Most of us enjoy funny true stories even more than fictional ones; reality just adds some extra muscle to the punchline. The problem with the digital age is its so easy to spread misinformation, especially with pictures, because despite how prevalent we know something like photoshop being, we simply cannot imagine anyone would actually USE the damn thing. And no one in their right mind would ever think of faking anything like a newspaper or a naval transcript, right?
I saw this on facebook:
A couple days later, this ended up on my tumblr feed:
HOLY CRAP, GUYS! Can you believe it? Those people used the EXACT SAME LANGUAGE! Talk about coincidences…
Also, I read in the newspaper today that every person in the world each owes me $50, so get to it.
Yesterday this modest little tumblr got more reblogs than it ever has (thanks, everybody!) due to my pointing out the hypocrisy displayed by one of the people deciding to boycott Oreos due to the company’s support of Pride. Now, as usual, I’ve been putting more thought into this than I probably should, because I realized that I might have been a little hard on the ignorant – surely it can’t be their fault that they didn’t realize one of those nasty homosexuals had infiltrated their beloved television program. So, in the spirit of fair play, I’ve done a little research, checking various lists, so that I could help keep intolerance alive by letting the would-be-boycotters know just what they need to avoid. After all, a traditional boycott must be organized! We vote with our dollars and our actions every day, so if you wanna to show the world that you don’t support equal rights for homosexuality, etc, I’ve got you covered! Okay, not really. This list is hardly extensive (there’s a lot of gay rights support out there!), but this gives you an idea of what you’re facing…
10 Steps to Boycotting Gay Rights Supporters
1. Okay, you’re boycotting Oreos. Good start. Now, also in the area of snacks is Pepsico (who owns Frito/Lay, among other things). That’s okay, chips are salty and Pepsi’s rubbish. But you’re also going to have to avoid Coca-Cola and Starbucks, so I really hope you don’t like caffeine.
2. On that note, careful about eating out. The ever-growing list of restaurants that supports gay rights includes Applebee’s, McDonald’s, Olive Garden, and Red Lobster, and all the restaurants owned by those who own the previously listed.
3. Cool, no problem, right? You’ll buy your own damn food. Just make sure you don’t drive there in a Ford or any car made by General Motors. Yep. Also, make sure your car isn’t insured with Allstate, Nationwide, or State Farm.
4. Oh yeah, while we’re on the topic of shopping, you’re now going to have to avoid buying anything from Sears, JC Penny, Target, Best Buy, or Amazon.com. And, ooooo… Proctor and Gamble supports gay rights. That means you’re going to have to avoid buying… well… a lot.
5. It’s cool! It’s okay! Just go relax. Go watch a movie or some TV. Oh, but not anything owned by Disney. Which… well damn…
6. Yeah, by the way, if you’re wearing anything by Gap, Levi’s, or Nike… you’re gonna wanna strip now. It’s okay! You’re getting naked for moral integrity!
7. Frustrated? Pissed off? Guess you’re REALLY gonna have to show everybody. You’ll just leave the damn country! Only… don’t do it with American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, or anything using a Boeing…
8. You think THAT’S inconvenient? Do you have any idea how hilarious it is that you’re announcing your decision to decline support to a company that supports gay rights on facebook? Oh, and if you did it using Google Chrome or signed in with a Google email account, you’re double silly! Oh, you used a Microsoft email and Internet Explorer instead? Yep… still double-silly.
9. Which, of course, brings us to the big issue. If you want to boycott companies which support gay rights and are viewing this post on an Apple or any PC with IBM parts and/or Microsoft software, go ahead and turn off your device, throw it away, and feel superior. It’s cool; we’re about due for a calligraphy resurgence anyway…
10. Does this seem too difficult for you? Well, here’s a thought. Maybe all these companies support gay rights because it’s kinda ridiculous that we’re limiting freedoms based on sexual preference. Maybe instead of spewing soundbites and closing doors, we should all approach situations like this with an open mind and realize that what people do with whom doesn’t really matter at all as long as they’re not infringing on anyone else’s rights. You know… like you’re trying to infringe upon theirs? Maybe there’s actually nothing wrong with these people, and you should just go about our business and let them go about theirs…
So by now, most of us know the story. Oreo released a pro-pride ad, and suddenly a bunch of people jumped on the boycott banwagon. Sad, but not surprising. Also not surprising is the level of ignorance involved with the boycott. Luckily, it’s just as humorous as the boycott is sad. My personal favorite part? One of the comments:
Now, like many of us on the Internet, Trevor is using a picture of a famous person as his profile picture. So, what face does Trevor feel represents him to the rest of the Internet? Can we get a close-up there?
Why… isn’t that Neil Patrick Harris, an openly gay man?
Classy indeed, Trevor. Classy indeed…
“I got fired last year in Las Vegas, from the Frontier Hotel, for saying ‘shit’ in a town where the big game is called ‘crap.’ That sounds like a double-standard…” - George Carlin, FM & AM
Something I have never, EVER understood is the existence of “dirty” words. Why do we decide that certain words are acceptable and certain aren’t? Why is “shit” worse than “number 2”? Why must we use the term “rooster” for a male chicken because someone decided to call their dick a “cock”? For that matter, why would “dick” get me fired from a radio talk-show but “penis” would not? No kidding, btw, a radio host can say “spotted dick” on the air as long as s/he immediately follows it up with “pudding,” because “spotted dick pudding” is a traditional English dessert you can buy at places like World Market.
By now you’ve heard about the Michigan Rep who was silenced for using the term “vagina,” but beyond the question of whether or not this was simply an attempt to silence her (which is a very valid question, but people much smarter than I are handling it), as she put it, what word was she supposed to use? And for that matter, who cares? Seriously, why are some words “appropriate” and others not? People act as if “cleaning up” the language will make all the difference in the world, but I have a little test for you. For each problem set below, write out the description of what comes to mind when you read/hear the following terms.
b) Making love
c) Principle part of the male anatomy
a) Principle part of the female anatomy
Now, MAYBE you’ve developed some differentiation in #1. Some people have it, others don’t. But chances are, all 3 words/phrases made you think about someone having some sort of sex with someone else. I imagine that, other than perhaps thinking of someone named Richard, #2 kept bringing up images of someone’s little bishop in a turtleneck. etc, etc. So it’s not like there are certain words that make us think of things about which “we shouldn’t be thinking” (which is a rant for another day), but just the words themselves are inappropriate. And that, my friends, is silly. I might argue that “pussy” should be on the list of no-no words, but only because we use it to insult people by comparing them to the female anatomy as away of saying they are feminine and the feminine is weak. But insulting euphemisms are very, very different from “that word is just a BAD WORD.”
Final food for thought on words like fuck: ever notice that a lot of the “bad” words are monosyllabic with plenty of hard consonants? Check out how “shit” uses a post-alveolar fricative at the beginning, which you won’t find (as far as I know) in languages such as French. Why do I care? Because these USED to be just words. A variation of shit was just a word for poop. So what happened? 1066. Norman invasion. Suddenly, all the bosses are French (sort of) and what’s the best way to remain in power? Make sure you seem superior in all respects. English became analogous to the “American Redneck Drawl.” (Newsflash: people with Southern Accents can be smarter than you! GASP!) Worse than the language of inferiors, though, English was the vulgar tongue spoken by less enlightened, less civilized people. We never broke away from this belief, but instead absorbed the French way of thinking along with a shit-ton of their vocab. And while this doesn’t account for ALL the inappropriate words of our current lexicon, there is a similar reasoning behind most of them: “Group A is better than Group B, and so will not use the words that Group B uses.” Congratulations, you are, wittingly or otherwise, perpetuating prejudice!
Oh look… I went back to talking about silencing after all… Enjoy your fucking day.
EDIT: Fixed some incorrect terminology. Let me know if you find more.
Over the past year I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to learn more about transgendered people and otherkin. Identifying as neither of those things, I apologize in advance if I get anything about those communities wrong in this rant, because I have the deepest respect for those involved and don’t want to misrepresent them.
It’s this respect (and my ever-present desire to deliver a smack to the head of those web-warriors who use the Internet as a license to strike out at whoever they will, hoping that the presence of an online dictionary and spell-checker will make their arguments seem intelligent and foolproof) that leads me to step on today’s soapbox. We’re all familiar with the concept of attacking something different from oneself, so the verbal spears thrown at my friends identifying as transgendered people and/or otherkin disappoint me, but I remain unsurprised. However, one in particular grabbed my attention recently – claiming that these individuals who identify as something not shown in the body they received at birth suffer from some sort of mental disease, often loosely defined as some form of dissociative disorder. A few months back, I wrote a rant on the accusation of mental disorders as a way to marginalize, discredit, and/or silence people, so you can imagine I have an opinion on this subject. That opinion follows, so if you’re not interested in intelligent discourse, please just walk away now.
In particular, when I see someone claim that transgendered people/otherkin suffer from dissociative disorder, two thoughts run through my head.
1. Please define your term. I do not think it means what you think it means.
What exactly do these folks mean by dissociative disorder? There are a ton of them, ranging from what we refer to as “multiple personalities” to dissocial personality disorder. By the way, neither of those fit, as there are too few personalities to justify the former and the latter results in callous disregard for anything that is not oneself (and if you wanna say that’s what all transgendered people/otherkin are like, my next rant will focus on gross generalization). If you have a couple drinks and squint hard enough, you might be able to draw some comparisons to depersonalization disorder, a dissociative disorder which results in a feeling of unreality about one’s sense of self. Depersonalized people feel disconnected from their own physicality and also feel like their body sensations don’t belong to the same person/identity. Stop there, make a few generalizations, and you might have a diagnosis on your hands.
However, this disorder stems from the breakdown of one’s self-recognition; the depersonalized no longer feel like themselves, no longer have even a sense of self, and thus feel like their sensations and emotions are not their own. Yet the accusers here attempt to label transgendered people and otherkin as dissociates because they have claimed a self the accusers don’t wish to let them have. The irony, of course, is that if Johnny has to constantly explain why he is a dolphin to his peers, regularly defending this stance against those who would label him as mentally and/or emotionally deranged, you can be damn sure he’s had to think long and hard about how he identifies himself. He’s probably got a stronger sense of self than those who don’t have to argue their right to identify as they do. I mean, I’m a man. I’ve always known I was a man. And because I was born one, I’ve never had to explain to people why I identify as one. Look at that: manly build, manly voice, prominent Adam’s apple, penis… yep! And we stop there. Which means I spent most of my life not really pondering what it means to be a man. Yorick does, though, especially since he was assigned woman at birth. He’s had to give a lot of thought to why he feels like a man because naysayers will take one look at his breasts and childbearing hips and immediately cry foul.
Yeah, there’s probably an interim stage where one’s identity doesn’t feel right and so exploration begins. You know what? We ALL go through that. We consider it one of the prerequisites for adulthood (that many adults never meet). The difference is these individuals explore more than just their purpose, sexuality, personality, etc. The introspection goes deeper, and realizes identities that the mainstream has trouble accepting. Whether or not you agree with these identities, we cannot say transgendered people and otherkin have no sense of self. You just might not agree with their sense of self.
So what are we left with? We’ve basically got “Dissociative disorder not otherwise specified,” the psychiatric catch-all which says someone has dissociated from themselves in a way not currently explored in any of the main diagnoses. Catch-all’s remain the bastion of those who want to label other people as mentally disabled, because it’s so easy to fit someone in there. And once you’ve drawn a parallel between a diagnosable disorder and a mode of identification with which you don’t agree, you’ve proven that these individuals have a problem that needs to be fixed, right?
This brings us to…
2. Your psychiatric foundation is nowhere near as stable as you think it is.
The term “homosexuality” first entered the books as a mental disorder in the late 1800s (so did “heterosexuality,” but that’s a fun story for another day). The Nazi book-burning we all know so much about contained an extraordinarily high percentage of texts focusing on how homosexuals were no more insane than heterosexuals, and though the Allies used pictures of the book-burning to gear up resentment against the Germans, they left out the “gays are okay” aspect because, well, everyone agreed at the time that such a concept spat in the face of psychiatric precedent. While the idea of alternate sexualities as mental disorder continues to persist, the general opinion has pushed that concept into the fringes of conservative psychiatry.
Until the early 20th century, female hysteria remained a catch-all diagnosis for any time a woman did, well… just about anything her husband didn’t like. Wanted sex too much? Female hysteria. Didn’t want sex enough? Female hysteria. Stressed? Depressed? This has nothing to do with the tensions of inequality and oppression; you’re just hysteric, so let’s spray this water on your vag. However, a combination of continuous research and activism slowly removed every female-centered qualification from the diagnosis, to the point where female hysteria is no longer considered a real disorder. Any symptoms that were actually considered real found their cause in places other than having a womb and doctors eventually moved said symptoms over to the general hysteria category. Fun fact: psychiatrists now shy away from a hysteria diagnosis as well, finding that to also be a catch-all which can overdiagnose the healthy. Instead, research has been able to further separate symptoms into what actually constitutes a disorder.
See a trend here? Psychiatry is a science, and like every other science, our understanding of it evolves over time. About 200 years passed between Copernicus publishing the heliocentric theory on his deathbed and the general populace actually accepting a heliocentric theory, yet today you’re not going to get too many geocentrics out there. Very few reputable doctors are going to try and cure you of homosexuality or instruct you to buy a vibrator to deal with your hysteria. Point being, yeah, there might be psychiatrists out there who diagnose otherkin as dissociates, but that does not mean they are right. Any attempts to use mental health professionals to marginalize a subculture just makes the accuser sound like a douchebag who knows another douchebag with a PhD.
Because that’s what you’re doing if you try to tell transgendered people/otherkin that they have a mental disorder for identifying themselves the way they do – you’re attempting to marginalize and all-out silence them. You might as well just be shouting “Shut up, crazypants!” They are different from you, but if they are crazy and you are sane, then you can justify your dismissal of their differences. Congratulations! You are superior!
Yes, I realize the hornets’ nest I’ve stirred up here. “Simple Man, aren’t you basically saying that all mental diagnosis is bullshit because it might be disputed/abandoned later?” That sort of extremist argument can be dismantled if we consider a disorder as something which can endanger its victim/others and/or prohibits its victim from carrying out day-to-day functions with some degree of peace and happiness. For instance, one of the arguments J. Addington Symonds made against the diagnosis of homosexuality as a mental disorder points out that he actually became MORE productive and healthy once he embraced his gayness. Not only did his writing career improve (for a more dramatic example, note that Oscar Wilde’s works all flopped until he started banging dudes) but his physical health actually turned around. You prescribe a chronically anxious patient medication so that the patient doesn’t harm him/herself or others. You don’t give a lesbian medication meds to get her to stop eating pussy, because as long as both adults are willing and the relationship is healthy, chances are putting a stop to it would do more harm than good. Hmm… maybe Lesbians aren’t insane, then. Not in general, anyway…
So here’s a thought: these individuals you’re so willing to write off as disabled? Well, one, don’t. No one deserves to be dismissed out-of-hand for a disability. But also, talk to them. Ask them what it’s like to have fully accepted this new identity? So far, the vast majority with whom I’ve talked or about whom I’ve read have experienced an upsurge of confidence, and increase in productivity, and improved social relationships with others. Kinda sounds like the opposite of a mental disorder, doesn’t it? Furthermore, some of them have seen other disorders such as chronic depression actually loosen the death grip on their lives. They are happier, more at peace, and they are. Not. Hurting. Anyone. Or themselves. Before you just write off entire communities, ask yourself why you’re doing it? Who is being helped by your diagnosis? I think a lot of trouble can be saved if we ask ourselves similar questions before we do… well… anything.
I think the only reason I’m happy when you leave is I know I’ll get the excitement of being reunited with you again.
I disappeared for a bit. I am back now. If I missed anything, let me know, and I will look for it.
Exercise 4: “How do people change?”
It sounds like a simple question, doesn’t it? But as the doc pointed out, I’ve made it into a difficult one. In one of the previous exercises, the Shadow explained to me that because I fucked up, I could never trust myself again. Because beforehand, I was not a person that does those things. Now I’m someone who did. I’ve proven I’m capable of it. I can’t ignore that. I can’t take it back. I might as well paint the walls in blood as a reminder of what I’m capable of doing.
But people commit wrongs every day, don’t they? Break promises. To others. To themselves. Become things they never thought they’d be. And the sun comes up the next day and they’re still here. What now?
The thing is, I KNOW people can change. I’ve witnessed it. I’ve experienced it. And every once in a while a person who I wouldn’t trust to breathe in my general direction suddenly becomes the holder of the keys to my kingdom, or at least some of my safe zones. Why can I accept them and not me?
Various Swamis whose works I’ve read say that we are not our actions. Just because a man tells a lie once does not make him a liar. Getting drunk once does not make me a drunk. If I apply that label to myself, I pen myself up in a little cage from which I cannot escape. And, in a way, that makes everything I do okay. Not okay as in I don’t feel bad about it, but all the self-hate in the world won’t stop me from repeating myself. “Oh, I lied again? I’m a liar. It’s what I do. I’m horrible, but that’s just what I am.” Self-perpetuating self-hatred. Stagnation. A cage.
At the same time, saying, “Just because I didn’t do it before doesn’t mean I’ll do it again,” feels like letting myself off the hook. It feels lazy. I feel like all I’ve got preventing that side from coming out again is fear and my word, neither of which were sufficient the first time. Isn’t that just letting myself off the hook? By this definition, change is counting the days I go without lapsing into previous behavior, and after a certain number of months or years, I’ve obviously changed as I’ve not done it again. It’s like how doctors say that after 5 years of remission, there’s a good chance the cancer’s not coming back. Then again, usually remission only comes from almost killing the body in the process.
Is that what this is? Is this my chemo? Am I burning away myself, as much as I can, to start again from base parts and hope they don’t grow out of control this time? Do I just keep an ever-vigilant watch on myself and wait to see if I slip up again? Do I count the days I’m NOT something I hate, and as long as I don’t give in, I’ve changed?
Is that forgiveness, or just distance?