Sunday, March 29, 2015

Me in the Apocalypse: A thought experiment

I actually got the idea for this post while wondering whether or not I actually wanted kids in some sense, so there's a fun fact for you. But yes, I began to wonder if it would actually be possible for me to survive in the apocalypse.

There of course is the matter of asthma. I'm assuming the air quality in the apocalypse would be very low, so I'd have to head for some kind of area with lots of plants where I might have a chance. But then if I don't have shelter from the cold, that'll get me, so I have to go south. I have to go live in the jungle or something. I know this much. I'm sure there's some kind of way to treat asthma without steroids, but I don't know what it is, so I'd have to figure that out if I wanted to survive, because otherwise even the place with the warmest, cleanest air can't help me. I can hoard inhalers, but they still run out. At some point, unless I have a way to stop it, my throat will close up and I will stop breathing. I have known this for a long time and kind of just accepted that that was my fate in the apocalypse: to suffocate. But assuming I could get it under control... what then?

Well, first things first, I have to keep my glasses intact, so that I can fucking see. If I can manage that, I might be OK. But then there's the problem of the fact that I'm a little bit tiny, pathetic, and weak. I can't fight people for resources or scare off people who might try to kill me for mine or prevent myself from sexual assault (which is a legitimate fear I have about the apocalypse). This also means that I don't have a lot of body to survive off of should I not have access to food for a while. HOWEVER, if people really are as kind as I think they are, there's a good chance that I might be able to score some sympathy points. I do kind of look like a child and have been mistaken for one on many occasions (let me reiterate the story of the waiter who asked if anyone at my family's table was 12 or under (that was this past September) and the time this summer I got carded to see a movie rated 14A BY A TEENAGER WHO WAS YOUNGER THAN ME), so that could work in my favour: people tend to feel more sorry for children. I can lie about my age I suppose, to a certain extent. I still probably have about 10 years before people actually think I'm an adult at first glance, which could give me time to learn how to survive under the care of a mentor who feels sorry for children, or something like that.

I can also drive. I realize that at a certain point this skill might become useless if gas runs out, but I can do it. I mean, I'm sure that apocalypse driving would be very different, but I still have a knowledge of how to handle a vehicle and watch the road. That might be valuable, though it is a skill I may have to sacrifice a couple of years for if I want people to believe I am a child (I think I could pass for 16 at the youngest if I admitted I knew how to drive, but could pass for 13 or 14 if I didn't admit that). But still. As for other valuable skills, um... well, my dad's always said that in the apocalypse I could just hide while other people killed each other fighting over food and then once they were all dead I could go steal some but I don't know how well that theory actually works. But being able to hide is a valuable skill, and I have always known that (hide and seek was my favourite game as a kid). I'd also like to think I'm kind and somewhat generous, which, knowing how humans generally operate in groups, could work to my advantage. Also, I can knit, although so far all I know how to do is scarves and mittens, but I'm sure I could also figure out toques since I can do mittens now. I have knit on pencils before. Really, all you need is two stick-like objects of the same width with points at the end (and, y'know, yarn of some kind that can fit on the sticks). So I mean, I could get kept around for that, although given my earlier prognosis of "I have to live somewhere warm", that might not matter... although people still need clothes. Or nets or something. Knowing how to make yarn into anything useful is probably just a good skill to have.

Other than that, I have my youth, which is an advantage in any case. I would say I have scientific knowledge, but that might not really help. I don't have survival-related scientific knowledge. Although this does mean I have knowledge of the scientific process. Maybe that's useful? I have no idea.

All in all, I could probably make it work if I had to. My current goal would be to find a group heading south and lure them into taking me with them with the promise of being small (ergo I don't take up a lot of space or need a lot of food/water), able to drive, and able to knit. And also make them feel sorry for me by lying about my age. That's all I have going for me. Well, that and I get along with people easily, which should mean they're more likely to gain my trust.

This was kind of fun. And not just because I realized that I have a chance of surviving in the apocalypse at all.

yer pal,
swegan :)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

I think I'm allowed to feel smarter

Sometimes I look back at my old journals. It's an exercise in humility, because it forces me to admit that I have not always been as smart as I am today. For example, when I was 10, I considered kissing people to be a MUCH bigger deal than it actually was. In a very embarrassing way. That mindset did not change until I was about 16, which is of course the age at which all teenagers get very hormonal. When I was 12 and 13, I decided to have a crush on a guy for no other reason than I thought he was attractive, which as we all now know turned out to be a very bad idea. When I was 16, I stayed in a relationship that wasn't going anywhere because we were 16. And now I'm 19, and all I can think of is Oh god, what will I think of the stuff I wrote here/in journals when I'm 25? when I'm 29? When I'm 33? Of course, by 33 I will probably have better things to do than wonder why I made bad decisions when I was 19, but the point still stands.

I guess I feel like I'm not allowed to feel smarter or better because at some point I will be smarterer or betterer. But that is kind of silly. Of course I'm smarter than I was at 13, I'm older now. Of course I'm not as smart as I'll be at 27, I'll be older then. But I'm allowed to feel like I'm going in the right direction, right?

I know that so many adults criticize young people for being dumb and making bad decisions, but at the same time, I don't think that's necessarily fair. Of course we're dumb and make bad decisions, that's how we get smarter so that when we're older, we know not to be dumb and make bad decisions. For example, my bad decision at 12 and 13 taught me to never, ever, ever sustain a serious interest in someone solely based on looks (which has of course led to me dating the nerdiest guys around). My bad decision at 16 let me know that ending a relationship you're unsure about can be OK (especially when you're 16). Also that I was far less innocent minded than my friends liked to tease me about.

I suppose one way to approach life now, then, would be to try lots of things. To not be afraid that I might make a bad decision. Sure, maybe that might hurt a little, but it's the only effective way for me to learn what stupid decisions I shouldn't make in the future. Furthermore, I do think that I'm not that stupid when it comes to making decisions, since I got into post-secondary and have remained there doing well and have now found a program I think I want to pursue. Which is hard to decide about, because I constantly feel pressure from my parents to do some kind of professional thing, and I worry so much that I will fuck up my entire life by pursuing research instead. I also worry that I will fuck up my entire life by dating one person throughout university because I have gotten bugged by them about "You meet so many people, you need to date around, take the opportunity" and I'd be lying if I said I didn't worry that my parents were right about that. Unfortunately, being in love with the current person I'm dating means that I have very little desire to break up with them for the sake of taking advantage of a large dating pool.

But maybe when I'm 25, I'll look back and say "I'm glad I pursued research and I love where I'm at now" or I'll look back and say "I'm adorable and that makes it easier to find people to date regardless of whether I'm constantly in a situation where I'm surrounded by literally thousands of people the same age as me" or I'll say "I actually did want to do medicine, but that's OK because I couldn't have known that and I made it anyway."

I mean, I have to believe right now that 1) I am smart enough to be ok and 2) That I'll be OK anyway. Everyone keeps saying that to me lately, and I have to hope they're right. It'll all work out. If you do what you love, you'll find a way to make money doing it. If you do something just to be secure, you'll end up bitter.

The fact that I am now friends with two med school hopefuls does not help the anxiety that I am doing the wrong thing with my life. But they get excited thinking about medical school (so they've told me) and seem really passionate about it. I only got that same level of excitement talking to the advisor for the molecular genetics specialization program at my school and realizing that I could a) not take physics b) study something I find very interesting c) do more lab work. I can't recall that excitement now, for whatever reason, but I think I'd be able to. Even if that degree means I have to take two cell biology courses, cell biology is still not physics. I really don't want to take physics. And I still have no idea why that's on the MCAT. It seems cruel and unusual, and the only logic I can come up with is "If you want to be a doctor, you've gotta be smart enough to pass physics and you've gotta wanna be a doctor badly enough to take physics" which doesn't really seem like a good enough reason to require it.

Anyway, I do actually have homework to do today. It's gonna be a busy day.

yer pal,

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Youtube comments


Every so often, I get a notification from an old comment thread I posted on long ago. This week, it was the assbutt who decided that eugenics was "totally cool" and a great way to go. I have read enough historical feminist literature to know that it is not. Eugenics as a movement is strongly rooted in white supremacy and general racism, as well as classism and ableism. It is not something I can support, nor will I ever. However, this issue is less touchy to me, so hopefully in this post I come across more thoughtful and less angry and bitter.

Eugenics bothers me because I like to speculate about the kind of social conditions it would create. There's enough discriminatory systems in place that privilege certain people and put others at a disadvantage, and I think that that's ridiculous and I don't want to add another one. Putting into place a system where only some people can have children and others can't is just going to create that. People with the ability will feel superior, people without it will inevitably get bitter and jaded.

Not to mention people who are deemed "OK to have kids" by the government or whatever, who don't want kids. Wouldn't they feel immense social pressure to "take advantage of this opportunity" or something? Or worse, "do it for the greater good"? Plus, just because someone's genes are sound doesn't mean they would be a good parent. "So let good parents who can't have kids adopt." Okay, but if you're really talking about limiting the gene pool, there might not be very many kids TO adopt. Depends on how many limits you place. Also, how do you determine who would make good parents? Does that factor in at all? Don't children deemed genetically OK deserve to have a good childhood, too?

Then there's the issue of sexual assault. Someone who isn't OKed who gets assaulted could easily face even more backlash than many survivors/victims (whatever they want to call themselves) already do. Plus, there could also be instances of the reverse, of getting people into horrible trouble by saying that they have gotten you pregnant not only against your will, but against the wishes of the government (cue the dramatic gasps and an old lady saying "heaven forbid!").

And of course, the big issue of science. I'm studying genetics, but I'm very very very early on, so I understand very little, But to the best of my knowledge, science is far from knowing how genes affect every disease. Plus, if you're aiming for a perfect human genome, what does that even LOOK like? And not to mention we don't know the full extent of the effects every single thing we're exposed to in our environment has on us. Random mutations happen! This is how skin cancer happens! This is how other cancers can happen! To quote my 100-level biology prof, "if you live long enough, at some point you will get cancer and die." The longer you're around, the greater the chance of a mutation. (This isn't meant to be insensitive to people who have cancer, have had cancer, or who have lost someone/know someone to/with cancer. Cancer is really devastating and I don't mean to trivialize it). My point is, though- how can you select for which people have the best genomes if you don't know what the best genomes might be? Plus, is there ANYONE out there who truly has a clean genome? I'm going to say that it's safe to assume that everyone has a genetic predisposition for SOMEthing, even if they/we don't know it (yet).

I also have selfish reasons, given the fact that if these policies had existed long before me, my parents probably wouldn't have even thought about kids at all, and if they were to be implemented now, I'm pretty sure I've got enough family history of Nope to disqualify myself. I don't even know that I want kids, but it's one thing to not have kids because you don't want them and to not have kids because you're not allowed to.

As for the history of eugenics, this is, as I said, a movement deeply rooted in racism. Especially in Canada, where there's a big history of forcibly sterilizing Native people and disabled people against their will, which is beyond morally wrong on so many levels.

For my general point: for this youtube commenter to say that "eugenics is a good idea, go ahead and hate all you want, you probably prove my point hahahahaha" (so hilarious you guys) shows a complete lack of contemplation of the moral issues behind eugenics, as well as its incredibly discriminatory history rooted in racism, classism, and ableism.

Eugenics is not a system that I support, and it never will be.

yer pal,

Sunday, March 8, 2015

I'm still not sorry

I did come across very angrily in that post, and that's because the anti-choice group on campus upset me. They brought graphic images onto quad (a central area of campus that is impossible to avoid), which violates the student code in multiple ways, and the university allowed it. To make matters worse- this happened during pride week, thus taking attention away from a really important event. So there was a counter-protest, and it was full of positivity, pride flags, and "I support you" posters. We even had some anti-choicers &/or christians in the group because they thought the graphic display was THAT inappropriate. And it was, and the president of the group cried about how we were engaging in a criminal act- which, we absolutely were not. This group has tried to make themselves into innocent victims all year and the students are just having none of it and it makes me SO PROUD.

This group has, to date,
1) Used LGBT terminology to push their message (prompting messages that said using that terminology to block access to medical care wasn't okay)
2) Put inflammatory messages ("I REGRET MY ABORTION: abortion does hurt women" instead of, you know, abortion CAN hurt women, because yeah, they can regret it, especially if the anti-choice people around them try to make them feel guilty....) on their posters
3) Violated the poster guidelines by
a) putting more than one poster per event on each board, and
b) posting on private boards (e.g. some in biosci which are for the use of people working there ONLY)
4) Violated the student code of conduct by
a) disseminating malicious material (posters, as well as pamphlets which said "pro choice" and "reproductive justice" on the front and were then full of those horrible fake abortion images on the inside-- no trigger warnings for those!)
b) creating an unsafe space (discriminating against women who have had an abortion, are considering one, or who have miscarried, or people who are just sensitive to gore) (not to mention the pride parade went THROUGH quad, so if not for the counter protest, the parade (which has children in it) would have had to see those images)

The group is saying that we are obstructing their right to free speech. We say no, we had every right to be there, as much as they did. As for being inflammatory ourselves, you want to know what my sign said? It said "I SUPPORT YOU" with hearts on it, along with a pride flag with the words "HAPPY PRIDE WEEK" below it. Intimidating and scary, I know.
The other thing this group is complaining about is that "people need to confront the truth" and then they proceed to put up images of what abortion doesn't look like. You can't force people to confront difficult issues- you can't. Furthermore, you can't create an unsafe work/study environment that prevents the full participation of everyone by placing gory, triggering images in the most central area of school.
Also, if they want to "confront the truth" in this manner, I could bring in some pictures of perforated uteruses for them to look at, because that's what happens when you criminalize abortion.

Things I do not like that the pro-choice group has done
1) Tore down the posters

Things I like that the pro-choice group has done
1) Put up response posters next to all the anti-choice ones (a MUCH better idea IMO)
2) Protested to make campus a safe space for all
3) Allowed the pride parade to proceed through quad safely
4) Warned people about the misleading pamphlets
5) Written the dean in vast numbers to complain that this display is a total violation of the student code of conduct
6) Showed that our campus is one of support, choice, and CORRECT sexual health information that will allow women to make whatever choice about their bodies they feel is best- whether that is abortion, adoption, or parenthood, all of which are equally acceptable and OK

To be clear: this group has every right to exist on campus, as much as that bothers me. They can have their events, have meetings, discuss this issue if they want. That's great. But the difference between their other events and this one is that this one required a trigger warning, which should kind of mean that the display shouldn't be public in the first place if I'm not mistaken.

But what really pisses me off is the university administration's response. They've been totally useless chickenshits and I am beyond disappointed with them for not telling this group to do one of the following:
1) Have their event, but without graphic images and harassing slogans
2) Have their event, but in a tent or classroom where people can consent to seeing the images
3) Most importantly, MOVE THE EVENT SO IT ISN'T DURING PRIDE WEEK. They said they just "didn't know" despite the fact that pride week is the same week every year and a fairly well advertised event on campus... I'm gonna call bullshit on that one.

And at the end of the day, what matters is that every woman can make the choice for herself. Any anti-choice/pro-life woman facing an unwanted pregnancy should feel like she can get help raising the child (childcare! housing! help out of abuse situations!) or feel like giving it up for adoption truly will mean a better life for that child. I absolutely support the right of women to have their children and raise them or give them up for adoption. These are both great choices! But so is abortion, for some women. Some women have issues that mean pregnancy would be incredibly dangerous- even more so than pregnancy already is (pregnancy is seriously incredibly dangerous, don't even get me started on childbirth), and sometimes, things happen that mean the fetus wouldn't survive long outside the womb or the woman won't survive the pregnancy (ectopic pregnancy, for example). Because of these examples and the simple fact of bodily autonomy and control (we don't FORCE people to donate blood or organs, even after they are DEAD), abortion needs to be safe and legal, regardless of whether you would choose it for yourself or not. At the end of the day, it is not your place to make decisions about anyone's body except your own. Your body belongs to you, but only your body.

All in all: I'm not sorry for having the opinion I do, even though it might put me at risk since anti-choice groups have been known to murder people before, despite calling themselves pro-"life." I think my opinion is well supported by facts and evidence, as well as on philosophical and moral grounds. I am pro choice, and proudly so. Women should have choices and be supported no matter what choice they make, and nobody should be pregnant when they don't want to be.

yer pal,

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Anti choicers: please pull your heads out of your asses

No, I'm not sorry.

These people have been crying about free speech ever since they arrived on my campus and I am beyond disgusted. Acting like this debate needs to be reopened is like saying criminalizing abortion is a valid opinion to consider. It fucking isn't. Get OVER it already, oh my GOD.

I don't CARE that you feel like fetuses=children, that you all worship the fetus over all others, ESPECIALLY women, I don't CARE. Criminalizing abortion leads to dead women. Did you not hear that? CRIMINALIZING ABORTION LEADS TO DEAD WOMEN. CRIMINALIZING ABORTION LEADS TO DEAD WOMEN. If you think your pathetic, immoral pleas are going to stop women from getting abortions any way they can, you are beyond naive. You are literally the stupidest.

I am done acting like these people have any validity or right to their opinion that abortion is a criminal act. It isn't. If you don't like that, go cry me a fucking river, but there isn't anything you can do about it.

And furthermore, get the FUCK off my campus with your misogynistic guilt-shaming bullshit. In case you couldn't tell, the posters getting ripped down were a clear sign that your BS is not welcome here.


And take your sexism with you.