second-guessing their decisions. It’s not my job to stop my partner from having a specific person in their life or taking a certain job or what have you. It is my job to give my opinion and to be honest about it and to help them make an informed decision. But ultimately, I really can’t make those decisions for them. It often brings about a very frank discussion of differences in personal needs and how to accommodate them.

It ends up becoming focused on informed consent, making your own choices and trying to allow time for decisions and consensus to happen.

Love and Compassion While Owning Your Own Shit

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

A friend pointed out to me that there’s a piece that far too often seems to missing in Poly discussions — the idea that compassion and love are key ingredients.

In many poly forums and communities, we talk a lot about owning your own shit. We can go on for days about taking responsibility for your actions and your own emotions and needs. Knowing to ask, talk and to be the driver of your own future and your state of being and happiness. We sometimes talk about things like the Eleanor Roosevelt quote — “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” We sometimes talk about how self-esteem and self-confidence can you help weather those pesky emotions like jealousy and envy. There are volumes of excellent, well-written work on these subjects.

I tend to work from what I call a non-ownership paradigm. Each person is free to make their own decisions. I try work from taking ownership of and controlling *my* piece of each interaction. This means that rather than a rule saying that you must tell me before you sleep with anyone else — my boundary is that I want to know before you sleep with me if you’ve slept with anyone else. It puts the obligation on where it really is — my choices about my body and my safety rather than focusing on trying to control someone else’s behavior.

“Owning your own shit” and non-ownership are great and dandy. But, they are nothing without compassion. They can be cold and heartless. They can be used to inflict great damage in the name of “You don’t own me” and “Your feelings are your own responsibility” and “I’m only responsible for me so, I’ll just do what I want regardless” and all the other lovely ways to abuse the notion. It’s easy to get this colder version as a take-away when you’re reading about these concepts. After all, it’s about being responsible for your own behavior and not taking away other people’s right to self-determination, right?

Nope. This partly comes about because we seem to assume that everyone knows and understands that this “Polyamory-thing” is about love. But, it turns out that we really need to call this out. And also the idea that even when it’s not about love – there should always be compassion. This is supposed to be about making our lives better and more workable for ourselves. And, an essential component in healthy relationships is compassion.

Most of the time, doing this seems to be about negotiating in good faith and taking your partner(s) into consideration and acting with compassion. When you start getting into metamours (your partner(s)’ other partner(s), this is just as important. Now, there are times when you just can’t make a relationship with a metamour work — they don’t want it and/or you just don’t want it. Even if you can’t wrap your head around the idea that your metamours are people who deserve compassion and respect as well — do it because you love your partner(s). You can still think about your partner(s) place in that relationship with compassion. Do it as an act of compassion and love for them.

Ultimately, for me, it really is about a variation of Wheaton’s Law – “Don’t be a dick.”