exactly that

Archive for the ‘random babble’ Category

On Mother’s Day

I am not the world’s most enthusiastic member of the Mum Club in that the concept of Mother’s Day grates on me horribly. It comes around every year and people begin falling all over themselves to “remember Mom”. Cards and flowers and perfume and brunches … it all comes out in droves. There are usually whispers of giving Mum the day off, because she works so hard and deserves it.

I don’t really hate any of those things, specifically. As a mum, I sort of enjoy people remembering and appreciating me and the work that I do, because it is a grossly underpaid industry. Any mum out there knows that there is quite a bit of work involved. Most mothers I know work the Second Shift. The amount of free time to herself is almost always balanced with the needs of everyone else in the household. For the most part, it’s a thankless job, and for a lot of mothers, it was one they chose enthusiastically (hint: I am not one of those).

The thing is, we don’t respect mothers. We don’t value them. We raise up and sing praise to what we think motherhood should be. We romanticize it to the point where actual motherhood — the jobs and sacrifices that come along with it — isn’t what we are celebrating. We are celebrating specific kind of motherhood. The idealized vision of the white, cis, straight, privileged, stay at home mum who is able to wile away her time making cupcakes and taking her kids to the park before she is home to have the roast on the table. The ideal mother we see is married to Mr. Breadwinner, and they all have the kind of faces that can be sold in picture frames.

Motherhood is this fantasy of white, class, straight, cis, able-bodied privilege. When women dare procreate outside of the norm we judge them. We chastise and point out all their flaws. One day a year we talk about how wonderful mothers are, yet we live in a world that refuses to give all of them the support they need to do the job we take for granted. We take away the choice to not become a mother if the woman feels she doesn’t have the tools she needs to bring a child into adulthood, but we damn her when she has to fill out those government forms for assistance. We tell women that they shouldn’t exist in public by insisting that the “civilised” world be protected from crying children, because motherhood is glorious so long as we don’t have to see the messy sides.

I am not opposed to Mother’s Day, not outright. We should be valuing and appreciating mothers. It’s not an easy job. It’s one I tear my hair out over daily (literally). It’s one that I worry constantly if I am doing right. It’s all-consuming. That, however, is the point. Motherhood doesn’t happen one day a year. The unpaid, undervalued, unappreciated work of mothers goes on even when we refuse to see it. You can’t balance that with a pink flowered card one day a year.

To truly celebrate Mother’s Day, we should be thinking of ways to make that job more acceptable in its reality every day of the year. We should be finding ways to take the burden off of the over-worked and underfunded. The mum who works two jobs to keep food on the table (the same one we demonize for choosing to make that food takeaway between shifts). The mother who has to stay home with her kids because daycare would cost the entirety of any wage she could earn. We should be working to remove the stigma of assistance, and finally, we should be fighting to make sure that motherhood is a choice that can be freely made only by those who really wish to become one. Becoming a mother is too savage and life-altering to be entered any way but of your own free will, and yet we can’t seem to grasp that. We can’t seem to agree that the best way to respect mothers is to make sure they were willing to become them in the first place.

Love your mothers (if they are deserving of your love). Send them gifts and call them and tell them how much they mean to you, but I hope you are doing that more than one day a year. At the same time, though, honor your mother by examining the world we live in and looking for ways to make it better. For all mothers, irrespective of gender, race, class, ability, or other privilege.

Originally Posted on Tumblr

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On Feelings

I can’t help but wonder why people go to so much trouble to apologize for feelings. I see and hear, again and again, people who are dealing with something emotionally who feel they have to say “sorry, I am just ____”. It’s such a bizarre thing to me, even though I am a chronic apologiser and guilty of this very thing myself.

It’s no mystery to me why we feel this way. Little surprises me any more, whether that makes me jaded or simply of a clear mind, I am not sure.

From a young age we program children as a society. We give them, whether conscious or not, cues as to what is and is not acceptable. We tell them what to like and how to behave and even how to feel. We project that girls should act one way, and boys another, and presume that all of life fits neatly into those little packages.

Life is far more complex than that.

One thing that seems to span, no matter what, is the idea of “good” and “bad” feelings and who is allowed to feel them. As they grow older, girls and women and female identifying people in general, are chastised for their more aggressive emotions. We are taught that being angry is unjust and means that people don’t need to listen to us. Our tears, while presumed because of our gender identity, are a weakness and at times merely manipulative tools. When we are sad or angry or frustrated, I see time and again flocks of people ready to tell us “oh, don’t feel that way” or “you shouldn’t be so angry”.

Balderdash.

At the same time, boys, men, and male-identifying persons are taught that they are allowed to or are even supposed to react to life with anger and aggressive emotions. It’s not until they show vulnerability or even dein to shed tears that they are ridiculed and considered weak. They are called whingers and whiners.

Hogwash.

The thing is, emotions make us who we are. The world around us insists that it doesn’t have to receive or accept anyone who is outside a very narrow definition of normality, and can be hostile to anyone who deviates from that. For people living on various axis of oppression, life can be especially enraging or depressing. It is only natural that we react to that hostility with feelings and emotions. It is part of being human.

Peeps, all of you, never apologize for your feelings (unless you really want to). I so dearly wish that no one out there ever had to say “I am sorry that I am sad and rambling” or “I am sorry but this just pisses me off”. Your feelings, your emotions are not hurting me or anyone else. You have a right to your feelings. You have a right to the way you perceive and view and react to the world around you. No one should shame you for having feelings. We all have them.

What does hurt people is what we do with those feelings. That is the point where we need to gauge ourselves and decide whether our reactions are going to help or hurt. Expressing your feelings, telling someone how you feel and why isn’t a hurtful act. It isn’t harming anyone. If you use those emotions to do harm, that is a different story. Simply putting voice to how you feel, how life has made you in this moment? That isn’t harming me or anyone.

Sometimes the best thing a person can do for themselves is to simply say “I am hurting” or “I am sad” or “I am angry”. Sometimes, just knowing that someone will listen and validate your feelings, or even just let you express them safely is all you need to work through them.

You have a right to your feelings.

Peeps. I am here for you. I care about your feelings. I validate your anger or rage or frustration or grief or helplessness. I have an Ask box and email and if you really need to engage or need help, I am happy to connect via chat. Never ever worry that your feelings are unjustified in my presence. I may not always agree with the reasons, but they are not my feelings to agree with. If you need to express them, I am willing to let you if it means that you can possibly heal. This even includes (I would hope that it especially includes) if I have somehow caused those feelings. Personally, I would rather know if I have harmed someone and try to work it out than to wonder why it is that a person would rather not speak to me any longer. You can’t fix a thing if you don’t know it is broken, and I value my friends enough to hear them out. I don’t hold back expressing mine.

You have a right to your feelings. Always, always know that.

I love you all.

Originally posted on my Tumblr.

On Feelings

(Forgive me, Peeps. It’s been more than a while. I’m getting the itch again.)

I can’t help but wonder why people go to so much trouble to apologize for feelings. I see and hear, again and again, people who are dealing with something emotionally who feel they have to say “sorry, I am just ____”. It’s such a bizarre thing to me, even though I am a chronic apologiser and guilty of this very thing myself.

It’s no mystery to me why we feel this way. Little surprises me any more, whether that makes me jaded or simply of a clear mind, I am not sure.

From a young age we program children as a society. We give them, whether conscious or not, cues as to what is and is not acceptable. We tell them what to like and how to behave and even how to feel. We project that girls should act one way, and boys another, and presume that all of life fits neatly into those little packages.

Life is far more complex than that.

One thing that seems to span, no matter what, is the idea of “good” and “bad” feelings and who is allowed to feel them. As they grow older, girls and women and female identifying people in general, are chastised for their more aggressive emotions. We are taught that being angry is unjust and means that people don’t need to listen to us. Our tears, while presumed because of our gender identity, are a weakness and at times merely manipulative tools. When we are sad or angry or frustrated, I see time and again flocks of people ready to tell us “oh, don’t feel that way” or “you shouldn’t be so angry”.

Balderdash.

At the same time, boys, men, and male-identifying persons are taught that they are allowed to or are even supposed to react to life with anger and aggressive emotions. It’s not until they show vulnerability or even dein to shed tears that they are ridiculed and considered weak. They are called whingers and whiners. 

Hogwash.

The thing is, emotions make us who we are. The world around us insists that it doesn’t have to receive or accept anyone who is outside a very narrow definition of normality, and can be hostile to anyone who deviates from that. For people living on various axis of oppression, life can be especially enraging or depressing. It is only natural that we react to that hostility with feelings and emotions. It is part of being human.

Peeps, all of you, never apologize for your feelings (unless you really want to). I so dearly wish that no one out there ever had to say “I am sorry that I am sad and rambling” or “I am sorry but this just pisses me off”. Your feelings, your emotions are not hurting me or anyone else. You have a right to your feelings. You have a right to the way you perceive and view and react to the world around you. No one should shame you for having feelings. We all have them.

What does hurt people is what we do with those feelings. That is the point where we need to gauge ourselves and decide whether our reactions are going to help or hurt. Expressing your feelings, telling someone how you feel and why isn’t a hurtful act. It isn’t harming anyone. If you use those emotions to do harm, that is a different story. Simply putting voice to how you feel, how life has made you in this moment? That isn’t harming me or anyone.

Sometimes the best thing a person can do for themselves is to simply say “I am hurting” or “I am sad” or “I am angry”. Sometimes, just knowing that someone will listen and validate your feelings, or even just let you express them safely is all you need to work through them.

You have a right to your feelings.

Peeps. I am here for you. I care about your feelings. I validate your anger or rage or frustration or grief or helplessness. I have an Ask box and email and if you really need to engage or need help, I am happy to connect via chat. Never ever worry that your feelings are unjustified in my presence. I may not always agree with the reasons, but they are not my feelings to agree with. If you need to express them, I am willing to let you if it means that you can possibly heal. This even includes (I would hope that it especially includes) if I have somehow caused those feelings. Personally, I would rather know if I have harmed someone and try to work it out than to wonder why it is that a person would rather not speak to me any longer. You can’t fix a thing if you don’t know it is broken, and I value my friends enough to hear them out. I don’t hold back expressing mine. 

You have a right to your feelings. Always, always know that.

I love you all.

Originally posted on my Tumblr.

In Spite Of…

There have been some things eating at me since I made this post yesterday. Something about the pushback against some of the things I said when writing it have been sitting wrong with. Not for the simple matter of disagreement, because certainly there is plenty of that going on, and I had one of the best discussions on the topic late last night while mulling this over.

No. The thing that is niggling at the back of my mind, and the left, front, and center of it too, is this pushback against the idea that we aren’t supposed to love and otherwise care for people with mental illness and disability in spite of said disabilities, or illnesses, or anything else.

Anders, a blond, pale, man in green robes with feathered pauldrons and a mages' staff, looks into the camera (so to speak) while Justice manifests as blue flashes and glowing eyes.

See? A perfect parallel! Mental illness always manifests so obviously.

(more…)

The Case For Justice

Anders, a pale man in green robes with feathered pauldrons stands over the body of a dead templar in plate armour.

"Uhh... I didn't do it."

[ETA:] Welcome, BioWare Social Network Anders’ Thread peeps! Happy to have you stop by! I am hoping to get to each and every one of you, but I would ask that you please take a peek at my Comments Policy if you are here for the first time. Thanks, Miri! Your check is in the mail!

How far would you go to escape abuse?

How far would you push to ensure that the abuse you had faced never happened to anyone you loved ever again?

Where would you draw the line between your life and the life of someone who was threatening your own?

In my never ending quest to defend (and my slight obsession with the character) Anders from Dragon Age 2, I’ve decided to take a step out onto a limb and discuss some of the reasons that, in addition to finding the lynchpin mage an exceptionally dynamic character, to explain why he makes complete sense to me. (more…)

Pop-Culture and Passing

“Passing” has always been a touchy subject for me. As a mixed-race person I have always felt as though I lived in a rather “damned if I do” place with regards to how I identify. My life experiences and upbringing were very much centered on my Native American heritage. My appearance, however, always made the acceptance of that by both myself and other people very difficult. It’s not easy to present as differently than you identify because there will always be plenty of people to tell you how you should identify. I am constantly reminded that because I present as white to their eye then I should accept that I am in fact a white person. There are two problems with this: I am not a white person, and it is not the decision of anyone outside of myself to decide how I get to identify. There is no proper way to present as a person of color/non-white person, and for anyone else to press a definition of what is or is not properly “of color” is unacceptable.

I don’t recall a ton of pop culture that deals specifically with the politics of being mixed race or presenting differently than you identify. It is one of the reasons that when I picked up and played Dragon Age II that I was so startled and taken with some of the missions surrounding the character Feynriel.

A screencap of a very pale young man with fair hair, light eyes, and very thin features, including a slender nose, and shallow-set eyes. He is meant to look half-human and half-elf, and should appear all human.Feynriel is a half-human/half-elf young man that you meet when his mother is distressed because he has come into magic in a way that has caused him to possibly become a danger to himself. A funny thing about Dragon Age is that the writers, most notably I imagine being David Gaider who wrote the novels where I noticed this lore most heavily played upon, have given us a situation where a person born of mixed-race origins will always present one way. In this case, a child born of one human and one elf parent will always present as human, and in a world lacking DNA science, there is no way to tell otherwise. Dragon Age provides us through the course of two novels and three games with two fairly prominent characters who depict this background. One I will not spoil for you if you are not aware of it or do not consider it canon (though to me it is completely obvious that this is in fact exactly his lineage and quite intentional). The other is Feynriel. They do, however present very differently.

Both are men, and one is the very picture of a stereotypically “ideal” looking man, while Feynriel looks far more elven. He has the narrower features, flatter forehead and more shallow set eyes of the elves in DAII. He is more fair and thin. I even found his ears to be slightly pointed. I found it interesting that both characters seemed to prove my basic idea that no mixed race person will every look exactly a certain way.

I wish that BioWare had taken a slightly less Caucasian approach to presenting a face of a mixed-race person, but in my mind the variation in features provides a little bit with me to work with that I might almost be willing to let that pass. Almost.

Feynriel’s second largest problem is that he doesn’t feel like he fits in anywhere. When he lives among humans he feels as though he stands out as obviously an elf (a point I found odd given that half-human/half-elf children should always look human, until I thought about it more). Considering that elves experience extreme levels of racial hatred and discrimination this is understandably an uncomfortable place for him to have lived his entire life. His first largest problem being that he is also a mage, subjecting him to hatred and fear above that status. Feynriel wants to live among the Dalish Elves, a nomadic clan of elves, and when (if) he is there, despite finding some help with his magical woes, he feels, again, that he stands out due to his human parentage.

Wow. Can I relate.

Feynriel made me feel a little like I could relate to that situation. Not quite ever belonging in one place or to any one people because no matter where you were someone was going to see you as the other. Additionally, his situation made me re-examine the thoughts that pounded instantly into my head when I watched his woes unfold before me. My initial reaction of “Hey! He looks awfully elf!” really hit home when I realized that that assumption is the very thing that I get upset with people for. I loathe people for telling me that I look very white, dismissing my Native background, and I had just done the same thing, albeit to a pixelated character, but done it all the same.

Chally at Zero at the Bone has written many great things about this topic, and I recommend this part three of a series she has written: The Privileges and Pains of Passing.

Hardcore vs. Casual

New post is up at Bitch!

There is a certain sect of gamers who want you to believe that they are the only true gamers. They are the self-congratulatory ones who want to take credit for carrying the market all by themselves into the modern era only to be traded in for the pieces of silver that turned out to be games that more people could enjoy and access without having to devote another full-time job’s worth of hours or spoons to it. Games like Peggle and Lemmings and even Tetris were insult enough without The Sims being interesting enough to be one of EA’s most popular games and apparently dragging girls into the mix (because dudes never play The Sims, amirite?). This, of course, means that no one will ever make a decent, fresh, innovative, hardcore game ever again.

You can read the whole thing here!

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