Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Friend Zone is the creepiest fucking thing ever

I don't like the idea that when I send clear signals to a guy that I'm not interested, or show no interest in going out with him whatsoever, he could turn out to be a "But The Friendzone Is Real!" type. Like, yeah, sure, it sucks when someone you're interested in doesn't like you back, but that doesn't mean you should try harder to get them to like you. It means that they don't like you, and as much as that stings, you have to move on and respect their decision.

Instead you have a whole subculture of dudes who think that a woman saying "No, I don't want to go out with you" is just an excuse to pester her more until she "finally gives in", or to threaten her until she does (read: "but if someone had just gone out with him, he wouldn't have shot four people [or some other horrendous crime]!!!" This is bad for men, too- men are perfectly capable of handing rejection without killing or hurting people), which is obviously more dangerous.

Not only that, but you have a whole swack of movies in which people see someone (usually a girl, but I've seen it reversed) saying "no" as "I need to work harder to win them over." These kinds of movies make me really uncomfortable. You know the ones, where someone says to someone else that they're just friends or gives clear signals that they're not interested or starts getting interested in someone else and then FOR SOME REASON someone that rejected person looks up to tells them "Go, win [her] back/ Go win [her] over/ You've got to try harder." No, you don't, you've got to respect other people's decisions.  (I put "her" in brackets b/c I'm sure I'll get blasted for implying this only happens to women in movies anyway).

This ties back into the whole victim-complex- "Other people must find me attractive and if they don't it's OPPRESSION!" thing that I've seen so many people play out on the internet. Does it suck if someone isn't attracted to you? Sure. Does that mean they are obligated to find you attractive? Absolutely fucking not. Nobody is obligated to be attracted to you, just like nobody is obligated to "give you a chance/date", just like nobody is obligated to give you ANYTHING in terms of a romantic relationship. And that ties further into consent and "But I bought her dinner/a present/a nice dress, she owes me sex!" fuckery.

AND GUESS WHAT, THIS ALSO TIES INTO THAT UCLA THING. That guy took his sense of "I don't know why you won't sleep with me" to a new level when he said "but I will punish you all for it." That is severely disturbing and obviously one of the more dangerous examples of where this whole thing can go, but it's still proof that this concept needs to die.

Furthermore, what's wrong with being friends with people? If you like the person, it might be a little awkward, sure, but if you really like them so much how bad will it be to have them around? Part of the reason I like my boyfriend is the same reason I like my friends: They're good people to be around and I'm happy when I'm with them. There's nothing wrong with having friends, and the highest form of relationship you can form with the opposite sex isn't necessarily a romantic one.

yer pal,
swegan :)

Monday, October 20, 2014

ok but like what even is love

I'm for serious on this one

Like, everyone describes it as something so overwhelming and amazing and "I love you more every day." This makes me worried because I definitely do not feel overwhelmed by my relationship with Ptarckas, and the way I feel about him is definitely not overwhelming or exciting or a huge rush. I just like hanging out with him and talking to him and doing stuff together, no matter what it is.

I suppose there was one point in the relationship near the beginning when everything was very exciting and new and I maybe did feel like that. I still feel like I love him, but I don't really know what that means. I don't want to see him hurt, I want him to be happy, and I enjoy being around him. Is that really all that love is?

I just feel so lied to. Pop culture paints love as very different from this, and I kind of feel like literature does as well. But it seems like it would be absolutely exhausting to feel that way about someone all the time, not to mention distracting. I have school to focus on- I can't be distracted by being starry-eyed all the time.

For now, I have decided that if we both like this arrangement we have and we both feel like we love each other, we really shouldn't care what other people think. If that's how this is going to work, then that's how it's going to work.

The only thing I have for sure right now is that we discussed this earlier, and the tone of the conversation made me very afraid we were heading for disaster. That was distracting. I was sick with worry, even though it really turned out to be nothing- but the relief I felt was still overwhelming. I don't know if this is just me being stubborn or if I'm just used to this- I don't know. I just knew that if we were to stop seeing each other, I would be really sad and lonely, and I didn't like the idea that he would be too. So it seems like continuing the relationship is the logical idea...

Ugh. I don't know how to do this. But I guess that's what being young is for?

yer pal,
swegan :S

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I know exactly what I want and it terrifies the shit out of me

This often happens in the fall and winter. I find myself pining for the mountains. But lately, I've found it happening so often that a scenario has started to take place in my mind. It's what I would like for my future life to be, ideally. I live in the mountains, or at least, my house is fucking surrounded by trees. Everywhere. And there's neigbours, but not too close, because of all the TREES.

I want to live in a small town, but in my reasonably-sized house with trees. I want there to be a university in this town, though, so it can't be too small. It should also be reasonably close to a larger city, for those nights when I want to go out on the town.

I work in the research department of that university. One way or another, I've obtained a "Dr." in front of my name, and I do research. Whether it's medical research or just biology research I don't know, but that's what I'm doing. And I run my own lab. I am in charge of it, I appoint the summer students, I do all the conferences, me. It's my lab. The lab of Dr. Swegan.

And I just like imagining coming home to my house in the trees and having it be warm and cozy, with lots of leather and varying shades of brown and lots of wood, wood furniture and flooring and ceilings. Like a cabin but not entirely like a cabin. It's cozy. I have a big bed covered in pillows and my room has a huge-ass window that is also a door that opens onto a balcony and so when I wake up and go to sleep, I see trees. Preferably with a sunrise over them in the morning.

And I have a little cozy spot in front of the fire, in a huge leather chair that's the kind of chair you sink into with a good book, and I sit there and stare out at the trees because that's right, the entire back of my house is also big-ass windows.

This same pining happened last year, only this year it feels worse. It's especially bad when I listen to a playlist of music I have that makes me feel safe, because this imaginary home and life is now my happy place.

The funny thing is, I don't ever see another person living with me. I'm always solitary, which is kind of unappealing. I think I'd want somebody around, even just a friend. Even just being at home by myself creeps me out- I'd need another person living in this house with me. But I think what's more significant is that there aren't any children. Obviously my mindset is that I'm still too young and I haven't lived much of a life yet, so I can't know if I want children or not. I don't know. I know I don't want them now, or any time in the next 10 years or so, that's for sure.

However, this is weirdly specific and very different from the idea I usually have, which is me living in a tiny, somewhat crappy, but cozy apartment in a small town. I don't know why I'm idealizing this small town in my head; I grew up in a small town and got to experience firsthand this summer how much it sucks living where there is almost nothing to do. But somehow, in this more young-adult version of the same town, I have things to do, and people I see, and I'm never bored or unhappy (well, I mean obviously I probably still am unhappy from time to time but never in a permanent way).

The problem with these fantasies is that I feel like they're so specific, they can never happen. Where in Canada am I going to find a place like that? BC somewhere? Vancouver Island? I don't know. And besides, I'm in my second year of an undergrad degree... getting either a Ph.D or an M.D. Ph.D is gonna be like a shitton of hard work that I am really not looking forward to, but I know that this is (at least for now) reasonably close to what I want to do with my life. I'm fairly confident that I could get into medical school somewhere if I started putting effort towards that, like I think I could pass the MCAT with enough studying and I'm finding things to do in this city now that help me feel... busier, I guess. Less like a homebody. Like I have a life, even if that life is just going to dance class once a week, having a regular date night, and sometimes hanging out with Carina to make food and watch netflix at her house. Carina and I keep trying to have wild adventures, but then I always chicken out. I'm shitty at trying new things that way.

In somewhat unrelated news, my roommate got me a birthday gift which was super sweet of her. It was a little sampler of tea from David's Tea, and the flavour was pumpkin chai, and HOLY FUCKING SHIT YOU GUYS, THIS TEA IS SO GOOD. It's got caramel in it which I think is the reason I like it so much, but it also just looks cute because the tea itself has little pumpkin candies in it and UGH you guys seriously, try it. It's cozy and perfect and delicious and UGH.

yer pal,
swegan :)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

What I hear when people say "I'm a humanist/egalitarian, not a feminist"

"I am willing to totally throw out all that feminism and its proponents have fought for over the last couple centuries because instead of continuing to work within the movement as it stands to make it better and challenge those who use it to fuel a weird victim-biased agenda, I would rather take the easy way out and start a new movement based on the exact same things that feminism stands for, further making it look like feminism DOESN'T stand for those things even though it has all along."

To me, choosing this path is cowardly and disrespectful. Of course feminism has issues. It always has. It's likely it always will. But feminism has accomplished a lot of good, too, and to just leave the movement behind to me looks like throwing it in the dirt. People who say these things to me show that they aren't willing to put in the hard work of letting people know that feminism is about equality, but would rather just start a new movement from scratch that has accomplished literally nothing ...

To me, it's like feminism fought battles, and now people are refusing to honour their war dead. Step your game the fuck up, put on your analyzing hats, and get it through your fucking heads that feminism is about equality and always has been, oh my fucking god how many more times do I need to say this????

Yes, over the last century, it has focused on women's rights, because when feminism began to get popular, women weren't even people. Heck, I'm sure there's still parts of the world where they aren't. But I'm sure if we can recognize that women can be sexist and contribute to oppressive practices too, we can expand to discuss men's issues (so long as they are not rude, unnecessary interruptions of discussions of women's issues, which are just as valid and important). Feminism has already become way more intersectional than it used to be, in the days when feminism was kind of completely about upper class white women (who occasionally did make issues of working women's rights and the rights of immigrant women, see for example Nelly McClung (YES she was crazy into eugenics, and that is an unfortunate part of her legacy, but it doesn't cancel out the good that she accomplished. People aren't all good or all bad)).

I am sticking with feminism because I can see all that it has done for me, and this is my way of paying my respect. I'm not going to desert a movement that got me the right to vote, own property, and obtain a divorce. I'm one of the young generation now. I feel it is partly my responsibility to make the world a better place. I also feel like all the feminists who are now aging have to pass on the torch. It is now our responsibility to make feminism better, and yes, it is a lot of fucking hard work and trying to use logic and reason to be heard above the extremists... and now, too, above the people who aren't willing to be a feminist even though they still spout feminist ideals and have feminist mindsets.

And to anybody who tells me "you're just using emotion to sell this cause and make it seem noble" why yes, yes I am. Good job picking up on that. That was exactly my goal. Feminist goals are noble to me. I'm glad you got that.

yer pal,

Monday, October 6, 2014

Feminism, definition, and criticism

I think I'm finally getting the hang of being on tumblr.

A lot of the time, I feel afraid to criticize anyone. People who claim to be feminist who are radical, especially, since those people are the types who pull the victim card, argue that you're triggering and oppressing them (I may be a member of an oppressive class to them, sure, but sometimes that seems really irrelevant, like being a member of an oppressed class doesn't free you from fucking up or make you immune to criticism). But I also feel afraid to criticize those who say things like "We don't need feminism anymore" or that feminism has turned into a hate movement- the same people who complain about "not all men" (which perhaps may be valid, perhaps feminists need to clarify that statement a little more) but then turn around and point out the actions of extremist feminists and act like those actions of an extremist few mean the movement as a whole is bunk and ridiculous.

I've got news for those people: feminism comes from a history fraught with racist and classist issues, not to mention a shitton of eugenics, holy fucking crap. Eugenics EVERYWHERE. And obviously not all of those issues are gone.

My issue with feminist criticism is ... well, actually, I have no issue with valid, logical criticism of feminism (especially when coupled with suggestions for how feminism could improve!) but I find that most of these (this is just in my experience) come from people who already identify as feminist and have for a long time and who place great value in the movement. To me, those people want to see feminism change for the better, to make it more valuable and relevant. People who actively claim not to be feminists who criticize the movement to me don't have the same aim. Why would they be interested in making feminism better if they're not a part of it anyway? To me, saying "I'm not a feminist" and then critiquing feminism means your aim must be to destroy it, to obliterate it, to say "anything good it accomplished was in the past" and move on to some other movement (that probably has the exact same goals anyway).

And I can acknowledge that receiving or even making critique of a field you love and support and care about deeply can be really, really hard. Because to you, this movement is great and wonderful and of course you don't want to admit that some part of it might be wrong! But I think it's important that feminism critiques itself (mainly the ways in which it is presented) in order to change and improve.

This is frustrating because it's so hard to define feminism. It almost seems like everyone has their own separate definitions- although I think one of gender equality and the expanding of genders beyond the binary is kind of where it's at. I think it tends to focus on women's issues because feminism was a movement borne out of women calling attention to their issues. It was borne of suffrage, of critique of political rights, of a lot of critique of marriage as an institution, etc etc.

And you can't say "feminism doesn't just get to include issues of race too that's not fair" because it's literally impossible for feminism to be valid without it being intersectional. My experience as a woman is likely very coloured by my skin colour and class and many other factors. Different women experience sexism differently, and it's really important to keep that in mind. Without that you often just end up with a bunch of women like myself- white, upper class, heterosexual, able bodied, etc- trying to solve their problems while neglecting the problems that other women face. That's not fair, and that certainly isn't inclusive. Of course feminism focuses mainly on gender issues, but it also acknowledges that issues of race, class, and many others cut through that. Identities are complex.

And I'm getting really tired of people saying feminism doesn't care about men's issues (it does and goddamn that needs to be publicized more), or worse, that feminism caused men's issues. Feminism opposes the same shitty social structures that mean men are incapable of being emotional or caring or sweet or timid, because those same shitty social structures mean that women, no matter what they are, are kind of always laughed at, whether they are emotional, caring, sweet, or timid OR brash, loud, opinionated, and aggressive.

That is also why to me, feminism has the "femin" bit. Because if a man successfully fulfills all his societal duties, and is the perfect replica of all the descriptors we associate with masculinity, then he is socially rewarded. He is a real man, good for him. But if a woman does the same, fulfills her societal duties and is a perfect replica of her descriptors, she's "weak" and "irrational" and "too emotional to ever be in charge of anything" (except running a home and raising children, apparently). If she fulfills all the male characteristics, she's too much- too loud, too opinionated, too career-driven, too bossy. If men don't take time to help out with the raising of their children, that's almost commonplace (although I'd like to think it's becoming less so now), but god forbid a woman do the same.. but if she stays at home to raise kids, she's "just a homemaker."

This is what bothers me. We've set up a system in which men can only win (i.e. be accepted, something along those lines) by fitting this narrow, constrictive mold... but at the same time, women can't win, even if they fill their mold. So it's obviously unfair to both parties, but at the same time, one party still has a chance. That's what strikes me as unfair. Men should be allowed to fulfill whatever role they feel most comfortable in, but so should women. We should all be winning. This doesn't mean you have to like everyone else on the planet, it just means they can't be unfairly held back by their gender OR how their gender is performed. That's really shitty and restrictive and sucks for everyone. Plus, it sets up systems where people (women especially) are taught to be jealous of those around them who better fulfill those characteristics, and it also seems like it would result in a lot of identity crises. It just doesn't work. It's silly, it's arbitrary, and it doesn't work.

My thoughts are that after some kind of social system is established in which people feel free to fulfill whatever characteristics they want, gender will become kind of arbitrary. What makes me a woman anyway? What makes someone a woman? It isn't their genitals, because then what about trans people? What about people born with genitals that aren't one of two sets? It doesn't work. Obviously you can still define people by biological sex, but gender is a really, really weird thing. It affects so much of our lives, and that pisses me off.

On a final note, I had an interesting idea about job/school applications (or applications for anything in general, really). I think it would be neat to set up a system in which people's names, ages, and races were completely left out of an application, and the only way to pick an applicant was solely on their merits. Obviously you'd need some way to contact them- I think a phone number could work for that, or even an email which is vague and gender neutral. Really I think that would eliminate a lot of discrimination... but then I don't know. I also thought it solved the problem of "affirmative action" because you can't select people based on their gender or race. It's more merit-based than based on whether or not your gender or race has historically been accepted to that position/school/institution/whatever...and obviously there would still have to be interviews... hmm. I didn't think of that. Any thoughts?

yer pal,