Emelia Holden video: No, it’s not a double standard

To the knuckleheads who say “but it’s not okay if a man does that to a woman?!” in reference to the Emelia Holden body slam video: No, it’s not okay. Because when a man is upset with a woman, all he needs to do is puff up and yell, and she will be intimidated because men are usually larger and scarier than women. When a woman wants to intimidate a man, she has to get super physical. If you doubt me, imagine if Emelia had just turned around and yelled at him,. He would have smirked and kept walking or said something infuriating like “hey, calm down honey” blah blah blah. She had body slam him to get his attention and make him realize she’s just as scary as him. THAT is why it’s okay for a woman to do it to a man and not the other way around. If a woman touches you when you don’t want to be touched, you can raise your voice and yell at her and she will likely be intimidated. If she’s not, feel free to get physical about it. But remember to pull your punch depending on how big she is. The object isn’t to hurt the offender, but to make them realize that you have power too.

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Harlan Ellison

Ellison was the first writer I fangirled over. I proselytized about him everywhere. I gave away his books, I collected old copies from the used store, I bought in auctions et cet. But I knew nothing about the man as a person. Somewhere in my late 20s when I had gotten more “serious” about being a fan (joined forums, went to gatherings, started writing my own fiction, interviewed folk et cet) I heard stories about him as a person. It did not take long to develop a very negative viewpoint of him. So then he became my first writer to feel conflicted over. As a woman, I despised what I kept hearing about him over and over. But his words, his writing still stirred something deep in me and fueled me to keep writing.

Ultimately, I believed the only way to enjoy his work was to dissociate it from the man whenever possible. The more I learned about him as a person, the more flaws I could find in his work but it didn’t change the fact that the man was monumentally talented and a workhorse to boot. But he was also a bully. This is not my personal opinion, it is well known that Harlan Ellison loved to mock and humiliate others.

So, I don’t feel one way or the other about his death personally. I feel like another chapter of my maturation has ended but that’s what happens when you turn the corner on birthday and swing into your 50s.

Bon Mots to you Ellison, you old talented asshole.

Ursula K Leguin

Ursula K Leguin has died. She was the first sci-fi writer I read who was a woman. I was 13. I had read some fantasy stuff before but nothing could have prepared me for the brilliance that was The Dispossessed. She blew my mind. She made me hunger for more. Not just more sci-fi,. but more sci-fi like that. Playing with stereotypes, challenging tropes, and questioning our cultural mores. I honestly could not believe such writing existed before I stumbled upon her. She blazed a trail that was so necessary yet so welcome. Until I “found” her, I didn’t even know you could write things like that (and be popular!) She gave me hope and something to look up to. But it wasn’t just her books, it was her essays, her introductions for other authors and her missives she sent out for her fans. She was a bright spirit, despite what her writing was like,. with a quick wit, a sharp perspective and a very warm personality. I always wished I could meet her just to let her know how important her work was to me. But I take solace knowing that she knew, even if she didn’t know it was me personally, that her work was needed and loved by so many. The best part was knowing how happy she was to be doing what she wanted; sending messages to society, shouting into a void that whispered back in lines of gratitude and love. I am glad I was able to be a part of that. I will miss her. Even though I never knew her, she knew me.

Bullying through exclusion: looking for the middle ground

Imagine having your child lying in your lap sobbing because her own friends were hurting her feelings during her birthday party. That’s a special pain.

“what’s going on baby? Why are you so upset?”
[long involved tale of being excluded over and over] “…and then they told me I wasn’t their friend!”

[struggling to stay calm and sane] “oh honey… it’s your special day..”
“YES AND THEY ARE JUST MAKING ME FEEL NOT SPECIAL AT ALL”
*heart breaks and breaks and breaks*

There’s no pain quite like comforting your child when their feelings have been hurt, especially when they were hurt by people they love. It’s a unique kind of tenderness fused with white-hot rage tempered by the knowledge that your rage will ironically hurt your child even more were you to act upon it. I have spent many a night holding a sobbing son while he wondered why his dad did not show up, so this is not a new situation for me. I already know that to be comforting as a mom, all I have to do is hold my child, stroke their hair and murmur soothing words.
In order to help them heal, however, I need concrete answers to their questions and solutions to their pain… which I cannot realistically give.

This is the problem of peer exclusion.

Believe it or not, peer exclusion is part and parcel of bullying. As defined by psychologists and developmental specialists, peer exclusion (past the age of 5) is both a part of bullying and a form of bullying on its own. Some studies suggest peer exclusion and ridicule (without accompanying physical abuse) is more common among female peer groups. In any case, it is an aspect of bullying that has very little attention. Much like verbal an psychological abuse, however, peer exclusion merits attention right alongside “regular” bullying. The effects of this type of bullying are just as damaging and can have longer-lasting effects.

But how do we tackle this? How do we, as parents, approach something that straddles the line between self-formed identity and subtle cruelty?

The question is how do I give my child the respect as an individual to make her own social choices while instilling in her the values of being open-minded, tolerant and gentle with other people’s feelings? How do I teach her “include others” while teaching her “don’t be an emotional doormat”? While I want her to be loving and accepting of everyone, I don’t want her thinking that she is wrong to have preferences. I want her to see the shining light of humanity within each person while understanding that not everyone is a good person. I want her to learn love and tolerance and forgiveness, but I don’t want her thinking its her obligation to tolerate all behavior or forgive all trespassers. Just how do we define “accepting” anyway? Where do we draw the line at “other people making choices” and “other people being mean”?

In the most recent example of my child being excluded, I sat with her for a while, soothing her sobs until we could talk. She sat up and I said “maybe you need to find someone else to play with. If people aren’t letting you have your special day, then let them go”
I could tell this idea pained her: she wanted to enjoy everyone at her party, even if they refused to enjoy her. These were her friends- kids she’d grown up knowing. Some of them she’d known in the crib. These were people she had dubbed her favorites; its why they’d been invited to the party to begin with. But what I couldn’t make her see was that sometimes friendships form between your friends that you are not a part of and that soemtimes means you get left out. True, good friends will be happy to let you back in, find ways to include you, but sometimes kids just don’t want to do that… or they don’t care.

She went off to play with someone else… a relatively new friend and we continued with the party.

…until the next episode happened. It just so happened I was there for it and I was able to intervene in a way that made the whole situation very clear. I told the repeat offenders that they were guests in our house and they were there because Lil Miss wanted to spend time with them and that if they were not going to include her in playing with her toys that she got for her birthday, I’d be happy to call their parents and have them taken home. The kids in question looked at me completely stunned. One of them tried to explain why they needed to exclude her and I interrupted with no uncertainty. “I don’t care what your issue is with her, you are NOT going to take her toys, push her out of her room and not let her play. Make your choice” Suddenly all kids involved decided that perhaps playing with her was not such a bad thing after all. Ten minutes later they were all having a great time. Mind you, these are kids who, when playing with Lil Miss all alone have absolutely no problem playing with her and often ask for her company. This is how I know this isn’t just making social choices. This is about deliberate exclusion.

Sadly, this is not the first time this has happened to Lil Miss. And though similar situations have arisen at school, her teacher has assured me that she has intervened whenever possible – because its already well known that Lil Miss is easily upset by being excluded. Which makes her a prime target for bullying by peer exclusion. So this isn’t just something I talk about because I think “those uncouth kids…” this is a real problem that could dog her throughout childhood and beyond. This is an issue of self-esteem and fear of rejection. But its not something I will sit by and blame my daughter for. Yes, she needs to learn how to stand up for herself in a reasonable manner that shows she will not be manipulated. But its the other kids who are either unwittingly or cruelly choosing to exploit the biggest emotional pitfall she has right now and I won’t stand by and make her think its all on her to fix that problem. I’m not going to turn my head and make her believe that she’s overreacting to a make-believe problem. I’m not going to gas-light my own child just because other kids are being mean but not using actual violence. I’m going to speak up for her whenever I can and teach her to speak up too. Hopefully through our unified efforts, she will be ready by high school to shrug off the deliberate efforts to provoke and hurt her. Because I can see that coming a mile away. Conversely, its always possible that she may decide to go on the offensive and do the same to others to prevent it happening to her. I hope our talking and modeling together she will not go that route either. I hope I can raise her to understand the difference between being careless with someone’s feelings and being cruel.

I hope I raise her to understand how important it is to speak up, whether its for herself or for someone else.

a message from me to future Lil Miss

I put my hands on my daughter’s face, brushed hair out of her eyes and asked her to look at me. I said “you will not know, for a long time, how much I really love you. One day, when you are grown up, maybe you’ll have a daughter and you’ll look at her and you’ll wonder ‘is this how my mother felt about me?’ and the answer to that question is ‘yes. that is exactly how I felt about you.’

Right now you know that I love you but you won’t really know how much I do until you’re older. So never forget that”

She looked at me the whole time I was speaking, letting my words sink into her skin, her eyes, her mouth, and she said “but will my daughter know?” and her face crumbled with fear and sadness and I knew what she was thinking. She leaned forward into my smile and I pulled her close and stroked her hair as I said quietly into her ear “maybe I won’t meet your daughter, I hope I do someday, I know I really want to, but if I don’t, you can tell her the same thing and *you’ll* know that I would have loved her as much as you do”

still figuring things out on this intarwebby thing

i want to keep in touch with my friends. I want to hear what they have to say. I want to know what’s going on in their lives and how they feel and if anything is going on that they want me to be a part of.

That’s why Facebook is so important for me.

BUT…. its turned into a place of very little appeal now…. its

soapbox
ranty
snarky
scary
sad
and self-congratulating

None of which would be a big problem (gawd knows I am those things too) except those qualities have become the only times it is not superficial. All the news is sad and scary and angry-making. Or else its cute kitties and puppies. Once in a great while its inspiration-porn which is uncomfortable.

Mostly its just a daily outrage machine. Which isn’t to say the subjects brought up aren’t important but I can’t get behind the exhausting barrage of competing culture-wide problems.

I’m more interested in knowing how everyone’s doing but most of what I get is everyone hiding behind the liberal cause de jeur.

One of the reasons I still love Livejournal more than facebook is because when we were ALL on Livejournal we had more categories and thus we could be friends with more than one type of person. I was in political groups, social groups, parent groups etc
Not to say we didn’t get into arguments, dear gawd of course we did, but they happened mostly on the group pages. Most of us reserve our personal page for personal things. The political posts were not as frequent or common. Because when we posted to our page, we took our time, thought it out and assumed we were addressing all our close friends.

Facebook has gone beyond being a big cocktail party and turned into an sort of online state fair – everyone has a booth where they simultaniously sell their wares AND hawk their views AND hob-nob with friends and family. If you’re close you get to visit behind the booth and everyone plays musical booths all day long in some sort of complicated square dance that involves more steps and rules than I can keep up with.

I’m so tired. I just want to talk about how we’re all DOING. I don’t want to stand on a soapbox and scream any more (well, okay maybe every now and then?) I just want to explore each other and feel close again, not what was the latest violation of decency in the news today. I pretty much know all my friends and family’s political and social views.

Maybe that’s part of the problem – there’s nothing left to LEARN anymore.