Tag Archives: thoughts

Computer games – getting it right and wrong since forever

I love computer games.  I’ve been playing them since I was at least 10, so for the majority of my life.  And, in what used to be something unusual, I’m a female gamer.  Like all computer gamers (and people who read books, watch TV, grow plants, etc), I prefer some types of games over others.  I’ve never been much of a first person shooter (FPS), though there have been the odd FPS I’ve enjoyed multiplaying with friends/the household.  I’ve always tended to play god/civilisation-sims (Civilisation, Populous, Sim City, Tropico, etc) and Role Playing Games (yes those based on AD&D style mechanics).

One of the things I’ve noticed about these games is that either you’re playing a faceless character with no specific gender (though the nations in Civilisation are represented by particular historic figures who are gendered), or you can create your own character and pick the image or now the entire appearance that this character has for the game.

Continue reading Computer games – getting it right and wrong since forever

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Being angry (resurrected)

Kindly supplied by “e” who had this post in their feed-reader.  I don’t know who e is, but I owe them a drink.  🙂

 

As promised, a post on anger.  This is completely out of my head without any supporting psychology theory exactly, though I suppose I could go and find some somewhere.  Anyway… anger and my experience of it.

I can confidently say that my role models for dealing with anger as a child were not very good.  I don’t know any people who had good conflict, frustration, or anger role models as children.  My parents, like many people had troubled childhoods (which is a nice way of saying that for the most part both their childhoods were incredibly traumatic), and a lack of good role models in their life to deal with conflict, frustration, or anger.

I think that this lack of experience in seeing anger as another emotion, much like being sad, happy, concerned, worried, silly, etc, meant that my ability to be angry did not mature as my other emotions did.  I no longer am sad as I was as a child, or a teenager, I am not longer happy as I was as a child… but my anger is… well… immature.  My first response is to just go quiet and cold.  To be angry, but not even to be able to express it.  Anger was avoided in my family, both my parents would be angry behind closed doors, failing to hear each other (I thought), and eventually one of them, usually my father, storming out of the house and going for a walk.

When I moved out of home I unconsciously resolved to communicate differently with my partner than my parents did with each other.  It certainly helped that I ended up in relationships with people who generally communicated with a similar language set and meanings (my parents do not seem to have the same dictionary when talking to each other – or perhaps it is an implicit/explicit communication conflict).  Anyway… although I feel I communicate with my partners better than my parents communicate with each other, and I manage to avoid conflict through miscommunication along the way, my initial way of dealing with conflict and anger was to avoid them as much as possible.

So when angry, I’d walk away.  I mirrored my father’s behaviour and his reaction to being angry.  I didn’t lash out physically or verbally, I’d retreat and go away.  Eventually (sometimes quickly, sometimes not) I’d come back and be in tears because I didn’t have a better response.  I felt guilty about being angry about some things, and justified but unable to explain exactly what I was feeling in others.  Part of that guilt I know is that women are supposed to be nice, good, quiet, biddable, etc creatures (not really human after all), who don’t get angry, because if we’re angry we’re bitches, shrews, shrill, uppity, etc. Part of the guilt had to do with being angry with people I loved and over things that were difficult for us to deal with at the time (my husband being clinically depressed for the first 9 years of our marriage for example).

When I was unable to communicate that I was angry, I would get upset.  Much like feeling stupid is something that upsets me, being unable to articulate (and therefore feeling that I can’t communicate, therefore am stupid), upsets me.  Feeling, as I did at the time, that I had to explain my anger/disappointment/whatever gently and carefully in order to not distress my husband added to the burden of dealing with anger and conflict, and made me even more likely to avoid it.

My husband was treated for his depression, we found the big wide world of polyamory, and having to deal with conflict and anger became something I could no longer avoid.  Polyamory challenges assumptions about relationships, forces you to look at the relationships you are currently in and assess the health of habits and behaviours that you and your partner have been wandering around in (well it did for us).  The relationships that we became involved in challenged both of us, and the way we acted towards each other, the things that we just put up with, the idiosyncrasies, and our avoidance of conflict.

It would be true to state that my first polyamorous relationship (outside my marriage) was with a high drama and high maintenance man and resulted in conflict with him and some of his other partners during the life of that relationship.  I didn’t handle the conflict, anger, or frustration well (I still don’t think I do), but I learnt a lot.  My counsellor was instrumental in helping me accept that anger is a valid emotion, one that is completely ok to have, and it is not the end of the world (or relationships) to be angry.  I learnt that if I can’t immediately articulate what I’m angry about, that it is ok (though this I still struggle with because I take a while to process strong emotions and often the whole thing is done before I have a handle on why I’m angry/upset).  I have learnt that I can talk about it, I can experience it, and it is another emotional response to stimuli as the others are.

As I have accepted that anger is ok, and a valid response, it has changed and grown into a different emotion than it was 6 years ago.  I am no longer guilty for being angry, though still struggle with whether anger is necessarily the best emotional response (not quite the same as guilt).  I also have a hard time processing some comments (particularly those I hear versus those I read) quickly, so am meaning deaf to comments that might otherwise make me angry until I process them at a later stage.

What is the moral of this story (apart from not write blog posts late at night because then you tend to ramble)?  It’s ok to be angry, and it’s ok for your anger to be the anger of a younger you.  The more I accepted my anger, the more it matured.

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Feeling stupid

There is this thing that I… hate… detest… suffer from… something… the feeling of being stupid.  I’m not sure why exactly I have a thing about this, because I know I don’t know everything, nor do I understand everything, and I’m also quite smart… but feeling stupid is something that sometimes really upsets me.

A case in point happened last week, while I was in a work training course.  We were doing a role-play of a real life scenario, and consequently didn’t have ALL the data.  We were provided with a three page summary of what was happening, and my team were the guinea pigs for this case.  This meant that our team was under the greatest pressure in the case study, we had the least preparation time for the two scenarios (they were back to back), and we’d only just been trained in the theory that we were practising.

Halfway through the first case study, I realised I had no idea of what was going on.  The team I was a part of seemed to have read a completely different case study to the one I had read, well that’s how it felt, and I suddenly felt cast adrift.  In feeling like I’d missed a major point or issue in the case study, I suddenly felt like I was stupid, which really upset me.  Upset me to the point of tears, in a training room with many of my colleagues, and members of my senior leadership team.  So yes, I was feeling stupid, upset and humiliated all at once.

It’s not necessarily about being wrong, because as I said, I don’t know everything, and I will be wrong sometimes.  I think it’s a lot to do with how I feel (I was exhausted at the time of that role play), the amount of stress I’m under, and how important my competence/image is at that moment.  Given how I’m still not feeling 100% sure in my current role, feeling stupid is a really big deal.  The added stress of nearly bursting into tears during the role play was extra stressful and extra humiliating.

I suppose that this really ties into some of the important (and mostly fucked up) messages I got as a child.  Image is important, very important.  Being smart was as important as looking smart (I’m not sure how that works really).  I suppose that me becoming an adult at 3 years of age has kinda warped some of my ideas about what it is to be an adult, and what is and is not important.

Next post – being angry.

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Imposter syndrome

Imposter Syndrome:

The impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. It is not an officially recognized psychological disorder, but has been the subject of numerous books and articles by psychologists and educators. The term was coined by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978.

Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. (Wikipedia)

A long time ago, when I was at primary school, I was selected to be part of an extension project run by the Northern Territory Government (I was living in Alice Springs at the time).  The program was developed for gifted students and was to help accelerate their education, or something.  I never really understood the program, especially as it only ran during primary school and didn’t continue into high school.  I certainly enjoyed it though, because we learnt problem solving, puzzle solving, team work, an early introduction to algebra (still one of my favourite maths subjects), and had options to undertake external school activities like languages (I learnt some French), screen printing, photography and others.

Continue reading Imposter syndrome

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Running out of everything

It’s not a new problem for me, the problem of running out of coping, running out of caring, running out of energy beyond what is strictly necessary, but it is a problem that I have successfully managed to avoid for some years now, and so it snuck up on me with warning signs I’d forgotten how to read, and now I’m at the bottom of the barrel.

I could have seen it coming if I remembered the signs, but it’s been a long time since I ran out of everything that the signs were quite unfamiliar to me, until I hit that brick wall and stumbled backwards, landing on my arse and looking quite surprised with the world.

So the past few weeks have been really hard emotional work for me.  I’m an introvert (in the MBTI sense – I recharge by being near alone/alone), and so when I fill my calendar up with social engagements, and not sufficient time to spend recharging, I’m far more likely to hit that wall and sit up, blinking at it.  It takes a lot longer to recover once I’ve hit that wall than if I’d taken the time to myself to recharge before moving onto the next big (or small) thing.

It hasn’t helped of course that in the past 2 months my husband and one of his partner’s have ended ended their relationship (no hope at all of rekindling that, and she left him so he’s been really upset about that), a friend died and we’ve provided support to his partner and other friends who have needed it (and my husband went straight there when he found out and helped with the police report and other emotional supporting needs), spent a weekend in country Victoria with some lovely women, some of whom were working through issues – to which I gave hugs, a shoulder to cry on, and listening (as well as cooking and cleaning).  The following weekend (this wasn’t a wise move), I visited my parents and… well did parenting work.  This was the week after the funeral.  I then returned to Melbourne, had dinner with a friend, saw Bangarra perform Belong (highly highly recommend that if you ever have the opportunity to see them perform – will write more later), went to a gig (saw Mareike Hardy and Gotye occupy the same room), celebrated International Celebrate Bisexuality Day with a meal at the pub with my bisexual community, and then went out on Saturday night to dinner and then a burlesque themed show with friends… that’s when I knew.

That’s when I knew that I had nothing left, almost nothing left for me, and certainly nothing left for the group I was with.  I was numb, distant and somewhat irritated (though that last bit had probably far more to do with the venue than anything else).  I left early, went home and sat around a bit before I went to bed.  I decided to spend Sunday doing things for me (playing computer games, looking at my garden, etc), and not going out to the birthday yum cha that we’d been invited to.  My husband started off on his way there, found out that the one person he was going to see wasn’t going to be there, and then came home and fell into a deep depression.

I had very little left, and so tried to do what I could, unsuccessfully, and then found a great, albeit temporary, solution – Doctor Who.  We’d not seen any of the second half of this season yet, and now we’ve caught up.

Being close to running out of everything, and the running out of everything, has seriously messed up my blogging.  I have all these ideas that I want to write about, but haven’t had the concentration, time, or energy to do so.  But soon, because for the next several days I’m the most important person to me and I’m going to do what I need to do, so I can continue to, when I have my energy back, do what I do for others.

 

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How much do you trust?

Feminism is the radical idea that women are people.  People that can reason, think, educate themselves, and make their own decisions.  For some men at the end of the 1800s and early 1900s, this was a radical notion, and one that took a great deal of getting used to.  Society is still structured around the antiquated notion that the default human is male (I’ll blog more on that another time) and so there is still a deep societal distrust of women who do their own thing, who act differently to others, who stand up for themselves, and they get called names, and pressured to be like everyone else, because a group of women being the same is somehow more comforting.

Ok, I might have made most of that up, or it might be a long chain of thoughts from all the feminist blog posts I’ve read over the past ages, or it might be that I’ve been watching the world from the sidelines from time to time.  This post, which is white-Western feminism based, is about what we (and I’m thinking about both society and Western feminists) trust women to do and what we don’t.

This post is partly inspired by Chally’s recent post on religious faith and social justice and on thoughts I was having on the flight over to Malaysia before I fell asleep on the plane.  I’m not sure what inspired them exactly, but let me lay them out for you.

If we can trust women to make up their mind on which political candidate they are going to vote for, if we can trust women to decide on which medical procedures and treatment they wish to undertake, if we can trust women to decide on who they do and do not want to sleep with (slightly contentious in rape culture I know), and if we can trust women to make their own moral and ethical decisions, why do so many of us have trouble trusting women deciding to be religious (with all that their specific faith entails)?

Yes there will always be cases where women are pressured into things, that happens with every example I’ve listed above, and no one suggests that women shouldn’t vote because they’re being pressured into voting for a certain candidate, or that they shouldn’t be able to make their own medical decisions because they’re being pressured into it by someone.

Maybe I’m completely misunderstanding the debate about women who follow the strictures of their faith.  But from what I’ve heard about politicians and some people who identify as feminists, women are clearly being oppressed by the strictures of their faith – the faith that they have most likely chosen to have.

I am an atheist, I am against organised (generally read as Christian) religion attempting to dictate to me and anyone else who isn’t a member of that faith how to behave.  I am for the separation of religion and politics.  But most importantly I am for the right for any individual to practise the faith that they believe in if it is doing no harm to anyone else.

As a former Catholic I remember many of the times I questioned whether what I believed in was real, from when I was a child to the day I stopped believing.  Perhaps we should give religious women credit that they have also spent time questioning their faith and the strictures of that faith, and that they have made a conscious choice to continue believing and to continue practising their faith.  These women do not need to be rescued from an “oppressive religion”, a religion that they probably do not believe to be oppressive – as the nuances and the ways that it is practised will be as individual as each person in that religion.

 

Further reading:

A great discussion on the comment thread of Stargazer’s post on The Hand Mirror, “yet another burqa post”

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Malaysia day 3

Thanks to blistered feet we changed our plans for today and thought we’d planned to have less walking (we were wrong – but thankfully that wasn’t an issue for my feet overly).  On Philip Theil’s recommendation we went to the Islamic Arts Museum via taxi and strolled around there, enjoying the cool and the beautiful museum that they had put together.  Photos are here in my Malaysian set.

My feet weren’t happy with the standing so much, so I took lots of sitting down breaks. As it was Ramadan the restaurant was closed, so we thought we’d go to the cafe at the Bird Avairy.  We also thought we’d walk – this was not the wisest decision we made.  It took about 30 minutes to walk there, which isn’t all that long really – but 30C+ and 90% humidity proved to me that I really can sweat (I don’t sweat very well in dry heat and tend towards heat stroke really easily – clearly not the same problem in humid climes).  We went to the cafe and ate some great (and cheap) Malaysian food and then wandered off to the avairy – the world’s largest free flight avairy as it turns out – it is HUGE.

Earlier in the day, from the museum, we saw Silver Leaf monkeys walking over the top of the avairy, clearly on their way somewhere.  We also glimpsed a squirrel… SQUIRREL… in the foliage, but not well enough to take photos of.  The birds were pretty, clearly used to humans feeding them (we were stalked by several Cattle Egrets), and desperate for it to rain (which it hasn’t done since Sunday morning).

When the heat got too much, we came back to the hotel, cooled down a little and then wandered out to dinner.  I decided against the Hakka restaurant I had initially thought would be a good idea after seeing that their menu was mostly offal, and we went to another Chinese restaurant instead.  Tomorrow perhaps Hawker food – the lack of eating implements makes Hawker style food difficult unless you can bring your own – and I have a plan.

Other things of note – traffic signals are guides, motor cycles are everywhere, and weave through the traffic in interesting ways, traffic follows rules of which I am unfamiliar (though no one seems to get hurt), and signs expressly forbidding haggling are a suggestion for taxi drivers.

Given the amount of traffic noise whenever I step outside, I am hugely grateful that my hotel is very soundproof.  I can’t even hear the building demolition that is happening next door when I’m in my room.  Kuala Lumpur has an amazing amount of development going on at the moment  Many buildings are in the process of being torn down or built.  There are many beautiful buildings going up, and the city is going through a big change.  It still surprises me how small the city is though, compared to Melbourne.  Melbourne spread outwards, KL has gone up.  So much is within walking distance as a result.

Tomorrow the Petronas Twin Towers, the aquarium that is near there, and then the KL tower.  More photos will be uploaded tomorrow.

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Malaysia Day 2

Things I have learnt about Malaysia today:

 

Stairs – oh god the stairs.  All train and monorail stations have stairs. If you can’t climb stairs in many cases you can’t access the station.  I don’t know how people who are unable to walk unassisted manage (I’m guessing they use taxis a lot).  So my new years resolution of climbing more stairs has had several extra months of stairs tacked on, and we’re only in day 2 of the trip.

 

Lonely Planet and I don’t necessarily agree on what is interesting.  Scott and I followed the Little India walking tour from their guide to KL, Penang and Meleka. It wasn’t boring (it was hot), but it wasn’t as interesting as I thought it could be.  Next time Little India and myself will just wander around together and I’ll spend more time in the heart of the district versus skipping along the outside.

 

The Police Department has a mosque.  We heard the Azan while walking through Little India and then came across a beautiful blue and white mosque, attached to a beautiful blue and white building.

Ibu Pejabat Polis Daerah Dang Wangi Mosque (and office)

I felt really guilty when absolutely starving at 6:30pm, wander into a restaurant (and making decisions when surrounded by choice is quite difficult also), and order food and eat… then I notice the restaurant slowly filling up and people sitting at the table patiently waiting, not touching the food or drinks in front of them, even when their meals arrive, because the prayer and the end of the fasting period (7:30pm here) has not been made.  They were more likely hungrier than I.

 

The more tired I am, the more unable I am to divide by 3 – which makes my ability to compare prices from RM to AUD additionally difficult.

 

Compared to Australia there are so few people smoking.  Most enclosed shopping centres and buildings are smoke free, but even on the street there are so few people smoking.

 

I’ve spotted a very small number of people sleeping on the street, and no beggars.  I’m guessing the police move them on, away from the areas I’ve been to so far.

 

A full body massage is a lovely thing, and now, I’m going to go and sleep the effects of it off so I can function tomorrow.  We hope to go to the Petronas Towers observation deck and bridge, and then perhaps China Town, since much of that was closed tonight (goddamn Mondays).

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First World Problems

I sponsored a child last week with Plan (a charity I highly recommend).  I didn’t select a gender or a country trusting that Plan would set me up with whatever they needed for their aims of sponsoring children.  I received the details of the child on paper at the end of last week, and as I flipped through it all I noticed that Plan highly recommended that I write to my sponsored child and could do so electronically, including attaching photos.  It was made clear that any photo submitted should not show signs of materialism, and that my letter to my sponsored child should be about things we have in common in order to not upset the child with the things that they may never have.

This, of course, all makes perfect sense, and so I started thinking about the things that we have in common.  I am growing some vegetables in my garden for us to consume, not exactly something we have in common because if my crop fails, I can just go to the supermarket and buy food, whereas my sponsored child and his family and community will face a much harder time if their crops fail.  I have a family, he has a family, so we have that in common.  I have been to school and he is going to school, so we can talk about school subjects, learning goals, and where those things can take us as we grow up/older.

There was a point to mentioning this, which has slipped my brain, but that’s ok, it may or may not come back to me as I continue to ramble on about things.

On Sunday my computer catastrophically went splodge.  My husband was quite upset about the PC dying as it happened on his watch, so to speak, as I was out grocery shopping at the time.  I shrugged and said it was ok, which surprised him as he thought I’d be upset.  My PC has been giving signs of throwing in the towel for a while now, and clearly Sunday was the day for everything to fall over.  I will be upset if the dying of the computer takes out one of my HDDs (the one with all the photos on it), but everything else is backed up, or available elsewhere.  I was planning to buy a new PC with my tax return anyway, this just brought everything forward by a month or so.

So this weekend I’ll hold the brief funeral service before taking the PC (minus the valuables – HDD, RAM and graphics card) to the great recycling centre.  We’ll farewell the PC in the style it was accustomed to living – perhaps not with the all nighters I made it do regularly.

I’m typically a calm person, I have a very high frustration tolerance and don’t often get frustrated with things, I am resigned to bad traffic, delayed or cancelled trains, that phone call just as I’m leaving the office, and stuff.  That doesn’t mean that I’m never frustrated or angry, because that does happen, but just that it often takes more to make me angry than it does some of the other members of my household.  And as well, if anger isn’t going to be useful (ie being angry for 2 weeks while my computer is replaced is a bit much), then anger is not the response I typically choose.  Feminist flash rage happens on a daily basis.

It’s not that I think to myself that there are others in the world who are far worse off than me (as I think that’s a terrible thing to do to yourself) when something like my computer dies (or my house floods).  I just process it differently and put it in the bucket of things I cannot control so will not spend time fretting about.  I’m privileged enough to have sufficient savings to be able to borrow against to replace my computer – even if it is going to take 2 weeks for the custom build I’m getting.  I’m privileged enough to be able to typically access reliable public transport, have a relatively flexible workplace, have a reliable car and to live with others who will hear my frustration and anger when it is present, whether it be about the rantings of ill-informed political commentators or many things failing to do what they should at once.

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Things of which we do not speak

Over the past two weeks it’s been brought back to me the things that we just don’t talk about, and this is mostly women stuff, I’m not sure about the man stuff, because I’m not a man.  But anyway, a couple of weeks ago, my new coworker confided in me that she had just started her period, via our work IM system, and that she was feeling rather cruddy.  She then asked me if that was too much information – to which I replied, “If women can’t talk about periods, what else can we talk about?”

She then told me that she sent that message through IM rather than just telling me (we sit next to each other) because she didn’t want to freak the men out (we’re surrounded by male colleagues) and although I understand this, I also find it puzzling.  Surely these men have sisters, wives, girlfriends, female friends, and/or mothers who have at some point in their lives had a period.  Surely the fact that women have periods is not shocking news.

But then again it is because of the whole lady-business taboo of which we cannot speak – for no real good reason.  The taboo of sharing personal information – which generally has anything to do with stuff under your skin – is exacerbated for women when existing as female brings along a whole range of health issues (hello period pain to say the least), and these health issues (be they minor or major) cannot be spoken freely about in public for fear of… something (which I never quite get).

Which means that support that might otherwise be given, may not be as some people may be ashamed to talk about some health issues because of social taboos, and these social taboos are taught young.  I remember when I first was told about getting periods as a 10 year old or so.  It was something that my mother was clearly uncomfortable in telling me, so I understood that it was a shameful thing.  I also understood that it was not something that you spoke about with people, so when I got my period one Christmas day (I was 10!), I told my mother… who then told my father.  I was outraged – how could she tell him after basically telling me that you didn’t talk about it with people?  One of my many introductions to double standards – and an indication that some social taboos weren’t real.

So I get to go back to work tomorrow, after having a cyst removed and I have to figure out how much information is going to be TMI for some people.  My manager knows I had an operation to remove an infected cyst, but he doesn’t know where it was – and do I feel comfortable and safe enough to tell him?  One of the other flip sides of these taboos is that even though I don’t necessarily think that they’re worthwhile, not keeping them may not be safe.

I’m generally an honest person and will answer pretty much any question asked of me honestly, provided it isn’t an effort to shame me – and then I’ll deflect the question.  The need to abide by social taboos about what I can and cannot talk about in relation to myself is frustrating to me.

And because I’ve now run out of brain I’ll close this with part of a piece attributed to Gloria Steinem:

Since history was recorded, male human beings have built whole cultures around the idea that penis-envy is “natural” to women – though having such an unprotected organ might be said to make men more vulnerable, and the power to give birth makes womb-envy at least logical. In short, logic has nothing to do with it. What would happen, for instance, if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not? The answer is clear – menstruation would become an enviable, boast-worthy, masculine event:

  • Military men, right-wing politicians, and religious fundamentalists would cite menstruation (“MENstruation”) as proof that only men could serve in the army (“You have to give blood to take blood”), occupy political office (“Can women be aggresive without that steadfast cycle governed by the planet Mars?”), be priests and ministers (“how could a woman give her blood for our sins”), or rabbis (“Without the monthly loss of impurities, women remain unclean”).
  • Male radicals, left-wing politicians, and mystics, however, would insist that women are equal, just different; and that any woman could enter their ranks if only she were willing to self-inflict a major wound every month (“You must give blood for the revolution”), recognize the preeminence of menstrual issues, or subordinate her selfness to all men in their Cycle of Enlightenment.

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