From sad-cannibal-noises, this is for anyone who wants everyone who fights oppressive power structures to “just get along”:
Offensive things aren’t offensive merely because they hurt feelings - they’re offensive because they contribute to the societal harm of marginalized groups. The end goal isn’t to get everyone to love each other, it’s to destroy power imbalances.
I’m very tempted but I’d like to keep the record here. My OKCupid profile links to the ever-growing thread of harassment, and I like letting people know that their behavior is not going unnoticed. Many guys back off once they realize that people will see what they say. I’ve even had someone say that he didn’t send me that gross racist message because his account was hacked, and asked me if I could remove the post. (I didn’t.)
The Bad Advisor explains the mixed messages from your ex:
Your ex is not sending you mixed messages. Your ex is sending you one extremely clear message: he likes having you around for light petting and is not interested in dating you—or, based on the information you’ve given here, anyone else—exclusively. In the movies, this dude would be a confused bad boy whom you, the misunderstood and pining love non-interest, would eventually charm into ending his dally-wag light petting ways. In real life, this dude is perfectly capable of going out with you if he wants to, but he doesn’t want to. Remember that time he told you he didn’t want to go out with you? He doesn’t want to go out with you.
I giggled because I am a child. However, Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaireactually studied extensively abnormalities in physiological development and he actually looked at the congenital disordercyclopia. (Don’t click unless you want to see grotesque physical malformations.) Rhinencephala are those born with a specific form of cyclopia, rhinencephaly, which is characterized by a proboscis protruding from the head. (See previous click warning.) Rhinencephaly can be present with edocephaly, which roughly translates to genital-likehead, because the proboscis from either actually looks like a penis stitched on a head. But edocephaly is a type of otocephaly, which is a (lethal) cephalic disorder of the lower jaw, while rhinencephaly is a type of arhinencephaly, which is a (lethal) cephalic disorder of the nose.
The prefix rhin- means of the nose. (See also: Etymology of rhinoceros.) The proboscis in rhinencephaly is a nasal malformation. Arhinencephaly is the congenital absence of the olfactory system. And if you’re not confused enough, the rhinencephalon is now the part of the brain concerned with olfactory functions, arhinencephaly is now called holoprosencephaly, and cyclopia is a type of holoprosencephaly known as alobar holoprosencephaly.
But rhinencephaly is still rhinencephaly, so at least something consistent.
This was posted on Twitter but I wanted to post it here because I’m self-absorbed and self-advertising and I also can’t emphasize enough how arrogant and myopic someone must be to sneer at “social justice” and “social justice warriors” for overreacting, being too angry, and not doing “real” activism. My activism may not be your activism but if all you have for me is criticism about how I am so aggressive, then you are not engaging with what I am saying. You are the one polluting social justice with your dismissal. You are the one choosing to silence me.
Because this phenomenon often happens down the privilege hierarchy. A white person telling me that I am too angry is being racist. An abled person telling me that I am too angry is being ableist. A man telling me that I am too angry is being sexist. They are using their privilege to muzzle me. I don’t have the privilege to strike back. I won’t get the same result. It’s not the same thing.
Brosh’s experience with depression isn’t exactly like mine but there are some things that are exactly right. For example, this is every conversation I had with almost everyone who asked about the details of my depression:
This was me last week, minus the concerned questioning boyfriend:
I had the urge to cry continuously all last week. No matter where I had to be or what I had to do or who I was with, I was ready to burst into tears at any moment. It was so inexplicably frustrating. I had shit to do but all I wanted to do was cry. It took all my energy not to cry so I had no energy to do shit. Finally I got to the point where I did shit while crying. Still annoying and still not that effective but shit still got done, yo.
It’s hard facing a world where it’s acceptable for only certain illnesses to be seen. It’s even harder when the one of the symptoms of the illness is wanting to die. (Often you want to die as a result of symptoms from other diseases making your life a miserable hell but that is often more accepted because people can see how your life is a miserable hell.) Death is a severe subject and people often feel obligated to keep someone from dying. Depression is a bother for everyone, in one form or another.
For me, depression is the default state of life (unless I am hypomanic). Sometimes I’m lucky enough to enter remission. But when depressed, wanting to die is normal. I wake up expecting to want to die. I go to sleep expecting that I want to die the next morning. It’s a pleasant surprise when I don’t want to die (and not hypomanic). If there is anything I want people to understand about depression, it’s how wanting to die is normalized. No matter what face I show and no matter what I say, there is some part of me that doesn’t want to exist.
But that doesn’t mean that I don’t get shit done. It just takes longer because I am sick. Time and energy are used for basic survival, to just reach baseline for the healthy.
She told me that there are triggers for mania just as there are triggers for flashbacks. So of course there are triggers for depression. All the pieces fit: performance stress, sleep deprivation, major changes in living situation, losing a significant relationship, and just plain ol’ winter. Then she told me that I am being anti-social. No, I haven’t been the social butterfly I was, but November, December, and now January were unkind to my emotional stability. I could ask what I could have done differently, but those days have passed. Honestly, I am too tired to introspect. More, it’s too dangerous. I’ve been thinking about self-harm again.
She asked if I were okay. We’ll talk, she said, and I knew that something must have given it away. Maybe it was my face. Maybe it was my voice. Maybe it was both. I wouldn’t be surprised if our conversation went something like this:
In a major depressive episode, I have significantly less energy and significantly less interest in being nice to people. Unfortunately, both limit one of the best solutions to stop myself from killing myself. When you don’t have the energy, it’s hard to socialize. When you don’t have any patience, it’s hard to be someone people want to socialize with. More, it’s been hard to be honest. The simple question How are you? becomes complex. How do you easily and politely state that there is something terribly wrong and not make the conversation about you?
Then I realized that’s exactly what you do.
You say things like I’m not feeling that well or I’m a little under the weather. That is the truth. You are sick. If they ask, you sincerely say it’s depression and thanks for asking. Normalizing depression makes me feel less awkward talking about it, which makes other people feel less awkward facing it. The conversation moves on and everyone can have a good time.
I’ve been too tired to be social. Then I’ve been too afraid to be social. I said to her that there is a difference between staying in bed for self-care and staying in bed because you can’t leave. As tired and irritable and wanting to die as I am, I don’t want to be tired and irritable and wanting to die just because I don’t want this to be my life. More accurately, I don’t want this to be my death. No, I don’t want to die in bed. If I am going to go, I will do it some other fucking way and fuck me if I am going to expire before I finish goddamn school.
The non-sensical stubbornness that’s gotten me into so much trouble may be exactly what’s saving my life.
When people don’t understand why I am returning to academia’s heavy hand, I tell them that I was a precocious little shit. In a first-generation Taiwanese-American household, any interest in scholarly pursuits was encouraged and the resulting pain from pursuing such pursuits was normalized. Certainly some of that pain had external sources but some was self-inflicted. Many nights I would not sleep because I liked to read too much. Once, in a perverse combination of curiosity and stubbornness, I read until sunrise because I read about how the sky changes colors as the sun crosses the horizon and I wanted to see what that was like first-hand. Barely in second grade and already I was training my body for an irregular sleep schedule in the name of scholarship.
Some years later, my body decided it was time to sexually mature. Because I liked to read, I already knew all about menstruation, and immediately I went to my mother to ask for menstrual products. However, though I knew the biological mechanisms behind menses, I had no idea what the social norms were. At ten, I was still young enough to conduct bathroom activities in front of family members. Imagine my father’s surprise when he learned that his daughter has entered puberty.
The adults talked over breakfast. My father said something about how the timing seemed really early and my mother said something about how she didn’t know why but it was what it was. I said that though my menarche appeared to be early, it was still within the range of healthy ages of onset. I also noted that one of the factors contributing to menarche is body fat percentage, and I briefly displayed my pudgy midsection and limbs.
Then I pulled out the book. When I was a younger young thing, my parents gave me a book all about the body. I spent many late nights flipping through the pages, reviewing how we smell, the processes of the digestive system, why some people need vision correction. I knew exactly which page had the information to support my argument.
I was ten and I was citing my sources.
Say what you want about the dysfunctional relationship between Asia America and academia. Some of us, I think, have some natural talent for scholarship. We have the skills to learn quickly enough, the inclination to observe and explore, and the confidence to report and defend our results with enough supporting data. It just took another few years before I learned how to present with PowerPoint.
HE:Read your blog entry. If I had solutions I would share them. Best wishes to your own sleep schedule, as well as your emotional, hormonal, psychosomatic struggles, or whatever other label you prefer to place on them. But I will say this: we, individually, do learn more from experiencing a thing than from simply theorizing about it.
ME:Thanks! You are super sweet. But qualia are still not real.
Admitting that you are rebounding is admitting that something was there. It’s easy for me to be honest with myself, but to be honest with others is terrifying. I perform independence and nonchalance, so well I could almost believe myself. But to be honest is to admit that revealing heartbreak is revealing vulnerability. I would show my true face: I am an eager romantic. I have a heart to be broken. Out there, I would be eaten alive.
He is honest with me, but I wish he could be honest with himself. The mixed signals are confusing. His silence is disappointing. They all told me for months that it wasn’t fair to me, but I stayed because that’s no good reason to leave. Everything else was so good we could pretend that it was all good. But to be honest, I knew that he knew that there were problems.
And they are all his. We’ve all said it. They’re his problems, not mine.
Worse, there is nothing I can do. I can’t process his feelings for him. I can’t help him translate what he wants when he doesn’t know. I can’t will myself out of this sadness. I can’t do anything. No, there is nothing to do but for one more thing: Let it go.
To be honest, I don’t want to. But that’s no good reason to stay. They all say that I deserve better, and I know that they are all right. I just think it’s funny that just one thing is just that one thread that unravels everything else.
SHE:Clint and Tasha teaching Steve about sexual mores of the future? With kink occasionally going wrong? And then people being adults about it and working through it? I thought that might be something of interest to you.
I’ve started on Fox’s new neo-noir cyberpunk police procedural Almost Human, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised. (But then I didn’t start with high expectations. But then I generally don’t start with any.) J. H. Wyman may have been showrunner for Fringe, but Almost Human lacks its subtlety and atmosphere. The opening title cards and voiceover narration are ridiculously heavy-handed, seeming to belong to a second-rate production or one from an earlier time, and the setting is far too shiny, too sparkly, too sunny without any trace of self-awareness to be truly noir. Kevin McFarland at the A.V. Club dubs the show Blade Runner: The Procedural. I laugh in agreement because it’s clear that Almost Human is attempting to funnel the philosophy of tech-noir into the tone and execution of the procedural (except for the opening credits, which will eventually drive me up the wall because of the inconsistent visual language).
Even with those criticisms, Almost Human does very well centering the show around the relationship between its two protagonists, human Detective John Kennex and his android partner Dorian. The two men have good on-screen chemistry. Karl Urban, who plays Kennex, is a battle-weary but still genuinely warm cop, and Michael Ealy, who plays Dorian, is the talented and good-natured rookie. However, added to that classic cop buddy dynamic is the inherent class difference between being human and not quite human. Many times in the pilot episode Kennex calls Dorian “synthetic”. Dorian is not a “real” human being, even though he may look and act like one. It may also be an accident that Dorian is black while Kennex is white, but regardless of intention, one can’t ignore the implications behind the casting. As the show progresses, the relationship between Kennex and Dorian quickly falls comfortably into a partnership, so the message is not that Dorian and others like him are inferior, but there is great potential for Almost Human to explore the perception and embodiment of humanness through how the characters interact with each other.
And again, however overtly it came across, there’s an element of race at play in the interaction between androids and humans. Kennex keeps asking Vanessa [a black android] the wrong questions during an interrogation. He can’t get on the right mental wavelength to ask the right questions. As a fellow robot, and the black lead talking to the only black supporting character in the episode, Dorian knows what to say. I don’t think there’s some grand statement being made in these interactions, but there’s a pattern at play relating racial interaction in real life to how humans (or secret robots) interact with almost humans—Dorian’s robot with a soul, or the sex bots with human DNA in their skin—in the world of Almost Human. That is subtext I find most encouraging—that this show could have something complex to say.
Likewise, I am very interested in what this show could say about class or racial relations. (Already in the second episode, there is a strong statement about misogyny and sexual objectification: Even given safe and hyperrealistic alternatives to human women, men would still literally strip from women their bodies and turn them into sex toys.) I feel comfortable watching a show that is aware of societal power structures and the importance of on-screen personal relationships. I would even grit my teeth through the opening credits and elementary existentialist musings. Now if they would only strengthen the two female leads beyond romantic interest and boss, Almost Human could be a very good show.
Postscript - The amount of Blade Runner references is absolutely ridiculous. Blade Runner is set 37 years into the future of 2019; Almost Human is set 35 years ahead in 2048. In the second episode, Sebastian Jones, a man who creates sex androids, is found dead; in Blade Runner, J.F. Sebastian is geneticist who creates his own companions. Also in the second episode is a hotel called the Deckard Gardens Hotel, obviously named after Blade Runner protagonist Rick Deckard. I may have to grit my teeth about the heavy-handed homages, too.