So this is for those people who fail to consider other people before looking for their own emotional resolution. Those people who demand closure or their emotions handled when the epicentre of something bad happened to someone else they know. I do get that generally we are self centred individuals who think about our own suffering before others, but we should perhaps consider not opening our mouths when someone else has every reason to be suffering or grieving more than we do ourselves.
It is not the job of the person/s who are in the epicentre of some terrible event to consider the feelings of other people who are peripheral to the epicentre. The epicentre sucks, and the concentric circles of closeness from that event also suck, but they suck less and less than the epicentre.
Let me give some examples, one that I’ve experienced myself even. When a partner of 18 months left me to be monogamous with his other partner, someone I had hoped to receive some sympathy from when I told them the news was upset with me because I didn’t think of her feelings in telling her this news. She expected me to sympathise with her over the loss of a potential relationship she might have had versus the actual relationship I’d lost. She was angry that I didn’t sympathise with her, even though I was completely unaware of her potential relationship. She’d made it all about her and failed to consider where the epicentre of hurt was in this instance.
Another scenario, one I’ve heard more than once, when a relationship breaks down and someone not in the relationship exclaims their disappointment at the relationship breaking down, wanting some kind of support for their pain over hearing that the relationship is over, without any consideration for what the person is telling them feels about it.
Just like when someone discloses to you that they’ve been raped, the focus should not be on the listener’s feelings about the whole issue:
Maintain the focus on her. This is tricky, because each rape victim is unique and the response they need from you may vary from person to person. I have in the past said not to react with anger, because that puts the victim in the position of having to talk someone down from committing murder or assault, but I’ve since heard from rape victims who felt that anger in response to their stories was helpful and cathartic. So I will amend my earlier statement to say that expressing emotion, even strong emotion, is probably fine, but do it while remembering that this moment isn’t about you so much as it is about the victim. Communication is very valuable here: “I’m going to kill him!” is very very unlikely to be helpful, but saying “I know this isn’t about me, but I’m just so furious at him. Is there anything I can do for you?” is one way of expressing strong emotion while still affirming that you are there to help the victim, rather than she being there to talk you down from homicide or console you at being confronted with rape culture*. [ana mardoll's ramblings]
So, if it isn’t about you, don’t make it about you. Be there for the person at the epicentre of tragedy, because if that was you, you’d want exactly that. Don’t make the person/s at the epicentre have to care for you and take time away from processing their own emotions and reactions about the tragedy, don’t give them more work in having to care about you.
It’s not often I bother to click on a link tweeted by ABC Religion and Ethics because far too often I find myself suffering serious eye-roll, if not rage. Sometimes they have articles worth reading, today’s effort by Roger Scruton and Phillip Blond (two UK writers) was not one of them.
The article was florid and pretentious, using language and terms that many people would struggle with, but the worst thing is that the article was masquerading as a balanced view on marriage, which instead came across as sexist, gender essentialist and a bit homo, bi and trans* phobic. I suspect that most people would have been put off by the language use, I almost was, and perhaps for my rage levels I should have let myself be – curse my stubbornness.
*trigger warning – discussion of rape and other violence*
I have this idea. I’m not sure if it would work, or even be possible, but I’d like to try it out – sadly control groups and experimental groups are lacking.
A little background might help I guess, because what I’m asking for is people’s opinions and ideas as to whether my idea is feasible, whether they’ve seen anything else similar anywhere else, and overall whether I should push this as a form of community engagement.
I’m a member of a polyamorous community in Victoria (Australia). There has been a lot of discussion recently about how to ensure that the community remains safe and what (if any) role the committee of the incorporated organisation play in that. There is clearly a desire for clarity around the committee’s role and what the community can expect – but this isn’t the discussion I want here, this discussion is for my idea of creating a safer community.
If the leaders of a community (whether elected official leaders or other identified leaders) expressed clear opposition to unsafe behaviours and encouraged the community to openly and safely discuss how those unsafe behaviours have affected them personally (with no mention of perpetrators) in their lives, would that create a community were those who engaged in those behaviours would not feel welcome?
That’s nice and complicated, let me break it down to a specific example. If the committee/leaders stated that rape and other sexual crimes are behaviours that are not tolerated in the poly community, and the community was encouraged to have ongoing discussions regarding the effect that rape has had on their lives, without naming he perpetrator because this is the space for those who have experienced rape or other sex crimes, would those who believe that rape is no big deal have their minds changed, and would those who have raped or who will rape be less likely to remain in the community? Could a community be built that does not blame victims for the crimes against them but instead supports them and talks about the damage that silence and victim blaming causes?
We don’t talk about violence against others nearly often enough in the community spaces I inhabit. We do not express our distaste, our displeasure, our repulsion, our abhorrence against what is done by some to others. This culture of silence often means it is easy for people to be unaware of the extent of the harm that violence causes, and also how wide-spread some forms of violence are. If those of my community, who evidently felt safe to do so, stood up and told our stories of violence, those who don’t know would most likely be shocked at how common such things are. I’d want the leaders (elected or generally respected) to be very clear that no one invites crimes to be committed against them and that any form of victim blaming would not be tolerated.
I feel, in an ideal world, that this could work, that a community could start to talk about the harm that violence causes, and make it a very unwelcome environment for those individuals that participate in forms of violence against others – because their viewpoints that their behaviour is ok would be challenged by people who think it is not.
There are two interesting points about this ultra-common defence for every undeniably racist (sexist, homophobic, &c) text in existence. The first is that it is historically bogus. Such ideas, like all ideas, were – are – contested. Certainly & obviously the mainstream shifts, the balance of forces alters, but the implicit or explicit claim that there were no dissident voices on supremacist agendas is a lie. To claim that everyone talked like Tintin about the Congo back in the day is (whatever other serious political arguments we may have with them) to slander, say, Felicien Challaye, Albert Londres, the French Socialist movement that declared at its 1907 conference that colonialism ‘relies on violent conquest and institutionalises the subjection of Asiatic and African peoples’.
The second point is that even if these attitudes do ‘reflect their time’ in the sense of reflecting a then-more-mainstream agenda, so the fuck what? The point about attitudes is that they change, in response to struggle, to a battle for ideas. The question here is whether or not Tintin au Congo is racist. Which it is. That may perhaps in part be because white supremacism was less contested back then – just as well we’re not back then, then, isn’t it? & that instead we live in now, when the resistance of those deemed unable to add 2 & 2 has forced the recognition that this kind of shit is shit. These days a ‘collective synapse’ should kick in ‘forged by mass movements … that have forced a lot of people, particularly white straight men, to have a clue.’
The folks I have met to advocate Radical Honesty™ tend to fetishize blunt, unvarnished, raw communication, at the expense of compassion or of any sort of concern for the emotional response of the people to whom they are speaking. Like the main character in Bones, they tend to display a lack of empathy toward their fellow human beings that, from the outside, borders on active hostility.
And that’s unfortunate, because it means that conversations about Radical Honesty almost always end up being framed in terms of “Is honesty good, or do we need little white lies and other small deceptions in order to make civilization go?” The debate gets set in terms of honesty vs. dishonesty, and that’s a damn shame.
Honesty without compassion is rubbish. The question should not be framed as “Which is better, honesty or dishonesty?” but rather “How can we strive for absolute honesty in a framework of respect, compassion, kindness, and sincerity?” All too often, when the question is framed as Radical Honesty™ vs. The Little White Lie, the only compassionate answer is The Little White Lie, because the philosophy of Radical Honesty™–at least as I’ve seen it practiced–treats compassion with disdain, or even contempt.
I thought I was so ugly for so long and I wasted so much of my life on this dumb notion. I punished myself and avoided my reflection in mirrors and any windows. I would see myself reflected back and I would look away, trying to pretend I didn’t exist because I hated myself so much. I hated the way I looked and it started early on. My father found a school project from 1st grade, where I had written on a photo of myself that I looked like a flat faced mummy – and firstly, how does a kid that young know what a flat faced mummy is and secondly, I cry at my own self judgement and thirdly, I was such a cute kid. Imagine my face and then miniaturize it in your mind until the age of 6. I know, fucking adorable.
One day I looked at myself and I thought, shit, this is it. this is what I look like. No amount of self hatred is going to change my appearance. I am who I am. I am stuck with this and I have to love it or else I am going to die early from my own suffering and idea that I got shortchanged in the looks department.
Yes, the female characters are secondary. But that’s a production decision. And fans don’t generally let production decisions get in the way when there is still something to scavenge from the show. This is the beautiful thing about fans: they don’t let creators tell them how they get to experience the show. I mean, the creators often do tell us how to experience the show (*cough, cough,* George Lucas), but fans don’t comply. And I would say that fans don’t just ignore the voices from on high that directly tell them “You can’t read it that way,” but they also ignore plot details, the structure of casts, and other elements in shows that tell them how to read it indirectly. So even though the companions are definitionally sidekicks to the Doctor, plenty of women will still read those companions as the heroes. They’ll still read the Doctor as a genderqueer character they can relate to. And they can do all that while complaining that Doctor Who needs a lady protagonist every once in a damn while.
*Trigger warning for discussion of rape and relationship abuse*
So, dear exes… these songs are all for you.
For the pain, heartache, and torture you put me through during and after our relationship by being a complete and utter arsehat. For dumping me so you could be monogamous with your other girlfriend because she’d earlier dumped you and you’d never been dumped before. For so completely misunderstanding me and never asking me why I did something or what I was thinking. For emotionally abusing me for years, treating me like dirt, because the power got you off. For raping me and not listening to me say “no” and then being faux apologetic afterwards, “Let’s not do that again”, and then at the next opportunity pressuring me into having sex with you again. For failing to communicate effectively with me and instead just dumping announcements and changes on me, expecting that I’d be completely fine with them.
These are the breakup songs which speak to me and help me keep going on, the songs that help me know that I did nothing to deserve the pain that I went through, and that I sing with the other strong women (lyrics linked to in song titles).
The first is by Paul Mac, featuring Ngaiire, called, “It’s not me, it’s you“. I hadn’t actually seen the film clip to this song until tonight, and it’s awesome.
The second is by a relatively unknown (at least in Australia) indy band called Elizabeth and the Catapults – called “Momma’s Boy“. Because I relate to this song so much (and I like this song but it isn’t specifically breakup related).
Hollywood has done us a great disservice, though this should come as no surprise. This time, I’m thinking about relationships and how they are portrayed in movies, specifically when the relationship ends due to the death of one of the partners. In the average movie, when someone’s husband or wife dies, they spend a disproportionate amount of time watching their wedding video and being sad. The being sad bit I can understand, the wedding video I don’t.
I know its symbolic and is a quick and cheap way of showing how much this individual misses the other, but its also really wrong. As well as fuelling the wedding video market, which is stupidly overpriced and terribly saccharine, its not even a good representation of what a relationship is. A relationship isn’t one event, it is a series of events, both good and bad, over a period of time.
Although family videos were made of my wedding day, I never watch them and don’t think I actually have them anymore. I had a photographer come and take photos, and I look at them once every year or so, because they’re pretty, but not because “it was the happiest day of my life™”. I define my relationship with my (legal) husband by many different events, and I wouldn’t want just one to define my entire relationship. To only let my wedding day define my relationship of over 16 years with him cheats both of us the life experience we’ve gained together and the good and bad times we’ve spent together.
I’m far more likely to remember out 10th wedding anniversary, countless weekends lying in bed and talking about everything, discoveries that we’ve made while being out and about together, songs we’ve made up, laughing until we cry and much awesome sex. All of this is far more fun than that one day where I dressed up in a white dress and said, “I do” in front of family and friends.
To let a wedding day define an entire relationship is wrong and unfair. It puts impossible expectations on people to make their wedding day be the best day of their life, and suggests that everything from there onwards will be downhill. It fuels an industry that already gouges people, encourages conspicuous consumption and suggests to those who cannot afford the most outrageous wedding ever that they will be miserable for all eternity – when perhaps all they wanted (if they want to get married – that’s a whole different debate) was a simple ceremony in front of a few close friends and family.
I’d much prefer a montage of time spent together, as I have seen some movies do. Picnics, birthdays, anniversaries, parties and just time spent together to sum up the essence of a lifetime spent together. That is far more realistic than just one event being played over and over.